Short on time? Jump straight to our top choice, the Century Original Wavemaster.
The punching bag is a popular piece of equipment in many home gyms, and for good reason. Even a short workout can provide huge benefits to your aerobic fitness and upper body strength. In particular, the free standing versions are best for an easy set up and limited space. In this guide we’ve found the best free standing punching bags, which we think you should consider adding to your home gym.
Quick Comparison: Best Free Standing Punching Bags
- Our Top Choice: Century Original Wavemaster
- Dripex Punching Bag
- Everlast Power Core Bag
- Century Versys Fight Simulator
- Century BOB Body Opponent
Why Should I Buy a Punching Bag?
Whether your aspiring to be the next Anthony Joshua, or just looking to get fit, using a punching bag will give you a unique set of benefits. Here are some of the top benefits of heavy bag training.
Anyone who’s tried punching a bag in a gym, knows just how tiring it can be. As little as two minutes, at the right intensity, can provide you with a demanding cardio workout. The combination of throwing punches and moving around the bag, puts you through both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. As your cardio fitness improves, you can increase to doing 3-5 minute rounds.
Upper Body Strength
As you would expect, hitting a heavy punching bag will do wonders for your upper body strength. The act of punching not only engages your arms, but also your shoulders, chest, back and core. Using different punching techniques will focus on different muscles, increasing both your strength and power.
Core Stability and Balance
Going through a heavy bag workout means you are constantly on the move. Punching with both arms, whilst circling the bag, requires a lot of coordination between your upper and lower body. As all boxers will tell you, balance is key. Staying balanced during this movement is down to core stability, and this ensures that you stay agile and maintain good posture.
What urge do most people get when they’re angry? Hitting something must be close to top of the list. Using a free standing punching bag is perfect for this. It has been proven before that all forms of exercise can help to reduce stress and anxiety. Using a punching bag is no different. What makes it unique is the physical, and sometimes aggressive, nature of the exercise. This can help to give you an outlet for negative stress, and allow you to reach a certain level of calm post-workout.
Self Defense and Boxing Technique
No surprise here, punching bags help your self defense and boxing technique. If you’re interested in boxing, or mixed martial arts (MMA), then a home gym with a punching bag is a must-have. Even if you’re not, the added benefit of improving your self defense skills is a nice bonus.
If you’ve never used boxing in your workouts before, this video gives some great tips on getting started (skip to 2:20 if you want to go straight to the technique).
Hanging vs. Free Standing Punching Bags
Hanging Punching Bag
This is what most people would consider the traditional heavy punching bag. It hangs down either from the ceiling, or from a specialized punching bag stand. Due to this, it will swing slightly when hit.
- Impossible to topple. Suitable for powerful kicking and training for martial arts such as Muay Thai.
- Swinging motion is generally better if you’re training as a fighter. Great for developing footwork and movement.
- As they’ve been around for longer, the price is sometimes more affordable.
- Certain exercises need a partner (due to swinging).
- Very inconvenient to setup, can involve drilling in to the ceiling.
- Bag stands take up a lot of space.
Free Standing Punching Bag
A free standing punching bag is not attached to the ceiling in any way, and does not ‘hang’. The bag is attached to a weighted base, which sits on the floor. Most versions have a bag which is spring loaded, which emulates the swinging motion of a traditional bag.
- Spring loaded motion more suitable for intense cardio workouts.
- Very easy setup.
- Requires little space.
- Some models can be knocked over if hit hard, due to lighter design.
- Not as suitable for fighting or martial arts training.
Which Should I Choose?
Overall, what you choose will depend on your needs. If you have the space, and the time, then setting up a hanging bag is often worth the effort. Especially if you are training in a fighting discipline. However, if your goals are more fitness orientated, a free standing bag is a much more convenient solution for the average home gym.
How to Choose the Best Free Standing Punching Bag
Here are the top things we think you should consider when buying a free standing punching bag.
What you need here will depend on your type of training, and your own height. Some models will have a bag with an adjustable height.
Weight & Stability
The weight will affect how sturdy the bag is, and therefore how much of a beating it can take before toppling over. This will also determine how responsive the bag is, and how much it moves when hit.
The material of the bag should be high quality, to ensure durability. Nobody wants the stitching coming loose after a few rounds! Different materials can also have a different feel when hit, which comes down to personal preference.
You will want to check the diameter of the base to make sure it fits in to your current home gym setup. Most bases will have to be filled with either water or sand, although some versions come pre-filled.
Free Standing Punching Bag Reviews
Our Top Choice: Century Original Wavemaster
The Century Original Wavemaster was our favorite from all of the punching bags we reviewed. It features 7 different height adjustments, up to a height of 68”. This is perfect for practicing high, low and mid-level kicking. It also features ‘rapid rebound’, which means there is a good resistance when hit. You can fill the base with either sand or water, although many users have reported it is much more stable with sand. Depending on where you get yours, there are also several different color options. The round base is designed in a way which makes it easy to maneuver, and is compact enough to take up minimal space. At a very reasonable price level, we think this is the best option out there for a free standing punching bag.
- 7 different levels of height adjustment
- Rapid Rebound provides optimal resistance
- Suitable for all exercises
- Compact and easy to move
- Not too expensive
- Preferable to fill with sand (can move with water)
The Dripex punching bag comes in at a decent height of 69”. The base features 12 suction cups, for added stability on your gym floor. This is great for me personally, as my home gym has a smooth floor surface. There are dual PVC shock absorbers, which help to reduce noise when in use. This is a nice addition, as loudness is sometimes an issue with free standing punching bags. The springs on the base are removable, which gives you the option of having less vibration when punching. The bag itself is constructed of a stainless steel tube, which means it provides a fast rebound to your strikes. It is layered with PU leather, which is tear resistant, and stitched with nylon sewing, for added durability. One common complaint is that the bag is delivered in 2 separate boxes, but we can live with that. Lastly, the small hole in the base means that filling it with sand can be a slow process. Having said that, you should only have to go through this process once. Overall, we thought this was a very good choice, and was a close contender for our top spot.
- Suction cups on base
- Shock absorption reduces noise
- Springs can be removed for less vibration
- Good quality construction
- Tedious to fill with sand
- Delivered in 2 parts
This bag is made from an air-foam chamber, giving it a more ‘realistic’ feel, similar to that of a traditional hanging bag. The Powercore power transfer ring absorbs the impact of your hits, which reduces the base’s movement and adds stability. Another feature is an adjustable height up to 65”. Whilst this is not as big a range as our top choice, it’s still a great addition. Unfortunately, some users have reported leaking when they’ve filled the base with water. Others have also found the base to slip slightly, particularly heavy hitters. However, the Everlast Power Core Bag is at the lower end of the price range, which makes it very good value regardless. If this is your first bag, and your punches aren’t at the heavier end, then this one is worth considering.
- Air-foam chamber provides good feel
- Powercore ring absorbs impact
- Adjustable height up to 65”
- Very affordable
- Reports of water leaking (best with sand)
- Some slipping with heavy hitters
Time for something a little different. The Century Versys Fight Simulator is designed for those of you training as a fighter, particularly MMA. The portable design means it can be used for both stand-up and ground training. It has a durable vinyl shell and is ready to use, as it comes pre-filled with sand. Very easy to move around, this is ideal if you like to train in different rooms. There are also handles on the top of the bag, for doing knee strikes. However, this is not a typical ‘heavy’ bag. Due to the lightweight design, it is not so stable when subjected to hard hitting and boxing workouts. It is also towards the higher end of the price range, which means it may not be suitable for beginners. Where this bag really shines is in honing fight combinations and MMA practice. If you’re a boxer, or boxing for fitness, look elsewhere. If you’re a fighter in training however, then this one is for you.
- Great for MMA training
- Used for stand-up and ground training
- Durable vinyl shell
- Pre-filled, ready to use
- Expensive end of price range
- Not ideal for boxing
This choice immediately stands out. Technically, this is not a ‘bag’ but is a lifelike mannequin (don’t worry, it’s not too lifelike). It has an adjustable height, up to an impressive 78”. The mannequin shape means that it is perfect for more realistic fight training. BOB can be used for target work, with or without gloves, which will help to improve your striking accuracy. The construction means that BOB can take a real hammering without flinching. This makes it perfect for heavy hitters. In fact, whether you are training for MMA, boxing, or just general fitness, this bag will meet all of your needs. It’s at the more expensive end of the price range, but you’ll get a great piece of equipment in return.
- Adjustable height up to 78”
- Ideal for realistic fight training
- Used to improve striking accuracy
- Sturdy enough for heavy hitters
- More expensive end of price range
From what we’ve seen, our favorite free standing punching bag is the Century Original Wavemaster. An adjustable height and optimal resistance make it suitable for a wide range of workouts. It comes at a very reasonable price, and is compact enough to move around, which is essential in a home gym. For building both strength and cardio fitness, this bag will do everything you need, regardless of your ability. If you are training specifically for fighting, then you can’t get much better than the Century BOB Body Opponent. This is designed with fighting in mind, but can also be used for general fitness. Either way, a free standing punching bag is a great addition to any home gym, and one you won’t regret.