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A Complete Sandbag Thruster Tutorial: The Perfect Sandbag Exercise for Crossfit and HIIT

High-intensity interval training workouts, such as Crossfit, can be difficult to do at home, without a pricey gym, or in a much more enjoyable place like the beach or a park. However, with a good sandbag and knowledge of proper technique, we can get in a good, stamina, power, and muscle building workout with sandbag thrusters.

In this article we’ll review how to do sandbag thrusters effectively and safely, and the variations that will max out how much you get from your workouts.

Sandbag Thrusters

We’ll close out this article with some other essential sandbag exercises and great sandbag wods to get you started.


WHAT IS THE SANDBAG THRUSTER EXERCISE?

Good Mornings are a simple exercise in which we stand supporting a weight, usually a barbell or dumbbell supported in the **back racked** position, and bend at the waist to the end of our range of motion for bending at the waist.

Through the good morning exercise, we maintain proper body position and technique while maintaining proper, neutral spinal position and an engaged core, and straight legs throughout the entire movement.

Sandbag good mornings are performed with the same movement and technique as normal good mornings, bending at the waist to the end of our range of motion while maintaining an engaged core, proper spinal alignment, and straight legs, except sandbag good mornings are performed with a sandbag in the back racked position as resistance for the movement, instead of barbells, dumbbells, or resistance bands

HOW TO DO THE SANDBAG THRUSTER EXERCISE

  1. Start standing with the sandbag held in the **back racked** position, feet shoulder width apart, an engaged core with neutral spine, and straight legs
  2. Bend at the waist, maintaining straight back and legs, moving at a slow controlled pace
  3. Stop once your torso is parallel to the ground
  4. Reverse the movement, contracting your glutes, lower back, and hamstrings equally, while maintaining straight legs and straight lower back, and you are fully standing
  5. End with full extension of the hips, contracting the glutes

Repeat

BENEFITS OF DOING SANDBAG THRUSTERS: FULL BODY EXERCISE THAT BURNS MUSCLE AND BUILDS FULL BODY STRENGTH

The sandbag thruster is an excellent full body exercise that trains power (strength and speed) and intensity, making the exercise perfect for high intensity interval training (HIIT) and making Crossfit style workouts possible while training the legs, core, shoulders and stabilizers on the rear of the upper body when the sandbag is your only tool available.

Benefits of doing Thrusters:

  • Trains strength through the entire leg (front and back)
  • Trains the hip extensors and posterior chain
  • Trains the upper back and shoulders
  • Trains core strength and stability
  • Trains cardiovascular endurance, work capacity, and stamina
  • Tests and encourages mobility in the hips, ankles, and shoulders

SANDBAG THRUSTERS VS. BARBELL THRUSTERS

Sandbag good thrusters offer the same strength and mobility benefits as barbell thrusters, except the portability of sandbags allows you to the exercise anywhere, and as far away from the gym as you want, at a much cheaper cost than purchasing several weights.

Additionally, the soft, shifting weight of the sandbag (due to the sandbag) simultaneously makes sandbag thrusters more difficult than barbell thrusters, as it requires more stabilization, and is safer than a barbell, due to the fact that sandbags are naturally softer than metal weights so accidentally dropping on a foot or a bodypart won’t feel good, but won’t hurt nearly as much as barbell weights.

THRUSTER VARIATIONS AND RELATED EXERCISES

Barbell Thruster Variation

Thrusters performed with barbells naturally allow a higher max weight do to the non-shifting aspect of the weights**

Banded Thrusters

Performing the thruster movement with a band anchored under feet and held in the “front rack position” delivers little resistance at the bottom of the squat and much more at the top of the movement**

Sandbag Overhead Squat

The sandbag overhead squat works similar positions with the exception of working the shoulders in an isometric hold (holding the weight overhead) instead of extension (performing an overhead press). The overhead squat requires much more shoulder mobility and core strength than thrusters.**

Walking Lunges Overhead Lunges

Walking lunges performed with a weight held overhead**

Walking lunges + Overhead Press

Walking Lunges performed with a sandbag held in the front rack position and performing once overhead press between each lunge, either at the bottom position of the lunge or the top position

MUSCLES WORKED IN THE SANDBAG THRUSTER

  • Hip Extensors (glutes, hamstrings) and legs (quadriceps, calves)
  • Core (abdominals and lower back)
  • Shoulders and upper back
  • Triceps

OTHER AREAS TRAINED

  • Stamina and cardiovascular capacity / work capacity

 

SANDBAG WORKOUTS

SANDBAG THRUSTER WORKOUT (AKA SANDBAG FRAN)

The best workout to do with thrusters is a Crossfit staple workout known as “Fran,” which will modify by simply doing thrusters with a sandbag instead of a barbell.

Perform 3 Rounds of alternating sandbag thrusters and pullups with a descending number of reps per set with 21 then 15, then 9 reps, done as fast as possible with as little rest as possible.

The Sandbag Fran workout will look as follows:

Start

  • 21 Pullups
  • 21 Sandbag Thrusters
  • 15 Pullups
  • 15 Sandbag Thrusters
  • 9 Pullups
  • 9 Sandbag Thrusters

Completion

Click here to 31 more intense, Crossfit style sandbag wod options.

ANOTHER GREAT FULL BODY SANDBAG WORKOUT

PART 1: PERFORM 5 ROUNDS OF THE FOLLOWING:

  • 10 Thrusters
  • 10 Pull Ups
  • 10 Dips
  • Rest 90 seconds and Repeat

PART 2: PERFORM 3 ROUNDS OF THE FOLLOWING

  • 15 Good Mornings
  • 15 Single Leg Calf Raises
  • Rest 30 seconds and repeat

TIPS AND POINTS TO KEEP IN MIND WHILE YOU SANDBAG THRUSTERS

  • When initially attempting sandbag thrusters, start with an empty PVC pipe, executing the movement slowly focusing on maintain proper technique and spinal position. In the front squat portion of the movement, only go as low as you can while maintaining proper form and spinal position
  • Only increase weight when you can perform clean reps for a full set while maintaining proper form
  • Stretch both the hip extensors (glutes, hamstrings) and hip flexors (groin) during warmup for maximum effectiveness and minimal risk during the movement
  • Throughout the movement, maintain an engaged core and neutral spine – if you feel your lower back change position, you’ve gone too low for your flexibility – ditch the weight
  • Throughout the movement, keep your head up, chest up, and avoiding any change of position in your lower back
  • Get a good sandbag with handles in the right places

ALTERNATIVE SANDBAG EXERCISES

Recommended Sandbags

Other Recommended Workout Equipment for No Gym Fitness

SANDBAG THRUSTERS FAQ

  • What is a sandbag thruster?
  • What muscles does the sandbag work?**
  • Are Thrusters the best exercise?**
  • Can you get strong with sandbags?**

 

YOU KNOW HOW TO SANDBAG GOOD MORNING…WHAT NEXT?

Learn the Sandbag Clean, the sandbag deadlift, and the sandbag squat to add more exercises to your sandbag training arsenal

Consider checking out the GORUCK Sandbag, my favorite sandbag for training in the coming year to properly equip your home gym.

Grab resistance bands and try the resistance band deadlift and resistance band squats, to get in a great lower body resistance workout, anywhere.

Next, check out these 31 sandbag workouts.

 

RETURN THE SANDBAG TRAINING BLOG

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