Athletes and weekend warriors are always looking for an edge. We’re always trying to find ways to optimize our performance, become more efficient, and more effective. We need our training to be equally efficient and effective. Enter sandbag training.

Sandbags have been around for a LONG time…they may be one of the oldest training tools man has used. But that doesn’t mean these old school tools are obsolete. Dense, rugged, hard-working, dedicated athletes have been using them all over the world all along. And you should be too!


As anyone who has ever used a sandbag will tell you, the “weight” inside a sandbag is unstable. Like a liquid, it shifts, moves, and doesn’t hold it shape. This characteristic on sandbag training forces the lifter to stay engaged and braced more than a standard fixed weight.

Again, because the load is not a fixed barbell or dumbbell, the stabilizer muscles are challenged and engaged more so than with traditional fixed loads.

Grip Strength

Sandbag training requires an extreme amount of gripping, pinching, crushing, and squeezing. These are elements of grip training, but who has the time incorporate each method into their daily sessions? Answer = not many. Enter the efficiency of the sandbag! Train multiple aspects of your grip WHILE doing your regularly planned strength work. Just don’t plan of doing much typing the day after your first sandbag session!


There’s that million dollar word. Truth is, athletic movements and strength in general are critically dependent on core strength. Not just strength, but the ability to achieve and maintain tension as mentioned in the first point on bracing and stability. But there is also  the dynamic, or movement portion of core strength. Sandbags are wonderful tools in our toolbox to provide the desired training effect for our abs, obliques, and low back.

“Chaos” Of Sports/Athletics

Sandbag training mimics the unpredictable nature of life and sport. I’m not saying they’re “functional”. I’m just saying the multiplanar movements and lack of rigid shape are a better replication of the activities seen in sport and life. Therefore they can be seen as better preparation for “sport specific” moves.
Sand Bags
Sand Bags


Check out all the things you can do with sandbags: snatch, clean, woodchoppers, loaded walks & carries, shouldering, overhead pressing, lunges, Zercher Squat, shouldered squat, overhead squat, Good Morning, RDL, 1-leg RDL, between the leg throws, Turkish get-ups, bent-over rows and more.

And of course you can add rotational elements to each of these moves. 

Conditioning OR Max Effort

Don’t let any of this fool you – you still need top end strength. And NOTHING will ever take the place of Max Effort work. But sandbags can be used for certain max effort moves. With a heavy enough bag you can program Zercher Squats, Cleans and Presses, Snatches, even deadlifts and floor presses for max effort work, especially during an in-season phase.


Of course Sandbags can also be used for conditioning in circuits, complexes, or Metabolic Conditition (MetCons).

Here is a sample Sandbag Complex using some of the moves listed above:  Do an ascending & descending ladder from 1-5.

  1. Snatch x 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
  2. Bent-Over Row x 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
  3. Overhead Press x 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
  4. Shoulder Squat x 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
  5. Good Morning x 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

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