Okay, so anybody who knows me will be aware of how I love to mix up my sessions and try new things. I have read so much about sandbag training recently that I thought I would give it a go. Sandbag training is very literally back to basics. Sandbag training is a form of resistance training but is much harder than handling barbells or dumbbells as they are unstable and so will move around improving your stabiliser, trunk and grip strength.
Sandbags have been used for hundreds of years so are clearly nothing new. But their introduction into mainstream gyms and training programs is definitely a new craze. There are now classes based upon them and most gyms now have sandbags as apart of their equipment range.
Due to their unstable nature, it seems you will not be able to lift as much as perhaps you do with a barbell. I began with a fairly light 12 pound bag. Straight away I was struggling with it. The first lift I have to confess that I dropped it! But that was no bad thing as one of the benefits of sandbag training is improving your grip strength and it was clear that my grip was lousy!
The main asset of the sandbag is that it is malleable so will mould to your shoulder or body making it the ideal tool for throws, sprints or carries. Many people start off with homemade sandbags. For this you buy yourself a cheap duffle bag for a few dollars, then get yourself some sand from the builders yards again for a few dollars, seal it in and double bag it in a polythene bag and zip it in your duffle bag. Okay, so this is one way, but for me I preferred to buy one. Mine is pink (yes very girlie) but is very well made and I think it could take plenty of punishment without breaking or splitting. Just like the one pictured below mine also has about 6 different flexible handles so it makes performing the exercises a little easier for beginners.
I began with some bear hug squats which you perform with the sandbag hugged tight to the chest. I then tried an alternative squat (pictured above) with the bag held across the shoulders. I also did floor presses (like a chest press), high pulls (like an upright row) and backward drags (dragging the sandbag for 20 yards along the floor, stopping, turning and then dragging it back). Wow. This was amazingly draining work. I am just a beginner so I am sure my workout seems pretty pathetic next to the experts but I can see straight away the benefits of this type of exercise. I will defintiely be integrating sandbag exercises into my routine from now on and look forward to developing more routines.