March 27, 2020 10 min read

Sandbag training is not the most popular workout routine in the USA and there's a reason for that! Sandbags can improve our agility, stamina, flexibility, and strength, and are suitable for athletes of all levels. It's known to be a staple in the training of the military, strongmen, and MMA, as a serious tool for elite performance.

Training with weird or odd-shaped objects has been a part of the Strongman Routine since ancient times. Physical fitness was a significant part of a lifestyle in old civilizations like Rome and Greece. Some of the early training was forgotten for many years, but modern times bring some new gear. However, spartan workouts like moving stones, carrying logs, and waving sandbags are as practical as they are accessible. Not to mention the advantages of exercise that mimics daily life movements.

People have started to realize the benefits of working the sandbags, and how those are helpful to anyone who wants to upgrade their fitness. Sandbags are now a modern version of old-style exercising.

What Is the Point of Sandbag Training?

If your goals revolve around functional strength and conditioning or you do CrossFit, you will love it.

Sandbags are simple tools that require no special form or technique. All you need to know is how to pick up weight the right way. The simple neutral grip will do for a start.

The shifting of the sand is the main perk of this kind of workout. The standard gear is usually balanced and consistent in weight and shape, like kettlebells or barbells. Once you start the flow, it’s easy to keep going. The weight of a sandbag makes that flow impossible due to the shifting of its content. It makes every lift feel like the first rep of a set. The result is a more challenging exercise that keeps engaging your stabilizer muscles.

It's easy to do versatile workouts with the sandbag, from the simple Clean to a demanding complex of movements with the Strongman Sandbag. For strength training, you need a heavier sandbag for a lower number of reps. If you go for conditioning, get a lighter sandbag, and raise the number of reps and intensity. Since you have to keep your back straight and core tight, you improve your balance at the same time.

Some of the uses of the sandbag:

  • Dynamic and plyometric movements
  • Cleans
  • Plank drags

What to Look for in a Sand Bag

A beginner may consider any type of bag, backpack, or homemade bag for a smooth start. As it may seem practical at first, you will soon discover why it's not advisable. Proper sandbags are specifically designed for specific training. Do you aim for strength training? Then you need a bag that can bear more substantial weights and can be thrown to the ground without the risk of damage. Cheaper bags will deliver for a while but soon will prove less effective.

Weight is the top feature you must take into consideration. As a beginner, you don't need much. But soon, you will start getting more robust and need a bigger and heavier bag. Your needs depend on your goals. The weight of the sandbag depends on your ability level, training experience, and purpose. The good news is that the sandbags are adjustable tools. Check on the bags that come with the unique filler bags. Those will allow you to change the mass according to the training so that you can have more versatility with a single tool.

Durability is no less critical. You know how your training will look. Throwing around, waving, lifting, dropping - your bag must endure all of those. If the bag rips, you may end up injured. Also, the torn bag may be hard to replace and brings more expenses. Look for a duffle sandbag shell made of smooth and tough 1000D Cordura, a material used by the US Military. Soft grip handles need to be sustainable, too.

Training conditions count, too. As you can perform various exercises with your bag, it's not the same if the bag is made for simple training or CrossFit. Fitness bags have different gripping elements, while the strength bags are made especially for the power workout.

Of course, the price is no side factor. Most athletes look for a high ratio of cost and value. Most companies won’t recommend a homemade sandbag, but keep in mind that if you make it well, you could end up with better quality than some less notable companies. 

A man working out with a sandbag.

Sandbags for Conditioning

You can swap your regular kettlebell training with a medium sandbag. As you lift the sandbag with two hands, you'll be able to take as much weight as you usually do. With the weight shift, you will get more benefits out of one training. Some of the standard lifts may prove to be more difficult, but you will get used to it soon.

Since the conditioning requires more intensity for higher repetitions, make sure that your bag has handles either at the ends or across the middle. These kinds of handles will make your gripping and throwing the sandbag easier, so you can concentrate on full-body movement, rather than just grip. Regardless, your grip will benefit from the sandbag workout too.

Sandbags for Strength

Get a large sandbag with a high capacity to increase your core and grip strength. With a larger sandbag, you can use a bear-hug type hold to lift and carry the weight. That will allow you to do even the strongman levels of carries.

As you will probably be dropping the weight to the ground at the end, possibly followed with a few not-so-nice words, a quality bag is essential. If you want to go with something proven, use the Brute Force Sandbags.

Handles are not a necessity for strength training. However, if you aim to improve your core strength, it's not a bad idea to have them.

Sandbags for Functional Fitness

The duffle sandbag shell of the high-quality fitness sandbags won't leak sand or dust. You will find them in a variety of options for handles and filler bags to adjust the weight according to the workout. Fitness experts recommend handles made of cloth over the plastic ones. Due to the variety of fitness exercises, you may end up with the plastic hitting your face or shoulders during lifts. That’s the last thing you want! No pain, no gain, but have your pain from the sore muscles rather than a wrong choice of the equipment.

A Full Sandbag of Benefits

Sandbags Improve Stability

Try the Sandbag Windmill, and you'll understand. The constantly-shifting of the center of mass is quite a challenge for your stabilizers. The excellent combination of strength and stability is essential for athletes as well as for anyone who needs to control heavy objects in daily life. You can improve that by training on an unstable surface, but if you include sandbags to your workout, the benefits will be massive - and so will you.

Where to Use the Athlete Sandbag 

You can use your sandbag in the gym, garage, or even somewhere in the wild. The transport is easy, especially if you can carry the empty sandbag and fill it up on the spot.

Sandbags Offer Huge Value for the Money

Sandbag training can be almost free if you make your own bag. It goes with the cost of sand and a sack. However, with many affordable sandbags in the market, you better find something professionally made for your home gym. One good-quality sandbag with velcro filler bags can replace several other workout tools. When you make the calculation, the cost will be minuscule compared to what you’ll get. All of those make the sandbag training one of the cheapest options around.

Sandbag Training Is a Heavy-Duty Workout

After you make your first set of sandbag squats or bear hug good mornings, you will know. You will probably need a decent break before doing anything else. Here comes the benefit of developing mental toughness, too. This workout challenges a whole bunch of muscles while improving your overall condition.

You will discover that you need some great all-round strength for serious sandbag training. There is no way to cheat here. Some may find that uninspiring, but if your aim is a robust and well-chiseled body, think of this as a great way to get one. Perfect the Sandbag Clean first, and swipe your path to the more demanding moves.

Versatility Is the Thing

Few other training tools can compare with the versatility of the sandbag. Try to do any barbell or dumbbell exercise with a sandbag. You will discover a whole new world of workout. The sandbags make an excellent load for the weight sled. Explore the combinations, like shouldering and squatting complex with a sandbag. Exercise at any place you like.

If your current sandbag becomes too easy as you progress, adding a couple of kilograms will bring a whole new challenge. You can really build muscle with one sandbag. The brute strength needed to train with sandbags brings strong shoulders, legs, and backs. Even more, proper sandbag training will develop the muscles you didn't know you have. You'll know when the soreness comes in unexpected places.

Training with a sandbag is uncomfortable, unstable, changing, in one word almost perfect for building up everything from stability to size. It will improve your overall sports performance, as it is ideally suited to unconventional drills.

The Sandbag Shred

The specific challenge that comes with sandbag training dramatically increases your calorie spend. You'll burn an insane number of calories, so if your goal is to lose weight, don't skip on this sort of workout. Do some hard work with sandbag sand and watch your bodyweight melt in front of your eyes. The Brute Force Sandbag is made for the Power Sandbag Workout, a compelling set of fat-loss exercises.

A man and woman working out with sandbags in the gym.

Seriously, Include a Sandbag Into Your Programme

Sandbags are a bit different than all the conventional training tools you may be used too. That doesn't mean you need to change the whole book to fit some pages. If you learn to do some Sandbag Back Squats, Sandbag Clean and Press and Sandbag Bent Over Rows, you can add them to any strength-style workout.

The Sandbag Bear Hug Squat, Sandbag Windmills, and Sandbag Get-Ups fit to a range of exercises that hard or impossible to do with conventional free weights.

Sandbag Back Squat

One of the great workouts for strength-building is the back squat. You will perform it similarly to a barbell squat.

  • Get the sandbag up to your back.
  • Place it to sit horizontally across your upper back.
  • Keep the feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Push your hips back into the squat.
  • Bend the knees to be parallel with the crease in your hip.
  • Drive the hips back and return to the standing position.
  • Keep the chest high and your feet flat.
  • The knees can track forward but not too much, keep them in line with feet.

Sandbag Clean

 The Clean is the standard technique for getting your sandbag from the ground to chest height. The Sandbag Clean is a part of the Clean and Jerk, also known as the Olympic Lift.

  • Put your feet slightly under the bag.
  • Lift the bag from the ground.
  • As the sandbag gathers some momentum, explosively pull it upwards (do not throw).
  • Prepare yourself to catch with a Zercher grip.
  • Descend into a squat.
  • Return to the standing position.
  • Put the sandbag back to the ground.

Sandbag Bent Over Row

Here is an excellent and easy way to work on your arms, back, and shoulders.

  • Hold a sandbag.
  • Slightly bend your knees.
  • Hinge at the hip to position your upper body parallel to the floor.
  • Keep your core tight and your back straight.
  • Row the weights up to the chest.
  • Lower down, and repeat.

Sandbag Bear Hug Squat

This workout is demanding for your core and upper body strength.

  • Squat and take a secure bear hug grip of your sandbag.
  • Keep an upright position, neutral spine, and flat feet.
  • Drive the hips back and return to the standing position.
  • The weight should be at the rear part of the foot.
  • The knees can track forward but not too much, keep them in line with the feet.

Sandbag Windmill

For your core strength, mobility, and stability of the shoulders, this exercise is one of the best.

  • Lift the sandbag with one hand, shoulder high.
  • Turn your feet at 45 degrees to your working arm.
  • Press the sandbag overhead.
  • Keep the arm straight and fully extended.
  • Push your hip out and reach towards the floor.
  • Look up to the sandbag and rotate the shoulder if necessary.

Sandbag Get Up

Here is another version of the exercise traditionally done with a kettlebell or a dumbbell. An unstable sandbag provides a more challenging movement.

  • Hold the sandbag in one hand or across the shoulder.
  • Roll it out onto your elbow on the opposite side.
  • Keep your legs wide apart.
  • Push the sandbag bag up onto your opposite hand.
  • Get your legs in a lunge position.
  • Stand up, return to the ground, and repeat.

The Brute Force Sandbag

The Brute Force is the most well-known producer of a range of high-quality sandbags. Their bags provide dynamic resistance in conditioning workouts and enough weight to build functional strength.

Brute Force athlete sandbags, as the name says, are made for Brute Force training. They rarely break or get severely worn down. These sandbags are usually made with sturdy and resilient 1000D Mil-Spec Cordura, featuring double Velcro, YKK Zippers, and Triple Reinforced BOX X stitching. The handles offer for a variety of grips, from suitcase grip to end cap grip.

Brute Force offers a versatile range of equipment, from their mini versions to the military-grade bags. These sandbag kits are easy to fill and adjust, no matter if the size is mini, 75lbs, or 125lbs and more.

Two main competitors of Brute Force sandbags are Rogue Fitness (who seems to copy everyone) and Ultimate Sandbag. Rogue bags are similar to Brute Force. However, they lack some useful key handles. Ultimate Sandbags have rubberized handles, designed, as the rubber may cause minor bruising when you perform shoulder carries or cleans.

Brute Force Sandbags are great tools to bring some varieties in the training programs. They can replace many exercises done with more conventional gear. Besides that, they’re fun to use.

It's advisable to use a weight belt, even with the sandbags made by the highest manufacturing standards. The design of the sandbag puts the weight in front of you. That can be stressful for your lower back. A weight belt can prevent this.

We Say, Go for It

Include some sandbags in your regular workout program to improve your overall performance. After working a sandbag around, a nicely balanced barbell grip may seem to you like a break rather than an exercise.

In daily life, we usually face the challenge of lifting or moving some odd-shaped objects around. What makes a sandbag form of exercise so functional is the transfer. It helps a person to prepare better for the everyday physical tasks, both sport-related challenges, and ordinary duties. Few pieces of gym gear can compete with the sandbags in this kind of transfer.

So, don't delay it anymore. Check Amazon, find the best sandbag for you, and start your WOD. You’ll thank us later.