Sandbags were not originally designed for it but they offer many benefits in a workout routine. Find out what this type of training can do for you.
As always, you want to make sure you warm up well before your sandbag workouts. Especially if you go for the more explosive exercises available.
1. Sandbags can help grow and strengthen muscles
While it is not their most unique benefit, it is definitely worth mentioning that sandbag training is great for growing and strengthening your muscles.
This is thanks to the extra pressure they offer. In combination with the right movements, this will then start internal processes that can repair and strengthen your muscles.
Exactly what muscles you will work depends on the exercises you do.
As an example, a workout sandbag back squat will mainly help grow and strengthen your quadriceps and potentially glutes, hamstrings, calves, and lower back muscles.
On the other hand, you can also simply do bicep curls with a (lighter) sandbag to isolate your bicep muscles.
2. Workouts sandbags are very versatile
How versatile a piece of fitness equipment is, is not the only detail that influences your decision.
However, it is fair to say that this is typically a positive point. Workout sandbags definitely stand out in this area.
Especially the longer models with multiple handles are made to be used in many important and fun movements.
Some examples of sandbag exercises you can do include squats, deadlifts, shoulder presses, bent-over rows, bench/floor presses, walking, etc.
3. Different workout sandbag types to choose from
Workout sandbags come in different types and shapes. The most popular type is the longer bag with multiple handles. This one stands out for its training potential for so many different muscles.
Strongman workout sandbags are more minimalist and without handles. They do come in different shapes but even these are relatively close to a simple round or cylinder-shaped bag.
These typically have higher weight limits and they are more challenging for your forearm grip muscles.
Lastly, there are also aquabags which only barely qualify as a type of workout sandbag. These are bags to fill with water to train with.
Aquabags do not have the highest weight limits among other downsides but they can be useful for some individuals.
Most people want to start with the longer workout sandbags with multiple handles. If you are interested in strongman exercises and/or very strong, the second type may be the right choice.
Lastly, if you are not that strong and/or want something fun to enjoy yourself in hot weather but nothing too serious, you can give an aquabag a try.
4. Sandbags offer big weight ranges with many increments
An important principle to keep in mind when doing strength training is that you want to challenge your muscles enough but not too much either.
This allows you to pressure your muscles enough to start strengthening processes but also allows you to still do enough repetitions which is typically helpful for progress.
One of the benefits of workout sandbags is that they are great in both of these areas.
First of all, in terms of workout sandbag weights, there are a variety of models with a capacity of 200 pounds (90.7 kg). Some strongman sandbags can even hold up to 400 pounds (181.4 kg) of filler material.
Secondly, you can choose how much you fill up these bags. This allows you to change the weights in very small increments.
Exactly how many pounds or kilograms you should load your sandbag with depends on many details. What muscles you work, how strong you are, what areas you want to train, etc. will influence this.
It is worth mentioning you will likely be able to lift less weight than usual with the instability of a sandbag.
At the same time, getting a weight capacity that is “too high” is generally fine with sandbags since you can easily adjust the weight down.
5. Sandbags offer instability training
Even if you fill one of the best workout sandbags up entirely, the filler material will likely still move around at least to some extent.
On top of that, workout sandbags are relatively bulky.
Both of these things make it so sandbag training involves more instability than typical fitness equipment like a barbell.
As long as you don’t overdo it, instability training can offer benefits.
For example, your stabilization muscles will typically have to work harder than usual during exercises.
The extra strengthening this engagement offers can in turn offer other benefits.
6. Workout sandbags can reduce injury risk
One of these other benefits of the instability training you get from workout sandbags is that it can help reduce your injury risk.
Injuries basically come from challenging your body too much for its current strength level.
By strengthening the muscles in areas like your shoulders, knees, ankles, back, etc. with sandbag training, you can save yourself from some issues.
This is not only good for avoiding aches and pains but can also make it so you don’t have to interrupt your workout routine for a few weeks.
7. Sandbags can improve your balance and coordination
Another consequence of the instability aspect of sandbag training is that your workouts will become more challenging in terms of balance and coordination.
While it can feel like some people are destined with suboptimal skills in these areas, you can actually improve your balance and coordination to some extent with activities like sandbag training.
This can be useful since having better skills in these areas can help you avoid accidents in daily activities like walking around and climbing stairs.
8. Sandbags are functional pieces of fitness equipment
Being strong will often come in handy but being able to squat 250 pounds (113.4 kg) with a smith machine does not always mean a similar performance in your daily life.
This is because daily-life objects are a lot more unstable and require more balance and stabilization muscle engagement.
One of the benefits of more functional pieces of fitness equipment like workout sandbags is that they prepare you better for situations you encounter in your daily life.
9. Workouts sandbags are relatively affordable
Pricey pieces of fitness equipment can still be worth the investment in certain situations but it is fair to say that getting a lot of benefits at a budget-friendly price is often desired.
Compared to steel weights, workout sandbags are relatively affordable.
For example, at the time of writing, there are workout sandbags with a weight capacity of 200 pounds at less than 100 USD.
Something to note is that you still need to get the filler material yourself but this is usually relatively cheap.
Additionally, due to their versatility and easy weight adjustment, workout sandbags allow you to train basically all of the important muscles with only one investment.
In simpler words, sandbag training is an affordable method to build muscle and get the benefits that come with that.
10. Sandbags can build muscle endurance and strength
Even within the category of resistance training, you have different types of working out.
This is because the way you train your muscles can influence what they are good at.
More specifically, you can influence what ratios of muscle fibers contain by doing different types of sandbag training (1).
Doing sandbag exercises with lower weights and more repetitions will be helpful for getting more type 1 slow-twitch muscle fibers.
These will be helpful for exerting force over extended amounts of time.
On the other hand, you can also do sandbag movements with a lot of weight, small amounts of repetitions, and potentially some throwing to grow type 2 fast-twitch muscle fibers.
As you can expect, these fibers are useful for creating a lot of force in a short amount of time.
Sandbags are not unique in this benefit but they do make it easy to do and switch between different types of training. This can help you adapt your workouts for your specific purposes.
11. Workout sandbags are relatively compact
A barbell setup with a bench and squat rack is one of the top combinations when it comes to fitness equipment but not everyone has room for these.
On the flip side, there are more compact pieces of fitness equipment like workout sandbags.
First of all, you basically only need one workout sandbag to work a variety of muscles at a good challenge level.
Secondly, you can easily remove (some amount of) filler material. You can even take your workout sandbag when traveling if you empty it entirely.
In short, the relatively compact size of workout sandbags is a benefit for somewhat smaller living spaces and moving the equipment to different locations.
One thing to note is that you still need enough room, inside or outside, to do the sandbag workouts.
12. Workout sandbags add some variety
Many people find it challenging to stick to an exercise routine because they find their workouts a bit one-sided.
Even if this does not apply to you, making your workouts more interesting can be a benefit in itself.
One thing you can do to make your workouts more fun is to change up the type of equipment you use.
While barbell and workout sandbag back squats are the same exercise, the different equipment does change the balance aspect and how you get in position.
Additionally, sandbags offer more unique exercises like a bear hug carry that can be a fun way to switch things up.
If you like the variety of these things, it can be worth giving sandbag training a try.
13. Sandbags can also train your cardiovascular health
You typically use sandbags in resistance training but there are ways to work your cardiovascular health too. For example, by walking or even running with your sandbag.
Even if you stick to the resistance training, your heart, lungs, and blood vessels will likely have to work harder than usual to make sure your body parts get all the substances they need to function.
In turn, engaging your cardiovascular system to a larger extent can help you strengthen it or at least slow down degradation.
One thing to note about this benefit of sandbag training is that your body still has limits.
Especially people who are new to cardiovascular workouts likely want to start with regular walking and running before adding a (light) sandbag.
14. You can throw certain sandbags
Most pieces of fitness equipment are not that great for throwing. At least not in a safe way.
This aspect is not the most essential for getting into shape but it does add extra dimensions of training potential and fun to your workouts.
Some of the quality sandbags are made for throwing around.
You do want to check whether your specific model is suited for this benefit. If your workout sandbag is not made for throwing, it could break relatively fast.
15. Sandbags can help prevent back pain
Aches and pains are somewhat common in daily life but there are actually often ways to reduce and prevent these.
For example, growing and strengthening the muscles in your core (around your waist) can help you reduce and prevent back pain which is a relatively common issue.
Workout sandbags can help you with this in different ways.
First of all, you could do specific sandbag exercises for these core muscles (to safe extents). As long as you don’t overdo it, this will typically be the most effective method.
Secondly, you can also say that the sandbag version of exercises often work your core muscles to a larger extent than the same movement with more stable equipment.
The extra core muscle endurance this offers can again be helpful for reducing and preventing back pain.
You do want to be careful with sandbag training if you already have challenges in this area.
In that case, it may be smart to talk to an expert first to make sure you actually get benefits from sandbag workouts.