Sandbag Training 101 – by Josh Henkin

There is no question…sandbag training works! Having been used for centuries by the world’s best wrestlers and martial artists, there is no arguing sandbag training can make you as strong as you look! However, as sandbag training has begun a resurgence the misuse of sandbags have begun as well. One may wonder, is it possible not to use a sandbag correctly? Well, just ask yourself if you can use a dumbbell, barbell, kettlebell, or even your bodyweight incorrectly?

The first rule of thumb is that a good sandbag should have mobility. Too many people have tried to “out think” the sandbag and end up ruining the basis of sandbag training. Unlike most other training implements you aren’t going to progress by five pound increments. Manipulating many of the other training variables such as placement of load and speed of movement will serve as better training avenues for variety and progression.

I will cover how to choose when you use each of these methods and progressions, but first we must discuss the most fundamental of ideas, how where you hold the sandbag impacts your exercise selection.

Bear Hug:

This position is the starting place for the introduction of sandbag training. Keeping the sandbag very close to the body and clasping the arms around the sandbag decreases the leverage working against the body. This makes this holding position the easiest to balance and lift the greatest loads. The dimensions of the sandbag will additionally impact the level of difficulty of this style.




The Zercher position is the secondary position of loading. The Zercher is a more challenging loading position because there is increase leverage working against the trunk and the upper back. It is vital in using the Zercher that the elbows remain as high as possible. When the arms begin to drop under heavier loads it is a natural tendency to have the upper and lower back begin to round. Holding the sandbag lower also decreases stress on the stabilizing muscles.



Shouldering is the most familiar holding position in sandbag training. Shouldering is most notable because it appears the most unusual in strength training. Holding the bag in this position places the whole body under an uneven load. This is one of the most powerful aspects of sandbag training and even though your body may be in a balance position of a squat, the uneven load makes the body unbalanced. This is far more challenging to maintain posture and balance during all movement especially unilateral ones.



The overhead position is the most challenging, yet very familiar to most lifters. Having the sandbag overhead places the greatest amount of leverage on the entire body especially the trunk. The sandbag being overhead is an unstable object that will move as you perform various movements. This makes the entire body unstable and all the small stabilizers must fire harder to maintain balance and stability.


Josh Henkin, CSCS has been a strength coach for the past fifteen years. Josh has spoken at numerous national conferences and written for over 20 fitness magazines. His Sandbag Fitness System is recognized as the most comprehensive sandbag training program.

IHRSA Episode #9 – Concept 2 Rower

YouTube was giving me a hard time and not letting me upload this vid….that’s why I had to jump to number 10.

This is the latest installment from the IHRSA videos series.  Here we talk about the Concept 2 Rowing Ergometer. The Concept 2 ergs have been around for a while and the basic design and function, much like the VersaClimber, has not changed.  What that means is they got it right the first time.  I’ve used Concept 2’s for endurance training as well as for sprint and interval training.  The C2 is designed to have you use the entire body on each stroke and regardless of how hard you pull, the C2 can keep up with you (and then some).  The new digital interfaces offer complete, real-time information on you stroke rate, distance, time, split time and more.  You can even set up custom training programs with it.

This is easily one of our “Top 5” most liked pieces.  No facility is complete without one.   If you have one at your gym and you’ve been reluctant to try, now is the time.  We’ve got some good interval protocols for this pre-made for you at Hybrid Fitness.

Good luck and feel free to email us or post a question to the comments section if you need ideas for a good interval program.

Look out for more vids this week.  Keep training hard!


IHRSA Episode #10 – RealRyder

Here’s the latest installment from the IHRSA show.   Some of the best is yet to come.

If any of you have every taken a group cycling class (I’d say “Spinning” but I think I’d have to pay a royalty or something….) you know how challenging they can be.  Basically, you get out of them what you put into them.

RealRyder has taken the idea of a basic “spin” bike and gone up a notch.  Their bikes actually the rider to pivot them from side to side during a class to simulate the feel of leaning into turns, etc.   The details are in the video.

Yes, I skipped from Episode 8 to Episode 10….#9 will be around shortly.

Enjoy and keep training hard!


Step up to the Bar

Part One: Back to Strength training basics

One bar, ten exercises, two workouts a week; this workout is about as basic as they come. Do not be fooled by the seeming simplicity. Like most good programs this one is capable of delivering powerful results.

Workout 1. (Tuesday) 3 sets of 6-8 reps. Rest 90 seconds between sets.

Bench Press
Bent-Over Row
Calf Raise
Full Contact twists

Workout 2. (Friday) 3 sets of 6-8 reps. Rest 90 seconds between sets.

Standing Press
Close Grip Bench
Standing Curls

You can use this workout to accomplish just about any goal from getting a little toned to improving your performance in athletics or perhaps the development of raw, brute strength.

Although this workout may seem to lack variety the fact is that other then using a single Barbell for every exercise there are almost no limits. Each of the movements selected has at least 3-5 versions to choose from which means over the course of a year you could create hundreds of different workouts using this same basic template. Add to this that the set and rep schemes can also be varied over a broad continuum and you can see the power of this routine.

Tune in soon for Part two: Adding conditioning to your plan. Till then enjoy your strength training the way it was meant to be, pure, simple and productive.

PAU for Now


Episode #8 from IHRSA – TRX Bodyweight Trainer

The latest episode from the IHRSA conference.  Here we talk about the TRX bodyweight trainer.  Many of you may have seen or used this product.  If so, you know just how effective it can be.  They’re just as effective as Olympic rings, but arguably much more versatile for various leg exercises.   It’s a great piece for circuits, as you can adjust it very quickly to suit different exercises or accommodate different individuals.

There are many similar products on the market, which “get the job done”, but honestly, you get what you pay for and spending a bit more for the TRX is well worth it. It’s built very well, it’s very easy to use and you can easily adapt it to work for any fitness level.

If you want to pick up a TRX Trainer for yourself, give Fitness Anywhere a look.  They’ve got lots of great stuff for you.

We’ve got a huge list of TRX exercises listed on the main site at  Additionally, we’re doing a video shoot in the next few weeks and recording a bunch of new exercise videos.

We’ve got more IHRSA vids to come so stay tuned!

Keep training hard!