The Hidden Dangers of Sandbagging

I experimented with some plyometric exercises with my sandbag today.  To learn how to make your own, and for some great workouts, check the Rosstraining.com archives.  Here’s a picture of the one I made a few years ago.  It’s a little worse for wear, but it does what it’s supposed to (i.e. provide lots of dead weight that I try to lift).

Fun and effective workout tool? Or instrument of death?

You can leave the straps on, or you can cut them off.  I like to use them for rows and to carry the bag to and from exercise stations, but they’re not necessary.  Despite my predilection for handles, you’ll see their drawbacks in a second . . .

Anyway, today I put together a simple circuit. I had some good luck with it, and it was designed to train explosive strength.  While not true plyos, the lifts and throws tired my muscles–if not my cardiovascular system to a great degree.

1. Cradle the bag on your knees.  Squat with overhead press. (See CrossFit Thrusters).  Remember to throw the bag forward.  (I threw the first one backward.  BIG mistake!  One of the aformentioned straps wrapped around my face and the 100lbs. bag pulled me to the floor.  I lay there dazed for awhile, wondering what the hell happened.  You’d think that would encourage me to cut the straps, but no.  I carried on to the next exercise in the circuit.)

2. Rows using the straps. Let go at the end of each pull to “throw” the bag upwards.  (Again, you can cut the straps and just grab the bag.  This is probably best anyway, because it will help train your grip.)

3. Floor presses, launching the bag over your head. If you’re using a heavy bag, kneel in front of it, lift it a little, and slide a knee beneath.  Then lie back with it in your lap, and shimmy it onto your chest.  Just press and throw!  You might need to bounce your butt to build enough momentum to toss the bag without it landing on your face.  (I luckily managed to escape injury here.)

4. I went through the circuit four times without rest.  Retrieving the bag and preparing for each throw counts as active rest.

Aside from a near death experience, this workout was fast, fun, and effective.  It’s nice to be able to follow through each rep after completing the entire range of motion.  It helps you to practice exploding with complete power and velocity without having to clutch a weight or grip a bar.  The sequence of exercises also works the entire body–grip endurance a bonus.

Do you have any neat exercises or workouts that enhance explosive strength?  Share them here!

PS – This post isn’t really about sandbagging per se (or claiming a lower skill level to best your opponent) but it is a good warning to be alert during your workouts.  You never know when you might be attacked by your DIY equipment!

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About moaimartialarts

Lucky enough to grow up with the martial arts, I have felt their positive influence throughout my life and am especially interested in sharing these experiences with others. I enjoy working with youth and adults to give back some of what I've received. If you would like to learn more about Uechi-Ryu/Shohei-Ryu Karate, or if you want to find people to train with, please contact me. I am the head karate instructor for the Meriden Martial Arts Club.
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