For a training tool to make the list of things I use at my facility it has to unique but tangible results. I’ve been around long enough to know that trendy pieces of equipment that promise to build balance and stability usually have little translation to the trail. However, I was recently reintroduced to something that has been seeing more and more action at my facility – the sandbag.
Sandbag training is certainly not new and you’ve probably heard of them before or maybe even played around with some. I had a couple of old sandbags in my facility that I almost never used and didn’t really see much value in. However, after seeing a demo by someone who knows how to really use them – Josh Henkin, inventor of the Ultimate Sandbag - I realized that I had missed the boat completely when it came to the types of unique exercises and results they offered.
Josh calls it Dynamic Variable Resistance and it goes beyond trying to mimic your favorite barbell/ dumbbell/ kettlebell exercise with one and unleashing something completely new on your body. After seeing an Ultimate Sandbag in action I knew that it had some unique things to offer mountain bikers
First, it offers some unique way to train the legs and core that are very specific to the balance and stabilization demands of mountain biking. The Rotational Lunge in particular is an exercise unique to sandbag training that allows you to perform a split stance and single leg exercise while having to stabilize against an unstable object moving around the body. The ability to swing the sandbag around the body offers an important training variable that you can not get from a dumbbell or kettlebell. In fact, it has made my "must use" exercise list with kettlebell swings and snatches for building lower body strength and power - it is that good.
It also improves the effectiveness of any home gym set up while taking up minimal space. Face it – a lot of us would just as soon never enter a gym and so training at home is a must. Being able to invest in a single piece of equipment that allows us to do a wide variety of exercises and can be used to increase strength and cardio is important for the home gym that has to fit into limited space.
Seeing that it offers some truly unique results and can easily be integrated into your home gym set up (if not become your home gym by itself) it is a great tool to add to your toolbox. Here is a 4 exercise circuit using sandbag exercises along with a 4 week workout plan to help you get started with your sandbag training:
- Rotational Deadlift
- Clean and Press
- Rotational Lunge
- Around the World
Week 1: 20 seconds work/ 40 seconds rest X 4 rounds
Week 2: 20 seconds work/ 30 seconds rest X 4 rounds
Week 3: 30 seconds work/ 30 seconds rest X 4 rounds
Week 4: 30 seconds work/ 20 seconds rest X 4 rounds
You can see a demo of these exercises plus some ways to advance the exercises in this video:
If you are going to invest in a sandbag so you can start taking advantage of the unique advantages they offer I highly recommend the Ultimate Sandbag
. While being a high quality sandbag that will last through years of abuse it has an external shell and internal filler bags that you can fill to different weights. This allows you to have a variety of different weights without having to buy and store multiple sandbags. You can learn more about the different types of Ultimate Sandbags and about sandbag training in general at this website:tinyurl.com/mtbsandbags
Sandbags offer a great way to improve your mountain bike specific strength and cardio while keeping your routine fun and challenging. Adding one into your training toolbox is something I highly recommend. Try this routine out for the next 4 weeks and see how much it improves your balance and stability on the trail.
MTB Strength Training Systems is the world leader in integrated performance training programs for the unique demands of mountain biking. As the strength and conditioning coach for World Cup Teams and 3 National Championships, his programs have been proven at the highest levels. James has helped thousands of riders just like you improve their speed, endurance and skills on the trail. Visit www.bikejames.com
to sign up for the free Trail Rider Fundamentals Video Mini-Course.