The Home Made Boxing Gym Guide
One of the things I love about boxing is how affordable it is to start. It lowers the barrier of entry and opens the door for people to choose learning how to box over learning how to do other sports.
There are only a handful of sports where you, by yourself, can progress and learn skills without having to buy a whole lot of equipment.
Even better - if you're at the point where you do need or want some boxing equipment to take your training to the next level - there is nothing spectacular or complicated about boxing equipment and it's possible to improvise most of what you need and DIY with low cost materials. So if you're broke or simply don't want to go out and buy equipment you should consider building yourself a home made boxing gym.
I'm going to show you how to make your own home boxing gym which is every bit as functional as one equipped with brand name equipment.
Elements of the Home Made Boxing Gym
To fully outfit a home boxing gym the requirements are fairly simple and I'll show you step-by-step below how to make it all for less than $200. The same equipment you're going to learn to make would cost you at least $1000 if you bought it new.
- Adequate space
- The Heavy Bag Stand or Cage (approx $150)
- Heavy Bag (approx $15)
- Double End Bag (approx $15)
- Slip Bag (likely FREE)
- Uppercut Bag (approx $15)
The only thing you're going to be missing with this setup is a speed bag and platform - but to be honest - that frustrating little ball has very little application to what happens in the ring. It just makes you look bad ass in the gym when you figure out how to hit it right.
How much space is enough to build your boxing gym?
You want a space big enough to divide into two areas. One area is where you're going to hang your bags and do heavy bag work. The other area is simply open space where you can move around to shadowbox, jump rope, or do whatever type of strength, interval, or endurance training you're working on.
If you want to replicate the type of space you'd find if you were standing inside a boxing ring, then your open space should be a minimum of 4.9m square to a maximum of 6.1m square (that's a ring size of about 258-400 square feet).
Now I know that's quite a bit of space and unless you live in a place where it's warm every day of the year, you're likely contemplating putting your gym in your garage or a basement. I know my garage can't handle dimensions like that (and still have room for the car) and have a separate area to hang my bags so I've shrunk my open space area to something closer to about 20 square feet.
With a smaller space - you just envision yourself controlling the center of the ring as you shadowbox. You'll still be able to practice all your movement, pivots and the like - you'll just be limited in how far you can actually travel in one direction. You want to work a lot of angles and direction changes into your training anyways.
For the area where you're going to hang your boxing bags - you want enough space ideally to hang both a heavy bag and a double end bag so you don't have to interchange them when you want to use them. Each requires enough distance around them to ideally allow you to circle each bag 360 degrees.
If you're looking at one bag - it's an area of about 64 square feet (8ft x 8ft). Add another 4ft onto the width for a second hanging bag so about 12ft x 8ft = 96 square feet.
Combining your space requirements means you're looking at a minimum area of about 84-116 square feet. That's about as small as you want to go - but if you don't have that much room - then you work with what you've got - don't dismiss your home boxing gym - adapt and overcome.
How to Make a Home Made Heavy Bag Stand or Cage
I built the heavy bag stand that I use in my garage boxing gym. I wanted to avoid hanging a lot of weight from my roof (as I have two heavy bags and a double end bag) and also because I train early in the morning and my daughter sleeps right above the garage.
I initially did hang the heavy bag from the roof but the vibrations (even with a heavy bag spring) made it sound like the house was falling down. My daughter is 16 and didn't appreciate waking up at 0500hrs with me.
I also added an aqua punching bag to my gym. They suggest it be hung from somewhere that can take upwards of 400lbs.
So I had to find a solution that did not involve hanging the bags from the roof of the garage.
If you look around for a heavy bag stand - you'll find a number of options and most of them do not allow 360 degree movement around them. The ones that do are basically cages but they're massive and cost a fortune (thousands of dollars). I wasn't interested in paying that much so it was time to improvise.
I couldn't be happier with the result. I built it out of wood for about $150. It's custom sized to the space I have available and sturdy enough to withstand the weight of two heavy bags (about 3-400lbs). I can use it as a chin-up bar, hang a TRX or other suspension trainer on it, and attach/detach a slip bag and double end bag, and probably other uses I haven't thought of or needed yet.
All that for $150 and a weekend of work. Well worth it.
I recommend you read through the instructions here in their entirety before trying to build - you may see some things that you'd like to do differently or maybe assemble things in a slightly different sequence.
What You Need for Your Heavy Bag Stand (Cage)
The list of materials to build a heavy bag stand resembling mine consists of:
- 4 - 4 x 4 x 9 (I just got the cheapest stuff I could which happens to be pressure treated)
- 8-2x6x10 (Spruce - again cheapest I could get). Note that the picture only has seven - I had to go back and get one more...you need eight.
- 2-2x4x8 (gets cut up in 2ft sections to make the braces)
- 4-8" lag bolts (you can actually use shorter ones - 6" would work fine) with nuts and washers
- 4-6" lag bolts with nuts/washers (only two in the picture, but I had to go back for two more)
- 4-angle brackets (about 3/4" - 1" wide is fine)
- box of 3 or 3.5" wood screws
Assembling Your Heavy Bag Stand (Cage)
Keep in mind that I'm no engineer. I'm sure that if you have any carpentry or woodworking skills whatsoever you will be able to improve on my design. There is nothing complicated about this and it seems to be doing the trick for me. I did learn a thing or two about building it that I can pass on so you don't make the same mistakes (like bracing the legs while it is laying down and not trying to do it by yourself as it is standing up...that was fun).
So here we go:
1. Build your weight bearing beams. For this you use six of the 2 x 6 x 10s. You screw one to the other so you end up with three beams. You don't need to cut them unless the space you have is less than the length of the boards -if so you'll have to customize the size of your stand/cage.
By screwing the 2 x 6s together you significantly increase the amount of weight the boards can support. So lay one of the 2 x 6s on top of the other - line them up so they are square and then put some wood screws into them at an angle, alternating as shown in these pictures.
2. Build the Sides of Your Cage/Stand. You're going to build two of these, so just repeat once you have one done.
a. Measure and Drill Holes for Assembly. The idea here is that you want to attach the beams to the 4 x 4s which are the legs of your stand and then brace them so it can hold everything up without moving too much. This stand is going to creak and groan and flex a little but it won't fall down...
You'll use the big ass lag bolts so you need to drill a hole the diameter of the lag bolt through both the 4 x 4 and the beam you just built.
Lay two 4 x 4s on the floor and put one of your beams on top of them to space them out and make your measurements. You need to come in from the end of the beam and 4 x 4 so when you drill everything lines up nice.
Measure in from the end of your beam the width of a 4x4 and divide by 2 so the hole will match up with center of the 4x4.
Measure middle of your beam width.
Mark the hole where you'll drill.
Now move on to one of the 4 x 4s. Measure down from the end half the width of your beam. Then mark the middle of the 4 x 4. That should be the spot where you drill and it will match up with the hold you put in your beam.
Hopefully the pictures make my explanation more clear...Once you have the holes marked - drill a hole the diameter of your lag bolts (I believe I used a 1/2" wood drill bit).
Now before you move onto assembling each side, you need to pre-drill a hole that will be used to attach the back cross brace which is a 2 x 6 brace that basically makes it possible to stand everything up. Decide which of the 4x4s is going to be the back of the cage - measure about 4ft up from the bottom (so when it stands up the brace is about 4ft off the floor and drill a hole front to back the same diameter as one of the 6" lag bolts. Make sure you turned the 4x4 before drilling - the hole shouldn't be on the same side as the holes you've already drilled. Repeat for the back leg on the other side assembly.
Now take your last 2 x 6 x 10 and drill holes in both ends just like you did for the beams so it's ready to be attached to the back legs when you stand everything up.
b. Attach the Beam to Legs. Position the beam ON TOP of the legs, put a lag bolt in each hole and push it through until it hits the floor.
c. Attach the Braces. This deviates a bit from how I built mine but this should make standing the sides up and tightening everything down much easier. When you try and stand it up without the braces, the legs can swing in and out - makes for an interesting experience but not the safest setup. As such I don't have any specific pictures of this stage of the build but you can understand how the braces work by looking at a picture where I have them on.
You make a brace out of the 2 x 4 by cutting a 2ft length and then cutting both ends at 45 degrees. Screw it to the beam and the leg which will prevent the leg from moving in or out.
Make two additional braces that will be attached to the back cross brace once you stand everything up. You won't be able to attach these while the side assemblies are on the ground.
3. Stand up the sides and Attach the Back Cross Brace. You're going to need at least one and probably two people to help you with this. The way I did it (which is not how you should do it) required my whole family (three plus me) and I could have used one more. I'm pretty sure my wife still holds a grudge for that little episode.
Until you get the back cross brace with it's braces attached and everything tightened down - the whole cage is very unstable so keep that in mind and be careful.
Don't forget to push the lag bolts the rest of the way through on all the side assemblies and the cross brace, put on a washer and then tighten them as much as you can.
4. Attach the Front Cross Brace. With any luck you're cage is now standing but it's probably not all that stable.
You have the option of pre-drilling the holes for the front brace like you did the back brace while the sides are still on the floor, but you can also do it while it's standing. I didn't find it that difficult.
You attach the front cross brace the same as the back cross brace but you position it just under the top beams and you don't put any 2 x 4 braces on it. You could and it would probably make it even more stable, but I chose not to so I had more room on the front of the cage.
5. Attach the Top Beam. You're almost there - now it's time to add the most important beam - the top beam which is the one that your bags are going to hang off of.
It lays on top of the two side beams and is held in place by the angle brackets - two per end, one on each side of the beam.
Haul the beam up and position it on the two side beams. Center it so a bit is hanging off each end (gives you another place to attach things if you like).
Once you have it positioned - mark it and then screw the angle brackets to the side beams. Put the top beam in place in between the angle brackets and then screw the angle brackets to the top beam. When done you have four angle brackets screwed to the side beam and top beam (two on each side assembly).
Guess what? You're done. You have a fully functional home made heavy bag stand/cage. Attach your bags in the usual way and punch away. You should probably tighten the nuts every now and again until you're sure nothing is working itself loose anymore - but you should get years of enjoyment out of this thing. Hope you don't have to move it...
I did toy with the idea of putting each leg into a cement filled bucket to keep them from moving around, but I haven't had any problems. I'm sure it would add some stability to the entire thing, but I don't think it's totally necessary.
How to Make a Home Made Heavy Bag
Now that you have a stand you need something to hang on it and every boxer needs a heavy bag.
There are a variety of ways to make your own heavy bag but I think there is one that stands out far above the rest. Most people will take a large bag like a canvas duffle bag, fill it with sand and hang it up. I guarantee you're going to hate that bag. It will be rock hard and eventually the bag is going to tear, rip or deteriorate and you'll have sand all over the place.
Luckily there is a cheaper, better option - the tire heavy bag.
Old tires are usually free - just go to your local dump and grab four old rubber tires. We're going to bolt them together, attach a couple brackets to the top and hang it. Not only is it going to last you forever - it has give when you hit it and it can serve as an uppercut bag as well as a heavy bag. Four regular size tires (about 23" diameter) will weight about 80-90lbs and if you want you can make it taller or shorter adding or removing weight as you please. This tire heavy bag is just as good and probably better than some brand name bags on the market.
It can't compare to an Aqua Punching Bag but for $15 you can't really complain.
What You Need to Make Your Home Made Tire Heavy Bag
The list of materials you need to build a tire heavy bag consists of:
- 9 - 1" x 5/8" bolts
- 9 - 5/8" nuts
- 9 - 5/8" flat washers
- 4 - old tires
- 3 - U brackets
- Rope or chain to hang it with
You could probably get away with only using six bolts/nuts to hold the tires together if you need to cut costs down by another $2.
How to Assemble Your Home Made Tire Heavy Bag
It's super simple. You bolt all the tires together, put the U brackets on the top tire and then hang it with your choice of rope or chain.
That said - I did encounter a couple of challenges when putting it together that I'll point out to try and save you some time and effort.
1. Bolt Your Tires Together. To do this you take two tires and lay them beside each other. You mark a spot in the middle closest to you on one of the tires. Take a tape measure and extend it out. Keeping one end on the mark you just made make two more marks that are the same distance apart so you basically form a triangle of marks on the tire. For the tires I used the distance was 18".
Draw a line on the mark closest to you as it will be important in a minute.
Next mark the second tire the same way. Again, draw a line on the mark closest to you - so both marks that are nearest you will have the lines. When you flip the right tire over onto the left tire, you want the lines to match up. But before stacking the tires take out your drill and drill holes where you made the marks. You'll have to push hard to start so the bit doesn't run all over the tire and once you puncture the tire move the drill up and down and side to side to make the hole a little bigger than the bit. I used a 5/8" bit for the 5/8" bolts and had a hell of a time pushing the first bolt through the hole. The bit makes a hole but the rubber really grabs the bolt. You'll save yourself a lot of time and effort and frustration by ensuring the hole is big enough for the bolt to slide through.
Once you have your holes drilled, take three of the bolts and insert them from the inside of a tire so the threads are pointing out. The pictures should give you a good idea of what I'm saying.
With all three bolts pushed through one of the tires flip that tire over matching the lines up and push the bolts into the inside of the other tire.
This won't be easy. It took me a while to wiggle the bolts through and if your measurements are off at all it gets even harder. You'll notice my tire bag is a bit asymmetrical - I could have taken more time to ensure things lined up right.
My second tip here is to just get the bolt far enough that you can put on a nut. Don't worry about the washer for now. Once you have the nut on - use a wrench and tighten it down. It will pull the bolt the rest of the way through. Then take the nut off, put a washer on and then put the nut back on and tighten down.
You now do the same thing for the other two tires one at a time, stacking them on top and bolting them to the two you just bolted together.
2. Put on the U-Brackets. Once you have your four tires bolted together - mark the top tire the same way you did the bolts, then use one of the U-brackets to mark where the smaller holes need to be drilled for each U-bracket. Drill them, insert the U-bracket and tighten. All done.
3. Hang Your New Tire Heavy Bag. You can use rope or chain - whatever you have. Feed the rope through the U-brackets in a manner that allows you to hook it onto whatever bracket you have attached to your heavy bag stand. Alternatively you can just loop a chain or rope right over the top beam. I won't bother trying to explain this part - I think it's easy enough to figure out how to get it hanging.
And there you have it - a tire heavy bag that will give you hours and hours and hours of punching pleasure. You should know that this isn't my invention. People have been building these things for years. I actually came across it on Youtube (of course):
How to Make an Uppercut Bag
If you liked playing with tires to make your heavy bag - you may also like to build a tire uppercut bag. I don't need one in my gym because I have an Aqua Punching Bag, but you might like this low cost option hanging on some portion of your new heavy bag stand.
As I haven't built one of these you're just going to have to watch this and use your ingenuity to come up with a way to put it together - I'm sure you can do it.
How to Make a Home Made Double End Bag
In a boxer's training arsenal there are few pieces of equipment that will hit back. The double end bag is the best you can get without a sparring partner until I figure out a way to create a fighting robot that learns from past encounters.
What exactly is a double end bag?
Nothing more than a ball or punching surface suspended about head height by some type of elastic material so it rebounds when you hit it.
To make a double end bag, you will need:
- Two-three bungee cords
- 1 x ball of some sort (I used a foam Nerf one I stole from my kids)
- Duct Tape
- 2 x strips of material (rags)
- Some heavy duty string
- 1 x ice cream pail
- Rocks and sand.
Time Required: Approx 1/2 hour and then days and months and years of practicing.
Total Cost: Less than $15 - You can probably find all of this stuff around your house in which case nothing.
Assembling Your Double End Bag
1. Building the Base.
The double end bag is suspended at head height by two bungee cords. One goes up and is attached to the new heavy bag cage you just built. The other goes down and is attached to the floor. If you're like me, your floor is either made of concrete or some material that would require mounting a bracket to give the bungee something to attach to.
Drilling things into my concrete slab wasn't an option so the next best option is to build a base for it. With a little thought you can probably build something a little more nicer looking than I did.
The base just needs to be heavy enough to hold the bag in place when you hit it. I actually found that allowing the base to move slightly created differing bounces on the rebound depending on how I hit it, so I would suggest not trying to anchor it firmly in one place, but let the base be light enough to move around somewhat - not a lot, but a little.
My base is made out of an ice cream pail filled with rocks and sand. It weighs about 15-20lbs. The lid is duct taped on and I've put a loop of heavy duty para cord (any cord is fine) from one corner to the other to create a loop I can attach the bungee to. This has worked perfectly for about a month now with no need to fix it.
2. Building Your Punching Target.
For this I took a foam Nerf Ball that is approximately the size of a 16oz boxing glove - slightly bigger - to simulate a punch coming at me. It gives me a nice sized target to hit as it's moving all over the place. You're going to love doing combinations on this thing...excellent for getting your timing more realistic as opposed to a heavy bag.
Anyways, take the ball and wrap some cord around it, tying it tight. It has to be tight as when the bungees pull on it it will deform your ball somewhat but that makes it all the more unpredictable. Once the cord is tied around it, wrap duct tape over the cord to keep it in place. Leave a little opening on either side of the ball to hook the bungee cord onto.
I've been hitting the ball you see here for a month now and it has not had to be readjusted, re-taped, fixed or anything. It's ugly as hell but it just takes the punishment and keeps on going.
3. Hooking up the Bungees.
There are two parts to this. First you have to hook the bungees to the ball. Simply take the hooks and hook them on the cord where you left spaces in the duct tape on either side of the ball. Now that is going to leave you with two nice steel hooks at about eye level when all is said and done so you HAVE to wrap the hooks in material and then duct tape the material in place. See the pic to see what I mean.
That will protect you from catching a hook up side the head. Alternatively you can tie bungee directly to the string, cutting off the hooks, but this was easier and works well.
The second part of this is hooking the bungee up to the base and ceiling. For the base just hook the bungee hook into the loop you attached to the base.
The other bungee gets hooked to the heavy bag stand you made or your ceiling. The easiest way is to put an eye hook into the beam and attach the bungee hook. You may have to figure something else out depending on what your ceiling is made of.
The fun part is adjusting the ball so it is approximately at shoulder height and has a good spring back when you hit it. If the bungees are too loose the ball will travel really slow which is not very realistic. All you have to do is tighten the bungees on both ends (otherwise the ball will move up or down). Do this by shortening the bungee by putting another wrap around the loop in the base or around the hook at the top. It's going to take some fiddling with.
Once that is done, you're done. You now have a double end bag that you can beat to your heart's content. Now if only you had a complete boxing training plan that includes double end bag workouts to use...
How to Make a Home Made Slip Bag
A slip bag is a simple little tool that doesn't get used enough in my opinion.
Slipping is an essential component of your defensive game and a slip bag is an effective way to get better at it.
What You Need to Build Your Slip Bag
You likely have everything you need to make a slip bag in your house already.The list of components required is:
- 2 eye hooks
- fairly sturdy string
- the bag (can be a sock - something you can put something fairly heavy in)
Making Your Slip Bag
A slip bag is just a bag suspended from your heavy bag stand at about head height. You give it a push - it goes out and comes back at you. You slip - throw a counter combination. It swings back out in front of you, then comes back at you. You slip again, throw a counter combination and so on. Every so often you give it another push to keep it swinging.
I'm sure you'll get the idea of what you're building from the picture here. This version uses two eye hooks that allow you to easily adjust the height of the slip bag. You just pull the string through to raise the slip bag or loosen it to lower it. As my son and I both use it - it's nice to quickly adjust it's height. You may not require it.
- Make the Slip Bag. I'd say that most people just take a sock, fill it with sand or rice or popping corn or even rocks and then duct tape the top shut. Use whatever you have to make a bag that is about the size of closed fist. The heavier it is the longer it will swing without needing another push. You don't want to fill the entire sock - just enough to create a round ball.
- Attach the slip bag to your new heavy bag stand, ceiling, or doorway. Alternatively you can feed the string through a couple of eye hooks to make it adjustable as I've done. Tie it off and you're in business.
What Else Do You Need?
So there you have it - all the boxing equipment you need to become a great boxer. All you have to supply is some desire, motivation and hard work.
To make it easier you should consider becoming a full member of Commando Boxing where you'll get tonnes of boxing training support, boxing training plans, and techniques for a one-time membership fee. See what you get as a member of our club or join now to start your training.