Written by Alistair Knight | 11 September 2021
Hitting the speed bag is an integral part of a fighter’s training regime, and it has helped me improve an array of factors as a boxer. But what are those factors?
There are over a dozen benefits of the speed bag. A speed bag can:
Hitting the speed bag requires constant focus because you need to pay attention in order to hit the small target with impeccable timing.
By focusing for extended periods of time (such as when gaming or hitting the speed bag), researchers have discovered that you can improve your visual selective attention (VSA).
Furthermore, speed bag training is physically demanding and researchers have found that exercise itself can be advantageous to concentration.
The speed bag can improve your timing because the bag bounces off of the wooden drum (platform) so fast that in order to keep the rhythm going, you need to connect at the perfect moment.
With such a wide variety of speed bag drills to excel at, once you habitually become good at one drill you can incrementally get better at others and thereby continue to work on your timing.
Throwing punches that land requires impeccable timing, so the key to improving this aspect of your game is through repetition of both speed bag drills and punching combinations.
In simple terms, neuroplasticity is your brain’s ability to learn new things and adapt.
If you continue to develop your speed bag skill, you will be able to process information better when training on the pads with your coach, and you’ll be better equipped to stave off mental fatigue, meaning faster learning and fewer mistakes.
European CEO Dr. Swart said to “think of neuroplasticity as going from a dirt road to a motorway. I could say, ‘I’m going to work on that pathway, which is currently a dirt road. The more I use it, the more concrete gets laid. This way I can build it up to a motorway.’”
By learning to hit the speed bag in a number of different ways, you are making stronger neural connections that will make you more advanced when it comes to other aspects of your training.
Hitting the speed bag consistently will help you keep your arms up.
This is because when you are hitting the speed bag, your arms are up like they are in a traditional boxing stance.
As you will be in this position for an extended period of time, you will fatigue the muscles in your upper torso, which, over time and with consistency, can make the effort of keeping your arms up much easier.
How cool does this look?
View this post on Instagram
Mastering the speed bag will not only improve the quality of your boxing skills, but also the quality of your Instagram posts.
The better you get at hitting the speed bag, the faster you will be able to hit it.
This is because an increased speed increases the challenge.
If you are consistent with your speed bag practice, then you will develop the habit of hitting very quickly, thereby increasing your hand speed.
Why is this important?
Punching faster is important because your opponent may not be able to see your punch coming and because a faster-moving punch is more powerful upon impact than a slower one.
Hitting a speed bag quickly with your arms above your head for many minutes at a time is somewhat exhausting.
Your muscle fibers will break down due to the fatigue you put them through and therefore both your muscular endurance and muscular growth will increase.
Here is a wonderful breakdown of how muscles grow.
Hitting the speed bag helps you mobilize your upper body and increases your heart rate before a workout.
With that being said, you still need to mobilize your lower body because this is usually static when hitting the speed bag. Check out the dynamic warm-up on this page for ideas.
Hand-eye coordination is where your hands and your eyes work together to perform an action with speed and accuracy.
When you are fighting an opponent in the ring, they will be bouncing from side to side, in and out with tremendous speed and rapidity, in the same way the speed bag will be moving.
So by training to hit the evermoving speed bag with accuracy, you increase the chance of hitting your opponent because you have developed hand-eye coordination.
The speed bag demands only a small amount on your upper body, so the chances of being injured from hitting the inflated bag is low.
For example, if we compare hitting the speed bag to hitting the heavy bag, the heavy bag is much harder, and there is much more movement and strain on your body since you’ll be throwing combinations.
On the other hand, with the speed bag, you are standing still and gently hitting the soft bag, so the only real consequences of hitting the speed bag include:
A. Overworking the same upper body muscles.
B. Hitting the wooden drum (platform) or swivel that the bag is attached to.
Since the impact on your joints is minimal, hitting the speed bag on your rest day or on your second workout of the day is perfectly OK.
When I was competing, I would get to the boxing gym at 7 am to do my first gentle workout, which included mobility drills, cardio, and hitting the speed bag.
Then, later on in the evening I would warm up with the speed bag and do a technical 1-1 training session or sparring.
However, while it is perfectly acceptable to hit the speed bag on your rest day, I don’t recommend doing anything related to boxing because it’s just as important to give your mind a break as well as your body.
Check out our full guide on how to have a good rest day in boxing.
Speed bags are relatively inexpensive with a full set (drum, swivel, bolts, and bag) costing less than £50/$69USD/$94AUD.
You can also make your own speed bag like this person did:
The speed bag is by far my favorite piece of equipment in the boxing gym.
This is because there are so many ways you can hit the speed bag and I love watching my progression.
I hope you have enjoyed reading the advantages of the speed bag and that you have learned something new.
Now I’d like to turn it over to you:
Let me know by leaving a comment below or by sending me a message on Instagram.
Alistair Knight is an amateur athlete in boxing and the founder of Healthy Principles. He spends most of his time practising and learning more about boxing to ensure you get the best experience-based and evidence-based insights to learn. He also loves to read non-fiction books and has recently started writing book summaries. Learn more about Alistair Knight