5 Basic Sandbag Exercises to Add to Your Routine

Feel free to add the following sandbag exercises to your training routine. We'll explain all of the benefits below!
5 Basic Sandbag Exercises to Add to Your Routine

Last update: 11 August, 2020

In recent years, strength trainers have put more emphasis on functional training. As a result, sandbag exercises have become a really popular choice.

This type of training is relatively inexpensive and is an effective way of introducing variety and progression into your routine. This makes sandbags a great piece of equipment for strength and endurance training.

Five sandbag exercises to add to your routine

Below, we’ve listed some basic exercises that you can do with a sandbag. Have a look at them and try them out for yourself!

1. Sandbag lunge

A woman doing a sandbag lunge.
  • Starting position: grab the back by the handles and place it across your shoulders (as shown in the image above). Stay standing.
  • Eccentric phase: take a step forward whilst keeping your back straight. Your front and back legs should be bent at approximately a 90-degree angle. The knee of your front leg shouldn’t be further forward than your toes. The knee of your back leg should almost touch the ground.
  • Concentric phase: return to the starting position. Repeat the exercise with the other leg. Pay close attention to the alignment of your ankle, knee, and hip joints to prevent injury.

2. Sandbag exercises: burpee

  • Starting position: grab the bag by the handles and adopt the same position as before, as if performing a deadlift. Keep the bag on the ground, your knees bent, and your hips above the knees.
  • Concentric movement in the clean: straighten your leg completely with a fast, powerful movement. Next, roll the bag so that it’s resting on your arms and close to your chest.
A woman lifting a barbell.
The clean movement performed with a barbell.
  • Eccentric movement in the clean: carry out the same movement as if you’re performing a squat. Bring the hips down and back, whilst bending the knees and keeping your torso upright.
  • Concentric squat movement: straighten out your legs fully, then unroll the bag off of your arms and lower it to the ground, keeping your back straight.
  • Push-up eccentric phase: lower your body as if you’re about to perform a push-up. For extra comfort, you can rest your hands on the ends of the bag. Then, jump backward with both feet and position your body in a straight line. Bring your chest towards the ground by bending your arms. It’s important for your elbows to bend approximately 45 degrees.
A woman doing a burpee.
In this phase of the burpee, the sandbag should be between your hands.
  • Push-up concentric phase: straighten your arms to push your body back up again. Jump with your feet forward, straighten your back, and return to the starting position.

3. Clean and press with sandbag

A woman lifting weights.
Barbell clean and press example.
  • Starting position: adopt the same starting position explained above for the sandbag burpee.
  • Concentric clean phase: lift the bag and roll it until it’s on top of your arms and close to the body.
  • Eccentric clean movement: lower the hips back and down whilst keeping your back in a neutral position.
  • Concentric clean phase: straighten your legs until standing upright again.
  • Concentric movement press: push raising the bag up until your arms are fully extended. Carry out all of these steps in reverse to return to the starting position.

4. Sandbag exercises: bent over row

A man lifting a sandbag.
Man doing a bent-over row with a sandbag.
  • Starting position: begin in a standing position and bring your shoulder blades towards each other. Maintain this throughout the exercise. Next, bend at the hips until your back is almost parallel to the ground. Bend your knees slightly to avoid hip retroversion which can be bad for the lower back. Once in position, grab the bag by the handles.
  • Concentric phase: bend your elbows to lift the bag upwards and back until it touches your abdominals.
  • Eccentric phase: extend your arms without losing the posture described above. Keep the movement smooth and controlled.

5. Sandbag plank side drags

A man doing a push-up in the street.
Staying in this position, the sandbag should be dragged from one side to the other.
  • Starting position: start on the ground. Get into a plank position, with your arms straight. It’s particularly important to activate the abdomen and gluteus and keep your hips straight. The sandbag should be on the ground, on one side, perpendicular to the body.
  • Dynamic phase: with the hand on the opposite side to where the bag is positioned, drag the bag to the other side of your body without losing the plank position at any time. Then, repeat this with the other arm.

Complement your training with sandbag exercises

Sandbags are very versatile and effective which you can use to train the whole body, whether in the gym, at home, or outdoors. These sandbag exercises are just a few that you can do. There’s a whole range of other exercises, but we can’t possibly list them all!

So, now you’ve got some ideas, don’t hesitate to try them out and incorporate a sandbag in your workouts. If you have any doubts at all, always speak with a professional for advice.

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  • Hirshberg, B. (2015). Sandbag Training Bible: Functional Workouts to Tone, Sculpt and Strengthen Your Entire Body. Ulysses Press.
  • Sell, K., Taveras, K., & Ghigiarelli, J. (2011). Sandbag training: A sample 4-week training program. Strength & Conditioning Journal, 33(4), 88-96.