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Beginner Boxing Workout With Bag (Technique & Conditioning)

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Written By: Richard Magallanes
Last Updated: August 22, 2023

Boxing is like a dance with its rhythmic interplay of jabs, hooks, and crosses. As a beginner, you're learning the steps to this dance, which are thrilling but - let's be honest - can also be daunting.

But don't worry, fellow boxers!

This guide on a beginner boxing workout with bag features warm-ups and workout drills that help you build your rhythm, learn basic punches, and gain confidence to command the boxing ring.

Whether you have 15 or 30 minutes to spare, you can adjust the workout intensity to suit your fitness level.

So lace up those gloves, and let's go!

Key Takeaways

  • Start with a warm-up to prepare your muscles for action.
  • Focus initial rounds on mastering basic punches like the jab, cross, and lead hook.
  • Incorporate defensive moves like slips, ducks, and pivots between punches.
  • Start with 2-minute rounds and gradually increase time as you progress.

Learn the Boxing Number System (Basic Punches)

I was taught this boxing number system by my coach. Every gym is different, but this makes sense for me, and should help you out. Before you begin, adopt the orthodox or southpaw stance.

  • Orthodox means standing with your left foot forward and your right hand positioned closest to your face. So, orthodox = Lead (Left Hand) / Power (Right Hand).
  • Southpaw is the opposite: you'll stand with your right foot forward and your left hand will be the nearest to your face. Southpaw = Lead (Right Hand) / Power (Left Hand).

Here are the basic boxing punches you'll learn in this article:

  • 1 = Jab
  • 2 = Cross
  • 3 = Lead Hook
  • 4 = Power Hook

As you progress, you'll learn lead uppercuts, power uppercuts, lead body shots, and power body shots.

TL;DR: Beginner Boxing Workout with Bag

Beginners: 2 Minutes / 1 Minute Rest / Intensity: High
Advanced: 3 Minutes / 1 Minute Rest / Intensity: Maximum (simulate sparring)

  1. Warm Up
  2. Round #1: 1's (Jabs)
  3. Round #2: 1-2 Combo (Jab-Cross)
  4. Round #3: 1-2-3 Combo (Jab-Cross-Lead Hook)
  5. Round #4: Freestyle
  6. Extra Conditioning Round

Equipment Needed

Heavy Bag Workout Breakdown

For each workout, we'll want to mimic actual boxing timing. That means setting a timer to:

  • Workout: 2 Minutes
  • Rest: 1 Minute
  • Rounds: 4 (+1 if you're going to add conditioning)

Two minutes is perfect for beginners to get used to sparring rounds. As you progress with your punching bag workout, you'll want to push that to 3-minute rounds to emulate amateur competition.

These heavy bag workouts are designed to improve your boxing technique and increase your endurance.

If you're looking to get a solid heavy bag that will last you a while, then consider the Ringside Leather Heavy Bag.

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Warm Up

I like doing skipping as a warm up since it’s a great way to get your blood pumping.

As a beginner, your skipping skills won’t be great, but that’s fine.

Every champion has been in your shoes.

You want to reach the point where you can continuously skip for 10 minutes with no breaks.

Choose a high-quality skipping rope, like my personal favourite - the Buddy Lee Original Rope Master.

This has lasted me a long time, and I’m confident it will last me years.

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Round #1: 1’s (Jabs)

For your first round, focus purely on jabs.

Stand in front of the punching bag, maintaining a good distance from it, and throw a straight jab with your lead hand. Ensure to maintain your balance and stance.

You want to fully extend your arm and snap it back quickly. This is not about power, so focus on speed and accuracy.

Every jab opens up opportunities for other punches, so a decent jab is the first step to learning other punches.

Here's a quick rundown on how to throw the "perfect" jab:

Commit to the jab, and repeat it until it feels natural. Repeat the jab 1,000 times per day, like he says in the video!

A solid jab can be a dangerous weapon to have in your arsenal, and is the most fundamental punch in all of boxing.

There's a famous quote that states:

The right hand can take you around the block, but the jab will take you around the world!
- Teddy Atlas

At the end of your two minutes, take a one-minute rest to shake out your arms and walk around.

Round #2: 1-2 Combo (Jab-Cross)

In your second round, it's time to introduce your first combination - the 1-2 combo, also known as the Jab-Cross.

Here's what it looks like:

Start the same as round one, with a strong, crisp jab.

Then quickly follow up with punching power in the form of a powerful cross from your rear hand.

Your core should rotate with the cross, and your rear foot should pivot, transferring the weight from your back to your front foot.

Bring your hands back to your guard position quickly after you punch.

Maintain your rhythm, and don't rush through the movement.

After the second round, rest for one minute.

Walk around, breathe deeply, and stay loose.

Round #3: 1-2-3 Combo (Jab-Cross-Lead Hook)

Once you've mastered the power punches of the 1-2 combo, it's time to add a third punch.

Start with your usual jab, follow it with a cross, and then use a lead hook.

Your arm should be at a right angle when you throw the hook, and you should drive power through your hips, turning your body into the punch.

Pro tip: Do NOT pivot your lead foot. Here's a complete video on why NOT to do it.

Direct your lead hook to the side of the punching bag, mimicking a hit to an opponent’s head.

Pull your hand back quickly after the hook, bringing your lead hand back it's starting position.

Round #4: Freestyle

This is where you combine all you've learned and let your punches flow naturally.

Each round has been building up to this one, helping you solidify your technique, rhythm and timing.

You're not randomly throwing punches - you're mindfully combining jabs, crosses and hooks with other techniques you've learned while maintaining excellent form.

Keep an eye on defense by holding your hands up to protect yourself after every punch.

Incorporate defensive moves like slips, ducks, and pivots.

Eventually you will get to the point where you can freestyle on the bag like Connor Benn:

But for now, focus on perfecting your form. This will ensure that you avoid any injuries, and maximise your punch distance, power and speed.

Extra Conditioning Round

If you’re not depleted after the last round, do an extra conditioning round which I created that helps with shoulder endurance, conditioning and speed.

The workout goes as follows:

Timer: 3 minutes / Punches: Fast (Remember, this is conditioning)

  • 30 seconds of straight punches
  • 30 seconds shoeshine (you can't hit the bag for this, as you'll be shoe-shining the air)
  • 30 seconds power shots
  • Repeat 2x

Shoeshine in boxing is a rapid succession of punches thrown to the body and head alternately.

You keep your fists in front of your face and alternate throwing quick, small punches.

Do light punches, focusing on speed and sustained effort.

Your goal is endurance, not power.

During the power shots, punch with perfect boxing technique.

If performed correctly, your body will be screaming by this round’s end.

But the payoff - increased stamina and endurance - is worth it!

Cool Down

Cooling down helps your muscles recover and reduces soreness. It gradually decreases your heart rate, which is essential after a high-intensity workout.

Cooling-down exercises include:

  • Light Jog (5 Minutes): This slow, easy activity allows your body to gradually return to its normal state, reducing your chances of feeling light-headed or dizzy.
  • Skipping (5 Minutes): Yes, skipping again. But this time, it's a low-intensity version to cool down and keep the muscles warm.
  • Static Stretching: After slowing your heart rate, spend 10-15 minutes doing static stretches. Stretch all your major muscle groups, holding each stretch for about 30 seconds. Include deep breathing while stretching, as it helps your mind and body relax after a strenuous workout.

After cooling down, hydrate and eat a proper meal. Your body needs to replenish its energy and start the recovery process, so consume proteins, carbohydrates, and fruits.

How To Use a Punching Bag for Beginners

When hitting the heavy bag, envision your opponent like you would during shadow boxing.

This ensures that you're creating positive boxing habits by keep your hands up, practice distant management, and keeping light on your balls of your feet to maximise your evasiveness.

Newbies tend to get lazy, and make common mistakes that translate bad habits that will affect your sparring.

Here are some tips to ensure that you instil good habits during your training:

  • Move after your punches. The most common mistake beginners make is not moving after throwing a punch. Just like with shadowboxing, you must practice footwork. Moving around the punching bag, using lateral and front-to-back movements, creates a realistic training environment. You can maximise this by staying on the balls of your feet.
  • Don't make power hitting your priority. Precision, accuracy, and technique should be your goals. Gradually increase the power of your punches once you've nailed the basics. Maintain your stance and guard no matter how fast you're punching. It might also help to measure your punching power.
  • Focus on rhythm and timing. Delivering punches effectively while maintaining your composure is an invaluable boxing skill. Your rhythm determines your punch performance - the smoother your rhythm, the more effective your punches will be. Developing rhythm takes time and practice, so be patient!
  • Remember to breathe out! This helps you maintain your stamina and endurance during intense workouts.
  • Practice your defense. A good defense is equally (if not more) crucial as your offense when it comes to winning a boxing match. Practice your blocking, slips, ducks, and pivots between punches. Get into the habit of having an “exit strategy” after you throw your punches.

How Long Should You Work Out on a Boxing Bag?

Bag workouts for beginners should be 4x 2-minute rounds of punching with 1-minute breaks.

As you progress, you can increase the workout to 6x 3-minute rounds with 1-minute breaks.

Avoid pushing yourself to the brink of exhaustion.

The best punching bag workout is about consistency, not intensity (unless you’re doing the aforementioned conditioning round).

The Bottom Line

A heavy punching bag workout isn't just about punching the bag as hard as you can.

From building endurance and honing technique to practicing defense strategies, the punching bag can become an essential pillar in your boxing journey.

Use it as a training tool to sharpen your boxing skills.

Approach the bag as if you're sparring.

The old adage goes: "train like you fight, and fight like you train". 

This especially holds true for any heavy bag workouts!

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