Does a Speed Bag Really Help?

Written by Alistair Knight | 28 August 2021

Lomachenko hitting the speed bag with press in the background

I’ve spent countless hours hitting the speed bag, both when I was injured and when I was training for a fight. But was it really that useful?

A speed bag can improve your focus, upper body muscular endurance, the ability to keep your arms up like you would in a fight, and also the development of neuroplasticity (which helps you learn more).

However, while the benefits will help you in a fight, hitting a heavy bag doesn’t directly improve your boxing skill and therefore it shouldn’t make up the bulk of your training.

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How Long Should You Hit the Speed Bag For?

The length of time you hit the speed bag should depend on how you’re looking to train.

For example, are you looking to hit the speed bag for muscular endurance, or do you want to know how long you should hit it for when training for a fight?

How long should you hit the speed bag when trying to build muscular endurance and increase focus? 

If you’re looking to build muscular endurance and improve focus, then you can hit the speed bag for as long as your body is able to.

This is because hitting the inflated speed bag isn’t very physically demanding.

However, if you are hitting the bag continuously, the small muscles in your upper torso will begin to fatigue and you’ll naturally want to and should stop.

How long should you hit the speed bag for when training for a fight? 

If you’re training for a fight, then you’ll want to limit the amount of time you spend hitting the speed bag because it is one of the least important pieces of equipment you need.

For example, Muhammad Ali would only spend 9 minutes hitting the speed bag every training session.

This is because he knew that the most important things to do included hitting the heavy bag, improving his cardio, and working the pads with his coach. The speed bag was less important in comparison.

Can you hit the speed bag every day?

Yes, if you are not injured and you listen to your body, hitting the speed bag every day is perfectly fine and a good way to progress. However, I do recommend taking at least one day off because it’s good to give your mind-spaced practice.

How Do You Hit the Speed Bag?

To hit the speed bag, follow these steps:

Step 1) Set the speed bag at your eye level

Step 2) Stand square-on to the bag

Step 3) Hit the speed bag with an open-hand, like a high-five by tapping it lightly. You should hear it quietly bounce off of the wooden platform three times.

Step 4) Once the bag has been hit three times, tap it again and repeat with the same hand.

Tip: Just take it very slowly, you will eventually get used to the rhythm in one hand and then you can start adding in your other hand.

Step 5) Once you have mastered the tap with one hand, integrate the other and repeat.

Step 6) Now try to hit the speed bag with your knuckle one hand after the other.

If you’d like to see a full breakdown on how to hit the speed bag (with videos), see the full article here.

Why Do People Hit Speed Bags?

People hit speed bags because of it’s mental and physical benefits. These include:

Muscular endurance: Hitting the speed bag repeatedly is tiring and as a result will strengthen your upper torso.

The ability to keep your arms up: Keeping your arms up in a fight is important as you are able to block punches. By training the speed bag consistently, keeping your arms up will become a habit and feel natural to do.

It increases neural plasticity: Learning a new skill — such as hitting the speed bag — will increase your neural plasticity, this means you’ll be able to learn things faster and better, such as a new punching combination.

Improved focus: All fighting sports require great focus. When you hit a speed bag, you need super sharp timing so by using this equipment, you will need to focus for as long as you can, thereby enhancing your focus.

You can use it when you are injured: Speed bags require virtually no lower body movement. When I had a minor PCL injury in my right knee, I was unable to bounce. Therefore, I would turn up to the gym every day just to hit the speed bag and this benefited me enormously.

It’s fun to use: The speed bag is probably my favorite piece of gym equipment because there are so many ways you can hit it, and I love watching my progress and the sound of the bag bouncing off of the wooden board.

Image source: https://www.boxingnewsonline.net/top-10-ways-to-hit-the-speed-bag/

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Alistair Knight

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