Get summer ready with this sandbag functional workout!
Long used by competitors in martial arts, sandbag training is becoming more popular among those interested in achieving exceptional fitness, and with good reason. Training with sandbags helps improve your overall strength and performance, and these improvements can then translate into other areas of your life. “Sandbag training is seen by the general public as too difficult or too specialized to be part of a ‘normal’ workout. In reality, however, this type of training is just about as practical and functional as it gets,” says Andy Laird, PTS, owner of Metamorfit, a fitness training company based in Keswick, Ontario. Laird has trained several national-level athletes in hockey, figure skating, and combat sports.
The trend in recent years has been toward functional strength more than strict muscle building. Functional training strengthens not only the specific muscles being targeted but also the supportive stabilizing muscles, giving you better all-over fitness and conditioning. Because the core muscles are the most important stabilizing muscles of them all, functional training also creates integrated core strength, which makes you better able to carry out tasks in your everyday life, from carrying luggage to moving furniture.
Training stabilizing muscles requires instability. You can see this trend in the exploding popularity in recent years of BOSU balls, suspension bands, and wobble boards. That popularity has now extended to sandbag training, which offers all this and so much more. It rapidly builds superior functional strength, yes, but also offers superior conditioning and fat loss. “Sandbag training utilizes the kind of high-intensity intervals shown in numerous studies to improve fat loss through excess post-exercise oxygen consumption,” says Laird. “It also provides the stimulus for increased muscular development. In short, sandbag training can be a very effective training protocol for improving your physique.”
Sandbags are cumbersome, awkward, and their centre of gravity constantly changes. This makes them irritating, but it also makes them effective. If you’re hung up on numbers, then they may not be the best choice because you will probably have to decrease the weight from what you would normally use, but if your goal is results, they couldn’t be better. Their awkward shape and flexibility actually make them better than free weights for certain exercises because they can mold to the body. If you’ve ever found barbell squats too painful on the back of your neck, for example, try using a sandbag instead.
Sandbags are also great for exercises where you hold the weight in close to your body. And they’re an excellent choice if you don’t want to join a gym for financial or other reasons. You can get an incredible workout at almost no cost. The following is a high-intensity sandbag workout that also targets the muscles of your core and makes the most of the sandbag’s superior qualities: weight, instability, and malleability.