The knock at my door was unexpected. It was my neighbor. “Hey, we’re moving, and we have to be out fast. If there’s anything over in my garage, you see that you might want, let me know. We’d rather not have to move most of it.” The housing crisis had claimed yet another victim. I walked out of my back door and across to his place to see what might be of interest.
There wasn’t much there, but the nearly unused heavy bag in the corner immediately caught my eye. “How much you want for that?”, I asked. “Oh, man, you can just have that. We bought it and then never could figure out a good way to hang it up. We tried once, but it fell down and took some of the ceiling with it.”
And that’s how I acquired my first heavy bag.
To hang a boxing heavy bag from your ceiling, use a heavy bag mount that spans two joists and has built-in shock absorption. For a DIY option, sink two 300 lb capacity 1/2″ eye bolts into the center of a ceiling joist and connect them to the bag using a properly weight-rated carabiner or swivel hook.
At first, I thought, “How hard can hanging this thing be?”. After an hour of Googling and another hour of getting advice from three different people at Home Depot, I had several possible solutions. I also accumulated quite a few warnings about how not to do it. In the end, it wasn’t that hard, even though I opted for a less expensive DIY approach.
If you aren’t a DIY type of person and you just want to know what the best mount is for a heavy bag, check out my top recommendation here on Amazon!!!
How much weight needs to be supported?
A home version of a heavy bag will weigh anywhere from 70-100 pounds on average. Mine came in right at 100 pounds. Commercial models, or those made for serious boxing gyms, can weigh as much as 200 pounds. That’s just the weight of the stationary bag. There’s more to it than that.
We need to remember that we’ll be hitting this bag. Hard. When you punch a heavy bag, a couple of things happen at the mounting point. First, there is a horizontal force transferred to the mount created by the impact. Second, the bag is going to swing from side to side, pulling on the mount the whole time. The bag’s motion can loosen all but the most secure mount.
That swinging is also going to create centrifugal force. The downward force created by a swinging 100 lb. bag can be much more than the 100 lbs. that the bag actually weighs.
And let’s not forget what happens to the bag with a good, solid hit. It will actually jump up a little, taking all the weight off of the mounting point, and then falling straight back down again. Each time this happens, the full weight of the bag falls directly on the anchor. Over and over and over again. Across the life of your bag, the anchor point takes quite a bit of abuse.
Now you can see the source of my original concern and also why my neighbor’s attempt at hanging the bag failed. If I was just going to hang the bag up and look at it. That’s no problem. Find something that can hold 100 lbs. and voila! But because I would also be beating the snot out of the bag, that made things more interesting. I was going to need a solution that took all of this into account!
Use the joist
You never want to try to mount a heavy bag directly to drywall. Same goes for a drop ceiling tile or support frame. Drilling directly into a popcorn or plaster ceiling is a no go as well. Even with the use of anchors rated to hold a lot of weight, it just won’t work. Ask my neighbor.
In almost all cases, you will be hanging your heavy bag from a ceiling joist located behind whatever your ceiling might be made of. A ceiling joist is basically a large board that supports your ceiling, and if you have one, the floor above.
An average ceiling joist is made of a 2×6 board. But they can range from a 2×4 to a 2×12 depending on the construction of your home and what that joist is supporting. Standard spacing for ceiling joists is every 16”. In some cases, you may find them spaced every 24”.
Step one is to find the joist you want to hang your bag from. If you are lucky enough to have an open joist ceiling, as found in many unfinished basements and garage gyms, you are in luck. All you have to do is look up and there they are! The rest of us will need to use one of two techniques.
Find the joist
The best method of finding your ceiling joists is to use a stud finder (this one is super inexpensive and works great!). Start at one wall. Measure out 16” and use the finder to locate the edge of the joist. Scan for the other side of the joist and then mark the middle. If you didn’t find one at 16”, try at 24”. If you don’t find one at either measurement, you are probably looking in line with the joists. Try again from an adjacent wall.
Once you find the first, you will find the rest of them every 16” or 24” apart. The spacing will be consistent with how far out from the wall you found the first one.
If you have a popcorn ceiling or other textured surface, you won’t be able to use a stud finder. In this case you’ll need a flashlight. Climb up on a ladder close to the ceiling. Shine the light across the ceiling at a shallow angle. Look for raised lines, or better yet, look for the depressions of nail heads. If you find the nails, you have found the joists.
Regardless of how you found it, the next step is to take a thin nail and poke it through the ceiling to make sure you know where the heart of the joist is. We will be sinking in some sizable mounting hardware and we want to make sure it is being screwed into the center of the joists (the joists are installed on edge, giving you a slightly smaller than 2” target to hit).
Once you have ensured you know where the center of the joist is nearest to your preferred mounting location, it’s time to hang your bag!
Install the hardware
The hardware we are going to use is 1/2” eye bolts (two of them) and a high weight capacity steel screw link. When screwed all the way in to the center of the joist, each eye bolt should hold 300 lbs. When joined by the carabiner, we are doubling that to 600 lbs.
- Step one is to us a 3/8” drill bit to drill two pilot holes directly into the joist. Drill the holes approximately 2” apart and as deep as you can drill. This is your last opportunity to make sure that you are hitting the center of the joist. You’ll know if you’re not by how the drill bit digs in (or doesn’t).
- Step two is to screw each eye bolt into those holes. All the way. The best way I’ve found to do this is to thread a screwdriver through the eye and use it to gain leverage as you turn the bolt. Twist the bolt until the eye is snug to the ceiling.
- Step three is to make sure each of the eye bolts is sunk an even amount. Also, make sure the eyes are parallel with each other. You are going to thread the steel screw link through both, but don’t screw it shut just yet.
- Step four is to get someone to help you. Seriously, just get someone to help for 3 minutes while you complete the next step.
- Step five is to thread the chains that hold the bag onto the screw link and then screw it shut.
- Step six is to beat the hell out of your heavy bag!
This is the method that I use, and I like it for several reasons. First, it cost me less than $10. Second, I didn’t have to order anything and wait to complete my project. Third, I can use this mount to hold several items. I currently have two setups like this that hold my gymnastics rings.
The above process works great whether or not your joist is exposed, and it’s the least expensive way I know of to mount your heavy bag. There are other options, though. For a little more money, you can get one of several dedicated heavy bag mounts. Finding your joists and mounting the bag will be similar to the steps outlined above. The difference is that using specialized hardware can provide additional benefits.
The first option is the wood beam heavy bag hanger by Firstlaw Fitness. This will mount to an exposed or concealed joist using two 1/2” lag bolts. It has a 500 lb. capacity, perfect for almost any heavy bag. What makes it unique is that it swivels. This is a very nice added feature that will benefit you when hitting the bag. Check the current pricing on this mount here.
The second option, also by Firstlaw, is called the Joist Mount 200. This will accommodate bags up to 200 lbs. It will also swivel like their standard mount. The upgrade here comes in the form of shock absorption.
When you are hitting your bag, if there are people upstairs over your gym area, they will both hear and feel it. Using the Joist Mount 200 will help dampen this noise. Keep in mind that this mount requires an exposed joist so it may not be suitable in all applications. You can see what it looks like here.
Firstlaw makes several other options that allow for even more shock absorption. They get a little pricey, especially when you consider my recommended method will cost you less than $10. But if you need dampening, a mount to an i beam, or several other specialty scenarios, Firstlaw is the place to look. You can see their full assortment of mounts here on Amazon.
The last option I’ll recommend is to not hang your bag at all. Instead, use a heavy bag stand. We have a relatively nice gym where I work and this is what they use. We have several amateur boxers who train in our gym and they use the heavy bag every day. The model we have is by Everlast, a great name in boxing gear.
It’s held up well and has been going strong the entire 16 years I’ve worked there. You can check the pricing on this model here on Amazon. One note on this solution is that you will want to find a way to secure it to your floor. In our gym it’s bolted down and I would recommend the same for yours. Otherwise, it will end up scooting all over the gym, and you really want it to be stationary.
Summary & Disclaimer
When building your home gym, you may find yourself wanting to hang a number of things from your ceiling. Olympic rings, a pull up bar, and a heavy bag just to name a few. Knowing how to do it safely and securely will go a long way towards creating a home gym you love. I’ve hung both a heavy bag and my rings in the manner described above. It’s worked well for me and I hope it does the same for you.
All of that said, the method I described is what I use. I’m not an engineer or an architect. I’ve had great success and I feel safe with it. That does not, however, mean that it is guaranteed to work for everyone. There are a number of factors (missing the center of the joist, buying cheap hardware, not sinking the eye bolts deep enough, and a host of others) that could cause this method to fail.
As with all home improvement projects, especially ones that could result in you or something heavy falling from the ceiling, proceed at your own risk. That’s one of the reasons for the GymCrafter disclaimer page you can see here. Be safe everybody!