Perhaps no other piece of equipment defines ‘odd object’ strength training like workout sandbags do.
They’re awkward to move, require core strength and stability to handle, and offer a different strength training stimulus than barbells or dumbbells.
Training with sandbags can make you fitter, stronger, and better at CrossFit.
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Best Workout Sandbags
After all, CrossFit is a general physical preparedness (GPP) program, and there’s no better equipment out there to prepare you for the unknown than a bag full of sand awkwardly sloshing around.
Let’s look at this unique fitness tool, the benefits, how to apply it to your training, and the best sandbags on the market.
What is a Workout Sandbag?
They range in weight from 40lbs to over 400lbs (check out Rogue’s Strongman Sandbag) and are usually made from a durable synthetic material called cordua.
The best workout sandbags come with several handles so you can grip them in different ways. The more grip there are, the more exercises you’ll be able to perform with your sandbag.
Benefits of Sandbag Training
Sandbag training forces you to be strong in ways a barbell or set of dumbbells can’t replicate. Three benefits of sandbags include versatility, stability training, and injury prevention when learning new movements.
Get Fitter and Stronger
Sandbags, like barbells or dumbbells, can vary in their application depending on your goals. Want to increase your cardiovascular fitness? Do a Tabata sandbag workout. Looking to increase grip or lower back strength? Do heavy sandbags loads or carries up stairs. Workout sandbags are a versatile tool for your CrossFit training.
Stabilizer muscles include your abs, lower back, obliques, and even the smaller muscle groups in your arms, especially your grip. Your forearms may be rocked after a sandbag workout because your gripping muscles aren’t used to working so hard.
Practice Barbell Movements
Sandbags are also a great way to mimic barbell exercises for new CrossFitters. Lighter sandbags especially are useful for teaching components of the squat, deadlift, and especially the ‘catch’ portion of the clean and snatch. Sandbags can help prevent injuries for newer athletes.
How Much Weight Should I Use For Sandbag Training?
Weight depends on the exercises you want to practice or add to your training.
If you are learning a new exercise such as the squat clean, start with a lighter sandbag—between 40 and 80 lbs should do. For weighted carries, deadlifts, or Strongman exercises like a ground to shoulder, you can probably go heavier.
Also consider your fitness goals. High-rep, short rest sandbag training will improve your cardio, while low-rep, heavy weight sandbag training will make you stronger. It depends what you want out of it, too.
Considerations Before Buying
Here are a few things to consider before buying a new workout sandbag for your home gym.
The filler bags typically have a weight limit that cannot be exceeded. If you add too much sand or lead shot to them, you’ll risk ripping the material. Be sure to read this before you start filling up your new bag.
Many fitness companies sell filler bags as their primary workout sandbag option. This makes shipping much easier and saves the consumer money.
If you’re really feeling frugal, buy a contractor bag from a store like Home Depot and fill it with sand. It might only last you a few months (or workouts), but it’s a cheaper option if you’re in a pinch.
The point of sandbag training is that it’s awkward enough for your muscles to adapt. But all that shifting of weight means the bag needs to be durable enough to withstand a workout. Check the warranty on the bag before buying.
The sandbags we reviewed below are all made with cordura and military grade velcro. They will hold up for a long time, but you’ll feel it in the wallet. A cheaper alternative is a durable PVC shell, but these often don’t come much heavier than 40 lbs.
The lightest, cheapest options might cost you only $20. Up the weight or quality of sandbag, and you may shell out close to $200 for your sandbag. Choose a sandbag that fits both your fitness goals and budget.
Top Workout Sandbags Reviewed
Here are some wise words about the top sandbags on the market to help you make an informed choice.
Brute Force Sandbags
Nearly 300 reviews say the bag is durable, long-lasting, and great for all types of functional fitness training.
The wreck bag comes prefilled with bits of rubber, effectively eliminating this problem for users long-term. They sell between 25 and 70 lbs.
Rogue Strongman Sandbag
If you’re really looking to get strong training with odd objects, the Rogue Strongman sandbag is probably the best option out there. Ranging from 100 to 400 lbs, you can practice carries, stone loads, drags, and deadlifts with these behemoth bags.
These are filler bags, but Rogue details how to fill them with sand, rubber, and lead shot.
If they use it in CrossFit, Rogue probably has a killer solution for it. Such is the case for their sandbags, which range in weight from 40 to 220 lbs.
This option is surprisingly affordable, which isn’t always the case with Rogue equipment. You’ll need to fill the bags yourself.
Simply put, sandbags will make you stronger and fitter. They’ll train your core and stabilizer muscles in ways a barbell can’t.
They vary greatly in price and weight, but there are affordable options out there for any CrossFit box or home gym.
Whatever your goals are in the gym, this ‘odd object’ piece of equipment is versatile and durable enough to help you get there.