Physical Training (PT) has always been an important part of military life. No matter what branch of the military they have been in, veterans will have memories of PT that involves many repetitions of exercises – such as press-ups (push-ups) and sit-ups.
Today, more and more people are becoming aware of sandbag workouts. Exercise sandbags have proven to be an extremely useful tool for improving performance and conditioning for sportspeople around the world, from boxing to rugby and Olympic sports.
But this type of exercise is not only for gyms, home workouts, and professional athletes. They also have value for PT and rehabilitation in a military setting.
Sandbag Training Benefits for Military Personnel
The idea behind sandbag training is the use of an unstable mass. This shifting weight demands more from the body when compared to traditional barbells or dumbbells. In other words, sandbag training can reflect the unpredictable resistance provided by many of the situations inherent in sports and strongman events and will consequently help generate beneficial and event-specific neurological training adaptations. Furthermore, sandbag weights (specifically tubes) have been incorporated into training to supplement or replace traditional barbells because they are less expensive and more reflective of the hand grip and stance used in competition
A sandbag is a low technological tool that can provide benefits and results. While they are often associated with CrossFit, these simple yet effective tools can provide a challenging workout as well as build strength, explosive power and stamina.
Sandbags are Portable
There are many reasons why they useful for military personnel. They are popular for deployment due to their ease of use and portability. This reduces the need to transport heavy and cumbersome gym equipment, when essentially an empty bag can be used to replace much of it.
They can also be used in a range of environments, both indoors and outdoors (encompassing both cold and hot environment). Further, and despite their name, many types do not have to be filled with sand. They can be filled with whatever is available, for example, water, gravel or grain.
Workout Sandbags are Affordable
Proper workout sandbags (as shown here) are more affordable when compared to other gym equipment. But you can even make one simply out of a duffle bag. With traditional sandbags being utilised in the military, this type of equipment is very affordable, especially when extra weight can be added for free or little cost.
Sandbag Exercise = Versatile Training
A good sandbag workout routine will provide an effective method of training for the body’s core and grip, including the upper and lower body. This type of exercise also helps with coordination, stability, and the ability to perform normal everyday tasks. This is due to it being an awkward piece of equipment to handle and having a non-fixed centre of gravity.
Lifting or moving odd-shaped dynamic (e.g. water- or sand-filled) implements requires muscular activation and input from many, if not virtually all, of the major muscle groups throughout the body.
Although using traditional barbells and dumbbells is great for strength/resistance training, a sandbag can be an incredibly tough, and versatile, training tool. There is some anecdotal evidence to suggest that people will lift less sandbag weight that they would with a barbell.
Finally, with the appropriate precautions in accordance with youth resistance training guidelines, sandbag training can be safely used by younger populations.
There are very few exercise tools that can provide the same type of challenges that a sandbag does. On top of that, it is good for more unconventional types of exercise such as drags, sprints and carries – thereby making it a useful training method for military training. The type of brute strength needed for sandbag training will help develop a strong back, legs and shoulders in a way that few other methods of exercise will. This helps to create a (physically) well-rounded individual.
Adding Sandbag Training to an Existing Routine
While sandbag training may feel completely different to free weights or machines in the gym, there is no need to overthink it when adding it to an existing fitness programme.
Simply adding a separate full-body sandbag workout will suffice, for example.
This should include compound movements such as, for example, squats, bent-over rows, and clean and press, but with sandbags. When you are comfortable with these low resistance exercises, you can move on to other types of (intermediate/high level resistance) exercises such as sandbag windmills and bear hug squats.