By Nick Holt, CPT
If you've spent any time in a gym or browsing YouTube, you've probably come across sandbag training. Maybe you're wondering whether you should try sandbag training and if it's an effective way to get leaner and stronger. The answer to both of those questions is "Yes." But let's start with the basics.
What Is Sandbag Training?
Sandbag training is a training modality that uses a sandbag as a weight training tool. A sandbag is unique because it is an unstable load, which means that the weight you are lifting is constantly shifting as you lift it. Training with an unstable load can make your body stronger in a functional way -- one that mimics the lifting of a kicking child, picking up a heavy bag of groceries, or grabbing a large suitcase off of a moving conveyer belt.
Sandbag training just requires a bag filled with sand, so it's inexpensive and versatile. You can make your own sandbag with a duffel bag, duct tape, and sand, or you can buy a one that's built for training.
Here are five exercises to get you started with sandbag training:
1. Bear Hug Squat
The bear hug squat will strengthen your legs, back, and core. Make sure to track your knees over your second toe, stay tall through your spine, and keep your head neutral.
2. Sandbag Push-up
The sandbag push-up will challenge your core and chest. Keep your abs tight and stay in a straight line from head to heels. The challenge will be to maintain a neutral spine as you lower into your push-up and press back up.
3. Alternating Sandbag Lunge
This exercise challenges your balance while building leg and core strength. Your focus is to maintain your balance as you lunge back and load the sandbag to one side. Start standing tall, and stay tall through your spine even as you reach the sandbag to your sides.
4. Sandbag Row
In the sandbag row, your goal is to maintain a neutral spine while pulling the sandbag with your back. This will build core and back strength. Hinge from the hips, keep your abs tight, and pull the sandbag by squeezing your shoulder blades together towards your spine.
5. Sandbag Shouldering
The last exercise is a bit more plyometric. In sandbag shouldering, you're using the power of your hips to swing the bag over your shoulder. Then drop the sandbag back down to the ground and repeat on the other side. This exercise builds leg, core, and shoulder strength and power. It'll get your heart rate up and challenge your conditioning. Make sure to do this exercise with perfect form. Avoid rounding your back and trying to pull the bag with your arms. Bend your knees and hinge with your hips to drive the sandbag.
To learn more about sandbag training and try a workout, check out my 30-Minute Sandbag Workout on BuiltLean.com.
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