There is growing interest in nontraditional fitness and strength-training methods, such as “functional fitness” and “strongman” methods. The necessity of whole body support in these training methods leads to greater overall demand on the body’s energy systems, making them far more efficient a training tool than traditional weight lifting alone. One element of strongman training that is very popular is sandbag lifting. Unfortunately, few gyms offer ready-made sandbags for their members. Making your own is simple however, allowing anyone to gain the benefits of strongman training.
Set your bathroom scale on a level surface near your pile of sand. A piece of scrap plywood is a good surface, as is a corner of a concrete driveway. Set it where it can be easily accessed while you are shoveling sand into the sandbags resting on the scale.
Determine how much you would like each individual sandbag to weigh and mark it on the outside of the bag with a permanent marker or other indelible marking method. It is recommended that you create a series of increasingly heavy sandbags, ranging from 25 pounds all the way up to 200 pounds.
Place an open, marked Tyvek sandbag on the bathroom scale, with the mouth of the bag held open large enough to pour sand off a shovel blade through the opening.
Shovel the first shovelful of sand into the open sandbag and note the weight of the shovelful. Continue adding sand until the desired weight is achieved. This may require you to remove some sand from the bag, if you inadvertantly add too much.
Close the mouth of the bag by twisting it shut as tight as possible. Wrap the closed neck in several layers of duct tape to ensure that it will not fall open during your workouts. This provides you with a handle for single arm isolation lifts such as bicep curls and one-armed clean and presses, both of which are particularly challenging and effective exercises when performed with sandbags in this manner.
Repeat the filling and sealing process with each of your sandbags in 10-pound increments up to the 200-pound limit, or heavier if necessary to challenge your current levels of strength.
Remember that, because of the instability and uneven weight of the sandbags, that your ability to lift an equivalent weight as the same exercise with a barbell or dumbbell will be significantly curtailed.
Always consult your personal physician prior to engaging in any new fitness regimen.