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How to Fill a Punching Bag

How to fill a punching bag.

Punching bags are a fantastic addition to home gyms, whether you’re training to be a fighter, doing high-octane cardio sessions, or enjoy hitting something to release stress.

Many punching bags come pre-filled with stuffing that allows for immediate use of your bag. But other punching bags come empty, allowing you to fill them yourself. You can use many materials to fill a punching bag, including common items from around your house.

We are going to walk you through the steps for how to fill a punching bag. We’ll also discuss the best filling for punching bags.

Why Use a Self-Filled Punching Bag

Buying an empty punching bag that you can add filling to yourself is a great way to save money. Empty bags come much cheaper than pre-filled options.

Also filling them yourself gives you the ability to customize the way the bag feels and responds to match your experience level. You can control the bag’s tightness, weight, and shape.

Light bags are better for beginners or young players. As you increase experience, you can add more weight. A good rule of thumb is that you need a 1⁄2 pound of weight for every pound of the boxer. So for a fighter who weighs 150 pounds, they’d do well with a bag of at least 75 pounds.

Fighter Experience

Before you can fill your punching bag, you’ll need to consider what bag would be best for your needs. You’ll need a different type for MMA than you would boxing.

You will want to make your bag short and wide for boxing, while for any mixed martial arts training, you’d do better with a longer, thinner bag.

Once you’ve decided what size you’ll want your bag to be, it’s time to decide which filling to use. Which type you choose will depend on how you want your bag to feel.

Hard vs. Soft

How your bag feels when you hit it is something you want to give serious consideration. Soft bags are easier on the hands’ joints, which is useful for injured or limited players.

Softer surfaces are also more giving, which is better for beginners. They also provide better movement without as much power.

Heavy bags offer more resistance, so it requires a harder hit to make it move. As a player gains experience, they can move up to a stiffer bag, which offers more resistance against blows. Hard bags are also better for power training.

Materials for Filling a Punching Bag

When you buy an empty punching bag, you have multiple options for what to use as the filling. Which option you choose will depend on how you want the bag to feel once full. Let us look at some of the best materials for filling a punching bag.

Old Clothes

One of the easiest ways to fill a punching bag is to stuff it with old clothing. Fold these pieces and stuff them into the bag, compressing them together tightly to get an even fill.

Many experts recommend placing a small bag of sand on the bottom and then piling the clothes on top. Pay considerable attention to the fabric against the sides. You can use a broom handle or long tool to push the clothing tighter into the bag for more compression.

Fabric Scraps

If you don’t have any old clothes, you can also use fabric scraps of cotton or other materials. Cutting the fabric into thin strips provides a denser filling, but you’ll need more of it.

The downside of using fabrics or clothing is that the material tends to sink to the bottom, causing the top to be too soft and yielding.

Adding a sandbag to the bottom prevents this problem and helps with the swing. Now many people say that fabric stuffing is best for beginners but not as useful for experienced athletes.


Sawdust is another common filling for empty punching bags. This material will produce a more rigid surface, which may offer too much resistance for beginners.

However, you should not use a punching bag of only sawdust, and you should never use loose particles. Fill bags with the sawdust, wrap them in duct tape, and add them on top of clothing or other soft materials.


Sand is another DIY filling you can use for filling your punching bags. Similar to sawdust, you should never use only sand but also add fabric. The process is the same as using sawdust.

Ziplock bags or small rucksacks work well to hold your sand or sawdust particles. You can find sand and sawdust at your local hardware store.


Some people like to use rice instead of sand or sawdust. Fill your bags with dried, uncooked rice, tape them up, and stuff them into your bag, along with thin pieces of fabric.

Pack the bag, so the harder materials are in the center, surrounded by the fabric packed against the sides. Rice provides a strong, hard-hitting surface.


Some bags allow you to use a water core – a waterproof container in the middle of the pack that holds the liquid.

This method gives the bag a more natural feel and movement. But it also becomes heavier and harder to hit, so it might not be the best option for beginners or lightweights.

Cylindrical Support

Some prepacked punching bags come with built-in supports that give the bag more stability. You can do this technique at home using a piece of cylindrical PVC pipe.

Place this piece in the center of your bag, on top of your weight (sandbag is best), and then layer your clothing, bags of sand, or sawdust around the pole. Be sure to line the sides with clothes.

In Closing

Buying empty punching bags allows you to customize the filling to meet your skill level so you can have a perfect weight, density, and resistance. It’s also more cost-friendly.

Filling a punching bag is as simple as locating the zipper and adding your chosen materials. Old clothing, fabric scraps, sawdust, sand, rice, or water are standard filling options.

Jake Dennon

I am an avid sports enthusiast who has been fortunate enough to train with some of the best athletes and coaches in the world.

As a child, I had a keen interest in martial arts (karate). I've trained with one of the best trainers in my home country.

Moving into my teenage years I tried everything from calisthenics to weight lifting to Taekwondo and everything in between. While I do love all kinds of sports, my passion still lies in martial arts.

The combat sport coaches I have been trained by have also trained some of the top fighters in the industry. All of these brilliant trainers (and all the ones in between) have shown me just how rewarding keeping fit and healthy can be.

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