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November 12, 2018

Sandbag Training for Fat Loss, Cardio & Muscle Mass

What is Sandbag Training ?

Sandbag training can be used as an alternative to traditional weight training to achieve various fitness goals including building mass, strength and conditioning. This makes it great functional training and ideal for athletes as well as other professions (strongman to health care professionals).

Sandbag training is dynamic resistance training using sandbags, exercises result in the body to continually activate stabilization muscles to maintain stability as the sandbag filler continually moves during the exercise.

Is sandbag training an effective ?

There are many fitness trainers like Geoff Girvitz and Diego Lopez who highlight the effectiveness of sandbag training for professional athletes and those looking for general fitness. Limited research published in the National Library of Medicine demonstrates it results in better core activity weight training.

Sandbag training is effective for building strength and stability simultaneously because your muscles have to work harder to stabilize the shifting filler in the sandbag every exercise.

What are the benefits of Sandbag Training ?

  1. Sandbag workouts build grip, hand and forearm strength naturally. This is important for all sports.
  2. Sandbag exercises help build a stronger core. This is because sandbags let you train rotational and in a diagonal plane of motion, they will hit every core muscle, from every angle possible.
  3. Sandbag workouts activate the stabilizer muscles which supports the joints and primary muscles.
  4. Sandbag exercises help reduce muscle imbalances because you train all muscles groups with natural movement patterns.
  5. Sandbag workouts improve intermuscular coordination resulting in increased strength as you never repeat the same exact movement twice.
  6. Sandbags Training can be done anywhere as sandbags are portable and can be filled anywhere

Is sandbag training better than weights ?

All exercises involve a push, pull or swing motion. Weight training is limited to one motion for each exercise and therefore good for bodybuilding. Whereas with sandbag training exercises you can do all 3 and, for some exercises, at the same time.

Sandbag Training is better than weights to build functional strength, improving cardiovascular endurance and body fat burning. Whereas weights is better than sandbag training for bodybuilding and building traditional strength. 

How much weight should I use for sandbag training ?

The sandbag weight used for sandbag training will be dependent on your weight and level of experience.

As a general rule for men a 40-50 lbs sandbag is ideal if you are a beginner and a 50-60 lbs sandbag if experienced. For women a 20-30 lbs sandbag is ideal if you are a beginner and a 30-40 lbs if experienced.

Effective Sandbag Workouts

There are literally hundreds of workouts you can do with sandbags. However, there are a few that stand out in terms of their ability to produce results more efficiently and faster than others.

Here are five proven workouts that will give you awesome results. Each workout should be followed for 6 weeks, before taking a week off. For total conditioning, I suggest rotating each of these workouts for a total training period of 35 weeks ( 5 six week workouts with a week’s break between each one).

For each workout, I have provided you with sets and reps but no weights. The sandbag resistance you use should allow you to complete the required number of reps with good form but not more than that. So, if you are doing 10 reps, the chosen weight shouldn’t allow you to do an 11th rep.

Best Sandbag Workout for Fat Loss

The whole idea behind this fat loss sandbag workout is to burn max calories while exercising all of your muscles and getting you puffing. The workout is done in circuit fashion where you go from one exercise to the next without any rest. Once you have competed all 7 exercises, you get exactly 90 seconds to recover before going through for a second round of the workout. Over the course of this six week program, work up to completing 7 total rounds.

 

Best Sandbag Workout for Cardio

Sandbag training makes for an intense form of cardio that sure beats pounding away on a treadmill. Here’s an awesome sandbag workout that will burn off body fat as it improves the functioning of your heart and lungs. This is another circuit workout. This time, however, you only have a total of 60 seconds to rest between each round.

Best Sandbag Workout for Muscle Mass

This sandbag muscle mass workout is a traditional sets and reps workout. Sandbags allow you to perform every exercise that can be done with traditional barbells, However, they add the element of instability to recruit stabilizing muscles. I have given the rep scheme for each exercise. As you decrease the reps, use a slightly heavier sandbag.

 

Sandbag Exercises

Sandbag Swing

Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart and your core branched with a neutral spine. Grab a sandbag by its end and allow it to rest between your legs. Bend your knees and drop down so that your upper body is at a 30 degree angle to the floor. Perform a hip hinge as you swing the bag up to chest level and then allow momentum to carry it back down between your legs. Continue for the required number of reps.

Sandbag Push Press

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and a sandbag held overhead at shoulder level with palms facing forward. Keep your core tight and your shoulders braced. Initiate the action by dropping the hips a couple of inches  and bending the knees. Now drive through the heels to reverse the action and push the sandbag to full extension overhead. Lower and repeat.

Sandbag Squats

Stand with feet shoulder width apart and a sandbag resting across your shoulders. Keep your lower back neutral and chest up. Now initiate from the hips to lower down into a parallel squat. From here, push through the heels to drive back up to the start position. Do not allow your knees to cave in as you come up.

SandBag Bent Over Row

Stand in front of a sandbag with your feet shoulder width apart. Keeping a neutral spine, bend your knees to grab the sandbag by its ends. In this start position your torso should be angled at around 30 degrees to the floor. Now row your arms up so that the sandbag comes up to your chest level. Lower and repeat, feeling for the stretch in the lats.

Sandbag Deadlift

Stand in front of a sandbag with your feet shoulder width apart. Bend your knees as you reach down to grab the bag by its ends. Maintaining a neutral spine, hinge at the hips and straighten the knees simultaneously to straighten up and bring the sandbag up to the level of your mid thighs. Lower and repeat.

Thruster with Lunge

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and a sandbag held at mid-chest level. Now take a large step forward to perform a lunge. From this position, explode up as you power the sandbag overhead and return to a standing position. Repeat for the required number of reps.

Crab Walk

Put the sandbag in a backpack and put the backpack on your back. Now get down on the floor on all fours facing upward. The palms of your hands should be on the floor behind your torso. From this position walk back six paces.

Sandbag Slam

Kneel on the floor with a sandbag in-front of your body. Take hold of the sandbag with both hands. Now raise he sandbag up using the strength of your deltoids to the side of you head and then slam to the floor. Then raise the sandbag again to the other side of your head and slam to the floor. Repeat for the required number of reps.

Conclusion

Doing the same exercise routine day in and day out can become boring.  Sandbag training exercises can shake things up a bit. Opting for this kind of training does not need a gym membership for you to start. Also, you don’t need any other training equipment, so sandbag quickly became one of the most powerful training tools on the market.

All you need for your home gym is a great sandbag product, adequate space, and you’re on. There is a wide range of exercises you can do with this type of equipment. That’s it, no excuses, so start sandbag training today!

Additional Questions Usually Asked

How often should you do sandbag workouts?

Given sandbag workouts impact all muslces groups they are demanding, so you should not train the same area 2 days consectively. Beginners should aim to train 3 times a week with a least one rest day inbetween each workout. Those that are experienced or professional can train more often over a short term period if they are training for a specific goal or event.

How do you run with a sandbag?

The most common way to run with a sandbag is to carry it over your shoulders or holding it tightly against your body in a bear hug position. Running with a sandbag helps you to burn more calories and build power at the same time.

What exercise can you do with a sandbag?

There are endless ways you can incorporate a sandbag into your training. Here are a few movements that you can do with a sandbag:

  • Sandbag Deadlift
  • Sandbag High Pull
  • Sandbag Power Clean
  • Sandbag Rotational Lunge
  • Sandbag Clean
  • Sandbag Bent Over Row
  • Lateral Bag Drag
  • Sandbag Loaded Front Squat
  • Sandbag Squat Clean
  • Sandbag Carry

Does sandbag carry build muscle?

Sandbag carry is a compound movement that you can add to your routine for building muscle and increasing strength. It is a great way to train your core, back, legs, and posterior chain. Sandbag carry can give the muscle a great stimulus as it is a dynamic resistance. There are many ways to perform sandbag carry. You can carry the sandbag in your hands or a bear hug hold. Remember to keep your spine neutral and chest up when performing sandbag carry. To increase difficulty, you can either carry it for longer or use a heavier load.

Why are sandbags so heavy?

It has more to do with weight distribution than instability. The handles on the sandbag are removed further away from the center of the mass (unlike a dumbbell or a barbell), making the weight feel much heavier.

What do sandbag clean work?

The sandbag clean is a compound movement that stimulates the entire lower body along with your core and some upper body muscles. It works your quad, hamstrings, glutes of the lower body. It also works your core while bringing a significant amount of upper body into play. The sandbag clean engages the bicep, shoulders, as well as triceps as they help to stabilize your body during the movement.

Can you squat with a sandbag?

Sandbag squat is a dynamic exercise that you can add to your routine to add new stimuli to your lower body. The placement of the bag can completely shift the focus of the workout. You can place the sandbag in the front or back squat rack position to emphasize your quad and posterior chain. The Bear Hug Squat and Zercher squat with sandbag are also popular for leg workouts.

Can you do deadlifts with a sandbag?

Sandbag deadlift is a great exercise to train your legs and back with a reduced risk of injury. Start by squatting down and holding the sandbag with your arms shoulder-width apart. Keep your chest up, and lats engaged, and look straight ahead as you lift the sandbag up. You should focus on keeping the sandbag on your midfoot and close to the body. Lock your hips at the top and lower the sandbag slowly and under control to return to the start position.

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Joe (Qualified Personal Trainer & Nutritionist)


Joe Martin is a NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) Certified Nutrition Coach (NASM-CNC) and Certified Personal Trainer (NASM-PST) with over 15 years’ experience in personal training and nutrition. Joe was also a former New York Giants Football Player and has his own fitness website Jerseyjoefitness.com

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