In the traditional image of the heavy bag, it hangs from a chain attached to the ceiling of a dingy boxing club. In this setting, its use is limited to being the recipient of numerous punches and, in some cases, kicks. However, for the creative mind of an imaginative grappler or MMA fighter the heavy bag has so much more to offer.
By thinking outside the box, the heavy bag can offer almost limitless options for workouts that improve technique and conditioning. The first thing to do is remove the heavy bag from its hanging gallows. Second, put it on the ground and get creative.
Grappling/MMA Drills: No training partner, no problem!
Drill 1: Mount the heavy bag and drill the hip movements of an arm bar from mount (place your hands on the bag and swing your hips around like you were attacking an arm).
Drill 2: Establish knee on stomach position and fire off two punches. Then, place your hands on the bag, and explode to knee on stomach position on the opposite side of the bag and slam another two punches into the bag. Repeat back and forth for time or reps. This drill will ground and pound your way to smoother ground control.
Drill 3: Establish mount position, then break your hips and transition to side mount. After which you break your hips again and move into north/south position. Keep maneuvering around the bag (occasionally alternating directions) and, over time, you will find an improvement in your hip mobility (crucial for success in any kind of grappling…and in various courting rituals).
Conditioning Drills: Pick the bag up and get to work!
Drill 1: Grab the bag in a bear hug/body lock and start squeezing. Focus on constricting your pressure around the bag. This will increase the isometric strength which is crucial for submissions and control positions. This exercise should be done for time.
Drill 2: Wrap the bag in a body lock and, with a good back arch, throw the bag over your head. Sprint to where the bag lands and repeat! Keep trying to beat the distance of the last throw and watch your throws become more explosive.
When it comes to heavy bag training all that is required is a creative mind (in my first apartment, my roommate and I used our heavy bag as a coffee table) and a good work ethic.
About the author:
Adam benShea is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt under Ricardo “Frajinha” Miller (Paragon Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu). Adam has won the World, Pan American, and California State Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championships. He is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and holds an MA from Indiana University. Check out his website for more workout ideas: www.myhomeworkouts.com Adam is the Joshstrength.com grappling/mma advisor.