DIY SANDBAG CARDIO
By Roger Lockridge
Reprinted from Muscle Media for Women
How many of you out there read Muscle Media every month on your tablet or lap top while sitting on a recumbent bike, pedaling on an elliptical, or walking on a treadmill? It’s likely that several of you do and why wouldn’t you? Muscle Media is a great source that can inspire you to keep moving when you might want to stop early and inform you of better ways to train that you can try out for yourself while you’re there at the gym. It also makes sense that you choose to read this magazine while you’re doing cardio because as much as it’s necessary to do, it can be boring pedaling or walking in place for minute after minute and mile after mile. Having something else to do can take your mind of the mundane task you’re doing so time passes by faster. Wouldn’t it be great if you could burn fat, get a great workout, and not have to commit more hours in the gym? It would also be great if it wasn’t expensive and it could be done from home. If you have around $30, are looking for a new way to train, and can spare around 30 minutes a day then keep reading.
Sandbag Training has taken off in recent years but has been around for a long time. Working out with sandbags is most popular in the Mixed Martial Arts community as well as in wrestling and other combat sports. It is a training style that should be used by everyone regardless of their background and what their goals may be. The premise is simple. You use the sandbag as resistance on many different exercises as well as during intense cardio activity. Sandbags are not solid objects like a barbell or dumbbell are so you have to make more effort to control them and using a sandbag will engage the core more. They are similar to free weights and better than machines because you’re not restricted by a fixed motion as you would be when pedaling on a bike or elliptical. Sandbag training can and will help you improve your fitness levels on all fronts. They’re also not very expensive and you can find them in many of the top sporting goods store. If you’re looking for a less expensive option, then you can work on the Do It Yourself version of the sandbag.
Get a quality duffle bag, a 50 pound bag of sand, a trash bag, a scale, and some duct tape. Place the trash bag on the scale and start pouring the sand in until the scale shows your desired weight (25 pounds is good but if you’re stronger, then place the whole 50 pound bag itself in the trash bag.) Tie the trash bag shut, fold it over as many times as possible, and use the duct tape to wrap it up. Place the trash bag with the sand in the duffle bag and zip it closed. If you get a quality bag then this should cost you less than $30 to make.
Trying It Out
Now that you’ve either bought your sandbag or made the DIY version, it’s time to try it out. First you should pick it up and press it overhead. Bring it to your shoulders by cleaning it up. Then while holding the handles or sides of the bag, press it over your head. Next, bring it down to your shoulders again and perform a front squat. Make sure when you squat down that your thighs go below parallel. Finally, place it on either shoulder and run for a minute or so. Once you’ve done all three tasks, place the bag down on the ground in front of you.
You’re doing these tests for two reasons. The first is you want to make sure the bag is strong enough to handle what you will be using it for. If not, take it back to the store or get a better duffle bag if you went the DIY route. Second, you want to make sure the resistance is right for you. You want it to be light enough that you can handle it over a longer period of time but you also want to be a weight that you can feel as quality resistance. If it’s too heavy for you, take out the trash bag and remove some of the sand. If it’s too light, place the trash bag back on the scale, open it up, and add more sand until it is at your desired weight.
Time to Train
Now that we’ve got our sandbag where we want it, let’s break it in. There are two workouts for you to choose from so you can get quality workouts done in less than 20 minutes. One is a combination of weight training and cardiovascular while the other is a version of High Intensity Interval Training.
The 100 is simply put, 100 total reps. You shouldn’t be able to perform all 100 in a row though. You start with weight that would result in failure around 20 or 25 reps. Let’s use an example and say an athlete gets 25 reps. You subtract 100 from 25 and get 75. This means you would rest for 75 seconds before your next set. When you start your new set, don’t begin counting at 1 again. Instead, pick up where you left off at your last set. So for our athlete who got 25 reps, he would start with 26. Let’s say this time he makes it to 50. Now he subtracts 50 from 100 and he only gets 50 seconds for his second rest. Next set, he starts with 51. This pattern repeats until he gets 100 reps total. It might take you four sets or ten but keep going until you hit 100. That means as the sets progress and you get closer to 100 total reps, the amount of rest decreases each time. So if you’re at 90 total reps at one point and need to stop, you only get 10 seconds rest. This is where the cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance is put to the test.
You will perform three exercises with the 100 system. They will be overhead sandbag shoulder press, front sandbag squats, and sandbag sit ups. Give yourself two minutes rest between each exercise once you’ve completed the 100 reps.
The 100 Sandbag Workout
Overhead Sandbag Shoulder Press – 100 total reps with as many sets as necessary.
Front Sandbag Squat – 100 total reps with as many sets as necessary.
Sandbag Situps – 100 total reps with as many sets as necessary.
Tabata Training Sandbag Style
If you’re not familiar with Tabata, it’s a version of High Intensity Interval Training that involves alternating 20 seconds of high intensity and all-out effort with a brief 10 second rest period until you’ve complete eight rounds which should take you a total of four minutes. If you’ve never done this before then that might not seem like much but if you truly give all you got during those 20 second bursts then four minutes will be plenty for you.
For the Tabata workout you will take the sandbag, hoist it over one of your shoulders, and sprint as fast as you can for 20 seconds. If you don’t have much space just sprint the distance of what space you have and go back to where you started. Just don’t stop until 20 seconds has passed. As soon as your time is up, drop the bag and catch your breath for 10 seconds. It will be quick so enjoy every second. Once your break ends, place the sandbag over the opposite shoulder that you used last time and go for another 20 second sprint. This pattern repeats until you made it four minutes which should be eight sprints. I assure you that the final sprint won’t be as fast as the first one was.
Once your Tabata Training is over, take a breather for a couple of minutes. After a brief two minute break, pick up your sandbag and start over because you have one more Tabata session to go. Four more minutes and eight more rounds is all there is standing between you and the finish line. It won’t be easy but keep moving and you can make it.
You can do sandbag training anywhere. Keep the bag at home, leave it in your car for when you go to the park or travel for business so you can get a good workout in at any time. If you really do love the gym that much, take it there too. What you should notice within a couple of months is improved fitness levels, a better body, and another way to make fitness fun for you and anyone else you share sandbag training with.
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