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Sandbag Fitness Log

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  • Sandbag Fitness Log

    I decided I wanted to start a log to keep track of my fitness goals. I am embarking on a fitness program based off of Coach Palfrey's book "A Complete Guide to Sandbag Training." It's a great book, and available on Amazon as an e-book for like 2.99. Well worth the price of admission. I also purchased a sandbag from Brute Force Sandbags: Army Green Strongman Sandbag Training Kit- 0-120 lbs (55 kg)

    So anyways, a bit about myself:

    Name: Jack
    Age: 23
    Location: Chicago Suburbs
    Weight/bodyfat: 228lbs/~24%
    Height: 6'3

    My fitness background has been kind of mixed. I was a varsity swimmer in highschool, but somehow I managed to swim 5k+ yards a day and still be covered in a nice layer of fat (the chips/mountain dew didn't help). I was always pretty weak, and never happy with myself. I left highschool around 200lbs.

    Flashforward to my sophomore year of college and things had gotten out of control. I was 260lbs, despite walking miles upon miles each day for school. I ate like garbage and had discovered the miracles of cheap beer. It was out of control, until one night on I was sick of it. I was up late and discovered "The Engine 2 Diet" from Rip Esseltyn. I went 100% organic vegan, and within six months I was down 50lbs. After that it was hard to be strict low fat, whole foods vegan, so I added in some salmon and fats to my diet and felt great-- got down to 185lbs (but only briefly).

    Six months later, I was about 200lbs and pretty damn healthy (but still weak). I was entering my senior year of college as a political science/economics major, and terrifyed of the economy I tried to join the Navy. I spent the whole summer working out, only to be humiliated during MEPS when I failed the physical tests due to weak knees.

    I first read the PB last summer, and started employing some principles. I still have a weakness for sugary iced coffee drinks, but it is getting better. This year I started a very competitive graduate program in public administration (like an MBA for the public sector), and I started to let me health go. Started the year at around 215lbs.

    In January, I started doing Starting Strength. I was so weak to start, I spent all of december working on bodyweight squats. I spent all of my money on good lifting shoes and coaching, only to burn out my back. I felt like death the entire time, but put on some great strength gains. Additionally, I put on about 15lbs, maybe half of which was muscle. I couldn't eat clean with it, I was always starving and on the move, so I'd convince myself that if I wanted to progress my next workout I'd need to down a shake at Wendy's.

    Ok so that was a long background. As part of my studies/work in the public sector, there is a strong belief in goal setting, so I thought I'd lay mine own out as well:

    SHORT-TERM GOALS (within a year):

    1. Weight: 228 ---> ~210lbs
    2. BF%: ~24% ---> <15%
    3. Pullups: 1.5 ---> 8+
    4. Pushups: 5 ---> 25+
    5. Run a 5k in under 30 minutes
    6. Get my deadlift up to 315lbs
    7. Get my squat up to 225lbs
    8. Get my mile time under 8 minutes
    9. Swim 50yards in under 30 seconds
    10. Swim 100yards in under 1:10

    LONG-TERM GOALS (more than a year):

    1. Weight: ~200lbs
    2. BF%: ~11%
    3. Pullups: 15+
    4. Pushups: 50+
    5. Run a 5k in under 24 minutes
    6. Get my deadlift up to 405lbs+
    7. Squat up to 315lbs+
    8. Mile time under 6 minutes
    9. Swim 50yards in under 27 seconds
    10. Swim 100yards in under 1:00

    So FINALLY, here is the first day of the Beginner's program:

    Day 1: Fitness test. The point is to retest at the end of the program. I did this yesterday afternoon (Friday May 3rds)

    Do as many reps as you can:

    1. Pushups: 5 reps ( )
    2. Air squats: 35 reps (I tried to do continuos and as fast as I could)
    3. Plank hold: 52 seconds

    Next, test out reps you can do with a medium-heavy sandbag. I had 2 filler bags in, one weighing 27.8 lbs and the other 35.6 lbs (63.4lbs total). I weighed them afterwards, and was surprised it was so light. Feels really heavy, haha.

    4. Overhead press: 11 reps (I can press 110lbs with a barbell 3x5...)
    5. Backsquat: 23 reps (I did these like breathing squats, so I really took my time. I followed with 20x pullovers, just to be authentic like the old-time bodybuilders )

    And finally, I had the endurance test

    Run 1k as fast as possible (I ran around a lake near me, judging from my experience probably more like 2k or more than a mile): Ran it in 7:45 seconds. Pushed it as hard as I could, thought I'd puke. I've been sprinting weekly for a while now, and this was so much harder. I hadn't ran that hard in years.

    I will keep updating with my progress, strength day is next! I'm supposed to take a week off, but I recover fairly quickly so I think I will start up after 48 hours or so of rest.

  • #2
    Great work on the Week 1 test Dickson! With those short term goals the 3 sandbag training programs will stand you in good stead, although you may need to add some additional swimming and occasional barbell work. I wouldn't worry about that during the Beginner program though, just focus on some high quality work and plenty of regular movement.

    Also, consider spreading out the sessions if you need to. They are listed as 2 strength and 2 conditioning per week but that is just a guideline. If you are short on time or you feel like you haven't recovered enough since the last session then just let them run over.
    Sandbag Training For MMA & Combat Sports
    Sandbag Training Guide on Kindle
    The Complete Guide To Sandbag Training
    Brute Force Sandbags - Health and Fitness eBooks, video, audio and workshops


    • #3
      Thanks, coach. I am going to start swimming again once my city outdoor pool opens up. Hoping that swimming and the sandbag strength/conditioning can lean me out during the summer, then going to hit the barbells again in the fall Starting Strength style.

      I am loving my sandbag. I do a few cleans during commercials or study breaks, and walk around the apartment now and then with it on my shoulder like it's a baby.

      Week 2, Strength 1
      Used all three bags for about ~80lbs
      5x5 Deadlift: Tried to do it without the handles but my grip gave out, so I held these at the top for about 5 seconds
      5x5 Back Squat: These were great, the form feels more normal than a barbell.
      3 sets of pullups to failure: 9 assisted /w chair, 5 negatives and 2 full chinups.
      3 sets of 20 around the worlds with the 35lb bag.

      Overall, a great session. Really nice to do it at home instead of the gym.


      • #4
        Sounds like a great plan! Glad you are enjoying training with the sandbag - I still love using mine after a good few years.
        Sandbag Training For MMA & Combat Sports
        Sandbag Training Guide on Kindle
        The Complete Guide To Sandbag Training
        Brute Force Sandbags - Health and Fitness eBooks, video, audio and workshops


        • #5
          So my weekend included helping the girlfriend move. I think a hundred trips to the car with heavy boxes of shoes/dresses/random craft supplies(she's a former RA) counts as a workout. It kind of interfered with my schedule, but oh well.

          Week 2, Day 2: Conditioning
          Run 800m, 30 sandbag cleans, run 800m.
          -I was a bit mixed about how I wanted to do this without leaving my beautiful sandbag unattended, so I thought I'd sling my 'bag over my shoulder and run 1/2 way around the lake with the bag. Turns out I didn't even make it to the lake with ~60lbs, damn it got heavy. So I did a heavy walk a few times around the block, brought the bag back to the house, did 30 cleans, and then did breathing sprints (run fast for 10 breaths, rest for 10 breaths, repeat).

          Liking it so far, now I just need to get more serious about my primal diet. I mainly need to stop drinking beer-- I've cut back to weekends...


          • #6
            Ok, so I think this log is teaching me an important lesson: I'm not very good at updating my log.

            The past week has been a bit intense with night classes and budget hearings (the fun of being a local government employee), so once I finish a workout, I forget to log it.

            My week's are not really 7 day weeks, but I want to finish the 10 week plan and every workout included, so it might come out to be more like 12 weeks.

            Week 2, Strength #2:
            Warmup: carrying the 90lb bag down my apartment stairs, to the car, and then walking from the parking lot for a 1/2 mile to my spot with the bag. All in 90 degree heat.
            3x5 heavy front squats
            3x5 heavy cleans
            3x5 heavy presses
            Cooldown: bringing the bag back to my apartment...

            Notes: Damn, this was tough. I tried to do 5x5, but realized after the 3rd squat set that I'd need to scale back if I wanted to finish with this much weight in the heat. Also, it is amazing how hard it is to carry a 90lb sandbag for a distance. Not being a manual laborer, I can't remember the last time I loaded my spine like that for time/distance. A walk around the lake with the heavy bag would be an epic feat (though I may need to see the Chiropractor the next day).


            • #7
              Hey Dickson, tracking workouts is one of those things that often gets left behind but it does make a real difference. It's funny that you mention how tough it is to just carry a heavy sandbag around - I'm a big fan of any sandbag load carries and normally suggest that people just start off getting used to moving the sandbag around. Keep up the good work!
              Sandbag Training For MMA & Combat Sports
              Sandbag Training Guide on Kindle
              The Complete Guide To Sandbag Training
              Brute Force Sandbags
     - Health and Fitness eBooks, video, audio and workshops


              • #8
                Yea I agree, it is good to keep a journal. I keep pretty good mental notes, and just forget to hop on the forums to right down what I did.

                Since my last update, I did two strength sessions:

                Week 3, Strength Session #1 and #2 hybrid:
                5x5 Backsquat
                5x5 Overhead Press
                3x20 "around the worlds".

                And on Saturday, my girlfriend wanted to use a guest pass at my gym that I'm still a member of ($19/month isn't killing me), so I decided to hit the barbells.

                Warmup: Kettlebell work
                3x5 Overhead Press: 105lbs, 100lbs, 95lbs
                1x5 Deadlift: 235lbs
                1x20 Stiff-legged deadlift: 135lbs
                Finisher: 1k rowing for time: 3:39


                • #9
                  Nice! How did you find the barbell work after training with the sandbag for a little while?

                  BTW, that's a pretty nice 1k time - do you row?
                  Sandbag Training For MMA & Combat Sports
                  Sandbag Training Guide on Kindle
                  The Complete Guide To Sandbag Training
                  Brute Force Sandbags
         - Health and Fitness eBooks, video, audio and workshops


                  • #10
                    It's been great, I didn't lose any strength while not being in the gym much, which makes me happy. I've been an amateur rower on the C2 machine for about 4 years now, and I guess I'm just a natural at it with my super long snake arms (38" dress shirts). I get a pretty long ROM, would just have to lose about 40lbs and get in better shape if I wanted to do it more.

                    So, I must suffer from program ADHD but I am switching things up. With my summer schedule I am able to make it to the gym more, and while I love my sandbag it just hasn't been the same for me as the barbell work. So what I am now doing is a Starting Strength routine (3x week barbells), but one of the days will be replaced with sandbag conditioning or swimming. I really like the "run 800m, sandbag cleans, run 800m" thing so I will keep them in my repertoire.

                    Here are my last 2 training sessions, my next barbell one is tonight:

                    5/31/13 (Friday)
                    Squat: Warmup, 3x5 at 115lbs
                    Notes: First barbell squat in a few months, so did a deload. I want to work with perfect form this time around. Felt great, but was pretty stiff afterwards.
                    BP: Warmup, 3x5 at 105lbs
                    Notes: Also good, I might have been able to go heavier but I wanted to start a little light to get my form down.
                    Powerclean: 5x3 at 45lbs:
                    Notes: Completely restarting, watching videos for form. Have been doing sandbag cleans at ~80lbs though.
                    Heavy Row Machine: 3x5 at 140lbs
                    Notes: Still struggling with pullups, so I used this as an assistance lift for pulling. I usually avoid machines, but thought I'd add it in until I think it is affecting my lifts.
                    Lat Pulldown Machine: 3x5 at 120lbs
                    Notes: Same as row

                    6/2/13 (Sunday)
                    Squat: Warmup, 3x5 at 125lbs
                    Notes: Went up 10lbs, felt good. Going DEEP, maybe too deep. Still need to work on not pausing at the bottom. Also need to buy a camera and do some form checks.
                    OHP: Warmup, 3x5 at 100lbs
                    Notes: I've gotten pretty familiar with the OHP, going well. Really able to grind these out when they get tough.
                    Deadlift: Warmup, 1x5 at 225lbs
                    Notes: Focused on grabbing the bar at the finger-base (?) so that my skin doesn't get torn. My chalk helps, and it made me pretty popular. Didn't mind lending it to the guy power cleaning, but I'm not sure the bro doing bar shrugs exactly needed it. Oh well.