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Enter The Sandbag (part 1)

The best use of sand ever. Photo courtesy of Zach Even-Esh

I was going to name this blog post “Cheap Fitness” or something along those lines but decided it would be better to borrow from Pavel and his kettlebell opus.

People will find any excuse to avoid working out. Most of them are total B.S. and, even when they seem valid, just go back to laziness. There is one excuse that I do find to be valid in certain circumstances. Money. As someone who is incredibly cheap frugal, I understand that the cost of a gym membership can be cumbersome. Even something as little as 40 dollars a month can be too much for some people’s budget (although there are plenty of ways to cut spending to free up that money, I won’t go into them in this post since it will probably just turn into me ranting about how you aren’t dedicated to your goals if you can’t afford a membership but have cable blah, blah, blah lift heavy stuff).

With that in mind…wait for it…let the anticipation build…ENTER THE SANDBAG.

I stand corrected, THIS is the best use of sand ever

Yes, the sandbag. Second only to a rock in the hierarchy of nature made weights, this simple little tool will give you some of the hardest training sessions you’ve ever had. There are a number of excellent training sandbags available for purchase on many different websites but they are all somewhat costly and this is supposed to be about cheap so here is the ideal (basic) homemade sandbag set up:


  • An old duffel bag – $free
  • Contractor Clean-up bags – $15 for 32 bags
  • Duct Tape – $free because you should always have this on hand anyway
  • Sand – $6-$10 dollars for 100 pounds generally

TOTAL: At most $30


  1. Double up your clean-up bags (one inside the other) and fill with sand. Tie the top together into a knot like you would with a plastic produce bag at the grocery store. Fold this down and duct tape the feces out of it to make sure it is secure.
  2. Put your newly formed inner sandbag inside the duffel bag, also known as the outer bag.
  3. Zip shut. Tape down any zippers…trust me on this one.
  4. Get Swole.


Clean up bags are thick plastic bags and hold up very well. That is why I recommend them. They are also quite large and each one will easily hold 100 pounds of sand. I generally make bags in increments of 50 pounds but that’s because I’m so strong I ride around on a green and yellow tiger.

Just a candid of me and my preferred mode of transportation

If you want to make smaller increments you can cut the clean-up bags and put in the desired weight, let’s say ten pounds, to give you more variety. Just make sure you use lots of duct tape to secure all possible leak points. Regardless of how much weight you use, you always want the sand to have enough room to move around inside the bag. This holds true for the outer bag as well. You don’t want it to be over stuffed, the sand/inner bags need to be able to shift around easily, but you also don’t want it so loose that when you try to pick it up all of the sand splits to either side of your arms and the bag looks like an old man’s rocky mountain oysters after a hot shower.

If you are REALLY cheap you can always just dig some dirt and put it straight into an old duffel. This will literally cost you nothing except potentially getting a face full of dirt.

In part 2 tomorrow I will lay out some kick ass training you can do with your new bag!



Arm Days

Mr. Arms himself

I like to think that I handle being wrong pretty well. In fact, I might go so far as to say that I will be the first to admit when I am wrong. So I am not afraid to say that in the past I was wrong about how to train arms.

I used to fall into the category of trainers that say you don’t need to train them. If you’re doing your big compound pressing and pulling movements the arms will get plenty of work. Or so the theory goes. It’s true that your arms get worked and will grow to a decent level from that work. But who just wants to be decent?

I’m now of the opinion that direct arm work is an absolute NECESSITY, and not just to attract hot babes from across the room every time you lift your fork to your mouth. No, in fact it does serve a number of purposes, such as injury prevention (ever see a bicep tendon rupture during a deadlift? Not cool) and increasing strength.

Think about a bench or a row. They aren’t just chest and back movements. Weak triceps or biceps could be holding you back from increasing weight and, therefore, growth.

Having said all of this, however, I do not, under most circumstances, support a traditional “arm day.” It just doesn’t accomplish much in terms of fat loss, muscle building and overall smart time management. Unless you compete on a stage in bodybuilding there is no need to waste your time with it. But you can, and should, still work your arms. I believe that frequency is of utmost importance when it comes to arm training so 3 times a week is not unheard of in my programs.

Let’s pretend for a second that a guy comes to me and says he has 8 weeks until his high school reunion. All he cares about is having massive arms to impress Lucy Ricardo, who has recently been divorced, his old crush. Let’s say that he currently lifts the classic three times a week of Monday, Wednesday and Friday (Monday chest/back, Wednesday legs and Friday shoulders/arms). I would recommend, instead, something like this:


  • Shoulder Press variation (whatever sets and reps)
  • Deadlift Variation (whatever sets and reps)
  • Shoulder accessory (whatever sets and reps)
  • Deadlift accessory back emphasis (whatever sets and reps)
  • Preacher reverse curl -superset with- preacher curl 2×12 each rest 60 seconds
  • JM Press -superset with- overhead cable extensions 2×12 each rest 60 seconds


  • Bench Variation (whatever sets and reps)
  • Squat Variation (whatever sets and reps)
  • Bench Accessory (whatever sets and reps)
  • Squat Accessory (whatever sets and reps)
  • Barbell Curls – 5×8 superset with:
  • Rolling DB Tricep Ext. – 5×10


  • Deadlift Variation (whatever sets and reps)
  • Vertical Pull Variation (whatever sets and rep)
  • Horizontal Pull Variation (whatever sets and reps)
  • Press Variation – his choice of shoulder or bench (whatever sets and reps)
  • GIANT SET: Reverse Grip Bench press, Cross Body Hammer Curls, Standing French Press, Incline DB Curls, Rope Pushdowns, EZ Bar Curls – x6 reps of each exercise, no rest between exercises. Rest 60-90 seconds between each giant set. Perform 4 rounds

There it is. His arms get worked 3 days per week. They get worked heavy and maximize the pump, giving him big and strong arms. This may be an extreme example but 3 days per week of training for arms (at a lower volume usually) is still a fine way to go.  You may notice that he deadlifts twice a week. I think most people should deadlift more. It’s awesome.

Feel free to give something like this a try for 6 weeks or so and watch you go from having arms to having GUNZ!!!! Or at least they will get bigger, whether or not that turns you into a bro is optional.