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The heavy bag is a sport-specific tool to build punching power.
The difference between throwing weighted punches in air and hitting a heavy bag is the bag won't lie to you. The second you slam a hard punch into the bag, the shock of the punch travels through your body, starting at the wrist and ending in your legs. If your technique is incorrect, you'll walk away from the punch limping in pain. However, if you're punching correctly, training on a heavy bag will increase your punching power.
Punch It Out
If you want to increase power and speed on your punches, engage in heavy bag training at least twice a week. Begin with a 50- to 60-pound heavy bag for the first month of training and then progress to a 100- to 120-pound bag. The heavier the bag, the greater the shock is to your body on the punch. A typical heavy bag workout for an amateur boxer involves three to four two-minute rounds hitting the bag, according to the RossBoxing.com website. A professional boxer trains in three-minute rounds. Each round should have a focus. For example, perform one round of inside power punches and another round of hooks to the areas of the bag corresponding to the head and body of an opponent. To boost the intensity of the workout, do a punch-out drill in which you throw hard, nonstop punches for 15 to 60 seconds.
Attend to Form and Conditioning
If you don't know how to throw a punch and have not conditioned your body, bag workouts can lead to injury. Practice the mechanics and body rotation of a punch by shadowboxing in front of a mirror. Establish a base of upper and lower-body strength with traditional weight training and then incorporate plyometric exercises for the upper and lower body. For example, medicine-ball exercises -- throws and slams -- can strengthen your upper body and core. For your lower body, plyometric jumping exercises will build explosive power. For example, begin a jump squat by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and your by your sides. Bend your knees and squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Explode straight up, swinging your arms overhead. Land softly on the balls of your feet with knees bent. Perform 10 reps.
Try Plyo and Weights
You can perform plyometric or weighted punches to work on punching power. In a plyometric punch, take advantage of your muscles' stretch-shortening property and hit the bag at the moment when your fist makes contact. If you hear the whack of your fist on the bag, it's too soon. Your fist needs to absorb some of the bag's movement or momentum and then explode into a strike. To perform a weighted punch, hold a 3- to 4-pound cylinder in your punching hand, according to вЂњFighting Power: How to Develop Explosive Punches, Kicks, Blocks, and GrapplingвЂќ by Loren Christensen. Maintain a light hold of the weight and then tighten your grip at the point of impact on the bag. Focus on driving your punch through the bag, using one continuous motion and hitting as deeply as possible.
Training Tips and Cautions
Because your hands consist of numerous small bones, joints and muscles, use hand wraps to protect your hands for a bag workout. The wraps provide support by securing your hands and helping to distribute the impact of a punch across your entire hand. Instead of mitts, wear padded gloves for additional protection. Warm up with five to 10 minutes of light shadow boxing and dynamic stretches or moving your joints through a comfortable range of motion. Perform a light round of two to three minutes, practicing and reviewing punching form.