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The top two or three feet of the parapet and the parados (the rear side of the trench) would consist of a thick line of sandbags to absorb any bullets or shell fragments. Sandbags were filled with earth. A filling party usually consisted of one soldier shovelling the earth and two holding and tying the bags. The men stacking the filled bags worked in pairs and were expected to move sixty bags an hour. Research by the British Army suggested that a typical bullet used in the First World War would only penetrate fifteen inches into a sandbag.

The trench was not a trench at all. The bottom may have been two feet below ground level. An enormous breastwork rose in the darkness some ten or more feet high. All about us there was an air of bustle. Men were lifting filled sandbags on to the parapet and beating them into the wall with shovels. Bullets cracked in the darkness. Every now and then a figure would appear on the skyline and drop skillfully on the firestep.

"Care to see the wire?" said my guide. I followed him gingerly over the edge of the wall, and slid clumsily down a ramp of greasy sandbags. A small party was working swiftly over a tangle of some dark stuff. Two of my own soldiers were being inducted into the ceremony of wiring. "Hold it tight, chum," growled one figure. He proceeded to smite a heavy bulk of timber with a gigantic maul, the head of which had been cunningly muffled in sandbags.

The fortification consists of breastworks, built up high to the front, with just a little shallow trench dug behind. The reason is that drainage is so difficult. These breastworks are made of millions of tightly-made sandbags laid one upon the other, packed well together. Every eight yards there is an island traverse, a great mound of earth and sandbags strengthened by rivetting, round which the trench winds. This is to localise the explosion of shells or prevent an enemy who might reach the flank being able to pour fire right down the length of a trench. There are communication trenches back every few yards and innumerable succeeding lines for the main army. The whole network extends in most places for three or four miles. The dug-outs are all in lines, but mostly along the communication trenches.

When there is no excitement there are about two sentries to every sector of say 9 yards on watch, and one officer for the company. The rest are in the dugouts. When a bombardment comes or there is a gas alarm, everyone rushes out and takes what cover one can in the front trench, awaiting developments. Against the front breastwork we have a step, about two feet high, upon which men stand to shoot. When there is a bombardment nearly everyone gets under this step, close in against the side.

Natural Building Blog

In an effort to track down the history of earthbag building, I’ve been reading up on the history of burlap bags – the forerunner to polypropylene bags. This post is based on information at NYP Corporation, a wholesaler of burlap bags. (See “Jute to Burlap.”)

For centuries, the people of India used jute, the plant which burlap is made from, to make rope, paper and handwoven fabrics.

The first mill to mass produce burlap and other jute products was established near Calcutta, India in 1855. This region is still the main supplier of jute products today. The mechanical process of spinning jute fibers was first worked out in Dundee, Scotland. Dundee produced the first power-driven machines for the mill in Calcutta in 1859.

According to the article on NYP Corporation’s website, “By 1869, five mills were operating with 950 looms. Growth was rapid and, by 1910, 38 companies operating 30,685 looms exported more than a billion yards of cloth and over 450 million bags.”
Photo source:

A sandbagged military position during the American Civil War.

Doug has kindly informed us that sandbags can be traced back almost 250 years to the Napoleonic Wars, during which time French troops were issued sandbags for use in the field.

The excellent photo above shows how sandbags were used during the Civil War.

The Rise of Sandbag Training

Sandbags have a very rich history, maybe more so than any other training implement. For hundreds of years (possibly thousands) sandbags has been an integral training tool for athletes, specifically wrestlers. Why? They are an inexpensive tool that is incredibly versatile and can offer the benefits of unstable training with a challenging load. This is a benefit that many of today’s unstable gadgets can not provide. However, the benefits don’t stop there. Greater stabilizer, trunk, and grip strength can be developed with sandbags as well as sport-specific drills, mobility work, and a great conditioning tool.

Improved Stabilizer Strength

In the famous book, Dinosaur Training, Brooks Kubik states, “You feel sore as you do because the bags (sandbags) worked your body in ways you could not approach with a barbell alone. You got into the muscle areas you normally don’t work. You worked the “heck” out of the stabilizers.” (Kubik, p. 115)

Stabilizer training is not a new concept. Utilizing dumbbells, cables, kettlebells, and one-arm lifts have long been methods of improving the smaller stabilizers. Increasing the strength of the stabilizers can both decrease your risk of injury and improve performance.

Why are sandbags unique though? Sandbags can be thought of as the most “uncooperative” pieces of equipment. They are different because they will change their form as you lift them. Unlike many other training tools, it is almost impossible to develop a specific groove for any lift. This makes sandbags a constant challenge as every repetition will be vastly different.

Improved Trunk Strength

The non-cooperative nature of sandbags makes using every muscle possible to lift it crucial. More stable and predictable implements can cause the body to find a particular groove. Once this groove is established then one becomes more efficient at performing the lift and the body actually decreases the amount of muscles utilized. This becomes especially true of explosive sandbag lifts such as cleans, throws, snatches, and shouldering. The trunk muscles (including those of the low back and abdominal area) have to work harder to stabilize the body against the awkward load while moving very quickly. This is very unique to sandbag training.

Those who have enjoyed kettlebells have also learned of the incredible benefit on loading only one side of the body. One-arm lifts with kettlebells place a torque on the body in both rotation and side bending that the trunk learns to stabilize against. This is a core reason one-arm kettlebell lifting is so beneficial to building a solid trunk. Well, sandbag drills such as the many shouldering exercises and one-arm lifts can offer the same benefits. However, the difference with sandbags is that they actually rest on the body.

Having such a load actually rest on the body forces the deep and superficial trunk muscles work to a greater degree to maintain proper postural alignment, end result? A rock hard torso that is very injury resistant.

With sandbags we can also create amazing rotational drills that place the body into ranges of motion that would normally occur during sport. Working through such ranges of motion with a load prepares the body more appropriately for the demands that sport produces. When we work on in very predictable environments we don’t give our bodies the ability to work through extreme ranges of motions under duress. Exercises such as shoulder throws, half moon snatches, and full body twists just provide a small list of exercises that one can create.

Sport Specific Strength for Combative Athletes

Sandbags have long been a favorite training tool of wrestlers and combative athletes. In John Jesse’s famous book, Wrestling Physical Conditioning Encyclopedia, he states,

“The use of heavy sandbags and their large circumference forces the lifter to do his lifting with a round back instead of the traditional straight back lifting with a barbell. It is this type of lifting that truly develops a strong back. It develops the back and side muscles in movements that are identical to the lifting and pulling movements of wrestling.”

The idea of round back lifting must scare every chiropractor, coach, and athletic trainer out there. However, if introduced properly, round back lifting is one of the best injury prevention techniques available. Most sports and daily living activities call upon us to perform some level of round back lifting. A wrestler may be on the floor in a compromised position, a football player trying to make a play, a parent lifting their child off of the floor are all great examples of round back lifting. Sandbags offer a safe way to start to learn how to use round back lifting, always start on the light side and with low volume (no more than 5 repetitions).

Sandbags may be the perfect tool for combative athletes as they are the only tool that can come close to representing an opponent. The constant shifting weight of a sandbag makes it an ideal training environment for combative athletes as it prepares the athlete for the unpredictability of a fight on the mats on the ring.

Greater grip strength

EVERYONE can benefit from greater grip strength. I have a strong belief that all the carpal tunnel and arthritis problems that our society experience’s is closely related to the lack of hand training. Of course, their only ends up being so many hours in the day to train and if we economize our time then we are more apt to do the smaller detail work that will have a huge impact in our overall training.

If we look at grip strength a little further we can quickly see that grip strength is more than simply how hard you can squeeze your hand (known as crushing strength), rather it also includes pinching, support, and wrist strength. To train all these qualities can seem overwhelming, but again sandbags can be a core tool in developing this well rounded strength. Because of the gripping action of the bag and the fact no one repetition is the same, the hands are challenged in all these ways. The dynamic nature of the sandbag forces the body to use different grip strategies depending upon the lift and the level of fatigue one feels. Getting strong at sandbag lifts means you will find a great transfer of these hand strength to other forms of training.

First and foremost I am a coach. Being a coach I realize a big difference between ideal and reality. Many times I can have a program planned that I see as ideal for my client. However, if they don’t share my same enthusiasm for the program they likelihood of them adhering to the program becomes very low. In addition, we are all more apt to work harder through a program if we find it enjoyable and motivating.

Because sandbags are so different they are often a breathe of fresh air for most people’s training programs. Even taking common exercises such as squats and presses and using a sandbag makes these exercises as though you were performing them for the first time.

Increasing levels of fun may sound like a politically correct thing for a coach to say, but we can not deny the fact that we are all human. We are less likely to do the things we do not enjoy. Making training more enjoyable is what increases our chance of being more productive and consistent. This is why you see people using different training modalities and why many have found kettlebell training to be a favorite. So, don’t sell the fun factor short.

In The End

I always talk to people about the fact that training is dictated very little by the tool rather than the methodologies. Sandbags do open the door for some unique training techniques that will increase your results. Do not think that you have to use them solely as I will later discuss how to incorporate sandbags and kettlebells for different training goals. These are two tools that provide a lot of options and compliment each other well for producing the desired training result. Until then, keep training hard and smart!

About The Author

Josh Henkin is owner of Innovative Fitness Solutions in Scottsdale, Arizona. Coach Henkin has presented nationally in the field of fitness and sports enhancement. He is also the author of High Octane Sandbag Training manual and DVD. For more info, click here.

The Basics of Sandbag Training

Like most training tools, you can use the sandbag as a substitute weight for traditional resistance options like barbells, dumbbells or kettlebells. You can follow standard strength programs like Starting Strength or Wendler 5-3-1 with a sandbag. The sandbag works perfectly well for Deadlifts, Squats, Cleans and Presses. But if this is all you ever do with your sandbag, then you are missing out on some of the key benefits to this method.

The sandbag is an unstable, awkward load with “built in” instability. The further away from your center of gravity that load is, the harder you will have to work to stabilize it. So, exercises like the sandbag deadlift don’t have that inherent instability factor. My advice is to focus more heavily on a range of “unique” sandbag exercises – things that usually aren’t as effective with traditional resistance tools. For me, that means lots of overhead work and utilizing a range of different grip positions.

Basic Sandbag Exercises

The key exercises that you need to follow in any sandbag training program are:

  • Sandbag Shouldering
  • Sandbag Clean and Press
  • Sandbag Bear Hug Load Carry
  • Sandbag Overhead Press

These fundamental movements will give you a strong foundation of strength and conditioning. Furthermore, they all combine some of the best that the sandbag has to offer.

Advanced Sandbag Exercises

For more experienced sandbag trainees, the following advanced exercises will further develop your skill with the bag. And regular practice will build brute strength, agility, and an iron grip Some advanced sandbag exercises to try:

  • Sandbag Overhead Walking Lunge
  • Sandbag Windmill
  • Sandbag Get Up
  • Sandbag Bear Hug Squat

History Of The Sandbag Store

Many ask how The Sandbag Store came to be and how it has grown so quickly, so here it is – our story in all its glory, unfinished and building more and more momentum each day!

In 2012, Chris Haas and Steve Burcham recognized a distinct gap in the sandbag industry.

Drawing on combined military and industry experience, they launched The Sandbag Store and returned sandbag production to the USA, sparking a new age for our industry while powering the national economy with their focused and ethical veteran-owned business.

A Stronger Sandbag

We quickly met and exceeded the needs of our vast customer base with numerous innovations, the first of these being revolutionizing the once labor-intensive filling process.

Stronger, longer-lasting and pre-filled sandbags became a reality with our DuraBag sandbag, the first US-manufactured sandbag with a unique polyethylene mesh fabric and unfathomable 7-year guarantee. Until then, a 3-month lifetime was all sandbags could offer!

Combined with an unprecedented free national shipping offer, the DuraBag instantly placed The Sandbag Store on the map.

Onward And Upward

Interest following the DuraBag sandbags was vast and instant – quick expansion saw us providing customers with more and more variants of sandbags and other weight bags, all designed, manufactured and posted with the same in-house attention and unrivalled quality.

Then we introduced pre-filled sandbags and sewn theatrical sandbags, which revolutionized the industry’s previous Velcro and zipper versions, while our guaranteed free delivery was highly appreciated by independent producers who for the first time could afford pro-grade bags.

The Importance of Improvement

In just 24 months of operation, The Sandbag Store had enjoyed considerable growth and we were continuously expanding our product range to meet an ever-increasing range of industries.

As we introduced low-cost flood sandbags, bulk bags and countless other specialist products, we continued to recognize focused research and development as the key to our growth.

With a firm belief in constant improvement and consumer satisfaction, we paved the way for increased turnaround and further revolutionary designs and even invented improved in-house filling equipment!

Effortless Innovation

By 2015, our product range numbered in the hundreds and provided just as many industries with unrivalled sandbag performance. The ceaseless drive to provide the best new US-made products resulted in some incredible creations that changed the sandbag industry forever – here’s just a couple we’re especially proud of.

The Armor Sandbag

Released in 2015, the Armor Sandbag represented a veteran-owned company’s endeavour to create a bag with all the hardened qualities and indestructible strength of military grade equipment. Veteran-designed and made, the Armor Sandbag was forged through countless rounds of rigorous testing and improvement to become a flagship product unrivalled in strength the world over.

The Ace Sandbag

In 2017, The Sandbag Store totally revamped its acclaimed custom print shop and with it we launched the Ace Sandbag, which drew on all the new print shop’s leading screen printing, sewing and high-speed filling technologies, as well as introduced The Sandbag Store’s new free shipping offer of fully customized durable cloth sandbags in small or large batches.

This exciting year would also see our release of the Burcham Bagger, which for the past three years had been The Sandbag Store’s secret in-house speed-filling equipment, enabling the public to enjoy this economical and easy-to-use bagging machine never before seen by the industry.

Effortless Innovation

Thanks to our unwavering vision and dedication to doing the best we can, The Sandbag Store finds innovation easy.

Our sandbags are globally trusted and recognized as the leader in their field. Each product undergoes strict inspections throughout every step of manufacturing. Our sandbags are often used as safety devices and product integrity is crucial when public safety is on the line. The Sandbag Store brands and designs are registered with the U,S, Patent and Trademark Office and manufactured and sold exclusively from our 32,000 sq. ft. facility in Las Vegas, NV.

A Future (Pre-)Filled With Potential

We are incredibly proud to be both a veteran-owned business and unrivalled industry leader, and place all our success down to our simple dedication to hard work and continued focus of providing the best US-made sandbags to all corners of this great nation.

The History of Sandbaggers

Recently I was engaged in some friendly email banter with a fellow golfer I’ll be playing a match against this spring. As is typical with the posturing of fools, the conversation turned to “trash talk” and the topic of exactly how the handicap strokes would be distributed came up. Naturally, I thought I should be receiving strokes from him and he thought we should be playing even or he should be getting strokes from me. We each questioned the authenticity of the other’s posted handicap and debated about who would be coming out of their winter hibernation versus whose game would be peaking. Predictably, the word “sandbagger” was bandied about as we each accused the other of the heinous act at various points in our exchange. Of course our conversation was all in good fun, but after the fact I couldn’t help but wonder exactly why the word sandbagger was used to describe a golf con artist.

Every game has them and they’ve been around since the beginning of time . . . hustlers, sharks, grifters, swindlers. These are people who represent themselves to be something they are not in an effort to take advantage of others. In golf we call them sandbaggers.

So, where did the term sandbagger come from? Did it stem from guys putting sand in their golf bags to make them heavier for some reason? Did it have to do with golfers intentionally hitting bad shots from the bunkers in order to downplay their ability? Maybe it has something to do with the bags of sand that early Scottish golfers carried for making tees? I had no idea and my curiosity was piqued. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how little sense the term made so I decided to do a little research.

A quick look on the internet yielded the following definition:

sandbag: verb – To fell with a blow from a sandbag

Interesting . . . not really what I was expecting to find. It appears that the term originated in the 1800s and was used to describe an attack that consisted of one person bludgeoning another with a small bag of sand. The related noun, sandbagger, is a name used for the street thugs who would perpetrate these attacks. Ok, that makes sense, but how did this term find its way from the mean streets of the 19th century to the fairways of golf?

It would appear that before sandbagging became part of the golf lexicon it was a commonly used term in cards. A common sandbagging scenario in poker would be a player with a great hand who holds back on raising the stakes in order to fool his opponents into thinking they had a chance to win. After luring his fellow players into a high stakes pot the sandbagger would strike big and pummel the other players with his “sandbag”, i.e. his great hand. I’m not much of a poker player, but I believe that today in the 21st century we would call this tactic a great strategy or a good “poker face”.

While the term sandbagger may no longer apply to poker is certainly does to golf. Here is a definition I found that is a bit more in line with what we think of when it comes to golf sandbaggers.

sandbagger: noun – one who conceals abilities or assets at first in order to gain tactical advantage later.

Today we use handicaps as a system of checks and balances to help reduce sandbagging. That said, the system inherently relies on the trustworthiness of the people using it so, in the end it still comes down to honesty.

So what happens to people who are caught sandbagging? I believe everyone is familiar with the infamous scene from the 1961 Paul Newman classic The Hustler where Eddie the pool shark gets his thumbs broken after swindling his opponent out of $100. If not, take a moment to google it and find the clip on the internet.

While I don’t necessarily see anyone getting their thumbs broken in the grill room at Cypress Point Club there certainly are repercussions for hustlers found sandbagging in golf. Surely, a serial sandbagger will be found out at his home club and over time will find a significant decrease in the number of invitations he receives to play. Sandbagging guests are likely to never receive a return invitation, and for those golfers who are foolish enough to take their chances hustling strangers at public courses . . . well, if they should cross the wrong guy, the scene above is not out of the realm of possibilities.

So that’s the story folks. The term sandbagger is derived from the 19th century thugs who would clobber their victims with bags of sand. Seems fitting. I’ve watched a shot or two in my day that felt pretty similar to getting whacked with a bag of sand. Now, next time you call your buddy a sandbagger you will know why. Feel free to leave some comments about sandbagging below.

I think your partner is working on a professional sandbag of the Ridley last year. As bad as my game is these days, I’m wondering if my handicap should be adjusted.

Spoken like a true sandbagger Rob!! If that was a sandbag job from my partner last year, he’s going to have some explaining to do. Sandbaggers are supposed to win, not lose!

sandbags or “bags” are also used in the game spades to prevent someone from underbidding their hand– it’s the same concept. In general you don’t want people bidding a minimum bid with a strong hand in order to trick the other team into overbidding.

A Short History of Earthbag Building

The idea of making walls by stacking bags of sand or earth has been around for at least a century. Originally sand bags were used for flood control and military bunkers because they are easy to transport to where they need to be used, fast to assemble, inexpensive, and effective at their task of warding off both water and bullets.

At first natural materials such as burlap were used to manufacture the bags more recently woven polypropylene has become the preferred material because of its superior strength. The burlap will actually last a bit longer if subjected to sunlight, but it will eventually rot if left damp, whereas polypropylene is unaffected by moisture.

Because of this history of military and flood control, the use of sandbags has generally been associated with the construction of temporary structures or barriers. Using sandbags to actually build houses or permanent structures has been a relatively recent innovation.

In 1976 Gernot Minke at the Research Laboratory for Experimental Building at Kassel Polytechnic College in Germany began to investigate the question of how natural building materials like sand and gravel could be used for building houses without the necessity of using binders. The use of fabric-packed bulk material was found to be a cost-efficient approach. They used pumice to pack in the bags, because it weighs less and has better thermal insulating properties than ordinary sand and gravel. Their first successful experiments were with corbelled dome shapes ( an inverted catenary) which was obtained with the aid of a rotating vertical template mounted at the center of the structure.

1978, a prototype house using an earthquake-proof stacked-bag type of construction was built in Guatemala. They used cotton bags soaked in lime-wash to protect the material from rot and insects. When flattened, the bags measured roughly 8 X 10 cm. Vertical bamboo poles placed on both sides of the bags and interconnected with wire loops gave the stacked bags stability. The bamboo rods were fixed to the foundation and to the horizontal tie beam at the top. (See this page for more about this.)

It was an Iranian-born architect named Nader Khalili who has popularized the notion of building permanent structures with bags filled with earthen materials. Actually his first concept was to fill the bags with moon dust! Attending a 1984 NASA symposium for brainstorming ways to build shelters on the moon, Khalili coupled the old sandbag idea with the ancient adobe dome and arch construction methods from his homeland in the Middle East . He realized that bags filled with lunar "dirt" could be stacked into domes or vaults to provide shelter.

Khalili came up with a further refinement on this building concept on Earth: for a more permanent, shock-resistant structure, why not place strands of barbed wire between the courses of bags, thus unifying the shell into a more monolithic structure?

At first Khalili was filling his experimental bags with desert sand, but then he evolved his idea of "superadobe," where bags or long tubes of polypropylene bag material would be filled with a moistened adobe soil that would dry into large adobe blocks. In this case the original bag material was merely the initial form and would not necessarily be an integral part of the eventual structure.

Soon after these first experiments, Khalili began publicizing his work through newspaper and magazine articles and conducting workshops and seminars on the techniques that he was perfecting. Many people who read about his work, visited his compound in Hesperia , California , or studied with him there, decided to go ahead with their own experiments with his ideas.

Among these "early adopters" were Joe Kennedy, Paulina Wojziekowska, Kaki Hunter and Doni Kiffmeyer, Akio Inoue, and Kelly Hart. I believe that it was Joe Kennedy who coined the more general term "earthbag" to suggest that the bag could contain a variety of earthen materials.

Paulina Wojciechowska was the first to write an entire book on the topic of earthbag building: Building with Earth: A Guide to Flexible-Form Earthbag Construction was published in 2001. This featured some of her early experiments done at Khalili's CalEarth, along with several other case histories.

Akio Inoue, from Tenri University in Japan, has done extensive experimentation with earthbag construction, both on the campus of the University and in India and Africa where many other domes have been built for assistance programs.

Kaki Hunter and Doni Kiffmeyer (a couple) became enamored with earthbag construction after studying with Khalili, and worked on a variety of projects, both for themselves and for clients. In 2004 they wrote and got published another book, Earthbag Building : the Tools, Tricks and Techniques , based on their particular experience.

Kelly Hart (the author of this article) first began experimenting with earthbag building in 1997, after being exposed to the concept while producing his video program, A Sampler of Alternative Homes: Approaching Sustainable Architecture . He later documented his experience in actually building his own home in another program titled Building with Bags: How We Made Our Experimental Earthbag/Papercrete Home . Both of these programs are now available as DVD's.

In the meantime, Nader Khalili was continuing the promotion of his "Superadobe" technique and eventually decided to patent the idea, which he obtained in the U. S. in 1999, using very general terms that cover using bags made of any material being filled with virtually any material, and combining these with barbed wired between the courses. While having made many public statements that this concept was his gift to humanity, he obviously wanted to capitalize on the potential economic reward.

Many of us who had been engaged in promoting earthbag building on our own were contacted by Khalili and asked to enter into contracts with him in order to continue our work. It didn't take much research to discover that his patent could easily be disqualified because he had been publicizing his techniques through various media for at least four years before he even applied for his patent. Patent law clearly states that such publicity occurring prior to one year before the patent application would disqualify it for consideration.

So now the door is wide open for anyone to take this concept and run with it, and more people are doing so all the time, all over the world. While Khalili (and most of his students) have focused primarily on using the bags to form large adobe blocks, others have tried filling the bags with a variety of other materials, such as crushed volcanic rock, crushed coral, non-adobe soils, gravel, and rice hulls.

Earthbag building is unique among all other building technologies in that it can be either insulation or thermal mass, depending on what the bags are filled with. This is a very important distinction, because these characteristics of a wall greatly influence how comfortable, economical, and ecological any given system will be.

Safety is of prime concern with all building technologies, and much experimentation and testing has been done to establish guidelines for many ways of building. Khalili has established a relationship with the building department in Hesperia , California where CalEarth is located, an area where earthquakes are naturally a great danger. In 1993 live-load tests to simulate seismic, snow and wind loads were performed on a number of domed earthbag structures at CalEarth and these exceeded code requirements by 200%.

In 1995 dynamic and static load tests were performed on several prototypes for a planned Hesperia Museum and Nature Center to be constructed using Khalili's Superadobe concepts with both dome and vault shapes. All of these tests exceeded ICBO and City of Hesperia requirements.

In 2006, at the request of Dr. Owen Geiger of the Geiger Research Institute of Sustainable Building, the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point conducted several controlled and computer-monitored tests to determine the ability of polypropylene earthbags filled with sand, local soil, and rubble to withstand vertical loads. Their written report concluded that "overall, the earthbags show promise as a low cost building alternative. Very cheap, and easy to construct, they have proven durable under loads that will be seen in a single story residential home. More testing should prove the reliability and usefulness of earthbags."

Despite the success of these tests, earthbag building concepts have yet to be incorporated into the International Residential Building Code. Obviously more enlightened acceptance of the demonstrated viability of earthbag building needs to occur!

It is difficult to know how many residences and other earthbag structures have been made at this point, probably hundreds if not thousands. Many of us have been promoting the technique for use as emergency shelters, and certainly some have been built for this reason. It is easy for folks to accept this way of building temporary shelters because it fits the historical model of sandbag use.

But many of us have also built substantial homes using earthbags, and in the process realized how truly versatile and sustainable the technique is. I wouldn't be surprised if many of these earthbag homes are still standing long after their conventional counterparts built contemporaneously have disintegrated.

Tip: Sandbags for Lower-Body Strength & Size

A heavy sandbag is an underrated tool for lower-body strength training. The awkward size and shifting nature of the load stresses the body in a unique way that demands engagement and focus.

Sandbag training offers positions that can’t be replicated with traditional free weights. The bag needs to be wrestled into position for each set which adds to the challenge.

That said, training with sandbags is nothing new. Their simplistic nature and functionality have made them a staple training tool of grapplers, strongmen, and tactical personnel.

Sand is accessible, cheap, and heavy. A trip to the local hardware store to pick up some sand won’t break the bank. No bag? Just make your own by filling up an old duffel bag.

The Best Sandbag Lifts for Bigger Quads

Zercher Squat

Don’t like the feeling of the bar in the crook of your elbows? This Zercher position will still tax the arms without the searing pain of a barbell in your elbows.

Shoulder-Loaded Squat

Squatting with a sandbag on one shoulder will challenge the body to resist lateral flexion as the weight attempts to pull to you to one side. It will quickly identify any gaps between the left and right.

Shoulder-Loaded Split Squat

For unilateral exercises like split squats and lunges, the bag can be loaded on the same or opposite-side shoulder of the working leg. Experiment with each option to see what feels best. You may find one feels smoother or stresses hip and core stability more. Master split squats before moving to reverse lunge variants.

Sandbag Bear Hug Reverse Lunge

A heavy bag held at the chest will make generating tension and bracing the midsection automatic. It’ll also make you mindful of how you breathe with the weight pressing against you.

The Best Sandbag Lifts for Glutes and Hams

Bear Hug Good Morning

For hip hinge movements like the good morning, the bear hug is the ideal grip. Positioning the load against your torso will encourage core bracing and make it difficult to hyperextend through the lumbar spine. Keeping the bag against the body during the hinge also demands that the lats stay engaged. This also encourages a stable midsection.

Bear Hug Kickstand Good Morning

The kickstand stance will allow you to place more stress on one leg for higher reps without having to focus on balance.

Bear Hug Single-Leg Good Morning

This one will demand focus with a high stability requirement. Make sure you’ve got the kickstand version mastered first.

Bear Hug Kang Squat

The standard Kang squat is a nice hybrid between hinging and squatting. It’ll hammer the posterior chain and groove a solid squat while sparing the knees. The anterior load of the bag really makes this movement feel natural.

Simple and Effective

Sandbag work can be surprisingly humbling. Depending on your ability and weight available, some of these variations can be substituted in as a main or accessory lift as part of your regular training.

Adjust your reps based on the difficulty of the exercise. Single-leg exercises will be more challenging whereas regular-stance squats and good mornings can be pushed into the higher ranges.

Training doesn’t need to be fancy to be effective. This simple implement may be just what your legs have been missing.

Sandbags - History

I know that Patton disliked the practice of adding sandbags to the front of
U.S. tanks (a relatively common practice after D-Day), and he claims in "War as
I knew it" that they didn't actually help all that much. But, I'm wondering if
anybody knows whether they actually made a difference?

Considering the punch of a Tiger's 88mm gun (or a Panther's 75mm gun), it would
seem reasonable to assume that sandbags wouldn't have helped much (perhaps a
little?), so I got thinking about it, but just don't know. Anybody have a clue?

A pile of sandbags won't stop an AP round from a tank gun or even slow
it down, but it could disrupt the HEAT charge from a Panzerfaust or
Panzershreck. In effect, the sandbags would have the same effect as
the side skirts the German tanks had to keep a shoulder fired AT
weapon from getting close enough to the armor to do serious damage.

The unofficial I-26 Construction Webpage:

Very effective defense against hollow charge munitions e.g. panzerfaust &
panzershreck. I understand that even a small air gap between the surface a
hollow charge warhead detonates against and the main armour is enough to
dissipate the main force of the weapon. The Germans themselves expected the
soviets to use hollow charge weapons against them and that's why they added
the spaced armour shields and skirts to many of their tanks and assault

I had read this and believed it for years and then some months back got into
a discussion with some folks who had the numbers to back up their argument
to wit: the skirts were oringinally intended to protect not against HC
weapons, but against the antitank rifles with which the Soviets were
plentifully equipped all through the war. I regret that I can't reproduce
the relevant statistics (perhaps someone else in the group can?), but the
gist of it was that at ranges that were quite feasible on the battlefield
the AT rifles had just enough penetration to get through the side armor of
most German tanks, but that the addition of the skirts provided just enough
armor to prevent a penetration.

Trying to apply this argument to the wire screen skirts used later in the
war seems like a much dodgier proposition to me though.

I don't know how effective sandbags would be against 88mm shells but I thought
they were somewhat effective against Panzerfaust and Panzershreck war heads.
The Israelis did something similar to their Shermans and other tanks by hanging
all kinds of extra equipment and spare parts on the outside of the tanks. I
think the HESH warhead is supposed to deform against the extraneous clutter and
thus fail to penetrate the armor.

Sandbags were mostly used to protect against shaped-charge weapons such as
the Panzerfaust and Panzerschreck, much like the Shurzen was supposed to
offer extra protection.

Tankers always have had a habit of piling all kinds of stuff onto a tank to
add extra protection : Spare tracks, wheels, even logs and mattresses were
In the US army this became the sandbag. Steel frames were welded onto the
tank which allowed sandbags to be piled up on the front and sides of a
Sherman. This meant a big increase in weight (as US tankers had the habit
of filling their tanks to the brim with spare ammo) requiring such tanks to
mount special extenders (nicknamed duckbills) on their tracks to keep the
ground pressure low. Suspension and performance suffered because of this.

The consensus is that the sandbags offered little or no protection against
an 88 or 75mm shell. The protection against shaped charges like a
Panzerfaust seem to have been slightly better (but still marginal) as the
odd shot was deflected or the stand-off distance at which the shaped-charge
worked most effectively was disturbed.

Shermans, because of their ammo storage were extremely vulnerable to
Panzerfausts as a penetrating hit would often ignite propellant and start a
fire, hence the nicknames of "Ronson" and "Tommy Cooker". Many blamed the
gasoline fuel, but German tanks also ran on gasoline (and not diesel as is
often assumed) and they were never accused of being vulnerable in that
regard. The problem was solved by welding extra plates onto the vulnerable
spots and installing a "wet" ammo storage, where the ammo would be doused
with a mix of water and a gel. This cut Sherman fires by a very significant

Probably the biggest advantage was that it gave the crew a little extra
peace of mind and a feeling of extra safety and many accepted the resulting
loss of performance due to the weight, but overall it had little actual

The sand bags were thought to add about 10 mm worth of armor protection. They
also would affect the performance of shaped charge weapons like panzerfaust and
panzerschrek. The warhead of those weapons deliver an intense but short jet of
gas when detonated. The force of the jet quickly disappated so the "stand off"
provided by the sand bags offered some real protection. Seems to me just
having looked at lots of pictures, that the use of sand bag armor increased a
lot as the fighting approached Germany.

The "schurzen" or skirts on German tanks had the same purpose. GI's called
them "bazooka pants."

Recently read an account by a Sherman crewman where the first panzerfaust blew
all the sand bags off the front a second fired right after pierced the armor.

Some modern tanks often have "reactive" armor that detonates when hit by a
shaped charge weapon the purpose is the same, defeat that jet of intense gas.
The Abrams tanks' armor has ceramic material inside that absorbs the chemical
energy of shaped charge weapons.

Sandbags - History

Looking for a fun new way to get fit? If so, sandbag training may be for you. More and more people are starting to realize the great benefits that sandbag training has to offer and are beginning to get started themselves.

While you may not ditch your dumbbells and barbells entirely, sandbag training can serve as an alternative form of workout when you can’t make it to the gym or just want a change of pace from time to time.

So what benefits will you reap from doing sandbag training?

Let’s go over the key reasons to give this training mode some consideration.

Full Body Muscle Activation

When looking at the vast majority of the exercises you’ll perform with sandbags, one thing becomes quite clear: you’ll be activating nearly all the muscles in the body with each move you make.

This is often benefit because the more muscles you activate, the more calories you burn and the higher you send your metabolic rate as well. Translation? Superior fat loss progress.

If you are looking for a way to jumpstart your metabolism and see faster results, sandbag training can bring those benefits.

Great Cardiovascular Workout

Another nice thing about sandbag training is that it can make for an excellent cardiovascular workout. For example, if you pick the sandbag up, lift it directly over your head with your arms extended and begin performing a set of 20 walking lunges, you’ll immediately see just how high your heart rate gets.

Do this five times, resting for a minute in between and you can create a very effective HIIT workout for yourself.

Even if you choose to perform your exercises in circuit training style, this too will help you reap both strength and cardio boosting benefits.

You might even consider using sandbag training to replace your conventional cardio training. If you hate the bike, elliptical and treadmill, it can be your way ‘out’ so to speak.

Excellent Strength Boosting Benefits

Speaking of strength, sandbag training will help you develop maximum strength in a minimum amount of time. This is again because you’ll be working so many muscle fibers at once, thus you’ll be able to lift a heavier weight with ease.

A heavier weight lifted means more strength gained overall and as such, improved fitness progress.

What’s more is that because a sandbag isn’t as stable as say a barbell is, you’ll hit the really small muscle fibers deep within the muscle tissues – fibers that a regular barbell may not have activated. These muscles will be used for stabilization purposes to keep the sandbag moving as it should.

Improved Core Strength

With sandbag training, you can rest assured you’ll also be seeing excellent core strength benefits as well. As you move through each exercise you do, your core muscles will be contracted to keep the body balanced as you lift the sandbag up and down.

While you will get some core activation with barbell and dumbbell based moves as well, the overall activation rate does tend to be higher with sandbag training.

Do Anywhere

Finally, the last great benefit of sandbag training is that you can virtually do a workout anywhere you have open space. You won’t need any extra machines or equipment – just your sandbag and a good pair of running shoes.

You may want to get two or three different sandbags of various weights to effectively challenge yourself, but not everyone will need this. And if you are just looking to get a cardio and light strength training session in, chances are you won’t need more than one.

So there you have the key sandbag training benefits you should know about. Make sure you aren’t missing out on this type of training.

Watch the video: How to Build Your Own DIY Heavy Sandbag (October 2022).

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