When it comes to boxing training, most assume that you simply have punch bags and nothing else. However, as any boxer will tell you, there are numerous worthwhile punch bag alternatives. Many boxing training aides can make sure you are improving your skills as a boxer without having to always use a punch bag. As any boxer knows, there is more to boxing than simply throwing punches. Sometimes, changing it up and using a more specific training aide can provide you with a whole new way to improve and change your training regime.
What, though, would make a good punch bag substitute?
With so many different types of punching bags out there, you have a great many products to choose from. What, though, would make a good switch-up from using a punch bag? What are some great alternatives to the standard punch bag?
1- Shadow Boxing
One of the best punch bag alternatives is to shadow box. This literally means fighting your own shadow. Shadowboxing is a great way to help you get used to throwing without hitting anything. Many boxers find that shadow boxing is a good alternative to punch bags as it allows you to get used to throwing punches, moving your feet etc. without having to actually hit anything.
Just about anyone who is trying to improve as a boxer will find shadow boxing to be a good alternative. It works well as you remove the actual physical impact of hitting something but you still get to benefit from moving your feet, keeping up a high pace in your workout, and getting used to extending your punch whilst hitting thin air.
This improves your balance, making sure that you stop relying on having a point of contact to throw a clean punch.
2- Boxing Pads
While this needs someone else to train with you, using boxing pads is a great alternative to punch bag sessions. These sparring pads will have someone wear the pads so that they can move the pads out of the way and keep them moving around. This forces you to have to keep moving yourself and your hands so that you can hit a smaller, always moving target compared to a punch bag.
It works well as a punch bag alternative as it makes you really get used to a smaller target. Hitting an opponent in the body is more akin to a punch bag in that you have lots to aim for; hitting into boxing pads, though, gives you something more akin to hitting the smaller moving target of the opponent’s face.
For many boxers, this is a very useful alternative as it can give you a better chance to hit a smaller moving target. This improves accuracy, and it makes you feel generally more confident in how you throw your punches in the first place.
Better yet, this provides you with many of the punch bag workout benefits whilst making sure you are getting used to a much more lively, reactive form of boxing training.
3- Wrist Weights
Another useful boxing alternative to punch bag training would be to use some wrist weights. These add extra stamina drain when throwing punches, as it is harder to lift your hands and to throw punches with comfort. This is good as it improves your resistance training and it makes sure that you get to build up endurance in your arms.
A big problem for many boxers is their arms can get tired after a few rounds. This helps you to avoid fatigue and make sure that your hands stay strong well past the normal rounds that you start to feel tired and weak within. By having these weights on your wrists, you are going to improve your heart rate and also ensure that you need to use more energy to accomplish what you were doing previously.
Even if simply worn when using pads or when shadow boxing, this adds another level of endurance requirement to your training. For many boxers, that can be just what they are looking for as they try and improve their own boxing training regime.
These make a very good alternative to sticking with the more standard punch bags. Wrist weights force you to use more energy and to build up more power in your arms – that can only be a good thing.
4- Boxing Coaching Applications
Another option that could be useful for anyone looking for a heavy bag alternative would be a boxing coaching application. These apps are made by boxers such as ex-pro JT Van V. These videos and apps are designed to give you a boxing workout that you can simply follow and mimic. So long as you have space where you can see and/or hear the boxing app, this could be a good way to build on your own boxing skills.
These are good alternatives that can be done in everything from shadow boxing motions to using other training tools like the dummies we suggest below.
5- Focus Mitts
Another useful option would be to go down the route of trying out some focus mitts. Focus mitts work well because they tend to be useful for helping you to improve focus and speed because someone else is moving the gloves around. This makes you change position, move with your target, and have to really focus on anticipating movement before you throw your own punch. This is good for varying up your punching style and making sure you always hit a good variety of punches. These are more realistic because the target is moving and it is not one larger cylinder to punch, thus creating more realistic sparring exercises.
A good alternative to this would be a kick shield. Kick shields are good because they give you a good opportunity to throw punches and kicks whilst a partner simple holds up the shield. This is a good way to help you train and hone your boxing skills without having a punch bag.
7- Wing Chun Dummies
The last punch bag alternative we recommend you look into would be a Wing Chun dummy. These dummies might not be the best heavy bag alternatives, but they make a very interesting training aide for any boxer. They will force you to become more reactive and ensure that your reflexes are improved over a short period of time. it can also help you to improve things like your elbows – while you might not use your elbows in a boxing match, if you ever fancy stepping into MMA it would be a useful skill to have.
These force you to become far more robust in the way that you fight, and it will make sure that you are working on different parts of your boxing persona that might have otherwise passed you by. Wing Chun dummies, then, are the ideal punch bag alternatives.
8- Other Bag Options
Other bag options exist, too, such as free standing punch bags and slip bags. These are useful for training as they can make you improve things like head movement, your footwork, and so much more. It also can make you move your head around more which is a big problem for many people who only train on a heavy bag. By making you get more used to moving like a boxer, this is almost certain to make you a better fighter all-around.
Another option for those with limited space is a doorway punch bag. These, as the name implies, hangs down from the doorway and thus can be used for those who lack the space to work with a punch bag in a full room environment. These are obviously more limited as to what you can actually hit and target, though, so keep that in mind.
You might even wish to think about using a tire design; these are bag-like in height, and they offer a comfortable, soft surface to punch into all day. Tire bags are commonly used today in MMA training, but anyone who is trying to improve their boxing skills should find that a tire is a good choice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I Get a Punch Bag anyway?
Yes, you should always use both a punch bag and have some punch bag alternatives. You should check out our punch bag buying guide for some ideas on what to look out for when buying the right bag today.
Do The Alternatives Improve Other Body Parts?
Yes, the alternatives above will help you to work on parts of your body that you might simply not have worked upon. The dummy improves reflexes and reactions, while the boxing pads and wrist weights improve your physical endurance and stamina, as well as your accuracy in hitting smaller targets.
Will Shadow Boxing be Enough to Make me Stronger?
It will definitely help, but shadow boxing is more about making you better balanced than stronger. Anyone who is used to working with shadow boxing will soon get used to throwing full punches without hitting a target, making sure that you do not lose your balance as you throw punch after punch.
Do I Need a Partner to Use Pads?
Yes, you need someone else to wear the pads. Make sure they are a good height for you and that they can easily move the pads into different locations so that you get used to hitting a dynamic, moving target.