Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Homemade sandbags

Sandbags are a cheap, but invaluable and versatile pieces of training equipment which I think everyone should own, or at least have access too, however this article isn’t about why you should train with a sandbag, for that see the article here.

Edit - After some use I made changes to the sandbags seen here. The changes are detailed here.

Tied and duct taped.
To make my sandbags I bought 10 woven plastic bags (actually called sandbags), these were $1NZ each but I think you can get them in the US for 25c each. I filled 5 bags with 10Kg (22lb) of sand each, they could hold 20Kg, but this would not allow for the sand to move around much which is an important element in making the sandbag different from conventional weights. I tied and duct taped each bag closed and then double bagged them all giving me five 10Kg filler bags. The 50kg’s of sand cost me only $12NZ.

I felt like 40kg (88lb) would be a good starting weight for me so I put 4 filler bags into a larger firewood bag ($1.20 each), this was then tied, duct taped and double bagged. Again I didn’t do this too tight, and left room for the sand to move about; this also gave me material to grab in a pinch grip.

I gave it a test and I could overhead press and squat it, but because of the weight I couldn’t do several sets of these, or any high rep work (10+ reps) which is what I want to do. So I had to remove one of the filler bags. Once I had retied and taped the bag I then tied some ropes around the top of the bag to act as handles, useful for lifts such as the zercher clean. And because I left it loose when tieing it up there is enough material on the sides to get a good pinch grip – great for grip strength.

Double bagged and put in a fire wood bag.
I didn’t have a large duffel bag to put the garden bag into, but it’s not really necessary, as the bags I used are strong and should hold up to some abuse. If I happen to find a large duffel bag I’ll probably use it, which will make adding weight easier.

I still had two filler bags left over so I decided to put these into a small duffel bag I had to make a 20Kg sandbag. This size will work well for higher rep work until I build up the strength to use the 30kg bag.

Duct tape is invaluable.
As I worked out with the 20kg duffel bag one of the sides split open (it’s a really old bag), but a few rounds of duct tape fixed that and it should hold well. The filler bags inside are much stronger and I’m not worried about them opening up.

I’m happy with how the two bags turned out, in total it took less than an hour to make them and cost about $25NZ. If you can, I suggest making several sandbags of different sizes. These smaller sandbags are great now, but if I wanted a larger bag (50Kg or more) I would probably buy a Brute Force Sandbag.

Here are some closing thoughts on sandbag construction:

-The filler bags worked out great; they are strong and allow the sand to move around. If you’re making a sandbag I strongly suggest these.

-If you can, buy a strong duffel bag, or canvas bag which you can open and close easily to change the weight. I’m stuck with a 30kg and a 20kg bag now, unless I want to cut the duct tape off and move the filler bags around.

-While handles are not necessary, and you will build your grip strength without them, some lifts will require handles, such as the zercher cleans.

-Check out Sandbagfitness or My Mad Methods for workout ideas, and information on correct form.

I hope you have gleaned some ideas from this write up, there are lots of other guides around on how to make a homemade sandbag so do a Google search and see how others have made their sandbags.

 "Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own." — Bruce Lee


  1. Great post! Experiment with cutting the handles/straps off. They may get in the way. For fillers, you should be able to pick up extremely cheap pillowcases that have zippers. Put clean pea gravel inside a pillowcase and that one in another one and so on. You'll get the shifting of the sand but with the clean of pea gravel, so less mess!

    Keith- Brute Force

  2. Third paragraph: I think you mean to say that you filled your 22lb capacity bags. With 20lb's of sand.

    1. The capacity of the bags is about 44lb (20kg). By filling them with only half that (10kg) the sand can move around a lot more, making all the lifts harder.

  3. The kind of sandbags used in movie production would seem to me to be ideal for this kind of thing. Going to do some experimentation with them. They have handles at roughly the center of the bag, so that they can be placed on the leg of a light stand to keep it secure. Going to check this out and report back on my fitness blogs, lessfatchick.com and otagenki.com .

    1. That sounds pretty good, hope it works well. I would suggest getting small, medium and heavy bags for different movements, heavy sandbags are a lot of fun.

      I had a quick look around your blog, will have to go back at read some more, all the best for your fitness and weight loss.

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