This Beginner Punching Bag Workout Will Fire Up Your Arms And Core Like Never Before

You'll be ready for the ring in no time.

BY JENNIFER NIED for Women's Health

JUN 22, 2022

https://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/g36662383/punching-bag-workout/



Are you ready to rumble? We hope so—because boxing is a phenomenal (and seriously fun!) head-to-toe sweat. Throwing a few strikes will quickly get your heart pumping and supercharge you with total-body strength and high-intensity cardio simultaneously.

That one-two punch comes with serious perks: defined muscles, improved speed and reflexes, and a more focused mind. (You better believe following those combos is oh-so good for your noggin'.)

No plans of officially stepping into the ring to face an opponent? No problem. All the key form and technique tips that keep you safe in a real match also amp up the strength and sculpting work.

Meet the expert: Hali Englert is a Hit House trainer and Muay Thai practitioner.

Ready to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee? Hop into your fighter stance and step up to this heavy bag workout, created by fight pro Hali Englert. Heads up: Englert demonstrates some of the trickier combos in slow motion in the videos ahead so you can really follow her form and technique. Feel free to turn up the speed and power if you're comfortable with the motions!


10 Beginner Punching Bag Drills


Instructions: Complete each combination for 2 minutes and rest for 30 seconds in between for a 25-minute workout. This workout is for all levels. All drills can be done at your own speed.

If using a heavy bag, wear boxing gloves and/or hand wraps to protect your knuckles from friction burns and bruising, and to protect your wrists from impact.

First, practice your boxing stance:

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, one slightly in front of the other, knees slightly bent. Your rear arm and leg should be your dominant side (so whichever arm you write and/or throw with!).

  2. Bring fists up, one slightly in front of the other (as if you were protecting your face and head from an opponent), palms facing each other and elbows close to body.

No matter what combination you're throwing, "Keep your shoulders and your muscles as relaxed as possible," Englert says. "The more relaxed your arms are, the faster your strikes are going to be." Noted!


Nonstop Jab Cross (Warm-Up) How to: 1. Stand in boxing stance with fists up at cheekbone level and elbows close to the body. 2. Punch lead (front) fist straight in front of you at head level, rotating torso and fully extending arm. Make contact with the bag with knuckles at the base of your fingers (not your "door-knocking" knuckles). 3. Bring fist back close to you quickly, holding it in front of face with elbow close to the body. 4. Punch rear fist straight in front of you at head level, rotating torso and fully extending arm. Make contact with the bag with knuckles at the base of your fingers (not your "door knocking" knuckles). 5. Bring fist back close to you quickly, holding it in front of face with elbow close to the body. 6. Repeat as fast as you can without stopping. Form tip: Imagine you're punching somebody in the face, Englert says, like you would in a boxing match. "If your hand is already at that level, your fist will reach the target faster."

Jab, Jab, Cross, Cross How to:

  1. Stand in boxing stance with fists up at cheekbone level and elbows close to the body.

  2. Punch lead (front) fist straight in front of you at head level, rotating torso and fully extending arm. Make contact with the bag with knuckles at the base of your fingers.

  3. Bring fist back close to you quickly, holding it in front of face, with elbow close to the body.

  4. Repeat on the same side, quickly.

  5. Punch rear fist straight in front of you at head level, rotating torso and fully extending arm.

  6. Bring fist back close to you quickly, holding it in front of face with elbow close to the body.

  7. Repeat with rear arm, at a slightly slower rhythm than the first two strikes.

  8. Repeat the four-strike combination as fast as you can without stopping.

Form tip: Keep your elbows as close to your body as possible. "You want to pretend like you're punching in a tunnel," Englert says.

Nonstop Uppercuts How to: 1. Stand in boxing stance with fists up at cheekbone level and elbows close to the body. 2. Rotate palms toward face. 3. Squat down a few inches and tuck lead elbow to hip bone on same side. 4. Lift with legs, rotate core and lead shoulder forward while driving lead hand up into the bag with a lifting motion. Make contact with the bag with the larger knuckles. 5. Repeat the strike with opposite fist, squatting down a few inches and tucking rear elbow to same side hip bone. 6. Lift with legs, rotate core and rear shoulder forward while driving rear hand up into the bag with a lifting motion. Make contact with the bag with the larger knuckles. 7. Continue alternating sides as fast as you can without stopping. Form tip: Imagine you're striking a target who is your height, under the chin.

Jab-Cross, Hook-Hook, Uppercut-Uppercut How to: 1. Stand in boxing stance with fists up at cheek level and elbows close to the body. 2. Punch lead fist straight in front of you at head level, rotating torso and fully extending arm. 3. Bring fist back close to you quickly, holding it in front of face with elbow close to the body. 4. Repeat the motion using rear fist. 5. Pivot lead arm so elbow is in line with shoulder and thumb is pointing up. 6. Punch across and imagine hitting the target on the side of the face. 7. Bring fist back close to you quickly, holding it in front of face with elbow close to the body. 8. Pivot rear arm so elbow is in line with shoulder and thumb is pointing up. 9. Punch across and imagine hitting the target on the side of the face. 10. Bring fist back close to you quickly, holding it in front of face with elbow close to the body. 11. Squat down slightly and tuck lead elbow to hip bone on same side. 12. Lift with legs, rotate core and lead shoulder forward while driving lead hand up into the bag with a lifting motion. Make contact with the bag with the larger knuckles. 13. Bring fist back close to you quickly, holding it in front of face with elbow close to the body. 14. Squat down slightly and tuck rear elbow to hip bone on same side. 15. Lift with legs, rotate core and lead shoulder forward while driving lead hand up into the bag with a lifting motion. Make contact with the bag with the larger knuckles. 16. Continue to repeat the entire combo. Form tip: Jab/cross strikes are straight punches. Hooks include rotation side to side. Uppercuts combine lifting and rotating movements.


Punch Pyramid How to: 1. Stand in boxing stance with fists up at cheek level and elbows close to the body. 2. Punch lead fist straight in front of you at head level, rotating torso and fully extending arm. Make contact with the bag. 3. Bring fist back close to you quickly, holding it in front of face with elbow close to the body. 4. Repeat the strike with the same side, quicker. 5. Punch rear fist straight in front of you at head level, rotating torso and fully extending arm with power. 6. Bring fist back close to you quickly, holding it in front of face with elbow close to the body. 7. Repeat the two strikes (jab-cross), quicker. 8. Take a half step closer to bag, and pivot lead arm so elbow is in line with shoulder and thumb is pointing up. 9. Punch across and imagine hitting the target on the side of the face with power. 10. Bring fist back close to you quickly, holding it in front of face with elbow close to the body. 11. Repeat the three strikes (jab-cross-hook), quicker. 12. Squat down slightly and tuck rear elbow to hip bone on same side. 13. Lift with legs, rotate core and lead shoulder forward while driving lead hand up into the bag with a lifting motion. Make contact with the bag with the larger knuckles. 14. Continue to repeat the entire combo. Form tip: Your final punch should be the strongest.

Alternating Head And Body Jab-Crosses How to: 1. Stand in boxing stance with fists up at cheek level and elbows close to the body. 2. Punch lead fist straight in front of you at head level, rotating torso and fully extending arm. 3. Bring fist back close to you quickly, holding it in front of face with elbow close to the body. 4. Punch rear fist straight in front of you at head level, rotating torso and fully extending arm. 5. Bring fist back close to you quickly, holding it in front of face with elbow close to the body. 6. Squat down slightly and punch lead (front) fist straight in front of you at body level, rotating torso and fully extending arm. 7. Bring fist back close to you quickly, holding it in front of face with elbow close to the body. 8. Punch rear fist straight in front of you at body level, rotating torso and fully extending arm. 9. Bring fist back close to you quickly, holding it in front of face with elbow close to the body. 10. Continue to repeat the entire combo.


Alternating Head And Body Hooks How to: 1. Stand in boxing stance a half step closer to bag with fists at cheekbone level and elbows close to body. 2. Pivot lead arm up so elbow is in line with shoulder and thumb is pointing up. 3. Punch across and imagine hitting the target on the side of the face (lead head hook). 4. Bring fist back close to you quickly, holding it in front of face with elbow close to the body. 5. Pivot rear arm up so elbow is in line with shoulder and thumb is pointing up. 6. Punch across and imagine hitting the target on the side of the face (rear head hook). 7. Bring fist back close to you quickly, holding it in front of face with elbow close to the body. 8. Squat down slightly, pivoting lead arm up so elbow is in line with shoulder and thumb is pointing up. 9. Punch across and imagine hitting the target between the ribcage and hip bone (lead body hook). 10. Bring fist back close to you quickly, holding it in front of face with elbow close to the body. 11. Staying low, pivot rear arm up so elbow is in line with shoulder and thumb is pointing up (rear body hook). 12. Punch across and imagine hitting the target between the ribcage and hip bone. 13. Bring fist back close to you quickly, holding it in front of face with elbow close to the body. 14. Continue to repeat the entire combo.

Jab, Cross, Hook, Rear Elbow 1. Punch lead fist straight in front of you at head level, rotating torso and fully extending arm. 2. Bring fist back close to you quickly, holding it in front of face with elbow close to the body. 3. Punch rear fist straight in front of you at head level, rotating torso and fully extending arm. 4. Bring fist back close to you quickly, holding it in front of face with elbow close to the body. 5. Take a half step closer to the bag, and pivot lead arm up so elbow is in line with shoulder and thumb is pointing up. 6. Punch across and imagine hitting the target on the side of the face. 7. Bring fist back close to you quickly, holding it in front of face with elbow close to the body. 8. Step in with the lead leg, and pretend to tuck thumb on rear hand into lead shoulder, bending the elbow as much as possible. 9. Fully rotate back half of body 90 degrees inward to strike elbow on bag. (Aim for opponent's cheek, nose, or forehead.) 10. Continue to repeat the entire combo.


Jab, Cross Body, Uppercut, Rear Elbow How to: 1. Punch lead fist straight in front of you at head level, rotating torso and fully extending arm. 2. Bring fist back close to you quickly, holding it in front of face with elbow close to the body. 3. Squat down slightly and punch rear fist straight in front of you at body level, rotating torso and fully extending arm. 4. Bring fist back quickly. 5. Tuck lead elbow to hip bone on same side, and rotate core and lead shoulder forward while driving lead hand up into bag, making contact. 6. Bring fist back close to you quickly. 7. Step forward with lead leg and rotate body to strike rear elbow on bag. 8. Continue to repeat the entire combo.

Lead Head Hook, Rear Body Hook, Lead Head Hook How to: 1. Stand in boxing stance a half step closer to the bag with fists up at cheekbone level and elbows close to the body. 2. Raise lead elbow so it is in line with shoulder and thumb is pointing up. 3. Punch across and imagine hitting the target on the side of the face. 4. Bring fist back close to you quickly. 5. Squat down slightly and rotate torso so rear elbow is in line with shoulder and thumb is pointing up. 6. Punch across and imagine hitting target between the ribcage and hip bone. 7. Bring fist back close to you quickly. 8. Stand and rotate to raise lead elbow in line with shoulder, thumb pointing up. 9. Punch across and imagine hitting the target on the side of the face. 10. Bring fist back close to you quickly. 11. Continue to repeat the entire combo.


Bonus Boxing Burnouts


If you have some energy left in the tank (you're a champ!), you can challenge your endurance even more with these blistering finishers. These are optional, but they can extend your workout and help you track your progress. "It's a good way to get some last second cardio in, and they're fun," Englert says. Punch Ladder Work up from two of each strike to 10 of each strike and back down. (JC = Jab-cross, HH = hook-hook, UU = uppercut-uppercut) 2 jab cross, 2 lead hook-rear hook, 2 lead uppercut-rear uppercut 4 JC, 4 HH, 4 UU 6 JC, 6 HH, 6 UU 8 JC, 8 HH, 8 UU 10 JC, 10 HH, 10 UU Pro tip: Time yourself and complete this ladder weekly to see your speed strike progress.

AMRAP Straight Punches Complete four rounds of 20 seconds striking as fast as possible and counting. Rest for 10 seconds between rounds. Try to match or beat the number of strikes from previous rounds. This will take two minutes.

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