This Is A Question We Hear Often - “Should I Invest In Barbells And Plates Or A Sandbag Or Two?”
Quick answer - both.
Oh, you want more of an explanation?
So first of all I am a massive fan of barbells and I do believe if you have the space and the budget, you should get a set.
This is not a hit piece aimed at painting barbells in a negative light.
I only aim to discuss the differences between the two.
First of all there is the cost.
Believe me, I wish it wasn’t so, but barbells are expensive. The average cost of a good quality barbell is £200. If you want the best, £400.
And that’s before you even add any weight on.
The barbell itself is 15kg - 20kg, that's great for high intensity reps, but hypertrophy or strength? Nope, too light.
So let's get ourselves a barbell set of about 50kg, to match the large version of the Heavy sandbag.
A 20kg middle of the range barbell and 30kgs in the middle of the range bumper plates is going to set you back a considerable £300.
A 50kg Heavy sandbag is going to set you back £135. (+£10 for 50kg of sand)
Enough of a saving to take your breath away.
Add in the racks for squatting and bench press, boy, you’re going to need financing for that lot.
Ok, Heavy wins on pound for pound cost.
But what about the workout variety?
Are there more things you can do with a sandbag?
Not only can you do all the same moves you can with a barbell - deadlifts, shoulder press, rows, chest press, biceps, squats, lunges...just about any barbell move you can think of, but you also get a whole other kind of movement option.
The more dynamic loading moves, like shouldering or throwing for example.
Add to that, the twisting movements, the variety of hugs and carries, and, well, sandbags take the cake again.
With a barbell? What? 4 variations? Pronated, supinated, alternated and the hook grip?
Heavy sandbags have 7 different handles for countless grip variations!
There are 2 neutral grip handles.
2 series handles for pronated/supinated/ alternated grips.
A carry handle for your farmers walk and a handle on each end for wide grip neutral positions.
That's about 10 different grips right there.
Flawless victory SANDBAGS.
Okay, but barbells can take MORE weight you say!
True, and that certainly counts when you are going for big deadlifts or squats
( Well, add on another £200 for a squat rack)
Lifting 50kg of sand is WAY harder than lifting 50kg of iron!
You bend over, grab 2 handles and prepare to lift a Heavy sandbag.
Suddenly, 10kgs of sand falls to the left, 15kgs falls forward and the rest falls backwards!
You find yourself quickly adjusting grip, core engagement, your forearms are screaming and you haven't even managed to get one rep out.
The sand shifts constantly in desperate attempts to stay on the ground, making every move with it is something that you need to be 100% focussed on and ready to change plans in an instant.
My favourite HEAVY day move is a 50kg back squat - first I have to wrestle it from the ground onto my shoulders and then bounce it around until it feels safe, only then can I bang out some squats.
Talk about bang for your buck.
Ever tried to take a barbell away with you on vacation? Or down the park for a group workout?
Barbell sets are big. For a decent set you pretty much need an entire room for it.
Bar, plates, racks, benches, no wonder so many people force their cars to sleep on the street so their barbells can sleep in the garage.
I have 70kg’s of Heavy sandbags nestled away nicely under my breakfast bar. Not in the way, more of an attractive bit of eye candy.
When I go to South Africa or England to visit family, I empty the sand out into a bin bag or box, give the bag a quick clean and it doubles as my carry on hand luggage! Im serious! I put all my clothes and travel gear INTO the bag and use it as a regular duffle bag!
When I get to my destination, filling sand is never hard to find. Within minutes I have a workout tool that’ll keep me shredded while I’m on my jollies.
What’s the take away? A sandbag you can TAKE AWAY!
So, the BIG conclusion?
Most of us reading this will love a good barbell, but for most of us reading this, we'll probably never own one.
Sandbags are not only a fantastic tool to replace all the classic barbell movements, but it also gives us plenty more stuff to do that a barbell can't.
For much less money.
And we can easily travel around with sandbags, going on vacation or training with friends down in the park.
For now, for most of us, Heavy Sandbags are just far better value.
Author ~ Bryan Gohl.
Bryan is the founder of Heavy and also the co founder of Red Light Rising - Premium red light therapy devices.
Find and follow Bryan on Instagram