I’ve been using Strongman movements and routines for some time now as a supplement to my powerlifting, endurance and boxing training. Strongman has a lot of benefits, and there’s a lot of literature elsewhere on the topic. For me, however, Strongman has been extremely effective in activating every supporting muscle group in a lift, which aids in muscle confusion and forces me to build muscles that otherwise get missed.


During a deployment in Afghanistan in 2012, I injured my back (screw you too, Mama Deuce). Since then, I’ve had difficulty progressing my deadlift. For about a year, I plateaued at 405# and despite chiropractic care and consistent work, I couldn’t ever seem to push past that threshold. Then I discovered atlas stones. After a week of working with a 135# stone, I came back to the deadlift and moved 425# easily.


What changed? In short, I had begun to work the supporting structures in my body that could hide behind proper form and the balance of a barbell.


However, Atlas stone training is problematic. You need a landing pad to drop the stone, and it needs to be fairly level. Much of my property is on a grade, with neighbors at the bottom, and I wouldn’t want to be the one to accidentally murder someone with a runaway 200# stone.


Fortunately, there are alternatives. You can get a lot of the same benefits from lifting heavy sandbags, and building a functional sandbag can be accomplished for about $50. Here’s a quick run through on how I did it.


You’ll need an old Army dufflebag or a similar canvas bag, some contractor clean up bags, heavy duty duct tape, and some bags of play sand from a hardware store.IMG_4872

I cut off the straps on the duffle bag, since I planned on wrapping the whole thing in Gorilla tape. Next I put one of the 50lbs sandbags into a contractor bag, wrapped it tightly, and taped it up. I then placed that into a second bag and taped that up. By doubling the layers of the tough contractor bags, we can expect to reduce the instances of leaking.


I did this again for two more bags. Then I lined the duffle bag with another two contractor bags, put the sandbags inside, and taped everything up.IMG_4875

Lastly, I wrapped the entire duffle bag in Gorilla tape. Mostly this was to provide another layer of protection for the duffle bag, since I plan on throwing it, dropping it, and generally treating it with the loving contempt that befits an implement of suffering. I made one that weighs in at 150lbs, but you should be able to cram 200lbs into an army duffle without any problem.


And, if you have a mighty woman, be sure to make one for her, too.IMG_4879


Drink water and do work! Timaeus out.