Full Body Workouts: 10 Ways to build strength with Sandbags

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Experience Mighty Gains from a Mini Bag


The sandbag is often overlooked as a viable alternative to barbells and weight plates. It is not even the first thing people think of when they talk about strength training. In the past few years I have used sandbags exclusively from a cost and space standpoint. My 4 sandbags, with sand, came to about $200. And for storage, they all fit neatly in a corner, saving ample space in the garage. Though this scenario is specific to me, the efficiency of sandbags are tough to beat.

I had written earlier about using sandbags for strength training. That covered the basics of the benefits of using sandbags. In this post I list some of the most common exercises that can be done with sandbags for total body workouts. These are in no particular order. Combining 2 or three of these in a workout session can help you with all-around fitness at any time of the year or place.

10 Total Body Exercises

If you are new to working out with sandbags, start with a small and light bag to experience a new equipment. Sand, by its nature, is hard to control. This presents some unique but rewarding challenges.

1. Carry and toss:

Lift a small sandbag up to your chest. Now, thrusting your hip, push the sandbag over your shoulder or head and throw it behind you. Pick up the sandbag and repeat the process. Aim for 3 sets of 10 throws each. Increase weight slowly as your strength increases.

sandbag carry and toss

2. Farmer’s Carry:

Hold the sandbag on one hand using one of the side handles and walk a distance of about 50 meters. At the end, switch hands and walk back to the starting point. Repeat for 3 total trips. As your forearm strength improves, aim for longer distances or heavier bags, or both.

3. Sandbag run:

This is one of my favorite cardio workouts. Hold a small/ light sandbag across your shoulder behind your neck. Holding the sandbag by its many straps, go on a light jog. I usually warmup with a 200m jog, and I occasionally run 800m with the sandbag. Again, start light to get a feel for the workout before going heavier.

4. Sandbag Burpees:

Place the sandbag on the ground, then perform a burpee by jumping down into a push-up position, performing a push-up, jumping back up, and picking up the sandbag. Hold the sandbag and stand up, then squat down and place the sandbag back on the ground. Aim for 3 sets of 8-10 reps. Video for reference.

5. Overhead Lunges:

Hold the sandbag overhead with both hands, then step forward into a lunge position. Lower your back knee towards the ground, then push back up and switch legs. Aim for 3 sets of 8-10 reps on each leg.

6. Renegade Rows:

Place the sandbag on the ground and assume a plank position with your hands on the sandbag. Row one arm up towards your chest, then lower it back down and repeat on the other side. Aim for 3 sets of 8-10 reps on each side.

7. Sandbag Cleans:

From a standing position with the sandbag around your knee, shrug your shoulders and pull the sandbag up to your upper chest. Hold for a second, and reset to the starting position. Repeat for 3 sets if 10 such repetitions.

sandbag cleans

8. Sandbag Power Cleans/ squat cleans:

Hold the sandbag between your feet, then lift it up to your chest and drop into a squat. From the squat position, explosively stand up and lift the sandbag to your chest. Aim for 3 sets of 8-10 reps.

9. Ground to overhead:

This tests the “explosiveness” of your strength (how fast you can move the weight from the ground to above your head). There are The more common option is the clean and press –

sandbag ground to overhead

Clean and Press – The aim is to maintain proper form – maintain a straight back and bend at the knee and hips when you lift the weight from the ground. When the weight is near the knee, shrug your shoulder and pull the weight towards your upper chest. Once the weight is near your chest, push it up past your head by tightening your core and extending your arms above your head. Hold it overhead for a second, and then drop the sandbag to the ground and reset to the starting position. Try to aim for 3 sets of 5-8 reps each.

10. Sandbag Man-Makers:

Similar to sandbag burpees. Here, from a push up position, go to a single arm plank on each arm, Then lift the sandbag up to your chest (clean) and push it up over your head. You can also do a squat clean and then push it over your head for a more challenging workout. Aim for 3 sets of 8-10 reps. Start with a light bag and gradually increase the weight or reps. Video for reference.

Tips for better fitness

As with any new exercise, start slow and light. Build up strength and increase weight and/ or intensity gradually. Warm up before an exercise with some light stretches. Pay attention to your form when lifting weights. Always listen to your body for pains and aches. Stop the workout and seek help immediately if you experience sudden pain or discomfort.

Hope you found this useful. Check out my other posts as well.

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