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Banging the Bag

Got a heavy bag? Want to fight? Here's how it's done.

By M&F Editors

Here's a challenge: The next time you see a heavy bag, we dare you not to touch it. Don't jab it. Don't throw a hook. Don't even make a fist. This sounds easy enough, but you're likely doomed to fail this little test, because few men can pass it. It's in the DNA of every able-bodied male on planet Earth to throw a haymaker at a heavy bag when he walks past one, because as men, that's what we're wired to do: take out our frustrations by throwing punches.

Now, the legal system tells us we can't physically vent our wrath on the people we think deserve it — there's a pesky little charge called “felony assault” that gets in the way. But take heart: With a quality heavy bag and a few inexpensive accessories, you can exorcise your demons and get the workout of your life right in the comfort of your own basement or garage. Here's how to get started.

Beatdown Benefits

Adding fight-inspired workouts to your training regimen will pay off in a variety of ways. Whether you're training for full three- or five-minute rounds or you're starting off a bit shorter at first, fight training is tailor-made for High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts. Once you get accustomed to the tempo at which you need to work, HIIT-style sessions will have your conditioning levels spiking in short order.

Fight-style HIIT work also shreds fat like nobody's business. Have you ever seen a fat fighter in either MMA or boxing? OK, besides Butterbean Esch and Roy Nelson, you don't see many pros carrying a lot of extra weight.

Fighters - the guys at the top of the game — have the bodies most of us want, and they develop their physiques through a combination of diet, roadwork and intense, sport-specific interval training. You'll feel the effects of throwing punches throughout your body.

Your lower-back and ab muscles provide power for your punches by initiating an explosive hip turn, and your arms and shoulders bear most of the brunt of the muscle recruitment required for striking. With a consistent boxing regimen, it's possible to add significant definition to these muscles—and even mass, depending on your genetic makeup—without touching a barbell or dumbbell. Best of all, assuming you're reinforcing proper fight techniques, you're improving and refining a skill that transcends fitness on multiple levels.

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