Is Hitting The Heavy Bag A Good Cardio Workout? Tips, Guide & Combos

Boxing is one of the toughest sports on the planet, It requires incredible levels of fitness, endurance and stamina. You have to be ready for constant intense exercise for the duration of your workout and you have to be able to recover quickly when you do get a quick break.

Hitting the heavy bag is a perfect cardio workout as you have so many variations and different ways to workout with a heavy bag making it an excellent piece of equipment to have at your disposal.

Because the heavy bag and boxing in general is such a good cardio workout, athletes from all different sports take on boxing to boost their fitness, stamina and toughness for their own sports.

While hitting the heavy bag is not the best way for beginners to improve at fighting as it won’t correct bad technique and it can promote bad habits, it can be one of the best ways to get a solid cardio workout in.

Like with any workout, you will only get out of it what you put and that is why we put together this explosive Heavy bag workout PDF for you to follow along with.


4 Tips For Working On The Heavy Bag Effectively

Keep Your Hands Up:

The heavy bag doesn’t hit back so it can be easy to keep your hands by your side. This is a bad habbit to get into, especially as a beginner.

The hand you use to throw a punch needs to come back to a defensive position as quickly as you threw it and the other hand should remain glued to the side of your head. This will give the correct defensive techniques for moving forward with boxing.


Use Your Footwork

Boxing is as much about the feet as it is the hands. The better you move around the ring, the better you will be able to control a fight.

Don’t just stand in front of the bag unloading shots, move in and out, side to side and try to create different angles to create your punches by using your feet as you improve.


Move Your Head

If you don’t move your head, you’re going to get hit when you start sparring so get into the habit of slipping to the right and left as you workout out on the bag and get a few rolls in as well.

Visualize and attack from an invisible opponent, dodge it with head movement and fire back with a counter punch. Head movement is a great habit to get into early on.


Get Organized

I see this all too often, people just start hitting the bag until they get tired, take a little break and then go again for another 10 or 20 seconds.

If we want the heavy bag to be an effective workout we need to get organized with a timing app on our phone to split our work into well defined rounds. This will let us know when we need to push even when we’re tired and when we can take a break.

The more organized we are, the better workout we will have and the easier we can track our progress overtime, when we want to add rounds or make our workouts tougher and progressive.



Here Are The Main Reasons Why The Heavy Bag Is An Excellent Cardio Workout.

Mayweather Heavy Bag

The Calories

Nothing gets the heart rate up, the blood pumping and the sweat flowing like a solid heavy bag workout.

We recommend doing 10 – 3 minute rounds with a conditioning finisher at the end of each round like 10 burpees, pushups or sit ups to get some conditioning in or actively recovering for the break with a head movement drill.

The heavy bag can burn up to 600 calories per hour which is 25% of the average intake for a grown adult male per day. It is an intense workout that burns a ton of calories.


Full Body Workout

When you throw a punch, it starts at the bottom of your foot, turns through the glutes and hips and extends through the back and shoulders to generate a powerful punch.

A lot of people think boxing is only for the arms but the reality is that it conditions the entire body and this is especially true when you add conditioning work in at the end of every round like 10 jumping squats every time the bell timer sounds the end of a round.


Builds Aerobic And Anaerobic Conditioning.

Aerobic conditioning involves long bouts of steady state cardio and anaerobic training is fast aced intense exercise. Both of these systems will define your overall fitness and we want to fine tune them as much as possible which is the overall goal of cardio.

Boxing is the perfect mix of Aerobic and Anaerobic conditioning. Your arms fill with lactic acid but you can take a little breather to work on your footwork and come right back again. It is like a HIIT workout where you don’t have to put any emphasis on speeding up and slowing down every ten seconds.

Boxing hits both of these systems in a way that is almost unique to sports and that is one of the reasons why boxing are in such fantastic shape.


Builds Lean Muscle

The heavy bag is tough to get moving so you need to hit it hard to get it swinging and develop a rhythm. Punching hard will rip the muscle fibres in your shoulders and cause to build a small amount of lean muscle.

Because hitting the heavy bag is so intensive on your arms it will burn away any flabby areas and leave your arms toned, ripped and looking awesomely strong.


You Don’t Need A Partner

In a boxing class, you need a partner to hold the pads for you or spar with you. You don’t need any partner to work on the heavy bag so you can train for whoever long you want at a time that suits you perfectly.

Hitting the bags for a full hour can get a bit boring and repetitive but with boxing there are plenty of supplementary exercises you can do on your own for an amazing and varied workout like jumping rope, shadow boxing and conditioning circuits.



Its Progressive And Addictive

If you are anything like me, you will quickly get addicted to hitting the heavy bag and you will also get better, fitter and stronger quickly as you workout out consistently with the bag.

If you start with 5 rounds, you can add an extra round every week to make it tougher, improve your cardio levels through the roof, get stronger and leaner while developing stamina levels that will make any other form of exercise seem too easy.

Heavy Bag Combos

If you are just starting out with the heavy bag, here are some of the best basic combos you can throw starting off.

You could start off in round one just throwing single punches with correct form and with defense in mind. Take you time and focus on getting the technique right.



Left Hook

Right Hook

Left Uppercut

Right Uppercut


In Round Two Throw 2 Punch Combos


Jab – Cross

Jab – Jab

Left Hook – Cross

Right Uppercut – Left Hook

Left Hook Body – Left Hook Head

Cross – Left Hook

Cross Body – Left Hook Head



In Round Three Throw 3 Punch Combos

heavy bag

Jab – Jab – Cross

Jab – Left Hook – Cross

Cross – Left Hook – Cross

Cross – Left Uppercut – Cross

Jab (head) – Cross (Body) – Left Hook Head.



In Rounds 4, 5 and 6 Can go all in and work on whatever you like.



Mixing it up

If I’m doing an hours workout in the gym, I won’t work on the heavy bag for the full hour but incorporate other exercises in as well.


Rounds 1-3 – Jumping Rope

If you are talking about improving cardio, jumping rope is another excellent way to do it and it is perfect for boxing. Not only does it get you warmed up, it also develops to coordination between arms and feet and it develops muscles and endurance in the shoudlers.

Work for three minute rounds with one minute rest in the middle.


Rounds 4-6 – Shadow Boxing

AJ Shadow Boxing

Shadow Boxing is also an excellent exercise for a cardio workout and we can build up to getting on the heavy bag with shadow boxing.

Again we are working 3 minute rounds to develop our technique and head movement, I would start with 2 minutes holding 2 lb dumbbells to increase punching power and speed and then drop the weight for the last minute to really burn it out.

At the end of each round do 10 push ups, burpees, sit ups or jumping squats to really get some full body work in


Rounds 7 – 12 – Heavy Bag

6, 3 minute rounds on the bags with good intensity and we should be sweating profusely by the time we even reach the heavy bag.

Work in 1 punch combinations in round one to get you use to the bags and work through our rounds as planned, utilizing footwork, head movement and creating angles.

Keep going with our 10 exercises between rounds and keep pushing as you get into the later rounds.


Rounds 13-15 Conditioning Circuit

boxing Circuit

Finish off the 1 hour workout with 3 rounds of this conditioning circuit to blast fat, build our abs and condition our full body.

30 seconds on each station – move straight the next station – 1 Minute rest between rounds.


Exercise 1 – Mountain Climbers

Exercise 2 – Jumping Squats

Exercise 3 – Plank Hold

Exercise 4 – Lunges

Exercise 5 – Elbow to Knee Sit Ups

Exercise 6 – Burpees


After that workout, make sure you get your sugar levels back up with a protein shake or some fruit and get a good protein based meal to repair and build the muscle as quickly as possible after your workout.












Aidan Lehane has been involved in the fight game for well over 10 and has trained in some of the leading boxing gyms around the world including Sinbi Muay Thai and MTK Global Marbella. He wants to offer as much advice to beginners and pros as possible.

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