Punching Bag vs Running – Which Is a Better Workout?

With so many different options for getting a workout in, it’s critical to understand which is the best for you. You might wonder, “Punching bag vs running, which is a better workout?” 

Boxing generally burns about 800 calories per hour, while running burns about 700 calories per hour. But a punching bag alone doesn’t burn as many calories as running.

Overall, it will come down to your intensity, the specific moves, and what you want to get out of the exercise. As someone experienced with both, I can help you to understand these details.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • How many calories does each workout burn?
  • The areas each workout targets
  • Various equipment needs
  • Alternative workouts to consider
  • How to identify which is best for you

Table of Contents

1. Punching Bag vs. Running: Burning Calories and Intensity
2. Targeted Changes and Coordination Differences
3. Equipment Needs
4. Alternative Punching Bag and Running Exercises
4.1. Other Boxing Workouts
4.2. Advanced Running Exercises
5. What is Right For You? Punching Bag vs. Running
6. Wrap-Up: Punching Bag vs. Running – Which Is a Better Workout?

1. Punching Bag vs. Running: Burning Calories and Intensity

While working out has many benefits, one worth knowing is the number of calories burned during a workout. When comparing a punching bag workout to running, many factors impact caloric burn.

Overall, the average amount of calories burned by a 200-pound person using a punching bag is about 525 calories per hour. This same person burns about 700 calories per hour running.

But if you look at boxing instead of just a punching bag, that comparison shifts the other way. Boxing burns about 800 calories an hour, more than running’s 700 calories. This difference is because the actual sport of boxing is more intense than just hitting a punching bag.

If your punching bag workout incorporates additional movement like shadow boxing or sparring, you’ll see a greater caloric burn, especially if you can keep up the intensity for a long period.

On the other hand, you can also burn more calories by running at a faster pace or on steep hills. Increasing the running intensity can burn more than the average 700 calories per hour. You also might be able to run for much longer than you can do high-intensity boxing.

It’s essential to view punching bags and running as a whole and figure out what works best for you.

2. Targeted Changes and Coordination Differences

Besides the caloric needs, another difference between punching bag vs. running workouts is the areas they both target and the impact on your coordination. These two activities are vastly different, and incorporating both into your workout routine can be helpful.

Running is a consistent, repetitive motion that primarily focuses on your endurance and cardio. This exercise is great if you want to focus on cardiovascular health and increase your ability to work out for extended periods or general energy throughout the day.

Boxing or using a punching bag is about short bursts of highly explosive energy, and this movement results in increasing your overall power and muscle tone. Boxing is an excellent solution for people who want to increase their quick jolts of power rather than extend performance.

These also have significant differences in the specific areas they target and improvements to overall coordination.

Running is a whole-body exercise, but you do most of the heavy lifting with the lower body. As such, running helps out those who want to focus on building strength in the legs and core. It helps build coordination between your feet and can increase your balance and ankle stability.

A punching bag workout or full-fledged boxing is also a whole-body workout. You usually want to avoid keeping your feet planted in one place by bouncing. This activity engages your hands, arms, shoulders, and core at an extreme level while also giving your legs and feet a workout.

The result for boxing is more of a hand-eye coordination impact, but it can also improve your balance and stability. Overall, boxing generally engages more of the body than running and can improve your coordination levels.

3. Equipment Needs

A practical side is always worth noting too. And if you’re wondering, “Punching bag vs. running, which is better?” it helps to know what it takes to get into each activity.

Running requires very little equipment. The most critical aspect is decent running shoes. They’re not just about style. They also provide the right balance between support and flexibility so you can run properly and safely. 

Other than the shoes, the rest of the running gear for beginners is just basic workout clothes. More advanced runners can benefit from specialty clothes and products. 

One thing that can throw a wrench into running workouts is poor weather. Then you can either add additional layers for rain or warmth. Or you can turn to indoor alternatives like treadmills. 

To use a punching bag, you have to start with the punching bag itself. These can be heavy and need a very sturdy point to connect. This anchor can be a challenge in a home, but not impossible. Ensuring the connection point of the punching bag is secure is a critical concern.

You’ll also want to invest in a pair of boxing gloves with good padding and wrist support to use a punching bag regularly. These aren’t just for fashion. They help protect your hands, plus they allow you to increase the intensity of your workout. Decent shoes that provide stable footing are also important.

You can join a boxing gym to avoid having to purchase your own.

Overall, if you want to deal with less equipment when dealing with the question of “Punching bag vs. running, which is better?” the most manageable workout is running. It only requires a decent pair of running shoes, and they can last many running sessions.

Does Hitting the Heavy Bag Build Strength Featured Image

4. Alternative Punching Bag and Running Exercises

There’s a wide world of exercise alternatives to a punching bag and running. Let’s review a few of these to ensure you consider all options.

4.1. Other Boxing Workouts

Hitting the punching bag is a great way to get started with boxing. But it’s far from the only way to practice. You’ll likely find most boxing gyms incorporate serious variety into their workout regimens.

Shadowboxing takes a step away from the bag and gets you thinking about more movements. You’ll move around, keeping your feet off the ground by bouncing often and throwing combinations of punches at an imaginary opponent, such as your shadow.

If you have a workout partner, that opens up many different boxing activities. Of course, you can hop into the ring and go for an actual boxing match or a quick sparring session, but that’s not all. 

You can also have your partner throw on a pair of focus mitts, which can help dial in your techniques by repeating specific moves and hitting moving targets.

4.2. Advanced Running Exercises

Running doesn’t have to be just going for a jog around the neighbourhood. While there’s nothing wrong with doing that, some people like to switch it up and do different types of running activities to bring some variation into the mix.

A common way to make running more interesting is by doing interval training. To do this technique, you’ll incorporate different intensities of movements into a schedule. 

These usually include high-intensity bursts of your fastest sprinting, moderate-intensity jogging, and perhaps some low-intensity cool-down movements like walking or stretching.

By switching back and forth between these different motions, you can burn more calories and complete a more rounded workout than running by itself. Using hills or mountain trails can result in a similar exercise without even thinking about it.

5. What is Right For You? Punching Bag vs. Running

We’ve gone over a few individual details to answer the question, “Punching bag vs. running, which is a better workout?” There’s no perfect answer. It depends on what you’re looking to get out of it.

If burning calories is your ultimate goal, running is the choice since it burns more than hitting a punching bag. But if you step up the intensity and go for more generalized boxing instead of just hitting the bag, this can shift in favor of boxing burning more calories than running.

If you want a high-intensity workout that gets your heart rate up and incorporates a lot of whole-body movement with the arms, the obvious choice is boxing. But you can shake things up while running by using interval training, even though running is usually more endurance-focused.

For those on a tight budget or who can’t hang a punching bag or go to a boxing gym, running is the winner. All it takes is a simple pair of shoes that you likely have in your closet already and a can-do attitude. If you want a punching bag, identify where to hang it properly with space around it. You could also join a boxing gym or program.

What is right for you? That’s something that only you can answer.

Since these are two vastly different workouts, it can help to use both as part of a comprehensive workout schedule. The balance between the two can pay dividends.


6. Punching Bag vs Running – Which is the Better Workout?

On average, running burns more calories than hitting a punching bag. For that reason, it might be a better workout. But you can crank up the intensity of boxing and use more of your upper body, so it’s also an incredible workout.

The most important thing is that you get moving. Any activity is better than nothing and will improve your mental and physical health.

Whether you want to get a pair of new running shoes to hit the pavement or go all-in on the punching bag or join a boxing gym, now is the time to get started.

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