Posted 08 February 2013 by Alex Zinchenko

Sandbag Strength Training

For More Muscle


Sandbag Strength Training for Bodybuilding

Sandbag strength training isn't very popular these days. There are two main reasons for this. First one is that sandbag training is almost free. Literally, you'll need sand and a bag. You can borrow any amount of sand from a nearby beach. If you don't have beaches near you then find any construction site and steal sand from there at night. You can finish three things sandbag_training_q1.pngat once by doing this: get sand for free, have a nice story to tell your buddies and add some "badness" to yourself. Well, if being highly moral means nothing to you then you can rob a nearby children's sandbox. Seriously, my point here is that you can get any amount of sand for free if you use your brain. Anyway, you can always buy sand in a construction supermarket. As for the bag, I bought mine for $2. Of course, there are manufacturers who produce high quality sandbags for training but you'll have to think whether this comfort is worth the money.

Secondly, sandbags are probably one of the most brutal training implements out there. Everything you'll be able to do after heavy set of sandbag zercher squats or shouldering, or bear hug good mornings is just to sit down and stay there for some time. The mental toughness benefits from such kind of training are obvious but is it worth the trouble for bodybuilder or those who want to build muscle? Let's find out.


Benefits of Sandbag Strength Training

Sandbag training has a lot of benefits for any athlete as well as bodybuilders. Here are the most important factors:

• It's free. Sandbag training is probably the second cheapest training option out there (after calisthenics, of course). So if you don’t have money for gym memberships or your own set of weights then you have viable option now. No need to make excuses.

• It’s progressive. This is very important. While you won’t be able to load and unload your sandbag back and forth (actually you can make it happen with little thinking and a lot of micro packaging) you can make the resistance progressive. Just think about it. If your current sandbag is easy for you then just add couple of kilograms and you have a whole new challenge. The weight is really limited only by the volume of sandbag. And the coolest thing you can add weight gradually. This means that you’ll be able to build muscle with sandbag training.

• Sandbag training develops muscles you weren’t aware of. Just try it. You'll feel soreness in muscles you thought didn't exist. Training with sandbag forces your body to use its stabilizers MUCH more. Why? Because it's always uncomfortable, unstable, it's always changing its form and always trying to escape your hands.

• You can perform almost any barbell or dumbbell exercise with a sandbag. Even more. You’ll be exposed to a whole new world of exercises. Shouldering, throwing, loading, carrying etc. Try shouldering and squatting complex. Shoulder a sandbag off the floor then squat, then put it down, that’s one rep, then shoulder it on the other side, squat, put down, second rep, repeat. Do at least 6 reps with heavy weight and let me know all the dirty words that came to mind while you were performing this torture.

• Increased calorie expenditure.  You’ll burn a ton of calories, which is great for fat loss.

• You always need to lift sandbag off the floor. People nowadays seem to oversimplify their training. Treadmill over outdoor running, bench press over military press, leg press over squats and deadlifts. I can go on and on. And then they wonder why they are not progressing. That's why. Do some more work. Such oversimplification won't work with sandbag strength training. You always need to lift the sandbag off the floor. This means more work and more fat loss.
Ok, I can easily give you at least 5 more benefits right away but that’s not the point. What are the benefits for a someone wanting more muscle? New stimulus means new growth. Even if you’re not an all-things-strength type of guy you still can benefit from sandbag training if you implement it right into your routine.

How to Use Sandbag Training for Bodybuilding?

There are several options. First one is pure sandbag training. It’s viable option because sandbag training is progressive (or at least you can make it progressive). Here’s an example of full-body 3 times per week sandbag routine:


A1) Sandbag Push Press 3 sets x 6 reps
A2) Sandbag Shouldering 3 sets x 6 reps
A3) Sandbag Bear Hug Squat 3 sets x 6 reps


A) Sandbag Floor Press 5 sets x 5 reps
B) Sandbag Bent-Over Row 5 sets x 5 reps
C) Sandbag Shoulder Squat 5 sets x 5 reps
D) Sandbag Get-Up 3 sets x 5 reps


A) Sandbag Side-to-Side Press 3  sets x 12 reps
B) Sandbag One-Arm Swing 3 sets x 12 (each arm) reps
C1) Sandbag Triceps Extensions 2 sets x 12 reps
C2) Sandbag Biceps Curls 2 sets x 12 reps

The second option (and probably optimal for bodybuilding purpose) is to mix sandbag training with usual training protocol. In my experience, you more likely get all around development when you use several training implements than just one. For example, routine can look something like this:


A) Barbell Bench Press 3 sets x 5 reps
B) Dumbbell Incline Bench Press 4 sets x 8 reps
C) Sandbag Military Press 3 sets x 8 reps
D) Sandbag Curls 3 sets x 12 reps


A) Barbell Squats 3 sets x 5 reps
B) Weighted Chin-Ups 4 sets x 6 reps
C) Sandbag Bear Hug Good Morning 2 sets x 8 reps
D) Dumbbell Triceps Extensions 3 sets x 12 reps


A) Sandbag Push Press 3 sets x 3
B) Sandbag Floor Press 4 sets x 8
C) Dumbbell Seated Press 3 sets x 8
D) Barbell Curls 3 sets x 12


A) Sandbag Shouldering 6 sets x 2 reps
B) Dumbbell Lunges 2 sets x 10 reps
C) Sandbag Bent-Over Row 4 sets x 6 reps
D) Sandbag Triceps Extensions 3 sets x 12 reps

Wednesday – repeat.

Closing Thoughts

As you can see sandbag strength training has its own place even in a modern bodybuilder’s routine. Implement it right and reap tremendous benefits. Thanks for reading. If you have any questions do not hesitate to ask. You can contact me through e-mail Feel free to like and share this article.

Alex Zinchenko



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