Are You Looking To Boost Your Training Results? Then This Sandbag Workout Is For You!
You’ve probably only ever seen the use of sandbags for fighting and martial arts training but the sandbag is one of the most common pieces of equipment in strength, power and endurance training, even serving to develop your aerobic capacity, depending on the exercises you perform and the load you lift.
For hundreds of years sandbags have been an integral training tool for wrestlers and other athletes. Why is this? Well they’re pretty inexpensive and also really versatile. It forces you to train with an unstable and challenging load.
In the USA, the use of sandbags as a form of resistance training is rapidly gaining popularity in the fitness industry, due to its multipurpose ability to provide exercises that involve large muscle groups in a short time.
The fundamental principle of sandbag training is that the weight can move throughout the exercise, forcing the body to stabilize and sometimes counteract these changes in motion. This forces greater muscle recruitment which leads to better results regardless of your objective.
Personally, the biggest benefit of the sandbag is the fact that it’s quite strange to lift since the load is always in constant displacement. This requires a greater effort to stabilize your body.
The sandbag is not ergonomically designed which adds to the difficulty in lifting this awkwardly shaped tool. You have to work hard for each repetition!
This concept of functional strength is highly praised in the field of modern health and fitness. It’s not uncommon to find classic exercises modified to include instability using equipment like BOSU or yoga balls, however, the sandbag itself is already unstable!
The main advantage of training with an unstable object rather than working on an unstable surface is that it has greater ecological validity or application in the real world.
Most heavy objects in the real world are not of uniform weight. Therefore, a sandbag workout prepares the body to handle these unstable loads.
Modern gyms are full of machines that require little to no hand force to operate. This causes problems when outside the gym you need the strength of your hand to lift something.
The sandbag avoids this unnecessary problem because it requires high levels of grip strength to lift leaving you with no choice but to develop well-conditioned hands and forearms.
Grip strength is a vital attribute for all athletes, especially MMA fighters, climbers and judo athletes. It’s also important for the population as a whole, as grip strength is more than just how firmly you can shake someone’s hand, it includes support, pinching and wrist strength. The dynamic nature of the sandbag forces the body to use different adhesion strategies.
Sandbags can be thought of as “less cooperative” equipment, making each repetition different from the other, creating a constant challenge.
This non-cooperative nature of sandbags makes it possible to activate all muscles during a single lift. The core muscles have to work harder to stabilize the body against this awkward load.
The best advice for people who want to add sandbags to their workout is to simply make substitutions. Do your regular exercises and try to do them with a sandbag instead of the machine, barbell, kettlebell or dumbbells you regularly use.
Do not be surprised if your load decreases. This is natural and is a testament to the challenge that the sandbag provides.
Focus on compound exercises. These include the squat, deadlift, rows, bench press. Also throw in some isolation exercises like bicep curls and tricep extensions.
Although these exercises are common, the use of the sandbag will make it seem like you’re doing all of these exercises for the first time. Once you feel capable enough, you can start incorporating more advanced movements.
With sandbags you can also create incredible circuits that put your body in intervals of movement that normally occur during any regular sport. Working through such “real-life” movements prepares the body more adequately for the demands that the sport produces.
Sample Sandbag Workout
The Burpee sandbag, which resembles a standard Burpee, is an exercise that involves the whole body and also incorporates a touch of cardio for training.
How To Execute
- Stand with a sandbag at your feet, drop into a pushup position and do a pushup with your hands on the sandbag.
- Return to the standing position, lifting the sandbag with you. Bring the sandbag to your chest, and place your arms under the bag and push it on top.
- Take the bag down and repeat the exercise.
The Zercher squat simulates the use of lifting foreign objects.
How To Execute
- Hold the sandbag at the fold of the elbow (as opposed to over the shoulder in a standard squat) and perform a squat.
Since the weight is in the upper half of the body, as well as the front of the body, gravity will try to force you forward. Your lower back, buttocks and hamstrings have to work harder to counteract these forces.
The video below demonstrates over 30 distinct exercises that are possible with the sandbag. The list doesn’t stop there as you’re only limited by your imagination.
There are so many possibilities, you could do a new sandbag workout for every workout session for 2 months straight without repeating an exercise!