Best Punching Bags: Heavy Bags, Beginner Bags, and Everything In Between

If you’ve spent any time in combat sports you’ve certainly noticed that punching bags are ubiquitous. From boxing to Tae Kwon Do, bag work is an important part of any art that involves striking. The reason heavy bags are so common is that they offer tremendously versatile training. Whether you are working power, stamina, speed, or footwork, a heavy bag is the right tool for the job.

How to choose the right punching bag

best punching bag

There is no one size fits all solution for punching bags. The best punching bag will fit your striking style, your body size, and your space. Keep reading to find the best punching bag for home use!

Weight

The rule of thumb is that a hanging heavy bag should be about half your weight. When bags are too light, they have a tendency to get knocked around too much for long combinations. Generally, bags being too heavy is not a problem – so if you are going to err one way or another, choose a heavier heavy bag.

If you’re only planning to punch your heavy bag, then 70lbs is a good weight to look for. However, if you train Muay Thai then look for 100+ lbs.

When it comes to freestanding bags, the heavier the better. Lighter freestanding bags have a tendency to ‘walk’ around your training space and can be easily toppled by Thai kicks.

Do you find that no matter how heavy your bag is, it always goes flying when you practice? That is a good indicator that you need to focus on your striking technique. Rather than ‘pushing’ your punches, try to have your strikes land with a snap.[i] Push punching may feel like you’re hitting harder but that feeling is misleading and you are only building bad habits.

Shape

Punching bags come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, each offering its own unique advantages.

Cylindrical

If you imagine a heavy bag, this is probably what comes to mind. These bags are typically around 4’ (1.2m) in length and 12-18 inches (30 – 45cm) in diameter. If you’re just starting off, this is the bag you’ll want to get.

This shape comes in a variety of lengths, with longer bags more commonly referred to as banana bags.

Banana bags are great for Muay Thai and Kickboxing, as they offer a striking surface that more closely simulates an opponent. Banana bags are typically narrower in diameter and tend to flex more when struck. If you’re only planning on punching your bag a mid-length bag is generally preferred.

Teardrop

This shape takes its name from its distinctive tear-drop shape. This shape offers a greater variety of striking angles, allowing you to throw elbows, knees, and uppercuts.

Wrecking Ball

Again, the name of this bag should give you a pretty good idea of its shape. Essentially just a hanging sphere, this type of punching bag is designed specifically for boxing. While this bag style is awkward to kick, it allows you to work your evasive movements and accuracy.

Angled

Angled bags look a lot like an inverted teardrop bag. Their distinctive shape makes them perfect for practicing upper cuts and hooks. This makes angled bags a great choice for boxers, but less than perfect for other combat sports. If you’re only going to own a single bag, this probably isn’t the style you want.

However, if you’re looking to get a second bag for speed work and uppercut practice, this is a great supplementary bag style!

Hanging versus Freestanding

Hanging punching bags are undeniably better than freestanding bags. They cost less, can’t be knocked over and offer a more dynamic training experience. A benefit of hanging bags is you can vary the height by varying how long your chain is.

If you have high ceilings then your hanging bag may move too much. Shock absorbing or stabilizing mounts may help mitigate that motion.

Not everyone has the ability to hang a bag. If you live in a rental unit or if you don’t have a ceiling that you are able to mount a 70+ lb bag to then your choice is simple: freestanding.

An important part of bag work is your footwork! Wall-mounted and hanging bag stands don’t allow you to move naturally around your bag.

For many people freestanding bags are the best/only option available. Look for a wide, stable base and go as heavy as your budget allows. Lightweight freestanding bags are best used for accuracy rather than power as they tend to move around or fall over when used with power.

When it comes to filling the base of freestanding bags the most common options are water or sand. Water is convenient, cheap, and is easy to remove. Sand is more difficult fill and remove but will result in a far more stable base. An added benefit of sand over water is that you don’t have to worry about the consequences of a leak. This is especially important if you keep your bag in an unheated space in colder climates.

The 9 best Heavy Punching Bags in 2020

Lets take a look at the best heavy punching bags of 2020

1. Century Original Wavemaster Freestanding Heavy Punching Bag – Best Freestanding Punching Bag

  • Freestanding
  • Weight: 270lbs / 113kg (when filled with water)
  • Shape: Cylindrical

If you’ve been to a boxing or MMA gym that has freestanding bags, odds are they were using Century Wavemaster bags. These bags are ubiquitous, and for good reason. They offer a great combination of value, durability, and utility.

This model has 7 height settings, ranging from 47” to 68” (1.2 – 1.7m), making it a good choice for all but the tallest of strikers. The vinyl striking surface is 13” (33cm) in diameter and 26” (66cm) long, making it suitable primarily for punching. If you want to throw kicks you’ll be better served with a longer bag.

The base can be filled with up to 33 gallons of whatever you decide on. Water is the easiest choice, and 33 gallons of it adds 270lbs to this bag.

If buying American is important to you, you’ll be happy to hear that Century makes all of its punching bags in Oklahoma. All Wavemaster bags comes with a 1-year warranty.[ii]

2. Everlast 70-Pound MMA Poly Canvas Heavy Bag– Best Punching Bag for Beginners

  • Hanging
  • Weight: 70lbs / 31.75kg
  • Shape: Cylindrical

If you’re able to mount a hanging bag, then this bag from Everlast would be a great choice. While it isn’t the heaviest bag out there, 70lbs is sufficient for most people just getting started.

With its classic cylindrical shape, you won’t be doing any uppercuts, but otherwise it offers a versatile 44” (1.1m) of striking surface. This is sufficiently large to include some kicks, although if you are serious about practicing your Thai kicks you’ll want to look for a heavier and longer bag. Similarly, if you are a taller person, or a particularly heavy puncher, you may want a heavier bag.

Everlast has filled this bag shredded fabric which resists the problem of settling that commonly plagues bags with sand fills.

The bag is constructed out of a heavy duty polycanvas which should offer years of durability. Some users have reported that the nylon straps are a potential weak point for this bag, but the 120-day warranty should offer peace of mind in the event that you receive a lemon.

Note: This bag does not come with hardware to hang it. There is no single mounting solution that works for all ceilings. Everlast sells a mounting bracket, but any bracket that is rated for at least double the weight of your bag should suffice.

3. Century Wavemaster XXL Training Bag – Best Large Freestanding Bag

  • Freestanding
  • Weight: 270lbs / 113kg (when filled with water)
  • Shape: Cylindrical

The Century Wavemaster XXL is perfect for the person who wants to throw hard but doesn’t have the ability to hang a bag. Standing 67” (1.7m) tall with 52” (1.32m) of striking surface, this bag is great for practicing Thai boxing on.

Additionally, at 18” in diameter this bag is considerably wider than the original Century Wavemaster. The base is wider and lower, making this bag more difficult to knock over in comparison to the original Wavemaster. An added bonus of the lower base is that you can practice lower kicks without worry about accidentally hitting the base!

Just like the original Wavemaster, the base holds up to 33 gallons. Fully loaded with sand, this base can be filled with up to 450lbs (200kg) of sand.[iii]

This punching bag is constructed in the USA and features high density foam wrapped in a vinyl cover. If you are interested in color options this bag is available in red, blue, and black. Just like all of Century’s Wavemaster punching bags, this bag comes with a 1-year warranty.

4. Everlast HydroStrike Water Bag, 100 lb, Black – Best Water Bag

  • Hanging
  • Weight: 100lbs / 45kg
  • Shape: Teardrop

The Everlast HydroStrike Water Bag is an extremely versatile punching bag. Its teardrop shape enables you to work angles that just cylinder bags just don’t offer. This is great if you’re practicing Thai boxing and want to include elbows, knees, and uppercuts in your bag work!

This bag weighs 100lbs when filled with water yet can be carried around easily when empty. Water is a great fill material as it gives the bag a very natural feeling when struck, although the bags tend to be less lively due to their weight and the impact absorbing nature of water.

Its hard to tell from the pictures, but this heavy bag actually has a larger striking surface than the Original Century Wavemaster bag. With a diameter of 14” and a length of 28”, this punching bag offers is big enough for serious use.

Everlast trusts that this bag will go the distance and sells it with a 2-year warranty. However, Everlast recommends against using it outside, suggesting that the rubber exterior is sensitive to UV light.[iv]
Note: This bag does not come with hardware to hang it. There is no single mounting solution that works for all ceilings. Everlast sells a mounting bracket, but any bracket that is rated for at least double the weight of your bag should suffice.[v]

5. Ringside Leather 100 lb. Heavy Bag – Best Heavy Bag for Home Use

  • Hanging
  • Weight: 100lbs / 45kg
  • Shape: Cylindrical

Ringside is well known for their high-quality leather heavy bags, and this 100lb bag is no exception. A standout among punching bags at this price, the Ringside heavy bag has a genuine leather exterior instead of synthetic leather or vinyl. While many companies claim that their synthetics wrapped bags are just as durable as leather heavy bags, there is something special about real leather.

The fill is unusual as well, with 2 inches of foam wrapped around a shredded fabric core. This makes this bag softer than your typical heavy bag.

The bag is 42” (1.m) and 14” (35cm) in diameter, making it a relatively compact bag for its weight. This bag comes with a d-ring on the bottom, allowing you to attach additional weights to the bag if so desired.

Instead of nylon straps this heavy bag uses chains for hanging. Both chains and straps offer their own pros and cons: chains are generally more durable but generate more noise during use.

Note: This bag does not come with hardware to hang it. There is no single mounting solution that works for all ceilings. Ringside sells a few different mounting brackets, but any bracket that is rated for at least double the weight of your bag should suffice.

6. Pure Boxing MMA Target Bag Inflatable Punching Bag, black (8911TB) – Best Budget Punching Bag

  • Freestanding
  • Weight: ~25lbs / 11kg
  • Shape: Cylindrical

This inflatable bag from Pure Boxing makes some sacrifices, but for the price it is still a decent option. The bag stands 64” tall when inflated, so while it is not ideal for taller boxers it is adequate for most people.

The bag’s base can be filled with water or sand (sand is recommended!) allowing it to bounce back up after being knocked over. This should clue you into the fact that this is not a heavy-duty punching bag: the bag is lightweight and even smaller adults will have no trouble knocking it over.

If you are just looking for a bag to work precision and timing on, this isn’t a bad choice. The surface is covered with numbered targets, allowing you to practice different types of drills on the bag.

7. Outslayer #02 Filled Heavy Bag 100 Pound – Best Hanging Heavy Bag

  • Hanging
  • Weight: 100lbs / 45kg
  • Shape: Cylindrical

Outslayer is one of the most respected names in punching bags. This 100lb heavy bag comes with a 10-year warranty. Yes, you read that correctly: Outslayer is willing to bet that their heavy bags will last a decade!

At 55” (1.4m) in length this punching bag is long enough to use for kickboxing, although hardcore Muay Thai practitioners may still find themselves desiring a proper banana bag. The Outslayer uses an 100% cloth fill, so you don’t have to worry about hard spots developing from settling. Many users have reported that this bag is very hard. This can be mitigated by removing some of the filling, but the reality is you should use wraps and gloves for heavy bag work to keep your hands safe.

Note: This bag does not come with hardware to hang it. There is no single mounting solution that works for all ceilings. Outslayer sells a heavy-duty bag stand as well as a selection of brackets. You should select a bracket that is capable of holding at least double the weight of any bag you select.

8. Contender Fight Sports 100 lb. Thai Bag – Best Heavy Bag for Muay Thai

  • Hanging
  • Weight: 100lbs / 45kg
  • Shape: Cylindrical Banana/Long

This heavy bag from Contender Fight Sports is perfect for anyone looking for a longer punching bag. At 72” (1.8m) in length this bag is a good choice for Muay Thai boxers and kickboxers.

The Contender heavy bag has a synthetic leather exterior and a 100% shredded fabric core. Some people have reported that the nylon hang straps are not consistently sized between bags, so if you’re planning on getting multiple bags you may have to do some tweaking to have all the bags hang at a consistent height.

Longer bags like these tend to flex a bit more when they are struck, so if you are just boxing this might not be the right heavy bag for you.

9. RDX AR Angle Boxing Bag With Gloves – Best Value Punching Bag

  • Hanging
  • Weight: ~50lbs / 22kg
  • Shape: Angled

RDX has been making combat sports equipment since 1999 and has a reputation for inexpensive, heavy duty equipment. The RDX AR Angle boxing bag has a durable synthetic leather exterior, wrapped around a dual-layer core. The outer layer consists of 2 inches of polyethylene foam, and the inner is a shredded fabric fill.

This bag is fairly large, at 59” (1.5m) in length with a maximum diameter of 18” (45cm), but only weighs 50lbs (22kg). The light weight is not ideal, but the included D-ring on the bottom allows you to attach extra weights or support lines to prevent the bag from flying around under heavy impacts.

One unusual feature about this bag is it’s waterproof and RDX advertises it for outdoor use.

The shape of this bag makes it perfect for practicing uppercuts, although compromising its utility for kicks. If you’re a boxer this bag would be a great second heavy bag, but if you are a Muay Thai boxer or kickboxer you may be better served with a traditional or teardrop heavy bag.

RDX includes a pair of free bag gloves with the purchase of this bag. While you probably already have your own gloves, a free backup pair is nothing to scoff at!

The Verdict

Outslayer #02 – The Last Heavy Bag You’ll Ever Buy

The Outslayer heavy bag is probably the best heavy bag on the market. It’s not complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Consisting solely of a synthetic leather exterior wrapped around a core of shredded fabric, Outslayer’s heavy bag comes with a 10-year warranty! The 100lb weight and ample 55” striking surface make this a versatile bag, well suited for boxers as well as Muay Thai fighters.

Century Wavemaster XXL Training Bag – Best Freestanding Bag

If you don’t have a place to hang a heavy bag, then the Century Wavemaster XXL is the next best thing! With its wide, stable base, durable vinyl wrapped foam striking surface, and generous size, this bag is great for all combat sports.

Now that you have your punching bag, get yourself a good pair of boxing gloves (check these out if you’re female), possibly some heavy bag gloves, and some boxing shoes.

FAQs

Do I need to wear hand protection when using a heavy bag?

Yes! You should always wear hand protection when using a heavy bag. Ideally, you should wear hand wraps underneath boxing gloves or bag gloves. While MMA gloves offer some protection, boxing gloves and bag gloves go much further in keeping the small bones of your hand and wrist safe.

How do I hang a heavy bag?

There are numerous mounting brackets to hang heavy bags, and the correct one will depend upon your ceiling. The most important thing about hanging a heavy bag is selecting a suitable location to hang it from! You must find a stud or other secure, loading bearing beam in your ceiling.

Depending upon how handy you are, there are DIY solutions for hanging heavy bags (typically involving two eye bolts joined by a bolt), as well as numerous mounting brackets available on Amazon.com. Not particularly handy? Your best bet is to contact a handyman – they should be able to mount the necessary hardware quickly!

If you don’t believe that you can safely mount a hanging heavy bag, freestanding bags are a great alternative.

Where should I place my heavy bag?

The best place to put a heavy bag is somewhere where you are able to use it from any angle. A key component of heavy bag training is footwork, so if your bag is placed in a corner or against a wall you’ll miss out on this benefit!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=910jf8uqcC4

For this reason, consider your choice carefully if you are thinking about a wall-mount or hanging bag stand. The training you’ll be able to do will be limited by the positioning of the bag.

References

  1. N, Johnny. “How to Hit a Heavy Bag.” ExpertBoxing, September 17, 2013. https://expertboxing.com/how-to-hit-a-heavy-bag.
  2. “Wavemaster.” Century Wavemaster | Wavemaster Punching Bag | Freestanding Punching Bag | Best Heavy Bag | Punching Bag From Century, May 9, 2019. https://www.centurymartialarts.com/collections/wavemaster/wavemaster-10162?returnurl=/collections/wavemaster/.
  3. “Volume to Weight Conversions for Common Substances and Materials.” Volume to Weight conversions for common substances and materials. Accessed April 4, 2020. https://www.aqua-calc.com/calculate/volume-to-weight.
  4. “Hydrostrike Heavy Bag, 100lbs Black.” Everlast.com. Accessed April 4, 2020. https://www.everlast.com/hydrostrike-heavy-bag-black-100.
  5. “Hydrostrike Heavy Bag, 100lbs Black.” Everlast.com. Accessed April 4, 2020. https://www.everlast.com/hydrostrike-heavy-bag-black-100.

Leave a Comment