Sandbag Carry: How To Do, Benefits,…

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You can use the unique size and texture of workout sandbags in specific ways. Find out how to do the sandbag carry and its benefits.

As the name implies, the sandbag carry is simply an exercise where you pick up a sandbag and walk for a certain distance or time.

You typically use a strongman sandbag without handles but a more standard workout sandbag with handles can work too.

The sandbag carry mostly helps you train muscle endurance in your forearm grip muscles, biceps, chest muscles, trapezius, and core muscles.

Your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves have to work to an extent too.

If you use enough weight and do the sandbag carry long enough, you could even see muscle growth in some of the areas above.

How to do a sandbag carry

As you can expect, sandbag carries require you to have a good workout sandbag. More specifically, the sandbag carry is typically done with a strongman sandbag without handles.

You can also do the movement with a workout sandbag with handles but don’t actually hold these to get the same benefits.

Once you have the right equipment, take the following steps to do a sandbag carry:

  1. Stand in front of the sandbag with your feet at about shoulder width. Put your hands below the edges of the sandbag and hold it.
  2. Raise the sandbag explosively by stretching your legs and tilting your upper body back. Keep your spine straight while doing this.
  3. While it is in the air, move your arms around the sandbag. Clamp it against your chest/waist.
  4. Walk a certain distance or amount of time with the sandbag held against your body. Keep your body more or less straight up without swaying your hips too much.

You can also do different carry variations with workout sandbags with handles.

Some of these include one sandbag in each hand to do a farmer’s walk, one in one hand to train your obliques, and an overhead carry to train shoulder muscles.

Sandbag carry muscles worked

The sandbag carry will mainly work your forearm grip muscles, biceps, chest muscles, trapezius (upper shoulders), and core muscles.

You engage these muscles in a static way which is typically more useful for building muscle endurance. More dynamic movements tend to be more effective for growth and strength increases.

At the same time, even isometric (static) exercises can help you build muscle if you do them with enough weight and long enough.

The stronger you become, the heavier you will need to make your sandbag to keep seeing a lot of results with the carry.

That aside, your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves have to work to an extent in the sandbag carry too.

However, to really focus on and train these muscles, something like a sandbag squat or deadlift would be a better choice.

Sandbag carry benefits

The sandbag carry does not only look impressive. You can also get a few valuable benefits from adding this movement to your exercise routine. A few of these include:

  1. Better muscle endurance: Sandbag carries can help you train muscle endurance in a variety of areas. This can benefit your daily life and performance in a variety of exercises.
  2. Balance & coordination: Sandbag carries are not the most challenging in terms of balance and coordination but enough for some people to improve their skills in these areas.
  3. Keeps things interesting: Doing the same exercises with the same equipment can become a bit one-sided. Switching it up with sandbag carries could blow some life into your workouts.
  4. Can improve grip strength: Doing sandbag carries can improve grip strength. This can offer benefits in your daily life and potentially lead to heavier lifts.

For certain benefits, there will be better sandbag exercises than the carry.

At the same time, you can still get impressive positive effects from only this one exercise.

Potential risks

Before going ahead and picking up around every sandbag you encounter, you want to know that this can be challenging in areas like your back, wrists, knees, and ankles.

Up to the point where some people may want to start with a light sandbag or even other exercises. Especially if you have any issues in your back or wrists.

Additionally, people who experience any pain while doing the sandbag carry may want to take a step back and think about what they can do better.

More specifically, it is possible that these individuals need to make changes in their workout routines or other lifestyle habits.

Sandbag carry alternatives

Even if you like the benefits of the sandbag carry but don’t like the exercise itself, you have options.

In a situation like that, alternatives like these can be better choices:

  • Farmer’s walk
  • Shrugs
  • Overhead walk
  • Bear hug sandbag squats
  • Deadlifts

What positive effects of the sandbag carry you want and why you don’t like this specific exercise will help you find out what alternatives are the best for your situation.

Are sandbag carries a good exercise?

Sandbag carries can be a good exercise to improve muscle endurance in the forearm grip muscles, biceps, chest muscles, trapezius, and core muscles.

With enough weight and carries that are long enough, you could even grow a few of these muscles.

Additionally, you will also engage your cardiovascular system to a nice extent.

That being said, it is also worth mentioning that more dynamic exercises tend to be more effective for growing muscles and training strength and power in them.

If these are your main training goals, you may want to choose exercises that are not the sandbag carry.

At the same time, how much you like doing certain exercises matters too. If you enjoy the sandbag carry, you may find it easier to stay consistent with an exercise routine that includes it.


Do sandbag carries build muscle?

Sandbag carries can build muscle if you use enough weight and do them long enough.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.