Punching a bag without gloves comes with challenges and isn’t typically recommended. There are two issues with punching a heavy bag without gloves. Firstly, if you put considerable power into your punches, the skin around your knuckles will split open. As you can expect this will hurt your hands and will prevent you from punching for a prolonged period.
The second issue with punching without gloves is that you will have no wrist support. This means that if you punch hard without the right technique, you will damage your wrists.
There are ways to punch the bag without gloves and there are some advantages of not having the excessive padding found in a boxing glove from a technical perspective. However, generally speaking, punching without any gloves or wraps isn’t recommended.
How To Punch The Bag Without Gloves
As we mentioned previously, there are some advantages to not wearing gloves when hitting the bag. But its important that it is done safely and in moderation. As a boxer, your hands are the tools of your craft. They need to be preserved and protected if you want to have any longevity in the sport.
The key is wearing hand wraps. This tackles the issue of the skin splitting as hand wraps will cover your knuckles. They will also provide some wrist support but you’ll still feel it if you punch incorrectly.
When punching the bag with hand wraps, its important to remember that it is a drill for technique, not power. I’m not saying just tap the bag but don’t go as hard as you would without gloves. Remember to keep your wrist nice and flat and practice your combinations. Just keep everything in line from your shoulder, to your forearm, and your wrist.
I found focussing on the connection rather than the power helps with this exercise. It is about how the shot lands rather than how hard it lands. Think about accuracy and precision during this drill. You can be a lot more precise than you would typically be in heavy bag gloves. It almost helps simulate the feeling of fighting in 10-ounce gloves.
This will help strengthen the connective tissue and the bones in your hands but it won’t destroy the skin around your knuckles, so you’ll be able to train for longer.
Advantages Of Hitting The Heavy Bag Without Gloves
I think the main advantage is the fact that punching without gloves forces you to use the right technique. You may be thinking why is there even such are large emphasis on how you punch? If you can punch hard with gloves then what is the issue?
The problem with punching without technique is that it riddles you with bad habits. It may leave you off-balance, or open to counters, or it may even increase your risk of injury. From a technical perspective, you must punch with proper technique.
The second fundamental advantage of punching without gloves is accuracy. Your fists are much smaller than boxing gloves and will therefore promote accuracy. Punching without gloves or with wraps will allow you to better visualize your shots and how you want them to land. Remember, a large percentage of the front face of boxing gloves is nothing but padding.
You don’t want to hit the edges of the glove. You want to land with the dead center of the glove where your fist is. If you get super accurate, you can land with particular parts of your knuckles even through a boxing glove. Fighters that like to use this technique often use Cleto Reyes gloves and they promote accuracy and are renowned for being used by hard punchers.
Some people argue that punching the bag without gloves also helps condition your fists but in my opinion, its not worth it for boxing. Perhaps there is an argument to be made for MMA with their 4-ounce gloves but in Boxing where the gloves are so big and filled with padding, it makes no sense.
Disadvantages Of Hitting The Heavy Bag Without Gloves
If your hitting the heavy bag without the gloves, the main risk you face is damaging your wrists. With hand wraps and bag mitts, while the wrist support is limited, it still exists. When hitting the bag bare-knuckle, you can seriously injure yourself if you’re not careful.
The second biggest issue for me personally is that it will split and open up the skin around your knuckles. Having tried this myself, I can tell you firsthand that it is painful and makes training for the next few days difficult! Eventually, you’ll develop calluses if you keep it up but to start with it only makes your training more difficult.
Why You Should Usually Wear Gloves When Punching The Bag
While punching with just hand wraps is a great warmup, it’s a technique drill and shouldn’t be used for conditioning. Conditioning and repetition will be the bulk of your practice and you should be wearing gloves for that.
There are generally two schools of thought regarding what gloves should be used for punching the bags. A lot of old-school trainers will recommend that you bag mitts as they promote accuracy and proper technique, similar to wearing just hand wraps.
However, others will argue that the extra padding and protection of modern heavy bag gloves gives boxers the confidence and support to work the bag and exert as much force as possible for the longest period.
I think they both have a purpose depending on what you’re doing in the gym. If you’re a complete beginner and you want to learn boxing, I’d recommend using the bag mitts they encourage the right technique and are generally better for learning the fundamentals. However, if you already have boxing experience and are looking to get the best workout then go for the conventional gloves.
Both of these are safer options than hitting the bag without any gloves at all. Using either of these gloves will allow you to better utilize the heavy bag than using your bare knuckles or even hand wraps to hit the heavy bag.
To conclude, you can punch a bag bare knuckle but it doesn’t make much sense. Using hand wraps is a much more logical and practical way of extracting the benefits of bare-knuckle while preventing a lot of the issues that come attached to it.
For boxers, I don’t think bare-knuckle training is an important element of the sport. The size of the gloves and the Marquess of Queensbury’s rules mean that it isn’t even that relevant. I think MMA fighters and bare-knuckle fighters benefit much more from this as they need the experience when fighting without much wrist support and the conditioning in the hands from punching without gloves or wraps.