Sandbag is one of the most simple and yet the most effective strength training implements out there. Sandbag strength training is still highly underappreciated nowadays despite all the attempts to popularize it. I think there are two reasons for this:
- It is not fancy;
- It is brutally hard.
Any exercise performed with heavy sandbag is a test of willpower, and it is so ferocious that will leave you lying in the puddle of your own sweat. If you still doubt that sandbag is one of the manliest training tools out there, I challenge you to try it.
Not long time ago, there were some efforts to revive sandbags. For example, the first person to attract my attention to them was Brooks Kubik.
The author of Dinosaur Training playing with 200 lbs sandbag
His “Dinosaur Training” is the classic read that devotes some attention to heavy sandbag training. However, he uses sandbags as a supplement to conventional barbell and dumbbell training. In my opinion, it is not enough for such a great tool. And even not close enough to describe its tremendous potential.
Here Is Why
1. Sandbags work your stabilizers in the most brutal way possible. Even after the first sandbag workout, you will be sore as hell in places you have not even thought about earlier. Guaranteed. Barbells will feel like a walk in the park after sandbag brutality.
2. Sandbags work your grip big time. Isn’t it a pleasant bonus? Even more. Actually there is a strong correlation between your grip strength and size of your muscles, so do not neglect this benefit.
3. There is a lot of setup work with sandbags. Not good? Think again, man. It’s like a workout in a workout. You will build incredible work capacity after all those cleans and shouldering.
4. You’ll be sweating after the first work set with sandbags. Talking about fat loss and conditioning.
You can read more about the benefits of sandbag strength training here.
The benefits are indisputable. What’s next?
Where to Get a Sandbag?
I can answer this question easily. There are two viable ways. Either has pros and cons.
1. You can order a commercial one (for example, here). They are great for fat loss and conditioning but they definitely lack the weight you can stuff in if your goal is rough strength and size.
2. If you want to build some serious strength and muscle, you will need a ‘monster’ sandbag. You should be able to stuff into it at least 300 lbs (135 kg) of sand. You can check out my article called “How to Make a Sandbag” for more details. There you can find precise instructions on sandbag construction.
Basic Sandbag Exercises
I divided them into categories:
1. Upper Body Push
Sandbag Overhead Press
Grab a sandbag off the floor. Clean it with your lower back arched. Press it overhead until your elbows locked.
Sandbag Floor Press
Lie down on the floor near a sandbag. Drag it forcefully across your body. Set it up in your hands. Press.
2. Upper Body Pull
Sandbag Bent-Over Row
Grab a sandbag off the floor. Bend over. Row. Keep your lower back arched.
Grab a sandbag off the floor. Keep your lower back arched. Pull it forcefully and catch it. Jump and shoulder it in one movement. It is a full-body movement that works the whole body as one unit. So it is not only upper body pull.
3. Lower Body Push
Sandbag Bear-Hug Squat
Bear-hug a sandbag. Squat. Keep the weight on your heels, not toes.
Sandbag Zercher Squat
Grab a sandbag off the floor. Jump with it and catch it in Zercher position. Squat. Keep the weight on your heels, not toes. Check out this article for more tips on this exercise.
Sandbag Shoulder Squat
Shoulder a sandbag. Squat. Keep the weight on your heels, not toes.
4. Lower Body Pull
Sandbag Bear-Hug Good Morning
Bear-hug a sandbag. Grab it off the floor and stand up. Lean forward without bending your knees. Stand back up. Keep your lower back arched.
Sandbag One-Arm Swings
Take a sandbag in one hand. Swing it between your legs. Keep your lower back arched. It is an awesome exercise for developing grip strength.
Grab a sandbag off the floor. Jump with it and catch it in Zercher position. Carry it around.
Shoulder a sandbag. Carry it around.
NOTE: this is just a description of exercises, not an actual instruction. You should consult a professional for proper technique.
Example Sandbag Routine
Here is an example sandbag-only full-body routine:
A) Overhead Press – 3 x 5
B) Shouldering – 3 x 4 (per side)
C) Zercher Squat – 3 x 6
A) Floor Press – 3 x 8
B) One-Arm Swing – 3 x 8 (per side)
C) Shoulder Carry – 2 x as far as possible
A) Bent-Over Row – 3 x 12
B) Bear-Hug Squat – 3 x 12
Saturday & Sunday
NOTE: this routine is presented here only for example purposes. It may or may not work for you depending on your individual capabilities and conditions.
Is sandbag the ultimate tool in building strength and muscle? Probably not, but it’s pretty close to it. If you ask me would I stop working out with sandbags, my answer would be: “Nope”. Try it and you’ll understand why.
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Are you tired of lack of results? Strength training seems like the rocket science to you? Do you want to get strong, build muscle, lose fat and get awesome finally? Let the professional do all the dirty work for you.