The 10 Best Speed Bags
A Brief History Of Boxing
Boxing's popularity has been waning of late, but it will likely only take a single charismatic champion to put the sport back firmly in the public eye.
If there's such a thing as a universal desire, one that transcends both time and location, it's the urge to punch your fellow man in the face. The only thing that rivals it is the desire to watch your fellow man get punched in the face, and that's why we invented boxing.
The Sumerians, Assyrians, and Babylonians all enjoyed competitive face-punching, but it's the ancient Greeks who truly elevated it to an art form, as boxing was first introduced as an Olympic event in 688 B.C.E. Fighters wrapped their fists in leather and would hit each other until one quit or was unable to continue.
Meanwhile, the Romans saw this sport and immediately thought, "Hmm...it's pretty violent, but I bet we could probably make it more violent." To that end, they added metal studs to the leather hand wraps, creating a weapon known as "the limb piercer." As you might expect, most Roman bouts ended when one person was dead.
Eventually, however, even the Romans had to admit that perhaps their sport was a little brutal, leading to a ban in 393 C.E. As a result, pugilism would mostly lie dormant until the early 16th century, when bare-knuckle boxing would start becoming popular in England. Unfortunately, the rules were still rather murky, and those "boxing" matches also included head butting, choking, and possibly even wet willies.
In 1743, a champion fighter named Jack Broughton introduced some basic rules in order to reduce the possibility of an in-ring death. However, it wouldn't be until a competition sponsored by the Marquess of Queensbury in 1867 led to the rules that truly reduced the danger involved in competition.
Still, the sport continued to be outlawed in most of the United States, but that did little to dampen its popularity. Instead, it was seen as the fastest path to money and glory for immigrants and the poor. The sport would finally earn mainstream acceptance midway through the 20th century, though, in large part due to heavyweight champ Joe Louis's knockout of Max Schmeling, a fight that had tremendous geopolitical implications.
The sport would reach its zenith in the latter half of the century, with iconic fighters like Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, and Mike Tyson becoming some the most well-known (and best-paid) athletes on the planet. Boxing's popularity has been waning of late, but it will likely only take a single charismatic champion to put the sport back firmly in the public eye.
That, or the triumphant return of that limb-piercer thing.
How To Use Your Speed Bag
If you've ever seen Rocky, then you know that there are few things in life as satisfying as pounding out a steady rhythm on your speed bag.
Of course, if you've ever tried to actually use a speed bag, then you know it's not nearly as easy as it looks.
This gives you the time necessary to get your fist back in position.
Before you hit it, you should educate yourself on the rhythm. Don't try to smack it every time it bounces; instead, wait for it to bounce three times. It's going to hit the base in the back, then rebound to hit the base in front, then hit the base in back again, and then you can whack it one more time. This gives you the time necessary to get your fist back in position.
Speaking of which, don't start off with a closed hand. Loosely fold your fingers, and graze it gently with your knuckles, or even just your fingers. This will prevent you from hitting it too hard and making it difficult for you to establish a proper cadence.
Keep your hands close to the bag for the duration of the drill. Speed bags are about speed and precision, after all, so there's no need to unload a haymaker on the thing. When you hit with your left, the right should be in position, ready to take the next swipe.
Your hands should move in small circles as well, rather than back and forth. Again, these are not actual punches, which is why you should also stand square in front of the thing, rather than in a traditional stance.
With these tips and a little practice under your belt, you should be ready to go 12 rounds with the champ in no time.
Other Ways To Incorporate Boxing Into Your Workout
Boxing is one of the best ways to drop pounds, build muscle, and get your body into tip-top shape. Of course, you may not have the opportunity to get in the ring, but that shouldn't stop you from incorporating it into your workout.
You can use a regular kitchen timer to pace yourself, or get an app for your phone.
One of the cheapest and most effective things you can add to your gym bag is a jump rope. Doing a punishing jumping routine will turbocharge your metabolism while also building endurance, not to mention a sexy, sculpted bottom half.
If you really want to feel like a prizefighter, however, you'll need a heavy bag. You can get a variety of exercises out of one of these things, and smacking it around is a great stress reliever.
One of the main things you should be looking to add, though, is the idea of circuit training. Boxers have to go for three minutes, with only a minute or less in between rounds. Doing that is a great way to keep your heart rate up, while also building up mental toughness. You can use a regular kitchen timer to pace yourself, or get an app for your phone.
If you stick with it, you'll likely fall in love with the results you see from adding a little fight to your routine. Beyond that, it's endlessly customizable, so if you ever find yourself bored with your workout, you'll have no one to blame but yourself.
And I wouldn't mess with you — after all, you've been boxing lately.