Top 5 Sandbag Training Exercises

Posted by Matt Ellis

No Funding? No Problem! Here are my Top 5 (Homemade) Sandbag Training Exercises for teams committed to getting stronger…even with tight budgets!

You find yourself in this position every year. You go to your AD and present him with your list of needs for the season. Your old uniforms are looking a little tattered and a few “walked off” last year. You have some hurdles that need replacing. The high jump crossbar has more tape holding it together than ever and it won’t make it through the season. You have starting block rails and pedals scattered around the storage shed but somehow you can’t make a complete unit to use at practice. Oh, and in addition to all this you want medicine balls, plyo boxes, suspension straps, and a whole list of training equipment.

DVD Program: Heavy Duty Homemade Strength Training Equipment

After fundraising and what little the school can afford to give you, you have about $200 (if that) left over to use for all of your training equipment. While that might not seem like a lot (a 12 pound medicine ball is about $50 with shipping) you can actually make a lot of your own equipment and build it so it lasts a lifetime for less than $200.

3 years ago I opened my gym, Primal Athlete Training Center in Cranston, RI with a super tight budget. I was over $25,000 in debt, had a newborn son, a mortgage, car payment, student loans, and a whole host of other expenses that went along with opening a new business. I relied on homemade equipment and learned a thing or two about how to train athletes with very little resources. Funny thing is I still use homemade equipment to this day and many of it is the same equipment I made 3 years ago that is used EVERY DAY.

In this article, you will learn 5 exercises using the most versatile piece of homemade training equipment you can have in your arsenal: the sandbag. Sandbags are super easy to make, cost less than $30, and you can do almost any exercise with a sandbag that can be done in a weight room. In addition, sandbags are big and bulky and require your athlete to really focus and concentrate on the exercise and recruit more muscle to lift them. For many exercises, sandbags provide a much tougher workout with less weight than traditional barbell movements.

Here are 5 of my favorite sandbag exercises and how to perform them with proper form.



The sandbag clean is one of the first exercises that you should teach to your athletes. Not only is it great for developing explosive power with the lower body, but it will also teach your athletes how to properly and safely get the sandbag into a racked position, the proper starting position for many other sandbag exercises.

To begin the clean, stand over the sandbag with your feet positioned on the outside of the bag.

Slowly squat down making sure to push into your hamstrings and keep a natural arch in your lower back. Do not round over or slouch down to pick up the bag. Once you are low enough, grab a handful of the sandbag and take a deep breath bracing yourself and staying tight in the low position.

While maintaining a natural arch in the low back and straight arms, forcefully explode up making sure to stay tight and making sure to get full extension of the ankles, knees, and hips. You will notice how the power you generated transfers into the bag and the bag will continue moving upward. Continue raising the bag up using the arms in an upright row motion.

Finally, quickly remove the hands from the bag and catch the bag in a cradling position.

Drop the bag to the ground, squat down to grab the bag, and repeat.