Friday, February 23, 2007

Sandbags: Low Budget Weight Training

Getting strong and fit without spending a lot of money is always a good idea. In fact, it's the whole basis of my Low Budget Warrior web site. Sandbags are by far the easiest and least expensive way to train heavy. What's really awesome about sandbags, besides their low cost, is that they are extremely adjustable--just add or remove sand as needed.

Straight to the Bar recently posted an entry with instructions on how to make a sandbag for less than $10. Though I've not tried his method yet, it looks durable and excellently suited for adjusting the weight. In his method, the sand is divided into smaller bags then put in a larger sack for lifting. With this method, you can add or remove sand easily depending on the exercise and your ability and not make a mess spilling sand all over. The smaller bags will also keep the sand from shifting quite as much I imagine, which may be good or bad depending on what you're looking from a sandbag .

Once you've made your sandbag, here are 10 things you can do with it to build strength, endurance and power:

  1. Bearhug the sandbag and carry it as far as you can. You may need more than the 45 pounds of sand called for in the Straight to the Bar version to make this challenging.

  2. Deadlift it from the floor with two hands--again, you may need more than 45 pounds.

  3. Put it on one or both shoulders and squat with it.

  4. Press it from chest to overhead with two hands.

  5. Press it overhead with one hand using military press, side press or bent press. (Pavel's Power to the People and Enter the Kettlebell books have excellent instructions for these exercises)

  6. From the floor between your feet, use two hands to sling it up onto your shoulder. Return to floor, then sling it to the other shoulder. Make sure you use your legs and hips to power the sling and keep your back straight and firm.

  7. Use a kettlebell-style clean to clean it from floor to chest.

  8. Combine the clean with an overhead press and squat for power and cardio development.

  9. Lay on your back and chest press the sandbag .

  10. Set it on the floor next to you and, from a standing position, bend at the hips and grab it with two hands. Then lift it up to your chest, followed by bending at your hips to set on the floor on the opposite side that you started from. Repeat going the reverse direction. This is a good exercise for obliques and lower back, which are essential core muscles.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Serious Strength in Only 15 Minutes Per Day

Here's another article that I recently wrote for on how to make significant strength increases by working out only 15 minutes a day. It's a fairly detailed article, including suggested exercises, sets, reps et al. It also explains why this 15-minute routine will result in rapid strength gains. An excerpt from it is below, but you can read the whole article here: Serious Strength in Only 15 Minutes Per Day

By John Fike : Health & Fitness :
Most weightlifting programs these days have people working out in the gym for long periods of time, anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half. They instruct people to do 8 to 15 exercises and to do at least three sets of 8 to 15 repetitions, sometimes more.

Supposedly, these routines are designed to make a person stronger and more muscular. Really, though, they make people big, sore and tired, and they take far too much time out of a person’s day. People with busy schedules don’t even start such programs, because they can’t make the time commitment.

Really, though, if your goal is to increase your strength, you don’t need to spend more than 15 minutes working out each day. With the routine I’m going to share with you in just a minute, you can squeeze in your workout before taking your shower each morning.

Read the rest of the article: Serious Strength in Only 15 Minutes Per Day

To learn more about cycles for strength gain, I highly recommend reading Power to the People by Pavel Tsatsouline, former strength trainer for soviet special forces.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Swing Your Way to Power, Strength & Health

I recently wrote an article for on how to use kettlebell or dumbbell swings to improve your physical health. An excerpt from it is below, but you can read the whole article here: Swing Your Way to Power, Strength & Health

. . . The beauty of this exercise is that it strengthens and develops all the core muscles, especially those associated with the hips, back, buttocks and thighs, because it is a full-body movement. You’ll also use muscles in your arms, legs and just about everything in between.

Swings are fast-paced, explosive movements that quickly elevate the heart rate and breathing. They will quickly wake you from whatever daze you may be in and, once you get used to them, will energize you for the rest of the day.

As a full-body exercise, swings burn incredible quantities of calories and, since you can perform them at an aerobic pace, they are a good choice for burning fat and raising your metabolism.

If you only have time for one exercise in your routine, the versatility and broad range of development provided by swings, makes them hands-down the exercise of choice. Swings are not technically difficult, so nearly anyone can do them and you can combine them with many other exercises.

Read the rest of the article at

Here's a video demonstration of kettlebell swings from my Low Budget Warrior site:

If the YouTube link isn't working, you can also view it on my site:

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Strongman Training Video

Video Description: Train up for AZ Strongman Contest -

While books about lifting and doing strongman exercises are abundant, trying to get a video of various lifts or exercises is a bit of a pain--they're either hard to find or expensive. Here's a free video on YouTube from TroyBCF that shows several examples of several strongman lifts, including the farmer's walk, Atlas stone lift and sandbag carry. Enjoy and be strong.

John Fike