Today is a little bit of a different article for you. I have an article for you by Travis Stoetzel on Sandbag Exercises for Injury Prevention.
It is a little extreme but after the post on Suspension Trainer for Shoulder Pain, I wanted to get some information on other cool tools for injury recovery.
Today it is about the sandbag.
Sandbag Exercises for Injury Prevention
From the first time I dug into my own homemade sandbag a few years back, I was hooked! I was so hooked I bought a HUGE arsenal of professionally made sandbags. I now have about 9 different sandbags laying around my gym and for good reason.
I could tell the difference right away in how my body reacted to this type of training. I built up more power, explosiveness, plus tons of core and functional strength. But more importantly, I knew I was helping prevent injuries by training and implementing sandbag training into my routines and programs!
As a strength coach, injury prevention is the #1 priority over anything else! If you’re an athlete and you get injured, you’re out of the game and therefore worth NOTHING.
At the same time, If I were to be training some athletes and they happened to get injured on my watch, I am going to be out of a job quick. When injuries are prevented, athletes are able to build up more strength and functionality that will ultimately cross over into their particular sport or sports when using sandbags.
Along with being a HUGE means of preventing injury, sandbag training is also great for the reasons I’m going to discuss below.
1) Sandbags Build RUGGED Strength
When I talk about “rugged strength” I’m talking about pure functional strength that you’re able to use in the real world.
When it comes to sports and athletics, functional strength is important! If you’re not able to transfer the strength you build in the weight room and use it out into the field of play, your strength isn’t worth much! I want my athletes to be able to use the strength and power they gain in training and cross it over into play.
In this day and age, training with machines and the newest gizmos and gadgets is becoming more and more common which is bad for sports, athletes, and training in general. We’re getting away from the natural movements we use in sports and everyday life with the use of machines and other useless pieces of equipment.
To combat this, we need to stay more “primal” and old school with our movements. Sandbags allow us to do this!
Training with sandbags is way more functional and “free”. Free, meaning when you train with sandbags, you have to use many different muscles groups forcing you to use your whole body as one single unit. This is the way we were meant to train and brings me into my next point about sandbags.
2) Sandbags help fill the holes most regular strength training programs leave open.
When you train with fixed and balanced weights like barbells and dumbbells, you leave out the truth of athletics which is, in competition and sport, there is never a balanced or “controlled” situation.
In most sports, you’re constantly moving, balancing, and shifting around. Very seldom are you in a completely balanced and controlled state as you would be when training with barbells and dumbbells. (Not to say I don’t believe in training with barbell and dumbbells because I’m all for the use of both of these pieces of equipment very much but, there needs to be a balance. Implementing the use of sandbags create this balance).
Sandbags on the other hand shift and move, which then force you to shift and move as well. While we’ll never be able to replicate actual competition or live events in the weight room, sandbags help close the gap between real athletic movement and training.
3) Sandbags help build all around power.
Since sandbags are more durable and can be thrown around a bit better than say a barbell or set of dumbbells, it’s nice to work on high speed movements that require no eccentric phase to complete the lift. You simply explode by either pushing or pulling and then release the bag.
It’s nice to perform such movements as throws and tosses. With tosses and throws, it’s easy to focus on the explosive portion of the lift and not have to worry about lowering to the weight back down. Simply put, just explode and let go.
So, why is this type of training so important for preventing injuries?
Most injuries occur in the eccentric portion of a movement. This is the “slowing down” portion of a movement or exercise. With sandbags, we can take that away in some instances and lower the risk of injury if we have to.
This works great for beginners and young athletes that are not yet strong enough to deal with heavier barbells and dumbbells.
I prefer to train beginners on sandbags to help them build up higher levels of strength and power. It’s a ton easier to teach cleans with sandbags than it is to teach with a barbell. Learning the essentials of using the hips to generate power is crucial for young athletes and even regular trainees. Sandbags help make the beginning stages of learning how to use your hips for power very easy.
So, as you can see, training with sandbags can have many positive effects on not only your training but with your level of injury prevention as well! Aside from all the great benefits sandbags offer when it comes to building more muscle, strength, and power, one can’t overlook the ability sandbags have for building great deals of mental strength and toughness as well.
It all comes with the territory. Sandbags are just straight up rugged. Period! This just being another side bonus along with all the other great additions sandbag training has to offer.
So, make sure to go dig into a nasty sandbag today and reap the benefits!
Travis Stoetzel is a highly unconventional hardcore strength and conditioning specialist who focuses on serious athletes and trainees to help them improve their overall performance and physique. He specializes in training athletes specifically in aggressive sports such as wrestling, MMA, and football.
Travis does this with “underground” type training methods including Strongman, kettlebells, ropes, chains, body weight, Olympic lifting, sandbags, sleds, and tires. He owns a small hardcore gym in Omaha, Nebraska, called the Forged Athlete, where he helps athletes and serious trainees alike accomplish their performance and physique enhancement goals.
For more information on Travis, visit his personal blog at TravisStoetzel.com and you can check out his Bags, Bells & Bodyweight program for more exercises and training tips.
Huge thanks to Travis for great article.
If you have any tips on sandbags or questions, make sure to ask by leaving a comment below.
Rick Kaselj, MS