The Cooper Institute

Founded in 1970 by the "Father of Aerobics"
Kenneth H. Cooper MD, MPH


Sandbag Training for Muscular Strength

Posted in
Fit Tips

Tuesday, Feb 27, 2018

While sandbag training has been utilized by athletes for many years, it is becoming increasingly popular among all exercisers.  The sandbag is a great training tool that can improve muscular strength/endurance, stability, and power. As a result, many fitness professionals are incorporating sandbag training into their functional fitness programs.

This month’s fit tip focuses on three sandbag exercises that, when combined, target all major muscles groups.

1.) Traveling lunge with sandbag transfer:
  • This exercise focuses on lower body muscular strength, core stability, and shoulder muscular strength.
  • Preparation: The exerciser assumes an upright posture, with the sandbag held firmly with both hands approximately 1-2 inches above the shoulder.
  • Movement: Begin the exercise by taking a long step forward into a lunge. The front knee should be bent at an approximately 90 degree angle, and the back knee should be 1-2 inches above the floor. While in the lunge position, begin the sandbag transfer from one shoulder to the other. Upon completion of the sandbag transfer, the exerciser comes out of the lunge. Repeat the movement 10-20 times depending on the exerciser’s fitness level and goal.
Tips: Traveling lunges are an advanced movement. If the exerciser is unable to complete this movement with proper form, consider modifying the exercise by performing a squat or a reverse lunge instead.

2.) Bent over row with squat:
  • This exercise combines two distinct movements, bent over row and a squat, into one functional exercise.
  • Preparation:  While holding the sandbag, the exerciser assumes an upright posture with the shoulders rolled back and hinges forward at the hips.
  • Movement: The exercise begins with a bent over mid row. The sandbag is then lowered back toward the ground. In one continuous motion, the exerciser extends the hips, switches the positioning of the sandbag and performs a squat. See video.
Tips: Ensure the spine is straight throughout the exercise. 

3.) Half sit-up with incline press:
  • The primary focus of this exercise is core strength as it targets the abdominal and chest musculature.
  • Preparation: Assume a prone position with the sandbag approximately 1-2 inches above the chest.
  • Movement: The exerciser performs a half sit-up followed by an incline chest press. Once the chest press movement is complete, the exerciser lowers her/his body back to the ground. Repeat the exercise 10-15 times depending on the fitness level and goal of the participant.
Tips: Perform the exercise slowly and ensure that the two movements are performed separately.

Sandbag training is an extremely effective method for development of strength and functional fitness. However, this is just one tool, among many, that can be utilized for such purposes.

Check out some more functional fitness modalities by clicking on the following links: 
One Creative Exercise for the Whole Body, Battle RopesBosu Ball: Full Body Four Exercises, and ViPR: Neuromotor Fitness.