3 Ways To Utilise Resistance Bands In Your Sandbag Training Workouts
By Matthew Palfrey, Founder of Sandbag Fitness
Sandbag training has long been utilised as a means of athletic conditioning but, like all training tools, it’s easy to get into bad habits and that means your results can plateau. This can lead to diminished returns in your performance or any other results you’re aiming for, and also take some of the fun out of your training. While the Sandbag Fitness workouts often contain a range of body weight exercises, like Push Ups and Pull Ups, one training tool that can also be used alongside your sandbag is the resistance band. In this article I’ll explore 3 tried and tested ways to get the best out of pairing these 2 tools.
As always, this advice should not overrule your basic common sense. Use it as you see fit and be sure to adjust it where necessary so that it works for you.
#1 - Resistance Bands Provide Variable Resistance
While the sandbag has a constantly-shifting centre of mass, the loading typically stays constant. The major advantage of using a resistance band is that you can add an element of variable resistance to your workouts. I’ll use this in a couple of ways:
a. Attaching the band to the bag and another fixed point. This is great for adding additional, variable resistance to exercises like Overhead Presses, High Pulls and Floor Presses.
b. Utilising the bag as a fixed point for the resistance band. If you are training outdoors then the sandbag can act as a simple fixed point with which to attached your resistance band to. This opens up a whole range of exercises like Standing Rows and Standing Presses.
#2 - Multi-Directional Resistance Can Help Imbalances
Sandbag training requires that to maintain strict control over the bag throughout exercises. This comes with practice and a constant focus on stabilising the bag. Resistance bands can be used to provide multidirectional resistance that you wouldn’t normally get from the bag. For various reasons, many of us have imbalances that can cause pain, limit progression, and hinder our ability to perform exercises correctly. While good quality movement is a great asset it is not always possible to overcome these issues with exercise alone.
The resistance band is particularly useful because we can encourage multi-directional resistance during a range of basic exercises. This adds a whole new element to most movement patterns and can be a great tool in your arsenal.
Try attaching a resistance band to your bag and a fixed point and performing a regular exercise, like a Sandbag Front Squat. If those 2 points travel in the normal direction of the bag as you perform the exercise i.e. a straight line between the centre of the feet and the chest, then you’ll get little in the way of multi-directional resistance. If, however, you fix your resistance band to the bag and a point outside your left foot then you’ll have to work extra hard to prevent the sandbag (and your torso) from tracking to the left and rotating. Used correctly this method can be a very effective way of both highlighting and correcting various imbalances in your exercises.
This method can be very useful if you know where your imbalances lie. If you are unsure then I still recommend a focus on the basics.
#3 - Sandbags & Bands, Side By Side
When thinking about pairing training tools we can be guilty of trying to overcomplicate matters, but it’s often not necessary. The sandbag is a great method of free weight training; the resistance band can be used to provide variable resistance and assist with bodyweight training exercises. A focus on the inherent merits of your training tools is a great way to get the best results from them. Trying to be too smart and using training tools for a purpose that they are not well suited too often leads to diminished returns (Kettlebell Bicep Curls, anybody?).
Matthew Palfrey is the founder of Sandbag Fitness, a specialist sandbag training company and blog. Sandbag Fitness is dedicated to the promotion and development of sandbag training as a method for improving athletic performance, strength and conditioning, and general health. Like many great things it was born in a garage, not a boardroom.
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