Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Bruteforce Sandbag Review

Right off the bat I’ve got to say I’m extremely happy with my bruteforce sandbag and that I think everyone and every gym should get one. I bought the black strongman shell, I really wanted the digicamo but at the time they only offered the shells in black (I would have needed to buy a kit with inner bags to get the digicamo). Since buying mine they now sell shells in any colour.  At the time I didn’t have the cash to get the inner bags, so I decided just to use my own inner bags (seen here) but these eventually started to leak sand, no big deal but the bruteforce inner bags would have been better.

The product information that came with the bag only warned that hitting it with a sledgehammer wouldn’t be good for it and not to set it on fire, all else is fair game. Sounds pretty tough to me. I’ve been dropping it from overhead and shoulder height for months now and never seen any sand left on the concrete, and no damage to the bag, so I’m happy.

The weight limit on the bag is just under 55 kg which is plenty of weight for most movements, but quite light for dead lifts. However Mark De Grasse from My Mad Methods loaded his up with kettlebells to 300 pounds for dead lifts with no issues from the bag or handles. And on the bruteforce facebook page there’s a photo of a bruteforce bag with 900 pounds hanging from a handle, so it would seem the weight limit is really just a limit on how much sand the bag can hold. Meaning you could probably build up to quite a bit of weight for dead lifts if you have the plates or kettlebells for weighting the bag, no barbell necessary.

The bag is great in terms of usability, leagues ahead of any homemade bag. The 8 handles are all useful for simulating most movements you can think of and the material itself is easy to grab a handful of. The material isn’t abrasive, so it’s not going to take your skin off if you want to do some shirtless shoulder get ups etc. The bag packs down to smaller than a sleeping bag, so it travels well, and looks like it could be hosed out easily, though I haven’t tried.
All in all, I think a bruteforce sandbag is an excellent addition to any backyard, garage or commercial gym and is well worth the money. Next up I’d like to get one of the barebones kits to really test my grip strength.

For Matt Palfrey's guest post on the benefits of sandbag training click here, or you can go directly to the source for workouts and other articles - Sandbag fitness. Matt has also produced an ebook on sandbag training with 30 weeks worth of programs, stay tuned for a review of that too. And if this post convinces you to buy a bruteforce sandbag, please head over for sandbag fitness and follow the links for there.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Updates and revisions

It has been a long time since I’ve posted anything here, not that I haven’t been busy with training etc, but I was finishing my Masters of Science thesis. It’s done now so I can get back to writing articles for back-to-primal. I was still training and building over my absence from here, so I have quite a few articles in mind so stay tuned.

Now for some revisions:

Some of the gear I build broke down, gave out, or has been modified since I posted it here. So I’ll go over some of the change I’ve made.

First up my gymnastic rings set up. I used quite cheap and thin straps; they were rated to hold my weight, but should not have been left out in the weather. Added to this, the straps spent their whole life rubbing against the edge of the beam I hung them on. So one day when I went out to do some ring assisted pistols and the strap just gave way and I fell flat on my ass. Switch to the other strap and that too gave way. I’m really lucky not to have the straps give way while skinning the cat, or attempting a back lever.

So this is my 2.0 set up. I went out and bought a second set of straps and a pair of bolts which I set into the wooden beam. I can now hook my straps into the bolt, the way the straps were designed. I can also take my straps down easily, so they don’t perish in the sun again. Moral of the story – don’t leave your straps out in the weather.

The second change I made to my rings was to cut the rope out and replace it with heavier straps. The rope was looking a bit perished from the sun and I didn’t want to risk them giving out too. The new straps (plus the hook I added) give me more options when setting up my rings, and are much safer than the rope set up I had.

Me using the version 2.0 rings with my homemade weight belt.

As for the sand bags, the larger 30 kg bag I built got very little use. The ropes I used were to thin, and difficult to use. Maybe some larger webbing would have worked better. But in the end, the outer bag wasn’t UV treated and just fell apart after summer. Luckily the inner bags stayed together.

Anyway, I bought myself a brute force sandbag (see my review) and used the inner bags for that. The only issue I’ve had with my inner bags is that I used very fine sand for filler which has worked its way out of the bags slowly. I’ve since put two of the inner bags into thick plastic bags to contain the sand. I may yet do this for all of my inner bags.

Finally my medicine ball has been padded and wrapped in a cheap camping mat ($10 NZ) to use as a slam ball. Its working really well, the duct tape is a little slippery, but that adds to the fun. I could tape it up with paper tape or something similar to add grip, but I’m happy with it for now.

That’s all my revisions for now. Stay tuned for more articles to come.