Sandbag Training for Baseball

Why use Sandbags?

I first introduced to sandbags by Zach Even-Esh at the Underground Strength Gym. Since I was first introduced to them they have become a very valuable tool in the training of me and my athletes. They are great for anyone from beginner athletes all the way to the advanced level. The reason why sandbags are so great is because they force you to get out of your comfort zone. Unlike a barbell, dumbbell or kettlebell, the sandbag will change shape and the weight will shift from side to side. This forces your body to train muscles you didn’t even know you had.

For the reasons mentioned above, sandbags are an awesome tool to utilize during preseason training.  Like strongman equipment, sandbags are odd objects and thus they are awesome for transitioning weight room strength into on the field strength.  Oh did I forget to mention they are extremely cheap?? Just buy a military bag from an Army Navy store, pick up sand or pea gravel at Home Depot, some heavy construction bags and some heavy duty tape.

How to use Sandbags?

Complexes– Complexes are a great way to finish any training session. Especially when it’s snowing or raining out and we can’t push the prowler or drag the sled. They will push you mentally and physically. Mentally you will have to challenge yourself to get through the complex without putting the sandbag down. Physically you will be challenging your conditioning and strength endurance. Check out this video below on a lower body sandbag complex we used to finish one of our training sessions.

Full body lifts– I love Olympic lifts but not for my athletes. I spend maybe 2-3 hours a week with each athlete and they expect results. For this reason Olympic lifts aren’t that economical. Instead my athletes will perform power cleans, clean and press and other variations of Olympic lifts with sandbags. Not only does this achieve triple extension of the ankles, knees and hips but it also teaches my athletes to battle and to be aggressive. You can’t be nice when trying to power clean a sandbag. You need to rip that s**t off the ground aggressively and wrestle with it to you have it all the way up.

High rep squats– High rep squats with a barbell is a recipe for disaster with most high school and college baseball players. After 5 reps technique usually breaks down and the exercise becomes an injury waiting to happen. The solution to this is performing high rep squats with sandbags. Another added benefit is that the sandbag can be held in multiple positions including on the shoulder, zercher or behind the neck. The benefits of this is it takes your athletes out of external rotation, allows them to reach depth easier and pump out more reps.

Carries-Like kettlebells, sandbags are great to perform carries with. Like many other movements and lifts, sandbags add the benefit of forcing your body to stabilize when carrying them.

Variety-The unpredictability of the sandbag makes the variations of dumbbell, barbell and kettlebell harder because the core has to work to stabilize.

Conclusion

Whether you are using sandbags for complexes, full body lifts, high rep squats or just for variety to add into your program, sandbags will build MENTAL TOUGHNESS. Doing any exercise with a sandbag is a whole different ball game then doing it with dumbbells or any other type of weights because the sandbag forces you to adjust to its movement. All other weights (unless it is an odd object or chains and bands on the bar) stay constant throughout a lift. Remember that sandbags are just ONE OF MANY tools I use with my athletes.  They are especially great if you are on a tight budget or are training large groups of athletes.

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