Best Sandbag Glute Exercises

By December 29, 2011 Glute Training

I’ve been experimenting with sandbag training over the past couple of months and I believe that they are highly underrated. I was amazed at how heavy some of the sandbags felt; a dumbbell, kettlebell, or barbell of equal weight feels much lighter. I believe that sandbags definitely have a place in the training of athletes and strong lifters, but perhaps the population who I feel could benefit the most from sandbag training is women.

Most women don’t want a heavy barbell or dumbbells sitting in the corner of one of the rooms in their homes. But a sandbag doesn’t look so tacky (at least not the ones that my friend Josh Henkin sent to me) and can conveniently be placed in a closet when not being used. I believe that women should be training their glutes very frequently, and if more women had some form of resistance in their homes then they’d be more apt to train their glutes on non-gym days. Sandbags are a perfect tool for training at home. You can toss them into the back of a car when taking road trips as well so you have something to lift if your hotel doesn’t have a gym. Furthermore, the sandbags Josh sent me were far more effective than what I’d used many years ago when I first gave sandbag training a try. My buddy had a duffel bag filled with sand which was leaking out of the corner and one of the handles had ripped off. Needless to say I didn’t fully appreciate sandbag training way back then. For this reason I think it’s well worth it to purchase quality sandbags; especially if you’re a personal trainer.

You can even get a pink one if that floats your boat (hint: Tony Gentilcore and Mark Young)

The 15 Best Sandbag Glute Exercises

Check out all of the different glute exercises that Josh and I came up with in the video below. Many thanks to Sarah Gwynn for demonstrating the exercises for us.

Here is a list of the 15 exercises:

1. Glute bridge

2. Hip thrust

3. Zercher squat

4. Zercher step up

5. Zercher walking lunge

6. Zercher Bulgarian split squat

7. Zercher single leg box squat

8. Reaching single leg RDL

9. Split clean

10. Cyclone

11. Zercher good morning

12. Rotational lunge

13. RKC plank

14. Single leg hip thrust

15. Staggered stance shoulder squat

Some of these are more comfortable than others. For example, the sandbags get in the way of the hips a little bit for hip thrusts, but it’s certainly manageable. With the split cleans you’ll quickly get coordinated at flipping the sandbags into the catch position.

My Two Favorites: Rotational Lunge and Staggered Stance Shoulder Squat

My two favorites are the rotational lunge and the staggered stance shoulder squat. The rotational lunge adds an external rotation component to the lunging movement so the glutes have to do more than just hip extension. You can get into a rhythm sort of like what happens with the kettlebell swing; you explode up then the load floats upward and you relax for a second and wait for it to swing backward so you can absorb the eccentric component then rapidly reverse the movement and alternate legs. I believe that the rotational lunge is a cornerstone movement for sandbags just as the swing is for the kettlebell. Here is Josh explaining the rotational lunge:

However, I think I like the staggered stance shoulder squat even more than the rotational lunge. This is such a cool exercise. Many individuals who are proficient in bilateral lower body exercises are still not ready for true single leg squatting. They need a transition exercise to help pave the way for performing pistol squats, and the staggered stance shoulder squat is the perfect exercise for the job. Sure lunges, step ups, and Bulgarian split squats are good, but the staggered stance shoulder squat is even more specific to the pistol as the kinematics are a bit more similar in my opinion. You line the toe of the rear leg up with the heel of the front leg. You put most of your weight on the front leg while shouldering the load on the opposite shoulder. The exercise feels very smooth and the offset loading helps with balance and coordination. As time ensues you’ll get better at using primarily the front leg for propulsion without relying much on the rear leg, and eventually you’ll be ready to tackle pistol squats.

Where to Get Good Sandbags

You’ll notice that I have a link on the side of my blog to Ultimate Sandbags, so you can click on the link to visit the site. These are high quality and the shipping is very reasonable. I especially like all of the handles as they allow for increased versatility. You’ll need to fill them up with sand once you receive them.

Hope you enjoyed the post and videos! Happy holidays, BC

17 Comments

  • Alexandra says:

    Hmmm, I’ve been luke warm on using sandbags but now I want one. Great list of exercises too, can’t wait to try some. Thanks for providing the vide demo (and thank you too Sarah!).

  • Rob King says:

    Great info Brett.

    I have been using this a lot with my female clients and I will be adding more exercises with it.

    The first time I did zurcher lunges with a sandbag the next day I felt like someone beat my legs with a bat lol.

    As well it’s funny how often I hear about our Sandbag “It’s got to weigh more than that lol.

    Great info, thank you Bret.

    Rob
    http://www.RobKingFitness.com

    BTW Pink would look good on Mark Young lol.

  • Naomi says:

    Thank you Brett for yet more great info! I have learned so much from your blog and actually got complimented on my glutes by someone who hadn’t seen me in a few months. It’s amazing to have the progress validated!

  • Good post, Bret. Some good variations I definitely will try.

  • Francisca says:

    I just received my ultimate sandbag yesterday, so this was super timely, but have been using my homemade one to hit glutes at home in place of a barbell and it works great!
    As a graduating physical therapist and avid trainee/former athlete I find myself strong on exercise form but still weak on actual periodization and progressions, so sites like yours help a lot, especially as I plan programs for my low back patients:-)
    Keep up the good work (I talk up your blog like crazy, after rediscovering it and remembering reading your T nation article last year)!!

  • Francisca says:

    Are feet elevated, shoulders on the floor a progression or regression of a basic glute bridge?

  • Adrienl says:

    Just for anyone interested in the staggered stance shoulder squat it is also termed a B Squat and if you put ” b squat” into Google some very nice articles describing it in detail pop up by a smart guy called Bryce Lane.

    Hope someone finds it useful

  • Georgette Pann says:

    Francisca
    Progression:)

  • Teri says:

    Which sandbag is your Sarah using?… and how much weight does she have in it? Love love love the exercises!

  • BC says:

    I can see why you selected her for demonstration purposes. She has ridiculous hip flexor and hamstring mobility. Jealous.

  • Autumn says:

    What is the table/platform that she’s using called?

  • BirraNulu says:

    Been using sandbag from Brute Force for about two weeks, love it. Following My Mad Methods and will never go to a gym again. I work on in a different park every day, regardless of weather. Nirvana

  • Hey Bret, I’ve been experimenting with the Staggered Stance Squat, and I’m wondering if you like to load the same shoulder as the front leg instead of offsetting the load. I feel like I’m getting more of a feel for working a single leg squat (such as a Pistol Squat) when loading the same shoulder as the “lead” leg or working leg. However, I’m not sure if this is as mechanically sound as offsetting the load. Perhaps I can start with the offset load and “progress” to the same-side load? Thanks for any thoughts you have on this.

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