Types of Punching Bags

With more than 18 years of martial arts experience, I’m here to tell you about the different types of punching bags. Which one is right for you?

Table of Contents:

1. Hanging Punching Bags
1.1. Standard Punching Bags
1.2. Banana Bags
1.3. Wrecking Ball Bags
1.4. Water-Filled Punching Bags
1.5. Angled Punching Bags
2. Free Standing Punching Bags
2.1. Free Standing Punching Bags
2.2. Human-Shaped Punching Bags
2.3. Grappling Dummies
3. Wall Punching Bags
4. Speed Bags
5. Double End Punching Bags
5.1. Traditional Double-End Punching Bags
5.2. Mexican Double-End Punching Bags
6. Types of Punching Bag Fillings

1. Hanging Punching Bags

Hanging bags are by far the most popular type of punching bags (a.k.a. heavy bags). If your ceilings are made of concrete, you shouldn’t have problems hanging one up.

It’s also a good idea to hang it about 4-5 inches from a wall. That way when you’re punching it, the bag won’t bounce off of the wall and it won’t swing too much. Because the more a punching bag swings about, the more stress it puts on its fixings. And the more likely it is for your fixings to break or for your bag to come off the ceiling.

1.1. Standard Punching Bags

Standard punching bags are the most common type of heavy bags you’ll find in boxing gyms. They’ve got a cylindrical shape, and are usually made of durable materials like synthetic leather, and filled with shredded fabric or sand. They come in a wide range of weights, allowing you to adjust the resistance and challenge according to your skill level and punching power.

Standard heavy bags are ideal for practicing basic punches, power punches, and body punches, helping you develop strength and improve technique. They’re not as comfortable practicing uppercuts, though. Due to their shape, it may also be difficult for you to visualize how hitting the bag compares to hitting a real opponent, especially if you’re a beginner. 

Jayefo Sports Punching Bag - Hanging Boxing Bag for MMA, Karate, Judo, Muay Thai, Kickboxing, Self Defense Training for Training at Home or Gym - Unfilled Heavy Bag 70 to 100 lbs - Black

Related: The Best Punching Bag

1.2. Banana Bags

Banana bags, also known as teardrop bags, are shaped like a banana or teardrop, with a wider top and narrower bottom. These bags are designed to simulate the shape of the human body, making them ideal for practising uppercuts, knee strikes, and body shots. They offer a more realistic target for training and help improve accuracy, precision, and overall striking skills. Banana bags are commonly used by martial artists and combat sports practitioners to enhance their technique and power.

Fairtex Heavy Bag Banana, Tear Drop, Bowling, 7ft Pole, Angle Bag, HB3 HB4 HB6 HB7 HB10 HB12 for Muay Thai, Boxing, Kickboxing, MMA

1.3. Wrecking Ball Bags

Wrecking ball punching bags are usually really soft. So they’re great to hit full power without worrying about the impact on your hands, shoulders, or elbows. It’s like landing your punches on a cloud, and it feels really good!

They’re also great for doing uppercuts. In that sense, they’re very similar to the uppercut bag we saw above. Wrecking ball bags have the added advantage that you can really practice your footwork and agility because they leave a lot of space for your feet – unlike a traditional long heavy bag or even some uppercut bags.

But as fun as these bags are, I’m personally not a fan for a couple of reasons. For one, they’re a really big target. So you can lose some precision when you practice too much on them. Another big con is that you can’t really train body shots on them.

And as much as you can practice your footwork, rolling under these bags can be a bit challenging, especially if you’re taller.

All that being said, this is a great option for more advanced fighters looking to work on their power.

Ringside Head Shot Powerhide Punching Heavy Bag,White,15 x 18 inch

Related: The Best Filling for a Punching Bag

1.4. Water-Filled Punching Bags

Water-filled bags are a relatively new addition to the heavy bag market. These bags have a water-filled core surrounded by a synthetic outer shell. The water filling gives you a dynamic target that simulates the impact and movement of hitting a human body.

Since they’re filled with a liquid, water punching bags have a very high level of kinetic shock absorption. This means that when you punch, most of the kinetic energy goes into the bag rather than into your body.

This water absorption also gives you a feeling comparable to striking a human body.

Their main disadvantage is how they deal with punctures. If you accidentally puncture a normal heavy bag, just put a piece of duct tape on it and you’ll be fine. With a water punching bag, though, it’s not as simple. Even if you tape it on the inside, there’s still a small chance for the water to find a way to escape. 

And while that’s not a complete deal breaker, it’s still something you should be aware of.

Aqua Training Bag 21" 190 Pound Heavy Punching Bag

Related: The Best Water Punching Bag

1.5. Angled Punching Bags/Uppercut Punching Bags

The angled heavy bag is very similar to the standard hanging heavy bag. The main difference is the angled heavy bag has a design with an angled surface at the bottom to help you practice your uppercuts.

In addition to uppercuts, these bags can also be used to practice straight punches, hooks, and other striking techniques. This versatility makes them really valuable. So, if you’re serious about boxing you should really consider getting one. Their shape also really resembles a human body, so it’s much easier to visualize fighting a real opponent.

This is especially beneficial for boxers who want to improve their striking accuracy, especially if your style is closer to a swarmer.

Since it’s usually more compact, In addition to its uppercut training capabilities, the angled heavy bag also provides more space for footwork. With its angled shape, you can move around the bag more freely, practicing intricate footwork techniques and improving your agility inside the ring.

As far as good angled heavy bags, I recommend checking out the Outslayer Filled Uppercut Heavy Bag. It’s a bit pricey, but it’s durable, soft, and it’s very suitable for intense boxing workouts.

Outslayer Filled Angle Uppercut Heavy Bag -Black - Made in USA

2. Free Standing Punching Bags

Hanging punching bags are great, but they’re not the best solution for everybody. If you’ve got a joist ceiling or if your landlord doesn’t let you make holes in the ceiling, then you could get a free standing punching bag.

Still, you should definitely consider your flooring. Even though the base of a freestander is usually filled with sand or water so it doesn’t move around, that’s still not a guarantee. So If you have a laminate floor, it’s a good idea to put a rubber mat under your punching bag, so that it doesn’t move around too much. You should use a mat even if you have some sort of carpet, because as that heavy bag moves around – even slightly – it could damage the carpet.

2.1. Standard Free Standing Punching Bags

A big advantage of a free standing punching bag is the extremely easy set-up. You don’t have to drill any holes or do annoying DIY – just fill it up, and you’re ready to go!

Another advantage of free standing bags is that they better resemble a human body shape. This can make for more realistic training by helping you improve your accuracy in targeting the jawline and temples, which are knockout punches. 

The main disadvantage they have is their tendency to fall over. But as long as you fill the base properly, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Century Original Wavemaster Freestanding Heavy Punching Bag

Related: The Best Free Standing Punching Bag

2.2. Human-Shaped Punching Bags

Human-shaped punching bags are great for improving your precision. You can focus your attacks on a specific area of the body, and higher-end bags will accurately react to your blows, similar to a sparring partner.

Dummies, particularly free-standing models, take up less space than other bags. If you have a cramped gym where space is at a premium, a human-shaped punching bag may be the better purchase.

Traditional punching bags have their advantages as well. For one, punching bags are often less expensive than dummies, so they have an advantage for those looking to save money on their home setup. Punching bags also allow you to practice your footwork more than free-standing dummies. Finally, traditional models are less prone to tipping over from excessive force.

Century BOB Body Bag with Base Unit | Freestanding Training Dummy Opponent Bag | Mannequin Bag, Martial Artists, Fitness Pros, Athletes Training | Training for Tactical & Self-Defense

Related: The Best Human-Shaped Punching Bag

2.3. Grappling Dummies

Another type of punching bag that is commonly used in combat sports like wrestling, MMA, and judo is the grappling dummy. This lifelike punching bag resembles a human opponent, allowing martial artists to practice their techniques in a more realistic manner.

Grappling dummies are usually freestanding, providing a stable base for training. They simulate the weight and shape of a real person, making it easier for fighters to practice takedowns, throws, and submissions. With a grappling dummy, martial artists can improve their grappling skills, work on their ground game, and develop their striking abilities.

One of the key advantages of using a grappling dummy is the ability to practice techniques repeatedly without risking injury to a training partner. This is especially beneficial when learning new moves or perfecting existing ones. Martial artists can focus on mastering various grappling techniques, such as arm bars, chokes, and takedowns, in a controlled and safe environment.

Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a novice looking to improve your combat sports skills, a grappling dummy can be a valuable tool in your training arsenal. By incorporating a grappling dummy into your practice routine, you’ll be able to hone your techniques, increase your strength and endurance, and enhance your overall performance in the ring or on the mat.

Grappling Dummy MMA Wrestling Punch Bag Judo Martial Arts 70''

3. Wall Punching Bags

When it comes to training in limited spaces, wall bags are a game-changer. 

One of the standout features of wall bags is that they don’t rebound or swivel like other types of punching bags. This means you won’t have to worry about the bag moving around or swinging back at you during your training sessions. This stability allows you to focus solely on your striking technique without any distractions.

Of course, this comes with the downside that you can’t use the swinging of the bag to train your footwork. But you can counteract that by incorporating slips and ducks into your combinations.

Some wall bags also allow you to train uppercuts. Although I wouldn’t recommend using wall bags that are made only for training uppercuts – they’re just too limiting. 

INNOLIFE Wall Mount Uppercut Boxing MMA Training Punching Target Size: S/L

4. Speed Bags

As the name suggests, the main goal of a speed bag is to boost your speed. On top of that, they teach you to keep your guard up – because if you don’t the bag is going to hit you back! In addition, they can help decrease your reaction time and improve your hand-eye coordination. The speed at which you need to move your arms can also improve your cardio and tone the muscles in your arms. 

And to top it all off, speed bags are just a ton of fun!

In terms of drawbacks, the main one is that you can’t really use boxing techniques on them. The way you hit them is quite different from the way you throw a jab, a straight or any other punch. And unlike a heavy bag, a speed bag doesn’t require you to put your body weight behind your punches. Speed bags also tend to be quite noisy as the bag hits the platform and bounces back. So you should bear that in mind if you plan on hanging one at home.

Still, they’re a very useful tool in a boxer’s arsenal and you should definitely consider them if you’re at all serious about improving your speed and reaction time.

TITLE Boxing Gyro Balanced Speed Bags

Related: The Best Speed Bag

5. Double End Punching Bags

Heavy bags and speed bags are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Heavy bags are made for improving your form and power while speed bags are intended for improving your speed. Double end bags sit somewhere in the middle. They provide more resistance than a  speed bag, but not as much as a heavy bag. Still, they react much more lively than a heavy bag does. Does that make them a good replacement for both? Well, not exactly!

5.1. Traditional Double-End Punching Bags

Double-end bags are amazing for improving speed and precision, similar to a speed bag. However, unlike a speed bag, the double-end bag also helps you work on your technique.

See, double-end bags move quicker when you hit them. But unlike a speed bag, you need to hit them using jabs, crosses, uppercuts and hooks. As a result, you need to dodge using the same techniques you would use in the ring. They’re great for training speed, accuracy, and agility. They get you used to the feeling of missing punches. When you are in a real fight, you will not land every punch. As a result, it does not make sense to always practice on a standard punching bag. So it’s a good idea to spend some more time with double-end bags.

They’re also a lot more compact than traditional heavy bags, so they’re very easy to store.

Where they come up short is in training power. Due to the fact that double-end bags need to be manoeuvrable, they don’t provide you with a lot of resistance when you punch them. This is why if you want to improve your punching power you should go for a traditional heavy bag (or one of the other options in this article).

Ringside Ringside Double End Bag

5.2. Mexican Double-End Punching Bags

The Mexican Double End Bag is strung up like a traditional double-end bag. Where it differs is in the shape, which looks like an hourglass, or like two teardrops strung together.

The lower part provides you with a second striking area that helps you train your body hooks. Mexican Double End Bags are easier to hit because they have larger striking areas, and their irregular shape always keeps you on your toes whenever you need to dodge.

Mexican double-end bags are easier to hit because they have larger strike areas. They’re great for practising body shots, and their irregular shape always keeps you on your toes when you need to dodge.

It shares similarities with the speed bag with one notable difference – it hits back, and it hits back quickly. This is why they’re very good for advanced fighters who want to improve their defensive game.

Due to their irregular shape, they’re usually more expensive than the traditional ball-shaped double-end punching bags. But if you’ve got the budget, I’d definitely recommend getting one!

Cleto Reyes Double Double End Bag

Related: The Best Double-End Bag

6. Types of Punching Bag Fillings

The most popular – and best – filling option is shredded textile or old clothes. There are a number of reasons for this. First, cloth is very soft and lets you punch the bag without damaging your hands and wrists. Combined with a good pair of bag gloves, means you can have a really good heavy bag workout.

Another advantage to using cloth is that it’s very cheap – especially if you decide to use some of your old clothes.

Another good option is to use memory foam.

It’s softer than foam and it even gives your punches some rebound. The only downside compared to cloth is that it’s a lot more expensive.

Water is another really good option. But you need to have a bag that’s specifically designed for it. As I said above, water is great for absorbing the energy of your punches. And it’s also very easy to fill up and empty your heavy bag, in case you need to move it often. But you should be very careful not to puncture it. Because then it’s almost impossible to stop water from leaking out of your punching bag.