Odd-object training has been practiced for centuries and the makings of the sport of Strongman can be traced back to ancient history, far before society began to experience the phenomena of physical fitness. For the general population of habitual exercisers, however, this very primal style of training has been forgotten for many years in mainstream fitness as new tools such as barbells, dumbbells and high-tech machines have dominated the common weight room. The practice of moving stones, carrying logs and lifting heavy load is about as practical and accessible as it gets and is not only excellent for training elite level athletes but for mom and pop types as well.
The sandbag is one of the many implements that are included in Strongman-style training and provide a highly inclusive approach to core training for all levels of athletes through a diversity of possible movement. The affordability of sandbags, versus barbells and machines, adds to the accessibility of this tool and companies such as Brute Force Training have created top-quality implements with convenient features to maximize versatility. I tested the Power Combo sandbags by Brute on both myself and my own clients and here were some of our favorite ways to use them that you should try out, too.
Unlike most barbell squats, the sandbag squat can practically be self taught, if not at least coached to perfection in just minutes. Squats performed with a barbell, such as the back squat or front squat, often have greater requirements of mobility and pose greater risks to a beginner athlete. These type of squats can take days, weeks or even months to years to master and yet a sandbag squat allows you to move safely and effectively with generally very few cues.
A sandbag carry is about as simple as it gets: take the bag from here…to there. In practice, however, simple doesn’t mean easy. There are many ways to hold the bag – over the shoulders, in a bear-hug or a Zercher-style – each of which will make great demands of your posterior chain, core and obliques. Oh, and your soul because a max effort sandbag carry is no joke.
Clean and press
A classic Strongman event, the clean and press is often done with an axle bar. You may have also heard of the ‘clean and jerk’ in the sport of weightlifting, made more mainstream and popular by the training methodology and sport of CrossFit. Both of these movements take the weights from ground to overhead, yet the complexities of a bar can take years to master. Performing this movement correctly with a sandbag can take just a few minutes and teach the necessary fundamentals of explosive power and raw strength.
One of the unique features of the Brute Force Training bags are the multiple handles that are especially great for first-time sandbag users. There are 4 sets of flexible soft-grip handles that facilitate a variety of grips and positions from which to grab the bag. These come especially useful for lapping the bag or getting it to the shoulder, such that may be a common necessity for obstacle-race athletes but could also be used to vary grip work in training.
The 1000D military-spec Cordura fabric and military-grade velcro is webbed with triple reinforced stitching and features YKK zippers, making this bag among the most durable to it’s competitors. The Brute Force collection includes the Mini, Athlete and Strongman sandbag kits that range from 25-125lbs at max recommended fill to suit a variety of athletic needs and strength. Brute Force also sells the Barebones and Heavy Hitter grip-less and heavier loading bags for more advanced sandbag users as well as Brute Balls, a soft option to atlas stones, another implement often used in Strongman.
Whether you’re a beginner to the practice of physical fitness or you’re a veteran of the weight room and sport, sandbag movements are a valuable training tool not to be ignored. The simplicity of Strongman movements that can be performed with a sandbag make them accessible to even the most newbie of trainees and can also add a new level of intensity to the seasoned athlete in adding strength to the posterior chain, creating explosive movement patterns, and developing core stability. Brute Force Training has created durable bags proven to last and withstand your toughest training sessions.
Note: We get to keep most of the gear that we test out. While this is a perk, we try hard to give everything an unbiased review no matter what.
If you end up buying something through a link on our site, we generally get a small commission on the referral, this won't cost you more, but helps us keep the lights on around here!
For all media review requests, reach out to our managing editor, David Skinner.