Ah, the Sandbag… Where do I start!?

Next in our series of sharing the tools we use for training is the extremely simple, yet insanely sinister sandbag!  In my last blog I wrote about how kettlebells were my favorite of all the “unconventional” training tools. Well this may still be true, but in a close second place there is the often under appreciated sandbag.

So lets talk about exactly what a sandbag is. I know what you’re saying: “Dave, seriously!? It’s a bag with sand in it!” Maybe so, but there’s a little more to the sandbag than meets the eye. Firstly, most exercise specific sandbags are made from a heavy duty canvas. There are generally two different types of sandbags used for exercise-those with handles and those without. While both can be used for many of the same exercises, I’d argue that the handled versions provide a bit more benefit as a result of their versatility. That being said, if you are a person that desires more grip strength, or just simply want more of a challenge, then the handle-less bags might be right up your alley. We use a combination of both with our clients and have found that to cover all grounds.

The next thing you’ll notice about the wonderful sandbag is that not all are created equal. (In this case I’m referring to weight, but the same thing can be said about the actual quality of the bag as well.) One of the great things about them is that a sandbag’s weight is easily adjusted-just add or subtract more sand! Along with that, one of the wonderful things about the nature of the weight is that it actually MOVES. Unlike dumbbells or even the kettlebell, sandbag weight is more fluid, similar in some ways to water. However, unlike water, it’s less likely that the weight will shift suddenly, making it a much better implement in terms of using “real world” objects that are less likely to cause injury due to sudden and unpredictable movements.

And finally, sandbags are an easy travel companion! In all likelihood, no matter where you travel, you’ll be able to find sand somewhere. Whether it’s the beach on an ocean front holiday, or a hardware store on a trip to a big city, sand is a pretty abundant and inexpensive source of weight and therefore a killer workout! All you’ll have to do is pack the empty sandbag and fill it up when you get to where you’re going-Voila! Instant gym!

So what exactly can we do with the sandbag? Well, a lot of that depends on your imagination. Sandbags with handles afford us the opportunity to mimic quite a few Olympic lifting movements. Deadlifts, cleans, and snatches are all possible. Overhead movements such as shoulder presses, overhead squats, and the like are also a possibility. Then we get into movements like carries, shouldering, and rotating lunges. There are literally dozens of exercises that can be had with the sandbag. Like I said, the only limit is your imagination.

Overall the sandbag is a truly versatile exercise implement. Perhaps even moreso than the kettlebell, if I had only one tool to use with a client, it might just be the sandbag. If you’re looking for something different, something fun, and ultimately something really challenging, I urge you to give the sandbag a try. It’s cheap, easily portable, and it will not disappoint! Come on out to DNA-Movement HQ and give them a try! We’ve got plenty!