Bag work for Muay Thai – what you should be doing

Are you one of those who does anything to avoid doing their bag work?
Yes, working on the bag MAY seem boring and unproductive, but only if you choose to make it that way.
The heavy bag can be a great tool to increase your power, timing and accuracy, IF you choose it to be.
Many of you ask us when and where our trainers work out, since they are always teaching during class times. Well, when they have some time – even if it’s just 10 minutes, they may spend it working on their bag skills. In Thailand, Muay Thai camps always feature at least 30 minutes of bag work – often more.

Bag work can be as boring or as fulfilling as the fighter wants it to be.

Still have doubts? Here are some cons – and the pros that go with them.

1. CON: It moves around too much.
PRO: Would your opponent stay still so you can kick them? Experienced people like working with the smaller bag because it moves more – allowing them to work on their distance and timing.

2. CON: It’s not realistic like hitting pads or sparring.
PRO: Picture your target on the bag. See the head? Now punch that exact spot repeatedly. Measure where the ribs would be – now throw a barrage of kicks and body hooks to that spot.

3. CON: I’m never tired working on the bag.
PRO: Unlike a pad holder or sparring buddy, you can hit a bag as hard as you like, allowing you to work on both your speed and power – without having to worry about the safety of your training buddy. Whether you choose to make it a tough or lazy workout is up to the fighter in you.

4. CON: The bag doesn’t push me like a real person would.
PRO: Use a timer, keep the rounds short and the intensity high. In the last 30 seconds go all out!

When all your sparring buddies and pad holders have stopped speaking to you, you can still count on the bag to have your back.

5. CON: I`m not a pro fighter, and I`m worried during bag work I`ll miss, fall over, or generally look stupid.
PRO: Do your bag work together in a class, (where people are busy with their own training), and when a trainer can help to correct you. Don`t worry. Everybody misses and falls over – even the pros. Just blame that pool of sweat!

6. CON: I run out of combinations.
PRO: Use bag work as a tool for part of your training. Not as the only part of your training. Practice combinations you learned in class. Or if you would rather just work on fitness, non stop punching or knees in intervals will get you puffing, without you having to apologise for sweating over your buddy.

7. CON: I don’t get feedback on my training.
PRO: Record yourself training and then go back and analyse your training. You may be surprised to see how often your hands drop, or that you aren’t twisting as much as you could, and that your balance may be off kilter.

There are plenty more uses for the heavy bag. It doesn’t complain, when you hit it too hard, or if your spit flies into it. You can practice the same move over and over again – reinforcing specific moves and techniques. You can clinch for hours without having to worry about getting kneed in the privates. And you know those dangerous moves you’re worried about busting out in sparring or on the pads? Go ahead and try out that spinning back kick or the flying knee. The bag won’t complain – it’ll even stay mum even if you miss and end up on your butt.

Remember… the heavy bag is not your enemy!
So show us what you’ve got. As Wit says – now it’s your turn.


Wit shows how he does some bag work

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