Heavy bags and speed bags are too expensive because they require some kind of stand/platform. So I have to use a freestanding bag. Is a freestanding bag effective for training (honing your strikes?)? If not, is there an alternative that does not require any bag? (The alternative should not require building, making, etc.)enter image description here This image is the kind of freestanding bag that I have.

  • Do you mean the kind of punching bag which you fill the base with water or sand? And it has a kind of cylindrical part sticking up with padding on it that you punch? Jan 4 at 22:36
  • Yes. Also, it is the kind where the bottom is also some kind of bag/padding, and not solid. Jan 4 at 23:56

3 Answers 3


There are several benefits you get from punching and kicking a hanging heavy bag. Primarily you do it to condition your body to make that impact. It's absolutely vital for being able to punch hard in real life. Without that conditioning, you can easily hurt yourself if you do have to punch someone for real. Same with kicking and other strikes.

Other benefits are:

  • Training full body mechanics.
  • Being able to drill combinations.
  • Training proper distancing.
  • Focus and precision targeting.
  • Speed.
  • Footwork.
  • A good workout.

Whereas a free-standing bag like the question mentions is less heavy and probably not as tall. It will give you some resistance, but not as much as you would get in a hanging heavy bag. Is it enough resistance to be able to condition your punch to impact properly? It's much better than punching the air, but you're going to need a heavy bag if you want to do proper conditioning. The heavier the better.

Another down-side of using a free-standing bag instead of a heavy bag is that it might be too short to practice face/head level punches and kicks. Some are high enough, but they're the weakest at those locations due to being the furthest away from the ground. It means you feel less resistance up high than down low.

The free-standing bags also typically have padding all around them and are pretty soft. Heavy bags are made using canvas and have no padding. Depending on what you fill it with, it can feel like hitting a brick wall.

That's another advantage of heavy bags. They let you fill them with whatever material you want. You can determine how soft or hard you want it. It just depends on your experience level and how strong your conditioning is.

So conditioning is the biggest disadvantage of a free-standing bag. You'll get some conditioning, but not the same as a heavy bag.

On the plus side, most other things you get from a heavy bag also apply to a free-standing bag. You can practice combos, distancing, targeting, etc.

A free-standing bag also is far more portable. You can just set it up anywhere. Pour water or sand into it. If you want to transport it, dump it out. Take it anywhere you want. It's a pain having to do that, though. In my experience, once you set it up somewhere, you won't want to go through the hassle of emptying it out and moving it again. So this is a minor advantage.

Whereas a heavy bag either requires installing an extra support beam in your ceiling just to handle the load, or you need some kind of heavy metal frame to hang it from and weigh down the metal frame with barbell weights or sandbags. It takes a lot more effort.

You could keep the free-standing bag and just work on conditioning with some other apparatus that doesn't involve setting up a heavy bag. Some like makiwara training. I think makiwara are limited in terms of which techniques you train, so I would look at maybe wrapping a big tree in blankets and padding and using that. Get some bungee cables, some blankets, and buy some yoga or gymnastics mats or something to wrap inside of it. Now you just need to find a big, thick tree somewhere and have at it. Easy to set up and take down. You get to determine how soft or hard to make it. Also, make sure you're not destroying the tree. Trees need love, too. :)

Hope that helps.

  • Agree - you can hit a heavy bag hard (to get the conditioning effects mentioned) or light (for beginning / aiming techniques). But I regretted getting a freestanding bag - no satisfying impact or associated benefits (like making you learn to hold your wrists straight, and knuckle conditioning), and my jab would make it recoil far enough that a subsequent cross ("reverse punch") would not make contact. Jan 5 at 15:51
  • @AmorphousBlob Yes I think those free-standing bags always felt disappointing to me, too. But I kept thinking there was a way to maybe fill up the core of the cylindrical part of it. Maybe you can fill it with sand or rocks to make it more firm. Another comment mentioned that it makes a weird angle as it recoils away from your punch. A hanging bag does the opposite angle, which targets the top knuckles instead. It's maybe not the end of the world, but kind of irritating I guess. Jan 5 at 21:03

A free standing bag is a very useful training device. It may not provide the movement offered by a heavy hag, but in the absence of anything else, it offers an excellent way to gauge range and power, and - to an extent - footwork.

Never forget though, to train your strikes without a bag. Shadow sparing will improve your core stability, balance, retraction speed and posture more effectively than a bag. It trains you to miss without losing balance or composure.

When you train with a bag, the bag acts as a support, a brace against which to lean and from which you can more easily retract your strikes. If you do not train without a bag, you will likely become dependent to some degree on this support, which will make you more vulnerable in a fight.


In Taekwondo, we mainly use standing bags for our training. This allows us to kick over the bag if needed and allows for moving of the bags for different drills. These are 6 foot bags that weigh from 105lbs of sand (Versys VS1) on the base to over 270lbs or sand or water (Wavemaster 2XL Pro) making it quite hard to knock over. The base on that Wavemaster holds better to impact than the older 400lbs bases.

The standing bags can be just as effective as a heavy bag if you have a good one. Things that constitutes a good bag is one that does not fall over easily and does not move very much when hit. Using a plastic base on a wooden floor for example may not be your best option as it will cause the bag to slide every hit.

While on the road, I use a sand weighted bag that isn't very sturdy. This is the Century Vesys VS1. It's a great bag but not for delivering power. This is for portability and it is effective enough for training on the road. If you have someone hold the bag, it can take a considerable amount of power but it will fold under heavy loads.

Versys VS1.

While at home or in my dojang, I use a water weighted standing bag that takes a lot of power to knock down like the Century Wavemaster 2XL Pro. These are my bags of preference when training strikes as I can practice delivering punches and kicks at full power without protection and they can withstand them. A truly solid roundhouse, or sidekick, back kick, or other truly heavy power kick will still knock these bags over when full. It is recommended to have someone hold the bag for repetition training on these types of strikes. I find that tipping point on these bags to be a good measure of a truly powerful strike and will often only count a kick in a repetition of power training if it knocks it over.

Wavemaster 2XL Pro

Depending on the discpline, training style, and your ability, the bag is just a tool to develop your skills. A heavy bag provides an irreplaceable resistance to strikes but is not mobile. These stand up bags are soft to the touch, but a strong blow will cause damage. Depending on what you are training, a stand up bag can be utilized effectively to give you what you need. If you want to harden your punches, you can always punch wood. We train our techniques on these stand up bags and then develop striking endurance by hitting canvas, trees, and other harder materials. You can most certainly learn and practice with these bags as long as you train with good integrity and discipline.


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