Sandbag Training for Fighters
Sandbag training offers many benefits that traditional gym lifting and traditional strength training may not offer. This is especially true for combat focused athletes and mixed martial artists.
If you think about martial arts training, fighting, and competive sports – rarely is the strength you are using "linear". You are not pushing, grabbing, holding and gripping at straight angles similar to a barbell or dumbell. You are fighting an opponent who is constantly changing, moving and adapting.
When you are weight lifting or gym strength training, advanced lifters are able to find their "groove" and learn a technique to lift a certain way for certain exercises. If you listen or watch a powerlifter bench, squat or deadlift; you will see there is a very specific way that they position their body and a very specific way they perform the exercise.
You cannot do that with a sandbag. A sandbag is non-cooperative and un-predictable. It requires every muscle possible to lift and hold it. There is no grove or specific placement of the hands and feet because the sandbag is continually moving and changing.
Because of the non-cooperative behavoir of the sandbag, it also improves your trunk and core strength. These muscles have to work harder to stabilize the body against the akward load of the sandbag.
One key benefit that sandbags offer is a greater grip strength. There is not one person on the planet who could not benefit from greater grip strength. This is especially true for grapplings, MMA fighters, wrestlers, and martial artists in general. The ability to hold and control an opponent is crucial is these fighting arts. The difference with a sandbag compared to a traditional grip strength trainer is that the sandbag is changing and adapting again. Not one grip is exactly the same. At times you will be pinching, supporting, holding and balancing. Not only will your grip and finger strength improve, but you’re wrist and forearm muscles will also benefit.
Obtaining or making a Sandbag
Making a sandbag is easy, or you could buy one online. I made 2 of mine for about $30 a piece.
- thick canvas bags at the army surplus store
- cotton string laundry bag
- strong zip lock freezer 1qt. bags
- duct tape
- play sand.
Fill the zip lock bags about half way, take out all the air out of them, duct-tape the them closed, then double bag them again.
Put them into the laundry bag, then put the laundry bag into the canvas bag. You can also get a nylon laundry bag as well and put the cotton one into the nylon one, then put them all into the canvas bag.
I also made a ton of extra zip lock bags weighing about 2 lbs each. This way I can adjust the weight if needed.
Just about every major strength exercise you can do at the gym, you can do with a sandbag. How you put it together is up to you. One of my favorite sandbag training videos is below done by the deisel crew.
Here are some great exercises you can do with a sandbag.
- Clean and Press
- Push Press
- Get Ups
And I’m sure you could find many others. I enjoy just throwing my sandbag over my head, forward, up, etc. Play a game of catch with a friend!