A forgotten cardio exercise: The punching bag

With my hamstring still resting — and biking & running out of the equation for now — I’ve been looking for a way to get some cardio. Swimming is good, and I’ve done some of that, but here’s one cardio exercise I forgot about.


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I’m not talking about getting in the ring with Mayweather or sparring with the local gym rats. Let’s be honest. That’d be over in 10 seconds and I’d have a lot more than a hamstring injury to worry about.

A punching bag is a great cardio workout you can do while resting your legs. Your arms & core won’t know what’s going on, and as long as you push yourself, you’ll make your heart happy as well.

Many gyms have punching bags, but they are often hiding in one of the fitness rooms, or just a dark corner somewhere. Ask around. Someone will know.

Locate a punching bag. Put on some gloves. And start punching.

Here are a few ideas to make it worth while

Please, please, please, don’t forget to warm up. If you’re not used to hitting a punching bag, and you wind up and go for broke, you will hurt yourself.

Disclaimer: I’m not a certified trainer of any kind. I learned some technique from taking Cardiobox at the YMCA, but take that for what it’s worth. I’m no expert.

  1. Vary your punches
    Mix it up. Different punching styles work different muscles. Throw in some hooks & uppercuts and you might be surprised how sore your core is tomorrow.
  2. Switch up your stance
    Lead with both feet. This will force you to throw each type of punch with both hands, working both sides of your body, instead of favoring your dominate side.
  3. Create your own signature combo
    A combo is any two or more punches thrown in succession. Try a few different ones. Whichever one you like best, make it your signature move. Mine isn’t very creative, but my core goes nuts. It goes something like: R hook, L hook, R hook, L hook…
  4. Keep your hands up
    So the bag doesn’t punch you in the face. And your shoulders will thank you tomorrow.
  5. Bob & weave
    Pretend your girlfriend is watching you work out, and you just told her those jeans make her butt look big. Then follow these instructions.
  6. Do intervals
    Punch hard for 90 seconds. Get your heart rate up. Go at about 80-90% effort. Then rest. And by rest, I mean…
  7. Work your core
    In-between sets, do a 90-second plank. Or crunches. Hold a leg lift, or do flutter kicks. Or maybe your girlfriend is actually punching you in the stomach (see #5). That works too.And my final piece of advice…
  8. Let it all out
    Hit it hard. Whatever frustration you might have built up, let it out. Talk to the bag. Let him know you’re pissed off. Tell him how he makes you feel. Talk smack… and back it up. Growl. Yell. Sing a song. Tell yourself a joke.

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Oh, and one bonus tip. Treat yourself to a killer playlist. It’ll make #8 so much more entertaining. (For me, when “Land Down Under” came on, I said to the bag, “Oh, I’ll give you a vegemite sandwich.” Vegemite sandwich turned into knuckle sandwich… you get the idea. See, it’s a lot more fun 🙂

If you try it, please let me know how it went in the comments.

P.S. – A vegemite sandwich looks nasty! Has anyone ever tried one?

4 thoughts on “A forgotten cardio exercise: The punching bag”

  1. I love my 40 heavy bag…and I definitely learned my lesson about the bob n weave when I got clocked by a semi-pro boxer in sparring class! Keep your hands up, don’t try to make small talk with your sparring partner. 🙂

  2. Vegemite sandwiches are not good. Vegemite is very salty and I can’t stand it. I wouldn’t recommend trying it.

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