Sunday, June 14, 2009

Building Strong Legs With Sandbags!

Many people think that you need to stick with just barbells and dumbbells to build strength, but odd objects such as sandbags certainly have their place - especially concerning lowerbody development.

Using a heavy sandbag, there are many options to consider that will jack up your not only your legs, but also your upperback as well as various core stabilizers!

Yep, sandbags pack quite the punch and are excellent as a single training tool alone or used as accessory movements to improve your squat and deadlift. The synergistic effect of the various sandbag movements will have tremendous carry over to your standard barbell movements.

If you're a combat athlete, then I would say that sandbag training is a MUST HAVE in your arsenal. For isometric strength and energy system development, along with developing insane grip strength, not much else will give you a bigger bang for your buck!

But what we're going to talk about today is how to incorporate sandbags into your lowerbody training program. A method that alot of people have had alot of success with is Joe Defranco's Westside For Skinny Bastards Program. Its concept is simple - get freakin' strong by lifting maximal weights, and then pick 2 or 3 accessory movements to help pack on some muscle mass. What Joe found was that most of his younger athletes were just too weak to be doing dynamic effort work ala the Louie Simmon's Westside program, and that by simply getting stronger and gaining muscle, his athletes made some incredible transformations.

What's the point i'm trying to make? Don't F*ck with a good thing. The principles behind Joe's template WORK and are working for other strength coaches around the world. But, its just a template and you can always play around and experiment so that the program fits your needs and that you can keep making progress.

With that said, one idea using Joe's template is to hit up your max effort or sub max effort (something like 6x3 or 5x5) main lift - a squat or deadlift variation - and then pick 2 or 3 sandbag movements and get in your repetition work with those.

An example would be:
a) Box Squat: sets of 5 up to a 3-5 rep max
b1) Sandbag Zercher Reverse Lunges 4x6-8 each leg
b2) Sandbag Power Cleans 4x6-8

Another idea, thanks to Zach Even-Esh, is to train 3 days per week getting in one upper body day, one lower body day, and then a total body day. You could mix up barbell & dumbbell work with sandbags and really get cranking with various combo drills on the total body day.

Here's a breakdown of some of the different movements that you can do with a moderate to heavy sandbag...

Squat/Lunge Variations:
zercher squats
zercher reverse lunges
zercher walking lunges
zercher step ups
shoulder squats
(not to mention back squats, reverse lunges, walking lunges, step ups, and goodmornings)

Posterior Chain/Hip Extension Movements:
power cleans
zercher goodmornings
bear hug pull throughs

shoulder + squat
power clean + zercher squat
power clean + zercher reverse lunge
power clean + zercher goodmorning
power clean + zercher squat + zercher reverse lunge
power clean + zercher squat + goodmorning
power clean + zercher reverse lunge + zercher goodmorning
power clean + zercher squat + zercher reverse lunge + zercher goodmorning
shoulder + squat + power clean + get the point

So go ahead and break the "rules" and start getting stronger using a wide array of training tools and leave your competition in the dust!


Smitty.Diesel said...


I like your writing style, hit me with an article and I'll put it on Diesel!


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