When we think of resistance training, we usually think of dumbbells, kettlebells, and gym machines. Visiting a gym, we rarely notice a sandbag laying around and even if the gym owns such equipment, you have to call it by its name so you can have access to it. In this article, we’ll talk about the sandbag workout.
Table of Contents
What is a sandbag?
The sandbag, also known as a power bag, is a way of adding resistance to your training by not using the conventional equipment you are familiar with- such as dumbbells.
The sandbag was mainly created to be used as resistance while doing compound exercises. A compound exercise is an exercise that usually involves the combination of two movements at the same time. This form of movement is executed with the goal of activating lots of muscles simultaneously.
In this notion, the sandbag comes handy as it’s easier to swing around in comparison to other equipment. The main advantage the sandbag offers is the comfortable grip.
Except for that, the sandbag does a good job of activating those core muscles of yours due to the compound movements you perform with it. Traditionally, the power bag is not used for isolation work, for example, bicep curls.
Why should you do a sandbag workout?
The sandbag finds its best use in total body conditioning. Using it as a load for a combination of movements into the same exercise can quickly have you sweating. The best part is that this conditioning can be progressive.
Sandbags can have different loads, therefore being lighter or heavier.
This practically means that if you want to challenge yourself even more on your sandbag workouts, you can have your pick on different weight classes.
When a workout is repeated too many times without changing something to make it more difficult, then we are talking about building muscle endurance.
Training that way is ok if you want to get lean and slim.
Having adequate endurance does mean you are well-conditioned and fit but it doesn’t mean that you have reached your top level of conditioning.
That’s why I’m stressing it too much here. If you want to make bigger progress then you’ll have to transition to a heavier sandbag later on.
As I already said, the power bag is mostly used as a load when adding a movement into another movement. An example of this combo would be front lunges with core rotation. Later on, I will be giving you some exercises to step up your sandbag workout game and have some great results.
What precautions to take with a sandbag workout?
Note: The sandbag is made to provide resistance but not such a large amount of it which will make you unable to perform the compound exercise you’ve chosen.
This might seem obvious but let’s say it for clarity’s sake. When working out with the sandbag you want to choose a weight that is challenging enough but not too heavy to the extent of making the exercise impossible to perform.
How to use the sandbag workout?
Using the sandbag is like using a tool. If you’ve never done it before, it may feel a bit awkward at first. But with practice and time you get better at it. Let’s mention a couple of points to keep in mind when working out with the sandbag.
Just like when working out without it, you should focus on having a good form. Your movement with the sandbag should be controlled. Do not treat it like keeping a dead weight in your arms which you move and swing up and down without purpose.
The idea here is to think of the sandbag as an extension of your arms. Control it and “own” it to make it work for you.
Top 6 sandbag workout exercises
Let’s jump into the interesting stuff now. Here, I will be presenting a sample workout. Do the following exercises in a cycle. Do each exercise for 15 reps and repeat all of them for 4 cycles- or more if you can pull it.
FRONT LUNGES WITH TORSO ROTATION
1) Stand up with your feet shoulder-width apart.
2) Hold the sandbag in your hands and raise it up until you’re holding it just in front of your chest. Your hands are obviously bent.
3) Step forward and do a normal lunge until your thigh gets parallel to the floor.
4) At the same time, twist your torso in the same direction. To twist in the right direction, think of it like bringing your opposite shoulder to your opposite leg. If you lunge with the right leg, then you also twist right.
5) Return to the starting position and repeat for the opposite leg.
The V-Up is a very interesting core exercise that you can use instead of the traditional sit-up. Performing it loaded with a sandbag can give you an extra challenge.
1) Lay down on your back.
2) Fully extend your legs down and your arms. You are laying in a straight line.
3) Hold the sandbag in your hands.
4) Now fold your body, raising your hands and legs at the same time. Your goal here is to touch your legs onto the sandbag.
5) Return down to complete one repetition. If this exercise is a bit hard at first, consider getting a lighter sandbag until you build up some more core strength for this exercise.
SQUAT TO MILITARY PRESS
Using a heavier sandbag would be great for this exercise. Our human legs are a quite strong part of our bodies. As for the shoulder press, the momentum will offer enough assistance for you to be able to push the weight up.
- Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Keep the sandbag in front of your chest and ready to pump it up.
- Squat down holding your back as straight as possible. Keep this in mind because the weight will be tempting you to lean forward.
- Now squat up into the starting position. Without resting a single second, push the sandbag up towards the ceiling and above your head until your elbows are locked out. Bring it down before your chest to complete a repetition.
FULL BURPEE TO BICEP CURL
The burpee is an exercise that everyone hates. I don’t blame them. I also hate it a little bit. But as usually happens in life, the thing you hate is the thing you have to do. The burpee is an excellent exercise to make your heart beat faster. Adding a bicep curl on the top of the movement can help you tone those biceps.
1) Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart. Perform the next steps quickly.
2) Fall down into a pushup starting position. Keep your hands on the sandbag. Either support yourself on your palms or fists.
3) Do a pushup.
4) Stand up and do two bicep curls.
5) If you feel hot, add a shoulder press at the end.
6) This is one repetition.
WIDE LEG SQUAT TO UPRIGHT ROW
1) Stand upright with the feet wide open, wider than the normal squat.
2) Keep your arms straight, the sandbag is hanging down in front of your hips.
3) Squat down keeping your back as straight as possible.
4) Come back up and perform an upright row.
5) To perform an upright row: Keep your hands and the sandbag close to your body at all times. Pull your hands straight upwards toward the ceiling until they reach the upper part of your chest.
6) Lower your hands down to complete one repetition.
SANDBAG GET UPS
1) Lay down, back is on the floor. Legs are straight.
2) You are holding the sandbag on your upper body. You are hugging it.
3) Now try to get up without twisting your torso. This means your chest and the sandbag are always looking forward. Do what you need to do to get up but never twist left or right to assist yourself.
4) Lay back down to repeat one repetition.
The bottom line
As we’ve seen, the use of a sandbag activates your stabilizing core muscles and makes your body work a little bit harder than it’s used to do. To benefit from it, use it as a load for compound exercises.
The sandbag can be a good friend for conditioning work and it can positively support your fat loss efforts.