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The Snow Shovel Workout


Annmarie Licatese, DVRT Master (Fitfoodiemama)

Where I live it’s snowy.  Not just like a flurry here or there but like feet of snow overnight kinda snowy. There is a running joke going around that the amount of snow shoveling that we have to do here has been “giving Oswegonians obliques since the 1800’s”.  It’s funny but it’s only sorta true- it’s also been one of the leading causes of back injuries in the winter around these parts. 

I know this not only because every other person I run into complains about how they just did some “shoveling that was a real back breaker” but also because my husband is a local chiropractor and according to him, he sees at least 10 people a day who have hurt their backs while shoveling snow and their injury is always a function of bending at the waist with rotation.  

If you think about it, shoveling snow is a total body workout, but for those that are out of shape, not functionally strong, or using improper form, pushing and lifting literal loads of snow is the perfect storm for an injury. 


Postures and lifting positions will not only hurt you in the gym, but out of it as well!


So while it may sound strange to train specifically to shovel, it’s really not.  In all actuality, you’re really training to be more functionally fit for life. Shoveling snow is a great indicator if your fitness has really any carry over to the real world. 


Why did I choose these specific DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training exercises you ask? Let’s break it down.


Front Load Walking Lunges: Let’s face it, getting out there first thing in the morning before you go to work isn’t always the most pleasant way to start your day. However, what makes the day much worse is if we are not paying attention to our movement! One of the major mistake people make in their movement is to create long lever arms and load up their back when they try to move things. Sounds just like snow shoveling right? This can even be the gym too!

Part of the reason the at DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training drills like Front Loaded Walking Lunges are helpful is they help open the hips, teach people how to load the glutes/hamstrings instead of their low back, and teach the core to brace while we create force from the legs. Hmmm, sound familiar yet? 


Recommended Bag: Power for women, Strength for men.



Bear Hug Clean to Bear Hug Squat: Whether it’s obvious to you or not, shoveling snow involves a lot of lower body movement particularly bending or hip hinging and squatting as you lift up the snow.


Practicing the necessary skills for these movements is imperative. The Ultimate Sandbag Bear Hug Clean teaches how to accelerate a load off the ground, absorb and decelerate force as well as how to lift without rounding the back.


When shoveling we also tend to squat a bit when lifting the load. Problem is, most people aren’t squatting properly. The Bear Hug Squat is a great drill to correct poor compensation patterns since the bag provides a counterbalance which encourages a better squatting position.



Recommended Bag: Strength or Burly for women, Burly for men.


Ultimate Sandbag Shoveling: Last but not least, shoveling with the Ultimate Sandbag is a fantastic drill for practicing the real thing. When properly performing shoveling with the Ultimate Sandbag, you learn to pivot through the hips rather than twisting through the low back. It also works to strengthen rotational hip hinging as well as teaching how to control the load during the deceleration phase of the exercise.


Recommended Bag: Core or Power for women, Power or Strength for men.


These three exercises will prepare you for a season of shoveling snow by teaching the necessary movement skills for the job as well as training for the strength and conditioning that you’ll need to quickly clear the driveway. Side note: probably best to do this workout indoors! 🙂

Join Annmarie for her DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training workshop HERE and learn how to apply these great strategies and so much more to your fitness!