When it comes to general conditioning and functional strength development – sandbag training has become really popular over the last few years. And for a good reason. Sandbag training can easily replace conventional training with dumbbells and barbells, you don’t need any expensive equipment and the workouts can be done practically anywhere.
Almost all compound barbell and dumbbell exercises can be duplicated with a sandbag, depending on its size and weight. There is a significant difference between a sandbag and the conventional weighs though; the sandbag changes its shape during the workout, which means the effort you are putting is dynamic (you’ll be changing the force you use during the lift), more stabilizing muscles are used to control the bag (including core muscles) and you are working on your grip at the same time because the bag is harder to hold than a dumbbell or barbell.
You can do a regular weightlifting workout and add sandbag exercises to it to make it more challenging. You can also create your own workout by doing the most basic, compound sandbag exercises:
Sandbag clean and press
This exercise will build functional strength and muscle to your legs, back, shoulders and arms. At the same time your core will work hard to stabilize the bag.
1. Put your sand bag on the ground in front of you.
2. Squat and grab the bag
3. Do an explosive deadlift-like movement and pull the bag up until it reaches your chest.
4. When the bag reaches the height of the chest squat and with a quick movement bring your arms under the bag.
5. From this position press the sandbag over your head.
The sandbag squat will primarily work your legs, then your upper back, lower back and arms. It’s a very good exercise for MMA fighters and other martial artists that use wrestling in their fights.
1. Put your sandbag in front of you and place your feet shoulder width apart.
2. Squat and grab the bag
3. While squeezing the bag to your chest come back up, but do the work with your legs instead of your lower back.
You can also do shoulder sandbag squats where instead of holding it in front of you, the bag will rest on your shoulders or back.
Just like the barbell row, you can do the sandbag row. This exercise not only will work your upper and lower back and rear delts, it will also build tremendous strength in your forearms if the bag is heavy enough.
1. Stand in a bent down position with a flat back, holding the bag in your hands.
2. Pull the sandbag towards your torso and squeeze your lats.
A great exercise if you want to work on your biceps and forearms. Grab a moderate weight sandbag with your palms facing upwards or towards each other. You can use the traditional “bodybuilding” schema like 4-5 sets of 8-10 repetitions.