Too Busy Bullshit and Sandbag Training. The “Sandbag Slaughterer Workout”

Sandbag Training

Ahhhh yes, those days where life becomes relentless and the hours seem to pass by at a hasty, unstoppable pace.

Things get postponed, others cast aside and I’m as guilty as the next person for doing it. Yet for me, training never takes a backseat.

Yes, the workouts may be shortened. They may be abbreviated or changed completely from the day’s plan depending on the situation, the mood and the mind-set, but it never gets missed.

I’ve heard the old axiom “I just don’t have time to work out” far too many times to even give the slightest care about my blunt response… “We all have time. You’re either A. Not managing your time properly.  B. You’re too lazy to care or C. You’re not making it a priority.”

For me, the biggest point and the one I push the most when it comes to squeezing in training is C.

We all have our own reasons for training. Be it sports performance, health, weightloss, aesthetics, to be able to poop unaided and get-up of the floor into old age, whatever the reason or motivation, the fact is training needs to become a priority.

Take brushing your teeth. Have you ever uttered the words “I’m too busy to brush my teeth”? I doubt it, and yes, I’m aware brushing your teeth takes a fraction of the time that training does, but the point remains – You make time when it’s a priority.

When Time is Short, Simplify.

The key to success in training when time is sparse is to get in, get the job done and get out.

It’s about not wasting a single second and only opting for the biggest bang for the buck exercises.

I’ve given plenty of 10 minute workouts previously on this site which I’ll link below, but today, I want to take your attention to the great sandbag slaughterer workout…

Sandbag Training Once Again…

Yes, the sandbag appears again.

I’ve said it countless times before but, the sandbag shines when it’s a literal bag of sand. Nothing fancy, nothing superficial and certainly no handles – Just a bag filled with sand.

The thing about the sandbag is, well, it’s not meant to be pretty, or shiny or cute. It’s meant to be intimidating. It’s meant to be heavy. It’s meant to strike fear into you. Sandbag training is no joke.

The superficial, pretty sandbags come with thousands of fancy exercise variations, which, in all honesty, are just fluff that takes you away from the job at hand of getting stronger, leaner, meaner, tougher and fitter.

The sandbag, in my mind, should be kept to just four powerful movements: Squat, Press, Carry and Shouldering.

And yes, before any detractors try to knock sandbag training down, there are better options for the squat, namely the barbell. The press is better found with kettlebells. Although the sandbag is perfect for carries, it’s certainly only one of a myriad of tools you should be utilizing during weighted carries.

Where the sandbag training truly shines is with shouldering.

There isn’t a single other tool that can be used for shouldering.

Shouldering a sandbag is a truly excellent expression of power. The bag is unruly, unbalanced, real-world, functional, fight applicable and a special blend of power, strength, tenacity and grace.

While shouldering a sandbag is a relatively simple movement, it is a skill and should be treated as such.

The key is to learn the sum of its parts, start lightly and progress on from there.

The Parts that make up Shouldering

I like to simplify as much as possible and break the movement down into four parts: Grip it, Rip it, Hip it, Hold it.

I.                   “Grip it”

This is the initial set-up before the bag leaves the ground.

  • You want to straddle the bag at roughly the mid-point, with the “tail” pointing behind you.
  • Push your hips backwards into a powerful hinge. Your shins should be as vertical as possible, your back held neutral and tightly braced and arms long, reaching deeply under the bag.
  • From the side, your hips will be above your knees and your shoulders above your hips.
  • This is meant to be a powerful position. You hamstrings will be tight and stretched, your glutes the same. Your shoulders are pulled down to your hips and back creating tension in your lats and tightness in your thoracic spine. To simplify, think “big chest” or “proud chest”.

sandbag training

II.               “Rip it”

This is breaking the bag from the ground.

  • The bag is broken from the ground with a powerful drive from the legs, pushing through the floor. All the while maintaining tight tension in the upper back, lower back and stomach.
  • The hands are set like vices on the bag throughout.
  • The movement is powered by the quads, the glutes and the hamstrings, not the arms and lower back. Here the arms stay long (think deadlift) and the lower back maintains its braced positon.
  • Control the movement and own the bag. Don’t let the bag drift away from the body and or pull you out of position.
  • You want your full foot on the ground, but the push is predominately through the heels.

sandbag training

III.            “Hip it”

This is the explosive part of the movement.

  • As the bag reaches mid-thigh, forcefully and violently triple extend at the ankles, knees and hips simultaneously.
  • The force generated from this triple extension will propel the bag upwards.
  • Using this force, pull upwards on the bag, keeping your elbows in close and the bag tight to the body’s center line.
  • Guide the bag gently onto a shoulder.

sandbag training

IV.             “Hold it”

This is the final part of the movement and often the most overlooked part.

  • With the bag on your shoulder, stand up tall and proud.
  • This isn’t a rush through position. Really sell the lock-out.
  • Tightly braced glutes. Visibly tight abs. Solid quads. Head tall. Non-working hand in a clenched fist creating tension. Working side arm tightly gripping onto the bag.

sandbag training

The Sandbag Slaughterer Workout

This workout, the aptly named sandbag slaughterer makes use of a single movement: sandbag shouldering surprisingly.

The workout is an on-the-minute-every-minute or EMOM format, meaning you’ll start a timer, perform the assigned reps and whatever remains of the minute is the rest period. This continues until the time limit is completed, or you failed to make the reps in any given minute.

The weight in the bag is something I can’t help you with. There are just too many variables – Weight, level of fitness, strength, experience…

Like I said above, sandbag training and more specifically, shouldering a sandbag is first and foremost a skill. So start light, learn the movement, drill it, master it and then add weight progressively from there.

The Workout:

Shoulder the sandbag for 5 reps each shoulder EMOM for 10 minutes.

So simple on paper, but so difficult in execution.

Closing Thoughts

I love sandbag training, there’s just something about. While it’s not perfect, it is another tool in the tool box to make use of.

The good thing about the bag is it’s versatile, cheap and can be used everywhere and anywhere pretty much dispelling the excuse of having no time to train.

The above workout is 10 minutes in execution and with a good warm-up before it, probably 20 minutes in total.

Make training a priority.

Stop using the words “I don’t have the time”.

Grab yourself a sandbag and get tougher, stronger, fitter, meaner and leaner than ever before.


ps. Another great option for quick workouts that deliver a powerful muscular, cardiovascular and mental hit is my short book “100 Metabolic Workouts”.

It was written as a handbook, rammed full of workouts that, in a short space of time and with no equipment required, delivers a mega metabolic punch. If you haven’t got yourself a copy already, check it out here for US and here for UK!

Pps. here are the 10 minute workouts I mentioned above…

Two Brutal 10 Minute Sandbag Workouts
Two More Brutal 10 Minute Workouts
Another Two Brutal 10 Minute Workouts
Two More Brutal 10 Minute Workouts Part 4
Brutal 10 Minute Workouts: Part 5
Brutal 10 Minute Workouts: Part 6 – Punch Bag
Brutal 10 Minute Workouts: Part Seven – Single Weight Plate
Brutal 10 Minute Workouts: Part Eight – Stairs
 complete mma training