Q & A: Sandbag Training

I was reading on your site about sandbag training.  I have done that in the past. How do you incorporate that into your training?  Do you use it for more conditioning or for a power type workout where you throw the bags?

Hey Chris,

Like kettlebells, dumbbells, tires etc… sandbags are another tool in my arsenal.  I usually incorporate them into my training program every 2nd or 3rd phase. I prefer to incorporate more sandbag exercises during the preseason because it helps transfer strength in the weight room to on the field strength.  They are an excellent odd object because the shifting of the weight forces your body to stabilize and will train muscles you didn’t even knew existed. It is also great for building mental toughness. The primary exercises I use  are sandbag lunges, squats, carries, power cleans and shouldering. Check out this post on sandbag training and sandbag training for baseball.


When doing squats, lunges and carries we will use various positions-zercher, on the shoulder, behind the neck or bear hug position. Each position is a different challenge and I recommend you try them all to see what works best. Personally I think the zercher and on the shoulder work the best.  While sandbag squats and lunges are primarily used as assistance lifts, carries are usually done towards the end of the workout for some conditioning. It will not make your athletes huff and puff but it will challenge their mental toughness, grip strength, core stability and also work the entire body. Other exercises like power cleans and shouldering are done in the beginning of a workout.  I have found sandbag power cleans to be a great exercise for beginners. It teaches them to be aggressive and explosive.

On occasion we will do complexes with the sandbags but I would say 80% of the time we will run the prowler or drag the sled for conditioning. The other 20% consists of sledgehammer training, battling ropes and complexes with sandbags.  It really depends on the athlete, the time of the year and the sport they play. I don’t think doing sandbag complexes at the end of a hard workout is the best idea for baseball players. First off, they don’t need crazy levels of conditioning and such the energy exerted during a sandbag complex should be used elsewhere or saved to promote recovery. I do not want conditioning to affect the recovery of my athletes. This is why the prowler and sled are awesome- there is no eccentric phase, so compared to kettlebell or sandbag complexes they will not get you as sore.  Sandbag complexes do have their place in my training program and the programming of my athletes. From time to time they are a good challenge of mental toughness.


As far as power goes I prefer box jumps, medicine ball throws, sprints and explosive bodyweight movements. While I am sure sandbags can be used for this, I rarely use it for these purposes in my training or the training of my athletes. When it comes to using sandbags in your training, remember that they are one of many tools in your arsenal to utilize. Most importantly train hard and train smart!


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