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Heavy Bag Conditioning Affecting Upper Body Workouts


Current stats: 6'0, 103kg, 25-30% body fat

I have been having good results with 531 for the last 9 weeks but recently my progress on bench and overhead press seems to have declined.

I am wondering if using the heavy bag as a warm up is fatiguing my shoulders. Previously I was simply using a 3 minute warm up round at moderate intensity, some light stretching, and then 10 30 second full power rounds with 30 second rest. This seemed fine.

I have increased this to 3 3 minute rounds and then the power rounds. I have also been working the bag on off days.

My problem is my bench and OHP progress seems to have slowed. I missed reps on my PR set last week and this week (57.5kg tried for 12, got 11, this week 60kg tried for 10, got 9)

Is it possible this bag work is overstressing my shoulders leading to the decline in performance? Or maybe pushing too hard on the PR sets, or a combination of both?

My current goal is to gain strength while improving conditioning, ready for a cut in around 9 weeks time. Am I trying to ride two horses with one ass?

I am eating extra calories to make up for this conditioning, eating around 3000kcal a day with minimum 150g protein, usually more.

So do I dial back my PR sets, cut back the conditioning, eat more, or some combination thereof?

BTW I benched 80kg two weeks ago and pressed 60kg about 6 weeks ago, which suggests I should be able to these numbers.

Maybe my expectations are too great or it's just a mini-plateu and I need to give it time. Opinions?


In my experience as an ex muay thai practicioner, yes, shoulders and traps will be killed because of heavy bag work and having your guard up at all times. Maybe you could move the bag work AFTER the big lift?

Regarding conditioning you should read that specific section of the book (2ed btw, I don’t know if the first one covers that).

My suggestion is, warm up properly but don’t tax yourself with this, then lift heavy, then do conditioning.


I would suggest ditching the bag work on training days all together. Do a more standard warm-up and then hit your main movements with focus and power. Leave strength training days for strength training and conditioning days for conditioning.

The bag work COULD be your issue, or you could have started too heavy from the get-go, or maybe even something else. Dial your training max back 2-3 cycles and proceed.


I do a decent amount of bag work and can’t imagine putting it before the main lifts - it’s way too ‘stressful’, even light.

I view it almost like hill sprints; I wouldn’t do hill sprints the day before a lower body session, let alone as a warm up. I might do some light skipping rope but I wouldn’t go all out. It’s about getting the blood flowing, and priming yourself to lift strong and break PRs.

Personally I’d suggest either light rope work or shadow boxing, or even better med ball throws. Then do the bag work either on a separate day as Joey suggests, or after lifting. I tend to do it that way anyway.


Thanks for the input everyone, I especially like the idea of involving shadow boxing in my warm up and have a large mirror handy. I think I will drop the bag sessions before all 5/3/1 sessions and keep them to seperate days, then maybe try adding them in on lower body days and see how I get on.

I get how hill sprints would be silly to do before a squat workout, but bag work doesn’t tax the legs to the same degree in my opinion so I thought it would be different. I definitely see how it would be detrimental to a shoulder focused workout though, it has probably crept up on me as I escalated the intensity.

Just to set one thing straight, I definitely did not start too heavy. In fact I had been considering a double jump on overhead press as I got 10 reps on 1+ week, decided to stick to the program though. Only got 8 reps on squat on 5+ but seeing as it is so much lower than my other lifts I think it will catch up.

So in summary, thanks everyone for your advice and it will be heeded.