Best Punching Bag Workouts (Boxing Drills)

Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers | Senior Coach
Last updated: December 28, 2023
FACT CHECKED by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
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A punching bag workout can help you lose weight, build muscle, and improve cardiovascular health.

While punching bag workouts are not exclusively reserved for professional boxers, you won't get an efficient workout by randomly punching the bag.

As a fitness expert, I have invested hours of research in putting together various boxing moves and drills you can combine to reap the most benefits of your punching bag workout. Additionally, I will share valuable tips to help you get started on the right track.

Quick Summary

  • The best punching bag workout includes jabs, crosses, hooks, uppercuts, front kicks, and knee strikes.
  • Several helpful tips to enhance your punching bag workouts include ensuring proper knuckle protection, warming up and cooling down before and after each session, and emphasizing form, speed, and accuracy while striking the punching bag.
  • Research by NIH shows that one can burn around 500 to 1000 calories in a one-hour heavy-bag workout, highlighting the workout's effectiveness for calorie burning.
  • In my opinion, punching bag workouts, with their diverse techniques and high calorie-burning potential, are an excellent way to build muscle and improve overall fitness in a dynamic and engaging manner.

The Best Punching Bag Workout

A man performing the best punching bag workout

1. Warm-Up

  • Jumping rope (30 seconds, 15 seconds rest)
  • Jumping Jacks (30 seconds, 15 seconds rest)
  • High plank to downward facing dog (30 seconds, 15 seconds rest)

2. Jab - Cross Combo

How to throw a jab & cross punches:

  1. Stand in an Orthodox boxing stance. If you're right-handed, your left foot will be your lead, and put your hands up in a guard.
  2. Push off the ball of your back foot and throw the jab in a straight line from the point of origin to the target.
  3. As you throw the jab, turn your knuckles over midair, snap your wrists to get some extra pop on the punch, tuck your chin into your shoulder, and keep your rear hand covering your face and rear elbow to protect your body.
  4. Once the punch is landed, pull it back in a straight line and end the motion back in your stance.
  5. Now for the cross, pivot your rear foot to transfer maximum weight and throw the punch in a straight line from your face to the target and then straight back. Lead by engaging your core and rotating your hips. Tuck your chin into your shoulder as you throw the punch, keeping your lead hand on your face and your lead elbow in.
  6. Continue alternating between these motions for forty-five seconds, then take fifteen seconds of rest before continuing with the other movements below.

3. Hooks

A boxer performing a left hook

To perform hooks:

  1. Get into your fighting stance with your feet shoulder-width apart and one foot back. Keep your hands up in the guard position.
  2. Lift your elbow and create a 90-degree angle between your biceps and forearm. Your other hand should remain touching your face throughout the movement.
  3. Position your arms at shoulder height.
  4. Turn on the ball of your foot and your hips and pivot with your body behind your punch.
  5. Repeat this movement for forty-five seconds, then take a fifteen-second rest before repeating on the opposite side. Then, proceed to the next exercise.

4. Uppercuts

How to perform uppercuts:

  1. Get in your boxing stance position.
  2. Run your feet with a slight bend in your knees and pressure on your toes.
  3. Twist your hips in the direction of your punching hand.
  4. Bring your punching arm toward your hip.
  5. Drive your arm upwards towards your target while engaging your core muscles.
  6. Repeat the movement for forty-five seconds and then take a fifteen-second rest. Then repeat this process on the opposite side.

“Uppercuts are most effective when they are fast and powerful. To add a whip-like motion to your Uppercut and maximize power, open your arm up a little bit wider at the start of the motion.”

- Tommy Duquette, Boxing Coach

5. Front kicks

A man doing a front kick to a punching bag

How to perform front kicks:

  1. Get in your boxing stance, ensuring that you are standing outside of your jab range.
  2. Lift and chamber the kick right.
  3. Pivot your standing foot.
  4. Extend the other leg and strike with the ball of your foot. Slightly lean back to gain more power in your kick.
  5. Return to your stance and repeat for forty-five seconds, then rest for fifteen seconds before continuing with your training.

Related: How to Do Butt Kicks With Proper Form

6. Knee Strikes

How to perform knee strikes: 

  1. Get into a fighting stance, with your feet shoulder-width apart and one foot back with a nice wide base, and put your arms in a guard position.
  2. Take a small step towards the punching bag.
  3. Put your foot as close to your glutes as possible.
  4. Drive the knee forward towards your torso using the momentum generated by your hip and body rotation.
  5. Return to your fighting stance and repeat for forty-five seconds.

“A common mistake when practicing and deploying the Muay Thai knee strike is the direction of force. Often, beginners are focused on getting their knee up high and fast, but then the force of the strike is also directed upward.”

- Lonnie Beck, Muay Thai Coach

Tips for a Punching Bag Workout

A boxer performing a jab

As a trainer, I recommend a few tips to help you maximize the benefits of your punching bag workouts:

1. Properly Wrap Your Hands

Punching bags’ weight can range from 30 to 70 kg depending on the brand and size.

If you’re not careful, using a punching bag without proper protection can lead to hand and wrist injuries and bruise your knuckles, leaving you unable to train for a long time.

To avoid this, use hand wraps around your wrists and between your fingers, and wear a fitting pair of boxing gloves.

Research by the National Institute of Health (NIH), has shown that the size of gloves can impact your risk of hand injuries during punching bag training [1].

However, if you have advanced skill in punching bag drills, you should practice bare-knuckle boxing with less powerful punches to improve your form and strengthen your knuckles, forearms, and wrists.

2. Warm Up and Cool Down

A guy doing a warm up before working out

You want to warm up your arms before any training program, especially a punching bag workout.

According to NIH, it will increase your body temperature and blood supply to the muscles, loosen up your joints, and improve your performance [2].

Don't forget, cooling down after a workout is as essential as warm-ups.

Study by NIH has shown that incorporating active cool-down exercises may help prevent immune system depression and promote faster recovery of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems [3].

“Child’s pose is a great way to slow your heart rate while also stretching out your shoulders, which take on a lot of impact in heavy bag training. Hip flexor and lower back stretches also relieve tension after this type of exercise.”

- Katie Webb, Boxing Instructor

3. Vary Your Workout Routine

Consider varying your workout routine to target different areas of your body.

For example, while hooks will help you strengthen your arms and back muscles, straight punches focus on building strength in your shoulders and chest.

“Variation is important, but too much variation can become an issue. When choosing exercises in a program, two to three variations should be chosen for each muscle or movement.”

- Brian Magat, Personal Trainer

4. Focus on Proper Technique and Speed

A focused boxer with his trainer

As a personal trainer, I advise you not to just rely on brute strength when throwing punches. Focus on landing quicker, lighter jabs with proper form and boxing technique.

Remember, foot placement is crucial for maintaining balance and generating power. Also, ensure your body remains still and you stand at a distance that allows full arm extension while throwing punches.

You'll get the most power out of each punch by maintaining balance and pushing the bag away without moving backward.

Working with a trainer or partner is recommended to fine-tune your form and develop effective punching techniques.

Related: How To Hit a Speed Bag Properly

5. Take a Rest Day

According to NIH, overtraining without sufficient rest can cause adverse effects, including increased depression, anger, and eating disorders [4].

Take at least one day to rest between bag workouts to give your body a chance to recover and prevent injury.

It is recommended to have at least one rest day every 7-10 days.

What Are the Benefits of Punching Bag Workouts?

A boxer doing punching bag workouts

The benefits of punching bag workouts are increased punching power, strength, endurance, core stability, coordination and balance, bone density, and reduced stress.

  • Increasing your strength and power - Punching bag training can increase your strength as it engages multiple muscle groups. As you throw punches at the bag, your arms, shoulders, chest, back, core muscles, and legs are all engaged.
  • Burning calories - Research by NIH has shown that one can burn around 500 to 1000 calories in a one-hour heavy-bag workout [5].
  • Practicing defense - By practicing with a punching bag, you can experience the impact of your punches and improve your defense techniques in a way that shadowboxing cannot offer. This will help you to prepare as if you were actually in contact with an opponent.
  • Improving coordination and balance - Standing on your toes and shifting your weight between your feet while you move around can improve your balance. Additionally, when hitting a punching bag can rebound in unexpected ways, so it's essential to stay focused and attentive. This helps to boost your reaction time and coordination.
  • Practicing footwork - During heavy bag sessions, you don't just stand still and punch the bag but instead move around it while practicing footwork.
  • Reduce anxiety and stress - According to a study in Sage Journal, engaging in non-contact boxing interventions can potentially improve mental health by alleviating symptoms associated with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and negative symptoms of schizophrenia [6].
  • Improve bone density - By consistently practicing boxing, individuals can improve bone mineral density, leading to strong and healthier bones.

Related posts:

Mistakes To Avoid When Performing Punching Bag Workouts

  1. Ignoring proper stance: Neglecting the correct boxing stance can lead to poor balance and ineffective punches. Always maintain a stable, balanced stance with feet shoulder-width apart, ensuring better power and control during your punching bag workout.
  2. Overextending punches: Overextending your arms while punching can cause joint strain and reduce power. Focus on controlled, precise movements, keeping your punches within a safe range to maximize impact and minimize the risk of injury.
  3. Forgetting to breathe: Many beginners hold their breath during punching bag workouts, leading to quicker fatigue. Remember to breathe rhythmically with each punch, exhaling on exertion, to maintain stamina and improve overall performance.
  4. Neglecting defense movements: Focusing solely on offense and ignoring defensive techniques like bobbing and weaving can create bad habits. Incorporate defensive moves into your routine to simulate a real fight scenario and enhance your overall boxing skills.
  5. Lack of variety in punches: Repeating the same punches can limit skill development and lead to muscle imbalances. Mix up your workout with a variety of punches, including jabs, crosses, hooks, and uppercuts, to ensure a well-rounded and effective training session.


How Long Should You Work Out on a Punching Bag?

You should workout out on a punching bag from fifteen minutes to half an hour once a week. As you get more comfortable using punching bags, you can perform longer sessions depending on your fitness level and how hard your want to push yourself.

What Is the Equipment Required for Punching Bag Workouts?

The equipment required for punching bag workouts is boxing gloves, hand wraps, and a punching bag. The type of punching bag you choose can vary based on your personal preferences, with options ranging from sandbags to aqua bags, as well as sitting and hanging bags.


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About The Author

Senior Coach
Connor Sellers holds a degree in Kinesiology and Exercise Science from Rutgers University He is an author and personal trainer with the mission to inspire people to relentlessly pursue their fitness and lifestyle goals. He mantra is that staying fit has an overall positive effect on one’s body, mind, and spirit.
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Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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