The Speed bag should really be called the “control” bag. Remember, the speed bag is “repetitive punching”, meaning many punches occuring, non-stop. You can not go fast until you can control (1) the force of your punching and (2) the size of your swinging movements. The speed bag helps you learn to create and control your repetitive punching power, which is a direct result of movement speed rather than strength. Punching hard and punching fast are NOT the same thing
Speed and Force
You can hit the bag with great force, but most people will use a larger swing movement to punch hard. And if you hit close to full power you won’t be able to do this very fast or repetitively, because the size of your movements may prevent you from getting back to the bag in time. Once you can control your swinging motions and punch with equal force with each contact, you can start working on your punching speed.
Equal force in each punch is important to keep the bag going at a constant speed. Punching harder or softer will affect the bag speed. If the bag slows down or speeds up, it will change the timing needed for the next technique. This all happens incredibly fast, so equal force in each punch is a key factor to keeping it going smoothly.
With experience you will notice that as you punch faster you will not necessarily be punching harder. You will have learned to punch using the same fist speed and force consistently, hopefully using smaller movements. Smaller punching movements are much more efficient for speed bag training than big hard punches used more on the heavy bag. One of the secrets to repetitive punching speed is to make smaller circles with your fists. For example, if your fist hits the bag and makes a 12 inch circle, then it will return to the hitting zone faster if it only makes a 9 inch circle. Another secret to speed of movement is to relax. Creating stiff muscular tension in your shoulders and arms as you punch will only make you stiffer, not faster Remember that a loose flexible whip can travel much faster than a stiff cane of wood. Relax to go faster, not tense up and hit harder. Hard power punching may let you hit the speed bag faster for a few punches but most that try to go faster by hitting harder will soon lose control of their movements and the bag. See the focused workout section for specific workouts to increase speed or strength
Timing refers to getting your fists to make contact with the bag at the correct moment. And you have to do this many times in succession when punching the speed bag. The secret is controlling your punching force and swinging speed to make it all happen when it is supposed to. Since all of this is happening rapidly, you will quickly find your ears are the greatest help in timing. Unfortunately, your eyes are way behind the bag. Pictures of what that bag looks like at normal speed are shown at right. Even at only one-quarter of your full power, there appears to be 3 or more after images of the bag! Always swing at the one in the middle. The bag sound (we call it the “bag beat”) will be your cue to speed and timing. That is the single most unique feature of the speed bag. Trust the sound, it is the key to speed bag timing.
A metronome is a device, or audio file, the creates a repetitive “click” or beat-sound that can be set to a specific speed, normally called “beat-per-minute”. Musicians use them quite a bit to help them play their instrument at a specific speed. For faster, more difficult passages of music, they can practice with a metronome to learn to play the part through at a slower speed, guided by the continuous clicking of the metronome. For example, if a song is to be played at 150 beats per minute, but their instrument part is complicated, they can learn to play the part slower by setting the metronome at the slower speed for practicing, such as 110 or 120 beats per minute. Then as their skill to play the notes increases, they can increase the speed of the metronome gradually, using it to be their “cue” to the playing speed.
This is called “auditory cuing”, and we humans are very receptive to that. That is how soldiers march in time with march music. Have you ever tapped your foot, or hands along with a song? that’s auditory cuing. You are sensing the “beat” or pulse of the song, which is the cue for your tapping, and that repetitive tapping sound of your foot or hands is also a repetitive auditory cue. then perhaps your body starts swaying to it. It is also how we dance, moving your body to the auditory cue of the beat of the song.
This is one of the single most unique aspects the speed bag – because the speed bag is its own Metronome! The rebounds of the bag create a non-stop, repetitive beat! That repetitive beat becomes the auditory cue that “times” your swinging movements. There is no other exercise activity that creates its own repetitive sound that can also act as the auditory cue for your movements of that activity, (with the exception of the continuous tapping of the jump rope, or perhaps the continuous hitting of the feet on pavement during a long distance run.)
This can be especially useful for people with movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s Disease, that have problems with the timing of their motions for walking and reaching. Research has found that people with movement disorders of timing and smooth body movements respond well, or positively, to activities that feature external auditory cueing. People with Parkinson’s have found it helpful to walk better by marching to specific march music, or metronome clicks. Many people with Parkinson’s have also found that punching the speed bag repetitively has helped them move their arms more smoothly, and putting their hand to a specific point in space (called targeting). Speed Bag training has been found to be helpful in that area and Speedbagcentral is confident this is because of the repetitive “metronome” beat of the bag sound. We are very happy to know that the speed bag is one of the core activities used in the unique “Rock Steady Boxing” for people with Parkinson’s Disease.