The fitness and workout world has never been hotter. From ultra-expensive stationary bikes to workout mirrors and more confusing gadgets, there is a never-ending supply of the next best thing.
But does that fancy equipment guarantee an effective workout, one that will provide benefits for your actual lifestyle and occupation? Or are they just a lot of fluff? Sometimes the best workout is the least complicated.
How effective are sandbag workouts?
If you’re looking for a workout that improves everyday functionality and helps simulate potential real-world situations, look no further than the old-school sandbag workout. Simple, no-frills, yet highly effective.
No matter what your occupation, lifestyle, or goals, a sandbag workout routine offers plenty of real-world applications, and ticks all the boxes, including cardio and strength training.
Not only that, but it requires hardly any space and won’t set you back a huge chunk of change like a complete home gym or gym membership.
A sandbag workout program can be done virtually anywhere – your garage, basement, outdoors, and even if you’re traveling for work or pleasure.
So, what makes a sandbag such a great piece of fitness equipment? Unlike many free weights and machines that are designed for easy grip and use, a sandbag is awkward and difficult to grip. This means added difficulty to otherwise basic moves.
Strength training and lifting weights are great for building muscles and improving overall fitness, however it doesn’t provide much in the way of what you might encounter in everyday life, whether it’s for your job, doing house and yard work, or playing with your kids. Conversely, lugging a heavy sandbag over your shoulder while you jog can simulate situations like rescuing a victim.
If you’ve never attempted a sandbag training program, the first thing you’ll probably notice is how awkward and off balance it makes you feel. Your abdominal muscles, as well as your shoulders and legs, are forced to adapt to stabilize your core so you don’t fall over. In other words, you’re working a ton of muscles and muscle groups without even realizing it.
Top workout routines with sandbags
There are a few tips to remember before beginning a sandbag workout and routine. As always, if you are just beginning a fitness journey, check with your doctor to make sure it’s safe to do so. Second, be sure to warm up properly before diving right into your workout. This goes for any workout routine, whether sandbags, jogging, or resistance training. Your warmup doesn’t have to be anything fancy; rather just a way to get your muscles loose and your heart pumping a bit.
Your goal with a sandbag workout program is to be able to move quickly and easily through the movements. However, depending on your current fitness level, this may be something you need to take time to build up to. Honestly assess your health and fitness to determine where you should start and how hard to go.
What follows is a sandbag workout and training program that will help you make the most of your time and energy, and improve daily mobility, strength, and functionality for everyday life.
Sandbag Clean & Press
If you’re on any social media platforms and pay attention to fitness, you’ve likely seen the barbell clean and press. It’s an impressive feat to witness, no doubt. Instead of using a barbell, here you’re going to use the versatile sandbag. With your feet about hip-width apart and the sandbag on the floor in front of you, grip its handles and use your lower body to propel the sandbag up. Flip the bag over as you do so and then catch it at chest level. As you catch the sandbag, go into a shallow squat position. With soft knees, stand and press the sandbag overhead. Then drop the bag. This is one rep. Your goal should be 3-5 reps.
Walking Lunge with Sandbag
Lunges are an excellent lower body and core stabilizing exercise. Yes, they can hurt like hell and make your legs feel like jelly, but they’re good for you, so do them. Just as with the clean and press, begin with feet hip-width apart and sandbag in front of you. Grab the sandbag handles and hoist the bag to your chest and then overhead.
With the bag resting on your shoulders behind your neck, keep your torso upright and lunge forward with your left foot. Lunge until your right knee just touches the floor. Press into your right heel and stand up. Next, repeat the process with the opposite foot.
A left foot lunge and right foot lunge is one rep. Aim for 4-6 reps.
The sandbag getup is another excellent exercise that is simple yet effective. Start with – you guessed it – feet hip-width apart and bag in front of you on the ground. Lift the bag to your chest and rest it on your right shoulder. From this position, sit down on the ground and lie back with the sandbag resting in the same position. Use your arms and legs to stand up tall. Repeat this exercise by switching the sandbag to the opposite shoulder for each rep. Your goal is to do 4-6 reps.
As we age and with our increasingly sedentary lifestyles, it becomes more difficult to do simple tasks. By incorporating the sandbag getup into your fitness routine, you will not only achieve a highly functional exercise, but help slow the aging process, as well.
Sandbag Walk or Run
With the sandbag again resting on your shoulder, keep an upright, athletic posture and either walk, jog, or run a set distance. How far you go will depend on your current fitness level, but as your endurance and strength increase, so should your goals. For example, if you can only walk with the sandbag at first, set a goal to be able to jog with it. After you achieve that goal, set another goal to be able to run with the sandbag. Once you can run, increase the distance for a greater challenge.
As mentioned, one of the things that makes a sandbag workout functional and so challenging is the awkwardness of trying to lift, hold, and maneuver the bag. This can also make it a bit frustrating at first. Stick with it and persevere through that initial awkward stage and you’ll find that you’re flying through your workouts with ease after a few weeks. The payoff and reward are worth the potential, initial frustration.
Which size sandbag should you choose?
Although a sandbag isn’t a huge investment like a range of home workout equipment, it still comes at a cost, so you want to make sure you’re buying one that will last a while and provide enough of a challenge for your workouts.
When it comes to the best sandbags for working out, both 40- and 60-lb. sandbags are good choices. However, a 60-lb. sandbag is the best option. Because the sand is not included with the sandbag at the time of purchase, you can add or subtract the sand inserts to fit your needs and current fitness levels. Investing in a 60-lb. sandbag affords you the ability to start off with less weight and then increase weight as needed.
Whatever your workout routine entails, from a home gym to a sandbag training program, 5.11 Tactical has a full line of PT-R fitness apparel and gear to keep you in the game and performing at your best. Shop our extensive collection of training clothes and weight kits to optimize your performance.