Have you ever worked out with a sandbag?
If not, you should try it. Sandbags are a fun piece of equipment that complement any home gym—and many forward thinking gyms are even starting to have sandbags available as well.
I love working out outdoors. Therefore, I have a lot of equipment that I can easily bring with me to a nearby park to workout there. A sandbag is one of those things. And if the weather is bad, I can still train with it without even having to leave the house—it’s a perfect tool for a living room workout.
Old School DIY Sandbags
Sandbags seem to have made a strong comeback into fitness world. I say comeback because they are actually not anything new—they’re just coming back in a slightly different look (hello, pink shiny sandbags!).
When I was in high school, we used to use sandbags a lot in our track and field training. Our coach was a super creative guy and made our sandbags himself in his garage. If you want to try it too, here’s one way: Cut an inner tire tube in half, fill it with sand, then tie the ends with a strong cord and you have a great tool for many exercises.
If it sounds like too much work, you can simply fill your backpack or duffel bag with something heavy and use that. No excuses!
Modern Version of a Sandbag
As much as I wished, I have no empty inner tire tubes lying around, so a homemade sandbag was not an option fore me. I took a little easier route and bought myself an Ultimate Training Sandbag.
The bag comes with three filler bags that, when fully filled, can make the bag up to 80 pounds. Of course, you don’t have put sand in the bag—I have a bunch of rice bags in mine instead. The bag that you see in the videos below is filled with two filler bags, each weighing 20 pounds.
Why You Should Work Out With a Sandbag
Here area several reasons why working out with a sandbag is awesome:
- They allow you to do full body, multi-joint exercises that involve all of the bigger muscle groups. These kind of exercises give you the most bang for your buck–lots of muscles involved, more energy burnt, faster results.
- It’s portable, so you can take it outside and work out at a park. Throw it in the trunk or even walk to the park to get more exercise.
- It doesn’t take much room. When you’re not using it, you can simply tuck it under the bed or in the closet.
- You can use additional weight in you workouts. I love bodyweight workouts, but I also like lifting some heavier stuff. 80 pounds is pretty good weight! Also, the weight is adjustable–you can simply take one filler bag out if you want to go lighter.
- You may get some funny looks when you work out with a sandbag, and that’s awesome! Don’t be intimidated by a little attention. I usually carry the bag to the park, and by doing that, get some exercise already on my way there. People may be curious about what I’m doing, but looking “weird” doesn’t honestly bother me.
8 Sandbag Exercises to Add Into Your HIIT Routine
Here are eight really awesome sandbag exercises that you can try adding into your workouts:
Note: For overhead movements, you’ll need fairly good shoulder mobility–if you can’t bring your arms overhead and keep them straight there, you’ll have to work on your shoulder mobility first.
If you’ve never done overhead movements before, be careful and start with very light weights or even with simply holding a broomstick or a light PVC pipe overhead.
Sandbag Back Squat
How to do it: Grab the sandbag from both handles. lift it up and place it on your shoulders. Then, keep the heels firmly on the ground, toes pointed forward or sightly out and do a squat. Push the butt back and press through the heels. The lower the squat, the better.
Single Straight Leg Deadlift
How to do it: Stand up and pick the sandbag up, holding it from both handles. Then, lift up one leg, holding the supporting leg straight and firmly on the ground. Bend from your hips and make sure that your back stays straight all the time. Lower your upper body until the sandbag touches the ground. Stand back up again, keeping the supporting leg straight all the time. Switch sides.
Clean and Press
How to do it: Stand up with your feet about shoulder-width apart holding the sandbag in a neutral grip. Bend your knees slightly, then powerfully extend your hips as you flip the sandbag over your wrists and in a squat position. Squeeze your butt as you stand up and press the sandbag overhead.
How to do it: Pick the sandbag up just like in the last exercise, by flipping it over your wrists. Then, push the bag up overhead. You’ll have to move your head away a bit, because the bag will end up behind your head. Bring the bag back to your chest, do a little dip by bending your knees, and press the weight up again.
Push Up + Clean and Press
How to do it: This is a combination that I do quite often: a bodyweight push up and a clean and press with a sandbag. Put your hands on the sandbag and do a simple push up, trying to get your chest as close to the bag as possible. Then, jump your legs closer to the bag and do a clean and press, just like explained above.
How to do it: Pick the bag up and press it overhead, just like in the last exercise. Then, do a squat, keeping the arms overhead. This exercise requires a good amount of core strength and balance and you may want to do the first squats only halfway, working your way closer and closer to the ground. What I really love about this exercise is how it works my core! If your hands weren’t holding the sandbag and you could put them on your stomach, you would feel how your abs are working.
Shoulder to Shoulder Press
How to do it: Put the sandbag on one shoulder without holding the handles at all. Then, do a little dip by bending your knees and quickly transfer the weight on the other shoulder. Repeat on the other side.
How to do it: Put the sandbag on one shoulder without holding the handles, and simply run as fast as you can with it! You’ll have to work hard to keep the weight there. Run one way, then switch sides and run again with the bag on the other shoulder. If running seems too hard, you can always simply walk.
Sandbags are an awesome piece of equipment that you can use to make your HIIT workouts even more versatile. They’re portable, relatively small and allow you to do a wide variety of full body movements, just like the ones shown above.
And remember, you don’t have to use a sandbag–a heavy backpack or a duffel bag would work equally well. No excuses!
Try them out and let us know what you think!
Kersten Kimura is a NASM PT, kettlebell enthusiast and a fan of HIIT workouts. After relocating from chilly Estonia to California, she has taken full advantage of the area and works out outdoors whenever possible. You can find her throwing around her sandbag or swinging kettlebells at local parks, or sprinting along the gorgeous Bay Trail.
Find out more about Kersten here and sign up for her newsletter to get her one week equipment free workout plan and seven simple dinner recipes.