Which is the better bag for boxing?
Although freestanding and suspended heavy bags are both great for fitness training, they each have their unique advantages as well as drawbacks.
Freestanding bags, which stand upright from a weighted base, are a more recent invention than traditional hanging punch bags. However, they are becoming increasingly popular in home gyms due to their portability and adaptability to different workout scenarios.
Hanging bags have a much longer history, and have been considered staple equipment for boxing training since the early 1900s. They are often suspended from the ceiling, but they can also be hung from heavy bag stands. A hanging bag is tougher and lasts longer than standing ones, but requires more space.
So, which is better?
- TL; DR – If you’re serious about boxing, go for a hanging bag. It’s heavier, more durable and capable of training your footwork and balance. However, if you’re a beginner looking for a punch bag that can be easily installed at home, freestanding options might be worth considering.
To determine the better bag for boxing, we have compared freestanding and hanging punch bags based on seven factors:
- Ease of Installation
- Space management
Hanging punch bags are typically heavier than freestanding bags. This makes them able to offer more resistance, and as a result they are not likely no matter how hard you punch. Hanging bags are therefore better for building strength and muscle since they encourage you to use your maximum punching power.
With a freestanding or stand-up bag, resistance training is a different story. Freestanding bags are much more liable to tip over than suspended bags, regardless of the strength of the base. They are also rather bouncy and take time to stabilize after a heavy punch. For a pro, this will not help with fast-paced cardio exercise.
Easy on the Knuckles
On the plus side, freestanding bags are easier on your knuckles since they are made of more flexible foam. This makes them ideal for beginners, or even pros with a workout routine that favors stamina over raw punching power.
For beginner learners of martial arts such as muay thai and kickboxing, the softer material of a self-standing bag is also a plus. It allows them to work on their speed, agility and stamina while developing proper body conditioning.
Ease of Installation
It takes some work and good DIY skills to install a hanging heavy bag. You’ll need strong rafters or a support beam to hang the bag. It might even require drilling a hole in your ceiling. This tricky installation will also need you to have a ladder, a power drill, screwdrivers and a pair of pliers, for starters.
Comparatively, freestanding bags do not require much tinkering. Some models even come in the form of a pre-filled cylindrical bag, which you can start using as soon as it is delivered to your home. They are not always simple to transport, but at least they do not require any complex installation.
Other models might require you to fill the bag, or base by yourself. These typically come in two parts: a weighted base, and the bag. After loading the base with water or sand, the filled bag can be easily fitted into it, as well as a suction cup if included in the package. No other assembly is required.
With all the arduous tasks necessary to install a hanging punch bag, it is very unlikely that you’ll ever consider taking it down. For this reason, hanging bags are usually thought of as permanent fixtures, and are best installed in a home gym or some other dedicated space.
On the other hand, freestanding bags are easily disassembled and moved around. One-piece models even come with wheels so they can be easily pushed to a new destination. For two-piece models, the bag has to be removed from the weighted stand. It might be heavy to lift, but is still movable.
The most challenging segment to transport in a two-piece freestanding bag is often the weighted stand. A larger base tends to be heavier and more difficult to lift. However, it can be moved via a simple procedure:
- Reduce the amount of sand or water used to load the base, until you can comfortably raise it by one side.
- Tilt the base by a 90° angle, till it can be rolled on the floor.
- Roll it to move to its designated storage space, or a new destination
Both freestanding and suspended punch bags can be adapted to different workout styles to allow for a realistic fighting experience. However professional boxers tend to prefer the standard hanging bag because of its ability to train several skills at once.
The traditional hanging bag is ideal for speed drills, strength training, building muscle and also for training footwork and control. You can even suspend some hanging bag models horizontally, for practicing uppercuts and high kicks.
However, freestanding bags come in different models for training a variety of techniques. You can find bouncy versions equipped with a spring for honing coordination and speed. More realistic versions exist in the shape of a human torso, while others may have grabbing handles for practicing knee kicks.
Merits of the Swing
Hanging bags tend to swing much more than freestanding models. This forces you to mimic the movements of the bag and react appropriately. By simulating the mechanics of an actual fight, hanging bags train your timing, control as well as offense and defense skills.
If there is sufficient room around a hanging bag, you can exploit its swing to practice footwork. Hanging bags require you to work in coordination with your feet, to enable you to dodge attacks and also deliver effective punches. This makes a hanging bag much better for practicing mixed martial arts.
Generally, hanging bags last longer since they’re heavier and made to withstand more powerful strikes. This makes them more durable than freestanding punch bags, which are usually made of softer material.
A freestanding boxing bag requires a large base to be able to take heavy punches. However, the spring between the base and the bag can become loose over time and make squeaking sounds. If punched hard enough, the spring may even break, and disassemble the punch bag permanently.
Hanging bags don’t take up floor space, but they require the free range in the surroundings due to their tendency to swing. It’s best to free up all the space in a five-feet radius around a suspended punch bag. This way, you will be able to punch and kick it freely without having to bother about what it might hit.
However, if you are tight on space, a freestanding bag is the better option. It is portable and can be easily disassembled and put away after use. Since it is not prone to swinging as much as a hanging bag, it will not require as much free space in its surroundings.
Another important factor to consider is where to keep your punch bag after a workout session. If you have a dedicated gym space, this might not be a problem, but if not, you have cause for concern.
Although freestanding punch bags are easy to move around, the more durable models do take up considerable space due to their larger bases. A hanging bag that can be suspended horizontally is probably a better option since it doesn’t use up any floor space and is easy to retrieve by removing a hook for it to hang vertically.
If you want to purchase all your training equipment at once, it can become quite expensive to kit out your home gym with a freestanding bag. These standing models cost significantly more than suspended alternatives, being bought for about $200. Although cheaper versions exist, they’re mostly made of lower quality materials.
Hanging bags tend to be more affordable for the same length, weight and quality. Even if you include the cost of installation, such as purchasing a beam or stand to suspend the bag, you’re still spending much less than you would on a freestanding model.
The added fact that hanging bags are more durable is also an added benefit, since you won’t need to spend money periodically on replacements.
Train Like A Champion
In this closely contested match, hanging bags took the lead in four out of seven rounds. While hanging bags are better for boxing training, you may still want to consider a freestanding bag since it is easier to install, and use. However, you won’t be able to develop the proper footwork, timing and control required in boxing.
Fortunately, you can hone these skills with the right equipment and experienced instructors. At Delray Beach Boxing Club, our fitness trainers are professional boxers who help you train like a champion in our upscale fitness facility. Contact us today.