Padwork vs Bagwork: Realistic Training

Padwork and bagwork are both important components of Muay Thai training, but when it comes to realistic combos and training, hitting the thai pads is often a better option. Put simply – the bag don’t hit back!

On the flip side, you’ll see some ‘Instagram boxers’ with their 100 strike choreographed combos, which looks good for the likes and clout.. but the real pros have their handful of go-to super simple combos that they train day-in and day-out for years. Keeping it simple keeps it realistic, especially when mixing it up with defence and footwork.

This article will go over the main reasons why padwork can lead to a more realistic method of training than bagwork.

Interaction and Feedback

One of the biggest advantages of padwork over bagwork is the interaction and feedback that it provides. With padwork, you have a training partner who can hold the pads and provide you with instant feedback on your technique. This feedback is essential for improving your technique and making adjustments on the fly.

Padwork lets you simulate real-life combat scenarios which can transition into your sparring, such as defending against an opponent's strikes or delivering a counter-attack. You’ll also be able to figure out the correct range and hear that crisp point of impact to measure how on-point you are to with target.

In other words, it’s all too easy to hit your combos again and again when hitting the bag, but not considering defence or counter-attack opportunities. The feedback you get during padwork, helps you build the muscle memory for defence and movement during your combinations.



Realistic Movement

Another advantage of padwork is that it allows you to practice your techniques with realistic movement. With bagwork, the heavy bag doesn’t hit back nor does it move, and you're only striking it from one angle. Sure, it’s suggested to move around the bag in both a clockwise and counter-clockwise motion, but you can only do so much to replicate a more realistic combat scenario. Especially if the bag is hooked right next to a wall, you only have so much room to move around.

Ideally, you should be practicing moving laterally, back and forth out of range, and striking your opponent from different angles. With padwork, your training partner can move around, providing you with realistic movement that will better prepare you for sparring and realistic combat.



Realistic Timing

Timing is another critical component of Muay Thai, and padwork allows you to practice your timing with realistic scenarios. With bagwork, you're only striking a stationary target, as opposed to padwork, where the target is constantly moving and changing.

With padwork, you can practice your timing by reacting to your training partner's movements and striking the pads at the right moment. This will help you to develop your timing and speed, which are essential for successfully landing strikes on your opponent.



Despite the above points, bagwork is still very important. Working on the bag helps you build up your power, speed, stamina and overall confidence. (From my years of training: There’s also no better way to vent out a bad day than working on the heavy bag.)

Ideally, you will want to incorporate both padwork and bagwork into your regular training regime. Just ensure you are aware of the strengths and weaknesses of both, so that you are neglecting any crucial aspects of your Muay Thai arsenal.