Sandbag Training – How to Save Money And Burn Fat

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.

Sandbag training to burn fat

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.

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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.sandbag training building

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.

Fancy sandbag training

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!

sandbag training lets you drop your bags

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:

sandbag training in back yard

Or your garage:

sandbag training in garage

Or even at the beach or park:

sandbag training at beach

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!

sandbag training is not recommended at the airport

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):

  • Squats
  • Cleans
  • Lifts
  • Presses
  • Sandbag carries
  • Sandbag runs
  • Lunges
  • Drags
  • Throws
  • Deadlifts

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
  • Mulch
  • Rubber mulch/safetysandbag training filler material

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.duffel bag for sandbag training

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.

sandbag training at CrossFit Rogue

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.

Conclusion Time

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.

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How Excuses Just Get In The Way of Your Goals

no excusesWhether you are reading this article as part of my Starting Over series or for the first time, it’s time to talk about that taboo topic – excuses.

Uh oh, I went there, didn’t I? Fair warning – this is a tough love topic, but let’s be honest – we need that once in a while.

I didn’t plan to write on excuses today. Instead, it was going to be on the power of visualization as a follow-up to yesterday’s post on making your epic movie trailer. But as my early morning’s event unfolded, I was inspired to discuss excuses with you.

Why? Because I started making a few myself today. More on that below and how it unfolded. I’ll bet you’ve made a few excuses yourself, am I right?

Excuses come in many forms, but in most cases it’s a rationalization, often a lie we tell ourselves and to those around us.

Here’s one definition of excuses: an attempt to lessen the blame attaching to (a fault or offense); seek to defend or justify.

Do any of these sound familiar?:

  • “No, officer – I had no idea I was going that fast.”
  • “Yes, I realized I didn’t meet the deadline – I wasn’t feeling well…”
  • “I’m sorry kids I didn’t make your band concert; I got held up at work.”
  • “It’s too risky.”
  • “I’ll just do it tomorrow.”

Excuses are lies wrapped up in reasons.           – Howard Wright

Excuses In Action

Since this post is being composed the first part of 2016, I’m going to provide a real world example that is pretty evergreen regardless. The excuse area I’ll push out is in regards to my exercise regimen this morning.

Whether insanity or just wanting to be pushed, I joined the local CrossFit gym or box as we call it, a few years ago. I’ve had some amazing highs and some disgruntled lows, but that’s how workouts go. If they were all easy, everyone would be in the gym. For me, doing CrossFit workouts is like sitting back in a chair until you’re on two legs. You’re never sure if you’re going to tip over, but the thrill of not knowing excites me to keep doing it.

This morning’s workout was composed of two workouts. For twelve minutes, we were assigned to do three clean and jerks on minutes 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11. On the even minutes of 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 we were assigned three pull-ups and three dips. Challenging, but doable, my partner and I pushed through it using a weight that we could manage.

The second half of the workout was two movements – kettlebell swings and goblet squats using a 55 lb. kettlebell. The rep scheme for this workout was 21-18-15-12-9, which means we had to perform 21 movements of each exercise, then 18 and work it down ending with 9 of each movement, for a total of 75 reps. The time cap for the workout was 10 minutes.


Excuses began to flood my brain about why I couldn’t complete the workout right after I completed 18 of each movement. My lower back doesn’t care for a lot of kettlebell swings, namely because my form needs more improvement. I pulled back, took more than a few deep breaths, chalked up my hands and went back at it, breaking up my reps.

Still, the excuses came, calling to me.

“If you don’t finish,” my thoughts reasoned with me, “no one will care. They’ll all understand. No one will judge you. Everyone who is in this class knows how challenging this is. You can stop anytime.”

I did my best to push the thoughts away, but they persisted after a few more reps.

“It’s OK, Jeff – you’re one of the oldest, if not the oldest, in this class. You’ll get it next time. Just ease up.”

It was at this point something clicked. I was exhausted, and my heart was racing. I wasn’t in any physical pain, mind you. But my thoughts were betraying me as best they could.

When I got home, I googled the term “when excuses are OK.” After reviewing the first two pages of results, I quickly was reminded – there are no good reasons for when excuses are OK.

When Do Excuses Get In The Way of Your Goals?

When we create excuses, it’s important to note one critical distinction. While excuses may slide by a few people, in the end, you’re only empowering yourself that you can’t. When you dig deep within, you can push aside excuses and empower yourself that you can.

Once you overcome one excuse, lock that into your memory vault and pull it out when the next excuse creeps in your head. Stack up the excuses you overcome, form them into a club and beat the crap out of any other excuses that come up. In time, your excuses will go away, and your achievements will come more readily.

Excuse empowerment.001

Back to my workout – we were all supposed to complete the workout in ten minutes. Most of my class did. But at the 10:00 minute mark, when our coach told us time was up, I wasn’t done. At that point, I could stop. But it wasn’t my day for excuses.

“Bring it on,” I told myself. “I love pain; pain sets me free.”

As God as my witness, the faceless subscribers of this blog pulled me through along with my mantra. See, I’m not just the author of these topics, I’m a practitioner myself. I’m not perfect. But if I don’t try to practice what I preach, I am nothing. I couldn’t do that to myself, nor to you.

As I watched the clock continue to count, I picked up the kettlebell and pushed forward. I could hear the yells of encouragement from those around me, aware that I wanted to finish regardless. They could see the determination. I wasn’t kidding anyone at that point. I had nothing to win by finishing.

Correction – I had everything to win by just finishing. I didn’t care what anyone else thought. What mattered to me was completing the workout. What mattered was overcoming my excuses.

As the clock struck 10:55, I put the kettlebell down and plopped on the mats exhausted. I closed my eyes and got my breath back. When I opened them, my kettlebell was gone; a fellow CrossFitter had picked it up and placed it back on its shelf as a sign of assistance and respect. Respect because I didn’t quit.starting over series

Starting Over Challenge of The Day

For today’s challenge, look at the single hardest obstacle you have to accomplish this week. Then do it.

Don’t let the voices in your head tell you it can’t be done. Even if you’re exhausted – mentally or physically, seek out a way to finish it without creating an excuse. Then, tell the world how your day of excuses ended by writing it in the comment section below.