how to fill a punching bag
Gym Gear

How to Fill A Punching Bag the Right Way

A punching bag is a great investment in your fitness future. But the effectiveness of your punching bag workout is only as good as the way that it is filled. Put in the wrong materials or fill it incorrectly and you are setting yourself up for a world of hurt. In this article, we step you through how to do it the right way.

The Right Filler Material


The type of filler material that you use will be guided by the type of training that you are doing. If you don’t fill the bag properly, it will not swing the way that you need it to for the workout you are doing. It can also be detrimental for your knuckles and wrists. The wrong type of material may also lead to a settling at the bottom of the bag and a soft top.

There are 3 types of filler material:

  • Bags of Sand
  • Scrap fabric
  • Sawdust fillings

Before we get into how to fill the bag, you may be wondering why you would buy an empty punching bag in the first place. Why not just buy a ready filled bag?

Buying an empty bag allows you to customize your punching bag to your needs. It will put you in charge of three important punching bag variables:

  • Volume
  • Weight
  • Fit
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The more fill you put in a bag, the harder it will be to move and the more force will be required with every punch. A lighter bag will require a lighter foot movement and more agile body positioning. This will be easier on your joints than if you were striking a heavy bag. Sawdust or sand filling will make the boxing bag firmer. 

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You may choose to use a  combination of sand or sawdust and recycled materials to give you a happy medium between light and heavy. 

A more practical reason to fill your own punching bag is that it will greatly reduce your shipping costs. 

How to Fill a Lightweight Bag


If you are wanting to end up with a light weight punching bag, you should fill it with old clothes, fabric strips and rags. They will generate a lighter density and more forgiving feel every time you strike the bag. 

Here’s how to do it:

1. Gather up your old clothes, pieces of fabric, rags, bed sheets or other suitable garments.

2. Cut your gathered pieces of fabric filling. Remove any zippers or other parts that my be a problem. 

3. Begin to pack the material into the bag, carefully layering up upon itself to build up  the height of the packing. Regularly press down on the material to keep it tightly compressed. Use a broom or other tool to press down on the compacted material. 

4. Fill the bag with your pieces of cloth all the way to the top. You do not want any loose space in the bag.

How to Fill a Heavyweight Bag

if you want to end up with a heavy punching bag, you need to fill it with finer material than rags or clothes. The best filling material is layers of sawdust or sand filling. Here is how to fill a bag with sand or sawdust.

1. Prepare the sand or sawdust for filling by putting it into zippable plastic bags. You should never pour sand loose into your punching bag. Doing so will cause the bag to become weaker over time. Also if you get a split in the bag, all the sawdust or sand filling will come pouring out onto your floor. To make sure that the zippable sawdust bags don’t open, wrap them with duct tape.

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2. Once you have filled all of you material in zippable sandwich bags and sealed them with tape, put them all in a large bag and place it on a scale. If it doesn’t match the desired weight of the punching bag, keep adding zip sand bags until it does. 

3. Unzip the bag and begin to  place the zip bags in the bottom, layer by layer to fill every space. Use a baseball bat to get the most dense compaction possible. You may wish to get another person to give assistance with compaction.

4. Use some fabric to fill in gaps as you build up the height of the filling. Be sure though, to add at least one bag on every layer.

5. When the bag is filled to the three-quarter mark, I recommend hanging it in its permanent location and then completing the fill.

6. Fill the bag to the very top with layers of sand and then zip it up completely.


Adding a punching bag to your home gym setup will open up a whole new world of opportunity in your fitness training. But the benefits of punching bag training will be determined by the quality of the bag fill. Follow the step-by-step instructions above to get it right every time. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is using a punching bag a good form of exercise? 

Yes, a punching bag is a good form of exercise. It will work most of your major muscles groups, with a focus on the core, lats, deltoids, and quads. At the same time, a punching bag workout will provide you with an effective cardio workout. it will also improve your balance, coordination, and agility. 

Where should I fill a boxing bag?

Filling a boxing bag can take quite a long time so you need to think about the location of the fill. Do it in a place where it is not going to get in the way of other activities, such as in your garage. You also need to have plenty of room to work with. 

You do not have to complete the fill in one sitting. In fact, you can hook the bag up in its permanent location during the filling process. 

Steve Theunissen

Steve Theunissen is a former gym owner and personal trainer based in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness, and fat loss.

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