Time to take it Old School! I find it humorous that with
the endless variety of fitness gadgets and high tech equipment
that is in the market in this day and age, primitive training
regimes like sandbag training have renewed life. Personally
I love it. There's all kinds of terminology that you will
hear for this kind of training... underground training,
primitive training, gladiator training... it all comes down to
performing strength training exercises with non-standard objects
that you typically won't find in your local health club or spa.
At the top of the current list of primitive training techniques
you will find tractor tire flipping, sledgehammer training, log
training, stone training, sled dragging and pushing, and of
course sand bag training.
For hundreds of years sandbags have been an integral training tool for
athletes, specifically wrestlers. They are an inexpensive
tool that is incredibly versatile and can offer the benefits
of unstable training with a challenging load. This is a
benefit that many of today’s unstable gadgets can not provide.
However, the benefits don’t stop there. Greater stabilizer,
trunk, and grip strength can be developed with sandbags as
well as sport-specific drills, and mobility work. They
are a great
Sandbags can be thought of
as the most “uncooperative” pieces of equipment. They are
different because they will change their form as you lift
them. Unlike many other training tools, it is almost
impossible to develop a specific groove for any lift. This
makes sandbags a constant challenge as every repetition will
be vastly different.
Sandbags work your body in ways you could not approach with
a barbell alone. You get into the muscle areas you normally
don’t work. You worked the heck out of the stabilizing
the strength of the stabilizers can both decrease your risk of
injury and improve performance.
The non-cooperative nature of sandbags makes it crucial to
muscle possible to lift them. More stable and
predictable implements can cause the body to find a particular
groove. Once this groove is established then one becomes more
efficient at performing the lift and the body actually
decreases the amount of muscles utilized.
With explosive sandbag lifts such as cleans,
throws, snatches, and shouldering, the trunk muscles
(including those of the low back and abdominal area) have to
work harder to stabilize the body against the awkward load
while moving very quickly. This is very unique to sandbag
With sandbags we can also create amazing rotational drills
that place the body into ranges of motion that would normally
occur during sport. Working through such ranges of motion with
a load prepares the body more appropriately for the demands
that sport produces.
Sandbags may be the perfect tool for combative athletes as
they are the only tool that can come close to representing an
opponent. The constant shifting weight of a sandbag makes it
an ideal training environment for combative athletes as it
prepares the athlete for the unpredictability of a fight on
the mats on the ring. They also develop the back and
side muscles in movements that are identical to the lifting
and pulling movements of wrestling.
Sandbag lifting shares a lot in common with
kettlebells in regards to their ability to challenge not
only strength, but endurance as well. A good bag will allow for some movements
within therefore always forcing the lifter to maneuver and
adjust to the awkward weight. This definitely causes the body to
use more muscles and expend greater energy as it is hard to get
into one consistent groove.
EVERYONE can benefit from greater grip strength. Many
trainers believe that most of the carpal tunnel and arthritis
problems that our society experience’s is closely related to
the lack of hand training. There is no piece of equipment that frustrates people
as much as sandbags. When using sandbags there is not a
convenient place to grab. You have to constantly search for an open spot and then crush
grip. However, unlike most pieces of equipment I find that not
only is your crushing grip challenged, but pinching grip as
well. For those that are into grip training you will appreciate
the distinct difference between the two.
Because sandbags are so different they are often a breathe
of fresh air for most people’s training programs. Even taking
common exercises such as squats and presses and using a
sandbag give these exercises a new feel and challenge while
continuing to meet the original goal of the exercise. Grab, rip, and lift. You
definitely want to pay attention to lifting posture, but outside
of that most of the fun is trying to figure out how to lift the
Clean and Press
Recently, I decided
to make a few sandbags of my own and add a few exercises to my
workout. I bought a military duffle bag on eBay for about
$12, and couple 50 pound bags of play sand from Home Depot for about $4 each.
The military duffles are great because they are sturdy canvas
bags that hold up real well. I filled a couple of Husky
Contractor Clean-up bags with sand and duct taped them shut,
then put them in the duffle. In order to make my bag
adjustable, I have a 50 pound trash bag and a couple of 25
pounders. So basically, when I have all 3 bags in the
duffle I have a nice 100 pound sandbag to heave around.
Sandbags are a low cost, high return investment that can make a
fun and challenging addition to anyone's workout routine!