I’ve been focusing more on training strength and power since winter–especially exercises requiring multiple muscle groups like squats and bench press. As athletes improve these movements, they often need to use pretty heavy weights. But having big dumbbells, Olympic bars, and bumper plates takes up a lot of space in a home gym and can get really expensive.
I know what you’re thinking, but I still refuse to purchase a gym membership. There’s a new Planet Fitness nearby that wouldn’t look too kindly on my lame attempts at lifting. Plus I hear (trying) to “pick things up and put them down” offends the people talking on their cellphones while working out.
So I decided to modify an old sandbag. I combined the sand from a lighter bag to make this one extra heavy. With the extra weight, there’s no way I could grip the sides of the bag to lift it. That’s why I used some ratcheting straps for handles and because the ones sewn on would easily rip off. I also duct taped the hooks to keep them from opening up while raising or lowering the bag.
I tried this bag for deadlifts today, and it worked pretty well. I pulled both conventional and sumo deadlifts. Sumo-style worked a little better for me because the size of the bag and the slack in the handles makes it hard to pull straight up with the legs close together.
There are a few advantages to lifting a sandbag as opposed to a bar. First off, you can drop it with impunity. It won’t bounce anywhere or break the floor. You can’t really hurt yourself with it either, unless you manage to get under it.
The downside is that there’s a limit to how much weight you can add. I have sand in this one, but you could switch to pea gravel or drainage rock to increase resistance. (Bags run at about $4.) Also, use is limited: a heavy sandbag won’t work for a lot of other exercises (e.g. clean and press, snatches, sandbag burpees) because even if you can handle a lot of weight, it will likely be too unwieldy and unsafe.
I enjoyed lifting this bag today, and I look forward to getting better at it in future workouts. And that’s my home training solution for the month. If you have any other suggestions for DIY-fitness projects, let us know!