Workout of the Week: Sandbag Workouts | Chicago Athletic Clubs




What is a Training Sandbag?

A training sandbag is a versatile and durable exercise tool filled with sand for sandbag workouts. Unlike traditional weights like barbells and dumbbells, the shifting sand inside the bag enhances balance and stability, providing unique training benefits.

Equipped with handles for lifting, carrying, and pushing, training sandbags offer limitless movement options, making them an excellent addition to any home gym. Suitable for all fitness levels, these sandbags are ideal for both cardio training and muscle building.

With adjustable weights and dimensions, they are popular among a wide range of athletes, from Strongman competitors to martial artists, as they effectively develop stabilizer muscles and grip strength, which is often difficult to achieve with traditional weights.

What Are the Benefits of Sandbag Workouts?

Sandbags, like all irregular objects, significantly challenge your stabilizer muscles and grip strength. Unlike barbells and dumbbells, which are specifically designed for lifting, sandbags are not naturally engineered to align with your center of gravity.


Sandbag training can be performed at home, outdoors, in a garage gym, or at a commercial gym. You can incorporate sandbag exercises into solo workouts, paired sessions, or group circuits.

More Than a Strength Workout

The uneven and awkward nature of sandbags forces your body to work hard to control the shifting mass, naturally building stability alongside strength. This results in becoming a more robust and all-around stronger athlete.

Using sandbags engages all three types of grip strength (pinch, crush, and support). You need to pinch the sandbag while lifting, and crush and support it while holding and carrying it. Sandbag training is both physically and mentally challenging, fostering a different kind of strength compared to barbells and dumbbells.

These exercises present a real challenge for your body to adapt to, which is crucial for lifelong fitness dedication.

Real-World Strength

Simply put, sandbags offer numerous real-world applications beyond traditional fitness tools. Their heavy and awkward nature, with weight shifting during movement, demands fluid motion. While machines and barbells do have their benefits, neglecting sandbags can create a gap in your overall physical capability, particularly if your job requires real-world physical competence.

Let's get into the Sandbag Workouts


The Sandbag Workout Basics:

Choose an appropriate weight for your sandbag. Perform each exercise for 45 seconds, resting for 30 seconds between exercises. Complete the entire circuit 4-6 times for a full-body sandbag workout.

Donna's Pro Tips:

-Be comfortable with being uncomfortable.  If it feels easy, it is easy-- that won't really do much.  Try a heavier weight.  You should really want to be done by the last few reps of any given exercise.  If you aren't challenging yourself you won't change.  

-Ensure you are using enough weight to challenge yourself, but still maintain proper form. Good form is the key to effectiveness in any workout routine.

-Focus on your breath, exhale on exertion.  It will help you to get through the toughest workouts.  



After pushing the chest out to protect your back, squat down to grab the bag. Grasp under the bag exploding the hips forward, straightening the legs then using your arms pull and guide the sandbag up to your shoulder. Gather yourself, then dip your hips, keeping your back tight.

Explode up as you use your shoulder to push and guide the bag overhead. Bring the bag down to your shoulder under control absorbing the force by slightly bending your knees. Then control the bag back to the floor.



Get into plank position with sandbag beneath your chest. Use one hand to slide bag forward and back under body, keeping hips level to the floor. Switch arms as you push the sandbag left and right.



Load the sandbag onto one shoulder. Take a wide step to the side with the bag. When your outside foot contacts the ground, lower your body by pushing your hip back and bending the knee. Keep your inside leg straight and foot firmly planted.

Pause when your outside thigh is parallel with the ground, and then push back to the starting position. Change the bag to the opposite side each circuit.



Holding the sandbag with both hands, stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Bend forward at the hip while extending one leg back. Continue bending until you are parallel with the ground. Then return to the upright position. Focus on one leg per circuit. Switch to the opposite leg for the next circuit. 

Make Sure to Cool Down From SandBag Workouts

After your sandbag workout, it's important to cool down with a series of stretches to help your muscles recover and improve flexibility.

Forward Bend Stretch

Begin with a forward bend stretch by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Slowly bend forward at the hips, reaching towards the ground and letting your head and neck relax. Hold this position for 30 seconds to stretch your hamstrings, lower back, and calves.

Quad Stretch

Next, move on to the quad stretch. Stand on one leg and use a wall or chair for support if needed. Bend your other knee, bringing your heel towards your glutes, and grab your ankle to gently pull. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds on each side to target your quadriceps and hip flexors.

Hip Flexor Stretch

For the hip flexor stretch, step into a lunge position with your right foot forward and your left knee on the ground. Push your hips forward gently while keeping your upper body straight. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds on each side to stretch your hip flexors and psoas muscles.

Chest Opener Stretch

To open up your chest, try the chest opener stretch. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and clasp your hands behind your back. Straighten your arms and lift them slightly while opening your chest and squeezing your shoulder blades together. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds to benefit your chest, shoulders, and biceps.

Child’s Pose

Move into the child's pose by kneeling on the floor, sitting back on your heels, and reaching your arms forward to lower your torso between your thighs. Hold this pose for 30 seconds to stretch your back, shoulders, and hips.

Seated Forward Bend

For the seated forward bend, sit with your legs extended straight in front of you and reach forward towards your toes, keeping your back straight. Hold this position for 30 seconds to stretch your hamstrings, calves, and lower back.

Cat-Cow Stretch

Perform the cat-cow stretch by starting on your hands and knees. Alternate between arching your back (cow pose) and rounding it (cat pose) for 10 cycles. This movement helps stretch and mobilize your spine, shoulders, and neck.

Shoulder Stretch

Next, do a shoulder stretch by bringing one arm across your body at shoulder height and using the opposite arm to gently pull it closer to your chest. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds on each side to target your shoulders and upper back.

Triceps Stretch

For the triceps stretch, raise one arm overhead and bend the elbow, reaching down towards your back. Use the opposite hand to gently push on the elbow. Hold this position for 30 seconds on each side to stretch your triceps and shoulders.

Figure Four Stretch

Finally, try the figure four stretch by lying on your back and crossing one ankle over the opposite knee. Pull the uncrossed leg towards your chest and hold for 30 seconds on each side. This stretch will help loosen your glutes, hips, and lower back.

Throughout the routine, remember to breathe deeply and slowly. Avoid bouncing or pushing too hard into the stretches, and focus on relaxing your muscles as you hold each position. This routine will help alleviate muscle tightness, improve flexibility, and promote recovery after your sandbag workout.

DONNA WALKER is a Trainer at our CAC Lakeview Athletic Club

To book a session with Donna at LVAC, click here