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Sandbag Training For Military Selection

by Matthew Palfrey

No matter what Military service you are interested in joining, developing and maintaining your physical capacity is an important trait. Your fitness is important in so many ways and, in extreme circumstances, can be the difference between life and death. 

While the fitness industry and elite sports strength and conditioning worlds have much to offer, they will not fully prepare you for the demands of training for and serving in the Military. After all, you may not have the luxury of rest days, periodised training programs and the best supplementation. Below we talk you through some ways that you can use sandbag training to develop the fitness required to excel. 

Down and Dirty

Many people spend weeks, months or even years preparing for the Military selection process, only to find out that it wasn’t what they were expecting at all. This can be especially apparent for those that have prepared physically in the commercial fitness environment. Why? While some of your Military selection tests may be in the gym environment most will be in the field, in all weather conditions and in unfamiliar training kit. 

The commercial gym environment is not built for soldiers. It’s built for the general public. The air conditioning, padded seats, water fountains and fancy equipment count for precisely nothing when you are being shouted at in the rain, working so hard that you are ready to puke. So, it makes sense that at least some of your preparation and general physical training is geared towards this. 

What Makes Sandbag Training a Good Choice?

#1 It’s Easy To Do Outside

While sandbag training can be done anywhere, many choose to train outside. Getting used to training in different weather conditions, on uneven ground and with a simple approach to your programming can be a great way to simulate Military training conditions. 

#2 It Replicates Real-World Tasks

Unlike training tools that have been specifically designed to make exercise more efficient, the sandbag is comparatively unforgiving. It is not evenly weighted and it becomes much harder to control when wet, comparable to carrying other people and awkward kit. 

#3 It Suits Multi-Joint Compound Exercises

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ll no doubt realise that strength and conditioning are generally better developed using big exercises that use many joints and muscles. Single joint exercises have their place but you should not be spending large portions of your training time curling. 

#4 It’s Perfect For Carries and Drags

Traditional gym-based exercises like Squats, Deadlifts, Presses and Pulls are always going to be useful but you’ll also need to develop some competency in some different movement patterns. The strength and conditioning required to carry a sandbag in a variety of different ways will have a great carryover into the demands of Military training. 

Throwing the sandbag over your shoulders and running with it, dragging it over difficult terrain, and simply handling the bag will develop a good level of conditioning and mental toughness. 

Training Sessions To Try

The key to proper preparation for Military selection tests is to train for those specific demands. Look carefully at what you’re going to be required to do. Make a list of all of the  tests and then regularly practice them, where possible also doing them in similar conditions to how they’d be performed during the selection process. Put simply, if you need to do 50 Push Ups to pass then practice doing 50 Push Ups - do not spend all of your time doing Bench Presses because “it works the same muscles you know”…

Below you’ll find some non-specific training sessions that will help build fantastic strength and conditioning. 

1. Sandbag Hill Sprints

Hold a sandbag over one shoulder and sprint as fast as you can up a moderately inclined hill. When you reach the top of the hill, drop the sandbag and perform 10 Burpees. Pick up the sandbag again and return to the bottom of the hill. Complete 5-10 rounds as fast as you can.

2. Sandbag Load Carry

Carry a heavy sandbag (weight equal to your bodyweight is ideal) over a 200m course as fast as you can. You can carry, drag or throw the bag, as long as you move it as quickly as possible. Rest and repeat for up to 5 rounds. 

3. Sandbag Lunge

20 Sandbag Zercher Walking Lunges

20 Push Ups

20 Sandbag Overhead Walking Lunges

20 Push Ups

400m Run

Repeat for 3-5 rounds as fast as you can. 

Have you used sandbag training to get fit or stay fit for Military service? If so, we’d love to hear your comments below. 

This article was originally published on  Brute Force Sandbags

Matthew Palfrey
Matthew Palfrey


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