“Slam Bag” and the 200 lb Hoist

Posted: March 7, 2011 in Strength Stunts, Workout Reports

For a while now, I’ve been intrigued with the possibility of creating a bag specifically for the purpose of throwing and slamming, rather than your standard lifts.  While the bulk of sandbag lifts are somewhat dynamic, as you must quickly adapt to the squirming of the bag, they are primarily strength movements.  A little explanation may be required here to clarify before we keep going.

So, when our bodies move heavy things slowly, as we would do in most of the familiar gym lifts, we are building strength–the ability to overcome high resistance. That’s a great thing to do, but you may have found that, despite being strong, we often lack the ability to affect sudden, decisive change on a lighter object. Accelerating an object (or ourselves) requires efficient power production. If strength itself were all-encompassing, then your bulky 1,000 pound squatter would be the archetype for the 100 meter dash. That’s not the case, is it? No, because that raw strength is geared to slow, grinding movements against massive resistance.  The sprinter, on the other hand, is able to produce sudden, powerful movements that scoot him down the track. He’s probably a decent squatter, too, because power and strength are inter-related, but that’s a different story.

Anyway, accelerating a light object is great training for your neural pathways. It trains your body to use that muscle you’ve been building in a productive, efficient way. Thus, the slam bag.

The Slam Bag Is:

  • A medium-sized, heavily reinforced bag filled with chunks of recycled rubber.
  • Two layers of polypro bag with a loose cotton bag over the top.
  • About thirty pounds.
  • Pretty darned neat!

What can you do with the slam bag? You can throw it, swing it, and slam it in all manner of ways. Because it is fairly light and absorbs impact gracefully, you can swing it from overhead and slam it into the ground, throw it against a wall, swing it against a wall, and otherwise abuse it. The neat thing about doing all these movements is that they coordinate our body systems, toughen our core muscles, and allow us to ask our muscles to give a sudden pulse of “full on” without putting a massive strain on our joints or worrying about harming ourselves. The self-protection mechanisms in our body will usually not allow us to pop a hernia or otherwise injure ourselves as we slam, throw, or swing a moderate-weight object. The other big benefit is that these power pulses have to be contained by our hands. That means that our hands and lower arms are going to have their work cut out for them.

Slams and Throws I’ve Tried:

  1. Downward slam from overhead, two hands
  2. Downward slam from overhead, one hand
  3. Overhead throw (forward), two hands
  4. Chest pass, two hands
  5. Forehand swing against wall
  6. Backhand swing against wall
  7. Sideways “heave-ho” toss

Other Interesting Lifts:

  • One and two handed snatch
  • Two handed snatch from outside the stance (twist down)
  • Russian Twist (didn’t try)
  • Snatch to overhead squat (didn’t try)

Many of the lifts, slams, and throws can be combined, so that you ask your body to improve its coordination and constantly challenge yourself to see how quick and clean you can manage the moves. Weight isn’t the primary thing, because any weight that’ll allow us to get all our muscle recruited in the acceleration process is sufficient. I found the movements bracing, fun, and cathartic, because you’re just whacking the bag around like crazy. I’m sure that I’ll be talking more about the bag in the near future, as I get the chance to use it outside.

200 lb Hoist:

Just for kicks, I put the Blue Meanie 150 lb bag and my little 50 into a big bag together.  I then hoisted it a few times.  With the two bags squirming in random directions, it was a hell of a tough hoist, but possible. I have evidence now that a “real” 200 pound bag (I’m thinking “Big Meanie” for the name) could be useful. I will probably build one as spring progresses. My “endgame” plan is to build a 250 (the Blue Max?) in the summer. After that, I believe that the bags will grow so bulky as to be difficult to manipulate. I may have to consider stone lifting at the point that the 250 has become old hat, if that comes to pass.

Happy Lifting!

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