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Playing In The Sand: Injecting Play, Fun And Dynamic Movement Into Your Workouts With Sandbag Training

by Matthew Palfrey

There’s no denying the fact that hard work helps people to achieve good results. We all strive to be able to lift more weight, perform more reps, go further and log faster times for our workouts. While it’s important that your sandbag training program retains a certain degree of structure and progression, are you guilty of being too rigid in your approach to exercise? If you could improve your results without simply doing more and working harder then isn’t that worth it? If you think so then it might just be time that you added some play back into your training…

Isn’t Play Just For Kids?

It’s true that most people play more as children and that, when adulthood comes along, play tends to get left behind. There is a negative connotation surrounding doing ‘childish’ things as an adult. But playing is the way that children learn a huge variety of things during their development. Lion cubs learn how to fight and hunt by playing with their siblings. In many respects, play is the way in which we learn and develop before things get ‘real’. 

If your training has become stale, or you’re struggling to make consistent gains then play can be the catalyst you need to bust through those plateaus. 

The Nature Of Play

When it comes to integrating play into your fitness training program we can look at it in any number of ways. Despite the nature of play being spontaneous there is no denying the fact that it can be easier to have an element of structure surrounding your activities, if only to get things going.

  • You could stop focusing on the numerical performance of your workouts (reps, weight, time etc.) and instead focus on your technique and feeling as though you’ve had a good workout
  • You could divide your sandbag training program into 2 key areas e.g. strength sessions are the hard work and conditioning sessions are the play
  • You could take 1 week per month where you trade all of your regular workouts for play-type sessions
  • You could purposefully train with others who have a playful attitude. 

Remember, the lack of structure in your fitness training (and indeed many aspects of life) can give rise to huge leaps in performance. Sometimes it’s only by stepping outside of your comfort zone that you’ll truly make real progress. Can you remember a time when someone or something made you look at an aspect of your life from a different perspective? Well, play can be just like that when it comes to helping you push past boundaries. 

Playing With Your Sandbag - My Top 4 Sandbag Games

The simplest way to start integrating some elements of play into your sandbag training are with games. These aren’t the typical games that we play as adults where you are competing for a score. They are designed to get you moving in ways that you wouldn’t normally, and hopefully have fun doing it!

1. Sandbag Relays

Set out a course of around 20m. Choose some different ways to move your sandbag along the course - as a default I would opt for Bear Hug Carry, Overhead Walking Lunge, Backwards Drags and Sprints with the sandbag over the shoulders. Move your sandbag to one end of the course using one of the methods above. Rest and repeat using one of the alternate relay methods.

2. Sandbag Catch

This game works best with a partner or team but can easily be played alone too. Hold your sandbag in 2 hands and at chest height. Squat down and then powerfully explode upwards, chest passing your sandbag to a partner. They aim to catch the sandbag and repeat the movement before passing back to you or another team member. You can add various other elements to this game such as penalties for dropping the sandbag or turning it into a volleyball style game.

3. Sandbag Hike

Load up your sandbag with a moderate amount of sand, throw it over your back and then go for a walk in nature. The key here is to get yourself away from your regular training environment so that you can experience something different - if you can walk through an area of outstanding natural beauty then all the better. Loaded walking is a fantastic exercise and there are few things more fun that a long hike with no distractions. 

4. Sandbag Sumo

For this one you’ll need a partner. If you don’t have a regular training partner then ask someone if they want to be involved - who knows, you might just make a new friend. One person holds the sandbag in both hands, tightly against their chest. The other person then tries to push them backwards by applying force against the sandbag. The person holding the sandbag needs to work hard to resist this force by using all of the muscles in their body, especially in the legs. Repeat until you’re both too tired to carry on or smiling from ear to ear. 

Keeping The Balance

They say that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Conversely, all play and no work can derail some of your hard won gains. Keep your fitness training program balanced by sticking to the key lifts like Deadlifts, Squats, Cleans, Presses and Pulls. 

As always, we’d love to hear what games you play with you sandbag in the comments below. 

This article was originally published on  Brute Force Sandbags

Matthew Palfrey
Matthew Palfrey


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