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The Five Best Heavy Bag Drills for Building Powerful Strikes

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As a lifelong martial artist, I’m often asked: “How does one land a powerful knock out strike?” It’s a pretty broad question, and it may seem like a weight training, or calisthenics would be best, but there is one tool that everyone knows of, a few of you may even have one buried in the garage or basement. That’s right; I’m referring to the good old heavy bag. A heavy bag is a beautiful tool to practice technique, but did you know you can use it for building powerful strikes as well? Today I will share my five favorite drills to build power with the heavy bag. Let’s get started. 

Punch-Out Drills

The punch out drill is a classing boxing drill for building both endurance and power. Start with a three minute round of freestyle bag work, Set a timer for 30-90 seconds depending on your level of expertise and conditioning. As soon as the timer goes off, begin rapidly straight punching the bag. The key here isn’t to smash the bag to bits; it’s about movement and impact. Trust me, you’ll be tired, but if you include punch out drills at the end of every round, you will notice a significant difference in your striking power.

Power Hook Drills 

The Power Hook Drill is one of my favorites on the list, for the simple fact that you can smash the bag with heavy hooks. As a side note, don’t throw haymakers, they will drastically reduce the biomechanical and kinetic energy of the strike. A well-executed hook is about heavy-handed precision and the pivot. This drill is simple yet brutally efficient; we're going to start with the lead hook. Throw ten crisp hooks slow and in control. Once you’re finished with the first ten, transition to ten hooks with your rear hook. These are where you want to include the power. To give yourself a challenge, work up to 100 hooks per side.

Front Kick/Teep Drill

The front kick drill is excellent for strikers in Thai Boxing, MMA, or any martial art that focuses on kicks opposed to punches. Remember a front kick isn’t a push, it’s a penetrating blow that will damage your opponent more than a simple push would. The front kick/teep drill is very simple, much like the power hook drill, you will be throwing ten front kicks with your lead leg then alternating to the rear leg for ten kicks. Repeat each side for five sets, giving you a total of 50 lead front kicks and 50 rear front kicks. Your target should be center mass of the heavy bag, but if flexibility allows, aim higher up the bag as you progress.

High-Intensity Interval Training 

I’m sure most of you are fully aware of HIIT training, which is doing an exercise as hard as you can for an extended period, working the heavy bag is no different. Set a timer for 90 seconds. For the first 30 seconds, work a drill of your choosing, focus on combinations the next 30 seconds, then finish the last 30 seconds with hard-hitting power drills. Rest for 10-20 seconds and repeat.

Knee Drills

Knee strikes are some of the most powerful yet underutilized attacks in martial arts. Much like kicks, there are about a dozen ways to throw a knee. One of my favorite drills to train knees is a circuit. For 20 seconds, clinch with your heavy bag and throw round knees. Drill straight knees for the next 20 seconds. If you’re competent enough to throw a flying knee, go ahead and throw them in your drill too. Repeat the circuit with both knees for five rounds.

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