Sandbag Training on the Go

In fitness, strength and conditioning, and general health there is a tendency to focus on

the details regarding the effectiveness of various methods and training tools. But we often
lose sight of the most significant factor of all – are you going to stick with it in the first
place? After all, the best program and equipment in the world are pointless if people don’t
use them consistently.

By removing certain barriers to exercise we dramatically increase the potential for any
individual to stick to a particular training program. This article will focus on one very
specific advantage of the sandbag – the fact that it is one of the most portable resistance
training tools available.

Training on the Go

How many training tools can you name that you can take with you when you leave the
house or go travelling long distance? Bodyweight training is obviously an option,
suspension trainers work pretty well and elastic resistance bands are another that comes
to mind. But what else is there? If you want to get a really good lifting workout and you
don’t have access to a gym (or don’t want to visit one) then there’s really not a great deal
else. Apart, of course, for the sandbag. Sure you can get a good workout with those other
tools but if you want to lift something heavy (the Heavy Hitter loads to over 200lbs) then
they just won’t cut it.

The sandbag weighs very little when empty and can be folded down to a very small size.
Hell, you could even use it as your travel bag if you wanted to be smart. So, travelling
with the sandbag is a simple proposition. Now, when you arrive and want to workout you
just have to find yourself some sand.

Searching For Sand

Your options are, in part, dictated by the length of time that you’re likely to be in this new
destination. Here are some common scenarios with practical solutions for setting yourself
up to workout on the go:

1. Beach Holiday

You hit the jackpot! Not only do you get to enjoy the beach but you also have a near inexhaustible supply of sand for your bag. Just fill it each time you go to the beach to
train and then empty it when you’re done. Just be sure to check that the sand doesn’t
have any debris, such as sticks or stones, in it before filling your bag.

The beach is also a great option for your sandbag training workouts as it is perfect for
drags and throws, and you don’t need to worry about cleaning up any sand you might

Pro-Tip: wet sand is heavy! Take this into account when filling your bag.

2. City Break

While harder than the beach holiday, a city break still offers numerous opportunities to get
a good sandbag workout. The easiest option is to find a children’s playground with a
sandpit in it. These are pretty common and I’m sure they won’t mind you borrowing their
sand for a short while – just be sure to put it back when you’re finished!

Playgrounds are also great locations because you’ll be able to utilise much of the
equipment too. Climbing frames for Pull-Ups, ropes for climbing and benches for Box
Jumps and Dips – these all work well as additions to your sandbag workout.

Pro-Tip: try to get your workout done outside of peak times. Doing your sandbag training
session when the park is full of children and parents can be tricky, to say the least.

3. Purchase Some Sand

One of the best things about sandbag training is that sand is such an affordable
commodity. 50lbs of sand will normally cost you around $5.00
Convert. When it’s that cheap you can
afford to purchase some for the duration of your trip and then dispose of it when you
leave. Just find a local hardware store or ask around to see if there are any locals who
know the best places to get it from.

Pro-Tip: regular building sand (generally the cheapest stuff) is perfect for sandbag
training. It’s actually better than the more expensive, ultra-refined sand (sometimes called
play sand) because that tends to have more dust within it.

What Workouts Should You Do?

Well, that’s exactly the thing – because you’re able to take your regular training tool with

you there’s nothing to stop you following your regular training program. I’m not one of
those people who like to do nothing and have the entire duration of a trip away from
training, after all I love training and it’s not a chore for me so why would I stop when I’m
on holiday? If you travel regularly, then you’ll also appreciate that progress can be very
slow going if you don’t train while you’re away.

When I travel I do however take a more relaxed approach to my programming and often
try out new exercises. Why not use the time to try some variation in your workouts too?

How do you stay fit while travelling? We’d love to hear your comments below.

Sandbag Training and the CrossFit Ethos

If you’re into fitness training then it’s hard to ignore the impact that CrossFit has had on
the industry. At over 10,000 affiliated gyms, their rise in popularity has been rapid indeed.
If you scan various popular blogs and news sites you’ll quickly come across a post either
praising or damning it – there seems to be little balance when it comes to peoples views
surrounding CrossFit. Why is this? What has CrossFit done so right or wrong? In this
article we take a look…
Most people reading this won’t remember the early days of CrossFit and probably only
know it by its current incarnation of named WOD’s, the ever-expanding community and
the CrossFit Games. But early on in the development of the CrossFit movement, there
was less structure. In fact, you can still see some of the original challenges on their
website here:
Despite the limited structure there was clearly a strong desire to bring an element of
performance into fitness. Something that, although it existed, was perhaps not all that
common in the commercial fitness industry. For many years the commercial fitness
industry was in fact overly focused on attendance. If you showed up then you were doing
things right. While consistency is important, we all know that intensity has a huge part to
An overly rigid viewpoint can stifle progress and that’s exactly what the fitness industry
had at that point in time – a pretty rigid view of how things should be done. There was
little new happening (save for the next BodyPump release) and the industry was crying
out for some creativity. CrossFit sparked the imagination of a number of people who were
looking for something new.
Fast forward a decade or so and there is an incredibly passionate community of
CrossFitters worldwide, and also an incredibly passionate group of people who think
CrossFit is a bad idea.
The thing is, despite all of the negativity surrounding CrossFit, the ethos is difficult to
fault. At its heart, the CrossFit ethos is about looking outside of your existing skills and
experience to find ways to improve. You can argue until you’re blue in the face about
specificity but the basic concept is sound. It’s really no surprise that the CrossFit
movement is courting such controversy – after all, it has forced many traditional fitness
training methods to closely examine their effectiveness. And when you upset the apple
cart, apples get spilled…
What Does it Mean to be a CrossFitter?
I imagine everyone has their own views on this, largely governed by their particular goals
and the elements of CrossFit that they’ve been exposed to. For me, it’s not specifically
about the games or the WOD’s or even the general exercise selection. It’s about looking
at your current training and taking a multidisciplinary approach to improving it. It starts
and ends with the CrossFit ethos – looking outside of your existing skills and experience
to find ways to improve.
Yes, beginners will undoubtedly end up following the path of someone before them and
that might not be quite right. But isn’t that true of beginners in all fields? We learn, fail,
correct and develop – over and over again.
The intrinsic value of the CrossFit community is that we now have a large group of
individuals who value continued improvement. The danger comes from assuming that
improvement for all is achieved with a simple formula and that, if you follow this formula,
you’ll achieve the same results. The true value of CrossFit, and the key to the success of
the very best CrossFitters, is the ability to make your own choices regarding what works
for you. Follow the pack when you need to, but be brave enough to break away if
required. Isn’t that true with most things?
What Does All of This Have to Do With Sandbag Training?
CrossFit made great leaps in the field of performance-based fitness by looking at the
current state of fitness and asking “does this work?” and “how can we improve this?”.
How often do you look at your own training and ask the same questions?
Are there better ways for you to train with your sandbag?
• Do you need to integrate other forms of training e.g. bodyweight, yoga, swimming to get
better results?
• Are you training at the right intensity?
• Could you adjust the performance elements of your workouts to encourage better
As always, we’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below – how do you
-Matthew Palfrey, Brute Force Europe

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