The sandman – 5 sandbag exercises that will make you better

In your box, there are probably loads of barbells and weight plates. But what about your home? Is there an affordable, space-saving alternative? That would be the moment when you start to think about trying sandbag training.

The sandman - 5 sandbag exercises that will make you better

Training with a sandbag is not only location-independent and flexible, it also offers quite a few additional training impulses that you won’t get with a barbell and which can improve your performance in CrossFit.

For one, there is the increased instability. Of course, with a barbell you also train in a three-dimensional plane and your body has to be able to exert great stability in core and joints but the sand filling of a sandbag further increases these impulses. During swinging movements, the center of mass is constantly changing and with body contact the form starts to change as well. Thus, there will come different weight distributions into play. The blackPack sandbags by aerobis can even be filled with water. Water is constantly moving. The result is a constantly instable training weight. Therefore, no one movement will be like the other. Following the motto ‘variation is king!’

Additionally, training with a sandbag will improve your grip strength. Many sandbags offer various handles. And it also challenges your musculature greatly when you don’t use handles at all. Just like it was in the old days of sandbag training. The grip strength is often the limiting factor in exercises like deadlifts or pull-ups. Train it specifically by varying your grip and challenging your hands in different situations. This will elevate your training to a new level!

And here are five exercises with the sandbag that will improve your performance in the box:

1. Shouldering

Shouldering is a complex exercise that incorporates almost every muscle of your body. It will help you develop core strength in pulling components.

  • stand shoulder-wide over the sandbag
  • squat down and grab the sandbag with both hands
  • stretch your legs and hip and pick up the sandbag from the floor
  • pull the sandbag on one shoulder and fully stretch your whole body

2. Power Clean & Press

The power clean is a very effective movement. In contrast to a barbell, a sandbag will create much stronger centrifugal forces that have to be controlled. In combination with a press, where the sandbag rests on your fists, this is an unmatched and challenging exercise! As with the turkish get up this will mostly train your core and shoulder stability.

  • stand shoulder-wide behind the sandbag
  • bend down with a straight back and grab the sandbag a little tighter than soulder-wide
  • pull up the sandbag close to your legs while stretching your legs and hip explosively
  • let the sandbag fly a bit and turn around its own axis, then dive under the weight
  • catch the sandbag with your fists, the forearms are vertical
  • lead the sandbag upwards next to your head in a controlled manner
  • fully stretch your arms and open your shoulders
Power Clean & Press with Sandbag

3. Plank with Outsidepull

A very challenging exercise that targets your whole core and shoulder girdle musculature. Pushing, pulling, and anti-rotational components in one exercise!

  • take up a high plank position
  • the bag lies under you
  • lift one hand and grab the bag at its side
  • pull it outwards and make sure your hip stays parallel to the floor
  • repeat with the other hand

4. Rotational Lunge

The rotational lunge is holding the sandbag with stretched arms and doing alternating lunges. Most of the times, it is fully sufficient to use lower weights (8-12 kg).

  • stand hip-wide with the sandbag in your stretched arms in front of your legs
  • do a backwards lunge with one leg
  • lead the sandbag to the opposite side and close to your leg
  • make sure your back is straight and your core is stable
  • go back into the starting position and repeat to the other side

Doing this movement more dynamically will make it more challenging because you have to stabilize your core everytime you actively stop and accelerate the sandbag.

5. Around the World

The Around the World is probably the most difficult exercise. Here, the sandbag is used as a swinging weight circling around your body.

  • stand sshoulder-wide with the sandbag in front of your body
  • swing it dynamically from right to left twice
  • as soon as the sandbag has reached the highest point, lead it behind you by moving one arm closely over your head
  • let the sandbag pass behind your back
  • now lead the other arm closely above your head and from back to front
  • let the sandbag make its circular movement

Give it a try! The sandbag can be your friend. It offers many possibilities to move your training to a new level while not expecting too much from you.

And remember: get functional!
Your Fabien

Author: Fabien Mpouma

Fabien is bachelor of arts sportscience (DSHS) and since his studies he is working in the sector of health- and rehabilitation sports. He was course instructor for several institutions in the field of rehabilitation and mental and physical disease. He has a lot of experience in prevention with adults, youths, and children. He worked as regional manager for Outdoor Gym and now as a Personal Trainer and Foodcoach. Since 2014 he is Manager for Training & Education and Head Coach for aerobis. In 2016 he opened his own facility for Personal- and Grouptraining in his hometown Siegburg. Stay in contact with Fabien by sending him an email

One Comment Leave a comment

    Ben Menges 29. September 2015 at 10:18 PM #

    Boom! Echt hammer Übungen Fabien.
    Der Sandbag hat richtig coole Trainingsmöglichkeiten. Das besondere ist einfach, dass er so handlich ist. Daher ein top Trainingstool.
    Gerade die Plank mit Outsidepull ist eine extrem gute Übung. Der Körper muss stabil bleiben obwohl er sich auch bewegt. Der Rumpf arbeitet antirotatorisch und so wird die Muskulatur funktionell zum Schutz der Wirbelsäule gestärkt. VIele vergessen diese Übung, aber die ist top!


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