How to do the Sandbag Bent Over Row

A sandbag used for fitness looks more like a backpack or duffle, kicking your workout into high gear. This age old piece of equipment is making a serious comeback. It can change virtually any part of your workout, from lunges to shoulder presses, and can sculpt a lean, sexy back.

Why a Sandbag?

A sandbag is a cheap alternative to weights, kettlebells and expensive exercise equipment, which makes it easy to build both strength and endurance. Also, your body has to work super-hard to deal with the sandbag’s awkward design. You’ll work all of the stabilizing muscles, and engage your core as you perform sandbag exercises to help you manage the equipment. The bonus isn’t only strength, but also a lower risk of injury as your stabilizers are able to help shoulder the weight of the bag.

Nothing makes you look more fit than a svelte upper back, and rows build it by cranking on those upper back muscles, the lats.

How to Do It

  • Step 1: Hold the sandbag on the sides, so the width is across your thighs, palms facing toward each other. Bend your knees to keep pressure off your lower back and hold abs in to support your core. Bend forward at the hips, so you are almost at a 90 degree angle, and check your form in the mirror. Your back should be flat, not rounded. Rounding your back will quickly lead to injury. Keep your arms hanging down in front of you, directly under your shoulders.
  • Step 2: Raise the bag up to your chest, keeping your shoulders down toward your hips while you squeeze your shoulder blades together (and bringing your elbows up past your back). Complete the raise quickly, but lower the bag slowly, keeping your back muscles engaged, making the exercise harder and fatiguing muscles quicker. Complete 15 reps. 
  • Step 3: On the second set, hold the bag under-hand, so your elbows stay in, using different stabilizers in the back. Pull the bag as you did originally in the first set for 15 reps. Finally, complete a third set with either grip, or change it half way through.

Make it Harder

Completing a one arm row will place more focus on each side and will not let your stronger side overcompensate. Remove some sand from the bag, stand in a lunge, left foot forward, with your left hand on your left knee. Grasp the sandbag with the right hand, and complete the rows as you did before. Concentrate on squeezing the right shoulder blade toward the spine as you complete 15 reps. Switch to the left arm, lunging forward on the right.

To Make or to Buy?

You can easily make your own sandbag by filling a garbage bag with the desired weight in sand, doubling the bag, and placing the whole thing in a cheap duffel bag from a discount store. Alternatively, there are some relatively cheap options with grip handles that you can find at sporting goods stores or on-line. Your bag can be sophisticated with handles, or a straight up sandbag–any will do.

So row, row, row your way to a better toned back!


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