Ultimate Sandbag Workout Guide – Tips, Hints, Exercises, and More

Sandbag training is a staple for several militaries around the globe. And for several decades, regular trainers have added it to their respective routines.

Even if it doesn’t look like it, there’s a lot of muscle building potential in that lumpy sandbag. All you need for a full body build-up could be inherent in sandbag workouts. 

Sandbags – What are They?

The sandbag is a sack filled with sand or other filling that serves as a weight for exercise movements. 

The sandbag workout remains an age-old technique and remains largely unchanged in form till this day. Several fillings now go into bags, and regular sand is becoming obsolete. But the shifting nature of sandbags make them a challenge for our body during a workout. 

Benefits of Sandbags

Ideal for sportsmen

Sportsmen keen on building on their physical fitness and endurance will benefit much from the sandbag. It offers massive training support for a wide range of drills. Load carries, throws, sprints, uphill walks, and more are all candidates for sandbags. 

sandbag for workout

And if you’re targeting gaining more muscle here and there, the sandbag could be an ideal training tool. 

Lifting your sandbag to chest level makes several lunges, squats, laterals, and explosive reps easier to manage. There’s much in store for an athlete keen on sandbags training. All you need to do is tap into it. 

Tough training potential

Absolute strength isn’t a major focus of sandbags, you can try out barbells for that. But if you’re looking for serious conditioning and working multiple muscle groups, very few movements can beat sandbags. 

The toughness of a sandbag could make some lifters find it difficult to lift half their regular weight max. If that’s not some tough stuff, what is?

More value for money

Don’t have $1000 or $2000 to spend on gym equipment? The sandbag could be a cost-effective option. Many fillings are available for sandbags if you wish to add extra weight as desired. But if you’re all for DIY, you could get a sandbag for as little as $20.

What Sandbag Exercises Could Do

Sandbag exercises could be performed in a dynamic fashion, as we’ll see later on in this piece. Here’s some of the perks tied to performing sandbag workouts:

  • Improved grip strength 
  • Potential for stabilising muscles
  • Increased lifting routine potential
  • Better muscle load support
  • Joint load potential
  • Enhanced support for circuit training 
  • Improved form for several exercises
  • Core muscle development

Sandbag Challenges

Sandbag Pyramid

Ever heard of a 20-15-10-5 circuit move?

If you haven’t, a great example is the sandbag pyramid. The move involves performing 

  • Twenty (20) reps of over-the-shoulder throws
  • Twenty (20) reps of burpees over your sandbag
  • Fifteen (15) reps of over-the-shoulder throws
  • Fifteen (15) reps of burpees over your sandbag
  • Ten (10) reps of over-the-shoulder throws
  • Ten (10) reps of burpees over your sandbag
  • Five (5) reps of over-the-shoulder throws
  • Five (5) reps of burpees over your sandbag

Sandbag Strength

The sandbag strength routine begins with exercisers targeting two-dozen-and-a-half (30) ground – overhead presses. Most reps don’t exceed seven minutes, but if you’re a newbie, ten minutes isn’t so bad.

Sandbag Walk

The sandbag walk involves performers taking a bag filled with 25% of their total body weight for a 400m walk. 

But as expected, not everyone would want to stop at just a quarter of their weight. Beginners usually stick to 25% of their body weight, intermediates use half of their weight often. And pros make use of their full bodyweight more often for the walk. 

Most performers complete the move within ten minutes. So, ensure you take a stopwatch on your first walk. 

Sandbag Exercises

Here’s a list and how-to guide of some top sandbag exercises. Grab a sandbag and have at them right now!

Bent-Over Row

Reps: 10 – 12 

Sets: 3

Rest Timeline: 30 seconds between sets

Focus: Back and shoulder muscles, chest muscles, and biceps

How-To:

  • Get a sandbag
  • Engage the sandbag with both hands, hanging it in front of your knee area
  • Stand in an almost staggered form with your knees slightly bent out
  • At this position, the sandbag should be hanging just above your feet with your torso bent in an almost-horizontal position
  • Bring the sandbag up onto your chest, pulling both elbows straight back
  • When engaging the movement, resist every temptation to round your back to leverage full benefits

Deadlift (Straight Leg variation)

Reps: 8 – 12 

Sets: 3 

Rest Timeline: 15 – 30 seconds rest between intervals

Focus: Lower back, chest, shoulders, hams, gluteus muscles, and posterior chain area

How-To:

  • Engage the sandbag in a standing stance
  • Sandbag should be resting on your knees at its bottom end
  • Take a lower body dip with the sandbag approaching your lower shin area
  • Lowering should happen from your waist with your knees remaining upright
  • Return to initial position to complete first rep

Grip Curl

Reps: 8 – 10 

Sets: 3 – 4

Rest Timeline: 20 seconds between each set

Focus: Biceps, shoulder muscles

How-To:

  • Grip sandbag handles at a similar position to the deadlift
  • Sandbags should be around your thighs for this movement
  • Without moving your elbows away, lift the sandbag up, forming a curl
  • Hold at the curl position for one second, release and drop for another second, and return to initial for final second (Three-second movement in total)

Lateral Lunge Press-Out

Reps: 8 – 12  

Sets: 3 – 4

Rest Timeline: 30 seconds between sets

Focus: Posterior chain, biceps, and hip region

How-To:

  • Engage sandbag, allowing it rest under your biceps at chest height
  • With the sandbag engaged, stretch your right leg out until your thigh almost reaches its maximum point
  • Press sandbag out with your palms facing forward and the bad on your arms
  • Lift yourself through your heels and to its initial point
  • Repeat movement with your other leg to complete one rep

Over-Shoulder Throw

Reps: 10

Sets: 4

Rest Timeline: 30 seconds

Focus: Shoulders, triceps

How-To:

  • Get into a squat while lifting your vertical sandbag up with your legs at a hip-width stance
  • Keep your back muscles out of it while you’re doing all you can to tighten your core
  • Lift bag, throwing it over one of your shoulders to complete one rep
  • Do it again with the other shoulder to complete another rep

Push-Ups

Reps: 10 – 12

Sets: 4

Rest Timeline: 30 seconds between sets

Focus: Chest, shoulders, and biceps

How-To:

  • Place your hands on the sandbag, directly under your shoulders
  • Create tension around your core region while lowering your shoulders, pressing onto the bag
  • Return to initial position, making sure you don’t round out your elbows to complete one rep
  • Start over until your required reps and sets are done

Rotational Lunge

Reps:  10

Sets: 3

Rest Timeline: 60 seconds

Focus: Abs, gluteus muscles

How-To:

  • Keep the sandbag on your right knee while you set the left behind you, with your heels (on the left leg) facing upward
  • With your left knee bent just above floor level, engage the sandbag by twisting over to your left
  • Return the bag to its central position and switch legs to perform another rep (twisting to your right this time)

Russian Twist

Reps: 10 – 12 

Sets: 3

Rest Timeline: 15 – 30 seconds

Focus: Abdominal muscles

How-To:

  • Sit with the sandbag in front of you
  • With both feet off the floor, twist at your torso 
  • Turn from one side to the other to complete one rep

Squat Thruster

Reps: 8 – 10

Sets: 4

Rest Timeline: 15 – 30 seconds

Focus: Abs, glutes, hips, knee joints, shoulders

How-To:

  • Hold sandbag in a frontal position, with your palms facing outward
  • Squat until your thighs are at a parallel level with the ground (full body squat)
  • Move in an explosive upward fashion, lifting the bag above your head
  • Complete your stance and return to the initial position to complete one rep

Round Out

Reps: 10

Sets: 4

Rest Timeline: 30 seconds

Focus: Shoulders, triceps

How-To:

  • Hold bag in a position similar to that of the deadlift
  • Raise the bag, lifting it over one part of your shoulder
  • When lifting the sandbag, ensure you do so in a clockwise position
  • Return sandbag to starting position and repeat over other shoulder to complete two reps

Word of Advice

Recovery is essential when you’re performing sandbag training. If you go on performing several routines a day, you could lose the ability to return to form in time. 

Sandbags are not to be trifled with, so ensure you rest a day or two before trying a new move. But if you’re engaging a training, say metabolic conditioning-style, consider two days of rest in between sandbag routines. 

FAQs

How much weight should I use for sandbag training?

Most male lifters engage sandbag weighing up to 85lbs. Women usually settle for half that weight, around 40 – 45lbs. 

How often should you do Sandbag workouts?

The sandbag workout can help you build muscle and get better conditioning if you engage three rounds every three days.

What muscles do sandbag carry work?

  • Core muscles 
  • Side torso muscles
  • Inner ribcage 
  • Back muscles 
  • Abdominals
  • Shoulder and hip muscles

What is the best shredded sandbag workout?

Among the sandbag workouts that target shredded figures, Over Shoulder Throws and Russian Twists are favored options.  

What kind of fillers are used in sandbags?

Best fillers for sandbags

  • Rubber mulch
  • Play sand
  • Wood pellets
  • Scrap chains
  • Coins
  • Pea gravel

Bottom Line

There’s a lot in store for lifters of the sandbag. Strength, hypertrophy, form, and balance all get help from the sandbag. Sandbags offer ample support for full body workout sessions and rank as cost-effective gym support gear. 

And if you don’t have a gym but still want to workout, the sandbag is an excellent item to buy. Here’s the catch about sandbags – there’s no program required to use what it offers. If you’re a beginner or professional lifter, sandbags offer what you need from a workout

Make the most of your portable gym, and get your core, shoulders, abs, and a variety of muscles worked hassle-free!