While both boxing and weight lifting are often thought of as being male-dominated routines, the reality is that they are also good workouts for women. Both activities are good exercise and can be used for the betterment of one’s health and well-being. No matter which one you prefer, you may wonder if a heavy bag or weight lifting is better than the other for targeting fat loss. While they are both great for a healthy activity, they are quite different.
Boxing and weightlifting use different training methods, schedules, and programs to target particular fitness outcomes. If you are looking for a workout to target fat loss, then assessing whether a heavy bag workout or weight lifting will work better for you is the first step. Each activity is going to have its pros and cons.
Heavy Bag Basics
For those who are just starting to do their research on which workout helps more with fat loss, understanding the required equipment can help. A heavy bag is often also called a punching bag. It is a long cylinder type bag filled with material that increases or decreases the hardness. It is large and usually suspended from the ceiling by a chain or rope, leaving the bottom of it unattached.
Heavy bags can also be freestanding. These are the same heavy bag shape but mounted on a pedestal instead of being hung from above. The base is filled with water or sand to give it stability and hold it in place.
These heavy bags are used for boxing training, to enhance kickboxing or boxing workouts, and to work on self-defense. You can use them to practice shadow boxing, body punches, and increase power and can also toughen up the hands and limbs you use when hitting the heavy punching bag. The goal of these bags is to develop punching power through the use of boxing gloves, but you can choose workouts to work on punching speed and footwork, too. Some heavy bags are used to work on the legs and do low kicks and knee strikes.
A heavy bag workout offers some good health benefits including fat loss:
- Good aerobic workout
- Exercise will enhance core stability
- Increased coordination skills
- Increased power, stamina, and endurance
- Better upper body strength
- Healthier and stronger bones and ligaments
- Improved boxing technique
- Better self-defense abilities and skills
- Better mental health – reduces stress and anxiety
- Increased self-esteem, self-confidence
- Improved body image
- Increased weight loss
- Better muscle tone
While using a heavy bag is linked to boxing and preparing for work in the ring, it is great for general fitness and when learning self-defense. You can use many workout programs with a heavy bag. Most of them will improve your cardio, build strength and power, and burn fat.
Weight Lifting Basics
Weight training is a different activity compared to heavy bag workouts. Weight training uses weights or weight machines to create resistance. This resistance activates muscles, and they get stronger. Doing this type of physical activity means using the proper technique. You want to get the most benefit possible through this exercise.
Some of the benefits of weight lifting are:
- It will build muscle and sculpt your body
- Various workout regimes can target specific areas of your body and either sculpt or built muscle depending on your fitness goal
- It burns body fat
- Increases the strength of your bones and joints
- Helps reduce the risk of injury
- Improves the health of your heart.
As with any exercise, it is always smart to proceed with care when starting. Weight lifting is a program where you start with lighter weights and get both the form and technique correct. There are things that you need to assess as you begin so you know which workout will offer the most benefit:
- Experience – If you have already been weight lifting, then you have a good idea about the benefits of it and the proper technique. Choosing a workout routine to target fat loss will take less research than those who are new to the activity.
- Condition – It doesn’t matter if you are an experienced lifter or not. If you aren’t in good shape, your conditioning affects the program you choose for fat burning. Conditioning can be made better, but you need to build up to harder programs.
- Goals – If you are aiming for fat burn over sculpting or building muscle, you need to choose the appropriate program to meet those goals. Programs will be different based on what your desired outcome is.
- Time Limitation – Any fitness goal needs a set amount of time to achieve, but there may be weightlifting programs that can meet your time demands and fit into the schedule you want.
- Motivation – Finding a program that keeps you engaged and challenged is what you want when you are getting your workouts moving to burn fat. Motivation can affect the results of a weight lifting session.
The focus of weight lifting tends to be on building strength, size, and definition for those who are serious about physical outcomes. Those who do this activity are going to use a progression of exercises to reach these goals. The sessions alternate, targeting certain areas of the body. So, you may hear people say they are doing a leg day or an arm day. Alternating areas of the body means that the muscles have time to heal between sessions, yet you don’t miss a workout day since you rotate between different areas. Intensive weightlifting increases heart rate, too, so you also benefit by burning calories and fat.
Whether you are doing heavy bag workouts or weight lifting, how do you know if you are working on fat loss? If fat loss is your goal, you have to reach a state where you have a negative calorie imbalance. That means that you burn more calories than you are taking in, and your body has to pull energy from its fat stores. Accessing the fat energy will then burn the fat, and weight loss follows.
This imbalance is critical when deciding whether you are going to do a heavy bag workout or weight lifting to enhance your fat loss.
Every person burns calories and fat differently. Age, gender, body type, and weight influence calorie burn, as does metabolism and the amount of physical activity. Using the Harris-Benefit formula will help figure this out. It looks at the BMR (basal metabolic rate), which is the number of calories burned at baseline from breathing and basic body functions. It uses height, weight, and age to figure that out. Those numbers are then combined with the daily level of activity. These two numbers are used to give you the average burned calories per day. This number changes if any of the factors change. More exercise or fewer pounds could change the final calorie burn numbers.
Along with these numbers are the following factors that can play into calories burned:
- Age – The older you are, the fewer calories you burn each day
- Sex – Males burn more calories per day than women do
- Daily Activity – If you move a lot you will burn more calories than those who are sedentary
- Body Makeup – If you are fit and toned you will burn more calories because of higher muscle mass
- Size – Those who are larger burn more calories even when inactive
- Thermogenesis – This is the energy needed to break down food
- Pregnancy – Those who are pregnant use more calories than women who aren’t
- Breast Feeding – This will burn extra calories
Choosing a Heavy Bag Workout or Weight Lifting for Fat Loss
Every activity is going to use up calories and burn fat. The more intense the physical workout is, the more calories are burned. So, while the activities of a heavy bag workout and weight lifting are quite different, they both burn calories and affect fat loss. However, one tends to be more intense than the other. A person who weighs around 160 pounds burns between 200 and 500 calories lifting weights. Similarly, if they do a heavy bag workout, they will burn 500 to 600. This number is determined using the Harris-Benefit formula for BMR, which means that, based on average factors, it makes more sense to do a heavy bag workout over weight lifting when looking for fat loss. However, make sure to vary in all the other factors and choose the activity that will work for you best. Both a punching bag workout and weight lifting are great fat loss activities when done well and at the right intensity.