Are Sandbag Workouts Effective?

Are Sandbag Workouts Effective | Brute Force Sandbags


One of the hottest trends in fitness-- sandbag training-- saw a massive increase in popularity due to gyms being closed during the pandemic. With access to over 300 movements with a single piece of equipment, many fitness enthusiasts are choosing to ditch expensive barbell setups in favor of the versatility of sand. So how does sandbag training compare to traditional weight training? Let’s break down some of the key benefits.

Unstable Load Training Works More Muscle Groups

While traditional weight training focuses on isolating muscle groups, the shifting load created by the unstable weight of sandbags engages smaller fixator and neutralizer muscle groups, giving you more bang for your proverbial buck with each movement. This means that while you still get the benefit of training your primary muscle groups, when using sandbags as opposed to static weight sets you get the added benefit of training muscles that are not easily engaged. If functional fitness is the goal, sandbag training adds an extra layer of complexity to movements that enhances overall gains when compared to static training. Another advantage is that when you force different muscle groups to work together, you are enhancing neuromuscular coordination - so not only are you building muscle, but you are actually giving your brain a workout as well.

Train From Anywhere

We all know that when it comes to fitness, consistency is key. The compact and adjustable nature of fitness sandbags allows the functional athlete to pack up and take a single piece of equipment on the road when traveling. Instead of trying to make use of cramped, uncomfortable hotel gyms, why not throw an empty sandbag in your carryon and fill it at your destination? Rather than trying to tote around a full suite of gym equipment, a single sandbag can be kept in your car so that you can break it out on your lunch break and crank out a quick but effective workout.

Dynamic Movements Lead to More Efficient Workouts

Incorporating dynamic movements into your workout such as power cleans, thrusters or burpees give you a total body workout that will leave you feeling completely drained with fewer reps and less time spent switching between movements and equipment. Formats popularized by Crossfit such as a 20 minute AMRAP (As Many Rounds as Possible) or descending repetitions (21-15-9) are short and sweet, but pick 3 movements and you have an instant sandbag workout on the go. The combinations are endless, and the results will speak for themselves. 

Train Like the Pros

Find out why sandbag workouts are the top choice for professionals who rely on functional fitness for their livelihood. Sandbag training is the go-to choice for police, military and fire athletes who need to cultivate peak performance in order to succeed on the job. The unstable nature of sand more closely replicates real world situations than traditional weight training, providing a key advantage in the field - when it matters most. 

Understanding the true versatility of sandbag workouts will help you achieve consistency, strength gains and metabolic conditioning like very few other pieces of equipment out there. Let’s take a look at a classic sandbag workout to see why so many functional athletes reach for their sandbag first. 

Descending Repetitions, 21-15-9 of:

Bear Hug Squats
Brute Force Burpees
Shoulder Slams
Let’s break down the movements.
Bear Hug Squat: Grab the bag around the middle without using the handles, and without resting it on your shoulder, lower down into a squat position, focusing on keeping your knees directly over your heels. Once as far down as mobility allows, explode upward back to the starting position. The bear hug gets harder as reps increase because of the lack of an easy grip. Not only do you get the benefit of a traditional squat, now you are engaging your arms and core to keep the bag in place. 

Brute Force Burpees: A favorite here at HQ, the Brute Force Burpee takes the exercise everyone loves to hate and takes it to the next level. Starting with the bag on the ground, grab the handles, kick your feet back into a front leaning rest, do a pushup and then pop your feet back to the starting position. Now lift the bag over your head from the ground, fully extending into an overhead press. That’s one. 

Shoulder Slams: Start with the bag on the ground, grab the suitcase handles and yank the bag up onto your shoulder while keeping your hips low and back straight. Stand up fully, and then with as much force as you can muster, slam the bag onto the ground. (Make sure you are on a smooth surface to prevent premature wearing of the material). Functional, practical movement patterns showcase the unique nature of sandbag training. 

When combined, these three movements will hit just about every muscle in your body - including the hard-to-train secondary groups we discussed earlier. Each of these movements featured are also unique to sandbags, showcasing why this training tool has gained such popularity in recent years. 

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