The Fighter’s Guide to Hard-Core Heavy Bag Training

One of the most memorable scenes in the 1976 Oscar winning movie for Best Picture, “Rocky,” involves Sylvester Stallone pummeling slabs of beef hung in the meat locker where his future brother-in-law Paulie worked. Rocky knew what everyone in the fight game knows, in order to hit hard, you must train to hit hard, and the best tool for this training is the heavy bag.

Regardless of your fighting style or art, regardless of your goals for training, sport, fitness, or self-defense, training on the heavy bag will take your fighting and martial art skills to a new level while increasing your power and fitness levels. To get the maximum benefit from heavy bag training, Wim Demeere, with Loren W. Christensen, has written “The Fighter’s Guide to Hard-Core Heavy Bag Training.” This book, published by Paladin Press, is an excellent reference on how to maximize heavy bag training for increased power, speed, endurance, and explosiveness. Additionally, the drills here will enable you to perfect your form and work on timing. For one of the simplest training tools, the heavy bag produces some of the greatest gains for time spent with it training.

For the person new to training with the heavy bag, this book is a must. The guidance here will save you time, money, and wasted practice doing things wrong. It will also help you prevent injuring yourself or training partners. For the advanced martial artist, I bet you will still learn a thing or two. I’ve been using heavy bags for over 25 years and I still picked up a few great tips and drills to incorporate into my workouts.

The book contains 12 chapters, which I will briefly describe here. Chapter one covers kinetic energy and five types of impact. This is a good introductory chapter discussing a bit about speed and the ways to impact the heavy bag and how the five types of impact affect your opponent. Chapter 2 teaches the reader how to choose and take care of a heavy bag. From there, chapter 3 illustrates how to attach or hang your bag. The book covers various ways to hang your bag depending on your location. The 4th chapter titled Nuts and Bolts focuses on things like gloves, how to get started, and advanced hitting. It is a short chapter with some practical advice. Chapter 5 covers some basic and advanced training concepts for the heavy bag. Read this chapter twice and be sure to incorporate the concepts into your training routine.

Chapters 6 and 7 contain a variety of drills to perform on a heavy bag. Using these as a guide, you should then be able to expand on what Demeere illustrates through photos to vary your heavy bag workouts endlessly. Even if all you do is the workouts shown here in this book you will have many hours of varied routines. Chapter 8 focuses on partner holding. Various drills are shown that work better when you have someone holding your bag. I like that Demeere and Christensen show how to hold the bag and help your training partner. Reading this chapter will keep a few people from holding the bag wrong and getting hit or kicked. (I’ve seen it happen in the gym) In chapter 9, various ways to use the heavy bag for ground training are shown. I’ve never really used a heavy bag on the ground much, but I plan to try out a few of the drills shown here. Chapter 10 shows some drills you can do with your training partner holding the heavy bag while it is not attached or hanging from someplace. Again, there is some interesting way of using the bag shown to vary your workouts and increase your range of training. Chapter 11 is a very short chapter on using various things to make your training with the heavy bag more precise. The final chapter, 12, contains ten common errors and how you can prevent them while training.

Overall, I found this to be a very valuable book for anyone who incorporates heavy bag training into his or her workouts.

While I was impressed when I read the book, but I was blown away with the companion DVDs, “The Fighter’s Video Guide To Hard-Core Heavy Bag Training” also published by Paladin Press. Wim Demeere has put together an exceptional video training guide for anyone who uses the heavy bag for training. This DVD set will undoubtedly assist you in taking your fighting and martial art skills to a higher level. The two discs have an approximate running time of 264 minutes and contain a wealth of training advice and drills to incorporate into your own routines. I will briefly outline the contents of the two discs.

Disc 1 starts with a short introduction and then goes into common mistakes often made when training with the heavy bag such as hitting too hard, pushing not hitting, not breathing correctly, standing too stationary, sliding off the bag, and dropping your guard.

From there, Demeere goes into DVD chapters on ingraining basic techniques which he divides into: Basic Mastery – jab, range, movement; Intermediate Mastery – variations, types of impact, simple combinations, sparring with the bag; and Advanced Mastery – types of impact in combination, progressive level change, different rhythms on the bag, and countering.

Continued teaching on this disc includes developing combinations drilling basic combinations, variations of these, physical conditioning, strategic progressions, tactical progressions, biomechanical training, combining stronger and weaker techniques, and versatility. As I mentioned above, there is a tremendous wealth of information here.

The last part of disc one is titled “Working On The Hanging Heavy Bag” and it focuses on clinching, grappling, the Muhammad Ali drill, hit and stick, ground work, and finally concludes with “dancing with the bag.”

Disc 2 starts with partner training. Demeere teaches how to brace for impact, and then teaches reaction speed drills such as angled orientation, reacting to a surprise, and precision reaction. The machine gun striking, including variations such as learning arithmetic and how to use machine gun striking are great anaerobic conditioners. Drills such as the elevator, floating bag, changing levels, punch and freeze and pull back and hold are also included in this section.

The DVD just keeps on going with more drills and techniques on the freestanding heavy bag such as the metronome, sweeping techniques, grappling techniques, takedowns, footwork, throwing the bag at each other, and how to work on the bag alone. From there, Demeere takes the bag to the floor and teaches how to work with the bag on the ground. He covers hitting the bag, grappling with the bag, striking techniques, basic mount, side control, the north-south position, in his guard, in your guard, and transitioning on the ground.

When you don’t have a training partner to throw, Demeere shows how to incorporate heavy bag training into throwing and advanced techniques. He guides you with throwing, sweeping throws, pickup throws and takedowns. Nearing the end, Demeere covers some realistic training drills on the heavy bag where you can use a rope as an arm or attach a stick to aid training.

Before his concluding remarks, Demeere ends the program by showing a little weapons training on the heavy bag using a training knife and stick. It is enough to make the viewer thing of ways to go beyond what Demeere showed and continue training variations indefinitely.

The production quality of these DVDs is top notch, and Wim Demeere is an exceptionally talented martial artist and instructor. I wholeheartedly recommend this DVD set to anyone interested in making the most of his or her training on the heavy bag. Combine the DVDs with the book Demeere wrote with Loren Christensen and you will have the best of both worlds: written and video instruction on one of the most simple, but useful, training tools available – the heavy bag. All you’ll need is to follow these guides to take your skills, power, and conditioning to a whole new level.