5 Ways Sandbag Training Will Help You in a Bar Fight

My drawing of Edward Norton from Fight ClubSo today I came up with pretty unusual topic. That’s why I like writing my thoughts here on Rough Strength. There are no limits and full freedom for experimentation. But, anyway, back to the theme. Why I write on such topic? I’m not a big fan of bar fights. I mean, fighting is natural for men. It builds character and confidence. But I never start fights. I use my strength only if it’s unavoidable. I think, that every strong man will share my view. Starting a fight just for the sake of fighting is immature and shows lack of confidence in 95% of cases. But there are times when you must do what is right.

On Saturday evening was situation just like that. Me and my wife were invited to the wedding of our good friends. The main part (eating and drinking part) was held in the basement of some sort of Italian restaurant. There were friends and relatives of freshly married couple which as a matter-of-course was a little awkward due to the difference of generations. Well, of course, there was vodka (we live in Ukraine, it’s unavoidable) and lots of it (that’s the only way Ukrainians drink). The times I drank for the sake of getting drunk are long gone (in Ukraine lots of people quit drinking around the age of 18-20 while official age which allows buying booze is 21). So I had couple of shots and was almost sober while almost everybody were sweepingly approaching the state of speaking in tongues.

And there was brother of the bride who drank no holds barred. To the end of the party he was totally whacked out. And, you know, people act different when they get drunk. I, for example, when I was younger could just throw up and go sleep. Now I probably would skip the throwing up part and simply blackout. But that dude acted completely different. After bride said that he had enough and he was embarrassing her the kid unexpectedly ran away. I don’t know how would this story end if my wife hadn’t run after him. She is very good and kind person and she cares when unfamiliar people can possibly do harmful things to themselves. So, of course, I ran after her. When I left the bar (or restaurant, or  something in between) I saw how she didn’t let this motherfucker get hit by the car. But instead of being thankful for staying alive this looser tried to hit her. I always get pissed when I see violence on any woman but if it’s my girl I get merciless. Of course, he missed. I ran to him and hit him pretty hard several times. He started bleeding. Then I took him down to the ground and started holding him. This motherfucker tried to get out of my grip with his girly force but without any success. Then I finally understood that it was some mental disorder caused by excessive alcohol consumption. He tried to get out again and again but all in vain. By this time some other guys came out and helped me to hold him until the ambulance arrived. Medics injected him two (!) shots of tranquilizer. But this didn’t help. He was screaming and raging even more. So they took him to the hospital (father of the husband needed to pay them because otherwise they were refusing to work; that’s the reality of Ukraine). Happily I went out from this story with only one bruise. My wife is fine, she got no injuries. Other guys have minor bruises. Everything ended ok. All in all we held him for more than 2 hours. And, important notice, it was snow outside and really cold here in Kiev (around +10C).

What’s the moral of the story? If I weren’t training I would fail miserably and everything could end not so well. I totally believe that sandbag strength training played major part in my success.

How can you benefit from this story? Here are 5 ways sandbag training can help you in bar fight:

1. Sandbag Training Develops Toughness

Yes. Being able to play with 80 kg sandbag gave me pretty good overall strength and toughness. Just imagine, to perform Sandbag Zercher Squat you need to:

  1. Deadlift sandbag from the floor and take it on your legs.
  2. Make a power-clean-like move and catch it with your hands in Zercher position.
  3. Squat for desired amount of reps.
  4. Put the bag carefully on the floor (I train in my apartment. If I just throw heavy sandbag down I risk to make a hole in the floor).

That’s a lot of auxiliary work. That’s not the same as barbell squats where you take the chrome well-balanced bar from the rack. That’s different kind of beast. This auxiliary work builds additional toughness. Imagine if you do this with 100 kg sandbag. Who would dare to stand in your way?

2. Sandbag Training Develops Grip

Training with sandbag develops solid grip strength. Remember that there are no handles on this bad boy. So to lift it up you need to crush it hard. Sometimes it gets tough and you tear your fingers a bit but it well worth it. Sandbag master has bone-crushing handshake.

3. Sandbag Training Develops Mental Toughness

Some time ago I wrote the article on the main benefit of strength training. But sandbag training takes it to the next level. To lift heavy sandbag up you need to be fully concentrated and fired-up. Otherwise, nothing will happen. This teaches you mental toughness. This teaches you to be sharp and overcome obstacles. Remember how much work is there just to squat. Imagine that every set you need to do so much work. Imagine that you need to bring the sandbag to the place where you are training before the session and to take it back to where you keep it afterwards. Imagine discipline and dedication needed to train like this. This type of training is not for modern gym attendees. There are no mirrors, no chicks in spandex, no fancy brand new clothes. There are just you and a bag full of sand that demands to be lifted. That’s what builds mental toughness.

4. Sandbag Training Develops Real World Strength

Who cares how much do you bench or squat? Despite what you think the real answer is nobody. These are just numbers. And no matter how big these numbers are if you can’t apply this strength in real world you are weak. I’m not saying here that sandbag is the only right way or that barbell sucks. Use any implement that works for you. But sandbag training definitely builds strength that you can use in real world. This amount and type of work makes you stronger with real life objects (like drunk motherfuckers) and in real life situations (like a bar fight). It is all not because sandbag is well-balanced and stable. Contrary to that it is odd and unbalanced. This not only involves more stabilizer muscles into action but also develops much more coordination and strength you can use outside the gym.

5. Sandbag Training Develops Muscle Armor

Again, because this training implement is so odd and uncomfortable body will get tougher. I don’t know how to explain this scientifically but there is a difference between bodybuilder and gymnast (or some sort of strongman). Second category will look tougher and more badass while first one will look more ballooned up. I guess, this is because the primary muscle fiber type used. But for the sake of not getting too snobby let’s call this muscle armor (how scientific, I know). This will help you to take hits with minimal injury.

Closing Thoughts

Well, now you have it. Use your strength responsibly. If you see violence on women hit the bastard hard. Never start the fight (unless it’s inevitable in which case hit first to increase chance of winning). I hope my story gave you some usefulness. Thanks for reading. You will do the old man a great favor if you share my work on this thing everybody calls internet. By the way, here’s my another article on sandbag training. That’s it.

Play rough!


P.S. I only now noticed that dude on the picture looks like Hitler. Gets creepy (:

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P.P.S. I’d love to read your thoughts in comments.

P.P.P.S. The dude on the picture is Edward Norton from the movie Fight Club.

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14 thoughts on “5 Ways Sandbag Training Will Help You in a Bar Fight

  1. Jonathan F.V.

    Very good post, it makes me want to make a sandbag for myself and use it. Maybe for doing some kind of wrestlers conditioning. Just need a bag, smaller bags, sand and some space to keep it, now! :)

  2. Gabri

    Hi Alex!

    I train in my backyard, and i use sandbags for lots of exercises like cleans and front squats (easier to perform than barbell versions).

    But when i do heavy sandbag shouldering (85-90 kg) for reps and time, i feel it is the harder exercise i have ever done.

    That is why i totally understand what you are talking about. Today playing a rugby match, when i got hit many times by 110 and 120 kg guys, it did not feel much harder than when i have lo lift my heavy sandbag! (Sometimes i have to put the brakes on my intensity to avoid puking :S )

    I love your blog and your articles, keep it the Rough Strength way!

  3. joker

    hello from France man ! very interesting website !! very good job ! :)

    ps: you made me laugh here really haha :D :D !

    ” If I just throw heavy sandbag down I risk to make a hole in the floor).”

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  7. Frank Balboa

    Hello Alex! Good Article, I wanted to ask your opinion on this bulgarian bag business that I am reading more and more about, at a first glance it looks like some sort of cross between the heavy bag and the kettle bell but I am sure you are better versed on its virtues and flaws than I am.

      1. Frank Balboa

        I have experimented a bit with the concept by putting water bottles inside a backpack and then trying some exercises and I could see how that could be a great training tool, there are tons of DIY tutorials on youtube so I am thinking of making one since its super cheap to make.

        1. Alex Zinchenko Post author

          Frank, I think Bulgarian bag is better for conditioning and endurance training rather than for strength. However, it may be a great cheap tool. If you make one I would love to know how it worked.

          – Alex


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