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9 Sandbag Moves That Will Get You Shredded

author image Josh Henkin, CSCS
Josh Henkin, CSCS, has more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry. He has taught his innovative fitness systems all over the world. His DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training system has become a leader in functional fitness education, serving people in more than 80 countries worldwide.

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9 Sandbag Moves That Will Get You Shredded
Photo Credit: Josh Henkin/LIVESTRONG.COM

With a single piece of equipment, you can re-create the benefits of an entire gym in a very small area and still get a full-body workout. All you need is a sandbag. The goal of sandbag training is to work more muscles at once and teach the body to move more efficiently. Using a sandbag challenges core strength and endurance of the entire body. The unstable weight of the constantly shifting sand works both the smaller stabilizers and the bigger muscles of the body, which is very different from most strength-training tools that become predictable with their movement patterns. Changing how you hold, stand and move with a sandbag opens up more than 400 different exercises that work for any fitness program at any level.

1. Shoulder Squat
Photo Credit: Josh Henkin

1 Shoulder Squat

Because you’ll be holding the sandbag over one shoulder, this squat variation combines the benefits of a traditional squat with those of a side plank. You’ll not only strengthen your legs, but the unique holding position challenges the stability of your core as well. HOW TO DO IT: Bring the sandbag from the ground to the shoulder in one explosive movement. Keep your feet slightly turned out and parallel to one another. Push your knees out as you hinge at the hips and begin to sit back into the squat, making sure you don’t lean to one side as you go down. Straighten your legs and return to standing without locking out your knees at the top. Complete the same number of reps with the sandbag on the other shoulder.

Related: How to Do the Squat Challenge

2. Clean and Press
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2 Clean and Press

One of the best full-body exercises, the sandbag clean and press, requires strength, stability, explosiveness and accuracy. The instability of the sandbag reinforces the need for proper technique in order to complete each rep. HOW TO DO IT: Hold the neutral-grip handles and begin with the sandbag against the shins. Your arms should not be in contact with your legs to make sure you hinge, not squat, into the movement. With an explosive “jump,” catch the sandbag on your fists. Lock your legs, push through the heels, brace the core and drive the sandbag over your head. Reverse the movement to return to the starting position.

Related: 14 Moves to Build the Strength and Stamina of an MMA Fighter

3. Rotational Lunge
Photo Credit: Josh Henkin

3 Rotational Lunge

The rotational lunge is one of the most athletic exercises, since you must be strong enough to lift the weight and resist the pull of the sandbag as you are lunging. It’s also a great conditioning and fat-burning exercise, even more so than exercises that use twice as much weight. HOW TO DO IT: Begin with the sandbag in front of the hips after deadlifting it off the ground. Stand tall and begin to slowly lunge backwards and rotate the sandbag to the same side as the front leg. Don’t over-rotate; just clear the lead knee. Drive through the front heel and return to standing, then repeat with the other leg. As you move faster, the sandbag will pick up momentum and increase the height of the swing.

Related: The 41 Toughest Ab Exercises

4. Grip Rows
Photo Credit: Josh Henkin

4 Grip Rows

Why is grip strength so important? Research has shown a correlation to rotator cuff strength, which can help prevent injury. Working the grip also recruits more of your upper-arm muscles. Bent rows are a great way to balance your shoulders and challenge your core. HOW TO DO IT: Roll the side of the sandbag to make a thick grip. Deadlift the weight off the ground and slowly hinge your hips back, slightly bending the knees and keeping the lower back straight. Pull the sandbag toward your upper stomach and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Slowly lower the weight without bouncing.

Related: The WORST Exercises for the Rotator Cuff

5. Shoveling
Photo Credit: Josh Henkin

5 Shoveling

Body rotation is one of the most powerful movements you can perform. Any sport requires movement in this position -- hitting a baseball and throwing a football, for example. And rotational training helps with fat loss too. Because of the deceleration involved, there is a ton of work being performed by the entire body. HOW TO DO IT: From standing, begin to pivot to one side. As you pivot, hinge back on one hip and let the sandbag come to the outside of that knee. Drive through the heel and push the sandbag out in front of you. Keep the shoulders back and quickly pivot to the opposing side. Quickly hinge back and “catch” the sandbag.

Related: 12 Exercise Swaps to Help You Break Through a Plateau

6. Kneeling Around the Worlds
Photo Credit: Josh Henkin

6 Kneeling Around the Worlds

Core training is far more than planks and crunches. The strongest core is one that can react and move dynamically. To strengthen your core, build flexibility and increase conditioning, around the worlds are your answer. HOW TO DO IT: Kneel on the ground with the weight in front of you. Slowly move the sandbag around your body like you’re putting on then taking off a jacket. Perform slowly, resisting any movement of the trunk, and do not sit back on your heels.

Related: 12 Weight-Training Mistakes

7. Lateral Drag With Push-Ups
Photo Credit: Josh Henkin

7 Lateral Drag With Push-Ups

The push-up is a classic core and upper-body exercise. However, simply doing more reps is not the best way to strengthen the body. The lateral drag with push-up challenges your posture and upper-body and core strength. This powerful drill also helps build one-arm push-up strength and connects the body to create more explosive strength. HOW TO DO IT: Begin with a light sandbag to the side of you while you assume a push-up position. Keep your feet wide and reach across to grab the sandbag. As slowly as possible (this is where slower is better), drag the sandbag across the body without elevating or rotating your hips. As the weight crosses your body, begin to lower yourself into a one-arm push-up position. Once the weight is across, keep tension on the sandbag and drive through the feet and stance arm to drive back up.

Related: 30-Day Push-Up Challenge

8. Grip Curls
Photo Credit: Josh Henkin

8 Grip Curls

One of the best ways to strengthen the biceps is to work your grip at the same time. And the length of the sandbag works the biceps through a greater range of motion than dumbbells. HOW TO DO IT: Grip somewhere between the middle and the high end of the sandbag. Standing tall with the shoulders back, tightly grip the sandbag and curl it toward the chest. Don’t round the shoulders, and resist the pull of the weight forward on your trunk by bracing your abdominal muscles.

Related: 5-Day Upper-Body Workout Routine

9. Front-Loaded Walks
Photo Credit: Josh Henkin

9 Front-Loaded Walks

Loaded carries are a highly effective means of building strength and endurance at the same time. Relatively simple to employ, the power of carrying a weight can’t be underestimated. Holding the sandbag in the front-loaded position will put incredible stress on your upper back, core and legs (in a good, strength-building way). HOW TO DO IT: Clean the sandbag from the ground to the front-loaded position. Go for a walk, holding the weight against your body, elbows close the ribs and keeping your lower back straight.

Related: Find Out More About Ultimate Sandbag Training

What Do YOU Think?
Photo Credit: YekoPhotoStudio/iStock/Getty Images

What Do YOU Think?

Have you ever done a sandbag workout? What are your favorite exercises? Did you notice a difference in using a sandbag versus dumbbells? Tell us about your sandbag workout experiences in the comments below.

Related: The 15 Toughest Do-Anywhere Workout Moves

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