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Does Punching a Bag Build Muscle?

Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: August 15, 2021

Most people know that boxing is high-intensity cardio work that boosts speed, agility, coordination, power, upper body strength and brings many health benefits.

So, a punching bag is a valuable piece of equipment.

But, the question many clients have asked me is:

“Can hitting a punching bag build muscles at all?”

This article gives the answer and shares tips on balancing the critical factors to maximize your muscle mass gains as a boxer.

What Muscles Does Punch Bag Work?

shirtless man boxing with a punching bag

Punch bag movements work almost all your lower and upper body muscles, especially if you punch a heavy bag instead of a speed bag. The most engaged muscles are:

  • Shoulders (deltoids)
  • Arms (biceps, triceps)
  • Chest  (pectorals)
  • Back (trapezius, latissimus dorsi)
  • Core (abdominals)
  • Glutes
  • Legs (quadriceps, hamstrings)

How to Maximize Your Gains When Doing a Punching Bag Workout

Here are some tips to help you get the most muscle-building gains from punching bags.

1. Include Boxing HIIT Sessions in Your Training Routine

man using ropes for cardio

By incorporating high-intensity interval training (HIIT) into your punching bag training, you can get a more challenging and effective cross-functional training program. [1]

For example, alternate a few rounds of boxing workout combinations with HIIT activities such as jumping jacks, pull-ups, push-ups, squats, jump rope, shadow boxing, sparring, and similar.

(Always warm up, remember to put on hand wraps and boxing gloves to prevent injury, focus on breathing and your moves.)

youtube

2. Add Variety

man using dumbbells in one arm

For better-balanced muscle growth and increased efficiency of your boxing workouts, make sure you spice them up with lifting weights, circuit bodyweight strength training, or other adequate substitute exercises.

There are many effective combos for gaining strong, well-balanced muscles, such as switching from a one-minute left-right uppercut combo to a shoulder press or lateral raise with lighter dumbbells.

Also, to activate multiple muscles simultaneously, you may use various punches (jabs, uppercuts, hooks, crosses) starting light while focusing on power and accuracy to enhance muscle memory.

Then continue the same series of punches speeding up to engage all the muscles fully.

Search YouTube for some inspiring workout videos. They offer plenty of ideas on adding variety to your weekly boxing routine while targeting different muscle groups every day.

3. Adopt a Healthy Muscle-Building Diet

a bowl filled with healthy food

Balanced training and nutrition go hand in hand when it comes to building muscle actively.

So, forget about junk food and other unhealthy foods and products.

Adopt healthy eating habits instead.

Consume lots of lean proteins necessary to build muscle mass, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, fresh vegetables, and fruits rich in fiber for healthy digestion

This diet will give your body the necessary nutrients and provide enough energy for tough workouts and regeneration afterward.

Also, make sure you drink plenty of water to stay hydrated throughout the day.

Avoiding alcohol and caffeine (especially before bedtime) goes without saying.

Noting down your calorie intake and weight may help you stay on the right track over a longer period of time.

4. Know When to Stop

woman resting in her bedroom with lights off

Taking regular breaks between boxing training sessions and getting an optimum amount of good-quality sleep (eight to nine hours) every night is key to the success of your muscle-building efforts.

Reason: 

New muscle tissue is formed when your body is at rest, so it needs some time to recover.

Many beginners often go to the extreme and cross the boundaries their body sets because they overestimate their physical ability and endurance.

Due to intensive exertion, such boxers end up with an increased risk of injury, unsatisfied with their body transformation results, sometimes even demotivated to continue boxing.

5. Choose the Right Punching Bag

a hanging red punching bag

If you want to equip your home gym with a punching bag, figure out what bag type best suits your needs.

Not all types of bags are created equal, although they can help you burn calories.

A speed bag is lighter and smaller, most suitable for improving your punching speed.

Logically, a heavy bag is heavier and larger, and it’s typically used for developing punching power.

Power punching helps enhance muscle definition due to forceful contractions of most muscle fibers.

Due to intensive exertion, such boxers end up with an increased risk of injury, unsatisfied with their body transformation results, sometimes even demotivated to continue boxing.

Related: What To Put in a Punching Bag?

More Benefits of Punching Bag Workouts

person with boxing gloves working out using a punching bag

Anyone may find a knockout, punch-and-block, speed combo, and any other punching bag drill or targeted movement immensely beneficial in different aspects.

“The full body benefits of a bag workout are endless. Your cardiovascular fitness, muscular endurance and muscular strength will all benefit greatly from using a punch bag.” Jay Revan, Personal Trainer

Practicing correct punching form helps improve your body movement, boxing technique, and overall performance.

It builds strength, boosts cardio and muscle endurance, power, stamina, coordination, core stability and balance, improves mood and cognitive function, relieves stress, reduces anger and cravings.

Plus, it builds self-confidence by perfecting self-defense techniques along with your body shape.

Martial Arts Related Articles:

FAQs

Does Punching Bag Build Abs?

Yes, punching a heavy bag builds functional and aesthetic abs.

Does Punching Bag Burn Calories?

Yes, punching a bag can burn around 490 calories in one hour in a 180-pound person (and shred fat) because it’s an intense, physically demanding sport. [2]

So, Can Hitting a Punching Bag Build Muscle?

Yes, hitting a punching bag can build muscle strength and endurance, especially in your arms, shoulders, core, back, glutes, hammies, and quads.

Boxing stimulates both slow and fast-twitch muscle fiber contractions and body fat reduction, so it might be the plateau-breaker that can help you boost muscular development and get that lean, defined physique.

The combined impact of adjusted nutrition, adequate rest, and breaking up each boxing drill with intervals of HIIT, resistance, or strength exercise may promise the desired effect.

But don’t expect magic if you want to bulk up.

Good luck!


References:

  1. https://www.acsm.org/docs/default-source/files-for-resource-library/high-intensity-interval-training.pdf
  2. http://www.nutristrategy.com/activitylist4.htm

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