Olly has a degree in French, has written for the University paper, and is an avid film, game, and exercise fan as well as a keen traveler.
Century BOB XL
Having turned my garage into a mini-gym a few years ago, I was on the hunt for a decent training aid for my martial arts training. Being someone who always does a lot of research before buying pretty much anything, I finally decided that a freestanding dummy was the best way to go. I had limited space in the garage so was wary of anything that would swing around too much and the inner ceiling of the garage was not ideal to hook anything into it for the weight I was looking for.
I found the Century BOB XL with a base unit and read a lot of reviews. I decided to take the plunge and get it. After using it for the last two years regularly I can safely say it was the best decision for me by far.
Century BOB XL: What is it?
The Century BOB XL (Body Opponent Bag) training dummy, in my mind, is a very much evolved punching bag. The main difference between a normal punching bag and the BOB XL is that this actually looks like a real person and realistically recreates the torso (and part of the lower body in this model) in an attempt to give the user the closest feeling to striking a real human being.
The dummy itself is made from plastisol. Plastisol is a mixture of PVC with plasticiser which creates the rubbery texture of the dummy. The key strengths of this type of material are that it is extremely impact resistant and wear resistant, yet still provides a cushioned coating.
The body itself is filled with urethane foam, which is a common material used in insulation because it completely covers any air pockets allowing equal distribution throughout. This essentially makes the whole unit very solid, with a little give as well, reacting appropriately when struck. The material even looks like skin and feels not dissimilar to the same consistency of skin. To add to the realism, certain parts of the Century BOB XL are tougher than others. Striking the nose is noticeably more resistant and ‘harder’ than striking the neck for instance
As mentioned earlier, the body itself mimics a real-life person's upper torso and part of the lower torso, so it has a head, neck, face, nose, ears, chest, shoulders, abdomen, solar plexus, groin area, and upper thighs. In an odd way, because the body is modeled on quite a healthy male, it makes you want to train. It acts as a motivation tool to some extent.
Century BOB XL with Base Unit
Benefits vs. a Traditional Punching Bag
Having used lots of different types of punching bags in the past in gyms and at home, here are some of the key differences I’ve found which have impressed me with the Century BOB XL:
The Realistic Look – It looks like a person, feels like you are hitting a body, and, above all, has all the major facets to be able to target your moves effectively. You can practice solar plexus strikes, palm thrusts, elbows to the head, chain punching, waist/chest kicks, and side kicks. In fact, you can practice anything that’s relevant to you and your training. Having visually representative areas to target is fantastic as it gets you used to the distance between you and your opponent and prepares you to reach the sensitive areas of the body. It’s just better as you get more out of your training facing a lifelike opponent then a simple bag.
No Sparring Partner Required – Often when I used to use a punch bag at the gym it would move about a fair bit and I would need a friend/friendly gym guy to hold it for me while I was punching it. The bag would often move in directions I didn’t want and, if there was nobody else there, I would have to keep steadying it myself which becomes a pain after a while especially when doing combinations. Century BOB XL moves around minimally, meaning you can focus on targetry, combinations, or mixing up combos on the fly without worrying about it moving about so you miss punches or strikes.
Adjustable height – Being able to adjust the height of the Century BOB XL is a godsend for me. I’m 5,8 and often when I would spar with others, they would be taller than me which would sometimes throw me off a bit. Very simply, you can adjust the height of the unit with 6 variations between 60 inches to 78 inches (5‘0– 6’5). This means if you are of average height or a little below, you can practice distances and angles for taller opponents, meaning you are more prepared when you spar or you want to challenge yourself. It helps you realise any limitations you have and brush up on them.
Setting Up Your Century BOB XL With Base Unit
Unlike any free-hanging bags, you don’t need any tools at all to set up the unit. I have minimal DIY skills so this was a bonus for me! The unit comes in two pieces – the main body and the base. When it arrives, the total weight is 47 pounds so depending on your strength/fitness level you may want someone to assist you in bringing it to the desired location.
The main BOB XL unit simply screws into the base (as in twists into a pre-made groove) so this part is extremely simple. Before you do this though, you need to fill up the base to create the stability. Once you have found the best position for the base, you have a choice of filling with either sand or water. Your choice of filling comes down to personal preference and ease of accessibility. Sand is a slightly better choice as will move around less in the base, but I had good access to a hose and simply unscrewed the base cap and filled with water from the hose. I would suggest filling and stopping at 3-4 minute intervals to gauge how heavy you want it. When completely full the unit has 270 pounds of weight, so I initially filled it about halfway, which was a good starting point and then topped up as I became stronger. If you aren’t sure how best to measure how full the base is, use a stick or small bamboo cane (common in garden centres for keeping plants straight) and dip it into the base. Where you see the watermark on the wood it will give you a clear idea of how full it is.
Once the base is as heavy as you want it, screw the base cap on tightly, lift up the main BOB XL unit, and turn into the grooves so it is eventually facing you. Your unit is now ready!
Great for Martial Artists and Boxers
Who Benefits From it?
From my research, Century BOB XL can benefit anyone who is a little tired of the constraints that normal punch bags have and basically want something that does the job better in my view. Key groups of people that I think could benefit from this.
- Security industry professionals/Military
- Martial Artists
- Fitness and health enthusiasts
- Anyone with a home gym or with limited workout space
I was little sceptical at first especially as it isn’t the cheapest thing I’ve bought. But the amount I’ve used it in my home gym, the build quality, and the realism to be able to target my strikes and feel my own development in strength, speed, and accuracy are worth their weight in gold if I’m honest.
Highly recommended and likely will never need to replace despite the pounding I’ve given it over the years! Great stress reliever and great product.
Amazing Tae Kwon Do Demonstation on Century BOB XL
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2013 Olly