Progress is all about challenging your body to do more, by increasing weight or resistance, or challenging your body to do something new. When you are strength training, sandbags can be a great way to modify your workout to get your body to do something new and challenging. So, in today’s article, we are going to look at the best sandbags for your home gym.
Sandbags are different from fixed weights such as the barbel because the weight is not evenly distributed and therefore it is much more difficult to hold and maneuver. This is why you will probably find that you need to work with a much lighter weight than you expect when you switch from stable weight to sandbags.
This offers a variety of benefits as you need to work your core and smaller muscle groups to manage the uneven weight, and you work on your functional fitness to do things in the real world, where things are rarely easy to handle.
In this article, we will go through some of the benefits of sandbag weighted workouts and then share with you the five best sandbags that you can buy online today. We will also take you through a complete sandbag buying guide, and some starter exercises once you get your new fitness toy home.
Benefits of Sandbag Workouts
So, what are the benefits of a sandbag workout as opposed to just consistently sticking to your other resistance workouts with a more stable weight?
If you find that your progress is stagnating, try mixing up your approach with sandbags. This challenges your body in different ways and forces different adaptations. While it will likely feel very challenging at first, you will soon find that you are progressing faster in your traditional resistance training as well as your sandbag work.
One of the reasons that we work out is to make it easier for us to do the things that we need to in the real world. But deadlifting a heavy bar is something that we are rarely called on to do in the real world. Picking up unwieldy objects and lifting awkward things is. Sandbag workouts are excellent functional training for this.
Develop your Grip
One of the biggest challenges that lifters face is developing the grip they need to hold onto these heavy bars. The way that you manipulate a sandbag with your hand in various different positions is a great way to work your grip.
Work Smaller Muscle Groups
When we lift heavy with barbels, we are trying to isolate muscle groups, and that is good. But it can sometimes be hard to work into smaller muscle groups. The instability of sandbags means that you need to use more different muscles to hold them in place and manipulate the bag. After a sandbag session, you may find muscles you didn’t even know you had aching.
Sandbags are a versatile tool that can be used in unexpected and imaginative ways. They are often used to make the best bodyweight exercises more challenging.
5 Best Sandbags
Gravity Fitness Premium Workout Sandbag
Gravity makes premium sandbags for those who seriously want to include these types of weights in their workout. Choose from a maximum of 20 or 50 kg weights, which are adjustable by removing or adding sand as needed.
The bag is made from 1050D durable nylon that won’t start to give way with heavy use. The zippers are also durable and built to last. There are two handles on the long side of the body and handles on both the top and bottom for more workout options.
- 20 or 50kg maximum weights available
- Fixed filler bag system
- 1050D Ultra Strong Nylon
- Four handles on the side and top
- Strong zipper closures
Cerberus Strength GP Training Handbag
These bags from Cerberus are more than just cool looking with their red and black colouring and wolf logo. They are one of the most versatile options on the market with three weights up to 60 kilograms and eight grab handles that let you lift the weight any which way.
This is a fixed filler system, so get the exact weight you want. The material is advertised as 2 “bulletproof” and will take a tough beating. Get the full set for the most versatile experience.
- 15, 30, or 60 kg weights
- Fixed filler design
- 8 grab handles
- “Bulletproof” Cerberus material
- 3 bag set available
RDX Sandbag Weight Training Power Bag
RDX makes a series of classic cylindrical sandbags ideal for most workouts. Choose from between 5-25 kilograms, with small filler bags so you can reduce weight as needed. The bags measure between 22 and 25 cm in diameter and 55 and 71 cm in length depending on the maximum weight.
The bag itself is solidly built with reinforcement around the fabric which means you can add the maximum weight in as small a size as possible. The zipper closures are strong, and the nylon handles won’t split, fray, or tear. It has soft grip handles on the cylinder and top for versatility.
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Wolf X Power Sandbag
This is a DIY sandbag, which means that it doesn’t come with filler bags, and you need to fill it yourself. While this won’t appeal to anyone, those wanting to experiment with other kinds of weights, or who want to stuff a lighter bag to make it easier to handle, will appreciate this style.
The bag itself is made from military-grade material and there are four different colours available depending on your personal preference.
- Up to 35 kg
- Military-grade material
- DIY filling system
- 24 inches long
- Four colours available
You’s Auto Sandbag Weight Training Power Bag
This is another easy-to-use filler bag sandbag so you can change the weight of your bag for different workouts. Choose between the 15 or the 30 kg bag and adjust the weight with the hand filler bags.
The bag itself is made from top-quality leather that is durable and will feel comfortable against your skin. There are four soft-grip handles, three on the long side of the bag and one on the top for a variety of different workout options.
- 15 or 30 kg weights available
- Filler bag system for easy weight adjustment
- High-quality leather
- Four soft handle grips
- 22cm by 68cm in size
Sandbag Buying Guide
So, what are the main things to consider when choosing between the various sandbags on the market? We think that the following are the most important factors.
Most sandbags are cylinders or round, and which is right for you is down to preference. You’ll find that most workout guides use a cylindrical bag that looks like a duffel. These tend to be the most versatile when it comes to grabbing and manipulating your bag.
Size & Weight
Needless to say, lighter bags tend to be smaller and heavier bags tend to be bigger! While you will want to be aiming to match your barbel weight with the sandbag, this won’t happen immediately, and you will need to start lighter and work your way up.
Start with a bag that can be 25-50% lighter than you would need with a stable weight, and you can increase up to your goal weight, which will be a bit heavier than what you are lifting with your barbel.
While you might spend most of your time lifting your sandbag, they are designed to be thrown on the floor and slammed into walls during various workouts. The bag itself needs the strength to hold everything while being used in a punishing workout.
Choose sandbags made from heavy-duty fabrics, such as military-grade 1000D Cordura. Look for other key features of the outer material such as water-repellent and abrasion-resistant to reassure you that they’ll stand up to your blood, sweat, and tears.
It will also need durable closures such as zippers to keep everything where it should be.
You will find that most sandbags either use a modular filler bag system or a fixed filler bag system. With modular bags, you change the weight by removing smaller sacks of weight. No need to mess directly with the sand. With a fixed filler system, you need to add or remove the sand itself. This gives you more finesse when choosing your weight, but it is also a bit of a pain, especially if you want different weights for different moves during a single workout.
The filler bags need to be almost as durable as the outer bag so that they don’t start leaking sand where it shouldn’t be. You’ll find that most options are made from a tough nylon blend and have durable zip or Velcro closures.
While sandbags are meant to be a little bit hard to hold on to so that you get a workout, they shouldn’t be impossible to manipulate while doing your exercises. Exactly where the handles should be placed is down to personal preference. We like two handles about shoulder-width apart on the long side of the body of the bag, as well as a single handle on the top.
Looking for other alternative weights? Check out our guide to weight vests.
Sandbag Exercises to Try
As you become a fan of the sandbag you will come across hundreds of interesting exercises to do and start inventing your own. But if you are just starting out, it can be hard to know where to start. Try some of the following as you get going.
This is what it sounds like, pick up the bag and try running with it for 100 metres or so. This will look less like a run than a bounding walk due to the weight of the bag. Start with a bag 25% of your body weight and build up to your own body weight.
Add weight to your squat with a sandbag and work your arms at the same time. Hold the sandbag in front of your chest when you are in the down part of your squat and lift it above your head as you push upward.
Sandbag Press Up
Do you press up balancing on top of your sandbag to create instability and make both your arm muscles and core muscles work harder.
Sandbag Over the Shoulder Throw
Squat with the bag in front of you, then when you thrust upward throw it over one of your shoulders. This is a great way to work into your shoulder and chest muscles.
Sandbag Straight Leg Dead Lift
As you would imagine, replace your barbell with your sandbag when doing your deadlift. You’ll be surprised how the different way that your weight hangs modifies your workout.
Staggered Bent Over Sandbag Row
Stand with your legs hip-distance apart, or with one slightly in front of the other. Hing at the hips and let the sandbag hand in front of you. Perform rows to lift the weight up to your chest, being sure to keep your arms aligned with your body.
Sandbag Rotational Lunge
Hold your sandbag a little less than arm’s length in front of your chest. When you step forward or backward to lunge, twist your torso to the side and take the weight of the sandbag with you.
Sandbag Russian Twist
Do a standard Russian twist sit up with legs slightly lifted to offer weight and twist your torso from one side to the other but add the sandbag as additional weight.
Sandbag Press-Out Lateral Lunge
Cradle the sandbag in front of you in a standing position. Step out to the side to perform a side lunge with your stepping leg and extend the bag out in front of you at the same time.
Interested in bodyweight training? Try our Calisthenics guide.
What exercises can you do with a sandbag?
With sandbags, you can replicate stable weight exercises, with the instability of the bag adding additional challenges. You can also use it to add weight to bodyweight exercises such as lunges and crunches.
Are sandbags worth it?
Sandbags can help you work into those smaller, harder to get to, muscle groups while still giving your core, large muscle groups a good workout. They tend to work your core continuously regardless of what you are doing because they are an unstable weight. They also provide functional training that can provide greater mobility in your day-to-day life. So, yes, worth it.
How heavy should my sandbag be?
You will probably be aiming to lift as much with a sandbag as your do with a barbel. But if you try this, you will probably find that it is impossible. You will want to start with a weight 25-50% lighter than your stable weight, and slowly build up.
While consistency is what gets results, variation can open up gains that you didn’t even know that you were missing. Sandbags can be a great piece of equipment to provide that variation when working on muscle strength.
The uneven weight of the bag adds a new challenge that works small muscle groups and pushes your functional fitness.
Adding a sandbag session or two into your regime each week might be just what you need to break through a plateau.
- Full-Body Sandbag Workouts – Coach Mag
- Sandbag Exercises: Burn Belly Fat, Build Muscle – Men’s Health
Last update on 2023-11-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API