hanging vs free standing punching bags: Which one is better?

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Introduction

There has been a lot of debate regarding hanging vs free standing punching bags and which one is better.

Some purists claim that traditional heavy bags are the best and that there will never be a substitute for a hanging heavy bag, whereas non-purists claim standing punching bags are just as good if not better then a hanging heavy bag.

Naturally, this creates a of confusion for a newbie just starting out in their martial arts training and looking to buy their first heavy bag for home use or a studio.

Heavy bags have long been touted as one of the best training tools at a martial artists disposal that should never be neglected.

However, trying to figure out whether to go with a traditional heavy bag or a free-standing one can be quite a challenge.

In this article, we’ll examine the similarities and differences between each one to help you narrow down which one to buy.

What is a Hanging Punching Bag

Hanging vs free standing punching bags: muay thai fighter hitting the heavy bag

A hanging punching bag is a heavy bag that is usually filled with either sand, grain, or shredded cloth with a durable outer layer usually made out of leather, vinyl, or canvas.

The bags have been designed to be heavy and thick to absorb blows that a martial arts practitioner will inflict on the punching bag.

The bags can be quite heavy, often weighing 100 lbs or more and therefore can become quite rough and rigid when striking at them. It is advisable to wear boxing gloves when hitting the bags to avoid injury.

These punching bags are then hung from a ceiling using a metal chain and a metal swivel that allows the bag to swing back and forth when it is hit.

Punching bags are used by martial artists to practice their striking techniques, timing, footwork, as well as improving their cardio and are a great way of practising their moves without injuring anyone.

What is a Standing Punching Bag

Hanging vs free standing punching bags: hitting a standing punching bag

Unlike a hanging heavy bag, standing punching bags are not hung from a ceiling but instead are free-standing structures that have a base that provides support.

The frame of the standing punching bag is usually plastic and the striking surface area is usually made out of a soft material such as foam and vinyl.

However, newer models out on the market today skip out on the plastic part yet increase the cushioning, making it safer for practitioners to strike at the bag without fear of injury.

These punching bags tend to be a lot softer compared to traditional heavy bags. This makes them much more pleasant to the hands and feet when you’re hitting them.

Unlike hanging heavy bags, standing heavy bags can also be freely moved around the house due to the circular base at the bottom of the unit.

Convenience

Hanging Punching Bag

Hanging punching bags are usually hung from a fixed position on the ceiling and are quite heavy to remove and re-setup again. Therefore they are not that convenient if you ever intend on repositioning the heavy bag or if you tend to move to different places a lot.

Standing Punching Bag

Standing punching bags are extremely convenient due to not being mounted to any fixed position.

Furthermore, a lot of standing heavy bags such as the Wavemaster XXL come with a rounded base at the bottom of the bag which means you can simply roll the bag around to where ever you would like to have it.

Some other punching bags allow you to remove the base from the frame and then just carry each one around separately.

Also storing these bags are quite convenient as they don’t take up a lot of space either and can simply be rolled around the house.

Setup

Hanging Punching Bag

Setting up a hanging punching bag is typically a little more work compared to a standing punching bag as you need to mount the heavy bag somewhere on the ceiling with a strong foundation to prevent the bag from falling down later.

Some people simply just tie the chains of the heavy bag on a steel beam or somewhere with a strong frame to hold the bag up while others may choose to use a swivel to mount and hang the heavy bag.

Once the swivel is mounted, you will then need to lift up the heavy bag and hook it to the swivel.

If you need to later make readjustments to the heavy bag then you will need to take the bag down and then rehang it back up which can be a real pain in the butt.

Standing Punching Bag

Setting up a standing punching bag is extremely easy.

Most of these bags usually only have 2-3 parts that need to be put together such as the base of the heavy bag, the frame, and the outer shell holding the cushioning.

The frame and base are very lightweight usually made out of plastic and therefore are easy to carry around and setup.

To stabilize the bag, you simply either fill the base with water or sand, or they come pre-filled already.

And in case you need to move, you can simply just empty the contents of the heavy bag and then refill it at your new location.

There’s no mounting onto a ceiling whatsoever with a free-standing punching bag.

Furthermore, making height adjustments are a breeze with these heavy bags. You simply turn the bag to the unlock position for the outer shell and cushion and then readjust the height, either up or down.

In newer models, the bags are quite tall and therefore no adjustments are even needed.

Noise Produced by Heavy Bags

Hanging Punching Bag

When it comes to noise, you probably don’t have much to worry about with hanging punching bags unless you are punching or kicking at the bag full force.

Due to the cushioning and amount of material stuffed inside of the bag, it is able to absorb most of the noise produced by hard strikes.

In addition, because the bag is only fixated on a swivel at the top, there is far less noise being produced compared to a standing punching bag whose base can literally be lifted off the ground only to come crashing down a mere second later or even toppling over.

Standing Punching Bag

Due to the design and nature of standing punching bags, they tend to be a lot noisier than hanging punching bags.

This is especially true if you ever use a standing punching bag with a spring recoil.

When you strike at the bag, the bottom of the bag will rock back and forth, the vinyl outer shell may twist and turn and the plastic underneath it could rattle.

Furthermore, because standing punching bag’s striking area is comprised of much less material to absorb strikes, usually consisting of foam, there is less material to absorb the impact and noise.

Lastly, If you are hitting the heavy bag really hard, there may be a good chance that it will fall over as well.

If you are worried about noise then perhaps a hanging punching bag would be better for you.

Durability

Hanging Punching Bag

When it comes to durability, hanging heavy bags have an edge over a standing punching bag. With the exception of the outer shell of a hanging punching bag, most of these heavy bags can take quite a good beating.

The insides of these bags are usually stuffed with soft material such as torn and shredded clothing or sand. This makes the bags very durable for long term use.

The only weak point of the bag is the outer layer which is prone to ripping. Usually, small tears start to form on the heavy bag after heavy use. This is especially prevalent with cheaper heavy bags that use vinyl or even canvas. However, leather heavy bags such as this one from Title Boxing tend to last much much longer hence why they cost a bit more.

Furthermore, the life of the heavy bag can be extended by taping the outer shell of the heavy bag if it starts to rip with duct tape.

The swivels that are used to hang the heavy bags are usually made out of metal as well and last a lifetime.

Standing Punching Bag

Standing punching bags on the other hand due to the construction and make of it, are less durable compared to hanging heavy bags.

Usually, the base and frame of the heavy bag are made out of plastic, with the outer shell and middle part of the heavy bag consisting of vinyl and foam.

Through repeated use, especially when you strike at full power on these heavy bags, over time the plastic on the base or frame develop cracks that leak out water or sand.

Furthermore, the foam that is used to absorb strikes deteriorates over time and gets smaller and smaller. Eventually, you will no doubt start hitting the plastic frame at the back of the bag because of the nonexistent foam.

This can be quite painful and lead to injury.

And that’s exactly what happened with me at my old Taekwondo Dojang that had been using two Powerline Wavemaster punching bags that were well past their retirement age

Price of Heavy Bags

Hanging Punching Bag

Hanging punching bags due to the mass amount of manufacturers out there that sell them as well as the limited amount of material that goes into producing them tend to be much cheaper compared to standing punching bags.

You basically just need to purchase a swivel to mount the heavy bag and the heavy bag itself and off you go.

Typical price ranges for heavy bags depending on how heavy and the make and model of them can run you anywhere from $40-over $200.

I picked up my vinyl heavy bag from a local fitness store a few years back that came with a swivel for less than $100 bucks.

They really aren’t that expensive at all.

Standing Punching Bag

Standing punching bags tend to cost a bit more than a regular punching bag due to the extra materials that go into the manufacture of the punching bag, and also because there are only a handful of manufacturers that produce standing punching bags such as Century.

Prices for these can be anywhere from $100 to over $300 bucks for a decent standing punching bag depending on make and model.

However, you may be able to find some really nice deals on a used one off of somewhere like craigslist.

Stability of Heavy Bags

Hitting a rebound standing punching bag

Hanging Punching Bag

When it comes to stability, hanging punching bags beat a standing bag by a long shot.

Because of their fixed nature and being attached to a swivel, you never really have to worry about the bag toppling over or moving around in your house.

The punching bag either stays put in one spot or it swings back and forth if you’re hitting it.

There is no risk of the bag even toppling over unless of course if you set it up incorrectly.

Furthermore, you can also practice your footwork because the bag swings back and forth while fixated to a central point when you strike at it.

If this was a standing punching bag however, it would constantly move around after every hard blow to the bag.

Standing Punching Bag

Standing punching bags tend to move around a lot because they aren’t hung onto a swivel or fixed to any heavy object like a hanging punching bag.

This can become quite problematic especially if you strike at the bag with full power.

In those cases, the bag will be lifted off of the base for a split second only to come crashing right back down or even toppling right over.

Due to these issues, some manufacturers like Century have introduced a new line of standing punching bags that tries to alleviate this issue with added in prongs to the base of the bag or giving a rebound effect to the bag upon receiving strikes such as the VERSYS VS.1 and the VERSYS VS.2. These new features help the standing heavy bag stay in one place even if you strike at them with full force.

Versatility

Hanging Punching Bag

Due to the stationary nature of hanging heavy bags, the versatility of training is much more limited compared to a standing punching bag.

You are pretty much stuck at that specific location and only able to perform strikes on the bag such as punching or kicking it.

There is however a swinging back and forth motion every time you hit the heavy bag which can be used for training your footwork and working angles when striking at the bag.

Standing Punching Bag

Standing punching bags offer much more versatility compared to a regular punching bag.

On some of the newer standing heavy bags, the manufacturers have added in handles that allow you to grab onto them to either throw knee strikes or even to pick up the bag and slam it on the ground.

In addition, some standing heavy bags also have more areas on the bag that you can strike on such as an arm or a leg sticking out.

Furthermore, you are able to use the bag to practice ground fighting techniques such as ground and pound while on the ground with such punching bags as the VS.2 Versys.

This is virtually impossible to do with a hanging heavy bag unless you want to unhook the bag from the swivel and do this every single time, which is unrealistic.

Some standing punching bags even resemble a human being, giving you more realism when hitting it such as the Century Bob XL.

Which Heavy Bag Should You Get?

Deciding on which heavy bag to get all comes down to your own preferences and needs but here is a quick summary of the pros and cons of each one.

Hanging Heavy Bag

Pros:

  • Very stable and solid
  • Tends to cost less than a standing heavy bag
  • Much more durable than a standing heavy bag
  • Less noisy
  • More cushioning for strikes

Cons:

  • Harder to setup
  • Not as convenient to move around and takes up a lot more space
  • Not as versatile as a training tool compared to standing punching bags
  • The striking surface is also a lot harder and rigid compared to a standing punching bag

Standing Heavy Bag

Pros:

  • Very easy and quick to setup
  • Very convenient to move around and store
  • More versatility with training
  • Softer striking surface
  • Easy height adjustment

Cons:

  • Costs more
  • Not as stable as a hanging heavy bag
  • Not as durable
  • Noisier

When it comes to selecting the right heavy bag for yourself, keep your needs in mind.

Do you need a heavy bag that is more stable and doesn’t produce a lot of noise?

Then perhaps a hanging heavy bag would be a good choice for you.

On the other hand, maybe you need a heavy bag that doesn’t take up a lot of room and is easy to move around, in which case a standing heavy bag would be the better choice.

Conclusion

In this article, we compared hanging vs free standing punching bags and which one you should get.

Professional fighters and martial artists have long realized the benefits of having a heavy bag to supplement their training but there is still debate out there regarding one is the best.

Hanging heavy bags tend to be quite stable, cost less, and less noisy compared to free standing punching bags, however, free standing heavy bags are easier to set up and maintain, offer more versatility in training options and are great for those looking to save space around the house.

There is no right and wrong answer for which one is better as the better one is the one that serves your personal needs best.

When selecting a punching bag make sure you pick one accordingly to your needs.

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