Hanging vs free-standing punching bags – A comparison with Pros and Cons

Punching bags are essential for training for boxing, fighting, martial arts, or any combat. They are an indispensable piece of equipment to help build strength, stamina, endurance, speed, and fighting technique.

When it comes to the selection of a punching bag, heavy bags are a great option. There are, however, various types of heavy bags available from which you can select.

This article will talk about two main types of heavy bags, i.e. hanging and free-standing bags, their pros and cons. It will help you compare the differences and select the perfect bag according to your requirement.

What are heavy bags?

Heavy bags are a type of punching bag suspended from the ceiling with the help of a chain or hung on a stand. Their purpose is to develop power and technique and are for practicing powerful punches.

Composition of a heavy bag

A heavy bag contains a filling of water, sand, fabric, foam, rice, or any material and an outer layer of durable and robust leather. They are usually much more significant in weight than other forms of punching bags, such as a speed bag.

Hanging heavy bags

A hanging punching bag is a heavy bag that hangs from the ceiling and stays suspended in the air for you to practice punching. These come in different shapes, weights, and lengths according to the type and level of your exercise.

Setup of a hanging bag

Hanging bags require a chain or other support to hang the punching bag with the help of a mount on a solid ceiling or beam which can support it. If you do not have that, you can use a stand to hang it.

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Benefits of using hanging heavy bags

Here are the most valuable benefits of hanging punching bags, due to which professionals prefer them.

1.    Swinging motion

Hanging heavy bags mimic the motion of a real opponent creating a simulation of a real fight. It allows you to work on your technique and timing.

They will not fall or knock over with a punch, rather bounce back to get you ready for the next punch. You can learn to coordinate your movements and timing as you cannot predict what angle or speed will it take to bounce back.

2.    More versatile

You can practice various punching techniques like speed punching, uppercut, and hook punches. You can even practice your footwork, kicking techniques, and head motion different kicking techniques.

3.    Offer more resistance

These bags are much heavier than other alternatives that is why they offer much more resistance. Also, their ability to bounce back makes you punch harder with more force every time.

4.    Highly durable

The ability to hang bags to resist more powerful strikes without falling over makes them a very durable option. They are bulkier, which makes them less prone to get damaged from repeated blows.

5.    Cost-effective

Hanging punching bags are less costly than free-standing punching bags due to their simple structure and method of usage. If, however, you do not have strong support on the ceiling, you would have to buy a stand for hanging them.

6.    Suitable for practicing with footwork

One of the most valuable things about hanging bags is practicing your footwork with them like in a real fight. The swinging motion will train you to move forwards or backwards according to the motion of the bag.

7.    Takes less floor space

Hanging punching bags can be installed on the ceiling anywhere in your house, whether in a garage or your room, taking no floor space. It means you can easily put your stuff on the floor under it.

8.    More effective to build strength

With practicing on a hanging punching bag, you can work on the strength of your punches and kicks. Their ability to resist heavy punches makes them a great way to build strength and endurance.

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Drawbacks of using hanging bags

Hanging bags, however, offer some disadvantages, which are the following.

1.    Difficult fitting

For someone unfamiliar with drilling, installing a hanging heavy bag is hard work. Also, you need a solid surface to support the bag’s weight, like a beam or a strong mount on the ceiling. Drilling holes in the ceiling also may not be an option for you if the place is rented.

2.    Not portable

Once fixed, it is not easy to remove from the place of installation. You cannot remove it for storage after attaching, especially if you want to use it permanently. Therefore you need to think of a permanent place for it to hang.

3.    Need space for swinging

As we already know a hanging bag swings during punching for which it needs space for a comfortable workout. Thus If you have a small space, it is not a good option.

4.    Requires assistance for use

For specific techniques, you would require someone to hold it in place while punching. Thus if you want to practice hard strikes, you need a training partner to do that for you.

5.    Slow down your technique

As the hanging bags are heaviest of all, the rebound time is prolonged. You cannot practice speed punching on it, and it may slow down your defence.

Free-standing heavy bags

Free-standing heavy bags are less bulky than hanging bags and are called so because of their stand-up position. They attach with the help of an adjustable stand to a heavy base that sits on the ground and often contains a spring for swinging motion.

Setup of free-standing heavy bag

The bag setup is simply done by putting it with the base down in the desired space. The base is then filled with water, sand, fabric, foam, or any other material to weigh it down to sit firmly on the ground.

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Benefits of free-standing heavy bag

The most prominent benefits of free-standing bags are as follows.

1.    Easy to install

The installation of these bags is hassle-free and requires no drilling. All you have to do is select a place, put it there, and fill the base with sand or water, and you are good to go.

2.    Takes less space for use

As these bags do not require space for swinging due to the fixed base, they tend to be very compact. You can easily set them up in a small room for use.

3.    Are soft on hands

Free-standing bags are much softer than hanging bags. Therefore, they are less likely to bruise your hands. You require gloves, but they are gentler on your hands and knuckles, mainly due to the foam filling.

4.    Easy to move and store

Free-standing bags are much more portable, and you can easily move them by removing their base. Often the base contains tires by which you can easily move it to the place you want to place. After use, you can tuck them away for storage.

5.    Better for practicing kickboxing

The upright position of the bag makes it easy for kicking and punching at a lower height which is not possible with most hanging bags.

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Drawbacks of free-standing heavy bag

Following are the problems that you can encounter while using free-standing bags.

1.    Comparatively less durable

They are often made from less durable material and do not have a long life. Their components may break or become loose due to extensive punching, such as the adjustable neck or the spring.

2.    Offer less resistance

They are much lighter than hanging bags. Therefore, they do not help develop strength. You cannot count on it to build power, endurance, and muscle power.

3.    Easily fall over

They tend to topple over by throwing an extra hard blow. Due to being lighter, these bags are less stable and will keep bouncing around after a strike.

4.    Not good for simulation

It takes floor space and stands in a fixed position, so it is unsuitable for practising combat fighting techniques. You cannot move around much or perform footwork to mimic a real fight.

5.    More costly

They are much more expensive than hanging bags but less durable; thus, they do not offer much value for the money.

6.    Tend to get noisy

With excessive and prolonged use, the spring can become loud and start squeaking, which can be very annoying. For smooth usage, you have to keep oiling the spring from time to time.

Final verdict – hanging or standing?

Both types of punching bags are very resourceful in developing your fighting skills. The kind of punching bag you select depends on the level of experience, available space, type of training, and budget.

If you are an expert boxer and want to work with more resistance to build power, hanging a punching bag is the way to go. Free-standing bags are more efficient for beginners and are an excellent option for use at your home due to their portability.

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