The sandbag is a great functional tool to get in a full-body workout. It is also a great tool to help you build core strength and stability while strengthening the big muscles of your body.
With the sandbag you can work your entire core – everything from your shoulders to your knees. And because of the awkwardness of the weight, your core has to work super hard to stabilize.
Plus, unlike crunches, these movements work the big muscles of your body in different planes of motion. That means you get more bang for your buck – more calories burned and more muscle built with fewer exercises and less time in the gym.
Try these 5 Sandbag Core Exercises to get in a great full body workout and build your core strength and stability!
5 Sandbag Core Exercises
1. Sandbag Crawl With Pull Through:
This exercise is a great way to strengthen your core while doing a little cardio. It is also a great hip extension exercise to fire the glutes after sitting in flexion all day at a desk.
Place a sandbag on the ground and set up on your hands and knees with the sandbag behind your feet. Your hands should be under your shoulders and your knees should be under your hips.
Lift up onto your hands and toes.
Reach one hand back through your legs to grab the sandbag. As you reach back, sit your butt back toward your heels.
Then push off your toes and drive your hips forward to pull the sandbag up under your body and through overhead. As you pull the sandbag through, extend your hips to help you power the pull. You don’t want to pull the sandbag through using only your arm.
Your hips should power the pull so that you can pull the sandbag up to your head or a little beyond.
Once you’ve pulled the sandbag, crawl up past the bag and then sit your butt back again and reach through with the other hand. Pull the sandbag up and through.
Keep crawling and pulling the bag until the reps, distance or time have been completed. Use a heavy enough bag that you feel challenged. If it doesn’t force you to use your glutes, the weight is too light. You shouldn’t be able to throw the bag 10 feet out in front of you. You want it no more than past your arm extended overhead otherwise you need to add weight.
2. Sandbag Anti-Rotational Plank Pull Through:
Anti-rotational exercises are a great way to create core stability and prevent lower back pain. They can help strengthen your core to prevent spinal twisting and rotation.
To do the Anti-Rotational Sandbag Plank Pulls, set up in a plank position from your hands and toes or hands and knees and place the sandbag on the ground to one side of your body just outside and below your shoulder.
Make sure your hands are under your shoulders and you may want to set your feet or knees wider apart to give you more stability. The closer together your feet are, the harder the move will be because you won’t have as wide or stable a base.
Then reach one hand under your body and across to grab the sandbag. Squeeze your glutes and, without rotating your hips, pull the sandbag through and across to the other side of your body.
You want to pull the sandbag all the way across and outside the other shoulder. If you can’t pull the sandbag all the way across or need to rotate your hips a lot to do so, it may be too heavy.
Then reach through with the other hand to pull it back.
Do not let your hips rotate or your butt go up in the air as you pull the sandbag back and forth across. Also, do not let your hips sag.
To fight your body’s desire to rotate, you will need to engage your core and really squeeze your glutes. You do not want to feel this move in your low back.
Keep alternating reaches until all reps are complete. Your goal is to keep a nice straight line from your head to your heels the entire time.
3. Front-Loaded Good Morning:
Front-loaded Good Mornings are a great way to strengthen your glutes and hamstrings while also working your entire core. When you front-load a weight you force your abs to work a lot harder to stabilize and support the weight.
Hold the sandbag up at your chest in your elbow pits with your arms wrapped up and under the bag.
Stand with your feet about hip-width apart. With the weight at your chest, hinge over keeping your back flat. As you hinge over, push your butt back and keep your knees soft. Feel a stretch down your hamstrings as you focus on pushing your butt back.
Do not rock forward as you hinge over. Make sure to sit back in your heels as you hinge over. You will lean forward as you hinge to counterbalance. Just make sure to keep your back flat and core engaged. You do not want to feel this move in your low back.
Do not let your back round as you hold the weight at your chest.
Drive through your heels to come back up to standing and really squeeze your glutes at the top of the move. Make sure to keep the sandbag up at your chest the entire time.
You can change your stance to hit your legs from slightly different angles. To get more adductor, widen your stance. To focus more on the glutes and hamstrings, keep your feet closer together.
Just make sure to keep your core engaged and feel a nice stretch down your hamstrings as you do the move. You want your butt and hamstrings to power the hinge not your low back.
4. Lunge With Rotation:
This is a great rotational exercise that works your glutes and legs.
To do the Lunge with Rotation, grab a handle of the sandbag in each hand so that your palms are facing toward each other. Stand nice and tall with your feet together and sandbag in front of your legs.
Then step back with one foot into a nice deep straight-legged lunge. Bend the front knee to sink into the lunge, but keep the back leg fairly straight.
While you lunging back, you want to hinge at the hip and push your butt back.
As you lunge, lean forward a bit and rotate the sandbag down outside the front knee. Do not round forward as you rotate with the sandbag.
Then stand back up and stomp the back foot in forward as you bring the sandbag back around front. Squeeze your glutes as you come back to standing and stand up nice and tall.
Then quickly lunge back on the other leg, letting the sandbag swing outside the front knee. To come back up to standing, again stomp the back foot up forward.
Stand up tall and squeeze your glutes before lunging back on the first side.
You want to “stomp” to make sure you drive through your heels and full extend your hips every time you come back up to standing. There will be a little more weight in this move on the front foot than on the back foot. Your back foot is almost more for stability. It isn’t a true lunge back so much as a hinge.
Advanced exercisers will want to use the momentum of their lunge to propel the sandbag from side to side quickly. They will want to swing it and rotate with it as they lunge.
Beginners will want to “place” the sandbag outside the leg instead of using the momentum and swinging the bag to the outside. By placing the bag instead of swinging, they will have better balance and more control. The swing makes the move more challenging because it can throw you off balance.
Make sure you stay in control of the sandbag. If you get out of control it could make you rotate too far and lead to injury. Also make sure your back stays flat and your core is engaged the entire time.
Do not round forward as your rotate with the bag.
Shouldering is a great explosive hip hinge movement that involves your entire core.
To do Shouldering, place a sandbag in between your feet and grab it in both hands around the middle. Sink your butt and hinge forward so you are in a conventional deadlift position.
Then squeeze your glutes and stand up, swinging the sandbag up and over one shoulder.
Keep your back flat as you swing the sandbag up and squeeze your glutes at the top of the motion.
Then lower the bag back down to the ground and repeat, swinging the bag up over the other shoulder.
You can choose to alternate shoulders or complete all reps to one side before switching.
Use your glutes to power the movement. You want to pop your hips as you stand up to propel the sandbag up and over one shoulder.
Beginners, or anyone with slightly limited mobility, may not be able to start the bag on the ground.
You do not want your back to round so you can start the bag higher off the ground or simple swing it like a kettlebell from between your legs to over your shoulder.
Just make sure that whatever variation you do, you keep your back flat and power the movement with your glutes.
If you feel this in your low back, make sure you are sitting your butt back and driving through your heels to come up to standing. You may also want to start with a lighter weight and really focus on bracing your core.
Another great full body core exercise that really improves your mind-body connection and your core sequencing, is the Sandbag Get Up. The Get Up also works your core in every plane of motion. The Sandbag Get Up is a variation of the Turkish Get Up that focuses even more on your glutes.
Sandbag Get Up:
To do the Sandbag Get Up, start by lying on your back on the ground with your legs out straight in front of you. Place the sandbag over your right shoulder and hold it in place. Bend your right knee and place your foot flat on the ground. (The Sandbag will always be on the same side as the bent knee.)
Straighten your left arm out to the side (not necessarily straight out at shoulder height, but not right by your body).
Then roll up on to your left forearm. Prop yourself up nice and tall on your left forearm. Press through your right foot on the ground. Do not let your right knee cave in and keep your left leg out straight on the ground. Make sure to keep your chest up and not round forward as you progress through the Get Up.
Once up on your forearm, press up onto your left hand with your left arm going straight. Sit up nice and tall. Do not shrug your shoulders or round forward.
Then from the seated position you are going to bridge up, lifting your hips up as high as you can. You will press down through your left hand as well as your left heel and right foot. Keep your right foot flat on the ground and your left leg out straight. Do not let your right heel come up. Make sure you also aren’t pushing yourself forward and putting too much strain on your shoulder. Squeeze your glutes and make sure to not hyperextend your low back just to get up higher.
From the bridge position, slide your left leg back and under you so that you are in a supported half kneeling position with your hand on the ground. Make sure you swing your leg back enough so that you are in a strong supported half kneeling position that will allow you to lift your left hand off the ground.
Staying nice and tall, lift your left hand and come to a half kneeling position. Do not lean or slouch forward as you lift your hand up off the ground. You want to hinge right up to the side as you lift your hand.
Then stomp your right foot into the ground and come up to standing, bringing your left foot forward to be even with your right foot.
Once standing, you will reverse the steps until you are again lying on your back. You will first go back to half kneeling, stepping your left foot back.
You will then place your left hand down on the ground out to the side of your left knee. Then bridge up and swing your left leg through so it is out straight in front of you.
As you bridge, keep your right heel firmly planted on the ground. From there, you will return to a seated position supported by your left hand. Then you will relax down to your forearm and finally roll on to your back. Do not slouch as you move back down.
Keep a nice tall posture throughout the entire move.
Beginners may need to start with no weight and progress to a sandbag. They may even find they can’t complete the entire movement and need to stop at the bridge and go back to the beginning from there.
Do not just rush through the steps. Make sure you master each movement before moving on. If needed, break down the move.
What are your favorite sandbag moves to work your core?
NOTE: We used the Ultimate Sandbag in the pictures above.