Old Man Does Some Heavy Bag Punching!

Old Man Does Some Heavy Bag Punching!

by Fran on July 14, 2010


An Experiment in Heavy Bag Punching!

I thought that in the interest of illustration I’d do a round of work on the heavy bag.  For two and a half minutes of the round, I’m working at long range.  For the last 30 seconds, I step in closer to the bag and focus on short range punching/infighting.  I’ve tried to incorporate some of our long range combinations, and have used the lay back quite a lot.  I wanted to get your views as to whether you find this type of video useful.  For example, would you like to see a round where body movement plays a lead role?  Would you like to see a round where footwork takes precedence?  Take a look at the video then carry on reading.

Here’s two combinations that came to my attention during this round, but there may be more so let me know if you have spotted any:

For those of you with bat-like hearing, you may have noticed the high-pitched squeak of ‘Action’ at the start of the round.  That was my 4 year-old daughter taking the director’s role!  So, in the best tradition of a movie director, for more information and advice on punch bags (including what to look for when buying one), cut to the buying a boxing punch bag article!  Alternatively, for more insight into boxing equipment and activities check out the boxing fitness page.

I’d be glad to take any feedback on this, in particular whether YOU find it useful.  I don’t particularly getting anything from posting videos of me using the punch bag, but if it helps you then I’ll make it part of the program (along with the conventional ‘piece to camera’ style that you are used to.)  On the other hand, you may wish to comment with things like “Get this guy some oxygen!”, or “Father time hasn’t just caught this guy up, it’s lapped him!” or even the old faithful “It’s a good job that the heavy bag isn’t punching back!”  If you are going to opt for humour then get creative, the funnier the better!!!!!



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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Mitchell November 28, 2017 at 12:11 pm

Yes I can hit the Heavy Bag, but for me it’s about putting it all together with Foot-Work and Hip Movement. Other videos on Youtube say it’s sensible just to practice the Jab, so I try to switch stance and jab with my Right also. I try for Slips and Rolls too, but at this stage I’m still fairly awkward.


Fran November 28, 2017 at 7:07 pm

Good variations Frank. After all of your comments I can see that you put lots of thought and invention into your training – a really great way to keep things fresh. hats off to you.


William padgett February 4, 2016 at 9:46 pm

Your video was fantastic —what a treat. Very inspirational and a reminder of what I hope I will be able to achieve to a lessor degree of course. You made me laugh at the title of your video. When you reach 71 like me you really can appreciate the old man label. I try and work every day on my skills and I actually feel some improvement—not so awkward thanks to your instructional video. Every time I watch one of the core drills I see something new and do my best to learn from what Iam seeing. My next goal is to change from my fitness only gym (where I’ve been a member for years) to a gym that incorporates boxing skills. Sure hope some of the younger guys will take me under their wing. Thanks once again for your outstanding instructional videos—I very much appreciate the thought,time and effort that went into there making. In my humble opinion you have more than earned the title—coach



Darren Harris January 1, 2015 at 2:55 pm

Very nice moves coach!
One question please, you mention that you use the layback in this video a lot in the Intro. I’m guessing you mean by this for example at 0:18 in the video you hit the bag with a 1-2 then both feet move out of range and then back into range again followed with another 1-2?
The reason I ask is that in your excellent instructional video on the Layback on this site the feet don’t move at all, you just move your body weight onto the back foot taking your head out of range by a few inches. So just asking coach then, is there 2 types of layback then? Thanks


Fran January 9, 2015 at 9:42 pm

Hello Darren

Sorry for the delay. The lay back and moving out and back in are different skills to achieve the same result – both allow a phased attack.


Darren Harris January 10, 2015 at 11:54 am

Thanks coach, so they are different things then.
So when you refer to using the layback alot in the video then do you mean in the sequence at the very beginning of the video when you are circling the heavybag with your jab? I can see you moving your body backwards slightly between jabs?


Fran January 13, 2015 at 9:45 pm

Yes Darren. Look at about 0:53 where my feet stay static and my bak leg bends slightly to bring the upper body out of range. So it’s jab-layback-one two. Subtle difference but important one.


Darren Harris January 14, 2015 at 8:16 pm

Thanks coach, you’re right, I had to replay the video sequence you specified several times just to spot it, it must be only a matter of inches? Just enough to avoid an oncoming punch,
P.S. I’d love to see a similar video on the double end bag. They’re really neat pieces of work I’ve found. On the heavy bag defence completely goes out the window but with the double end bag it really keeps you on your toes!

Sean Tynan December 19, 2014 at 12:35 am

This video is useful. I’d also like to see double end bag routines and maize bag if you have them.


Fran December 19, 2014 at 10:00 pm

See what I can do Sean. Thanks


Blackie June 14, 2014 at 8:34 am

Hello Fran,ive only just come across your site and im totally impressed,very basic but informative,in a good way.I hit fifty the end of this year and want to take up boxing to lose my gut and help with giving up smoking,im a seasoned drinker and smoker….Any tips…?….Cheers….(keep up the good work)..


Fran June 18, 2014 at 6:45 pm

Hey Blackie. Simply try to replace the drinking and smoking with a training session or run. Hard work and commitment mate 😉


Fran August 30, 2013 at 7:46 pm

Cheers Mike. It really helped me as a coach putting these videos together, it really made me think hard about how I explain ideas. SO for me it’s very rewarding when someone like yourself who has a proper understanding of the sport sees the effort. Thanks mate, means a lot.

PS – looking to do get that old man to do a reprise. He was in decent shape before he went on holiday, so let’s just say he got some time to spend in the gym. Take it easy Mike.


Wendy Eriksson February 22, 2013 at 8:59 am

Hi Fran,
Thanks for this vid. As with everything on the site, I found it very helpful. Don’t worry, those punches of yours are still straight, clean and fast 🙂 Once a boxer, always a boxer I think!

It was great to be able to watch your footwork. Being a long time martial artist, I’m a lot more ‘flat-footed’ than an experienced boxer….something I’m struggling to change.

Personally, I’d love to see more videos with footwork, body movement and blocks/defense. It’s great to read about them and see them demo’d by piece……but sooo helpful to see them in action.


Maurice December 28, 2012 at 3:24 am


If you are old, then at 51, I guess I am ancient. But most days I don’t feel that way. I train with kettlebells four times a week, and I do about one three-minute round on the heavy bag with each kettlebell workout. (Many days I am sucking wind, but that’s O.K.) Your video gives me much to observe and emulate.

My speed bag technique needs help though. So if you could include a video and an article on how to master the speed bag, I would be grateful. Meanwhile, keep up the good work.



Fran December 29, 2012 at 7:19 pm

Thanks Maurice.

We all suck wind most days mate, if we weren’t then there would be little point working out I guess. Got to get tired to get fit.

In terms of the speed bag, I have never really been a user. Very noisy in the gym I’ve found. We tend to favour the floor-to-ceiling ball as it adds such an additional dimension to the training session.

Thanks for the comment Maurice, always great to get people’s views and opinions mate.

Happy New Year


Ric July 16, 2012 at 2:28 am


Overall I thought it was pretty good. That is, your footwork, hand speed, timing, etc. Not bad for an ‘old guy’ Fran. ha! It’s clear that you’re from ‘across the pond’, as you say, with a typical British/European stand-up style and very little head movement. Except when you stepped back you raised your head up. Wrong move coach! Also, the “hopping” commented on previously is really a half pivot, half step that you are doing. But in doing so I noticed that when you moved to the right you stepped with your left foot first and with your right foot first when moving left to the point where your right foot appears further to the left than your left foot. In short, it looked like a cross-step which would make you off balance if you got tagged with a hook while moving right or left. N’cest-pas?


Fran July 18, 2012 at 9:17 pm

Hey Ric

Thanks for the analysis, always welcome. Yep, there are certainly short-comings, but even an old boy like me will always look to improve. The foot-shuffle thing is in many ways a bad habit, but as long as it’s out of range then it shouldn’t cause too many issues.

In terms of the European style, nothing wrong with that I think, certainly in the amateurs. Aside from the Cubans, it’s been European-based boxers who seem to have pretty much dominated since computer-scoring was introduced. Whether we agree with CS or not, the pro-style previously used so successfully by North American (and indeed Canadian) boxers has proven less so in the past 20 years.

Cheers Ric


Dan February 23, 2012 at 9:37 pm

What weight are the heavy bag gloves you are using? What weight would you recommend? I’m 5’7″, 170 lbs and am in good shape but I’m new to boxing. Love the vidoes! Thanks


Fran February 23, 2012 at 9:56 pm

Hey Dan. I like to use pretty light bag mitts, with well wrapped hands. For some info on gloves, check out the Boxing Gloves – 6 Things to Know article. Thanks for the question and I hope this helps.


Fran November 28, 2011 at 10:06 pm

Thanks Paul, I thought it was ‘no rest for the wicked’, but I’ll go with your version.

I actually meant specifically with the mid-range left hook, with the palm down on contact with the bag. All of the other shots, unleash hell. Hope the hands stay injury-free Paul.


Paul Smith November 21, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Fran, you are a fierce puncher with lots of power!
I’d hate to have you wailing away on me when you get inside. Impressive form was shown by you and a perfect lesson in practicing what you preach.

Are there any tips you can share for a middle aged heavyweight to avoid injury (I recently messed up my right hand middle finger) using the heavybag?



Fran November 23, 2011 at 10:19 pm


Sorry for the delay, run ragged at the moment.

One big tip is to take all power out of the shot when using a mid-range left hook on a heavy bag. I think that it might be the cylindrical shape of the bag, but it can cause injury to, you guessed it, to the middle and ring fingers. This doesn’t happen when the shot hits a real life jaw though. It’s one of those conundrums that I’ve not got to the bottom of yet, it must be to do with the flatter surface area of the jaw. I don’t know, I think that we need a physicist . You can add more juice with the mid-range right hook, but again just test the shot out a few times and gradually build up the power.

Other options. Get the bandaging right and/or invest in bigger gloves, 16oz or 18oz. Being a big lad, you’ll still get the full feeling of the shot.

Oh, and don’t rush back to smashing the bag before the finger has healed properly. If you do hurt it again, go with the usual ice on the injury for an hour afterwards.

Hope this helps Paul, thanks for the question.


Mike October 6, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Thanks Fran! will do


Mike October 5, 2011 at 6:16 am

How many days a week do you recommend using the heavy bag for an old guy like me I’m 43?


Fran October 5, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Firstly, you ain’t old, You’re a spring chicken!

Depends on rounds Mike, but generally 3 times a week, every other night. If you can get out and run on the intermediate nights, have the weekend off, that should do the trick.


Scottie Hamilton August 1, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Quality bag work Fran, even at your age!;)
Alot of really nice combo’s with technically correct punching & footwork!…like the Jab, Right Cross, double left hook body & head (around the 1 min mark)…I love this combination, as switching your attention from head to body so swiftly almost certainly means (if you can land behind the elbow) your body shot is going to land as your opponent is trying to block/parry/slip the 1-2 combo that your aiming to land through his guard…then BOOM! pick up ya ribs & take a knee son!! haha…Special attention should be observed at the way you as a fighter & trainer like to be ‘edge of range’ (Cuban Style) & a constant threat..this is apparent even in your bag work. being able to use defences such as the lay back & then coming back with perfectly timed counters rocking your opponents head & body…LOVE IT!
As an ex-boxer of Sefton ABC & someone who has done many, many rounds of pads etc with you Fran…a quick note to your readers would be everytime I carried out your instruction…It worked!…if only I had listened EVERYTIME!!


Fran August 1, 2011 at 8:42 pm

Thank you Scott, and don’t get cheeky as you aren’t too old to get a clip around the ear 😉

You’ve picked out some really good points. All boxers when on a heavy bag should give that bag a ‘character’ and turn it into an opponent. Visualize shots coming back your way as it promotes more dynamic thought on your own part as a boxer. Punching is only the end result, the bit that the layman can see. In fact, not unlike the tip of an iceberg. The tip of the iceberg is the bit you see, but it’s the big bit underwater that will ruin your day. In boxing, it’s all of the none-punching stuff that you don’t see that will lead to you being beaten senseless. Foot movements, feints, pivots, arm blocks, constant low level pressure etc etc. The whole symphony!

Scott, it was always a pleasure working with you and if you weren’t listening you certainly did a good job of hiding it. Always interested, always attentive. Always good for a coach to work with the likes of you.

Take it easy soldier


Mark Dodd July 11, 2011 at 10:28 pm

As an older guy fairly new to boxing, I really appreciate your videos. I started for fitness, but love it. Shame the younger blokes hit so hard. The heavy bag work is great and it shows me as a beginner the importance of footwork and target distance, and leading shots incorporating body movement to set up combinations. Thanks again love the site


Fran July 12, 2011 at 8:07 pm

You’re very welcome Mark. As we mature in years, our reflexes do begin to let us down to say the least. When in against younger guys, make sure that you are using a more compact style, making sure that you aim to use the various blocks. You will get better at riding the power on those incoming shots.

I hope that you keep finding helpful articles and videos on the site. Thanks Mark.


Denmark June 21, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Hey Fran. Great video, personaly I would like to see you do some more vidoes working combinations on heavy bag. I like your boxing style. From this video I learned more about how you move and stand on your feet as you move around and throw punches. At the same time I learned from watching how you punch. So I guess I will watch a dusin times more.


Fran June 21, 2011 at 8:27 pm

Thanks Zaid. I’ve got plans for a free vid looking at some up close work on a maize bag. Keep an eye out and thanks for the comment!


DAVE I March 23, 2011 at 10:05 pm

Thanks for making the vid-What I would like to see with the heavy bag is some of the combos you have written up on the site -such as the Hagler combo+The Curry knockout left hook with slip and move forward.

Also love to see you do a vid on the floor to ceiling bag.


Fran March 24, 2011 at 10:48 pm

Hey Dave. I’ve got some interesting stuff coming up, just not quite ready yet (this is why the posts have slowed down.) Bear with me and thanks for the suggestions!


ElFinito January 20, 2011 at 5:55 pm

I had problems with my left hook to the head on the heavybag. When shadowboxing and sparring i was throwing a left hook with palm down and it was powerful and technically correct. On the heavybag with palm down seemed to be a weak shot, so, i used to throw a left hook with Palm facing me (thumb up).


Fran January 20, 2011 at 10:59 pm

Common problem mate, the left hook ‘palm down’ on the bag can sometimes feel awkward. When in competition, and the thumb is up when the left hook goes with your arm parallel to the floor, the referee might issue a warning for incorrect punching (seeing it as a ‘slap’) This is just worth knowing, but if you land the shot then it’s a good shot!

Thanks for the comment ‘The Finisher’ – I like the new name 😉


svenjamin July 15, 2010 at 3:04 am

How about “judging from the way that guy moves, the only thing old about him is his wardrobe.”

I do find this kind of thing instructive, especially being able to watch your footwork and weight distribution while you attack that bag. It’s simply fun to observe how disciplined those feet are to almost perfectly maintain the same relative position throughout. It’s much easier than studying footwork from fight footage where the camera is focused higher and the perspective is being constantly switched.
It also brings up a question. You have outlined basic lateral, linear, and pivot footwork on your site, but as I was this video I see a lot of other little cross steps and hops that I have noticed boxers doing before, yet have never seen/heard acknowledged to be part of the footwork canon. I’m assuming it’s sound, or you wouldn’t be doing it..Are there some rules of thumb about why, how, and when to do these alternative patterns? An example occurs at around 40-42 seconds in,which you repeat at 49s. Another example at 55s.


Fran July 15, 2010 at 9:51 pm

What an opening sentence, a compliment, put-down and only one full-stop (period to you guys from across the pond). Top marks for creativity.

OK, onto the techie stuff. This switch of the feet. My broad advice would be this is done only in 2 scenarios:

1. When out of range. It could be described as a technical cheat really. As you’re probably aware, moving to the right is not entirely natural for an orthodox boxer, so this is a passive movement during which you’re not in a position to throw effective shots. It probably acts as a sub-conscious ‘reset’, ready for the next attack.
2. When at close range, a variation of this switch can be used. It must be explosive and fast. The point of doing it is that where you’d normally throw a short left hook and it would land on the right side of your opponent’s jaw, after doing this switch the left hook would land on the opponent’s chin. It opens angles and is an alternative to the pivot (a move which I know you like). It was used a lot by Mike Tyson during his early years. I’ll line a video up on it in the near future.

It’s not, in my opinion, something that should be done at long or mid-range.

Hope this helps, and thanks again.

PS, I like the Thai punch-bag. Talk about adapt, survive and ovecome!


Karl July 15, 2010 at 2:26 am

Hey! That’s pretty good! You didn’t start breathing heavy until about 15 seconds! Impressive 😉

Seriously, I do find it very useful, so thank you. Like everyone who is just getting into boxing – I’ve searched online for videos on how to train. There are lots of them out there, but very very few are made by people with a high level of expertise. I’ve seen home made heavy bags, crazy combinations, guys that looked like they were dancing (badly) more then they were boxing, etc etc.. I bet very few of those guys could go a full round of solid bag work without seriously tapering off near the end and gasping for air. So it’s nice to have an example of ‘what it should look like’. I would like to see your entire workout routine, including double-ended bag, maize bag, sparring, even things like road-work. Road-work would be a short video, but it’s not just normal jogging so I think it would be useful to see how it’s done properly with things like interval sprints, running on your toes, proper length of time, etc..

Now I’m thinking it would be a good idea to film myself for a round of heavy bag. Heck, I may even post it on my youtube channel. LOL – uhmmm, maybe not.

PS – that’s a neat bag you’re working on. I’ve never seen one like that before. You can practice your uppercuts more realistically. I guess that’s what it’s made for.


Fran July 15, 2010 at 9:37 pm

Excellent feedback Karl, as usual (it felt longer than 15 seconds lol, isn’t that always the way!) You’ve given me lots to consider there, so I’ll work that through and see what the options are. That’s an angled bag by the way, and I do love using that one. It’s kind of a halfway house between a conventional bag and a Maize Bag, allowing effective uppercuts and hooks at all ranges. If I were to own only one bag, it would be that type.

Take care, and thanks again!

15 seconds indeed….


Fran January 15, 2015 at 9:03 pm

Cheers Darren. See what I can do 🙂


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