Sandbag Exercises

If you’re only using your sandbag for alternative versions of standard exercises like Back Squats, Deadlifts and Overhead Presses then you might just be missing out on some of the greatest benefits of sandbag training. The unique size, shape and properties of your sandbag means that there are a number of highly effective exercises that you just can’t do with other traditional free weights like barbells, dumbbells and kettle bells.

While it’s always tough learning and perfecting new exercises, the trade off is that you’ll bust through plateaus, add some new excitement into your programming and dramatically improve your strength and conditioning. So what are you waiting for?!


Stand astride your sandbag and grip it tightly around the middle. Using the power from your legs, hips and back lift the sandbag powerfully up onto one shoulder. Return the bag to the ground and then repeat, lifting onto the opposite shoulder. Shouldering is an excellent exercise for both strength and conditioning and it transfers well into daily activities like lifting.

Shoulder Getups

The getup is a tough, fully body exercise that is more traditionally performed with a kettlebell held in an outstretched arm. This variation, where the sandbag lays across one shoulder, means that you are unable to utilise the strength in your arm. This forces more core activation, strength and stability.

Lay flat on the ground with the sandbag draped over one shoulder. Powerfully roll onto the opposite forearm and turn your hips to the same side. Move up onto your hand and get your knee underneath you – as if going into a lunge position. Stand up fully before returning to the start position.

Bear Hug Squats

The bear hug is such a great sandbag movement to perform and few other exercises rival it in building brute strength. Simply grip your sandbag in a bear hug position and squat downwards, ideally until you break parallel with your thighs. Keep your feet flat throughout the exercise and try to initiate the exercise by ‘sitting backwards’ into the squat. Although it is natural to perform bear hug movements with a slightly rounded back you should still aim to maintain good posture.

Try This Workout

5 Bear Hug Squats

10 Shoulders (alternating shoulders)

1 Shoulder Getup on each side

Repeat for as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes. Aim to complete each round without setting down your sandbag.