Why sandbags for training? Are they a miracle cure to deliver elite strength and conditioning? Probably not, but when used properly, they can be a key tool in any strength or metabolic conditioning program.
Strongman sandbags are not a new invention and have been part of military training and strongman competition for years. Whether you’re an avid Strongman competitor, a CrossFit athlete, weightlifter, or a general fitness enthusiast, sandbags are a great challenge for all training types. An often overlooked area for sandbags is for strength and conditioning for elite athletes. When used for lifts that are just variations of barbell or dumbbell lifts, they're unlikely to help the way you want. But that doesn't mean they can't be a part of your repertoire. Here are 6 reasons to include them in your training:
- The strongman sandbag is unstable and will let you develop great core strength. This is the generally opposite of most "core" training where the surface you're standing on is unstable. Working with an unstable object (vs. unstable platform) is much more comparable to the demands of real life.
- Sandbags require great levels of grip strength to lift. Lifters find themselves naturally gripping them in positions like the bear hug or shoulder.
- The sandbag is awkward to lift, requiring that you fight hard to perform exercises with it. Just like working with many real-life objects.
- The strongman sandbag forms to your body and how you use it. It is particularly effective in molding itself to your body, making it great for carrying, dragging, and throwing.
- Drive past plateaus with strongman sandbags. Get used to lifting a 200-pound bag above your head and you'll be stronger when you go back to the relatively "stable" barbell.
- Lastly, sandbags are a great bang for your buck. They're perfect for anyone on a budget.
INCORPORATING SANDBAGS INTO YOUR TRAINING
The simplest way to integrate sandbag lifting is to use the bag as an alternative to deadlifts, squats, presses, and pulls. This isn't the most effective use of the sandbag but will let you dip your toe in the water.
How you use the sandbags for strength and conditioning should be highly specific to your own individual needs. Start here:
- Substitute an existing strength session with sandbag variations. Replace the lifts you'd normally do with a traditional free weight with the sandbag. Do this 1-2 times per month.
- Add in a unique sandbag lifting session. Use some of the non barbell-variation sandbag exercises and try a session that's either strength based (high weight, low rep, long rest periods) or conditioning based (light-moderate weight, moderate-high rep, minimal rest periods).
- Use sandbags for a sport-specific session. Push it, pull it, throw it, and drag it.
There's no substitute for barbells and dumbbells. But just as sleds and kettlebells can be integral to any training program, so can the strongman sandbag. It might just be what you need to push your gains to a new level!
Check out Talon Athletic's own selection of strongman sandbags and see for yourself!