In combat sports, we rely on different forms of bags all the time. For physical training, however, athletes are not as familiar with sandbags and how they can help produce increases in strength, speed, coordination, mobility and balance. For centuries, athletes have used forms of sandbags to improve size and strength. This article is to remind you that sometimes the best ideas are old ones.
Although there are a number of different forms of sandbags to use in training, each one is versatile and can be used to develop practically every area of the body. Because bags can also be designed with different shapes, weights, handles and grips, each one can function in different ways. So, choosing a bag may be best according to the results you are looking to produce. But the good news is that, due to the lower price and versatility of a sandbag, you can perform a number of different exercises almost anywhere.
As you will see in this article, most of the exercises you can perform with a barbell, dumbbell or kettlebell can also be replicated with the sandbag. Because the grip, balance and weight of the sandbag can vary, however, the stimulus can be altered and enhance progress beyond traditional equipment. A strong grip is an important asset for a Jiu-Jitsu player. The different materials and weights of a sandbag can be used to develop the hands and forearms.
In addition to strength, the sandbag can also be used by the Jiu-Jitsu player to develop endurance. By performing higher-repetition complexes like the ones contained in this month’s workout, in addition to your arms and legs, you can also develop the capacity of your heart.
The following two complexes can be used as a warmup to a training session or as a separate workout. These complexes will develop both strength and cardiovascular condition. Each complex can be performed by itself (upper or lower) on separate days for reps, or in combination in the same workout (upper and lower). Each exercise of the complex can be performed for either 10 or 20 reps. This will result in a 50 or 100-rep complex. If you choose the 100-rep complex, be sure to use fewer total sets.
Upper body complex
1. Bent-over row
Begin standing bent at the hips and holding the grips in front of the body. Pull the elbows behind the back and hands to the chest. Lower to original position and repeat.
2. Clean pull
Begin standing with the sandbag by the feet as shown. Stand up and extend the hips while pulling the bag up to chest height. Lower under control and repeat.
3. Front raise
Begin standing with the sandbag held at waist height. With the elbows straight, raise the bag out to the front of the body, to the height of the chin. Lower under control and repeat.
4. Shoulder throw
Begin standing with the sandbag lying against one shin as shown. Swing the bag up to the opposite shoulder into a throw position. Swing the bag back and repeat.
5. Side-to-side swing
Begin standing and swing the bag up to one side. Turn the hips and toes and swing the bag back to the other side. Repeat for the total reps.
Lower body complex
6. Front squat
Hold the bag in front of the body at shoulder height. Squat down and lower the hips until the elbows touch the tops of the thighs. Extend at the hips and knees and return to the top position.
7. Front lunge
Begin standing with the bag on the shoulders. Step out to the front on one leg and lower the back knee to the ground. Press the body back up to the top position and repeat on the opposite side.
8. Side lunge
Begin standing with the bag on the shoulders. Step out to one side and lower the body as shown. Press the body back up to the top position and repeat on the opposite side.
9. Back squat
Begin standing with the bag on the shoulders. Lower the hips until the elbows touch the top of the thighs. Extend the hips and knees and return to the top position.
10. Good morning
Begin standing with the bag on the shoulders. While only bending slightly at the knees, lean forward and push the hips back. Extend the hips and return to the start position.
Martin Rooney is the author of “Training for Warriors: the Ultimate Mixed Martial Arts Workout” and “Ultimate Warrior Workouts: Fitness Secrets of the Martial Arts.” He has trained champion fighters for the UFC, Pride, ADCC and Olympics. Information about upcoming TFW seminars and certifications at trainingforwarriors.com