Bag work is an essential part of Muay Thai training and regular heavy bag training will improve your technique, stamina, footwork, and all-round Muay Thai game.
If you’re thinking of buying a heavy bag to train at home with, there are many factors to consider before making a purchase.
This guide will walk you through bag types, weights, filling, materials, brands and more, to ensure you pick the best Muay Thai heavy bag for your training and budget.
My recommended brands and bags
To help you get your head around the huge choice of brands and bags, I’ve included a round up of bags from well known brands – with some of the pros and cons of each.
RDX standard heavy bags
RDX are a well known British MMA brand, and they offer a lot of low cost training gear at a good level of quality.
RDX X1 Heavy bag **my top recommendation**
In my opinion, this RDX punch bag provides the best balance of quality and value for money.
It’s made of Maya hide leather (a very strong synthetic leather) and comes pre-filled, with two length options of either 4ft or 5ft.
The bag is a good mid-level weight to provide a nice balance of swing and firmness, with the 4ft coming in at 23kg and the 5ft bag coming in at 29kg. Personally, I would opt for the longer heavier bag so you can throw lower body kicks and get a modest amount of swing on the bag.
It also has a tether loop at the bottom of the bag, which allows you to attach a weight to reduce sway if you want to.
RDX also throw lots of extras in with their bags such as wall fixings, chains, and even gloves – which can save you a hell of a lot of money.
This bag is tough, well made, waterproof (if you want to use outdoors) and also has a zip fastening at the top if you want to add more filling.
RDX F11 heavy bag
The F11 is similar to the X1, coming filled with maya hide leather exterior, two length options and lots of extras thrown in.
The big difference between the two is that this bag is a bit lighter than the X1, which means it swings around a bit too much for my liking. Heavy hitters might want to avoid this one.
However it does come with a cheaper price tag, and if you are lighter person, or just won’t go in too heavy on the bag, it can still work well for home training.
MADX heavy bags
MMA brand MADX offer 2 lengths of decent quality heavy bags, made from a synthetic leather and filled with shredded fabrics.
The 4ft bag is around 20kg and the 5ft bag is around 25kg so they are a little on the light side. However they come with zip tops, so you can add more filling if you want to beef them up a bit.
They don’t have tether loops, but MADX do offer some good deals where they throw in chains, brackets, gloves etc.
Certainly a good option, and at wallet friendly prices.
TurnerMAX heavy bags
If you’re looking for something a little more heavy duty, then TurnerMax heavy bags will be your best choice.
They are made of genuine leather, which is the toughest material you can get on a punch bag, and they are nice and heavy, with the longer bags coming in filled at well over 30kg.
So, if you’re a heavy hitter, or you plan to use the punch bag a lot, then opt for TurnerMax – you’ll pay a little bit more, but they can take much more of a pasting, so they should last forever.
They also have a zip top if you want to add more filling, and you can choose 3ft, 4ft, 5ft or even 6ft in length.
Fairtex heavy bags
If you want to get the very best in quality, then Fairtex are the Rolls Royce of Muay Thai brands.
Their bags are extremely well made from high quality leather and they’ve been making them for years.
But they are very expensive, and probably a bit too much for a home gym.
Gallant free standing punch bag
I’m not a huge fan of free standing punch bags because they are bit flimsy, they move around too much, and their movement is all over the place.
But, they have a huge advantage when it comes to convenience and flexibility because they don’t require any permanent fittings to hang them from.
So, if you really don’t want the hassle of screwing a hanging bracket to your wall, or buying a hanging stand – they could be a good option.
You simply place the bag where you want to use it, and fill the bottom with sand or water to weigh it down.
Personally, I would say that if you are serious about your Muay Thai or kickboxing training and you want a punch bag that will stay still, and can handle heavy kicks – get a proper hanging heavy bag.
RDX angled heavy bags
If you’re looking to train uppercuts in your sessions, then the RDX angled bags are the same quality as their standard heavy bags, are around 4ft in length, and come filled somewhere between 25kg – 30kg.
They also have a zip at the top which can be used to top up filling if you want to add extra weight.
TurnerMAX angled heavy bag
TurnerMAX also offer a good angled heavy bag with all of the same features as their standard heavy bags.
- Benefits of heavy bag work
- Types of heavy bag
- Exterior materials
- Bag filling
- Weight of bag
- How much to pay
- Hanging your bag
- Bag drills
Benefits of heavy bag work
Training on a muay thai punching bag or “heavy bag” as they more commonly known is a great way to sharpen up your technique and fitness.
You can hone all of your strikes including punches, elbows, knees, and kicks to perfect your form, speed and strength, whilst conditioning your shins at the same time.
Performing fast paced drills on the bag like Muay Thai legend Singdam in the video below, is a great way to boost your cardiovascular fitness too.
Dodging and connecting with a moving bag is also an excellent method of improving movement and timing.
Types of Muay Thai heavy bag
“Heavy bag” is really just the equivalent term of punching bag in western boxing gyms.
As Muay Thai bags are hit with 4 different types of limb, they aren’t just called punch bags generally.
Before picking a heavy bag to train with, it’s important to know the different types of heavy bag available, and what each one can be used for.
Standard heavy bag **The preferred Muay Thai heavy bag**
Standard heavy bags are the type of bag you will see and use most often in Muay Thai gyms.
They are straight and about 4ft – 5ft in length, which means when hung properly the bottom of the bag should hang about 2 to 3 feet above the floor.
They usually swing about a bit when hit with big kicks (depending on weight of the bag)
- Length means you can train hooks, jabs, crosses, elbows, knees, body kicks and high kicks
- Big kicks and knees will cause the bag to swing and allow you to train your footwork and movement as you dodge and strike the bag.
- At 4ft these bags hang 2 or 3 feet above the floor, which makes it impossible to train low kicks because you will simply swing underneath the bag
- With no curvature on the bag, there is no way to train uppercuts (If this doesn’t make sense to you, take a look at the angled and teardrop bags below)
If you are only going to buy one bag, pick a standard heavy bag as it will give you the most versatile training options.
Banana bag (long heavy bag)
Banana bags are another common feature in Muay Thai gyms, but not as common as the standard heavy bag.
They are longer than a standard bag, at around 6ft and also a bit thinner. When hung, there should only be a gap of a few inches between the bottom of the bag and the floor.
Banana bags also tend to be a lot harder than standard heavy bags, especially at the bottom.
Banana bags are predominantly used to train low kicks with light hand combos.
- The only heavy bag you can train low kicks on due to it’s long length
- Very sturdy, good for conditioning shins
- Not very versatile – they are too hard to train hard punches, kicks and elbows and knees for long periods of time
- No swing in these bags means you cannot train movement and footwork
- Banana bags tend to get very hard at the bottom over time due to fabric moving down gradually – this makes the bottom rock hard and can also cause the middle to buckle from big hits
As a home training bag, banana bags limit you to low kicks and light hand combos only, so probably not the best if you are only going to buy one bag.
Tear drop bag (punch and knee bag)
Tear drop bags are around 3ft in length and are round tear drop shapes.
Their shape and size allows you to work right around the bag and throw strikes from a variety of angles – as opposed to the straight bags where you can only throw at a vertical surface.
They can be hung high so that the bag sits at head level and allows you to train uppercuts – or they can be hung lower to allow you to train knees.
- Excellent for working uppercuts and knees
- Can’t be used to train low kicks and height needs to be adjusted in order to train different strikes
Great addition to a Muay Thai gym but not really versatile enough for home training, especially if you are only going to buy one bag.
Angled heavy bag
Angled bags have a wide top, which then slopes down to a thinner bottom half, creating a slope at the top which you can throw uppercuts into.
They come in a range of lengths and are generally very big and heavy due to the extra weight at the top.
- With a longer angled bag you can train all Muay Thai strikes including uppercuts and low kicks
- Very thick and sturdy to absorb shots and train double kicks
- Although you can technically train uppercuts on the sloped part, you really need a horizontal surface to mimic the chin and train uppercuts properly
- Due to their heavy weight, you don’t get much swing on a heavy bag, so you can’t train movement and footwork as well as you could with a standard heavy bag
- Curves can make connection with the bag feel awkward when throwing jabs, crosses and hooks
For home training these bags are a bit limited on versatility and they are often very heavy, so shipping can be expensive. Great addition to your gym if you already have a standard heavy bag though.
If you’re only going to buy one heavy bag for your training, it should be a standard heavy bag if you want the most versatility.
Muay Thai heavy bags take a lot of punishment, so it’s important that the exterior of the bag is made from a tough and durable materiel.
Most heavy bags will have one of the following exteriors.
Leather or artificial leather
Leather or some type of artificial leather are the best materials for heavy bags – they are tough, flexible, and should not crack for a very very long time. Leathers do come with a high price tag though.
Vinyl is a synthetic plastic material usually found on the lower cost heavy bags. Vinyl is OK for light home use but will probably start to crack after a few moths of taking punches and kicks.
Heavy bag filling
The material a heavy bag is filled with, and the density of the filling will affect it’s weight and firmness.
Most bags are filled with shredded fabric or foam to create a good level of absorption for strikes.
Buy filled or unfilled?
When buying a heavy bag online, they are sold either pre-filled with the filling already in the bag, or they are sold unfilled.
Filled bags are ready to use as soon as you receive them – unfilled bags require you to fill them before you can use them.
So, which is best?
I would personally buy filled bags every time, because the process of finding bag filling online, getting it delivered, and then filling the bag yourself is a lot of hard work and very time consuming.
Some people claim it saves money on shipping costs, but I think any savings would be minimal – it’s not worth the hassle for a few pounds.
This video shows you how you can fill your own bag with used clothing if you want to – but I would personally recommend shredding the clothing with scissors first, or the bag will be too lumpy.
Some bags come with zip tops which allows you to open them up and add extra filling if you want.
This is handy if you feel you want to add some weight to the bag as your training progresses.
You can add shredded fabric to the bag or even just some old shredded clothes.
Heavy bag weight
The weight of a heavy bag will affect it’s firmness and also the amount of swing created when you strike it.
A very light bag will be soft to strike and will swing around a lot.
A very heavy bag will be firm to strike and will not swing much when you strike it.
Ideally you want a medium weighted bag that is sturdy to hit but soft enough to absorb some impact from your knuckles and shins.
Also it should be light enough to swing around a bit for training movement, but not so light that it flies around all over the place from a soft jab.
A well weighted bag should stay fairly still when being hit with punches, but swing from big kicks.
A good weight for a standard heavy bag is around 25kg to 35kg (55lbs to 80lbs).
Long banana bags will be heavier and tear drop bags will be lighter.
Some heavy bags have hooks on their underside called tether loops, which allow you to attach weights or anchors to them, which hold the bag in place and stop it form swaying around.
These are a handy feature if you want to perform a speed kick drill and want the bag to stay in place while you strike it repeatedly.
How much to pay for a Muay Thai heavy bag?
How much you pay for a heavy bag will depend on the above factors
A very light small vinyl bag will be relatively cheap, whereas a high quality leather bag with a decent weight will cost you a bit more.
Generally you can expect to pay anywhere between £40 – 150 for a heavy bag.
Remember shipping costs
When buying a filled bag, remember you will have to pay fairly high delivery fees due to the weight of the item – it’s not uncommon to pay over £20 to get a heavy bag delivered to your door.
Hanging your bag
When it comes to hanging your bag, you have 3 options;
1) Wall bracket
Probably the most common way to hang your punch bag is to fit a wall bracket to a sturdy masonry wall.
Ensure that you are fixing the wall bracket to a masonry wall, and not a plasterboard wall. If you are not 100% sure what type of wall you’re looking at – check with someone who has some building knowledge.
You will need a drill and all the necessary screws to fit the bracket to the wall securely, and then you simply attach the bag to bracket via chains.
This video shows you how to fit a standard wall bracket.
Note: Some punch bags come with chains, some will require you to buy them separately. Every hanging method requires chains.
Punch bag chains
The only disadvantage of hanging a heavy bag from the wall is that you cannot get 360 degree access to the bag – this is not a huge problem for most people though as 180 is enough to move around the bag and train footwork.
2) Ceiling hook
To get 360 degree access to the bag and allow it to swing fully, hanging from a ceiling hook well-away from your walls is the best option.
You do need a very strong beam to hang them from though, or you risk pulling you ceiling down!
Again, if you’re not sure what you’re doing, ask somebody who is.
This video shows you how to fit a ceiling hook.
3) Punch bag stand
Hanging your punch bag via a wall or ceiling bracket, is the most cost effective and sturdy way to do it.
But, if you can’t or don’t want to drill holes into your walls, you can purchase a punch bag stand. They are big metal frames which you simply place on the floor, and hag your bag from.
They will take up a lot of room, and can be quite expensive, which could sometimes more than double the total cost of your punch bag purchase.
On the plus side, they are portable and some even have adjustable heights to alter the level your heavy bag hangs at.
You will also need to weigh the stand down with weight plates (circular weight-lifting type plates) to ensure the stand doesn’t move around when you strike the bag – this will add more to your costs.
Punch bag anchors
If you want to reduce sway on your bag (i.e. when doing kick drills you will need the bag to stay still) you can fasten it to the floor with a bag anchor.
You must have a tether loop on the bottom of the punch bag to attach the anchor to though.
Some anchors need to be filled with sand, and some will require you to buy a clip or chains to attach the anchor to the bag.
Heavy bag drills
Once you have your heavy bag set up, some of the drills below are great for cardio, technique, power and speed.
5 Bag drills from former world champion Damien Trainor
3 bag drills from FightTips
Which is the best Muay Thai heavy bag for you?
Deciding on the best Muay Thai bag for your training require a lot of consideration.
The type of training you’re looking to do, the space you have available, and your budget are three key considerations.
You’ve also got to think about the intensity you train at, and how long you want the bag to last for.
The best advice I can give is to choose a good quality leather or artificial leather bag, and hang from a wall or ceiling if you can.