6 Sandbag Back Exercises That’ll Transform Your Workouts

sandbag back exercises and workout

Feel like your back workouts are going nowhere?

Time to discover the world of sandbag exercises… a less-trodden but power-packed path to functional strength.

From deadlifts to snatches, we’re unbagging the best moves to elevate your workout game.

We’ve also included an example sandbag back workout to help you get started.

Sandbag Back Workout

Sandbag Deadlift410
Sandbag Bent Over Row412
Sandbag Single Arm Drag38 (each side)
Sandbag Ground to Shoulder Lift310
Sandbag Bear Hug Carry350m
Sandbag Snatch38

When sculpting a robust and resilient back, diversifying exercise routines is very beneficial.

Sandbags, with their dynamic weight distribution, offer a challenging twist to traditional workouts.

This workout plan leans heavily into compound movements that engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, ensuring an all-encompassing strength-building session.

You’ll notice most of your posterior chain is fired up for a lot of these exercises.

Suited for everyday and elite athletes alike, this routine’s intensity can be easily adjusted to match individual capability (by selecting a heavier sandbag).

Sandbags Vs Barbells

Sandbags and barbells have their pros and cons. We’ve got a whole guide comparing sandbags vs barbells, to help you decide how you can use both types of fitness equipment to help reach your goals.

Sandbag Back Exercises

Sandbag Deadlift

How To – Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, sandbag in front of you. Bend at the hips and knees, grip the sandbag tightly. Push through your heels to stand tall, squeezing your glutes and extending your hips.

Sandbag vs. Traditional Weights – Unlike barbells, the uneven weight distribution in sandbags demands more from stabilizing muscles, offering a unique core engagement.

Main Muscles Worked – Erector spinae, latissimus dorsi, glutes, hamstrings, and core.

Sandbag Bent Over Row

How To – With feet shoulder-width apart and a slight bend in the knees, hinge forward from the hips. Hold the sandbag with both hands, pulling it to your belly button while squeezing your shoulder blades together.

Sandbag vs. Traditional Weights – The grip and weight distribution in sandbags can activate forearm muscles more, enhancing grip strength.

Main Muscles Worked – Latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, traps, and biceps.

Sandbag Single Arm Drag

How To – Begin in a plank position with the sandbag beside one hand. Using the opposite hand, drag the sandbag across the floor to the other side, maintaining a tight core.

Sandbag vs. Traditional Weights – Moving a sandbag across the ground introduces friction, increasing the resistance during the drag.

Main Muscles Worked – Latissimus dorsi, deltoids, obliques, and entire core.

Sandbag Ground to Shoulder Lift

How To – Start with feet shoulder-width apart, sandbag in front of you. Squat down, grip the sandbag, then explode upwards, lifting it over your shoulder.

Sandbag vs. Traditional Weights – The shifting sand requires more stabilization, particularly when getting the bag over the shoulder, making the movement more challenging.

Main Muscles Worked – Posterior chain, deltoids, upper trapezius, serratus anterior, and core for stabilization.

Sandbag Bear Hug Carry

How To – Stand upright holding the sandbag against your chest, arms wrapped around it in a ‘bearhug’ grip. Engage your core and maintain a straight back. From here, you can either perform squats, lunges, or even take short walks, depending on the desired workout.

Sandbag vs. Traditional Weights – Holding onto a sandbag in a bearhug position creates a unique challenge, requiring more core stabilization than traditional weights. It also prompts better posture and engagement from the shoulders and upper back.

Main Muscles Worked – Core (especially rectus abdominis and obliques), deltoids, rhomboids, trapezius, and depending on the movement (squat, lunge, walk), it could also engage glutes, quads, and hamstrings.

Sandbag Snatch

How To – Stand with the sandbag between your feet. Squat down and grip the bag, then in one explosive motion, lift it to your shoulder and then overhead.

Sandbag vs. Traditional Weights – Unlike the rigid structure of barbells, the fluidity in sandbags means every rep is slightly different, ensuring a dynamic and unpredictable challenge.

Main Muscles Worked – Erector spinae, latissimus dorsi, deltoids, traps, glutes, and hamstrings.

Why Use Sandbags for Strength Training?


Sandbags stand out for their unpredictable resistance, with the sand’s continuous shifting ensuring no two reps feel quite the same. This can engage stabilization muscles often overlooked with standard weights.

Their design is rooted in functional fitness, replicating real-world lifting challenges which can aid daily activities.

They’re also very versatile, allowing for a plethora of exercises with just one piece of equipment.

This versatility, combined with their general cost-effectiveness, makes sandbags a valuable choice for home gyms.

Functional Equipment

As well as sandbags, medicine/slam balls and battle ropes are great additions to any functional strength training workout. Exercises like medicine ball side throws and battle rope slams are simple ways to build strength without lifting kettlebells, barbells or dumbbells.


While sandbags offer unique benefits, they do come with limitations. Their unpredictable nature, though beneficial, also presents a higher risk of injury if not used correctly.

The weight range for sandbags might not cater to heavy lifters, potentially hindering those with weight-intensive goals. You’ll probably also need very different weighted sandbags depending on the exercise.

Lastly, there’s a learning curve… mastering sandbag-specific techniques might deter some everyday athletes who prefer straightforward, traditional workouts.

Who Benefits?

  • Home Gym Enthusiasts – If space and budget are constraints, sandbags offer a multi-purpose solution.
  • Functional Training Lovers – Those focused on improving day-to-day functional strength and movements.
  • Adventure Race Participants – Obstacle course racers, mud run enthusiasts, or HYROX participants, might find sandbag training beneficial.

Who Might Not Benefit?

  • Bodybuilders – Those focused on hypertrophy and isolated muscle sculpting might find traditional weights more suited.
  • Specific Sports Athletes – Athletes needing precise weight increments and structured regimens might not find sandbags ideal.

While sandbags offer a unique and effective workout, they aren’t the be-all and end-all. They serve as a fantastic tool in the gym, but like any equipment or machine, they’re not perfect for *every* job, so using different types of equipment is often the best option.

Bottom Line

Sandbag back exercises introduce a unique twist to traditional workouts, engaging often-overlooked stabilization muscles.

While they offer a dynamic, cost-effective, and functional approach to strength training, they also come with their challenges.

Whether you’re looking to shake up your routine or delve into functional fitness, sandbags might be your grainy golden ticket.

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