I want to punch a bag in the face
May 22, 2014 8:16 PM   Subscribe

I want to buy a punching bag. I think this is a good idea, for reasons, but I have an exercise bike covered in drying sweaters that tells me otherwise.

I need to exercise more. I have a gym membership, but lack the time to use it (the mister travels a LOT for business and we have a child.) I bought a mini-trampoline, but I'm a busty lady, so not even the best sports bra could make that work. I bought a stationary bike, but two months later, I ended up on crutches for five weeks due to unrelated IBTS. I have loose joints, and my physical therapist told me I couldn't do more than walking and swimming. I don't know how to swim and my neighborhood is not conducive to walking. I was thinking about buying a treadmill, but I'm thinking a punching bag might be exactly what I need. It will be easy on my knees and it will help me build upper body strength, of which I have none. Also, stress relief! Is there a downside to this that I'm missing? Can I just buy a bag, stand, wraps and gloves and start punching? I have a medical condition that makes weight loss difficult, so the physical activity is the important thing.
posted by Ruki to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I can tell you that I was actually working out at a boxing gym with a personal boxing trainer, among other boxers, several days a week, and was even working myself up to watching Rocky, but I used my home punching bag maybe 3 or 4 times period the end.

Also, punching a punching bag is very physically jarring and does not sound like a great activity for you.

Also, punching a punching bag is not intuitive, and you will not know how to do it without training from someone who really knows what they are doing. Not like in the movies at all, really, I promise.

Yoga videos are free online.
posted by latkes at 8:49 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Are you talking about a speed bag or a heavy bag? Each requires a different kind of training, both of which involve quite a bit of foot work (not necessarily high impact there, but definitely requiring agility, so probably not a good option for someone with loose joints).

You mention your PT. Why not ask him/her?
posted by whoiam at 9:30 PM on May 22, 2014

Low impact, easy on the knees and versatile (you can work while doing things with the child or just watching tv) are some light dumbbells. But talk to your physical therapist before starting any exercises.
posted by homesickness at 10:03 PM on May 22, 2014

I recommend that you buy two speed bags, a fast bag and a slow bag. The slow speed bag helps you learn patterns and posture, and the fast speed bag is for the aerobic rush. Both are fun. I caution you, though, to talk to a professional about wrist wraps and gloves, to make sure you are on the right track. Some instruction will be necessary. I'm pretty sure a quick search will provide you with a gym that offers a quick beginner course on this.

A heavy bag is a whole other bag of worms, so to speak.

Either way you want to learn to wrap your wrists, and get a pair of light gloves: you buy certain gloves for bags, which have extra leather here and there to help your fist become something other than fragile bones wrapped in tender skin. Wrapping your wrists help you to keep them in the proper alignment with your forearm, so that when you strike, you won't flex and damage the ligaments.

Heavy bag users ought to be overseen by an experienced trainer until they get the drills down. You aren't doomed to damage your hands and elbows and shoulders by punching a heavy bag, but this is a high impact activity that needs supervision in order to understand the technique well enough to use it without screwing your joints up.

Light bags are good exercise for the whole body. It will be as aerobic as you want it to be. I would call this a light impact activity, and as long as you wrap your wrist and use the right gloves, safe. The whole body participates: punches start with feet, and then the hips, and then the torso, and finally the shoulders and arms. The trick is to get the forearm and wrist lined up in time and let the mass of your body drive the knuckles or the side of your hand into the target. With practice you can learn to do this with an impressive amount of speed and power. The only other issues I can think of off hand are noise--oh yeah--and finding a secure mount to hang the bags from.

Also, if one of the attractions of exercise (for you) is the way you can slip into a zone and put your mind in Tahiti for an hour or so, then you'll like the light bags. Either fast or slow, once you set your pattern, the time (and sweat) will seem to fly by unnoticed. This is a lot like, say, golf, in that you can spend years refining your technique, but with a modicum of preparation, any duffer can get right to it.
posted by mule98J at 11:02 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

Have you thought about Wii Boxing? Doesn't require a lot of space or any equipment beyond the Wii. You could pick up an old Wii on eBay cheaply if you don't have one.

Bag work requires coordination and some training to do it correctly. You might want to go to a free trial session at a boxing gym (these are all over the place in Southern California not sure if they're common where you are).
posted by 26.2 at 11:57 PM on May 22, 2014

Yoga videos are free online.

Yep. You need something that's good for joints? There's a heap of low impact exercises online.

Forget punching something hard.
posted by bernardbeta at 4:05 AM on May 23, 2014

Heavy bag punching isn't really for someone with joint problems. However, punching and kicking things can definitely be less monotonous and help motivate you to move around more.
An alternative would be a double-end bag or a reflex bag would allow you to work on your hand-eye coordination and keep you light on your feet as you try to weave and dodge.

Punching a bag (heavy or light) on its own is not a good way to develop upper body strength either. A strong punch comes from really good technique, speed, flexibility, and strength that you built up from bodyweight/weight training. For a beginner I would recommend light dumbbells or resistance bands.

Any dance/rhythm based exercise like Zumba would be great for low-impact, whole-body cardio. Dancing and martial arts are actually very closely linked, both requiring you to be aware of your own and your partner/opponent's body movement.
posted by lucia_engel at 7:39 AM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks. This is why I ask the internet.
posted by Ruki at 9:04 AM on May 23, 2014

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