Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Product Review: Ultimate Sandbag

My beautiful PINK Ultimate Sandbag
As mentioned in previous posts, I quit the gym and instead work out on my own at home. Dumbbells and body weight exercises are great and can help one make significant improvement in strength and endurance, but sometimes they can be a bit boring. I'm always on the lookout for new, quality "toys" (aka - fitness equipment) that will fit in my home gym and help me continue to advance my fitness. I found one a few months ago: the Ultimate Sandbag (USB).

I did extensive research prior to purchasing a USB, because they aren't cheap. There are sandbag models available for half the price at the local sports store as well as through Amazon.com. But the reviews of those consistently cited a problem with sand leakage and needing to duct tape the product after a handful of uses. The reviews of the USB NEVER mentioned leakage and after marinating on it a few days, I purchased the Ultimate Sandbag by Josh Henkin.  After using it for a month, I can say it is one of the best fitness investments I've made.

Product Quality: What is a USB? In simple terms, it's a very thick shell in the shape of a duffel bag, with a bunch of handles on all sides of the bag, with several "inner" shells that you fill with sand. (You provide your own sand - $3 for a 40 lb bag at the local home improvement store.) The inner shells have quality seams that are tightly stitched as well as a double velcro system. I've been throwing my bag around for a month now and not one grain of sand has leaked out. In case the inner shells do leak, the outer shell (the "duffel bag" part) has both a zipper and velcro closing, as well as very durable seams. You will not have any loose sand dripping from your USB! USB Quality Grade: A

Product Assembly: The USB arrives with the inner shells, outer shell, a training DVD with 6 workouts, a guide, and then an exercise poster. The instructions on filling and using your USB are easy to follow. Once you purchase your own sand, you carefully fill the inner bags, place them in the larger bag, zip it all up, and you're ready to work out in about 10 minutes. Ease of Assembly: A

Product Education: As mentioned above, you do get a DVD, instruction guide, and wall chart with the purchase of your USB.  Josh Henkin also has several other exercise DVDs and a book available for purchase on his site, which can help you learn USB exercises. But the BEST thing about the Ultimate Sandbag Training system is the FREE content Mr. Henkin provides on his website. Even if you don't purchase a USB, you still have access to blogs, articles, and videos to learn correct sandbag training form, sandbag training principles, and sandbag exercises/workouts. I personally subscribe to his email system and get approximately 3 emails a week with educational information on fitness and sandbags as well as video links to exercise demonstrations or sample workout routines. This is invaluable and in my opinion, what sets Mr. Henkin and the USB system apart from other sandbag products and even other fitness products! Education Grade: A+

Product Usage & Effectiveness: If you're interested in all the benefits of sandbag training, Mr. Henkin presents his case very well on his website. To sum it up, working with a dynamic resistance variable (i.e. the shifting, unpredictable weight of sand) calls on a host of muscles that we may not normally engage while working with a set, stable weight such as a dumbbell or barbell. This in turn enhances our stability and strength, especially in our core. The movements you can do with a sandbag are complex and involve multiple muscles and all body parts, enhancing muscular and cardiovascular endurance and increasing your heart rate while you exercise. Therefore, in one piece of equipment, you're able to train muscular strength and endurance, balance, and cardiovascular strength and endurance.

For example, here are my stats from a 40 minute sandbag workout using the Power Sandbag (with approximately 25 lbs of weight), which involved complexes of lunges, presses, planks, squats, rows, and deadlifts (all with various sandbag grips).
  • Total Calorie Burn:  436
  • Maximum Heart Rate: 171
  • Average Heart Rate: 133
  • Time in desired Training Zone (that day, I was shooting for 75%-85% HR): 24 minutes
Those numbers show that the the USB is not only a great tool for developing muscular strength, but that your heart will get a good workout too. Not to mention, it is fun! The varieties of exercises you can do with it are endless, as you can see from the website and the USB YouTube Channel. You won't get bored with your USB.

Grade for Effectiveness as a Fitness Tool: A+

Summary: The USB has been a valuable piece of equipment in spicing up my fitness routine and enhancing my workout progress. My core feels stronger and my strength & power have improved more than I expected in just one month. The USB could be a stand alone piece of equipment in your fitness routine, but I prefer to have it as one piece in my fitness toolbox. The USB is high quality and you'll get great support/education from the USB Team and Mr. Henkin. Depending on the size of sandbag you purchase, you will likely spend around $100 for this piece of equipment. But I do believe the durability and product support from the USB company is worth it. For more information and a look at the types of USBs available, be sure to check out www.ultimatesandbagtraining.com .


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