Here at MMA Champs HQ we cover the top punching bags from companies like Everlast, Century, Title, Ringside, UFC and more. If you’re looking to get started training and buy a new heavy bag then you have to check out our reviews.

Below you’ll see our selection of the best punching bags for 2016. In general, we prefer free standing punching bags due to their versatility, but they aren’t for everything so check out our other reviews if you’re looking for a more traditional bag. Also, if you’re new to training with a heavy bag then read on below to find out more about the differences between traditional/free standing bags, weight, material, and more.

Wavemaster XXL
270 Pounds
Rating: *****
Cost: $$$$
Century Versys
110 Pounds
Rating: *****
Cost: $$$$
Century BOB
270 Pounds
Rating: *****
Cost: $$$$

Punching Bag Differences

Although this site is generally focused on standing bags we’ve trained with all kinds of heavy bags. Both kinds of bags have their merits, so you should make sure to choose the right one that will best fit your training needs. If you’re wondering what the differences are between the two styles make sure to read below.

Hanging Bags

hanging heavy bagTraditional hanging bags are the kind you are probably most familiar with seeing if you’re just getting into MMA. Hanging heavy bags have been around for well over a century. They were primarily used for boxing at first, but have morphed to accommodate all kinds of martial arts training. With a traditional bag you hang it from the ceiling (most common), attach it to the wall with a mount or use a heavy bag stand. These kinds of bags hang with a chain, which should be quite sturdy as it needs to hold the bag for a long time (read reviews to make sure you’re getting a good bag).

The biggest issue with hanging a bag is that you often need to drill into a ceiling (assuming you don’t have a mount or a stand) to properly secure it. At a gym this isn’t really an issue, but you may not want to start drilling your home ceiling if that’s where the bag will be used. Another issue is that once you position the bag you can’t easily change it’s move it. Again at a gym this is not a big deal, but at home you may not have a dedicated training area.

Traditional boxing bags are very effective for training martial arts striking and overall they do tend to provide a slightly better training experience. This is because center of gravity tends to be in the middle of the bag. You can hit it with punches and kicks and the bag will tend to move a little when hit. This allows you to practice your speed and timing and the bag sways to and fro with every strike.

Standing Bags

Standing style bags are quite different than traditional ones in that they have a base that the bag sits on. This makes these kinds of bags much easier to set up as you don’t have to worry drilling into your ceiling or getting a mount/stand. They are also much easier to move around. This is great when you don’t have a specific location in your home or gym that you want to leave your bag in 24 hours a day. With a freestanding style bag you put it into the center of a room (ex: a garage) and train with it and then move it out of the way when you’re finished.

The bases of most of standing bags can be filled with either water or sand, which helps stabilize them. They range in weight once filled, but most are often 250+ pounds, which is usually enough to keep the better bags from moving too much when hit with powerful kicks and punches.

With a standing style bag you don’t get the same movement as a hanging bag. They do move, but just not in the same way because they don’t have a chain to swing on. Also, the center of gravity is slightly different and is where the bag and base meet. This isn’t a big deal for us as the benefits outweigh the negatives, but if you are used to traditional style bags you may want to make sure you’ll be comfortable using a standing one. Overall we prefer freestanding bags for home use because of their advantages, but read some reviews to make sure it will work well for you.

Muay Thai Bags

Muay Thai heavy bags may look like traditional heavy bags, but they are not the same. The major difference is that they are significantly longer and skinnier. This is because they are designed primarily for kicking, which is a big aspect of Muay Thai or MMA training. You can also of course punch them, but they are not as good to do so as other bags that’s we’ve reviewed here.

Muay Thai style bags usually weigh more and have an average weight of 100-130 pounds is pretty normal. This is because they are longer and so they are naturally heavier. But it’s also because they need to be heavier to handle powerful leg strikes which tend to move bags more than punches. When buying a Muay Thai bag you will want to make sure that it is heavy enough to handle your kicking. However, a bag that is too heavy can hurt to hit and may not move enough, so you don’t necessarily need to get the heaviest one available.

These kinds of bags need to be hung from a ceiling or mounted/attached to a heavy bag stand in order to train with. This poses the same challenges as traditional bags so do keep that in mind if you want to buy one. We’ve used plenty of Muay Thai training bags before and they do quite a good job at what they’re designed to do. Just make sure you really want this style bag before buying one though as they are not good to use if you’re looking primarily for a boxing bag.

How to Choose a Punching Bag

Picking the right bag can be a challenge to someone who is new to training. There are a lot of things you should consider before getting a bag and we cover the most important ones, including weight, cover material, filling of the bag, and your training plan. While there is no perfect bag, there are a lot of good ones to consider, so make sure to check out the punching bag reviews on this site after you’re done reading the below.

Punching Bag Weight

how-to-choose-a-punching-bagA good punching bag for martial arts is one that doesn’t move very much when it’s hit. Basically the heavier a bag weighs, the more it can withstand force from strikes before it starts moving around. The general consensus is to choose a punching bag that is around half your weight. Since heavy bags come a variety of sizes an ideal weight is around 70 pounds for a smaller fighter and 80-100 pounds for a larger one. Getting the right weight is important because the more resistance the bag provides the better it can be in developing power and fine tuning techniques.

At the same time, you don’t want to get a bag that is too heavy for you. One of the benefits of training with a bag is the ability to work on your speed and timing. So while you don’t want a bag to move too much when struck, it actually can be helpful if it moves a little so that you can practice your timing.

However, it is important to note that the weight of heavy bags only applies to traditional hanging bags. This is because free standing punching bags have heavy bases that the bags sit on. Seeing standing bags with weights of 200-300 pounds is completely normal and in general the heavier the weight the more likely it will withstand power striking without moving too much. You can read more about free standing bags by visiting the homepage.

Cover Material

Another critical thing to consider when choosing a heavy bag is the cover material. In general there are three types of materials used in most punching bags: leather, vinyl and canvas. Cover material may not seem like a big deal, but this is what keeps the bag intact after repeated punches and kicks. The last thing you want to do is get a bag with a poor quality cover as once it starts to split the bag can break apart pretty easily.

choosing-a-heavy-bagLeather, in general, is the most premium material and most leather bags you can find are very high quality. They are also generally able to withstand a serious beating and rarely split. The only negative to leather bags is that they tend to be a bit more expensive than other bags. Also, free standing bags, which we really like are almost never made out of leather.

Vinyl is a good alternative to leather as it is also very durable, but in general it is a cheaper material cost wise. Vinyl bags feel pretty good on the skin when striking them with punches, kicks, elbows, etc. Our favorite bag is the Wavemaster XXL, and it is made from vinyl.

Canvas bags are very often cheaper and made with poorer quality filling materials. These are good bags if you just need something cheap to throw up in your garage and practice on. But in general we’d suggest you stick with leather or vinyl. However, some bags are made with a poly canvas blend (Everlast makes a pretty popular bag), and this is a decent option that is cheap, but still pretty good quality.

Filling of the Bag

There are a variety of fillers used in punching bags and it’s important you choose a bag with a good filler. Punching bags are usually filled with materials like sand, water, fibers, fabric, synthetic materials and even things like old clothes.

Many bags are made with sand and it’s a decent filler to use because it generally provides a nice firm striking experience. At the same time, it’s also pretty easy to replace if the bag ever gets a leak (just buy more sand). However, the one big negative to sand is that it can tend to sink and settle on the bottom of the bag. This can lead to an imbalanced weight distribution where the bottom is rock hard. This could potentially cause problems if you repeatedly are striking the bottom of the bag.

Water bags generally provide a consistent striking experience. This is great because no matter where you strike the bag it is likely to provide the same resistance. There are also other materials like fiber and fabric. Both of these options can be pretty good, but it depends of course on the bag. In general bags from the major brands like Everlast, Century, Title and other major brands have developed high quality filler materials from fiber and fabric and they provide a very nice training experience. Just make sure to read some user reviews before buying to see what others are saying

Training Use

choosing-a-punching-bagWhile the weight, cover material and filling are obviously very important, it is important to choose a punching bag that matches your training needs. For example, if you are planning on training heavily with kicks and not really focusing on punches you may want to consider a good Muay Thai bag, which is longer and thinner than a normal hanging bag (good for practicing high and low kicks). Or if you just want a bag to work on cardio then you don’t need as heavy a bag since you won’t be hitting it as hard.

In general, we recommend you get a standard heavy bag if you don’t know exactly what you’ll be doing. A freestanding bag like the Wavemaster XXL can be a good choice as it provides a good experience for all kinds of training. Alternatively if you want a good hanging bag you could consider something like the 100-pound Everlast C3 Foam Heavy Bag.

Using a Heavy Bag

Heavy bag training is very effective to practice striking and also to get a great workout. But if you are new to martial arts you may be looking for some training drills that you can do. We recommend finding drills that are both fun and will allow you to develop your technique. We go over some of good punching bag drills that can be really good to do. You can also check out the video above for one of our favorite training drills.

Essential Punching Bag Drills

Anyone taking up the sport of mixed martial arts would do well to incorporate a steady routine of heavy bag drills into their training regime. No matter your skill level, working to develop a good combination of speed, precision and endurance is critical for anyone who wishes to have success in the ring or cage. Mixed martial arts punching bag drills are simple to understand and when done properly can be very rewarding to the student but they require consistent effort as well as a high level of motivation. Below we cover 5 essential punching bag drills that can help you develop speed, accuracy, endurance and power. You can also check out our guide on how to choose a heavy bag here.

Quick Punch Drill

punching bag drillsThis is one of our favorite drills and is arguably one of the most fundamental drills for mixed martial arts, as well as most other contact sports. This drill is about building speed while aiming to maintain a high level of accuracy. While using a heavy bag, punch rapidly alternating between right and left punches with full effort while aiming for an imaginary mark on the bag. Choosing a specific mark to target ensures good form and that punches don’t get sloppy. Keep this going for exactly one minute and rest for twenty seconds afterwards. An important tip is to keep a mental note of how many times you strike the bag within the time limit, in order to have a goal that you should aim to beat next time you practice this drill.

Kicking Drill

A good kick technique is one of the most critical building blocks for all mixed martial arts training. A good kick requires good form and proper technique in order to ensure maximum impact. Make sure that you are using correct form when striking the bag, otherwise if you are unsure ask an instructor for guidance. Using a punching bag, start with a kick with the right leg, then alternate with a kick from the left leg. Repeat this sequence for two minutes, and rest for thirty seconds afterwards. A helpful tip is to keep a mental note of the maximum height of your kicks, and to set yourself a goal to kick higher when you next practice this drill. Don’t extend yourself too much in the beginning though as trying to get too high too early could lead to injury.

Accuracy Drill

heavy bag drillsMixed martial arts is all about precision built on a foundation of good technique. This will allow you to deliver swift and crisp blows. With a high level of precision in your strikes, there will be more power in your technique that will help you gain an edge over your opponent in a fight. For this exercise look at the bag and imagine three marks anywhere you want to target. Or to make it easier use masking tape instead to mark the spots you specifically want to target. Strike the targets rapidly in succession with left and right punches, making sure to stay accurate and keep well timed pacing between the punches. Repeat this cycle for two minutes and rest afterwards for 60 seconds. It is recommended to change up the marks every so often, adding kicks and strikes for more advanced students.

Triple Strike Drill

This is a creative exercise performing basic combos that help students work on building their fighting technique. This drill is highly flexible and can grow into longer patterns of strikes, depending of the skill and physical ability of the student. Ideally, students who are more beginners of mixed martial arts should start with three strikes to develop a good base technique and build their way up from there. An example would be to use the heavy bag and perform a combination of a right kick, the a left hook, and finally a right cross. Follow up with the opposite (a left kick, a right cross, and then a left hook combination) always making sure to keep the same pattern. Repeat this sequence for two minutes and rest for 60 seconds afterwards.

Pyramid Drill

This is one of the most intense yet rewarding drills for mixed martial arts students out there. This drill is designed to wear you out quickly, but is arguably one of the best for quickly building high levels of endurance and stamina for training and fighting. Using the heavy bag, perform a kick with your right leg once, then perform two more kicks, then three, then four and finishing with a maximum of five kicks. Then continuing with the same leg, kick four times, then three, then two, then one. Switch to the left leg and repeat the same process. For students who don’t feel very sore afterwards and want more of a challenge, it is recommend that they raise up the maximum number of kicks performed.

Proper Training

mma drillsHeavy bag drills are essential for mixed martial arts training to improve precision, speed, endurance and cardio. A good routine with proper guidance will help anyone become a better overall fighter while at the same time increasing general athletic ability. It is a good idea to keep record of number of repetitions for each exercise. This helps create goals and monitor progress so that you can constantly aim to achieve your goals. Good motivation and consistency are key to staying focused and will help students perform and train to the best of their ability. A well built training routine will see your skills improve in a very short amount of time. This can not only help you in real sparring sessions with opponents, but also a successful mixed martial arts fighter.

Of course, all heavy bag drills should be only attempted under the supervision of a qualified instructor and it is very important to always warm-up correctly before attempting these exercises. Without warming up properly you could be at increased risk for injuries to your fingers, wrists and legs. Also, remember to focus on breathing deeply when conducting these drills. If you are looking for a good punching bag to train with then definitely read the reviews on this site. We cover the top bags by the major MMA brands like Century, Everlast and more. Using a good quality bag will definitely make your training experience better. Make sure to read the reviews on our site for details on the best punching bags available.