How to Hit a Heavy Bag for Beginners

So, I’m at the gym the other day. I see this guy at the heavy bag. It’s clear to everybody he has no idea what he’s doing.

Plants his feet, starts wailing away. He’s grunting, yelling, screaming. I can only describe it like a hippo who’s been set on fire. Have you seen this guy?

Ugh. Okay. Look, man, if that’s you, it’s okay. I get it. Maybe your mom signed you up for piano lessons instead of boxing lessons as a kid. Guess what?

So did mine. Here’s the good news… You can fix this. Now, I’m not gonna lie, it takes years and years to build up a really solid set of skills.

But if you’re just someone who’s at the gym, you see the heavy bag and you wanna make it part of your workout for ten minutes, fifteen minutes, perfect. I’ve got three tips for you to get a little more bang out of your bag work. Three simple tips that will immediately turn you from chump to champ. Let’s go.

Okay. Before your tips, two quick items. One, if you show up at the gym wearing a red gi and a black belt, there’s a good chance that the people are gonna crowd around you and beat you like a piƱata. Hey. Better. The Lululemon pants that you can’t see are a bit much, but this is L.A. Now, item number two.

Stop screaming. Keep breathing, but stop screaming. Look, I’m not impressed, the other dudes at the gym are not impressed, that pretty girl you’ve been eyeing on the treadmill is not impressed. She only smiles at you because she’s afraid of you. She thinks you’re a lunatic. So, keep a low profile.

Just keep breathing, stop screaming.

Tip #1: Hands down, you’re a clown.

Look, if you remember nothing else about martial arts, boxing, or fighting, please remember that your number one priority is to protect yourself at all times. I don’t care if you throw the most ridiculous punches in the entire world, as long as you keep your hands up while you’re throwing them, at least nobody can say that your defense wasn’t tight. Now, the two times when most people drop their hands are before they throw a punch, they drop the hand down and then throw their big killer punch, and then immediately after they throw the punch. They hit and let their hands drop.

So, please remember keep your hands up before you punch, during your punch, and after your punch. Hands up all the time.

Tip #2: Footwork.

Keep moving. In a real fight, no one is just gonna stand there and let you wail on them. Yeah, maybe the fight ends that way, but it probably didn’t start that way. You need to be a little more clever about setting up your punches and closing that gap, and a little more evasive as they’re coming to you. That means moving. That means footwork.

If you think about it, you may have the strongest, most powerful super punch in the world. I mean, you can punch through a tree. You could punch through a bus. But if you can’t move your feet to get yourself to the right position to land that punch, it’s worthless. Who cares about your stupid super punch?

So, just like in the grappling world where they say position before submission, when it comes to strikes, same thing. It’s gonna be position before your knockout. So, make sure you practice your footwork every chance you get. Here’s my advice: let’s say you wanna work out on the heavy bag for 10 minutes. Great.

For the first five minutes, don’t throw one punch. Not one punch. Instead, focus on your footwork. Yes, it really is that important. Just focus on keeping your hands up, staying in your stance, and shuffle in, shuffle out, shuffle around the bag. Practice pivoting.

Get comfortable moving around the bag any way you want to. Once you feel comfortable moving around a bag that’s not moving, then make it a little more fun. Move the bag. Practice matching distance with the bag straight on, keeping your hand on the bag.

Practice pivoting out of the way of the bag. Practice shuffling around the moving bag. See if you can keep yourself in the positions that you want to.

Again, just focusing on your feet. Once your legs are warmed up and you’re feeling comfortable, great. Then you can start adding your punches back. But never forget to keep moving while you’re throwing your punches.

Tip #3: This is the fun one.

Use your imagination. Create some context for your punches. Imagine that there’s really a reason to be throwing these super punches at somebody.

So, it doesn’t matter if you’re fighting one punk, or an army of zombies, this is the way to make these punches develop into a skill set that you could maybe really use. Imagine something awful happening. What’s that? He’s eating my cherry pie?

I love my cherry pie. He’s not allowed to eat my cherry pie. Right? Right. So, maybe he hits me right in the head and start off the fight. Fight back.

Awesome. Maybe he swings at my head, I duck, slip outside for that body shot. Pivot outside. I’ll take it. You can make this a lot more complex by choosing to close the gap. Don’t just start at the bag and start wailing away.

Work your way into the bag. Pretend you’re on the attack sometimes. Jab your way into the bag, them make your big power shot. And here’s a real bonus tip… make sure you work your way away from the bag as well.

Don’t just slip, jab, bang, bang, bang, do all your magic get in and then drop your hands and back out. Punch on the way out, too. Or at least pivot and shuffle out. So, instead of doing something like jab, bang, bang, bang drop. Walk away. No good.

Let’s work both sides. Bang, bang, bang. Stay alive, stay alert the whole time.

And no, you don’t have to say bang bang bang and bam bam bam. That’s video stuff. What can I tell you? One more thing. I should talk about gloves and wraps.

I’m sure there are many people out there who would say if you’re hitting a heavy bag without wraps and gloves on to protect your hands, you’re a chump no matter what you’re doing. Well, I get that, but for most people here’s the thing… again, this is just some ham and egg stuff. Just people in the gym who want to hit a bag. You’re not a pro. And in my experience, if you start putting on wraps and gloves, usually most people start throwing way too much power. They start getting really sloppy.

Basically, they build bad habits. I don’t want you to do that. I think it ‘s better to just use your real hand and focus on working the bag, not killing the bag.

Every time you start loading up these huge powershots, that’s were trouble starts. But I think anybody who knows anything would be much happier watching somebody who’s got their hands up, has their chin tucked, is staying in their stance, is working and you can see that they’re thinking their way into the bag and out of the bag, those are the skills that are not only going to give you a great workout, but they’re gonna keep you safe. So, gloves, hey… if you have them go ahead and wear them. But it’s not so bad if you don’t have them, either.

Hey, I hope these tips helped. Maybe if we all work together, we can get rid of all the flaming hippos in our gyms. If you like these tips and you wanna get more, don’t forget to hit subscribe. And click on over to to get on my email list. Until next time, keep your hands up and keep fighting for a happy life.