T Nation

Sandbag Lifting

I have been including a lot of sandbag work in the training of my athletes as well as in my own. Actually, right now I’d say that sandbag training (lifts, carry, holds) and sledgehammer striking is about 50% of my own training.

Today I clean and pressed a 200lbs sandbag… I also cleaned a 220lbs bag and almost completed the press (just missed the lockout). My goal is a 250lbs sandbag clean and press by September.

Anyway, I will write an article specifically on sandbag and sledgehammer training in the near future.

would it be possible to include tire work in the article as well?

That’s awesome!

I thought you were more into the bodybuilding/aesthetics side of things? I know you used to be really into olympic lifting and all and were very sucessful though.

The trouble w/this kind of training for the average guy like me (I have a family membership at the YMCA because it’s cheap and I can work out there everyday if I want) is that I don’t have access to heavy heavy sandbags.

What’s a good substitute? Right now I’m working on increasing my dumbbell clean and press.

I’ve been incorporating the strongman stuff that I do have access to more frequently like: farmer walks in the YMCA, car pushing (by my house on the weekends), carrying heavy people around for distance, etc.

Ideas would be much appreciated. I play basketball for fun but I really want to get strong as hell in a “usable” strength kind of way. I hate the term funcional.

CT - could you include advice on making, or buying, sandbags that can withstand the rigors of training. My one attempt at it resulting in a mess in my garage.

Christian,
I’ve been very interested in utilizing these types of exercises in my own routine and would be very interested in an article on the subject. Can you give us a little detail on how you’ve incorporated these exercises into a routine out ahead of your future article? What kind of results have you seen in terms of hypertrophy and functional strength? I’m assuming that your results have been good considering it is playing such a larger role in your current routine.

I have been waiting for an article on that. Thanks for all you do.

-Thad

One thing that has always worried me about the sledge hammer work is a bad bounce from the tire. I’ve got a 16 lb. sledge from my days of concrete busting, and a tire is no prob. Does anybody pound into sand or something with less bounce than a tire, or is the bounce realy not a problem?

Christian

Trying to get on Bud Jeffries level huh? 250 lb sandbag clean and press

Damn y’all are strong!

[quote]BPC wrote:
The trouble w/this kind of training for the average guy like me (I have a family membership at the YMCA because it’s cheap and I can work out there everyday if I want) is that I don’t have access to heavy heavy sandbags. [/quote]

Of course you do. Make one. There are instructions all over the place on how to make one, and Ironmind sells a sandbag training manual for a few bucks, which includes instructions to make one.

[quote]scottyz wrote:
CT - could you include advice on making, or buying, sandbags that can withstand the rigors of training. My one attempt at it resulting in a mess in my garage. [/quote]

I personally bought a kit from Ironmind.com … it’s one big bag along with 8 smaller bags. You fill the smaller ones with sand (I put 50lbs in each bag) then put the smaller bags in the bigger one.

You can also buy an open end army duffle bag as a big bag.

[quote]BPC wrote:
Christian

Trying to get on Bud Jeffries level huh? 250 lb sandbag clean and press

Damn y’all are strong![/quote]

I had no idea that Bud did 250lbs. Heck, with a squat of 1000lbs Bud sure is one of the strongest man of all time … a modern Paul Anderson.

Looking forward to that article. I’d like to start incorporating all that stuff but have no idea how to go about it.

[quote]scytale wrote:
Christian,
I’ve been very interested in utilizing these types of exercises in my own routine and would be very interested in an article on the subject. Can you give us a little detail on how you’ve incorporated these exercises into a routine out ahead of your future article? What kind of results have you seen in terms of hypertrophy and functional strength? I’m assuming that your results have been good considering it is playing such a larger role in your current routine.[/quote]

To be clear I have sent an article to TC about setting up a program which includes some sandbag, sleg and sledgehammer work. But the part about these exercises is rather small.

I personally do one of three things:

  1. Perform my weight lifting then finish off with 1-2 “old school” drills. This is what I do when going for strength on these exercises.

  2. Perform the old-school exercises as a separate 20-30 minutes session (normally on the same day as my lifting but 4-6 hours later). This is what I do when using the old school exercises for GPP purposes (I will normally use light sandbag carries, sled dragging and sledgehammer striking in a circuit fashion).

  3. “Superset” old school exercises with regular lifting exercises. For example:

A1. Sledgehammer striking (30 sec. 12lbs hammer, 30 sec. 10lbs hammer, 30 sec. 8lbs hammer, 30 sec. 6lbs hammer)

A2. Pull ups for max reps

A3. Hammer curl for 3-5 reps

There is normally around 30 sec. between the exercises

or …

A1. Sandbag continental clean

A2. Romanian deadlift

A3. Back extension

Stuff like that … which I use for muscle-building purposes.

[quote]BPC wrote:
That’s awesome!

I thought you were more into the bodybuilding/aesthetics side of things? I know you used to be really into olympic lifting and all and were very sucessful though.
[/quote]

Well to be clear, I was never a bodybuilder at heart. However having a nice looking physique always had been a fantasy of mine because I grew up as a fat kid.

Strength and power as always been my true interest and it still is. Now I’m finding ways of having the best of both worlds. And sandbag, sledgehammer and other odd object lifting (I’m going to buy a few barrels later on today) fits very nicely into that purpose.

BTW, I just got back to the olympic lifts yesterday after 2 years without them. I was pleased to get an easy 110kg on the power snatch. Not very strong, but after 2 years of only doing bodybuilding training I feel good about it.

[quote]BPC wrote:
The trouble w/this kind of training for the average guy like me (I have a family membership at the YMCA because it’s cheap and I can work out there everyday if I want) is that I don’t have access to heavy heavy sandbags.
[/quote]

Well you can keep one at home and do some lifting in your backyard if your climate allows it.

[quote]BPC wrote:
What’s a good substitute? Right now I’m working on increasing my dumbbell clean and press.
[/quote]

I find Dan John’s Tabata thrusters to be very effective.

You can also perform Zercher walks, farmer’s walk and the continental clean and press (either with dumbbells or a barbell).

[quote]BPC wrote:
Christian

Trying to get on Bud Jeffries level huh? 250 lb sandbag clean and press

Damn y’all are strong![/quote]

Well it’s all in good fun! My intern this summer is a strongman competitor who is 6’2" 290lbs. Our gym also has more strongman equipment than most places in the world!!!

My best sandbag clean and press was actually 150lbs but when I arrived at the gym this morning it was loaded with 200lbs. Since my intern trained in the evening I knew that he was the one who used it, so I obviously had to lift the bag as a show of manhood :slight_smile:

Funny thing is that he kicks my ass on 90% of all strength lifts but I can beat him in any form of overhead lifting (except the log press). Wait 'till summer is over and I bulk up to 235… we’ll see who is the king of the hill!!!

As far as old school lifts, or as my buddy and I call them “fun lifts”, we have a separate “goof off” day that we do them. We hit the weight room 3 days a week (to get the big three in) and then on the fourth day (usually on the weekend) we play with strongman toys and do all sorts of random object lifting. It seems to work out pretty well that way, a good balance of progression in and out of the gym, with enough variety to keep everything fresh.

That Bud Jeffries guy is amazing, his 1000lb squat wasn’t just a 1000lb squat, it was a bottom up 1000lb squat! Much more difficult in my book. Add in his lack of gear/equipment and illegal supplements = a strength god!

Glad to see the brains at T-Nation are going to put out some writing on sand bagging and hopefully other awkward object stuff. You can look at some of John Brookfield’s writings for advice on the sledgehammer training, I think the current issue of MILO has an article about it (though he uses a 50lb sledge for his stuff).

Regards,

Sensless

[quote]scytale wrote:
I’m assuming that your results have been good considering it is playing such a larger role in your current routine.[/quote]

To be honest the results have been better than I expected. I’m much thicker than before. This is especially noticeable on my back and especially lats and traps. My forearms and biceps have also gained size.

At first I started with this type of training because, frankly, I grew tired of going to the gym and lifting weights for no specific purpose. I’ve always been a competitor … at first I lifted for football, then for olympic lifting and the last 2 years for bodybuilding competitions. But right now I’m not preparing for anything specific and had a hard time having fun in the gym.

That’s why I started with sandbags and sledgehammers. At first I did soemthing like 20 minutes of lifting per session, using 2 daily exercises (something like squat and bench press or deadlift and push press) and did 20 minutes of sledge or bag work. I did the later stuff mostly for conditioning to avoid gaining fat while getting back to a “normal” diet after 2 years of non-stop strict dieting.

Well this had 2 effects … 1 despite drastically increasing my caloric intake I actually go somewhat leaner and I started to enjoy training once again!

I’m now up to 3 strength exercises per session (only compound movements) and 20-30 minutes or so of sledge/bag work + some isolation work worked in during the rest periods of my GPP exercises.

This morning, on an empty stomach I was 208lbs just as lean as I was 2 weeks away from a bodybuilding show (normally 2 weeks prior I was around 198lbs). In fact I show more upper back definition than ever in my life.

I’m telling you, I feel fantastic! I’m back to my true love of training for strength, I can eat something enjoyable again and I’m getting bigger and leaner!!! My physique is also quite different. It is more rugged and dense… more like in my olympic lifting days minus the fat.

[quote]sensless wrote:

Glad to see the brains at T-Nation are going to put out some writing on sand bagging and hopefully other awkward object stuff. You can look at some of John Brookfield’s writings for advice on the sledgehammer training, I think the current issue of MILO has an article about it (though he uses a 50lb sledge for his stuff).

Sensless[/quote]

Yes, I actually ordered the 30lbs and 50lbs war hammer from Torque athletic (the ones in John’s article in this month’s MILO).

I started two of my football players on sledgehammer/sandbag/sled training last year. They called it “Barbarian training” and actually continued to do it in winter … outside … in sub zeo temperature!!!

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:
sensless wrote:

Glad to see the brains at T-Nation are going to put out some writing on sand bagging and hopefully other awkward object stuff. You can look at some of John Brookfield’s writings for advice on the sledgehammer training, I think the current issue of MILO has an article about it (though he uses a 50lb sledge for his stuff).

Sensless

Yes, I actually ordered the 30lbs and 50lbs war hammer from Torque athletic (the ones in John’s article in this month’s MILO).

I started two of my football players on sledgehammer/sandbag/sled training last year. They called it “Barbarian training” and actually continued to do it in winter … outside … in sub zeo temperature!!!

[/quote]

Cool.

What do you think about hill sprints and farmer walks up a hill? Car pushing?

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:
BPC wrote:
That’s awesome!

I thought you were more into the bodybuilding/aesthetics side of things? I know you used to be really into olympic lifting and all and were very sucessful though.

Well to be clear, I was never a bodybuilder at heart. However having a nice looking physique always had been a fantasy of mine because I grew up as a fat kid.

Strength and power as always been my true interest and it still is. Now I’m finding ways of having the best of both worlds. And sandbag, sledgehammer and other odd object lifting (I’m going to buy a few barrels later on today) fits very nicely into that purpose.

BTW, I just got back to the olympic lifts yesterday after 2 years without them. I was pleased to get an easy 110kg on the power snatch. Not very strong, but after 2 years of only doing bodybuilding training I feel good about it.

BPC wrote:
The trouble w/this kind of training for the average guy like me (I have a family membership at the YMCA because it’s cheap and I can work out there everyday if I want) is that I don’t have access to heavy heavy sandbags.

Well you can keep one at home and do some lifting in your backyard if your climate allows it.

BPC wrote:
What’s a good substitute? Right now I’m working on increasing my dumbbell clean and press.

I find Dan John’s Tabata thrusters to be very effective.

You can also perform Zercher walks, farmer’s walk and the continental clean and press (either with dumbbells or a barbell).

[/quote]

That’s an awesome power snatch!!!

Cool. Thanks. I’ve been doing the farmer walks at the YMCA where they have heavy dumbbells.

I’ll use the army bag idea since I have one.