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I've searched the web a bit but all I get are online shops with very little help, so I'm hoping somebody here can answer my question.

I want to start using the heavy punch bag at the gym more this year but as the gloves there are old with holes and stuffing coming out of them, and smell very bad indeed I want to buy some of my own. My problem is that I'm not sure of what I need.

I assume wrist support is a smart idea, but 10oz, 16oz... is it the heavier gloves for the heavier punchbags, or is it for larger hands or for stronger people? Could somebody explain what I require please, and if you have some recommendations I'd appreciate it.

Many thanks!

EDIT: My background is martial arts and I use weightlifting gloves for striking the bag when practicing technique. I have been using the bag with boxing gloves for working on power and endurance (rapid powerful hits).

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I speak as a friend of someone who boxes, so don't take my word as the ultimate say. That said, I did find a good resource on boxing gloves.

For size, the recommendation is based on body weight:

  • 120 lb and down: 12 or 14 oz
  • 120-150 lb: 14 to 16 oz
  • 150-180 lb: 16 to 20 oz
  • 180 lb and up: anything 18 oz or heavier

If you are pursuing boxing, stick with boxing gloves. You can get some training gloves for the heavy bag and keep a pair of sparring gloves for matches. The resource I linked to is precisely for this target audience and it's more specific recommendations on glove types are great for boxers. Always get hand wraps when you wear heavy gloves. Hand wraps prevent your wrist from bending, which is a higher risk when you have weighted gloves.

However, if you are pursuing general martial arts, you just want a pair of bag gloves. Bag gloves just keep the canvas of the bag from chewing up your knuckles and don't provide much protection. However, they do allow you to practice your strikes much the same way as they would in a street fight. Hand wraps are not necessary for this option as long as you have proper technique (i.e. no bends in the wrist). This last bit of advice contradicts the article, but the article was written for boxers, not more traditional martial artists (i.e. karate, tang soo do, etc).


If the heavy bag is for martial arts conditioning, then I recommend just keep doing what you are doing. Striking with boxing gloves and as close to bare knuckle fists as you can are completely different disciplines. I have a martial arts background, and I've used the heavy bag for power and conditioning work. If you have a good striking technique, then just use it. A couple of tips when working with power on the bag:

  • Time your punches. The bag will swing away from you, and when if you punch while it is traveling toward you, it will put more strain on your wrist than is necessary.
  • Crowd the bag, reset, and repeat. You are going to attack the bag like you would an opponent. When the bag swings away, close the distance and follow up with more punches.
  • Practice footwork and approach. A particularly useful technique to help with sparring is to practice your footwork and combinations from different distances. Timing is important in sparring, so this will help you work so that it's more effortless.

The only thing that working with a heavy bag requires is that you keep a tight fist and your keep your wrist straight. If you don't feel like you can do that without help, just get the hand wraps as training wheels. If you relax your fist, your whole hand will collapse on contact. The force of clenching your fist also radiates the power up your arm, reinforcing the wrist joint. You should be able to draw a straight line from your first two knuckles and your elbow. Any up or down bend in the wrist puts your wrist at risk for a sprain or break (depending on if the bag is swinging toward you and how quick your reactions are to pull your punch if it doesn't land right).

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  • I've updated my question with additional info based on your answer. Jan 5, 2015 at 13:50
  • I've updated my answer. Honestly, I've worked a canvas bag with bare knuckles before. I went for 8 rounds at 2 minutes each. No ill effects other than bloody knuckles from friction burns. That's why you use bag gloves. Jan 6, 2015 at 2:28
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Berin Lotitsch's answer is really good.

I noticed a couple of things in your question:

  1. You said you wanted to start using the heavy bag, meaning you might not do this very much.
  2. You said the stuffing is coming out of your gloves.

Try getting some decent leather gloves (not anything with padding). Dedicated boxing gloves would be great, but if this is just something you want to try today and maybe for tomorrow and be done with it, there is no reason to buy boxing gloves that you'll never use again.

Workout gloves are not the best at punching a heavy bag with, but they can prevent you from rubbing all the skin off your knuckles.

Another good option is to look at some of your local craigslist postings or eBay for a used, cheap set of boxing gloves.

I would say you could skip out on great quality, specialized gloves until you are sure you like this and plan to do it regularly.

If you decide to do it, then go back to Berin's answer.

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    I think you make an excellent point about using the cheaper ones and replace them, until the time comes that I do it on a more regular basis. Feb 4, 2015 at 12:50
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180" hand wraps are a must and Buy some gloves that give you good hand protection. Title Boxing makes quality gloves even the lower end gloves are pretty good.

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Based on my recent research there are broadly 4 classes:

  • Competition gloves
  • Sparring gloves
  • Bag gloves
  • Specialty gloves

Competition gloves tend to be about 10 oz, although it depends on the competition. The important thing is that you don't wear your own gloves at fights, they provide their own. You might think about buying similar ones anyway, to train in a "realistic" way, but the issue is that usually they will be laced gloves which you need help to tie. So not good for training.

Sparring gloves are 16 oz or more. This is not so much to do with the effectiveness of your training, but more about protecting your partner from injury. People spar with very padded gloves, but it's because they're hitting another person not a bad, not because the heavy padding is necessarily better for their own gains.

Specialty gloves usually look very obviously unusual, they will be for some narrow purpose. If you're not looking for them specifically you probably want to avoid these.

With bag gloves, the main concern is the effectiveness of your training. I consider health and safety part of this, because if you break your wrist you will not be training effectively. In this case you have two options:

  • You can get heavier gloves, like 16 oz, to have more padding. I'm biased towards less padding because I'm lucky with hand pain. So I would say this is a good choice if you've had a tendency to have pain with other gloves.
  • My own decision was to go for "medium" padding at 12 oz. The advantage of this is that the gloves are lighter, and go faster, so you can train with more realistic speed and pace compared to what you would have in a fight. Of course, if you don't care about realism but are doing a specific drill, this doesn't apply.

In this post I use numbers like 10, 12, 16 oz but actually these vary with your size. Heavier gloves are usually also bigger and roomier. The fancier boxing glove makers will have detailed sizing guides on their side explaining how to measure your hand and so on. Also, I've heard of people getting one size higher or lower depending on the additional bulk of their wrist wraps. So in reality these numbers would depend. The 10-12-16 is usually for "average/medium" people.

Also, a lot of generic sports good stores have bad or incorrect categorization of boxing gloves. Whereas the ones that sell only boxing gloves, and are well regarded brands ($$$ too of course) have very sensible categories like "bag gloves", "sparring gloves" etc. So I think it's helpful to look at those even if you're not planning to buy from them, just to understand the product you are shopping for. With cheaper stores it's very confusing.

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