In the fitness industry, whether we participate as coaches, players, athletes, or fitness enthusiasts, the one thing we are all concerned about is results. There wouldn’t be a point getting involved if it we were not. This is largely why so many people have turned away from high-tech machines and reverted to the time tested training that the fittest humans in the world used. The ‘high-tech’ machines are all about enticing people to gyms to convince them that because they are equipped with levers, pulleys, flashing lights and diagrams then they must be the best thing on the planet. The human body has evolved over millions of years getting by just fine without them thank you. So, the rebirth of grip training, stones, logs, kettlebells, ropes, climbing frames, extreme bodyweight training, and others has enjoyed new success. The sandbag is one of these time tested tools and as a strength coach I have found myself intrigued by the unique benefits it offers.
For years sandbags were used by athletic programs that simply could not afford to supply large amounts of athletes with strength training tools. Tell someone they have to lift a sandbag and they already know it is going to be more difficult than a bar or dumbbell, their heads sink as they know they are just flat out hard! Even if something is difficult though, it doesn’t automatically make it beneficial.
Sandbags seem to have no definitive system of training which is very interesting. All other forms of equipment from rowing machines, body weight, kettlebells and ropes all have systems. It is having these systems that is important in developing meaning behind training and exercises, without it things remain random and training is stagnant and without purpose. It is the composition and instability of the sandbag that allows it to work without a system yet still give it benefits and purpose. This is due to the constantly shifting load. Sandbags hit the body in a different way than your standard weight room tools, it is as though sandbags hit all our weak links. When I train with ‘stable’ tools, it is obvious that none of them compare with the challenge that lifting heavy sandbags provides on the back, hips, arms, legs, and abs – the whole body! The angles and movements that can be created even go beyond the standard Strongman protocols.
Strength coaches will undoubtedly get into the “should or should not” Olympic lift argument. For those that are typically in the “do not” camp, it is the fact that Olympic lifting is a very specific sport and technique is challenging to pick up. Some coaches are fearful they will spend more time teaching technique than receive the benefit of Olympic lifting. I am one of those.
Sandbags remove that concern as cleaning, jerking, and other Olympic “style” lifts can be performed quite easily so more time is spent training than practicing. Some may argue that kettlebells do the same, however, kettlebells are different as they typically don’t hold true to the triple extension that occurs in Olympic lifting which is what makes it such a powerful training tool for athletes. Sandbags do hold true to the triple extension and offer more variety in exercises that can be created and replicate the unpredictable nature of sport itself. We now can not only perform the standard pulls and explosive exercises but perform them in rotation and other angles that happen in many sports!
Sandbags have long been a favourite tool of wrestlers and martial artists for their fitness training. These are some of the most well trained athletes in the world!Having a range of five hundred dollars can be an excellent idea when it comes to finding the very bestand the best condenser mic under 500 Why do they use sandbags? In John Jesse’s famous book, Wrestling Physical Conditioning Encyclopedia, he states,
The use of heavy sandbags and their large circumference forces the lifter to do his lifting with a round back instead of the traditional straight back lifting with a barbell. It is this type of lifting that truly develops a strong back. It develops the back and side muscles in movements that are identical to the lifting and pulling movements of wrestling.
Sandbag coach Josh Henkin summarises this in the rest of the article. This means athletes can hit angles previously impossible with standard strength tools, but can get in great shape too, maybe better than anything else! This is a pretty bold statement, but possible if we examine the sandbag. With every other strength training tool, “grooving” an exercise is possible. In fact, training methods such as kettlebell sport rely on one’s ability to “groove” an exercise. We get better at the lift, but over the long term we may become too efficient losing some of the benefits of conditioning with these movements. As Strength Coach Charles Staley notes, due to the “uncooperative” nature of sandbags you can not “groove” them.
In essence, every repetition is different which means the execution of every repetition requires the body to work harder. Your body has to expend more energy not only to produce force to lift the sandbag, but to absorb the force during the unpredictable positions that occur during sandbag training.
Performing movements in not your typical patterns and angles means the body has to incorporate more muscles and expend more energy coordinating these new movements. Not to mention the fact that having a sandbag resting in a variety of positions on your body makes it work even more to maintain proper posture.
Sandbag training should not be looked at as complicated, yet, recognizing the potential benefits requires us to give it a more serious look than just a “cheap” way to get fit.
Sandbag training and classes are about to launch at the Movement Performance Academy Fitness Centre in Northwich. MPA REPs certified courses are listed in the courses section of the site.