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10 Ultimate Sandbag Exercises That Are MUSTS!

As we are quickly heading into the second half of the year, we are also getting closer to celebrating our 16th year of doing DVRT. When I think about how many articles, blogs, videos, we have done over the years I have to remember that many people have missed a lot of our mainstream articles sharing how Ultimate Sandbag exercises can have such a profound impact upon a wide variety of fitness goals. That is why I thought I would share an article that I had originally written for Live Strong about 5 years ago. The content is still very important and I’ve made some updates to help you see why these Ultimate Sandbag exercises are so important to your workouts! I hope you enjoy it and get a deeper perspective of these 10 Ultimate Sandbag exercises.

sandbag exercises

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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. An Ultimate Sandbag doesn’t sound very sophisticated (even though there is a great deal of engineering that goes behind it) and being different from most strength training tools in that it isn’t iron makes some cynical about what can be achieved. However, we always believe in proving that Ultimate Sandbag exercises can be some of the most dynamic and powerful movements you can be using.

Our goal in our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag exercises isn’t to train one muscle really hard because we believe in training the body as it is designed to function in the real world and sport! In doing so, we can improve strength, building functional muscle, stability, mobility, and conditioning. I didn’t say it would be easy, but it is incredibly effective.

1 Ultimate Sandbag Shoulder Squat

sandbag exercises

Because you’ll be holding the Ultimate 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.
-Bring the sandbag from the ground to the shoulder in one explosive movement. Keep your feet slightly turned out but 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 to return to standing without locking out your knees at the top.

Check out some of our great DVRT ideas that make these Ultimate Sandbag exercises better from DVRT master, Cory Cripe.

#2 Clean and Press

sandbag exercises

One of the best full-body exercises, the Ultimate 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.
-Hold the neutral-grip handles and begin with the sandbag against your shins. Your arms shouldn’t rest on your legs.
-Make sure you hinge, not squat, into the movement.
-Hoist the bad explosively upward and catch the sandbag on your fists.
-Push through your heels, brace your core and drive the sandbag over your head.
-Reverse the movement and return to the start.

#3 MAX (multiple axis) Lunge

sandbag exercises

The MAX lunge is one of the most athletic exercises, since you have to be strong enough to lift the weight and resist the pull of the sandbag as you’re lunging. It’s also a great conditioning and fat-burning exercise, even more so than exercises that use twice as much weight.

-Deadlift the Ultimate Sandbag off the ground and hold it in front of your hips.

-Lunge backward 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. But don’t let that pull you around; stay tight through your core.

Douglas Sheppard of J and D Fitness gives a great breakdown of the foundations of the MAX lunge.
#4 Bent Rows
sandbag exercises
Why is grip strength so important? A 2016 study published in Shoulder and Elbow found a correlation to rotator cuff strength, which can help prevent shoulder injuries. Working the grip also recruits more of your upper-arm muscles. Bent-over rows are a great way to balance your shoulders and challenge your core. The Ultimate Sandbag allows so many more gripping options and combined with our focus on different planes of motion, gives us a new spin on a classic and brings in so much more value to this Ultimate Sandbag exercises.
-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.

 

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My favorite exercises are those that allow us to accomplish multiple fitness goals at once. Bent rows are a great example of this idea. Some coaches get worried about the safety of bent rows but they will deadlift and squat heavy, do tons of kettlebell swings, all drills that have a much higher risk to the low back than bent rows and in fact, bent rows are great preparatory drills for such movements. How when they are a “back” exercise? _______________ When you look at what @joshhenkindvrt and I are doing in these #DVRT bent row progressions the first thing I hope you see is a plank in a more functional position. Since stability is really about creating movement and resisting unwanted movement, you see how we are doing JUST that in these bent row variations. The fact we can change grip on our Ultimate Sandbag allows us so many options to train the upper back while improving our core stability and foundations of the hip hinge. _______________ Training in all 3 planes of motions and connecting our upper body exercises to our core and lower body is what sets functional training apart from bodybuilding. Since we know in real life movement that there really is no separation of our upper body from our core and lower body, these make far more sense in creating strength, functional muscle, and even better corrective exercises. It is understanding these types of functional training concepts that allows us to train more effectively, efficiently, and help bring what we can do in the gym to real life and sport!

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Physical Therapist, Jessica Bento and I give you some great examples of the bent row making these Ultimate Sandbag exercises feel very different!
#5 Shoveling
sandbag exercises
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 because of the deceleration involved, there’s a ton of work being performed by the entire body. Not only does this DVRT drill teach the important concept of rotation, but makes kettlebell swings even more 3D in nature!
-From standing, begin to pivot to one side.
-As you pivot, hinge back on one hip and let the Ultimate Sandbag come to the outside of that knee.
-Drive through the heel and push the Ultimate Sandbag out in front of you.
-Keep the shoulders back and quickly pivot to the opposing side.
-Quickly hinge back and “catch” the Ultimate Sandbag.
Megan Berner breaks down the correct performance and how you get more from Shoveling.
#6 Around the Worlds
sandbag exercises

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. These Ultimate Sandbag exercises have so many progressions that target different strength and fitness levels as Sarah Rippel shows below. We often begin tall kneeling because we can identify so many movement issues and teach how to perform these Ultimate Sandbag exercises correctly.

-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.

 

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Mobility is a big focus for many programs because how do we get people to train hard if they move poorly. Unfortunately, we do end up wasting a lot of time because we fail to realize the science of mobility. For the majority of people their mobility restrictions are a result of lacking core stability. Sitting most of the day causes compensation patterns to be developed because of artificial support our body is smart and turns “off” many of the stabilizer muscles. ___________ What happens when our body perceives instability is that it goes into protective mode and reduces the movement capability. Especially of joints of the body that have the ability to be mobile like shoulders and hips. When we use exercises that help us turn the muscles back “on” we then see the breaks taken off which results in greater shoulder, thoracic, and hip mobility. ____________ That’s what makes @fitsprosarah’s demonstration of our Around the World drills is a great example of how we improve our mobility through greater stability. The reality is that stability isn’t about maximal activation of a muscle, but much lower levels so the deep stabilizers can not be overwhelmed by the body’s prime movers. The Around the World is a lift/chop pattern combined with a plank, the best of many of the best qualities of core stability. Using different body positions allow us to build progression and going to more dynamic movement patterns helps make the drill mobility and strength at the same time. That is what makes functional training so effective and what do in our #DVRT system such a training solution.

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#7 Plank Lateral Drag
sandbag exercises

The plank by itself is a good foundation for core stability, but real core stability is built by teaching the body how to progressively resist more forces. That is why we have many Ultimate Sandbag exercises that teach these concepts and are progressions of the plank lateral drag. One of those is lateral drag with push-up. 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.

-Begin with a light Ultimate Sandbag to the side of you while you assume a push-up position.

-Keep your feet wide and reach across to grab the Ultimate Sandbag.

-As slowly as possible (this slower is better), drag the Ultimate 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 Ultimate Sandbag and drive through the feet and stance arm to drive back up.

Instead of going to just your knees, Sean Lettero shows additionally how to build some proper progressions.

#8 Hip Bridges

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As you noticed that I like the name “hip bridge” over “glute bridge” because we are talking a lot more than the glutes here. The goal of the movement is to teach proper sequencing of the foot, hamstrings, glutes, and core. Since the lats are part of the core and we know the last, thoracolumbar fascia, and glutes are interconnected, it makes sense that we tie in these chains to such Ultimate Sandbag exercises. This gives us Ultimate Sandbag exercises that look quite different than you are use to seeing, but makes them so much more effective in not only impacting how the glutes look, but function as well.

-Begin with the shins almost vertical and the feet grabbing the ground.

-First level is pressing the Ultimate Sandbag over the low part of the chest or high part of the stomach.

-Grabbing the outside handles try to pull the USB apart.

-Once tension on the Ultimate Sandbag is made, drive the feet into the ground to extend the hips

 

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I used the term “glute bridges” in the title, but really I hate calling these glute bridges. Why? Because using this bridge is far more than just the glutes by themselves. Not to mention all glute training needs to have a connection to the core and lats if it is really going to address functional movement. This chain known as the Posterior Oblique Sling (POS) is essential in providing us spinal stability during movements like locomotion. ___________ We use these strategies when it comes to deadlifting barbells where we try to “break the bar” or kettlebell swings when we try to “break the handle”, yet, when it comes to hip bridges we totally ignore the impact this connection has in our glute strength and function. Tools like kettlebells and Ultimate Sandbags can be used to not only stress the hip bridge and train the glutes, but build better connection in these important chains!

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#9 Arc Press

sandbag workouts

One of the most misunderstood Ultimate Sandbag exercises, the Arc Press is both a one arm push/pull along with emphasizing lateral strength and stability. Once again think of a side plank in a more functional position. We often begin in half kneeling to accentuate these qualities, but we can perform them from almost any body position that we teach in our DVRT system.

-Having the Ultimate Sandbag upon the shoulder, grab in the middle of the USB and actively pull the weight apart.

-Create tension into the ground by driving the feet down to stabilize the pelvis.

-Focusing on driving down into the feet, press the USB SLOWLY over the crown of the head to full arm extension and pause.

-Continue to emphasize pulling the USB apart and then PULL it down to the opposing side.

#10 Lifts/Chops

ultimate sandbag exercises

Lifts/chops come from the physical therapy system of PNF. The diagonal patterns of the lift/chop represent the cross patterning that makes up our body. You can see this in walking where our opposite arm and leg move at the same time. This is what allows us to both produce efficient motion and stability at the same time. Therefore it makes sense that we use these concepts in more dynamic ways from use level core exercises to higher level dynamic movements.

-Grab onto the Ultimate Sandbag itself and actively pull the USB apart.

-Start down by one hip and driving into the ground try to pull the weight in a diagonal pattern.

-Continue to keep the arms locked and the USB pulled apart the entire time.

-Do the same as you PULL the weight back down tot he hip.

It was tough to choose only 10, but within these movements there are many progressions of each. That means 10 movements is probably closer to 100 because of the concepts of our DVRT system that allows us to teach success in each drill. It isn’t the exercise, but the purpose and execution we put with them that give these Ultimate Sandbag exercises such power.

We are back in stock so you can pick up any Ultimate Sandbag for 25% off with code “save25” HERE and also save the same 25% on all our DVRT Online Education and Workouts HERE