it comes to training equipment,
there's nothing more low-tech than
a bag of sand (except maybe a rock!).
Could sandbag training be the key
you're looking for to take your
physique to the next level? Find
first time I worked with a sandbag
was actually many years ago...I
was a short-track speedskater when
I was a teenager and one of the
training techniques I used was a
slideboard...then I'd have a tiretube
filled with sand slung across my
back (which weighed about 50 lbs).
I'd slide back and forth in a skating
motion to build back and leg strength.
was GREAT training, let me tell
when I first came across Josh Henkin's
sandbags, I knew exactly how effective
sandbag training could be.
I know...I just gave away the ending
to the review...sandbags are excellent).
is a strength coach down in Scottsdale,
AZ - very knowledgeable and very
creative in his training methods
(you won't find any machines in
his facility...ropes, sandbags,
clubs, maces, Olympic weights, yes).
to the bags...
tell you right up front, you can't
go wrong with Josh's sandbags. These
things are built rock-solid. And
sandbag training is truly some of
THE most functional training you
the thing...sand is VERY unstable.
Lifting a sandbag is NOT like lifting
barbells or dumbells. Sand shifts
constantly as you're lifting it
- it slides around and changes shape.
EVERY exercise you do is an exercise
in stabilization training.
means more practical strength can
be built AND more overall calories
will be burned in a given workout.
can do a multitude of exercises
with sandbags, ranging from almost
all the conventional stuff like
presses, curls, rows, etc. to exercises
that can ONLY be done with sandbags,
like bearhug walking, pizza tosses,
shouldering, that kind of thing.
have to say, for a person like me
who LOVES unique training methods,
the sandbag has been a GOLDMINE
of cool stuff. I even got one of
these for my 74year old father (and
he loves it, too!). I'm going to
share a few of those with you later
in this review so you can see what
I'm talking about.
of Sandbag Training
let's talk about the "pros"
of sandbag training in general.
mentioned this above. Whenever you
use the sandbag for an exercise,
the sand never stays in the same
position. If you've ever gone for
a run in the sand, it's a similar
concept. The shifting of the sand
requires MUCH greater activation
of your stabilizer muscles.
training is about the most functional
training you can do. Forget standing
on a Bosu ball catching bean bags.
Stand on the floor and heave a sandbag
up to your shoulder then bring it
down to your midsection, then heave
it up to your other shoulder. THAT
Practical and Safe
you train at home, the sandbag will
soon be your best friend. It takes
up very little space (it's a bag
of sand!) and you can do a TON of
exercises with it. You can also
drop it without breaking it AND
without breaking your floor. You
can also drop it on your foot and
your toe won't shoot across the
room (which is always nice!).
sandbag is also excellent for training
while travelling (more so by car
than by plane, of course, unless
you empty the sand out and fill
it back up again when you arrive
at your destination). Just throw
the sandbag in your trunk and you're
set. It has the added bonus of being
very useful if you're travelling
in the winter and find yourself
stuck in the snow!
number of exercises and movements
you can do with a sandbag is staggering.
Josh has a TON of exercises you
can work with just on his YouTube
channel. I've been busy coming up
with all kinds of unique things.
And I have to say, I'm sure I've
only just scratched the surface
of what can be done with it.
me, machine training is boring.
There's no challenge to it other
than moving the handles forward
and backward against resistance.
Dull as dirt.
sandbag training, you have to get
your mind into it. If you don't,
you drop the bag. It's challenging
AND athletic. To me, that's fun.
You have to constantly keep your
mind on what you're doing and you're
constantly challenging your body
to react and adapt.
Targets the Right Muscle Fibers
For Maximizing Results
the thing...when you heave a bag
of sand off the floor, you're working
the explosive Type II muscle fibers.
These are the fibers that have the
most growth and strength potential.
Certainly, you can do some endurance
work with sandbags but for strength-building,
THAT is where they shine.
Works Your Body as a UNIT
of my favorite things about sandbag
training is that it works your body
as a complete unit rather than in
parts. When you push-press a sandbag
or clean it off the floor or heave
it over your shoulder, you're not
doing a shoulder exercise...you're
doing a total-body exercise. This
means you're getting more done in
your workouts, you're burning more
calories, boosting your metabolism
AND teaching your body how to function
as a whole, not as a bunch of separate,
of Sandbag Training
are a few negatives when it comes
to sandbag training...not many,
though, and you should definitely
NOT let them stop you from trying
It CAN Be Messy If Your Bag Leaks
is, after all, a bag of sand. This
can easily be solved by using a
good quality bag (I'll tell you
later what Josh did to make sure
his sandbags don't make a mess).
a sandbag off the ground and up
to your shoulder isn't something
you do the first time you use a
sandbag, especially if you've been
more used to machines and more "linear"
movement like bench press and pulldowns.
training takes some getting used
to and it's important to learn proper
form, especially considering how
unstable the bags can be. There's
a lot of room for error when doing
a simple dumbell curl - when you're
heaving a sandbag from the floor
up to your shoulders, learning proper
technique is important for safety
and best results.
You WILL Get Sore
can be a pro or a con, depending
on your outlook :) Because sandbag
training is so radically different
than machines and even a lot of
free weight training, soreness will
happen. It IS a good thing, though,
because it means you're working
muscles that rarely get worked and
you'll be a stronger person for
So those are your pros and cons...time
to talk more specifically about
Josh Henkin's sandbags.
has done a masterful job of maximizing
the pros and minimizing the cons
of sandbag training with his bags.
keep the sand from spilling out,
even during the toughest abuse,
Josh uses a tightly-sealed inner
bag where the sand actually goes
into, and a heavy-duty canvas zippered
outer bag, where all the straps
and handles are.
combination really minimizes spillage.
I do get an occasional puff of dust
out of the bag when I drop it from
high up but it's hardly anything
multitude of handles and straps
on the bags make them EXTREMELY
useful for any number of exercises...much
more so than the tiretube full of
sand I used when I was younger.
when it comes to toughness and quality
of materials, Josh has definitely
NOT taken any shortcuts. You can
beat the crap out of these bags
and they won't break. I've literally
held my bag at arms-length overhead
and slammed it to the ground as
hard as I could and it came away
just fine (the impact did set off
the sump pump in my basement home-gym,
but that's about it).
is top-quality workmanship that'll
last you a LONG time.
sandbags are also available in a
number of sizes and potential weights
(I say potential because they don't
ship with sand included - you can
just go to a home improvement store
and buy playground sand for about
3 bucks per 50 lb bag).
have a medium bag, which holds a
filler bag of 50 lbs and a filler
bag of 20 lbs (70 lbs total). This
is a great place to start - you
can do a LOT of exercises with this
size of bag.
next purchase is going to be the
large bag that holds up to 140 lbs.
Josh also has small bags which hold
up to 30 lbs (a 20 lb filler bag
and a 10 lb filler bag).
basically, he's got bags for EVERY
level of trainer and every range
of weight you need. These bags and
filler bags are available in package
also got plenty of information available
on HOW to use the sandbags, both
on his free YouTube channel and
in several instructional books and
DVD's that he offers on his site.
you haven't gathered by now, I'm
a big fan of sandbag training. As
training equipment goes, I'd say
having at least one in your arsenal
is a MUST.
if you normally train at a commercial
gym, having a sandbag available
at home is perfect for days when
you can't make it to the gym but
still want to get in a challenging
workout. Heck, maybe you can convince
your gym to get some sandbags for
members to use!
line, I HIGHLY recommend sandbag
training and Josh Henkin's bags
are the best in the business.
is where the sandbags really
shine. You can perform many
varieties of squats, lunges,
split squats, presses (close
grip for triceps and overhead
for shouders), cleans, throws,
snatches, abdominal supports,
weighted push-ups (with the
bag on your back), carries
(over your shoulder, on your
back, cradled in your arms,
in a bearhug), Turkish Get-Ups
(starting laying your back
then getting up while holding
the sandbag), overhead squats
and lunges, good mornings,
it, you can pretty much find
a way to do it.
exercise starts with the
sandbag on the floor.
Grab it by the handles,
squat down then heave
it up and over your head
in one powerful pull,
moving your torso forward
and down so you catch
the bag on your upper
back as the bag goes overhead.
grab the handles then
clean the bag to your
shoulders. The bag will
across your upper arms
in the start position
with your hands still
on the handles.
down then "pop"
up with the bag in a
push-press type of movement.
The bag clears your
head then you catch
it on your upper back.
Squat down again then
bag up and back over
your head and catch
it on the front again.
first few times you
do this exercise, use
a stop-and-go movement,
just to make sure you've
got the mechanics down.
The version you see
below is a continuous
pop, going straight
from front to back to
front, etc. without
any stopping. This takes
practice but works INCREDIBLY
well for building explosive
power (and cardio capacity).
the bag up to a cradle
position. In this position,
you've just got the
bag cradled in your
arms, without holding
on to any straps.
comes the fun part...
down a bit then heave
the bag up in the air.
But instead of throwing
it straight up, instead
heave it more with your
right arm so the bag
does a 180 degree turn
in the air.
the bag in your arms
again. Now repeat in
the OTHER direction,
flipping the bag back
over in the air.
time you throw it and
catch it in this rotational
manner, you're working
your core EXTREMELY
hard, especially the
obliques. This rotational
type of movement is
very beneficial for
and core strength.
for some high-intensity
cardio training. This
is NOT aeobic training
by any stretch of
the imagination. Each
burst lasts about
a minute (the demo
includes 3 separate
this is just like
the shuttle runs where
you grab a bean bag
and set it down then
run back and touch
the floor then grab
another bean bag and
set it down.
difference here is
that you'll be using
a heavy sandbag instead
of a bean bag! You
can carry it on your
back, throw it over
a shoulder, cradle-carry
is one version where
you never actually
set the bag down but
carry it on one shoulder
at a time while you
do a shuttle run,
touching the ground
at each turn. If you
can imagine repeatedly
running and touching
the ground with a
70 lb bag of sand
on your shoulder,
you'll see how great
this stuff really
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