I can hardly describe how I made it so far without using the speed bag in the first three years of my training. If you’re anything like me, you wouldn’t mind training without a speed bag either. Every time, I used to come up with an excuse for not using it because honestly, I never knew how and what to do with it. None of my trainers actually bothered to push me through the drills and after the first couple of years, I was embarrassed to even admit that I didn’t know how to execute any of the speedbag drills.
Fast-forward a decade, and I’m really good at hitting a speedbag. In fact, I love the training drills so much that I’ve figured out a few ways in which you can learn about hitting the speed bag. If your situation is anywhere close to mine then welcome to this blog. Herein, you won’t just learn about the speedbag workouts but also about the mechanics of a speedbag. I will ensure that you don’t lag behind like I did in my early years.
There are numerous ways in which a boxer or a fighter can improve his/her overall skills and fitness level. While strength and conditioning exercises along with core training and free weights are everyone’s priority, no one really seems to give speedbag its due credit. I’m sure that most of the boxing movies you’ve seen thus far, does have a montage scene in the build-up to a fight. Ever wondered why boxers do that? Well, it’s a great workout to improve speed and endurance.
It’s really a well-known workout in the popular culture, don’t know why it’s neglected by so many gyms initially. Now without wasting much time, let’s understand what’s a speed bag, tips to hit a speed bag, drills using a speed bag and benefits of doing speedbag workout to improve your boxing.
What is a Speed Bag?
I’m sure if you’re familiar with Boxing or MMA, you must have heard about a speed bag already. A speed bag is a small bag that generally hangs from the ceiling on a chain or a short cord, placed to provide a minimal range of motion. It’s an amazing training equipment which looks cool on videos but when you try to execute it, you understand how cumbersome it is.
What separates a speed bag from a heavy punching bags and mitts is that it has a short range of motion. Due to this, the bag rebounds super quickly and thus requires good response time in order to hit the target. Only when you time your punches with precision will you be able to hit the target. Not only does it increase your accuracy and footwork, but it also helps you learn pacing techniques using which you can run a boxing contest on your preferred speed.
Anatomy of a Speed Bag
As mentioned earlier, a speed bag is usually tied to a low ceiling or a bracket through a reinforced board. If you’re part of a boxing gym, you might have obviously seen it configured properly, however, if you want to set up at your home, you can do that easily whilst paying attention to the extra support for minimizing any mishaps and overall vibration.
Role of Swivel in a Speed Bag
The swivel is the most important component in the swivel bag. A swivel is what keeps it together from flying off during an intense workout session. Based upon the space you have; you can choose the right area to set it up along with the quantity of swivel bags you’d like in your training area.
Speedbag Size Does Matter
If you are anything like me and would like to do the speedbag workout at home, I’d urge you to buy a speedbag which is larger in size than the normal gym installation. Most of the beginners get frustrated by the speedbag even before starting to train with it. Writing off a speedbag workout is common mainly because many boxers start with the wrong size. Remember, the larger the size, the easier it is to start. You want to perfect the technique followed by the rhythm which can help you narrow your target down to a smaller bag as you progress.
Working a Speed Bag
Though it took me 3 years (to gather the courage) and 6 months (to work it confidently), that’s not going to be the case with you. In the past five years, I’ve seen trainees and enthusiasts learning how to hit speed bag the right way in under 10 minutes.
Remember, once you get a hang of hitting the bag, you’re going to find it super easy. However, one mistake which most trainees always make is that they go-in on it with a closed fist. DON’T DO THAT. Keep your hands open at first, try to feel the bag and understand the rhythm at which it’s moving. Make mental notes of the speed at which you’re hitting the bag. Once you understand that, then you can close your fist and try the same thing.
Follow the basic right-right-left-left rhythm, switch between the front end of your fist and bottom end of your fist between each hit. When you do so, you’ll move your hands in the following directions:
Trust me, once you get hang of this motion, there’s nobody telling you that you can’t manage to hit a speed bag workout. Keep doing this drill and you will develop precision, improve your punching skills – timing, speed, accuracy, and endurance. If you have difficulty understand what I just said, I’d urge you to look up speedbag YouTube videos that have amazing content showcasing on how you can hit a speedbag workout in numerous creative ways.
4 Important Gear You need for working a Speed Bag
Speed Bag: Duh! The first thing you need is a speed bag. If you don’t have one, you can check one out and train at a gym. A speedbag due to its small size can be easily installed, mounted on the wall in your home boxing gym or your garage. If you go to the gym then you’re perfectly set. The rest of the gear is pretty standard yet you can’t afford to miss out on them.
Shoes: It’s crucial that you wear your boxing shoes when doing a speed bag workout. Footwork is crucial and moving with it in and around your target gives you a much better perspective and feeling.
Hand wraps: You’d see every boxer or MMA fighter, wrapping their hands. They do it to cushion their skin and bones from the repeated blows. Wrapping your hands is a great way to protect your knuckles and works wonders when doing speedbag workouts.
Timer & Music: Try to keep track of the sets in each workout along with the rounds. And music if it helps you focus on your training. As I said, it’s much easier to follow the rhythm and BPM of the music and flow with it. However, working with music on is not always necessary, if you prefer to work the speedbag without it then that’s cool too.
A simple hack for hitting a Speed Bag for Beginners
As a beginner, it’s extremely difficult to catch hold of the rhythm. And back when I started, I used to find it really hard initially. Thus, I’d like to share with you what I call a cheat code. It’s a rhythm that I follow. If you pay attention, upon hitting the speed bag, it moves back and forth three times.
Now, keeping this count in your heard, you’ll see that from your angle, the speedbag will move forward-backward-forward before you can hit again. So, initially, you can use these 3 bounces as a cue to hit your punches. It’s like a BPM or a metronome in music which helps you understand the tempo of a track.
5 Crucial Tips to Hit a Speed Bag for Beginners
Keep your hands open
I’ve stated this once but I’d like to remind it again. Try not to make a fist. Try not to use your knuckles when punching at first. Using knuckles when you’re just starting off will make you misjudge your power. Thus, you’ll either end up hitting the bag too hard or too soft. What’s worse? You’ll even lose control. Thus, start hitting a speed bag with your fingers at first. It’ll help you understand the tempo and the rhythm and once you catch that, you can move on with a strong foundation.
Hold your hands close to the bag
In the beginning, it’s crucial that you don’t try to race your hands in a bid to reach out to your target. Try keeping your hands close to the bag. This will help you keep your hands in a great position when it comes to hitting quickly. Again, when the distance is too much, you’ll either misjudge the power or lose control, thus by keeping both the hands close, you can easily avoid it as your reaction time to connect with the bag will reduce significantly.
Work in small circles
Try to hit your punches in small circles. Ensure that your hand travels in small circles in the air when hitting the speed bag. Don’t swing your fist forward and backward, rather make small circles in the air. If you find it difficult, simply start by practicing the small circles in the air so as to get used to the motion before advancing onto a speed bag.
Follow the rhythm
Punching a speedbag without rhythm becomes an author of pain and frustration real quick. Thus, try to develop a rhythm. The best rhythm for speedbag workouts for beginners is the right-right-left-left movement as explained above. Herein, you first hit using the front of the fist, then hit using the bottom of your fist. Once you get used to it, all of it will feel like a natural setup to when you switch from one hand to the other.
Maintain a square stance
Remember, when working a speedbag, you’re not in a boxing stance. Thus, stand square in front of the speed bag whilst maintaining an equal distance from the bag. Try standing a little closer than a usual arm’s length. For a beginner, this is the right position to start with. Once you advance and can execute punches changing your directions, move closer or farther based upon your preference. Lastly, your eye should be at the same height as the bottom of the bag. If it’s far beyond your reach, you probably won’t catch it right, if it’s too near then that will make the execution difficult too.
4 Speed Bag Routines You Should Totally Practice
Strength Routine using Speed Bag
You must have seen the likes of Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson have a go at it. This speed bag drill is great to throw power punches really quick. Tyson’s infamous boxing training saw him punching the bag at Ali’s speed whilst trying to generate Dempsey’s power. In order to do this drill, you must do the following steps:
- First, inflate your speed bag enough so there aren’t creases in leather
- Get into your stance
- Try to punch as hard as you can while counting how many times your punch makes the bag hit the backboard
- Try practicing punching in rhythm by trying to hit rebound shots
- Try to hit bag ten times with each hand and set a goal for four rebounds
- You can also do three sets with each arm trying to hit four rebounds
- You can add and subtract the rebounds based upon your preference. Ideally, you should stop when you reach seven rebounds and 24 sets in total
When you focus on the number of punches you’re landing, you’ll be tempted to wind your punches. DO NOT DO THAT. Always try and punch from the fighting stance whilst keeping your hand up.
Speed Routine using Speed Bag
Many trainees have a misconception that speed bag is purely for improving the speed. While that’s true, it’s not the case entirely. Even when you’re working on speed bag doing your speed routine, you’re usually engaging in a power workout with higher volume and better hand speed.
- Set a timer of 60 seconds
- Punch at a slow-medium pace
- Count how many times you were able to hit the bag at each interval
- If you were able to hit the bag 80 times, try and increase the volume in the second round
Keep increasing the number by one for eight consecutive rounds. Your goal should be to add one additional punch in each extra round. While practicing this drill, make sure to keep your hands up as you can’t withstand longer in a fight if you drop your guard. Keep your hands up and make sure to punch from the fighting stance.
Endurance Routine using Speed Bag
As mentioned earlier, speed bag drills are great for building endurance – upper body strength and cardiovascular functioning. Since you’re in constant motion when doing the speed bag drill, you’ll have a burning sensation in your shoulders because of the continuous motion. Though there are many speedbag drills that you can do to improve your endurance, I want to point out the simplest yet the most effective one.
- Try punching the speed bag for a 1-full minute at a steady pace
- Just pay attention to how long it takes for you to get tired
- Try doing five sets of 1 min with 15-20 seconds rest at regular intervals
- Try increasing the volume of punches with every set
- Keep improving each day. Though you’ll get drained out in the first few weeks due to intensity. DO NOT BACK DOWN. Almost every athlete goes through this phase and overcomes it eventually. Just keep going and within 4-weeks, you’ll easily be able to go for 3-minute sets
Accuracy Routine using Speed Bag
It’s very crucial to be able to land punches where you intend them. Most of the trainees when they are starting out find it really hard to accurately strike a moving target. This drill will help you land your punches in the direction and the target you intend. With the use of the small-sized speed bag, you need to do the following drill:
- Hit the bag at the center in order for it to rebound in a straight line
- Trying varying your shots by hitting different spots without breaking the rhythm
- Try circling the bag in small step as we learned above and maintain the rhythm
- Do this in various 30-second sets and work till you feel fatigued
8 Benefits of Speedbag workouts in boxing
There are many benefits of using a speedbag workout in boxing. Apart from being able to channel your body properly, you’re able to dig deep inside your skillset to overcome the toughest of situations. These situational demands might range from endurance to speed and precision. With speedbag workout, you’ll be able to bring about a positive change in your overall fighting style. Having said that, here are few of the many benefits of speedbag workouts:
The reason why I love working the bags is that they test your endurance. Speedbag in general. These bags obviously isn’t going to stop until you decided to stop. Thus, it’s a grueling affair and a test of your resilience. As you progress, so does your ability to last in the ring. The endurance drills using speedbag workouts test the time for which you’ll last, which body part lacks the edge and so on. You’ll learn a lot about yourself and your fighting style.
Since a speedbag is a relatively small surface to hit, you are required to put your hand-eye coordination through a stern test. You can’t get away with weak and mistimed punches. Each of your punches needs to be precise which improves the overall coordination. The more you practice the less hectic and more fascinating the process gets.
The most important aspect of a speedbag workout is the considerable difference it makes in your punching accuracy. Since your hand-eye coordination improves considerably, you’re able to throw accurate punches from all kinds of angles. Your work from this drill can be carry forwarded to other bag workouts and punching drills. After all, the sport of boxing demands accuracy in almost every area.
Most boxers have a misconception that only a heavy bag can improve power. Well, that’s not true. Using a speed bag workout has an overall impact. Not only will you be able to throw stronger punches but will also be able to throw them in higher volume making your punches an unstoppable force.
Your hand training counts to nothing if you can’t work your feet. Ultimately, a boxing contest can be won on lost simply based upon how effective is your footwork. Thus, with the moving target in speedbag, you’re able to move, change stance and attack the bag from different angles. All of which makes you a complete fighter and your opponent reluctant.
Speedbag workout help in improving your speed for obvious reasons. Since you constantly work on throwing more punches, your speed increases. As seen above, you generally start by throwing 25-30 punches in 30 seconds. However, as you progress, within a couple of months, you’d be able to throw 40 punches at the same time. Not just that, you’ll be able to do more sets overall.
Improves Cardiovascular health
You’ll improve your cardiovascular health considerably apart from various skills. Since your heart rate constantly goes up due to a high-intensive workout, it strengthens your lungs and heart. It helps to burn calories and reduce the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases.
Control the bout
Since you’re able to improve your endurance, speed, and overall technique, you’re able to pace the contest as per your preference. We’ve seen the likes of Gennady Golovkin, Floyd Mayweather and Guillermo Rigondeaux control the matches and swing them in their favor thanks to their incredible pacing technique. With speedbag workout, you’ll be able to explode forward throwing incredible combinations and power punches which will be accurate and power-packed.
I hope this all-inclusive guide on speedbag workouts helped you understand the speed bag drills in detail. I would sign-off by saying that keep working hard. Though it might feel like a mountain at first, with regular practice, you will be able to climb it. Just keep up the consistency and put in the work.