EXERCISE: DIY Fitness Gear – Sandbag 101

When I saw this 40 lbs bag of cat litter on sale for 3 bucks, I knew it was time to get to work building a sandbag.  For version 1, I went with a quick and dirty approach, because I really wanted to try the exercises and knew that a proper final version would require more time.  I vowed to be careful with the bag, as I did not want to be sweeping and vacuuming up cat litter for the rest of the day.

I grabbed a handful of plastic shopping bags, fitted bags on both ends, and duct taped them to form a secondary barrier if the main bag broke.  Then, I repeated the process to create a tertiary barrier.  A nylon gym bag that was not getting used served as the shell.  I lined the bottom of the bag with an old bath mat.  Inserted my wrapped cat litter, zipped up the bag and got to work.

I worked through several reps of each exercise in these MBody Strength videos.  I went slow and watched my form.  At 40 lbs, this is not a heavy bag, but I didn’t want a careless mistake on my first day out to ruin the experience.

So, how was it?  It was a blast.  I could feel these exercises working muscles throughout my legs, trunk, and upper body.  Because it is unstable, you constantly adjust and re-balance the weight, engaging all muscles, big and little within a given muscle group.  With the complex exercises, you engage several muscle groups.  I also felt it in my fingers, as grabbing the folds of the bag, really works your grip (Hey – Brazilian Jiu Jitsu guys I’m talking to you).

I liked it well enough, that I will be investing the time to create a more durable set up.  I will follow Ross Enamait’s plans, which you should download here.  For me, this means loading large Ziploc bags about 3/4 full, zipping them shut, duct taping the end of the bag, then double bagging, sealing, and duct taping the end of the second bag.  This should create enough of a barrier to keep the cat litter from leaking and the packages from rupturing.  An added benefit of this approach is that I will be able to add or reduce the weight of the sandbag by adding or removing packages of cat litter.  For added safety, I will stuff the bag with old beach towels or blankets.  This will cushion the packages and fill out the bag.  A quick visit to the local thrift store should take care of that.

Version 2 Under Construction

For an overview of the benefits of sandbag training read this article by Josh Henkin.  If you want to learn more about building your own gym equipment, you should read my previous post on this topic here.   If you are into projects like this, join Scott Bird and Keith Johnson for their twitter chat this Wednesday discussing DIY Combat Training Equipment, including sandbags.  For details on twitter chat 58 click here and spend some time exploring Scott’s website Straight to the Bar.

One last update.  If you have been following my workouts, then you are familiar with Max Barry from NU-FiT (btw Max helped Scott with last week’s twitter chat on Optimum Wellness).  Max’s 1500 challenge gave me a wake up call on my conditioning.  Since then, I have been creatively employing his MetCon routines to  get back to where I need to be.  All the while, Max and I have had some good conversations on twitter.  Max is always very positive, which makes him an excellent motivator.  This week, he paid me a great compliment by listing SEE on his blog roll.  Please repay the kindness – check out his blog for quality workout routines, nutrition tips, and healthy recipes.

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For related STRETCH EXERCISE EAT posts SEE:

EXERCISE: DIY Gym Equipment

EXERCISE: Strength Flows From the Hands

EAT: DIY Greek Style Yogurt

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You should follow me on twitter here.

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7 responses to “EXERCISE: DIY Fitness Gear – Sandbag 101

  1. Pingback: “equipment” for bodyrock workouts | The Little Beet

  2. Great idea!
    Thanks for this post, im going to try this sandbag.

  3. Thank you Adam for this! I was looking for a frugal way to do sandbag traning! Look forward to the update to see how the new bag worked for you. I didn’t even think about kitty litter!

    • E.J.: This was definitely inexpensive and it works. Version 2 is complete and I’ve been using it regularly for more than a year now…no negative issues to report. On regular gym days, I wrap my gym belt and neck harness around it and stuff an ab wheel inside, then head to the gym w/ it on my shoulder. This serves as a warm-up and an easy way to carry gear to the gym. On the return trip, I alternate shoulders and ascend ten flights of stairs…nice challenge at the end of a gym session. There are so many ways to incorporate a sandbag into your routine. Let me know how yours turns out.

  4. Hi there! I could have sworn I’ve visited this blog before but after looking at many of the posts I realized it’s new to
    me. Regardless, I’m definitely happy I stumbled upon it and I’ll be
    book-marking it and checking back regularly!

  5. i tried other ways to crunch my fat on belly. sandbag , I have found at last the best tool to do it faster. In 1 week found significant change.

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