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The Importance of Sandbag Training

The benefits of sandbag training are unique from traditional weight lifting. Sandbags are unpredictable beasts. The sand within your bag will sway back and forth, as you struggle to lift, carry, drag, or throw the bag. The unpredictable nature of the sandbag renders it an invaluable training device.

Consider the craftsmanship involved in constructing a dumbbell, barbell, or kettlebell. These training tools are carefully assembled according to precise measurements. The weight is evenly distributed and carefully balanced to allow for fluent lifting. Many athletes have developed awesome power and strength
from these traditional tools of the trade. Unfortunately, the strength developed through conventional lifting is not always applicable to real life combat.

Don’t discard your weight set, instead augment your weights with the addition of a sandbag training routine.

Real life does not share the predictable nature of a carefully constructed barbell. Consider the combative athlete who is engaged in a grueling battle with a quarrelsome adversary. Perhaps he is pinned on the mat, struggling to free himself from an uncooperative opponent. The pinned athlete requires strength,
stamina, and skill to wrestle his opponent off and regain control of the bout. The brute strength required for this situation is best developed by lifting awkward, unpredictable objects such as sandbags.

Sandbag training will develop the brute strength necessary for the unpredictable movements of combat. When you lift the sandbag, it will literally fight with you. The sand will sway back and forth, forcing your stabilizer muscles to work overtime, as you struggle to maintain balance. The stabilizers help keep the bones and joints secure, while the prime movers extend and flex. The stabilizer muscles help align and maintain joint integrity throughout a normal range of motion, while helping to maintain balance.

Traditional weight training targets the prime movers, with little or no attention to the stabilizer muscles. Many weight-training exercises target one muscle group at a time. When we bench press from a flat bench, we isolate the chest muscles through a controlled range of motion. Many bodybuilders focus on isolation exercise, rather than training with full-body movements. Unfortunately, isolation training has trickled its way into many of today’s athletic programs.

It is important to strengthen the stabilizers to allow your prime movers to perform. When you condition the stabilizers, you increase your ability to generate and apply useful power. Many athletes underestimate and under appreciate the importance of stability. When you lack stability, your body must focus its energy towards the stabilizer muscles, to maintain balance and protect against injury. The body has a built in protection mechanism that operates involuntarily. The stabilizers take priority over prime movers to prevent injury. When your energy is spent attempting to recover stability and maintain balance, there is nothing left for voluntary movement.


By strengthening the stabilizers, you can direct more strength to your prime movers. Your prime movers are those muscles that generate the force necessary to slam your opponent to the ground. When you allow your prime movers to operate freely, you greatly enhance performance. If you want to
deliver power from your prime movers, you must first strengthen the stabilizer muscles.

The sandbag will closely mimic the unpredictable movements of an actual opponent. When you train with heavy sandbags, your stabilizer muscles will gradually strengthen and improve. Your prime movers will become free to deliver useful power.