Banana Bag vs. Heavy Bag (What’s The Difference?)

August 6, 2023

I like saying the heavy bag is a fighter’s best friend because it’s always there for you to take a beating and not complain about it. This is why having a heavy bag in your home gym to use whenever you like is great.

Heavy bags are relatively cheap, long-lasting, and easy to install. You need some small space where the loud banging won’t disturb anyone.

But there are many options when going for a heavy bag, and you may wonder what the difference is between the two most popular options on the market: the standard heavy bag and the banana bag.

The banana bag is a heavy bag, but it is longer than classic bags to allow kicking at different levels. Banana bags are widely used in Muay Thai and other styles with kicks involved, like kickboxing and MMA. Traditional Western-style heavy bags are shorter and are best suited for boxing training.

Choosing the right punching bag for a home gym is important because if you are the only one using it, chances are you’ll never need a new one unless you want to change the model. So here are the differences between a classic heavy bag and a banana bag.

What Is A Heavy Bag

Heavy Bag vs Banana Bag

A standard heavy bag is also called a boxing or punching bag and is cylindrical in shape. A heavy bag is suspended from the ceiling, a beam, or a ground stand and hangs on chains or nylon straps, both offering distinct benefits (chains are more durable, and straps do not make noise).

There are also freestanding heavy bags, which stand on a heavy base rather than being suspended from above. Still, they have a different feel and use than a traditional heavy bag, so they are less relevant to this specific comparison.

The typical heavy bag is predominantly used for boxing, weighs around 100-110 lbs. (starting at 70 lbs. for the lightest bags), and is 4-5 feet tall.

The standard diameter is 13 inches, while the firmness varies greatly depending on how the bag is filled. Some heavy bags are filled with cloth, others with sand or rubber particles. The weight can go up significantly, up to 200 lbs. or more, for bags used by proficient heavyweight punchers.

You can buy a pre-filled heavy bag or get an empty one and fill it yourself. The second option is time-consuming, but it saves a lot of money on shipping and can be the only option for someone who wants to import a heavy bag.

Heavy bags can be made from genuine leather, which is the best but the most expensive option, or synthetic materials like nylon, faux leather, or canvas. Depending on the price, some materials are more durable and feel better, while others offer a worse experience and less durability.

Heavy bags are so common that every commercial gym has one, and a commercial weightlifting gym, not even a martial arts one. In more recent years, the variety in sizes and shapes of heavy bags has been increasing, with more specialized models coming out. Here are some of them:

  • Banana Bag
  • Uppercut bag
  • Angled heavy bag
  • Pole bag
  • Water filled bag
  • Teardrop heavy bag
  • Wrecking ball heavy bag
  • Bowling pin heavy bag

And I am sure somewhere in some gym, there is a shape I haven’t seen. The point of the different shapes is to allow training in a more specific manner or technique.

For example, the most obvious one is the uppercut bag, which lets you throw realistic uppercuts to the head, something not possible on the traditional heavy bag. The different shape also changes the physics of the bag and how it reacts to strikes.

But the most important type for this article is the banana bag, which, instead of being specific, is actually the most versatile heavy bag.

What Is A Banana Bag

Punching Bag vs Banana Bag

A banana bag, also called a Muay Thai bag, is a long, heavy bag whose name comes from its shape. The length is 6 feet (183 cm), and the diameter is similar to a boxing bag.

For example, the most popular banana bag is made by Fairtex and is 14 inches (36 cm.) in diameter, making it only slightly wider than a boxing punching bag. The extra length also usually means excess weight, and the standard for these is between 110-130 lbs.

The purpose of the banana bag is to allow for low kicks in addition to all other strikes available in a shorter bag. The low kick is a fundamental strike in Muay Thai, so banana bags first became popular in Thailand (and probably were invented there).

Aside from the length, all other characteristics of a banana bag are offered in the same options as boxing heavy bags, including outside material, filling, and hanging.

Today, most MMA gyms also use predominantly banana bags for the same reason Muay Thai fighters use them: you can kick high, mid, and low. When a heavy boxing bag is hung high enough, you can do high kicks, but kick no lower than the waist.

The extra filling of a banana bag will inevitably compress and go to the bottom side of the bag, making it much harder there. This is great for conditioning the shins when throwing leg kicks.

Our recommended banana bag is the Fairtex HB6 Banana Bag.

Choosing The Right Heavy Bag

If the banana is more versatile, you should buy one instead of a boxing bag, right? Actually no.

4-foot boxing bags move differently than 6-foot banana bags, and if you train in a boxing gym, you may be used to hitting a boxing bag. In addition, banana bags are more expensive because more material means higher costs. So, to figure out if you need a banana bag, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will you kick or only punch?
  • How high and how low will you be kicking?
  • How heavy are you?
  • Do you want to condition your shins?

If you are not going to kick at all, there is little sense in buying a more expensive banana bag when you are not going to use its full potential.

In addition, the filling will slide down, making the top hollower. This is not good for head punching, especially if you hang the bag in a garage where the ceiling is low, and you have to punch the top end of the bag. The filling slides down in shorter bags too, but there is less space for it to go, meaning it won’t be as hollow on top.

If you are someone with a lower body weight, starting, or want to use boxing only as cardio without much resistance, you may want a light punching bag.

Less weight means less resistance and more movement of the bag. With heavy bags, you can buy a 70 or 80-lb. model, while the minimum for a banana bag is 100 lb., with most models ranging between 110 and 130 lb.

If you are a lightweight beginner or use the bag solely for boxing, it’s better to go for a boxing-heavy bag. A banana bag is the right solution if you want to high-kick and a low-kick.

Other options, like angled heavy bags and wrecking ball bags, can be excellent for training specific aspects of your game. But the classic boxing heavy bag and the banana bag are the most versatile options for a home gym where you can only have one and should be picked by boxers and fighters who kick, respectively.

If you’re not sure or don’t want to sift through hundreds of bags, we’ve done the work for you in our best heavy bags article.

Frequently Asked Banana Heavy Bag Questions

What Is The Difference Between A Banana Bag And A Heavy Bag

Should a Banana Bag Touch The Floor

No, a banana bag usually doesn’t touch the floor. The swinging of the bag is not bad and is used to train footwork and distance management, both with punches and kicks. Some bags are designed to touch the floor, which is even longer than banana bags, and come at 7 feet. Thick long bags designed to be stationary are called pole bags.

What Is The Difference Between A Banana Bag And A Heavy Bag?

A banana bag is one type of heavy bag. Heavy bags come in many shapes, but the traditional boxing bag is 4 or 5 feet long, weighing between 70 and 110 lbs. Banana bags are 6 feet tall to allow kicks at all levels.

Is A Banana Bag Good For Boxing

A banana bag is also used for punching, but boxers do not prefer them because, due to the different weights and lengths, banana bags move differently.

This does not make them worse for boxing, but it’s different from what boxers are used to. Then if you want only to focus on punching, an angled bag may be a better option than a banana bag.

How Tall Is A Banana Bag

Banana bags are 6 feet tall. This length allows low kicks and high kicks for people of most heights. Some people refer to 7 feet-heavy bags as banana bags, but the correct name is a pole bag because these are not designed to hang but be placed around a pole.


About the author 

Plamen Kostov

Plamen has been training for the last 14 years in karate and kickboxing, before settling in for MMA for the last 5 years. He has a few amateur kickboxing fights and currently trains with and helps a stable of professional and amateur MMA fighters.


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