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The Sandbag

This topic contains 19 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Malcolm Malcolm 5 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #44459
    Profile photo of JohnnyMac
    JohnnyMac
    Participant

    I’ve been using my sandbag more lately and wanted to share with you guys the ins and outs of using them and purchasing/building one.

    Let’s start off with the sandbag itself. The basic idea of the sandbag is a durable shell, containing fillers to hold sand. There are lots of options for sandbags, from making them yourself, to a myriad of commercial options. For years, the go-to sandbag solution was the standard USGI duffel bag filled with DIY fillers. The pros to this option are that, if you already have the duffel, it’s a pretty cheap option. Also, those duffels are durable as hell- so you shouldn’t have to worry about breaking it. It’s also worth mentioning that the USGI duffel doesn’t really have ergonomic handles, you could take it as a plus, or a minus, depending on how you look at it. A sandbag without handles forces you to use more distal phalange (finger) strength to grab hold of it and is more likely to be off balance when picked up. With the handles on a commercial sandbag, grip strength is rarely an issue, allowing you to focus on work capacity. It just depends on what you’re going for.

    The downside really comes in with the fillers. I can’t count the number of times during a workout that I’ve been blinded by sand in the eyes from DIY implements over the years. There was a particularly egregious sand-filled basketball that I used for a year or two when I was fresh out of college. The moral of the story is, make sure your fillers (commercial or DIY) are as bombproof as you can make them. Also, try to avoid water and fine sand, since they can escape easier.

    For more info on DIY sandbags here is an awesome link:
    http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/CFJ_Rice_SandbagsMay11.pdf

    For commercial sandbags, they typically come in a few different sizes and are rated for their maximum weight capacity. I’ll go through common sizes and try to give guidance as best I can. Keep in mind it’s tough to make general assertions without knowing you as an athlete. The prescription of weight to an athlete for a specific workout, on a specific day, is one critical component of a great coach.

    Common sizes (depends on manufacturer):
    Small: up to 40lbs, for weaker athletes or long duration events
    Medium: up to 75-80lbs, a good general purpose size for conditioning or strength work for weaker athletes
    Large: up to 125-160lbs, good for conditioning for seasoned athletes or strength work for athletes of moderate strength
    XL: up to 220lbs, good for conditioning of advanced athletes or strength work for seasoned athletes

    I would suggest getting either a medium or large, depending on what you expect your usual working range to be. Also keep in mind, those are weights if using sand. You can also fill it with other material to get higher or lower density/volume. The idea is, you fill the bag to the volume that feels good for your bag- Goldilocks Rule. Some alternate options besides sand are: rubber mulch (24 lbs/cu ft), wood pellets (40 lbs/cu ft), pea gravel (111 lbs/cu ft), lead shot (436 lbs/cu ft). Here’s a good discussion.

    Some good options for commercial sandbags:
    1) http://www.roguefitness.com/rogue-sandbags
    2) https://www.amazon.com/Brute-Force-Sandbags-Athletic-training/dp/B01GF4H4HG/ref=sr_1_1?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1494425430&sr=1-1&keywords=brute+force+sandbag
    3) Handleless Strongman, https://www.amazon.com/IronMind-Tough-As-Nails-Sandbag-Set/dp/B00EV5CPEY/ref=sr_1_9?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1494425403&sr=1-9&keywords=sandbag

    It’s worth getting a higher quality sandbag that you don’t have to worry about leaking or ripping as you abuse it.

    So, now that you’re squared away from an equipment perspective, let’s talk about using the sandbag. (Obligatory lamentation about actually training).

    It’s probably best to start by talking about how the sandbag can be held:
    1) bear hug: bag is vertical in front of the body, arms wrapped around it
    2) zercher/cradled: bag is horizontal in front of the body, held underneath by both arms
    3) single shoulder: bag is horizontal, resting on the shoulder
    4) yoke/back: bag is horizontal, resting across both shoulders
    5) “grabbed”: bag in any direction, held with hand(s)

    Now, you can just substitute a sandbag in for typical movements that could be done with a barbell: front squats, lunges, presses, cleans, rows, etc, and although I will do that from time to time, there are things you can do with a sandbag that you can’t do with a barbell (or at least not very well)….and are awesome for adding “fun” variety to your workouts. Keep in mind, anything you do with a sandbag will be harder than its barbell equivalent. This is because of unequal/shifting load, center of gravity further from your body and more difficult grip. Some other movements you can do with a sandbag:
    1) Carries: grab it however you want and move over a distance. I’ve been enamored with carries lately because I think it has a lot of practical application.
    2) Drags: this is especially good with commercial bags that have handles on the ends, closely simulates moving an injured @hellokitty off the objective in a packable stretcher. Attach it to a rope Pat Mac-style and pull it towards you.
    3) Throws: if your bag/fillers are tough enough, you can chuck it around. I don’t know that I’d be confident slamming it.
    4) Swings: at smaller sizes/lighter weights it can be swung

    This was just a quick attempt at a data dump, so I’m sure there are some unanswered questions or missing info- feel free to ask! If you have experience using sandbags to train, join in and provide any tips or pointers I missed.

    #44472
    Profile photo of tango
    tango
    Participant

    Dude we need to plan a trip so you can just lead a smoke sesh on all of us in your home gym.

    Can you attach your big battle ropes to the sandbag? Or some other type of rope?

    Baptême du feu
    L'appel du vide

    #44473
    Profile photo of Brian from Georgia
    Brian from Georgia
    Participant

    I’ve never worked with sandbags. It sounds like a total butt-kicker.

    3-4 Aug 2013 CRCD, 2-6 Aug 2014 CRCD/Patrol, 30 Sep 2016 Run n Gun, 1-2 Oct 2016 FoF, 3-4 March 2018 DCH alumni
    Team Coyote

    #44474
    Profile photo of JohnnyMac
    JohnnyMac
    Participant

    @tango A battling or climbing rope is ideal actually. You can do it with whatever you have though, regular rope, webbing, chain, etc. The closer to 1.5-2″ in diameter, the better. Attachment depends on the rope, but the attachment point on the sandbag would be the same, a handle on an end. Attaching a battling rope is a little trickier because it doesn’t have an eyelet or anything. Off the top of my head, I would probably duct tape a thinner loop onto an end of the battling rope and attach the loop with a carabiner to the sandbag.

    Any MVT alumni is welcome to stop by for some PT!

    #44475
    Profile photo of El Lobo
    ellobo
    Participant

    Brute force has an app where every day it gives a warm up, and 2 workout sessions. I have a brute force bag with 50 lbs of sand in it and with the workouts on the app I’m glad it’s not more. For now that is.

    I'M NO SHIRKER !

    #46818
    Profile photo of RTOhio
    RTOhio
    Participant

    I workout at a cross fit gym that caters to the GoRuck community and trains you for their competitions. However, I for one cannot see spending the money for some of their gear. Just can’t justify it. Do you feel the same also? I love the training sessions though and we do a lot of sandbagging on top of the weighted rucks. Distances vary from 100 meters to over a mile. I hated them (sandbags) at first, but I learned to embrace the pain associated with there usage. Thanks for the other list of cheaper priced bags.

    "Never start a fight that you can't win with everything you have right now"

    "Mistakes in combat are unpardonable sins, punishable by death"

    One Zero Joe Walker (RT California)

    #46838
    Profile photo of JohnnyMac
    JohnnyMac
    Participant

    I workout at a cross fit gym that caters to the GoRuck community and trains you for their competitions. However, I for one cannot see spending the money for some of their gear. Just can’t justify it. Do you feel the same also? I love the training sessions though and we do a lot of sandbagging on top of the weighted rucks. Distances vary from 100 meters to over a mile. I hated them (sandbags) at first, but I learned to embrace the pain associated with there usage. Thanks for the other list of cheaper priced bags.

    Most of my equipment purchases were either gently used stuff, carefully researched bargains or Christmas presents. If you take your time, you can slowly build up a quality gym, right in your own garage.

    #46839
    Profile photo of Pinky
    Pinky
    Participant

    Goruck 80lb bag is on sale for $89 now. I have one and it is pretty darn tough. They have a lifetime warranty on their gear also. I found a 3-pack of 30lb 1000D filler bags at amazon for $30. Have not broken it yet and has been beat up pretty good. So, $120 is a lot of coin for a workout device, but you can do tons of stuff with it and it travels well as long as you can find something to fill it with at your destination

    "No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms."
    -- Thomas Jefferson

    #46846
    Profile photo of JohnnyMac
    JohnnyMac
    Participant

    $120 really isn’t much in the world of quality fitness equipment. Look into needle bearing olympic bars if you want real sticker shock.

    I’ve been particularly lusting after the relatively new Brute Force Soft Stones Brute Force Stone :rose:

    #46848
    Profile photo of JeffSags
    JeffSags
    Participant

    I like that brute force stone! :yahoo:

    I made something like it using an oversized kickball, 100lbs of “decorative” rocks from Home Depot and a roll of gorilla tape…held up so far. But that brute force stone looks real nice!

    CRCD AUG 13, CRCD MAR 14, CP AUG 14, CR MAR 15, Shivworks ECQC, MVT RIFLEMAN, CTT AUG 16, CQBC

    #46851
    Profile photo of Wes
    wesmc
    Participant

    I made a 40-lb sandbag a few years ago from car inner-tube and 40 lbs of playground sand from Lowes. Just cut the tube, poured the sand in, and zip-tie/duct tape the ends for handles. Cheap…I’m with with RTOhio…i just can’t spend much money on exercise stuff.

    C2G Feb 2015, CTT March 2016, CQB June 2018

    #46869
    Profile photo of Pinky
    Pinky
    Participant

    Is there something you can do with the soft stone you cannot do with a sandbag? I know it is round, but otherwise? Edumacate me

    I have some real rocks I can carry/throw around if so

    "No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms."
    -- Thomas Jefferson

    #46870
    Profile photo of JohnnyMac
    JohnnyMac
    Participant

    Is there something you can do with the soft stone you cannot do with a sandbag? I know it is round, but otherwise? Edumacate me

    I have some real rocks I can carry/throw around if so

    It’s hard for me to say, because I’ve never gotten to play with one. It would handle differently for sure, especially for ground to shoulder type stuff. The round ball *should roll up the body, like a real atlas stone, unlike the sand bag. I’d love a true atlas stone or two, but like the idea of something soft like the brute force ball, that mitigates some of the risk of causing serious damage (feet or surfaces), which can occur with atlas stones. That’s why I’m also considering the ironmind bag as a cheaper alternative. For anyone interested you can buy a mold (split it with a few guys/gals) and pour your own atlas stones at home. Slater Molds

    #56016
    Profile photo of tango
    tango
    Participant

    Watched a couple Brute Force training vids recently and got fired up by their use of sandbags and battle ropes 🤘

    Tack this into a workout with tractor tires and sledgehammers and you’ll finish feeling like a GOD.

    Edit:
    And this:

    20 Sandbag Power Cleans
    ***20m Bear Crawl + Drag
    20 Sandbag Back Squats
    ***20m Bear Crawl + Drag
    20 Sandbag Bear Complex
    ***20m Bear Crawl + Drag
    20 Sandbag Shoulder Slams
    ***20m Bear Crawl + Drag
    20Brute Force Burpees
    ***20m Bear Crawl + Drag

    Baptême du feu
    L'appel du vide

    #59886
    Profile photo of JohnnyMac
    JohnnyMac
    Participant

    I’m bumping this, as they are great fitness training tools, and some may have missed the original post

    #59889
    Profile photo of Max Velocity
    Max
    Keymaster

    Brute Force Warrior Training Sandbags

    I’m into this shit, now that I can be again after my back is fused. Still have a knee issue I have to work around. I have to get my home range squared away in the woods but I am planning some combat stress videos which will combine shooting with sandbag etc runs. I signed up with these guys as an affiliate so if you do make a purchase, do me a favor and make it through the links I posted in the lined post, or under the store tab, and I will get a small cut. It all helps, I’m a struggling author / tactical trainer! Oh yeah, and buy the t-shirts in the gear store! That helps also.

    #62320
    Profile photo of Winston
    winston
    Participant

    Bought the Athlete bag off one of your links. Hope you get your cut, Max. My shoulder is finally functional again. So, time I get back after it. Also reading and following Jocko on Twitter https://mobile.twitter.com/jockowillink
    Good stuff…guys killing me…in good way.
    But if JohnyMac runs another fitness challange, I’m in.

    Yes, yes. I know my way around MVT.

    #62324
    Profile photo of RTOhio
    RTOhio
    Participant

    we do sandbags with our ruck on. This is good training for GoRuck competitions. I have entered a few “Light” ones and I am working my way up to more harder ones like their “50 mile ruck” or a “Heavy”. We don’t really do anything without our rucks (Mine is 45lbs) on. We had a 17 hour straight ruck that lasted from 1900Hrs through 1200Hrs the next day. No watches, no cellphones, no personal devices except a headlamp with white and red LED”s. One issued map and one issued GI Lensatic compass. Went from point to point all night and if you didn’t get there in time (we weren’t told what the time was for each event, all they said was “Just do the best you can). Although I am not a big fan of the SEALS, they would look at you if you were last, “It pays to be a winner!” Then you and your group would start carrying telephone poles or 60-80lbs sandbags to your next destination. At some point during the mess you went on “autopilot” and just did what you were told to do.

    "Never start a fight that you can't win with everything you have right now"

    "Mistakes in combat are unpardonable sins, punishable by death"

    One Zero Joe Walker (RT California)

    #62326
    Profile photo of RTOhio
    RTOhio
    Participant

    Anybody else do any GoRuck? Anyhow, sandbags will crush you if you haven’t used them before. Find a gym that trains for GoRuck and you will see how hard they are. At age 56 it is especially hard for me to workout with even a 60lb sandbag and a 45lb ruck. Great post!

    "Never start a fight that you can't win with everything you have right now"

    "Mistakes in combat are unpardonable sins, punishable by death"

    One Zero Joe Walker (RT California)

    #62367
    Profile photo of Malcolm
    Malcolm
    Participant

    Hey all,
    Just checked out the Labor Day sale at Rep Fitness – 50% off battle ropes thru the end of the day (my apologies for the late notice) …

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