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Best punching bag 2021: Hone your boxing and MMA skills at home with a sturdy freestanding or hanging punching bag

Tom Bruce Joe Coombs
12 Jul 2021
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Looking to keep fit? Training for combat sports? We’re in your corner with our roundup of the best punching bags to buy right now

Hitting a heavy bag repeatedly is undoubtedly a great way to stay fit. It can be an awful lot of fun, too, and the best punching bags will see you through years of enjoyable training in your garage, garden or spare room at home.

You don’t have to be an elite combatant in the world of boxing or mixed martial arts to own a punching bag. Most people that train on the bag from home aren’t professional athletes but simply fitness enthusiasts after a form of exercise that’s less monotonous than using a treadmill or rower. While those machines have their place, there’s no substitute for the feeling of satisfaction you can get from laying into a hefty punching bag with a barrage of punches, kicks and perhaps the odd elbow.

Before listing our favourite punching bags, we’ll weigh in with a handy buying guide that should answer some of the questions you might have about what kind of bag to buy, how much you ought to spend and anything else you need to watch out for. Whether you want to get fit, vent some stress or maintain your striking power for a combat sport, our hard-hitting roundup of the best punching bags is here to help you achieve your goals.

Best punching bags: At a glance

  • Best for beginners: Pro Power 4ft Punch Bag | Buy now
  • Best basic freestanding bag: Mirafit Punch Bag and Base | Buy now
  • Best all-around heavy bag: Everlast C3 Foam Heavy Bag | Buy now
  • Most versatile bag: Century Versys VS1 Fight Simulator | Buy now

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How to choose the best punching bag for you

What’s a freestanding bag?

Freestanding bags are extremely popular for home fitness setups, primarily because they don’t require you to do any drilling. Instead, you simply place one where you like and fill the empty base with sand or water. That’s a blessing for renters who don’t want to enrage their landlords by leaving holes in the walls or ceiling. And because they aren’t fixed in place, they can be moved around with relative ease. These bags don’t offer as much resistance to strikes as heavy bags, however. Even if a base is filled to the brim it might slide around if you hit it hard enough.

Should I buy a hanging bag instead?

Hanging bags, aka heavy bags, hang from supports on either a chain or rope. Usually suspended on joists from the ceiling, they can also be attached to wall-mounted frames and freestanding metal brackets. Hanging bags are well suited to heavy-duty training as they have larger diameters and thicker padding than the typical freestanding bag. What’s more, the swinging motion of a heavy bag, combined with the sheer weight of the target, forces you to time your shots and place a greater emphasis on footwork and distance control.

Are there different kinds of punching bags for boxing and MMA?

There’s a wider variety of punching bags than simply hanging or freestanding, of course. While you can probably use almost any punching bag to practise the combat sport of your choice, some are better suited than others. Here are some types to look out for.

Standard-length bag: Your typical punching bag, whether hanging or standing, will be about 4ft in height. The target area is representative of the head and body area of an opponent in a boxing match, where attacks below the belt are off-limits.

Full-length bag: For training in Muay Thai and MMA, a full-length bag is the better choice. Bags like this are about 6ft in length but can be even longer, allowing you to make full use of your striking arsenal, including those all-important leg kicks. As a rule, these bags are also a bit thinner than standard-length alternatives.

Reflex bag: Reflex bags allow you to improve your striking reflexes and accuracy by hitting a small target – such as a hard foam ball – attached to a pole. The randomness and speed of the target’s motion provide the challenge.

Speed bag: Similar to a reflex bag, a speed bag has a small target that bounces rapidly back and forth with each strike. Suspended from a wooden board, the target rebounds extremely quickly, requiring coordination and rhythm to use effectively.

Grappling bag: Grappling bags are typically used flat on the ground. These heavy foam bags, which have a vaguely humanoid shape and various handles, are used for practising throws and wrestling/Jiu-Jitsu drills. They also make effective targets for the ‘ground and pound’ attacks you see in MMA fights.

Do I need any special equipment to use a punching bag?

You don’t want to lay into a punching bag with your bare fists. Wearing hand wraps and boxing gloves is essential to protecting not just the skin of your knuckles but your hands and wrists as well. Some punching bags come with these accessories but, in general, you’ll have to get them yourself.

Can kids use a punching bag?

Children should not use a heavy hanging bag or a hard foam freestanding bag – these are made for adults. To avoid any unnecessary injuries, you should get your child a bag that is designed and marketed specifically for children. The foam in these bags will be softer and therefore they will be safer to use. Inflatable models are also on offer if you want to buy something less expensive to see if your child enjoys punching things in the first place.

How much should I spend on a punching bag?

To get a decent hanging bag you’re going to have to spend a minimum of around £50. Bags that cost less are likely to be made of poor, non-durable materials. More luxurious heavy bags could cost you up to £200 but will probably last longer than a cheap one. Freestanding bags are naturally more expensive than hanging bags because you’re buying both the base and the bag. £100 is a good starting point, though specialist bags can cost as much as £500.

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The best punching bag to buy in 2021

1. Pro Power 4ft Punch Bag: Perfect for beginners (includes gloves)

Price: £55 | Buy now from Argos

This affordable 4ft punching bag from Pro Power is ideal for anyone who’s new to boxing or fitness in general. Weighing in at 19kg, it’s not the heaviest of hanging bags, but its durable fabric outer and cotton fabric filling can still take a beating. Handily, the bag even comes with a set of boxing gloves in red and black to match the colour of the bag itself.

At the top of the bag, you’ll find the metal ‘D’ hooks for hooking it up to the frame of your choice. But what if you aren’t sure what to hang it from? Combine your purchase with this £15 Pro Power wall bracket, also sold by Argos, and you’re ready to rumble. For a total of just £70, you’ll have a home workout station fit for a ring.

Key Specs – Height: 4ft; Weight: 19kg; Filling: Cotton, cotton fabric; Warranty: One year

Buy now from Argos


2. Mirafit Punch Bag and Base: A great-value freestanding punching bag

Price: £110 | Buy now from Amazon

Mirafit’s freestanding offering is everything you could hope for from a freestanding punching bag for just over £100. The high-density bag is filled with cloth pieces wrapped in a sturdy rebound foam layer that offers plenty of resistance to punches and kicks, so you can really get a full-body workout if you want to.

To achieve maximum stability, it’s best to fill the rounded base with sand rather than water as that will bring the bag’s total weight up to around 80kg. Fill it with water and it’s liable to slide around the floor a little more. The overall construction of the Mirafit Punch Bag, from the base to the spring and faux leather bag, is excellent. It’s quick and easy to construct, too, and all the tools you need are included in the box.

Key Specs – Height: 5ft 1in; Weight: 80kg (filled base); Filling: Foam layer, cloth pieces; Warranty: Not specified


3. Everlast C3 Foam Heavy Punch Bag: The best hanging punching bag under £100

Price: £99 | Buy now from Amazon

The C3 Foam Heavy Punch Bag from Everlast is one of the best hanging options for someone who’s already used to boxing training and wants a firm – yet affordable – bag to hit at home. Wrapped in a polycanvas shell, surrounded in high-density foam and packed with a combination of quality fillings, the C3 has the durability to see you through countless training sessions.

Everlast states that its contoured closed cell foam technology provides the cushioning and force dispersion you’d expect from a professional-level bag, while the filling blend of sifted sand mixed with natural and synthetic fibres adds a realistic feel and highly effective shock absorption. The C3 hangs from nylon straps attached to double-end loops, but you will need to find your own bracket for hanging. On a plus note, the use of nylon webbing makes the bag less noisy to use than bags that have chain links that jangle with every punch.

Key Specs – Height: 4ft; Weight: 32.4kg; Filling: Natural fibres, synthetic fibres, sifted sand; Warranty: Not specified


4. RDX Punch Bag: The best affordable punching bag set

Price: From £53 | Buy now from Amazon

What makes this RDX punch bag set such great value is that it includes everything you need to start training in one package. Along with the punch bag itself, RDX has thrown in bag mitts, hand wraps, a hand gripper (for building grip strength), a skipping rope and more. The bag itself is made from double-layered Maya Hide faux leather covered in a mesh weave coating, so should withstand sustained beatings from even the most seasoned strikers.

At 5ft tall, the RDX is one of the longest bags on our list, and you can set it to your ideal height with ease using the bag’s adjustable nylon strap. Although a wall bracket and screws are included in the package, you’ll need some sturdy wall plugs to hang it up securely. We’d recommend this nylon and steel pack from B&Q.

Key Specs – Height: 5ft; Weight: 22kg, 60kg when filled; Filling: Not specified; Warranty: Not specified

5. Maxxx Grappling Dummy: The best bag for grappling drills and ground and pound

Price: £100 | Buy now from OnBuy

Rather than a freestanding or hanging bag, you might call this Maxxx Grappling Dummy a lying bag since it’s mostly going to be used from the floor. Made specifically for athletes to practise throws, grappling techniques and ground strikes, this sturdy fabric-filled bag can take some serious damage.

The bag’s torso-like build is practical, providing a realistic target for angled strikes that you don’t get with a cylindrical bag. And with nine handles, you can grab it for throws from just about anywhere. Although it weighs about 27kg out of the box, you can unzip it to add or remove weight, adding lighter or heavier filling as you see fit. This means that, as you build your strength and power, you can up the challenge accordingly.

Key Specs – Height: 3ft 5in; Weight: 27kg; Filling: Fabric cuttings; Warranty: Not specified

Buy now from OnBuy


6. Everlast Freestanding Reflex Bag: The best bag for improving accuracy and reflexes

Price: £89 | Buy now from Amazon

If you’re after a bag to hone your accuracy and reflexes, then we think you’d be hard-pressed to find a better offering than this freestanding model from Everlast. With its sturdy pole and strong spring, the bag gets sent back towards you with real pace as you train. Speed and precision are the names of the game if you want to avoid getting a thwack as the bag bounces back.

The preformed foam bag is durable and can take a lot of punishment, so you’ll be able to practice your jabs for hours on end. The base is fillable with either water or sand. We’d recommend using sand as it’s heavier and will do a better job at preventing unwanted base movement.

Key Specs – Height: 4ft 3in-5ft 2in (adjustable) ; Weight: 14kg+ (base filled); Filling: Foam; Warranty: Not specified


7. Century BOB: The most realistic opponent-style bag

Price: £435 | Buy now from Amazon

This freestanding bag from Century is ideal for anyone who’s serious about their combat sports. With such a hefty asking price it’s no small investment but for that money, you can train your punches and kicks with a level of realistic feedback that most bags can’t hope to offer. The anatomical shape of BOB helps you to work the angles of your striking far more than you can on cylindrical bags, and the bag has seven height settings, so you can adjust it as you see fit.

The base can be filled with either water or sand. As with many other bags, we’d recommend opting for sand, as it’s the heavier option and will do a better job of stopping the bag from sliding (up to 159kg of sand can be put into the base). Century has even given it a snarling confrontational facial expression, reminiscent of a generic movie baddie, to help ease the guilt of constantly laying into him!

Key Specs – Height: 5ft-6ft 5in (adjustable); Weight:122kg+ (base filled); Filling: Urethane foam; Warranty: 90 days (see Century website)


8. Century Kid Kick Wavemaster: The best all-round punching bag for kids

Price: £180 | Buy now from Amazon

Another great model from Century, the Kid Kick Wavemaster is ideal for any children that want a punching bag. With four height settings, ranging from 37” to 52”, the Wavemaster is suitable for youngsters of varying ages and heights. It may have the word ‘kick’ in its name, but don’t be fooled, this bag is equally suitable for practicing punches. The bag is filled with foam to help absorb the impact from strikes and to protect your little ones’ hands and feet.

The rounded base is rollable and can be moved with ease. However, you’ll want to fill it with either sand or water to prevent it from shifting about too much when in use (sand being the preferable option). With great build quality, the bag is sturdy and ought to last for years. When you pair this durability with the bag’s adjustable height settings, the Century Kid Kick Wavemaster should be the only bag your children will ever need.

Key Specs – Height: 3ft-4ft 3in (adjustable); Weight: 77kg (base filled); Filling: Nylon, foam; Warranty: One year (see Century website)