This is a selection of ten heavy bag drills for MMA training specifically intended to provide a balanced overview. Equal emphasis has been given to submissions, grappling, Muay Thai and boxing; the practitioner is encouraged to adjust the workout according to her personal strengths and weak areas.
Anyone transitioning from kickboxing or boxing to mixed martial arts should remember that heavy bag drills for MMA incorporate use of the detached bag in addition to standard use as a hanging target for strikes. The ideal-sized bag for heavy bag drills for MMA is one which represents an average opponent’s size and weight so that carrying, throwing and grappling with the detached bag will tire the athlete accordingly, giving an approximate idea of his limits of endurance.
These drills should not be attempted by any unskilled person. Always warm-up before exercising.
- Punch Out Drill – The essence of this drill is speed, but as with all heavy bag drills for MMA, you should never sacrifice form quality for speed. Punch quickly, but not sloppily. Attach the bag and punch at top exertion for one minute. For maximum effectiveness, keep a record of the punch count and be sure to best it every time this drill is performed.
- Precision Drill – Attach the bag and place three pieces of duct tape on it. Strike the targets rapidly in succession without missing once. Repeat without pause for two minutes. Punches or kicks may be used for this drill; position the tape accordingly.
- Kicking Technique Drill – This is a great way to perfect your kick technique! Power and speed mean little in the absence of good form. Attach the bag and work leg and body kicks for ten minutes, paying careful attention to form.
- Boxing Technique Drill – Again, the idea is not to develop powerful punches but to throw accurate, solid, sharp strikes with impeccable footwork. Attach the bag and strike it crisply in the same spot for ten minutes, shifting your angle of attack after every blow.
- Shuttle Run Drill – Detach the bag and sprint across the length of the gym area carrying it. Place it down on the far side, circle around, pick it back up and repeat for six minutes.
- Ground and Pound Shuttle Run Drill - Perform the Shuttle Run Drill, only this time mount the heavy bag and rain strikes upon it at full force for one minute every time you drop it.
- Submission Setups Drill – Lacking appendages, heavy bags may not seem the most obvious choice for honing one’s submission skills, but heavy bag drills for MMA can in fact be useful for training submission setups. Detach the bag and practice kneeling takedowns, transitioning into far-side armbar setups. Repeat for two minutes.
- Three Count Drill – These basic combos can easily be developed into longer chains of strikes. Attach the bag and perform a right kick, left hook, right cross combination. Follow up with a left kick, right cross, left hook combination. End with a right kick, left cross, right hook. Repeat the sequence for three minutes.
- Transitions Drill – Mount transitioning practice is one of the best heavy bag drills for MMA for the athlete training without a partner. Detach the bag, lay it on the mat, and then vigorously work presses, sweeps, slams and transitions for two minutes. Incorporate the north-south position, butterfly guard, and full and side mount and focus on improving the fluidity and quickness of transitions.
- Pyramid Drill – Ready for the ultimate challenge? Attach the bag and kick it with your right leg once, then perform two kicks, then three, up to five. Then, continuing with your right leg, kick it four times, then three, then two, then one. Switch legs and do it again. Repeat the entire process five times. You may be sore afterwards, but your fight scorecard will thank you.
Whatever your ability level, heavy bag drills for MMA are not only an essential tool for cross-training, but also for improving power, speed, endurance and precision. Practice often and you’ll see your skills improving in no time at all.