Most people (even non-boxers) are familiar with, or at least aware, of Speed Bag (a.k.a Speed Ball) Training… It looks complicated, and pretty cool and there are a plethora of Youtube videos which feature different Speedbag techniques… However, there has been very little exposure or even awareness of the use of multiple speed bags as a training technique.
This post describes What Multi-Speed Ball Training is, Why it is such an effective training technique, and some things to consider when setting up a Multi Speedball Training Station.
About Speed Bags
Speed bags are small, air-filled bags anchored to a rebound platform (usually) parallel to the ground.
Striking a speed bag with rhythm requires focus, coordination, and speed and provides a pretty effective cardiovascular workout.
Working with a speed bag helps develop shoulder and arm muscles, and hone reflexes.
Fast-twitch muscles are developed by engaging in exercises that involve speed, explosiveness and short reaction time. Using a Speed Ball will not result in bulky muscles like a weightlifter, but will help develop powerful lean muscles like a swimmer. The speed bag encourages physical muscle development while training fighters to keep their hands up.
What is Multi-Speed Bag Training
Traditionally when using a Speed Bag, you would use a variety of different techniques and punch combinations on a single Speed Bag. Multi-Speed Bag Training involves the similar punch techniques across two or even more Speed bags at the same time… so rather than hitting a single bag, you use multiple speed bags.
The basic punch combinations are essentially the same, but because you have multiple targets there are significantly more punch combinations available and an effectively endless range of possibilities.
Why use a Speed Bag ?
Speed Ball Training has been a core part of a boxers training regime for a long, long time, the main benefits attributed to Speed Bag Training are :
Hand Eye Co-ordination – enhances the coordination between your eyes and hands, improving the speed and accuracy of your punches
Hands Up – trains you to always keep your hands up (with a Speed Bag you rarely have time to drop them)
Footwork – learn to shift weight between your feet. With a speed ball, you can practice footwork and quickness while training. Moving in rhythm with the ball will help mimic a boxing bought.
Timing – fundamental to Speed Ball techniques… if you don’t get the timing right you wont be able to hit the bag consistently or accurately
Hand Speed – “Speed” Bags are called that for a reason – it is NOT about Power, it is all about the speed, timing and accuracy of your punches
Accuracy – to achieve consistent results you MUST learn to punch accurately
Strength & Endurance – Simulating a boxing fight with a speed ball will improve your overall endurance so you can last longer in the ring. The last 30 seconds before the round finishes is the most important and improving your endurance will enhance your chances of getting more accurate punches in.
Fitness – Another benefit of training with a speed ball is the fitness and endurance workout. If you’re having a hard time enduring a long fight, use the speed ball to improve your overall endurance.
Why use more than one Speed Bag ?
Using multiple Speed Bags offers all the benefits listed above for more traditional Speed Bag Techniques, PLUS some significant EXTRA training advantages :
Peripheral Vision Training – traditionally the only way to improve peripheral vision in boxing has been through sparring. Sparring develops a whole lot of different skills in attack and defence but a sparring partner is not always available… and sparring training may not be practical. Multiple Speed Bag training enhances your response and reactions to peripheral vision triggers
Reflexes – by its very nature a Speed Bag requires good reflexes, with multiple balls you simply don’t have time to think and plan – you MUST learn to react reflexively
Improved Core – interacting with multiple targets requires a LOT more twisting and turning so your core gets a significant workout
Improved Footwork – you can not just rely on “reach” to get to your target… fast footwork and and footwork timing is a fundamental skill requirement for multi-speed ball training
Setting Up a Multi-Speedbag Training Station
The fundamental requirement in a Multi Speed Bag Station is accessibility. It is critical that all bags are accessible – within arms reach – although extra footwork is also usually required particularly for 3 (or more) bags… so the placement and mounting of bags is critical.
Other factors that must be considered when setting up a multiple speed bag station are :
Stability – it is VERY important that each bag is (independently) stable… any vibration or movement can affect the rebound capabilities and hence the speed
Height – are all bags setup at the same or different heights ? varying the height can add to the difficulty, but can also enhance the training experience (and fun)
Layout – a 2 bag layout us relatively straightforward, but a 3 (or more) bag layout becomes increasingly tricky to create and use
Bag Size / Type – Should you use the same bag type/size … or a mixture ? Different bags have different timing/rebound characteristics and even subtle changes can dramatically change the training experience… bag combinations make for harder, but also more interesting (and probably more effective) training.
… however I recently moved house, and am now living further away from my usual gym – 12RNDS Greenslopes… Despite the fact that there are MANY Gyms that are much closer and more convenient, and even 3 other 12RND Gyms that are closer (one of which I drive right past on the way to Greenslopes) … I find myself still going back to 12RNDS Greenslopes… Here are the reasons why :
Here is why I Love 12RNDS Greenslopes :
Convenient – even though it takes me 6 minutes longer to drive… it is still convenient, and the extra time makes very little difference
Parking – Plenty of free parking – it is rare that I need to park more than 15 metres from the front door of the gym
Space – 12RNDS Greenslopes is one of the largest gyms (in terms of floor space) in the franchise.. There is plenty off space for each round, and in fact, Greenslopes is certified to allow 2 people per station, so great tpo train with a buddy… or you can double up at peak times. Some franchises can only have 1person per station, and some of the smaller ones cannot even cope with 12 people training at once.
Opening Hours – 12RND Greenslopes has longer opening hours than most other 12RND gyms (they are open 0500 to 1000 and 1500-2000 most days), and regularly review and update opening hours to suit their members… they are considering extending these opening times by offering lunchtime sessions a couple of times a week, and are even looking at options for 24×7 access
Not too Crowded – because of the long opening hours, it is reasonably easy to find a time that it is not crazy busy… although (I believe) 0530 to 0630 (AM and PM) most days CAN get very busy, most other times are reasonably quiet
Shopping – because there is a Coles right upstairs, it is convenient to do my grocery shopping after a workout… and because I am usually tired and with a “health” mentality, I tend not to buy too much of the wrong food
Community – even though I tend not to “chat” to much during a workout (If I have breath enough to chat I am not training hard enough 🙂), over time, you do get to know other members and there are a variety of non-training and out-of-gym activities to get involved in
Experiences Trainers – the Owner and the Head Trainer have backgrounds in a mixture of “fight” disciplines (including Judo, Muay Thai & Kick Boxing at representative and professional levels), so have a wealth of “real life” experience and can offer better tips and advice than the “average” personal trainer.
I am definitely a BIG fan of 12RND Fitness as it is a perfect fit for my lifestyle and the type of exercise regime I need.
22 months since my gastric Bypass Operation – and my weight has finally started to level out.
At the moment it has been as low as 80KG, but is currently stabilised at around 82KG… which is remarkable because when I first started this journey I had “hoped” that I would get down to 95KG 🙂
I am still considered “Overweight” by the BMI scale… my “ideal weight being under 73Kg – apparently … but BMI does not take into account muscle mass… which I have increased significantly. (note: most 1st grade NRL players are also considered Overweight according to their BMI).
The graph below shows my weigh loss journey since a Gastric Bypass operation in September 2018.
Whilst my weight seems to have stabilised, I am not actually eating particularly well…. Certainly the quantities I am eating are significantly less (I still can’t physically manage a large meal without feeling uncomfortable), but am confident, (if I start eating healthier”), that I could probably drop another 5Kg. Not sure if I can be bothered at the moment… but would be interesting to see if I can get down closer to my “normal” BMI weight range
In the last 22 months I have :
Lost over 50Kg in weight
Been off ALL Diabetes medication (since the day of the operation) and have been officially Diabetes Free for more than 10 months
Continued going to Gym (except for the Coronavirus restrictions), and are currently going 5 or 6 times a week
I have now been going to the gym (12Rnds Fitness) for a little over 1 year… (and have posted previously about my exercise obsession “passion”). I have been using a Myzone Heart Rate Monitor for nearly 6 months and (remarkably) for the last few months have been “topping” the Myzone Table for our local Gym, and am (for now) even Top 10 nationally (currently #2) across more than 2,600 participants. 🙂
However, I have recently started to notice some oddities in our local gym results…. some members have, all of a sudden, started getting amazing Myzone (MEP) scores for their workouts… which seemed odd. Some of the national figures also seemed a bit iffy (with some members getting scary big MEP scores consistently, day in, day out).
This prompted me to do a bit of research into how Myzone actually works… here is what I discovered 🙂
What is Myzone
Myzone is a heart rate monitoring system used by many fitness clubs that uses wireless and cloud technology to monitor physical activity.
It involves members wearing a heart rate monitor (on an elasticised strap around the chest) during their exercise sessions. It can be worn in the gym, (tracked by a monitoring device in the gym), or externally (either recorded on the device itself or tracked via a smart phone).
The device records heart rate over time, and the Myzone system generates a LIVE view of your heart rate on a gym-based monitor (as a color-coded, easy-to-read “tile”) as well as recording it against your account.
How does Myzone Work
When you purchase a Myzone device and create an account, your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) is automatically determined (based on your age)… The MHR represents a heart rate that is considered to be the Maximum Heart rate you should be able to (safely) achieve with exercise. The MHR is used as the basis for the calculation of MEPs.
MEPs is an acronym for MYZONE Effort Points, and it’s the metric by which everything is measured in the myzone system. MEPs are earned by exercising in your target heart rate zones over a period of time. The more effort you put into each of your workouts, the more MEPs you earn!
There are 5 different Heart Rate Zones (based on your heart rate as a percentage of your MHR)… and each zone contributes a certain amount to your total MEP score.
Grey = 50-59% – Earns 1 MEP/minute
Blue = 60-69% – Earns 2 MEPs/minute
Green = 70-79% – Earns 3 MEPs/minute
Yellow = 80-89% – Earns 4 MEPs/minute
Red = 90-100% – Earns 4 MEPs/minute
…so if you exercise for 45 minutes with 10 minutes each in the Blue, Green and Yellow heart rate zones and 5 in the Red, you would earn 110 MEPS (10*2 + 10*3 +10*4+ 5*4 = 110)
Under normal circumstances, if you start to regularly hit 100%, then your MHR is automatically adjusted UP by the Myzone system. However, it is possible to also CAP an MHR so it does not increase above a specified level (although I am unsure under which circumstances this is set).
You are unable to adjust your own MHR, but your Gym owner, or Myzone support can do it.
Myzone can be a great Motivator
One of the primary goals of Myzone is to encourage you to pay attention to your workouts – with the aim of motivating you to work a bit harder… or a bit smarter… to achieve your fitness goals…. and it can do this VERY effectively…
It’s amazing how often you find yourself pushing a little harder to reach a different level… or training a little longer to get to a particular MEP or Calorie target… or finding that extra energy to push you to achieve your MEP goals.
The leaderboard can also be a great motivator…
striving for Top 10
or working hard to be #1
or pushing a bit harder to beat someone else’s score
or even just trying to improve your own score
If you are getting good MEP scores, or doing well in the leaderboard, or seeing your fitness levels increase with the extra effort you’ve been putting in, Myzone can be a fantastic motivator….. but… when things aren’t going “right”, Myzone can also be a powerful de-motivator…
Myzone can be a great De-motivator
I have noticed some members training REALLY hard but still struggling to reach RED or sometimes even YELLOW Heart Rate zones… but other members seem to be able to achieve very high scores (even hitting 100% for most of their workout) with seemingly relatively little effort.
I realised that it was pretty simple to “reverse engineer” the Maximum Heart Rate and Zone (%) readings on an individuals Myzone tile… and pretty accurately determine their MHR and “Excercise Age” (I plan to do another more technical post with more information about this).
I was stunned to discover that some people (often hitting 100% multiple times within a single session) had a MHR of just 160 or less (an effective “Age” of 80 years old)… and one even had a MHR of 120 (an exercise Age of 142)… This would have been very impressive if they actually were that old… but I really don’t think they were.
I also realised that for some, their MHR did not seem to be changing over time (as it should – to reflect regularly reaching 100% effort). The average person would only be getting a BLUE or GREEN level for that type of HR.. These people seem to have their MHR Capped…so were getting significantly higher MEPS for each workout – and an unfair advantage for the Leaderboard.
These people are often quite motivated (and are sometimes training pretty hard) because they are seeing great Myzone scores… but their scores are a great de-motivator to everyone else who simply can’t compete because of the unfair advantage.
I would like to see the MHR Cap removed for these people (unless there is a specific medical reason) and their MHR reset to more closely relate to their actual age… then let the Myzone system do its thing and adjust accordingly.
I had also noticed some people training hard who really struggle to get into the red zone (if they can get there at all). These people mostly seem to have reasonably accurate MHR and Age levels (i.e. close to their actual age), but they find it VERY difficult to get decent MEP scores and almost impossible to show up on the top 20 leaderboard ..despite the effort they put in… This is pretty de-motivating for most of them.. there is little added incentive to work harder.
I would like to see the MHR of these people adjusted down to a level where they are consistently able to reach the red zone (at least once per session).
I also noticed that a few people in the Leaderboard had VERY HIGH MHRs (some as high as 200 – an effective training Age of just 17). These people, through training VERY hard, are still able to achieve decent HR levels and good MEP scores. There MHR has most likely been automatically adjusted up over time by the Myzone system.
As far as I am concerned, these are the real heroes of the gym and although they are clearly motivated… probably deserve more recognition.
My Suggested Resolutions
As a lowly gym junky, I clearly have no actual say in how this works… but as far as I am concerned Myzone and the gyms should be doing whatever they can to “level the playing field” so that as much as possible everyone has the same chance to get decent MEPs. I would suggest :
Ensure that all MHR CAPS are removed (unless there is a specific medical reason) – allowing the Myzone automated MHR Upgrade system to work properly – this will reduce the chance of any unfair advantage caused by Low MHRs
Introduce an automated MHR Downgrade process… so that the MHR is automatically reduced for accounts that have not (say) reached the Red zone in the last 5 sessions – this will help reduce the chance of people working hard but getting little reward
Have a mechanism to flag for manual review (by either Myzone or the Gym owner) accounts where the Myzone Age (calculated from MHR) is significantly different to the actual age….. Those with a much higher Myzone Age are probably getting an unfair advantage… those with a significantly lower Myzone Age may deserve a pat on the back.
You might assume from the title that this post is about food… You’d only be partially correct, as it is mostly about Exercise – and a bit about Nutrition…
I’ve been going to the gym (see Why I Love 12rnd Fitness) for almost a year now… and for the most part do morning workouts… usually before I have had anything to eat or drink… This has been going pretty well, but recently I have started to do a few more (extra) Lunchtime and Evening sessions.
I have noticed that I seem to have more energy in the training sessions I do later in the day… I can train harder and longer without feeling so exhausted…
This Mornings Training Session
This mornings session in particular was tough. I found it difficult to raise my heart rate into yellow (80-90%) on my Myzone Heart Rate Monitor, and only managed an hour and 145 MEPS – my “worst” session for months….. (see workout graph below) :
I have been pushing it pretty hard at the moment because of a Myzone 6 Week Challenge (shockingly, I am currently ranked #1 in Australia – out of more than 2,500 12Rounders)… and I did 10 sessions last week, and a double session yesterday, so it is probably not surprising that I am feeling a bit “flat”… However, I wondered if maybe food was a part of the issue, so decided to go home … have something to eat… and try again at lunchtime…
After a Bowl of Muesli..
So.. I went home, had a bowl of Bircher Muesli (and a couple of pots of tea), did a couple of hours work (sitting in front of the computer)… and went back to 12rnds for a Lunchtime training session.
Oh.. My.. God… What a difference it made !!!
The Lunchtime session felt SO much better…I was almost immediately (in my warmup) able to get into the yellow zone (80-90%) and managed to sustain it (or higher) for most of the workout – giving me a 270 MEP, 80+ minute workout. 🙂
Workout Nutrition ??
The above should probably not have come as a great surprise to me, but I had not really thought about it much before…Apparently if you work out first thing in the morning before eating breakfast (what’s known as a fasted cardio state) it is believed to help with weight loss. However, working out after eating may give you more energy and improve your performance.
Looks like I need to do some more research (watch this space)… but in the interim, I think I will start having a small meal/snack at least 1/2hr before my workout… and see how it goes.