Upper Body Exercises: Get Strong with These 9 Workouts

Upper Body Workouts to build strength.



In this series of strength training with sandbags, this is focused on building upper body strength. The idea of breakings strength building into individual sections is to cover as much as possible without being overwhelming for beginners. These exercises and workout tips is applicable to everyone. So take a look at these exercises and try including them in your workout. Do let me know how it goes!

Upper Body Exercises with Sandbags

The sandbag embodies traditional training methods for me. It possesses a certain appeal in its ability to be lifted and carried, showcasing functional fitness. In previous articles, I discussed sandbags for strength training, full body workouts, and proper workout form. Now, I’ll share some upper body exeercises I do with sandbags to enhance strength. Integrate these exercises into your routine for an added challenge. You may even begin to appreciate sandbags if you haven’t already.

Workout Form

Maintaining a proper form is critical is essential for preventing injury, maximizing results, and targeting the appropriate muscles. When performing any exercise, it is important to maintain proper posture, engage the correct muscles, and avoid unnecessary strain on the joints. This not only improves the effectiveness of the workout but also helps to prevent long-term damage to the body.

For this upper-body worout, the general rule is to keep your back straight, chest up, shoulders back and down, and core tightened. This ensures optimal lifting mechanics with less stress on supporting muscles for a more efficient and injury free lift.

9 Upper Body Exercises

These exercises can be done with both dumbbells and sandbags of varying weights. Start light till you get used to the movements and gradually increase the weights.

1. Push Press/ Shoulder Press

Hold the sandbag in front around your upper chest,  with your feet shoulder-width apart. Holding your tummy tight (core tight) press the sandbag overhead, then slowly lower it back down to the starting position. Aim for 3 sets of 10-12 reps.


alternating shoulder press

2. Alternating shoulder press

Place a light sandbag on one shoulder. Use both hands to raise it above the head and place it on the other shoulder. Aim to perform this for 3 sets of 10 “moves” between shoulders.

3. Sandbag upright rows

Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and holding the sandbag in front of your thighs with an overhand grip. Lift the sandbag up towards your chin by bending your elbows and pulling the sandbag towards your body. Keep your elbows close to your body throughout the movement and pause at the top before slowly lowering the sandbag back down to the starting position.

upright rows

4. How to perform Single arm raises: Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and a light sandbag (or dumbbell) in one hand. Keep your arm straight and raise it to shoulder height, making sure to engage your shoulder muscles throughout the movement. Hold the position for a few seconds before slowly lowering your arm back down to your side. Repeat the exercise for several reps before switching to the other arm. Make sure to maintain proper form and avoid using momentum to lift the weight. Aim for 3 sets of 8-10 repes on each arm. Gradually increase the weight as you become stronger and more comfortable with the exercise.

5. Sandbag Push-Ups: Place the sandbag on the ground and assume a push-up position with your hands on the sandbag. Lower your chest towards the sandbag, then push back up. Aim for 3 sets of 10-12 reps. For a more challenging workout, place a light weight sandbag on your back. This weighted push-ups helps build strength in your arms, shoulders, and chest.

6. Sandbag bent over rows

Hold the sandbag with both hands in front of you, then hinge forward at the hips so your torso is parallel to the ground. Pull the sandbag up to your chest, then slowly lower it back down. Aim for 3 sets of 10-12 reps.

Bent over rows

7. Sandbag Bicep Curls: Hold the sandbag with both hands in front of your thighs. Curl the sandbag up towards your chest, then slowly lower it back down. Aim for 3 sets of 10-12 reps.

8. Sandbag Triceps Extensions: Hold the sandbag with its upper straps with both hands behind your head and palms facing up. Extend your arms overhead, then slowly lower the sandbag back down behind your head. Aim for 3 sets of 10-12 reps.

9. Sandbag Bench Press: The sandbag bench press is an alternative variation of the traditional bench press exercise that involves the use of a sandbag instead of a barbell or dumbbell. The sandbag bench press is more challengine as it requires more effort to stabilize the weight of the sandbag during the exercise. This movement works the muscles of the chest, shoulders, and triceps, and is an effective way to improve overall upper body power and endurance.

To perform a sandbag bench press, start by lying flat on a bench with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Hold the sandbag with both hands, making sure it’s evenly distributed. Slowly lower the sandbag down towards your chest with control, keeping your elbows tucked in. Pause at the bottom of the movement, then press the sandbag back up to the starting position. Aim for 4 – 5 sets of 10 reps each.

It’s important to keep your core engaged and maintain proper form throughout the exercise. Adjust the weight of the sandbag gradually to challenge yourself.

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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