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Workout sandbags can be good pieces of fitness equipment but some people want other options. Discover a few alternatives with similar benefits.
Some of the main benefits of workout sandbags include that they are versatile, relatively budget-friendly per pound of resistance, add some instability to your lifts, and you can easily take the empty bag with you when traveling.
Whether you don’t enjoy using workout sandbags, you want something that requires less work to get started, or you want an alternative for any other reason, these workout sandbag substitutes can offer you similar benefits.
1. Adjustable dumbbells
The first alternative is obviously not the perfect substitute but adjustable dumbbells do offer similar benefits as workout sandbags in a few important areas.
First of all, adjustable dumbbells offer more instability training than a barbell and gym machines. In something like a shoulder press, you will definitely engage your shoulder stabilization muscles a nice amount.
Secondly, by choosing adjustable dumbbells instead of an entire set you keep the cost down somewhat. At the same time, you still have many weights to choose from.
You can also start using adjustable dumbbells as soon as they arrive. There is no need for getting filler material and fill up the bag.
On the other hand, adjustable dumbbells are lacking in a few ways. First of all, you can definitely not drop these (safely) and/or take them with you on a plane.
Additionally, it will be hard to find adjustable dumbbells heavier than 90 pounds (40.8 kg). One of the benefits of workout sandbags is that they can often hold up to 200 pounds (90.7 kg). Especially for stronger individuals, this is a big downside.
Lastly, adjustable dumbbells require a relatively steep investment compared to workout sandbags of the same weight capacity.
Depending on why you are looking for a workout sandbag alternative and things like your budget, this type of equipment could be a good or a bad choice.
2. Resistance bands
You can describe resistance bands as elastic cords. Some people immediately dismiss this alternative but good resistance bands can add a lot of value in a few ways.
Similar to workout sandbags, resistance bands can offer a lot of resistance at a relatively low price. You can also easily take this option with you when traveling.
In some ways, resistance bands are even better. Because you can wrap them around your legs and create resistance at any angle, there are a lot more exercises to choose from.
On the other hand, resistance bands definitely do not resemble real-life objects as much as workout sandbags. You will still get some instability but in a less “natural” way.
Additionally, resistance bands are not the type of gym equipment you can use for the rest of your life. At least every few years you will need to replace the last set with new resistance bands.
Some resistance band exercises will also require you to anchor your resistance bands somewhere. Preferably with an inexpensive resistance band anchor to avoid any problems.
Lastly, something that can be both good or bad depending on your training goals and preferences. The tension of resistance bands is not constant. When you stretch them out more they become more challenging.
3. Bulgarian bags
A Bulgarian bag is a type of crescent-shaped bag with a variety of handles.
You could consider them a type of sandbag because they are sometimes filled with sand but their different shapes and training focus deserve a separate mention.
More specifically, Bulgarian bags are often used for swinging exercises. For example, swinging a Bulgarian bag from in front of you onto your upper back is one of the basic movements.
This alternative definitely does not offer the exact training as workout sandbags but this can be a good thing for many people.
Additionally, you can still use this option for sandbag exercises like a back squat. Taking your Bulgarian bag with you should also not be a problem if you have a refillable model.
On the other hand, Bulgarian bags also have downsides. First of all, they are pricier than workout sandbags and less versatile.
Additionally, the typical Bulgarian bag weight ranges are definitely a lot smaller. This can be a big downside for stronger individuals.
4. Barbell setup
This next alternative is popular and may have crossed your mind already but it is worth mentioning anyway. A barbell setup is part of basically any good gym for a reason.
The steel bar loaded with weight plates allows you to work a variety of muscles with a lot of weight. Especially in combination with a power rack. For individuals who find typical workout sandbags too easy this can be a big benefit.
A barbell setup also typically lasts a very long time without losing too much of its value.
On the other hand, a barbell setup is obviously not the perfect substitute for workout sandbags. First of all, the investment and room required are a lot bigger. You will obviously not take a barbell with you on a plane.
Additionally, barbells do not have the same instability many people love about sandbags.
Since challenging your muscles enough is so important in resistance training, individuals who find workout sandbags too easy do likely want to consider a barbell set-up.
For other people, there are other alternatives that resemble workout sandbags more in terms of benefits.
5. Earthquake and bamboo bars
Earthquake and bamboo bars are relatively flexible weight lifting bars. On top of that, you load them with resistance bands with weights to them. These things lead to a lot of instability and the effects that come with that.
Some people like that sandbag squats and other exercises with this equipment engage their stabilizing muscles more due to the small amount of extra instability.
Earthquake and bamboo bars allow you to take this one step further in exercises like back squats, shoulder presses, and bench presses.
In other areas, earthquake and bamboo bars are not the best workout sandbag alternative.
They require a decent investment, take up a lot of space, and while you can use them for different movements, they are not as versatile as sandbags.
Other things to note are that earthquake and bamboo bars require more time to set up and besides the stabilization muscles, they are not the best for building muscle and strength.