Written by Alistair Knight | 04 September 2021
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Many fighters use the speed bag when training and this is because there are many great advantages to using it. However, there can also be drawbacks. In this article, you’ll discover what the disadvantages of using the speed bag are, and what you can do to overcome them.
The disadvantages of using a speed bag:
Hitting the speed bag is excellent for improving focus, upper body muscular endurance, the ability to keep your arms up as you would in a fight, and also the development of neuroplasticity.
However, while these areas can indirectly improve your performance when you train in other areas (such as hitting the heavy bag, sparring, working the mitts), the impact will be insignificant in comparison to directly training in those other areas.
I have learnt this from my own experience when I was injured. Back in 2019 I had a knee injury which meant that the only thing I was able to do was lift weights, stretch, and hit the speed bag.
After six months I’d recovered, and the training partners who I used to beat where now beating me.
This is because the speed bag made an insignificant difference to my boxing power and technique.
Solution: Pay attention to the amount of time you are spending hitting the speed bag in comparison to training in other areas of the gym that have greater benefits for your overall performance. Most professional boxers will spend no more than 10 minutes hitting the speed bag per session.
One of the most frustrating things that can happen when hitting the speed bag — especially when you are a beginner — is trying to line up the swivel with the direction you want to hit the bag in.
It is easy to hit the wrong part of the bag and when this happens, the swivel can unexpectedly spin, meaning you’ll have to reset the bag so that the swivel is directly in line with you again.
Solution: Purchase a high-quality swivel (such as the MaxxMMA) and keep practicing until you consistently hit the bag in the right spot.
If you’ve never set up a speed bag before, it can be quite difficult to do because there are various steps to follow and you will have to attach it to the wall.
Solution: Plan where and at what height you would like to set the speed bag at before making a start, and follow the instruction manual very carefully. Ask a friend or family member for help if you can because one of you can hold and the other can screw.
A speed bag is pumped up with air, and like a football, it will eventually become flat over the course of several weeks.
Solution: Use an air pump (such as this one) to pump it up.
When you hit a speed bag, it bounces back and forth off of the drum (the wooden board). This creates a loud noise which can annoy the next-door neighbor or the coach and his student who are working on a complex combination.
Solution: Use the speed bag for a short duration and if people don’t want you to make a noise, be polite and stop.
When I first started using the speed bag, it felt like I was using my weak hand to hit a nail with a hammer (I couldn’t hit very often and I looked like a kitten trying to catch a fly!). However, after practicing using one hand for several weeks, I was able to get into the rhythm until I could hit it with both hands consecutively.
Solution: Practice. Practice Practice. Start slowly with one hand until you are able to pick up the rhythm of three beats against the drum (the bag hitting the wooden board three times). Then, integrate the other hand into it until you can hit the bag subconciously. We have created an article on how to hit the speed bag here.
While your arms will tire with the constant movement, there is little resistance and you are only using your upper torso as opposed to your full body. This means that it doesn’t burn many calories.
There is no research into how many calories you can burn from hitting the speed bag, but a similar activity level to speed bag training is gentle rowing; which burns 246 calories per hour for a person weighing 155lb.
Solution: Integrate cardio, strength training, and good nutrition into your lifestyle to help you burn more calories and stay in shape.
People hit the speed bag because it improves focus, timing, muscular endurance, and the ability to keep your arms up. It is also really fun to do and there are various ways to hit the speed bag, thereby enhancing the brain’s ability to learn new things like you would when training on the pads with a coach.
These are some of the reasons that make the speed bag so popular and while there are various disadvantages, the pros outweigh the cons.
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. Learn more about Alistair Knight