Although they're both useful tools in developing your skill as a boxer, the heavy bag and speed bag are at opposite ends of the punching spectrum. Working the heavy bag helps you develop your fundamentals and combinations, and a speed bag workout is all about speed, timing and precision. If you're new to the sport ox boxing, you'll find working the speed bag a challenge, but one that gets easier over time.
If you see someone swinging wildly at the speed bag while wearing boxing gloves, she doesn't know what she's doing. This workout is designed for glove-free hands, although most boxers wear hand wraps while working the speed bag. Unlike a heavy bag, don't stand in your boxing stance when in front of the speed bag. Keep square to the target and, if necessary, adjust the platform so the bottom of the bag is roughly at the level of your chin.
Anyone who attempts to hit the speed bag looks forward to the day in which she can get the bag moving at a quick pace and hear the familiar sound of the bag bouncing off the platform, which plays like a steady soundtrack in boxing clubs. But concentrating on speed right away will only leave you frustrated. Focus on hitting the center of the bag so that it swings straight back and hits the platform. When you're learning, allow the bag to bounce three times before hitting it again, and remember to alternate hands to build speed and precision with both hands. Don't throw standard punches at the bag; make small circles with your hands, coming down as though you're chipping at a block of ice with an ice pick.
It takes countless rounds on the speed bag to be able to develop a steady rhythm and work the bag for more than a minute without it deflecting off to either side. When you're comfortable adding some variations, try throwing some hook-style punches to the bag, which will make it bounce at a difficult angle. Adjust quickly to get the bag under control again. The website iSport Boxing recommends that for a full-body workout that requires plenty of muscle coordination, place an exercise bike under the speed bag platform and ride the bike while hitting the bag.
Many boxers incorporate their speed bag workout into boxing-specific circuit training. The training stations you choose are up to you, but try such intervals as a round on the speed bag, a round on the heavy bag, a round of shadow boxing, jumping rope, burpees, weightlifting and hitting the focus mitts with a partner. Circuit training helps keep your workout fresh and prevents you from getting bored with it.
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.