by Matt Palfrey.

If you currently serve in the Military or another combat-ready force then you realize that superior strength and conditioning can be the difference between life and death. Unlike the general public, who often get fit for personal gain, it’s important to understand the gravity of this situation and also select your training methods with this in mind.

This article will cover some of the benefits of using sandbag training as part of your overall programming, along with some training sessions that you can try to build fantastic strength and conditioning.

The Benefits of Sandbag Training

#1 Train Anytime, Anywhere

The sandbag is a simple training tool that is both effective and portable. If you are away from home then you can take it with you, filling it when you need to train. This gives it a great advantage over other free weight training tools like Dumbbells, Kettlebells and Barbells that can be prohibitively heavy to transport.

#2 It’s Real

Fixed resistance machines in your local commercial fitness facility will not prepare you for the rigours of life in the field. In fact, they may only really prepare you for life in the gym, and that will not give you the kind of real-world results you need. The constantly shifting centre of mass in the sandbag will also encourage you to develop strong stabilising muscles, a vital component for anyone who wants agility, balance and to reduce the risk of injury.

#3 It Delivers a Big Bang For Its Buck

To make huge strides in improving your strength and conditioning you’ll want to focus on multi-joint, multi-muscle exercises and movements. Put simply, Squats and Deadlifts will do more for you then Bicep Curls and Crunches. Sandbag training suits these type of compound exercises well.

#4 It’s Not Unlike Another Person

If your role demands that you’re able to lift, restrain or carry another person then sandbag training can be a great way to prepare. The dead-weight of the sandbag replicates this well, and you can use it for a variety of drills. The malleable nature of the sandbag also makes it a great choice for various carries, throws and drags – exercises that are often ignored but that should be in every athletic training program.

Sandbag Training Sessions To Try

If you are looking to prepare for military selection tests or to maintain your fitness for testing purposes then you should aim to base your programming around those specific tasks. So, if you are being graded on your ability to perform Push Ups and run 1 mile then those things need to form a large part of your programming. Sometimes it really is that simple.

For those who are more interested in building high levels of strength and conditioning for their role, they should instead look more broadly at the daily task that they’re required to do. Fitness tests, after all, often represent the bare minimum required and do not necessarily crossover into the job-specific fitness you may require.

Below you’ll find some training sessions that will help build fantastic strength and conditioning for whatever military force you serve in or plan to join.

1. Sandbag Hill Sprints

Hold a sandbag over one shoulder and sprint as fast as you can up a moderately inclined hill for 10 seconds. When you reach the top of the hill, drop the sandbag and perform 10 Burpees as fast as possible. Pick up the sandbag again and slowly walk down to the bottom of the hill. Complete 4-6 rounds with 3-4minutes rest in between at the end of a weight training session.

2. Sandbag Load Carry

Carry a heavy sandbag (weight equal to your bodyweight is ideal) over a 200m course as fast as you can. You can carry, drag or throw the bag, as long as you move it as quickly as possible. Rest equal to work and repeat for up to 5 rounds.

3. Sandbag Lunge

20 Sandbag Zercher Walking Lunges
20 Push Ups
20 Sandbag Overhead Walking Lunges
20 Push Ups
400m Run
Rest/Walk 4:30min
Repeat for 3-5 rounds @ 90% effort (repeatable and sustainable pace)

4. Sandbag Ground-to-Overhead

Lift a moderately heavy sandbag (approximately 50% of your bodyweight) from the ground to overhead 5 times as fast as you can every minute on the minute for 10 minutes. Deceptively simple, this session is a great way to train your CP Battery.

Matt Palfrey is a strength and conditioning coach, a consultant to a number of health and fitness companies and the founder of Sandbag Fitness - a specialist sandbag training company. He believes that a no nonsense approach to health and fitness works best and has written 2 books on the subject of sandbag training for fitness. For a limited time you can get 25% off either ‘Sandbag Training For MMA & Combat Sports’ and ‘The Complete Guide To Sandbag Training’. Just use the code sandbagelite25 at checkout. Click here to learn more.