The sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is exploding in popularity. From TV viewership to press coverage to record crowds at championship events, MMA rules! In fact, over 55 hours per month of MMA television programming is now available on U.S. channels, including Fox, FSN, Spike TV, National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel and in syndication.
MMA has also generated a renewed interest in martial arts and personal physical fitness. Today, over 1.5 million US citizens practice Aikido, Judo, Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and others. However, you don’t need to join a local dojo, dojang or kwoon. If you’re looking for an effective, yet economical workout that combines strength and muscle building with cardio, all you need is a training bag and a pair of gloves.
First, decide what type of training bag is right for you. A variety of hanging bags are available. If you don’t have a load bearing rafter to hang one from, consider a free standing bag. They’re excellent for both punching and kicking, and can be rolled out of the way if room is needed.
The Wavemaster Punch Maxx training bag from Century Fitness has the largest kicking and punching surface area on the market. It’s a full 18 inches in diameter and includes four height adjustments from 52 inches to 70 inches tall. The high-impact foam striking surface has a tough, durable vinyl cover. The wide base can be filled with sand or water. The Wavemaster base is also rounded so it can easily be rolled in place or out of the way. When filled, the base and bag weigh approximately 270 pounds.
If you’re looking for a high-impact workout against a “life-like” opponent, Century Fitness also offers the BOB, a Body Opponent Bag. The “skin” is constructed of high-strength plastisol. The inner cavity is filled with high-density foam. And, the BOB also fits on the height-adjustable Wavemaster base, so it’s extremely stable but can also be easily rolled away when not in use.
Next, choose a pair of high quality gloves. Washable 10-ounce gloves are usually used by beginners. Heavier gloves are typically used by stronger, more experienced athletes to help them develop hand speed needed when they go into battle. When buying gloves, it’s best to stick with a reputable brand to ensure they fit correctly and will last through rigorous workouts.
The type of workout routine you choose it up to you. You’ll want one that engages all your major muscle groups, including your arms, legs, back, abs, glutes and calves. No matter what your routine, here are a few tips to consider.
- Warm up your muscles before you begin. Stretch and bend your joints. Do a few jumping jacks or jump rope for about five minutes. You should work up a light sweat during your warm up routine. Anything more than that and you’re working too hard.
- Always wear gloves to protect your knuckles when hitting the bag. Start hitting the bag lightly and then gradually throw more powerful punches.
- Move your feet. Keeping your feet moving, bouncing on your toes and moving side to side will all help keep your heart rate up. It will also help you build endurance and stamina.
- Incorporate some kickboxing into your routine. Kicking the bag will help develop your leg muscles in the same way punching will build your arms and upper body muscles.
- Mix it up. Throw combinations of punches and kicks. Alternate the use of your hands and feet. Using short and long jabs, leg hooks and crosses, and adjusting your distance from the bag will give you a more effective overall workout.
- Cool down for about five minutes after your workout. Do some simple stretches or rotate your arms in circles. This will help cool down your muscles, and restore normal blood flow and heart rate.
A high-impact training bag workout will help relieve stress, increase stamina and improve your mental focus. And, to do it economically and effectively, all you need is a training bag and a pair of gloves.