Do you always skip strength workouts because you have no weights? Or can you never do sandbag workouts because you don't have a sandbag?
I love my strong, durable and and all-around great sandbag and use it at least a few times a week for my strength and conditioning workouts. But this bag is expensive, and unless you're a fitness professional and really need it for your work, you may not want to spend over a hundred bucks for one piece of workout equipment.
But that doesn't mean that you can't do sandbag workouts. You can go ahead and make your heavy bag right now. All you have to do is to pull out a duffel bag or a backpack from your closet, fill it with some heavy stuff, and you can do a lot of things with it–as always, conveniently in your back yard or living room, if you want to.
It can't get easier than that: You don't have to buy an expensive sandbag; You don't have to go to a gym; You don't need to leave your house at all. You do need to workout though 🙂
Five Reasons to Love Heavy Bag Training
Sandbags, or rice bags, or bags stuffed with any heavy stuff, are absolutely awesome workout tools. Here are some reasons why I like to use them in my own and my clients' workouts:
- They're unstable. That's one reason why many people don't like to use them, but I think it's awesome. You really have to work hard to keep the weight balanced. It's not easy! That means that you're constantly moving in multiple directions and work muscles in many different ways.
- They're hard to control. Another cool thing! The weight is moving around a bit, making it harder to manage. Again, your muscles get a little bit different stimulation than when lifting a stable object that is perfectly balanced.
- They're oddly shaped. Training with a heavy, oddly shaped bag may seem awkward at first. But because of that, even if you do same movements, you end up getting a slightly different workout every time.
- They mimic real life situations. In real life situations, we don't pick up perfect dumbbells or barbells. Whatever you pick up and carry in real life, outside of your workouts, is likely unstable and the weight distribution is uneven (your two grocery bags are unlikely the exact same weight), it's not staying motionless (anyone who has picked up a toddler knows that), and it's oddly shaped (a bunch of laundry that you pull out from the washing machine is definitely very oddly shaped).
- You can use them anywhere. You can create a heavy bag whenever you travel, using whatever things you have in hand. Don't rely on a hotel gym and don't use it as an excuse for not working out if it's crappy. Just tuck some clothes in your backpack and you can do a quick workout in any hotel room.
DIY: A Heavy Bag for Strength Workouts
So, here's what you need: A backpack or a duffel bag, and something to fill this bag with.
It's probably a good idea to use a bag that's old and you don't care about if it gets damaged. Then, you need something heavy to fill this bag with. I like to use rice bags in mine. Here are some tips:
- You can get one huge bag of rice that fits in your backpack or duffel bag. This backpack in the video below this 25 lbs rice bag in it.
- I recommend putting the rice bag in a backpack or duffel bag. You may think that you might as well lift the rice bag, but you can imagine how “fun” it is to clean it if this thin plastic bag happens to rip apart.
- Alternatively, you can buy several small bags of rice and put them in a bag tightly next to each other. That may be a better option if your bag is not too big and it doesn't fit the whole 25 lbs bag, or if you want to be able to add and remove weight from your bag when you're working out. For example, you may want to have heavier weight for squats or walking lunges and lighter for squat jumps.
- You can add other things to make the bag heavier, like clothes or books. If you're using books, make sure that they're placed nice and tight so they don't move around a whole lot. Moving around isn't a big deal if you're doing things like goblet squats, but for exercises where you're throw the bag around, like Ground to Shoulder exercise in the video below, you want to keep the filler items in place.
- Make sure that your bag is closed properly. You don't want the rice bags or heavy books flying around and hitting your head. Safety first!
A Sample Video: Exercising with DIY Heavy Backpack or Duffel Bag
In the following video, you can see a few exercises that you can do with your DIY stuffed backpack or duffel bag:
Here’s How to Do the Exercises:
Goblet Squat + Press
Hold the heavy bag close to your chest. Do a full squat, keeping your knees and toes in line. As you come up, press the bag overhead.
Clean & Press
This one is different from the first exercise in that you don't do a squat, but instead lower yourself as much as needed to pick the bag up from the ground. Then, come up and press the bag overhead.
For this one, it's a bit easier to use a duffel bag because of its shape, but it's definitely doable also with a bakcpack. Put the weight on your shoulders, just as if you were using a barbell. Do a full squat, keeping your knees and toes in line.
Pick your bag up from the ground, then press it overhead. Keeping your core strong, squat down as low as you can, then come up. Again, make sure that your knees and toes are in line.
Be careful when choosing weights for this exercise. Overhead movements require very good shoulder mobility. I recommend starting out with simply testing if you can bring your straight arms overhead and then squatting. If you can do that, still start with pretty light weight, especially if this exercise is new to you.
Ground to Shoulder
Stand with your legs about hip-width apart. The bag is between your legs. Lift the bag up, keeping the back strong and straight, and put the bag on your right shoulder. Put the bag back on the ground, then lift it up to your other shoulder.
If you haven't done sandbag workouts yet because you haven't had equipment for it, you can make your own heavy bag and start working out! Find some inspiration here and try out one of the workouts.
Let me know how it goes!
This post as an affiliate link in it, which is for a product that I personally use and recommend.