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Ultimate Sandbag Exercises to Boost Lower Body Training

sandbag squat

Greg Perlaki, DVRT Master (DVRT UK: https://dvrtfitness.co.uk)

The way I got into DVRT is kind of funny as my wife used to do these home workouts called ‘BodyRock’ and they picked up some Ultimate Sandbag exercises. They looked kind of cool and I wanted to keep up with my wife (girlfriend that time) so I started to do these workouts. That time we lived in Cyprus, at the Mediterranean and didn’t have much equipment at home so we ordered our very first Ultimate Sandbag. It was in 2011 and what I really liked about the bags is the endless possibilities that can give you especially when you’re short of time or lack of space like we were.

I started to watch Josh and Jessica’s videos on YouTube and shortly realized that DVRT has a lot more to offer than what I initially thought. Although I had a hard time understanding what Josh was saying in these videos (my english was not too great :). I was still seeing all the drills as different exercises and had no idea of how structured they were or what a good workout supposed to be look like. I really felt however that I have to work much harder when using the Ultimate Sandbags compare to barbells or dumbbells.

sandbag exercises

Fast forward a few years, after moving to the UK with the intention of becoming a Personal Trainer, my goal was to learn as much as possible about DVRT and Sandbag exercises as my main tool to train people.

Notice that I say ‘using Sandbags’ as even though I was reading more and more about this revolutionary system the message of DVRT did not sink in just yet. Not until I started DVRT education online. I knew that it’s special and I felt the difference personally but I kept going back to other routines because I thought if I mix it up then it will be just as good. I was wrong. I only started to feel all the benefits of training and education when I went all in.

sandbag exercises
I remember I was saying to myself ‘if you really want to do this you have to go all in’. I’m so glad that I did. It really changed the way I think about training.

I took the time and started to educate myself through the online educational program reading and  watching everything I could about DVRT and truly trying to understand the greater purpose of Ultimate Sandbag exercises. It really made the difference not only in my own routine but how I train other people. Especially how I look at approaching a particular movement pattern (not exercises), like lunges for example.

Most people hate doing lunges because they hurt! In DVRT however, we start from the ground up in a Half Kneeling/Kneeling position, using the feet to dig into the floor. This creates tension in the glutes and stability in the core which translates into a more stable position. A great foundation of Ultimate Sandbag exercises can be used to start using concepts of proper movement to not only help with eliminating the idea of lunges causing pain, but how to use the body smarter!

sandbag workouts
The Half Kneeling position really is a game changer in terms of teaching the lunge and help people to succeed, you have to start in there first. Whether is a Pallof Press with the USB or an Arc Press it is about getting the client comfortable in that environment and make them feel what they need to feel which is creating tension in the right places. In other words activating those muscles that work together in the kinetic chains.


Such Ultimate Sandbag exercises not only make the half kneeling position challenging but teaches them how to use their core properly. That core is not just only their “abs” but their lats, pelvis, hands, and feet! Using the body in this manner creates strength and stability, plus activates the right muscles so when we start moving people have more success!

They don’t have to know why is this working it’s our job as fitness professionals to create that environment where they succeed. Understanding the complexity of a movement and breaking it down into pieces is key when teaching something like a lunge to a beginner. Here is an example of how we like to progress the lunge.

When the foundations are right often times I prefer to use some of these easier Ultimate Sandbag exercises as activation drills like part of the warm-up. The lunge is a great example again. These could be any of the Half Kneeling ones (Press outs, Arc Presses, Chops, Up Downs and so forth), adding a resistance band with the core strap is a great way to get more out of these warm ups. Depending on where we want to put these exercises they can be used as mobility drills only, part of our warm ups or teaching foundations to a novice client.

It’s been said many times before but having a system like DVRT by my side as a coach allows me to see the bigger picture and understanding how one particular problem can be solved step by step. Regress to progress! In other words take a step back in order to get better results. Let the clients earn their progressions. Here’s where real progressive overload comes into play. Instead of manipulating the load first there are other ways to create a challenging environment and making sure that form are being mastered under different stimulus like placement of the bag, changing body positions or replacing sand with water for instance.

Staying with the lunge example, something like a ‘small’ thoracic movement can change the exercise drastically. Attaching resistance band to the USB through the core strap is probably the best solution to activate core and have greater feedback on what we’re doing is right.

Progressive Overload is not just about the weight!!!⠀

I don’t mean to quote bombing here, but this one from Wayne W Dyer truly represents how being open creates more opportunity.

‘Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change’. ⠀

⠀With smart programming there are different ways to provide that training stimulus for continuous growth and progress without doing periodisation or the need of adding weight constantly. ⠀

What are these:⠀

Different Holding Position⠀
Changing Body Position ⠀
Stability of Implement (Sand vs Water Filler or Same Weight In a Different Size Of Sandbag – something that the Ultimate Sandbag is unique about!!!)⠀
Different Planes Of Motion⠀
Adding Speed ⠀

Additional Tips:

Start with the most complex exercise in your workout, not necessarily with the heaviest load.

Change the body position ( Sliders, Gliders are great tools to allow you to change direction body position, and plane of motion in a progressive manner).

Understanding a movement pattern like the hip hinge allows you to realize that there are so many exercises that we can build that boredom should never enter our minds. More importantly, that we can have variety and purpose at the same time!  (Cleans, High Pulls, Rows, Snatches the list goes on especially with DVRT).

Keep an open mind! The weight is not everything. DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training is an always evolving and solution based system that offer a unique perspective to trainers and physical therapists around the world.