By Ross Enamait

Ross “The Real Deal Enamait is a world class trainer whose training methods have been used by thousands of men and women, from countries across the globe. His training philosophy emphasizes all-around physical development. His multidiscipline systems are geared to a diversity of sports and athletes, including the combat athlete, soldier, weekend warrior, or novice.

The Heavy Bag

The heavy bag is perhaps the ultimate conditioning tool. Punching the bag provides an intense full body workout. A few rounds will improve stamina, hand speed, core strength, coordination, and power. Punching the bag also provides a primal release. Where else can you unleash the fury of a stressful day? The heavy bag therefore packs its own one-two punch, the ultimate conditioner and the ultimate stress reliever.

Punching Mechanics

To make the most of your bag workouts, proper technique is imperative. The primary punches include the lead jab, straight right hand, left hook, and right uppercut. I will describe these punches from the orthodox boxing stance, where the left hand is in front, the right hand in the rear. Left hand readers should reverse the hand position for each punch (ex., 1 = right jab, 2 = left hand, etc.).

  1. Left Jab – Begin with the knees slightly bent and the chin down. Push off the back foot and snap the jab out quickly. The lead foot will slide forward slightly before impact. For maximum power, twist your arm in a corkscrew motion before landing.
  2. Straight Right Hand - The straight right hand is a power punch that often follows the jab. It starts from the face, and follows an imaginary line towards the target. Power starts from the ground, as you drive and pivot from the rear foot. The hips then rotate forcefully, as your bodyweight shifts towards the front foot. The right hand extends towards the target, as the wrist snaps downward. On impact, the palm is down and the knuckles up.
  3. Left Hook – The left hook is a devastating punch. It is thrown with a bent arm that will resemble the letter L (90 degree angle at the elbow). With the chin down, shift your weight towards the rear leg, as you rotate forcefully to the right. Pivot inward on the ball of your left foot, as you whip the left arm towards the target, while maintaining the “L” shape. The hook’s power is produced by violent rotation of the lower body and trunk. You essentially turn the hips into the punch, as the punch itself actually trails slightly behind the body.
  4. Uppercut – The uppercut is a powerful punch that is difficult to defend. To begin, subtly shift your weight over the right hip. The right shoulder will dip to the right as you form a slight crouch position. Next, with the palm up and the arm in a half bent position, forcefully rotate towards the left side and push off the ball of your back foot, as the punch drives up towards the chin. The right arm will remain close to your body as it travels in a semi-circle motion. On impact, your palm should face your chest.

Using the numbers above (1 = jab, 2 = right hand, 3 = left hook, 4 = right uppercut), we can create several useful combinations.

Sample Combinations

  • 1-1-2 (jab, jab, right hand)
  • 1-2-3 (jab, right hand, left hook)
  • 1-4-3 (jab, right uppercut, left hook)
  • 1-2-1-2 (jab, right hand, jab, right hand)
  • 1-2-3-4 (jab, right hand, left hook, right uppercut)

Shadow Boxing

If you do not have access to a heavy bag, shadow boxing provides an equipment free alternative. Shadow boxing involves punching at an imaginary opponent. You are essentially boxing the air. Competitive fighters often use shadow boxing as a sport specific warm up before more strenuous activities such as bag work or sparring.

Shadow boxing provides an opportunity to practice all of your combinations. This simple activity improves footwork, hand speed, balance, technique, and stamina. Visualize yourself boxing an actual opponent.

The Speed Bag

Another common boxing tool is the speed bag. This bag is used to improve hand-eye coordination and rhythm, while also providing strength endurance benefits to the upper body.

To begin, adjust the bag so its bottom is approximately at chin level. Stand directly in front of the bag with a shoulder width stance. Punches thrown to the speed bag will differ from those thrown to the heavy bag. Each punch will involve a small, circular motion. Each strike to the bag will create a triplet rhythm (1-2-3).

Following impact, the bag will rebound away from you (1), then towards you (2), and then away from you again (3). After this third rebound, you will then strike the bag again (as it returns to you). This triplet rhythm will continue throughout the round.

Begin working one hand at a time. Once you are comfortable with each hand on its own, alternate hands every one or two punches (Ex. right, right, left, left, etc.).

A Sample Workout

A sample boxing workout could include the following

  • 3 rounds of shadow boxing
  • 3 rounds on the heavy bag
  • 3 rounds on the speed bag
  • 3 rounds of jump rope

Round length can be two or three minutes, with one minute of rest between rounds.