Workout with a sandbag to build muscles and gain strength


Inexpensive and maintenance free, incorporate sandbags in your workout routine to help gain strength and build a stronger core

A sandbag, like its name suggests, is filled with sand. It looks like an overstuffed gym bag, with multiple handles for executing different exercises.

You can add one to your home gym for variety and challenge. Inexpensive and maintenance free, they cost upwards of ₹1,500, depending on the weight and the brand. Try 5 kilograms for dynamic strength exercises, and 10 kilograms for static exercises.

Incorporating a sandbag into your routine will help you gain strength, hypertrophy (depending on the weight used and routine planned), a stronger core, and functional fitness.

A warm up is a must. Do cardio for 15 minutes, followed by a mobility routine, to warm up the shoulders, hips, lower back and arms. All the regular gym exercises can be done with the sandbag but the functional exercises are a bit more challenging. Post workout stretches are a must.

Before you begin, remember…

  • Never neglect the warm up and cool down
  • Get used to the equipment before going into advanced moves
  • Stop the exercise if it makes you dizzy or places stress on any joint
  • Keep the lower back in neutral position and avoid hiking your shoulders towards the ears or pitching your chin forward, in any exercise

The routine

Sandbag run

Hug the 10 kilogram sandbag close to your chest and jog a 100 meters. Stop for 15 seconds and repeat 10 times. This exercise provides good cardio and strengthens the core. It also builds functional fitness and dynamic stability of the lower back, upper back, chest and shoulders.

Workout with a sandbag to build muscles and gain strength

Plank pull

Get into a plank position with arms extended. Place the sandbag outside the left arm, in a horizontal position. Holding the plank; pull the 5 kg sandbag on to the right side and get back into a plank. Repeat the same, pulling the sandbag to the left this time. Perform at least 10 repetitions. This is a full body workout, and works all the major muscle groups including glutes, legs, calves, total back, arms and shoulders, and core.

Workout with a sandbag to build muscles and gain strength

Squat with good morning

The 10 kilogram sandbag is carried over the shoulders and held in place using the handles. Squat with feet shoulder width apart following it up by a good morning for the back (finishing with your torso nearly parallel to the ground.) Repeat slowly, at least 16 to 20 times, for the full benefit of both the exercises. This will strengthen the lower body and the lower back.

Workout with a sandbag to build muscles and gain strength

Sandbag throws

Hold a 5 kilogram sandbag firmly with both hands and fling it as far as you can. Run across and throw it back. Repeat 10 to 20 times. Good for exercising the arms and chest.

Workout with a sandbag to build muscles and gain strength

Lunges with overhead lift

Hold the 5 kilogram sandbag in front of the chest, using the handles. Get into a lunge position and hold the posture. As you exhale, lift the sandbag overhead. Make sure the arms are in line with your ears. Repeat 10 times on either leg. This exercise not only works the shoulders but also the lower body as it is held static.

Nisha Varma is an ACSM-certified exercise physiologist. This is a monthly column with exercises for a home workout.

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