Combining Sandbags and Kettlebells

Josh Henkin, CSCS

Sometimes there are things that just seem to belong together. We can think of peanut butter and jelly, baseball and summer, and kettlebells and sandbags. Of course the last one I mentioned may not be in as many people’s consciousness, but it should!

For the past seven years kettlebell training has not made just a comeback, but has become an integral part of the fitness/sports performance industry. This has not been just about marketing hype. Everyone from general health enthusiasts to elite athletes have found kettlebells to be versatile, fun, and most importantly effective! Recently another strength training tool is making the same comeback, sandbags. Sandbags can be thought of as similar to kettlebells for the following reasons:

  • One can create infinite number of exercises and combination drills
  • Unpredictable nature of the implement allows for a unique training stimulus
  • Perfect for those who are limited on space and need to maximize their training area.
  • Easy to transport for training in any situation.

For most individuals the question will not be the value of these implements. Rather the question quickly becomes how to integrate them into an effective training regime. In my extensive experience with these two implements I would like to suggest a few different programs that integrate both sandbags and kettlebells.

A Balancing Act

My first method is to alternate days of heavy lifting of one implement for conditioning of the other. This allows management of fatigue as well as concentration of a few focused lift. Because sandbag and kettlebell drills can be very physically as well as neurally fatiguing we want to avoid overtraining and move towards greater progress.

Day 1: Sandbag Emphasis

SB Shouldering Squat 4 sets of 4 each side rest 75 seconds

KB Jerk 3 sets of 12 rest 60 seconds

KB Single Leg Deadlift 3 sets of 6 each side rest 60 seconds

SB Zercher Carry 2 sets of 1 minute rest 90 seconds

Day 2: Kettlebell Emphasis

KB Snatch 5 sets 5 rest 90 seconds

SB Zercher Lunge 4 sets of 6 each leg 60 seconds

KB Renegade Row 4 sets of 6 each side 60 seconds rest

SB Shoulder Get-up 2 sets of 5 rest 45 seconds

Day 3: Off

Day 4: Sandbag Emphasis

SB Clean and Jerk 5 sets 3 rest 75 seconds

KB Front Squats 3 sets of 8 rest 60 seconds

Pull-ups 3 sets of 6 rest 60 seconds

SB Zercher Side Lunges 3 sets of 8 each side rest 60 seconds

KB Clean Carries 2 sets of 30 seconds rest 90 seconds

Day 5: Kettlebell Emphasis

KB Squat Press 4 sets of 8 rest 60 seconds

SB Shouldering 3 sets of 10 each side rest 60 seconds

KB Rows 3 sets 12 each side rest 45 seconds

SB Half Moon Snatch 3 sets 5 each side rest 45 seconds

KB Sit-up Get-ups 3 sets 3 each side rest 60 seconds

Other options include making these two implements your primary source of conditioning. These may be reflected in the following workouts.

Option A:

Alternate between the two exercises below. Start on the minute and rest the remaining minute. For example, once you perform KB Clean & Jerks for 20 seconds you will have a 40 second rest. Perform them in 45 seconds you will have a 15 second rest. Perform this for ten minutes.

A1. KB Clean & Jerk X 10

A2. SB Zercher Squat X 10

Option B: Complexes

You can create two distinct complexes using sandbags and kettlebells. This will enhance your movement ability, strength, coordination, flexibility, and conditioning.

The movements are continuous and rest is only used after the complex

KB Complex 1

RDL X 6

Clean X 6

Front Squat X 6

Press X 6

Rest for 90 seconds perform 2-3 sets

SB Complex 1

Clean X 6

Zercher Lunge X 6 each leg

Rows X 6

Snatches X 6

Rest for 90 seconds 2-3 sets

Above are some phenomenal options in improving conditioning, strength, flexibility, and overall athleticism. Just by using kettlebells and sandbags you can create an overall fitness and athletic based program. The key is how to manipulate the training variables for you goals and ability level. Hopefully the programs provided will stimulate your own creativity as well.

Josh Henkin, CSCS is a Strength & Conditioning Coach in Scottsdale, Arizona. He is owner of Innovative Fitness Solutionsand creator of The Ultimate Sandbag. For more information visit his websites or email him at josh@sandbagexercises.com

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