January 01, 2008
Sandbag training has been around as long as there has been manual labor. Even in our industrial age, luggage, duffels, and those huge bags of dog food, concrete, or potting soil don't get onto the shelves or into our cars by themselves; someone has to put them there. In attempts to make fewer trips from the car, we tend to carry our grocery bags into the kitchen in strange and creative ways. Finally there are times when the real-world item is actually a sandbag, as in the case of flooding or military fortification. So as unusual as it might be to see a sandbag in your gym, it is one of the most functional pieces of gear you can get. And one of the least expensive.
This article introduces sandbag training and equipment and the fundamental lifts. In the next one in the series, we will take a look at some more exercises and combinations and some ways to integrate sandbag work into your CrossFit training.
Let's take a closer look at the training stimulus that the sandbag provides relative to the more traditional barbell. The first issue comes with how to grip it. Asked to lift a barbell, the average untrained person won't stare at it all too long before taking a relatively symmetrical grip and giving it a good heave. The lifting mechanics may be all wrong, but there is usually little problem with the grip itself. This is not so with the sandbag. Even a well-trained athlete who has never done any sandbag work will often look all around it, spread and gather it, grip and re-grip it. In addition, he or she may re-grip it mid-rep or change grips over the course of a set as the hands and arms tire. Sandbag lifting provides an entirely different, unique grip challenge and strengthening.