I’m sure that you’ve noticed that we have done an awful lot of sandbag cleans and carries this cycle. Nearly every week we have had you pick up those dusty bags of construction material and throw them over your shoulder. While for some of us these implements are fun and for others a menace to the skin complexion of our forearms, the sandbag is probably the most functional weightlifting object that anyone can use in the gym!
Is This Real Life?
As much as every CrossFit coach in the world would love to have every weight we move in life be barbell shaped, this is simply not the case.
In real life, we are picking up things of all different shapes and sizes. Balls, bags, boxes, trays, and people. These weights are awkward and the orientation of their load can shift at a moments notice! While a barbell is nice and predictable, that box of books you’re helping your friend move is not!
This is where the sandbag comes in! It’s an awkward, usually kevlar, bag that is filled with sand. Some bags are tightly packed and others have just enough room for that sand to shift as you pick it up. Also, since it’s hard to make sand denser, these sandbags can grow to awkward to hold sizes at the 100 pound or more ranges!
Because of their irregular size and shifting weight, they actually replicate picking up an everyday object much more accurately than a barbell!
On top of this, they can actually make connections for athletes to improve their cleans as well as develop real world movement patterns to help them in every day life!
It is Real Life!
Think of that moving day scenario again.
Your friend has saddled you with the responsibility of carrying their overstuffed book box because you do CrossFit. While they think it’s a smart idea for you to move the box because of your overall strength, you’re actually best suited for the job because of your technique.
When you pick up a sandbag for a carry, you squat down and try to get as much of your hand underneath that bag (this helps you gain leverage). You then use your legs to stand up the bag to your hips. You set the bag on your lap and reposition your hands to hug the bag from underneath. You brace your core to keep yourself upright and begin walking to your destination.
If you apply all those things to that book box, you’re gonna be so much better off than that bodybuilder friend they invited trying to pick it up by the handles that will eventually rip.
And, if you’re a master of the sandbag clean and can get that box on to your shoulder with your hips, you’re gonna have a hand free to move something else! Greatly reducing your time moving things in from the hot summer sun and getting everyone closer to the free beer/pizza your friend promised.
(Wanna see your sandbag skills in action? Offer to pick up a case of water for a relative at the grocery store. If you treat it like that sandbag, it’s gonna be the easier grocery trip of your life!)