Sandbag training was the last thing I considered for my home gym equipment when it should have been the first.
As I looked around my garage, I had collected a sweet assortment of workout equipment: a pull-up bar, a squat rack, a climbing rope, kettlebells, barbells and bumper plates, medicine balls, etc. I’d spent a few thousand dollars at this point.
If I had it to do all over again, I could have saved hundreds of dollars had I discovered one of the easiest workout programs – sandbag training.
At first glance, sandbag training might sound brutish, barbarian and dull. And to that, I would say yes on the first two items, but not boring!
If you’d like to save hundreds of dollars in equipment purchases by building your sandbag and workout routine that provides plenty of variety, keep reading. In today’s article, I’m going to show you step-by-step how you can build your sandbag, increase or decrease the weights in a snap, get a tremendous fat-burning workout, and save money.
Let’s get started.
If you already know you’ll enjoy sandbag training and want to do some bodyweight exercises along with your sandbag, here’s a bundle we put together that includes 100+ exercises, video demonstrations, etc.
Step #1: Build Your Sandbag for Training In Less than 30 Minutes
The initial steps to building a sandbag are pretty easy. Here’s all you need:
- Tube of sand from the local hardware store – 50 lbs. for $3-$4
- Contractor bags or industrial strength trash bags – the prices will vary, but I opted for cheaper bags because of the next item listed
- Duct tape – you can spend more money on the bag thickness or buy more duct tape and spend less overall. A roll of 20-30 yards of duct tape will run $6-$10
- Additional purchases will be listed below, but this is a good basic start for less than $20
Once you’ve gathered your items, grab a bathroom scale and pour your sand from the tube into your trash bags in 5 or 10-pound increments. Or you may wish to go higher – or use the entire tube. That’s the beauty of sandbag training – it’s cheap and provides a ton of variety.
For less mess, assemble your bags in your yard or driveway. You can also use a scoop to divvy out the right amount of sand into your bag while on the scale. Once you’ve hit the right amount, fold the bag over and over on itself to strengthen the thickness of the bag and then wrap the bag in duct tape as shown below.
The number of sandbags you create is purely based on how much you can lift or want to use in your workouts. You can construct bags of various sizes and label them using a Sharpie. Or if you want to get super fancy, you can do this and add a little flair to your larger sized bags.
Who said sandbag training isn’t lady friendly?
Step #2: Appreciate the Flexibility of Sandbag Training
In less than five minutes, you’ll quickly discover the variety of sandbag training workouts you can do simply by how you decide to package up your sandbags. Doing 5-10 pound increments provides for easy dumbbell replacement. Going heavier is as easy as filling up a duffel bag or backpack, provided it can handle the weight of the sandbags.
Most of the time, going heavier, harder and building intensity is easier with sandbags for a few simple reasons. Anytime the weight becomes too much, JUST DROP IT. This isn’t Planet Fitness, so drop your sandbag anytime you want to!
Occasionally check your sandbag when you’re training just to make sure there are no rips. If there are just use some duct tape on the seams and you’re ready to go. In Step #4 we’ll discuss some other methods that eliminate sand spills guaranteed!
You can use your sandbag and start training in your back yard:
Or your garage:
Or even at the beach or park:
The flexibility of training with your sandbag is endless because it goes where you go. As long as your weight amount fits into a bag, you’re ready to go. (Although I wouldn’t suggest taking them on a plane. Those high loads can get a little pricey!
Step #3: Explore the Variety of Sandbag Training Workouts
Now that you’ve saved loads of money building a mechanism you can use for weight training, it’s time to recognize and select from the immense variety of sandbag training workouts you now have access to. And there are tons!
With your variable sized sandbags, you can do these exercises and more that will not only give you plenty of choices, but it will burn fat, build muscle and leave you coming back for more (there’s something intangibly fun about throwing a sandbag around – tell me if I’m wrong):
- Sandbag carries
- Sandbag runs
A good place to start is with Breaking Muscle. They have a 5-week sandbag training program you can refer to for additional ideas. Trust me when I tell you for the variety, flexibility and cost – training with a sandbag is hard to beat.
Step #4: Additional Considerations for Sandbag Training
Just when you thought we were done discussing all the nuances with sandbag training, I’m happy to share there is much more.
Are you like me and a little edgy about training with actual sandbags for fear the sand is going to get all over? I can assure you that is always a possibility. After training for a year using my sandbags and building them exactly how I described above, I have had no ruptures or tears, knock on wood.
Still, should working with sand make you nervous, we have options! Pretty much anything used for yard work could be in place of the sand we’ve talked about thus far:
- Pea gravel
- Rubber mulch/safety
Keep in mind the lighter the material, the larger the bag you’ll need.
Whether down the road or at the inception, a backpack, duffel bag or “sandbag” is another way you can lug your sandbags around for training. A standard bookbag or backpack is limited by 30-40 pounds, so a duffel bag is an excellent choice and more durable. Ideally, you’ll want one that has handles in many places to provide flexibility in carrying.
Army surplus stores have duffel bags that can carry 70 pounds or more, cost around $20 and have a few handles on the sides.
I went through each of the stages described, first using duct tape and duct tape handles for my sandbags, then I graduated to a backpack to the Army duffel bag and then I got serious, so I bought my last bag from Rogue. With the ability to put an entire tube of sand in it and a bag to protect against spills, this is my sandbag training recommendation.
If these bags can stand up to the rigors of the Reebok CrossFit Games and survive, then they’ll work out just perfect for me. After a year, I can say they’ve stood the test of time thus far. These bags from Rogue come in four different sizes. I chose the medium size which runs about $75 and holds up to 80 lbs.
OK, let’s bring this bad boy of a post to a close.
I hope that if you’ve read this far, I have convinced you that sandbag training provides fantastic value for the money and can help you burn fat while building muscle. I mean seriously – for less than $20 you can get started. By separating one sand tube, you get 10-12 bags weighing 5 pounds each OR 5-6 bags weighing 10 pounds each.
Regardless of the weight, you can combine them just as you would add plates onto a barbell, allowing your efforts to progress.
As for portability, it stands to reason you can take these bags anywhere you want to go and workout. Just the transportation of them is their own little workout! The variety of exercises is left to your imagination.
And when it comes time to upgrade your equipment, a well-built sandbag to hold all of your sandbags is at hand for about what it would cost for a 50 lb. kettlebell. (Don’t forget – you can drop these, drag them, etc. – they are nearly indestructible!)
Need Some Additional Help?
If all of this talk has you excited about exercise, you don’t even need sandbags but just your bodyweight. I’ve put together a bodyweight exercise bundle of more than 100 exercises you can do or add them in with your upcoming sandbag training routine. That link is above in the red box. OR, if you need some basic info to get your health back into control, we have a free 10-lesson course. Get your first lesson sent to you tomorrow by entering your information below.