MMA Training Tip – Heavy Bag (Punchout round)


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My arms were already tired but I somehow managed to dig down and push through to the halfway mark of the final drill set my coach had me doing. I hated doing it, and I honestly felt as if I too hated him for making me do it again and again and again but I knew that it would pay off come fight time. One after the other I extended my arms out, punching the heavy bag with every ounce of leverage my body could muster. One strike would jolt the heavy bag fractions of a second after the one prior did. Then another and another until I could no longer tell which arm I was extending or retracting at any given time.

Just thirty seconds left, I thought to myself, a mental guess as to how much time was actually left in the round.

My shoulders felt as if they were on fire! The burning sensation was nearly unbearable. My chin began to rise and my hands dropped from my face slightly as my body tried to rebel against the high output I was asking from it.

“Chin down! Hands up!” my coach, who stood positioned behind the heavy bag, bellowed. I don’t know if I was too tired to realize that I was making those errors or if I was simply too exhausted to care. Hearing his voice though seemed to bring me back to the present and I made a serious effort to correct what needed to be corrected.

“C’mon! Push! Push! Coach continued. “Ten Seconds left! Faster!”

Faster? What the? My mind fired off a few four letter words after hearing him say that. If I had been alone in the gym, doing this all solo, there is no way that I could have pushed my arms to move any faster but I think I actually did. Not totally sure though but as the bell rang to signal the end of the round, and the torture, my coach seemed to be satisfied so that was a good sign.

“That’s it for today, great job!” Coach said as I reached out my glove to touch fists with him.

I was glad the workout was over as I don’t think I could have thrown another punch without falling on my face. I proceeded to collapse, with a water bottle in one hand, landing on a bunch of mats that were stacked in one corner of the gym. Another great day in the office!

The Punch Out Round

The Punch Out Round is one of the most important drills a fighter can do to prepare for a fight. It is great for building punching endurance, fantastic for promoting relaxed technique and leverage but more importantly it fortifies a fighter’s mental toughness. Everyone can fight when things are going their way but only the mentally strong can push through difficult moments in a fight and succeed at times when most fighters will choose to give up.

The drill is definitely one of my personal favourites and it works like this.

Your job is to punch the heavy bag, in this case using only straight punches, as fast as you can alternating the use of your left and right arms. Ideally you should punch fast and strong enough so that the bottom end of the heavy bag starts to tilt up and away from you due to the impact and speed of your strikes. Try to maintain the bag’s titled angle throughout the duration of the round.

Your coach stands behind the heavy bag with the purpose of keeping it centered in front of you. He shouldn’t touch the heavy bag unless it starts to sway off center to your left or right. He is also responsible for timing the round through the use of a stopwatch. A round may last as short as 15 seconds and up to 1 minute or longer as you get in better shape. I suggest you do a set of at least 3 rounds with a short break in between each round to maximize the benefits of the drill.

During the Punch out round keep remember these important details:

  • Keep your chin down at all times. It’s natural to feel as if you want to raise your chin as fatigue sets in. Be sure to avoid doing so as it will create bad habits that will eventually get you KO’d in sparring or competition.
  • Keep your elbows in tight to your sides at all times. Again, when fatigue sets in this becomes a major problem as your elbows will start to flare out and away from your body. You will lose a lot of important punching leverage so try to keep this from happening.
  • Keep yourself at long range to maximize the challenge and practicality of the drill. Hit the bag with your arms completely extended and avoid the urge to close in on the heavy bag as your begin to feel tired.
  • Stay in your proper fighting stance and avoid squaring up to the heavy bag. Squaring up causes you to punch using only your arms rather than your entire body which will make it impossible to do the drill for any lengthy amount of time. Keeping a properly angled fighting stance throughout will promote important offensive and defensive habits that will pay off during training and competition

That’s pretty much all you need to know to get started. Now it’s up to you to put it to use. Be sure to do the punch out drill at the end of your training sessions to really test your endurance and mental toughness.

Train hard, train smart, and most importantly have fun!

Jeff “The Inferno” Joslin

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Categories : MMA Training Tips

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  1. Martin says:

    what if you don’t have a punching bag or belong to a gym

  2. Paul Hampson says:

    Hey Martin you can always hit a side of beef like Rocky !

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