Beginner's Guide to Sandbag Training
Sandbags are not substitutes for dumbbells and barbells. "They play by a totally different set of rules," says Josh Henkin, C.S.C.S., creator of the Ultimate Sandbag Training System. Skip isolation exercises; instead, perform total-body moves like the three shown on this page.
FOCUS ON FORM
"As the sand moves around inside the bag, your stabilizing muscles have to work overtime to keep you balanced," says Henkin. So maintaining good form is even more critical for avoiding injury. "Brace your core to minimize the stress on your spine, maximize muscle recruitment, and boost power and performance," Henkin advises.
DON'T OVERFILL THE BAG
The sandbag's effectiveness comes more from its instability than its weight. "When you're ready to progress, alter the way you perform the exercise instead of adding sand," Henkin says. "Using a different grip or loading one side of your body at a time is enough to change the training stimulus and make it harder."
3 MOVES, 650 MUSCLES
1. Bear Hug Squat
Grab a sandbag and hug it to your chest with your feet slightly beyond shoulder width. Push your hips back and lower your body until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor.
2. Around the World
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a sandbag in front of you. Pivot left and lift the bag in a circle behind your head. Repeat to your right. Continue alternating.
3. Bag Drag
Place a small bag on the floor and assume a pushup position with the bag on your left. Grab it with your right hand and drag it underneath you. Repeat with your left hand. Alternate.