Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: March 1, 2021

The chances are that you haven’t done sandbag workouts so far.

Probably because you had no idea that this simple yet incredibly versatile and affordable gear can effectively engage and strengthen most of your muscles (especially smaller stabilizers) in less time than other fancy fitness equipment.

Ready to shake up your traditional training routine?

Try this functional full-body sandbag workout to help you gain strength, build muscle, burn fat, improve balance, and much more without spending a fortune while enjoying the comfort of your home gym.

1. Sandbag Curtsy Lunge

Curtsy Lunge with a sandbag

Stand with your feet hip-width apart while holding a sandbag with both hands at your left shoulder.

Bend your left knee into a curtsy lunge position, i.e. step your left foot behind and outside your right foot so that your right thigh is parallel with the floor while your left knee is just above it.

Simultaneously lower the bag across your body to outside your right thigh.

Get back to the starting position. Then, repeat the same with the opposite leg.

You can also experiment with using a slam ball for this exercise instead of a sandbag.

Do three sets of ten reps with one-minute rest in between.

This double-cross variation of curtsy lunge exercise engages both the upper and lower body, targeting your shoulders and core, glutes, inner and outer thighs, improving your hip flexibility, pelvic and knee stability.

2. Sandbag Hammer Curl

Hammer Curls using a Sandbag

While standing with your flat back, tense forearms, elbows tucked, feet hip-width apart, and knees slightly bent, hold the sandbag by its ends or side handles (in a neutral grip) in front of your hips.

Bending your elbows, curl the sandbag toward your chest, stopping at the shoulder level. Pause, then lower it back down slowly.

Do three sets of ten reps, taking a minute rest between each set.

This is one of the sandbag exercises that can lead to strong perfectly-shaped biceps fast.

It targets the outer head of the biceps brachii and the other elbow flexors brachialis and brachioradialis, also engaging your chest and back.

3. Sandbag Burpee

Burpees using a sandbag

Start this sandbag workout standing with your feet hip-width apart and holding the sandbag sides with both hands in front of your hips.

Squat down, hinging your hips back, and placing the sandbag on the floor while still holding it.

Then, kick your feet back into a plank position, with your back straight, core engaged, and knees and hips lowered to the floor, touching the bag with your chest.

Quickly push back up, immediately jump your feet back toward your hands, and explode upward.

You may punch the sandbag overhead thruster-style or slam it to the floor to engage your whole body, build strength, endurance, and power.

Begin the next rep right away. Complete as many rounds as you can in a fixed time-frame.

Studies show that burpees can improve your cardiovascular fitness and performance, just like sprint intervals on a stationary bike but in less time. [1]

4. Sandbag Snatch

snatch exercise with a sandbag

With your upper body bent to the front, back flat, hips pushed back, and legs shoulder-width apart, hold the sandbag on your feet using the overgrip handles.

Pull your shoulders back, arms and elbows directly up to the front on the chest height, and move hips forward explosively.

Extending your legs simultaneously and coming up onto the forefeet to generate more power and support the swing.

Swinging the sandbag to your chest, extend your forearms, and open your elbow joints to move it back over your head.

After reaching full hip extension, throw your hips back again, slam heels to the floor, and lockout.

Then, lower the sandbag slowly, bending your knees slightly and bringing back your upper body into a flexed position.

Requiring lower body power, explosive and functional upper body strength, and stability, sandbag snatch is great for burning fat, gaining strength, improving flexibility and joint mobility.

Other types of exercises:

5. Bent-Over Sandbag Row

Bent Over Row with a Sandbag

Let the sandbag hang in front of your knees with your palms facing inward while you’re standing with your back flat.

Elbows tucked, hips hinged, knees slightly bent, feet hip-width apart, and your torso lowered almost parallel to the floor.

Bend your elbows and draw your shoulders back, pulling the sandbag to your lower chest and hold it for a moment.

Then, extend your arms to return to the starting position.

Keep your shoulder blades together like you’re squeezing an orange between them to activate the right muscles and get a perfectly sculpted V-shaped torso (core, biceps, shoulders, upper and middle back - rhomboids, traps, lats, and rear deltoids).

Keep your glutes engaged to help protect your lower back.

Perform three rounds of 8-12 reps, resting one minute.

For a greater challenge, increase the bag weight.

“A beginner should use a sandbag that’s 25% of their bodyweight, and an intermediate can use 50%, but once you’ve mastered it you can use 80-100%.”  - Andrew Tracey, Outdoor Training Expert

6. Sandbag Back Squat

using sandbag to squat

Place the sandbag horizontally across your upper back, keeping the lower back tight and pushing the chest out while standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and slightly turned outwards.

Bend your knees and push your hips back into the squat, keeping your weight in the heels and knees in line with the toes.

Then, return to the top position.

Complete three sets of 5-12 reps with one-minute rest.

If you have ankle mobility issues, knee or other joint issues, you may do the sandbag front squat instead (holding the bag on your upper chest).

Studies show that front squats are gentle yet equally effective in overall muscle recruitment - glutes, hip flexors, quads, calves, and hamstrings. [2]

7. Sandbag Clean & Press

Clean and Press workout with sandbag

Start from the deadlift position. Grab the sandbag handles and lift it from the ground up onto your chest, flipping it over swiftly through the hip drive, landing in a shallow squat.

Then, press the bag overhead with your arms fully extended, and safely bring it back down to your shoulders, then to the floor.

Three to five sets of 10 reps will be fine.

This combination of the two fundamental sandbag exercises, the clean and the press, is perfect for building strength, conditioning, power, and endurance while working your whole body.

It mainly targets your shoulders, traps, forearms, quads, glutes, and hamstrings.

8. Around the World

You can start this exercise standing or kneeling on the ground and holding the bag by neutral handles in front of your thighs.

Then, slowly and without moving your trunk, swing the bag in circles around your head and body like you’re putting on a jacket.

You can continue twisting the bag in the same direction or alternate directions with every rotation.

Performing three sets of five reps in each direction should suffice to work your arms and abs, improve your shoulder mobility, build flexibility, increase conditioning, and strengthen your core.

9. Sandbag Spider Crawl with Lateral Pull

spider crawl with a lateral pull

Get in a high plank position with your back straight and your shoulders and hips still (no twisting). Place the sandbag on the ground to the right of your right arm.

Grab the bag by the end handle with your left hand and drag it to the left (under you). When your left hand is down on the floor again, draw your left knee to your left elbow.

Repeat the movements with the right hand and leg, alternating sides to engage your whole body and particularly strengthen your core, arms, and chest.

10. Sandbag Russian Twist

Sit down, leaning back some 45 degrees to engage your abs and holding the sandbag across your abdomen with your arms extended, core tight, knees bent, and feet off the floor.

Then, twist the torso quickly, turning from side to side. Do three sets of at least 12 reps or as many reps as you can in 20 seconds.

This movement will strengthen and stabilize your back, upper and lower abs, obliques, etc. [3]

How Are You Going To Shape Your Sandbag Workout?

If you want to work twice as many muscles in half the time than with a barbell, kettlebell, or dumbbells, don’t hesitate to spice up your regular workout routine, challenging yourself with these dynamic strengthening sandbag exercises.

Create your favorite ultimate sandbag training and have fun anytime, anywhere while building functional strength, improving coordination, balance, and conditioning, increasing stamina and endurance, gaining muscle mass, and burning fat.

I bet you won’t end up disappointed using this underrated, inexpensive tool.

Remember to let us know how you liked it.


References

  1. https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Fulltext/2014/11000/Comparison_of_Responses_to_Two_High_Intensity.3.aspx
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19002072/
  3. https://www.healthline.com/health/russian-twist

HAVE QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS?

Join the discussion here on Facebook.

About the author