How to Kick a Punching Bag

Learning how to kick a punching bag requires practicing the three most common kickboxing kicks — the front kick, roundhouse kick and knee strike.
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When you feel the urge to relieve some stress, kicking a punching bag is perfect for taking out your frustrations — while getting in a solid workout.

"Striking targets your entire body, as opposed to isolating a single muscle, like traditional weight training does," says Chris Gerhardt, master trainer and acting general manager at TITLE Boxing Club in Wichita, Kansas. "It's like doing a one-rep max (the heaviest weight you can lift) with every rep."

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There's just one snag: If you want to reap the benefits of kickboxing — and win any fights — you have to learn how to land your kickboxing kicks powerfully and effectively.

Whether you're a kickboxing beginner or a seasoned boxer, read on to learn how to kick a punching bag, as well as common mistakes to avoid.

3 Ways to Kick a Punching Bag

There are many different types of kicks in the world of martial arts. But as a beginner, you’ll likely see three, Gerhardt says. They include front kicks, roundhouse kicks and knee strikes. Here's how to kick a punching bag with the three most common kickboxing kicks.

Move 1. Front Kick

The front kick (also called a teep kick in Muay Thai) is the most basic of the three and appears in kickboxing for beginners classes. It's a long-range style that involves striking and pushing the punching bag with the bottom of your foot, Gerhardt says.

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The front kick also tends to be the safest kickboxing kick. Just remember not to kick the bag with your toes.

"That's the only way you can really hurt yourself, and you would know it right away because it doesn't feel right," Gerhardt says.

How to Do a Front Kick

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Activity Kickboxing
  1. Stand facing the heavy bag. Give yourself enough space so the bag is just out of range if you were to throw a punch.
  2. Take a wide-leg stance where one foot is forward, toes pointing toward the heavy bag. The back foot can point out as far as comfortable. Both knees should be slightly bent and feet flat on the floor.
  3. Keep your torso upright and bring both fists in front of your chest like a boxer.
  4. Take a small step forward with your front foot and shift your weight onto your front leg. Use the momentum to kick through with your back foot, extending your back leg to push the ball of your foot into the heavy bag.
  5. After you've made contact with the heavy bag, step your kicking leg back and return to the starting stance.

Move 2. Roundhouse Kick

If you're a fan of martial arts flicks, you may recognize the roundhouse kick. If not, imagine this: A fighter twists their hips to one side, raises their front knee and extends their leg to strike their opponent with the top of their foot.

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The roundhouse is one of the most common kickboxing kicks, but it's also the one that tends to create the most problems, Gerhardt says.

For example, if you watch other forms of martial arts, like Karate or Taekwondo, you might notice that they use the top of their foot to strike the target (i.e., their opponent). Do this with a heavy bag, however, and it's a recipe for injury.

"The top of your foot has a bunch of these very small bones," Gerhardt says. "It's not smart to hit a 100-pound bag with full force at that contact point." Instead, strike the bag with the top of your shinbone at the center of your leg.

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The roundhouse also tends to create problems for the knee, "because you can potentially rotate your knee in, and that would not be good," Gerhardt says. (We'll get into this shortly.)

How to Do a Roundhouse Kick

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Activity Kickboxing
  1. Stand facing the heavy bag. Give yourself enough space so you can just barely reach the bag if you were to throw a punch.
  2. Take a wide-leg stance where one foot is forward, toes pointing toward the heavy bag. The back foot can point out as far as comfortable. Both knees should be slightly bent and feet flat on the floor.
  3. Keep your torso upright and bring both fists in front of your chest like a boxer.
  4. Take a small step forward with your front foot and shift your weight onto your front leg. As you step, rotate your front foot so your toes point outward as far as possible. Use the momentum to kick through with your back foot.
  5. As you kick through, rotate your hips to pivot on your front foot, bringing your front heel toward the heavy bag and striking the side of the bag with the top of your shinbone in the center of your kicking leg.
  6. Pivoting on your front toes will allow your front foot and knee to rotate together, so you can bring your back leg in contact with the side of the heavy bag without causing any twisting or pulling on your front knee.
  7. After you've made contact with the heavy bag, step your kicking leg back and return to the starting stance.

Move 3. Knee Strike

Gerhardt calls it the knee strike the upper-cut of the kicking world, as it's the strongest, most powerful kick you can generate. Simply use the top of your knee to drive right into the middle of your bag — or an attacker.

"If someone were to grab a hold of you and their hands are already physically on your body, a knee strike is a really good reaction to that, especially if it's a male attacker," Gerhardt says.

While your knee acts as a point of contact, rest assured this kick doesn't typically cause knee pain. So long as you don't feel any pain or sensitivity when you touch or push on your knee, you shouldn't have any problems with a knee strike, Gerhardt says.

The only issue you may have is a good old-fashioned friction rash on your knee. According to Gerhardt, this can happen if your knee slides up the bag after making contact. But thankfully, it's an easy fix.

"You need to learn how to poke the bag, where the knee goes straight in and then straight out so that sliding and friction doesn't take place," he says.

How to Do a Knee Strike

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  1. Stand facing the heavy bag. Get in close enough so you can steady the bag with both hands.
  2. Take a wide-leg stance where one foot is forward, toes pointing toward the heavy bag. The back foot can point out as far as comfortable. Both knees should be slightly bent and feet flat on the floor.
  3. Prepare by leaning in and steadying the bag with both hands. Then, take a small step forward with your front foot and use the momentum to drive your back knee into the bag. Focus on exploding through your back hip to power the strike.
  4. Once your knee makes contact with the bag, immediately step back into the starting stance. Try not to slide your knee up the bag.

Want to practice your kickboxing kicks? This 15-minute kickboxing workout for beginners will help you build your skills — and body.

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