Functional fitness. It’s a term with which we are all familiar and it has become more popular in recent years. The foundation of CrossFit and its programming goes beyond workouts based on building muscles that just look good; we work out with the goal of improving general fitness on a functional level. Carrying luggage. Moving a dresser up a flight of stairs. Tossing our kids in the air. These are examples of the real-life WODs we encounter daily.
Since functional fitness can improve carrying out daily encounters, it isn’t surprising that many Coaches champion incorporating it into WODs. Also not surprising is the popularity of incorporating sand bags into WODs to replicate the various weighted obstacles we routinely encounter. After all, not too many items we are forced to lift, pull, push or carry on a daily basis resemble the characteristics of a barbell or kettlebell. There are no handles on my dog’s 40-pound bag of food or the recliner I helped my neighbor move. Often we must grab, hug, pull and lift items in order to accomplish daily activities. The characteristics of most sand bags on the market make them ideal tools on which to base a functional fitness workout. However, despite the many benefits of sand bag training, sand bags themselves can present many pitfalls.
Sand bags are great tools, but can be a little messy. If sand bags get wet — whether from sweat or outdoor use — they tend to get heavier, which changes the WOD dynamics for athletes. So how can we implement the functional fitness of a sand bag and avoid some of the messier aspects?
Simple: Use a sand-less sand bag.
You can get all of the benefits of a sand bag workout without the sand. In our Box, we use bags that are filled with a proprietary rubber blend. The bag’s water-resistant rubber fill allows us to incorporate them into outdoor runs and WODs, regardless of the weather.
Additionally, these bags add the following benefits:
Stabilization – The foundation builds the house, and when it comes to the body, being able to strengthen connective tissues prior to the exposure of heavier loads is crucial. Rubber-filled bags offer a solid but unstable environment, requiring the user to stay fully engaged and experience maximal neuromuscular adaptations through each movement.
Versatility – The luxury of being able to use one tool throughout an entire WOD can provide a way to keep programming simple and user friendly when needed. The rubber-filled bags used for foundational movements, such as the overhead press, can be utilized for more complex movements such as the squat clean thruster.
Durability – As a Box owner, if I am going to invest money into a piece of training equipment, I’d like it to last. In the last year and a half we haven’t come across any integrity issues. At our Box, we feel we have made a solid investment. In summary, incorporating functional fitness by way of rubber-filled bags has served my clients and my Box well, and we’ve benefited from the durability and versatility they offer.
By Sarah Pozdol, Wreck Bag’s CrossFit advisor and CrossFitC2L co-owner. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit wreckbag.com.