T Nation

Heavy-Bag Workout

I’m looking to incorporate a heavy-bag into my workouts for 2002. That said, I’m am a musician, and want to take any reasonable steps to minimize risk to my hands. Any recommendations (hand-wrapping techniques, workout gloves, recommended bag weights, etc.) would be appreciated. Thanks.

You didn’t say what instrument you play, however, I believe one
should use their bare hands on a work out bag, maybe after working out a few weeks with gloves, they have ones that you just slip on, but you can still hurt your hands with gloves, thinking you can hit anyway you want etc. I recommend starting slow w/w/o gloves, and building up impact tolorance~~hitting the bag also can hurt your shoulders besides every part of your arm and hands/fingers. I had a shoulder problem that I figured I did it on the wave master free-standing bag I have, as I used a side to side, left back of hand right inner palm, then vice versa, and I wasn’t careful; I think I injured a tendon or whatever, so I don’t use that damn exercise anymore!!! Toughening up your hands/feet, and especially getting a hellacious cardio workout, or just a good warmup, warmdown is very easy on the bag, but ALWAYS think when you strike, you don’t have to knock the bag down to get results! I recommend a soft fist, that seems to protect your hands/fists/wrists in a straight line, it’s where you just fold your 4 fingers down on the bottom of your inner palm, looking like you’re holding a lightning bug in your hand so you don’t crush it. Your fist looks like a small box, with your thumb on top of your index finger, curled up. If you buy a free-standing wave master instead of one you hang from a ceiling, go thru Acadamy of Martial Arts, advertised in Black Belt magazine, they have the cheapest prices hands down!

I would definitely invest in a good wrap and some good bag gloves. Century makes some good ones that have extra wrist support. I have been a martial artist for over 14 years and hold black belts in a few systems. My best advice for wrapping your hands would be to go to a boxing or kickboxing gym in your area and have one of the fighters or coaches give you a quick demo on how they wrap their hands. Also before you do this I would learn how to punch properly (in case your not experienced in this) It is extremely important just like with lifting weights that you practice proper form. Take a martial arts class or boxing lessons at least a beginner’s course to get the mechanics of a punch down. I have sparred with lots of boxers and these guys typically spend near as much time wrapping their hands as they do actually sparring. Also take into consideration practicing open hand strikes, elbow strikes, kicks, etc… with proper form of course. Don’t mean to get to long winded on this. But it is very important to do these types of workouts properly to avoid injury and don’t assume that just because you have punched someone in a bar fight that this is the proper way to practice strikes in order to get the most out of this kind of training. Good luck.

I agree with RedKarate except for when he says something to the effect of, “it should be as though you have a lightning bug in your hand, don’t crush it.” Making a tight fist is THE MOST essential part to protecting your hand.
If you are a musician then I suggest you stay away from the heavy bag and use a jump rope or something else.
If professional fighters can break their hands while punching, then so can you.

Find a boxing gym and join for a few monthes. They will show you how to properly wrap your hands and how to strike the bag. Wearing gloves is recommended if you don’t want to cut up your knuckles. It’s a great workout if you have proper form and know what you’re doing.

Yeah, I didn’t explain the soft fist well enough, the fingers are tight against the bottom of the palm, my explanation of holding the bug or whatever inside the the fist seems to be understood when I explain it to the few I’ve trained on the net. Plus, the fist being tight and especially with the fingers underneath and bent into the palms actally can get the fist hurt easier (in my opinion) I’ve been using this fist for 8 years, and have never had any problem with my fists/wrists. Relaxed striking is where the power comes from, and less tightening up supposedly keeps the injuries down. But just like with workouts, this may apply to me only, someone else may be better off tightening up, etc. I also keep my soft fist with some of my other hand strikes, like backhand, hammer fist, and “knocking knuckles” strike. NOTHING is written in stone, of course! I play guitar, so I am protective of my hands and especially fingers!

I agree that relaxed punching is where the power comes from. But to me, relaxed punching means that you are relaxed until the moment you make contact with the target. At this moment your fist should become very tight to protect the hand and wrist and aid in delivering a very powerful strike. If the hand is left relaxed then you will not only risk injury, but the power of your strike will suffer.

Very true Tony, but what I like about the soft fist is that it is already realaxed, yet at the moment of impact, it is in its strongest biomechanical position as the “box” is in its final stage already. Again, when I was shown this 8 years ago, I took to it immidiately, and it may very well be phsycological. If I ever get hurt using it, I will definately post about it, as I want to learn and teach everything I can! My injured shoulder showed me that one can’t just bang the bag haphazerdly and not expect to get hurt! I probably made it worse at work, but the side to side strikes I was using without being aware of my shoulder seems to fit the bill of how I hurt it.

I think a good suggestion for someone like T.E. who is not a martial artist or boxer is not to go 100% on the bag. The heavy bag can give you a great cardio workout without hitting it full force. Shadow-boxing would also be a great idea since you get the same type of workout without the injury risk.

Right again Tony! He’ll get as much workout hitting the bag lightly. I know when I first started on the bag, I was amazed at how quick it can tire you out! It’s a great workout all by itself!

Try hanging a towel up on a door frame or better yet from the ceiling with a rope. Use the towel as a target, don’t push the towel try to make it snap. This is a cheap alternate to a heavy bag, and not a bad system to work in with heavy bag work. people tend to push the heavy bag instead of hitting it (read red karate’s description of punching). I notice that my students who are heavy bag dependent cant make the focus mitt move or snap bacause they are used to pushing their punch. You could also use a plastic grocery bag and either hang it or let it “float”. Heavy bag work is important but these other methods will augment your workouts.