When your boxing instructor finally turns you loose on a heavy bag, you might be tempted to picture that co-worker who bugs you and unleash a flurry of wild punches. Your form will probably be questionable and you might hit the bag so uncontrollably that it swings back and hits you, bruising more than your pride. When used the right way, the heavy bag is an ideal training tool for those learning how to box. If you spend adequate training time on it, you will perfect your skills for the ring.
The jab is the first punch you learn in boxing, and practicing your jab on the heavy bag is an effective drill for beginners. Don't try to incorporate your power hand. Keep things simple by holding your power hand in your guard position and throwing only your jab. Practice snapping your jabs against the bag -- don't push punches at it. Extend your arm and bring your hand back to your guard as quickly as possible. Move around the bag to practice throwing the jab from different angles and positions.
After you're comfortable throwing the jab correctly, the next step is to practice a one-two combination, which begins with a jab and follows up with a cross. In an orthodox stance, your jab hand is your left. Stand in a fighting stance and snap your jab into the bag, bringing it back quickly. As the punch is on its way back, throw the right cross, turning your right hip to drive the punch to its target. The jab is the punch to set up the cross, so ensure the cross has some power behind it.
A jab-cross combination might sound simple, but it can take a beginner weeks to months before she is able to throw the two punches effectively and regain a fighting stance. Once you're comfortable with a jab-cross combo, add another jab-cross to increase the combination to four punches. The more punches a beginner throws, the more likely she'll end up off-balance and lean forward as a result. Move slowly through this combination to practice the proper footwork -- step forward on the jabs and bring your back foot up on the crosses -- and remember to keep your hands up between punches.
A benefit of working the heavy bag is that the workout never gets old. You can throw any type of punch in any combination while circling the bag and improving your footwork. To add more variation to your workout, try 30 seconds of standard punches, 30 seconds of speed punches and 30 seconds of power punches. Repeat this exercise twice to complete a 3-minute round. Another effective drill for beginners is to work with a partner; the partner holds the bag while you punch it and offers encouragement along the way.
Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.