How to Hit a Heavy Bag for Beginners

You see him in every gym. That crazy guy who has no idea how to hit a heavy bag. He wails away, screaming and grunting like a wounded hippo.

I hope that’s not you!

If it is, I can help. Here are three quick tips that will immediately turn you from chump to champ. If the video doesn’t play, you’ll find a summary below.

Check it out and get punching!

How to Hit a Heavy Bag

TIP #1: HANDS DOWN, YOU’RE A CLOWN.

If you know nothing else about martial arts or fighting, remember that priority #1 is to protect yourself at all times. Even if your punches are sloppy, if you keep your hands up, at least no one can say your defense wasn’t tight.

So get your hands up and leave them there. Don’t drop your hands to wind up your punches and don’t drop your hands after you punch. Hands up before, during, and after.

Cool. You look better already!

TIP #2: FOOTWORK FIRST

In grappling, you’ll hear the phrase, “Position before submission.” Well, the same thing applies to punching.

In a real fight, the bad guy is not going to stand there and let you wail on him like a heavy bag. You have to use your footwork to close the gap and evade. And that means footwork.

My advice? Let’s say you’re planning to hit the heavy bag for 10 minutes. Use the first five minutes for footwork only!

That’s right—don’t throw any punches! Yes, footwork really is that important!

How to Hit a Heavy Bag

Footwork first!

Put your chin down, bend your knees, and get your hands up. Then shuffle in, shuffle out, shuffle around, and pivot.

Practice around a static bag then a swinging bag. Fight your way into the bag and fight your way out. Get comfortable putting yourself into any position you wish.

Once your footwork is warmed up, add your punches back. But never plant yourself in one spot. Stay on the move!

TIP #3: USE YOUR IMAGINATION

If you’re into Karate or Kung Fu, you should approach the heavy bag the same way you approach doing a kata or form—visualize you’re in a real fight.

If you’re not into Karate, visualize anyway. Don’t treat the heavy bag like a treadmill or barbell—make it personal. Pretend you’re in a real fight and put your punches into a context.

Be the hero in your own movie. Fight one punk or an army of zombies—it doesn’t matter, just make sure you imagine something so you can work out your body, mind, and spirit.

A NOTE ABOUT BAG GLOVES

Some will say if you’re hitting a punching bag without wraps and gloves you’re a chump no matter what. Yes, protecting your hands is important. But…

In my experience, most people who put on gloves hit way too hard and build bad habits. Punching without gloves, on the other hand, makes you pay attention and throw punches more carefully.

Whether you choose to wear gloves or not, here’s my advice—

Focus on working the bag, not killing it.

Forget the death blows. You’re far better off simply keeping your hands up, moving in your stance, and thinking your way in and out from the bag.

Oh—and please don’t scream. No one’s impressed. Screaming and grunting makes you look like a lunatic.

There you have it! Now you know how to hit a heavy bag. Remember these simple tips and you’ll not only get a great workout, you’ll build skills you can really use.