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 an exercise sandbag can make you fitter, stronger, and better at CrossFit. So what is the ultimate sandbag?
In A Hurry?
Here are our top picks:
Brute Force Sandbag
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Rogue Strongman Sandbags
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Rep Fitness V2 Sandbags
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Titan Fitness Training Sandbag
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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?
A workout sandbag is used in various functional training settings like CrossFit, adventure races, and as part of strength programs. The concept of lifting heavy things to increase functional strength is obviously not new and has been around for ages all across the globe.
A sand bag is literally that, a bag to carry weight like sand or some other material that allows you to exercise with it.
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.
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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 that will increase your fitness level in your CrossFit training.
Unlike a barbell, dumbbell, or other standard gym or other gym equipment, workout sandbags force your body to various supporting muscles known as the stabilizer muscles. Stabilizer muscles include your abs, lower back, obliques, and even the smaller muscle groups in your arms, especially your grip. Since the bag and the weight inside it can move, your body will need to dynamically use these different muscles to stabilize your motion. Also, 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.
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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 sandbag exercise. Check the warranty on the bag before buying.
Almost all of the sandbags we reviewed below are all made with 1000 Denier solution Dyed Cordura Nylon fabric and military grade Velcro. This material is a textured Nylon with excellent resistance to fading, abrasion, rot, and mildew. It is also machine washable, quick drying and water repellent. They are used for things such as courier bags, sporting goods, surfboard/ski carrying bags, and gun cases.
Other material that is also used to create sand bags is polyurethane leather. This is basically faux leather, and is a great alternative for real leather. It is a synthetic material made with high quality resins and a woven backings, and is very durable if made with high quality resin. This type of material is often used to make furniture.
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 goal and budget.
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How to fill a Sandbag
It may be obvious but, Sandbags do not come with sand. You have to buy the filler material separately. Most of the sandbags reviewed here come with a filler bag. You don't want to pack the sand directly in the bag. One reason is because it reduces the dust up from sand after repeatedly being dropped and thrown around.
The extra layer of containment is helpful for this purpose, but the key reason for an additional bag inside is to make it an adjustable weight bag.
The inner bag or the filler bag should be filled anywhere between half full to 3/4th full. Once you fill it, squeeze out any air and seal the bag with the Velcro. The bag should have a marker line for the maximum amount. Do not go past this line as there is a risk of the bag tearing. The movement in material due to this gap is also part of what makes the sandbag workout so special, making you use all those core muscles.
Alternate Materials to use to fill the sandbag
Most common material used is play sand. It is easily accessible, at your local hardware store and usually costs about $3 to $5 for a 50lb bag. Play sand is also better than most other sand because it does not dust up as much as others. However, there are other materials that may make sense for you as well. The two alternate materials we recommend are pea gravel and rubber mulch, or a combination of the two to achieve desired weights.
The benefit of Pea Gravel is that it is even less dusty, does not absorb moisture, and has all the same properties of sand. It moves easily within the bag. It is fairly affordable, and if you don't like it, you can always use it for landscaping in your backyard.
Rubber Mulch is also a good alternative, however it is much lighter. So this may be a good option if you want a lighter sandbag. It is an inorganic material so there is no fear of rot or molding. Just add the rubber mulch to your filler bags to reduce the weight of each bag.
Top Workout Sandbags Reviewed
You can always create a homemade sandbag once you understand that it is just a bag that holds sand. However, as you have learned, there is a lot more that goes into it. The handles, material that does not dust up, durability, and adjustability of weight are all important in our review of workout sandbags to find the best ones.
Here are some wise words about the top sandbags on the market to help you make an informed choice.
Overall #1 Pick
Brute Force Sandbag
- 8 total handles and 1000D Cordura military grade material
- Own App with workouts
- Made in USA by a trusted Brand; 2 year warranty
Made from 1000D mil spec Cordura material, Brute Force offers quite a line of sandbags to choose from. 19 different options ranging from color, to filler bags, to weights between 10 and 400 lbs. This material is also machine washable.
This durable sandbag has the most handles to choose holding it from, giving most variability in the functional positions you can hold it for your CrossFit WODs. The filler bag is made with a double velcro ensuring containment of sand, and no leaks.
Brute Force provides a 30 day money back guarantee, making it really easy to try it out and feel good about the long run with the sandbag. They also offer a 2 year warranty. This is much better than the industry standard of 1 year for most other providers, but not as good as Rogue Fitness' 3 year warranty on their Sandbags.
Lastly, Brute Force has their own CrossFit App which is a great pairing. They have multiple workouts for CrossFitters, and of course include workouts with Sandbags. If you are new to using Sandbags for functional training, we highly recommend downloading the Brute Force WOD app.
Nearly 650 reviews say the bag is durable, long-lasting, and great for all types of functional fitness training.
Rogue Strongman Sandbag
- Up to 400lb weight bag
- Built in filler bag
- Made in USA by a trusted Brand; 3 year warranty
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. There are six different bags to cover the range. They come in 100lb, 150lb, 200lb, 250lb, 300lb, and 400lb.
These have built in filler bags, and Rogue details how to fill them with sand, rubber, and lead shot on their product page. Like all Sandbags from Rogue, this one is also constructed with 1000D spec Cordura material making it rugged, and resistant to most environmental factors.
Lastly these sandbags are really heavy duty and for the strongest of us - as you may have noticed by the max range in the weight. They can handle drops, but the manufacturer points out that they are not meant to be slammed.
- 7 total handles, 20" to 42" in length range
- Extremerly durable 1000D Cordura material
- Made in USA by a trusted Brand; 3 year warranty
If they use it in CrossFit games, Rogue probably has a killer solution for it. Such is the case for their sandbags, which range in weight from 40 to 220 lbs.
The outer Sandbag and the inner bags are sold separately. You can get the funnel filler bag, or the traditional filler bag. The main difference comes into play in how you want to use it. If you prefer an adjustable weight bag to match different workouts, then the traditional filler bags are the option for you. It is very easy to quickly remove and add these filler bags.
The funnel filler bag is more budget friendly, but will lack in the ability to change weights often.
The product page provides a table which shows you how many of the traditional filler bags you need to buy based on the size of the larger outer bag.
The bag is extremely well built with 7 carrier handles giving room for a lot of different holds. The heavy duty Cordura material with Velcro flap closure will keep this bag leak free.
Lastly, as with their other sandbag, Rogue provides a 3 year warranty on these American made bags. So even though they may be pricier than the Brute Force bag, you will not have to worry about the quality of this top notch product.
Rep V2 Sandbag
- Most affordable pricing
- 25lbs to 200lbs range in weight
- Soft handles, and hand stitched with reinforced metal grommets
Working out with own sandbag at home should not be so expensive. This is what Rep Fitness has proven with their very affordable sandbag. At the time of writing, this bag was listed for $35. This is a great price.
Like all the other products here the Rep Fitness sandbag is also using 1000D spec Cordura material for all its rugged properties. The handles are soft, and the threading is reinforced with metal grommets. Their product ranges from 25lb bag to 200lb bags, each with varying filler bags, that are included.
Lastly this bag comes with a 1 year warranty, making this a solid pick at this price.
Titan Fitness Training Sandbag
- 6 total handles; with removable 10lb each weight bags
- 40lbs to 100lbs range in weight
- 1 year warranty
- Durable Polyurethane leather outer shell
Titan Fitness bucked the material trend here and went with a Polyurethane leather instead of the 1000D Cordura material like all others on this list. Also their handles have a unique rubber flexible soft grip handle. There are six of these durable handles which should allow you to use it for just about any exercise.
These sandbags range in size from 40lb to 100lb. One ding to the Titan Fitness brand is that they have had a hard time carrying inventory since Covid hit. Now in 2021 they are still out of some of the different sizes. So either they are selling really well, or the manufacturer is not holding enough inventory.
One nice feature of this bag is that each filler bag is set to 10lb weights. So you know exactly how much weight you are working out with when you are adding or removing the filler bags.
Manufacturer also recommends to use high density sand with this product. And as any other sandbag the sand is not included.
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 for your home workout.
Whatever your goals are in the gym, this ‘odd object’ piece of equipment is versatile and durable enough to help you get there.