Look no further than a sandbag for a change-of-pace workout. This deliberately awkward, old school training aid makes it nearly impossible to get into an exercise rut the way you might with traditional weights such as barbells and dumbbells, observes Josh Henkin, a certified strength and conditioning specialist. No two sandbag lifts are the same because of its shifting center of gravity and change in shape -- every rep is different. While many styles and brands are sold on the market, at a fraction of the cost you can make your own.
Set a medium-sized bucket on top of a floor scale. Open a bag of playground sand and pour it into the bucket. Stop when the scale reads 10 pounds. Remove the bucket and gently shake it until the sand is level.
Make a mark around the outside of the bucket with a permanent marker to indicate the top of the sand and how much to pour into the bucket to equal 10 pounds. This helps speed up the process of weighing and dividing up the material.
Pour the bucket of sand into a contractor trash bag. Jiggle the bag to move the sand to the bottom. Lay the bag flat on the floor and manipulate the bag and the sand with your hands so the sand is spread evenly from side to side at the bottom of the bag.
Roll up the bag and the sand to make a log. Start at the sand end of the bag and keep it as tight a roll as possible as you work your way to the open end of the bag.
Wrap the log with duct tape so it holds its cylindrical shape. Start with one end and wrap the tape around it two or three times. Repeat the process at the other end, and then at three evenly spaced intervals between the ends. This allows the finished sandbag to have some flexibility for more challenge.
Repeat Steps 3 through 5 to make three more 10-pound logs. Use the reference mark on the outside of the bucket each time you measure out the sand to be sure you're getting about 10 pounds of sand. Make two 20-pound logs in a similar manner, by weighing out additional sand.
Load the sand logs into the duffle bag. With four 10-pound logs and two 20-pound bags, you can use several combinations of logs to equal varying amounts of weight. For example, to make a sandbag weighing approximately 50 pounds, load two 20-pound logs and one 10-pound log.
Zip or tighten the drawstring to close the duffel bag. Gather any looseness in the top of the duffle. Put two plastic zip ties around the gathered material as close to the inner sand logs as possible. Cinch up the ties as tight as you can and cut off the ends.