I wish I started using this sooner: THE ROUND SANDBAG

November 25, 2023 by VAHVA Fitness

Demonstrating various techniques and uses of the round sandbag. This tool is incredibly versatile and will make your body as strong as an ox!

This year, we started training seriously with a special form of a sandbag that is often called a round sandbag or a "strongman sandbag".

The results and gains have been outstanding when it comes to core strength, core stability and developing your ability to grip. Other parts of the body such as the upper body and lower body have also developed as a result of using this tool.

What makes the round sandbag special is that it's very difficult to grip. There are no handles and you really have to use your grip and your entire body to hold it.

In many ways, it mimics the atlas stones the strongmen like to lift. The atlas stones obviously are amazing tools for building functional strength as well. The atlas stone, however, is not as readily available and they're not cheap or very practical to own either.

In many ways, the roundbag is an equivalent to the atlas stone – we would consider it a better tool though. The round sandbag is way more versatile and the fact that it hangs loosely on your body also makes it a different beast.

Either way, you can build enormous strength with either of the tools. For the most versatile and cost effective solution, we recommend getting the round sandbag.

The best part is that they are typically cheap (it's an empty bag after all) and all you need to do is fill them with sand. There are sizes available from as small as 12.5 kg (25 lbs) to 150 kg (300 pounds). Both male and female can use this piece of equipment.

The Round Sandbag: As Ancient As It Gets

The sandbags have been used in war for a very long time and different ancient cultures have also used sandbag for training for thousands if not tens of thousands of years.

For instance, a book called The 72 Arts of Shaolin contains many exercises that utilize the sandbag. In the ancient Shaolin Temple they had developed very sophisticated methods for body strengthening.

shoulder raises with sandbags shaolin style

Ying Yi Gong - 鷹翼功 - The Eagle's Wings Skill

Sometimes, the ancient shaolin monks would do shoulder raises with sandbags that were hanging from ropes.  Other times they would use the sandbags as "medicine balls" and throw the sandbag from one person to another.

The Shaolin monks used to fill the bags with sand, rice, stones or even iron balls. Of course, the sandbags were also commonly used for hardening and striking practice.

Even in the ancient Egypt, they had a sport where they would swing and carry sandbags around. Many medieval cultures all the way to the 19th century would utilize sandbag training. 

Arthur Saxon in his prime.

For example, Saxon trio (active in the late 1800s) would commonly utilize sandbags to prepare their bodies for strongman competitions and strength feats.

They were called the "Saxon trio" because they were from Saxony. They were the strongest people of their time. Many Arthur Saxon's records are still unbeaten today!

The 3 strongmen looked incredibly strong and powerful way before steroids were invented. Despite their appearance, they were always focused on building "disproportionate power and energy" without attempt or desire to build massive muscles.

Arthur Saxon in his book "The Development of Physical Power" wrote: 

"The fact that a man may have full physical development, but disproportionate power and energy has been proven to me so many times. I propose to aim and instill the value of genuine power, without any attempt to obtain a large increase in the dimensions of different muscles.

I shall teach you to judge a man by his capabilities as an athlete, whether a weightlifter or wrestler and not by the measurement of his biceps or chest.

In the course of my travels I have met a number of physical culturists who come to me to show their development and whilst it must be admitted it is splendid to look upon, yet it is evident to me a number of such men have injured their health in an endeavor to squeeze the last fraction of an inch from their muscular development."

- Arthur Saxon

The Disproportionate Benefits of Round Sandbag Training

As I mentioned before, we experienced groundbreaking results once we started utilizing the round sandbag.

For me specifically, the core and legs became stronger than ever before. I get MUCH better engagement in my lower back, hamstrings and legs than I do when I use any other tool whether it's dumbbells, kettlebells or a barbell.

In fact, a deep squat with the round sandbag feels twice as heavy than a barbell back squat with the same amount of weight! This is because with the round sandbag there is no distance between the weight and your hips & leg area.

What I mean is that when you do a barbell back squat, there is lots of distance between your hips and the bar. Your spine supports the bar and the center of mass is totally different.

With the round sandbag however, the weight is very close to your hips and there is zero chance of your spine doing any of the heavy lifting ⎼ all the work is done by your hips. 

The round sandbag is also amazing for core stability and developing your ability to brace the core from abs to obliques. This is because the round sandbag is protruding and the weight is carried in front of you.

Basically, for hips, core and legs the round sandbag is an incredible too. For the upper body, it offers many possibilities for explosive training (throwing the bag) but also for developing the grip with your arms, shoulders and chest muscles.

The sandbag carries are no joke – they will truly challenge your shoulders, grip, biceps and core. There are many ways you can grab and grip the sandbag which makes it an optimal tool for martial artists and especially wrestlers & grapplers.

After a year long love affair with the sandbag, we have developed many ways to utilize the bag and develop the body. These exercises and workout routines we have stacked in the new Iron King Method.

We have even combined the round sandbag with some animal movements which is a killer combination. In Iron King Method we will cover:

  • The conventional and unconventional sandbag exercises
  • The 5 different grips
  • Core work & bracing the core
  • Animal movements with the sandbag
  • Shaolin exercises with the sandbag

You can learn more about this new method at IronKingMethod.com

Stay strong.

samuli jyrkinen

About the author 

Samuli Jyrkinen

Samuli is the ninja behind the scenes (photography, videography, websites, program platforms and more). He has been training religiously for over a decade and has a firm grasp of physical and mental fitness. You will find our story here.

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