Sandbags-Football Strength Training Secret Weapon by Steve Morris

  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.


6 Way to Use Sandbags to Bridge the Gap Between Your Strength Training Program and the Football Field

 

I was looking through an old stack of pictures from one of the Minor League Football teams I used to play for. It brought back a lot of great memories. Funny how one pic can make you remember every detail of an entire game…anyway, in one of the shots, I saw a guy on the sideline who I had completely forgotten about. This dude was huge…jacked…strong as hell…and never played a down other than special teams. Why?

I mean, if the guy was so big and strong, why wasn’t he dominating? He should’ve been the best lineman on the field, yet he couldn’t crack the starting lineup to save his life…as they say, “Looks like Tarzan, Plays like Jane”

 

 fat-football-player

There exists an enormous gap between what goes on in the weightroom and what happens on the field. Yes, strength training is key if you want to be a better football player, but, weights alone can leave out some important elements necessary for success.

Sandbags are an excellent way to transfer what you’ve gained in your strength program and transfer it to the field. Sandbags work your body from odd angles, they work the stabilizers and ligaments and tendons (often ignored by most training programs). Because of this, they have a real ability to close the gap that’s often created.

But, a lot of guys just aren’t sure how to use them. Here are 6 ways to easily implement Sandbags into your football strength and conditioning program.

 

1.      High Rep Conditioning Work

 

Running, jogging, or, pretending to jog as you shuffle your feet in a lame attempt to convince your coach you are running for distance has no place in your football conditioning program. Jogging is best left to XC runners and soccer players. You do not jog on the field…ever. So, why do it in training?

 

Well, for the most part, coaches who don’t understand how to train for football simply have you do the same things their coaches made them do when they were young – Jog, run laps, “road work” or whatever lame term they come up with to describe go-nowhere conditioning.

 

 

Sprinting is a much better option, but, it can take its toll on your joints, especially pre- and in-season. Also, for most parts of the country, sprinting outside in the winter is not a smart idea…one slip on a patch of ice or packed snow and pop-goes-the-ACL. Therefore, we have to look outside of the traditional sprinting-centric conditioning. This is where Sandbags come in; in a big way.

 

Using Sandbag Exercises for higher reps, with minimal rest periods can build your base conditioning and, if applied in some of the ways I describe in the rest of the article, your football specific conditioning.

 

Using Sandbags for high reps gives you several advantages over using weights or sprint-style conditioning for football:

 

ü  Safer than weights for high rep work – if you have to dump a lift, you won’t get hurt

ü  Easier on your joints than sprinting. This is especially true for bigger players like Lineman and Linebackers

ü  Can give you sport specific conditioning by simulating a live opponent (more on that in number 3)

 

To get started with high-rep Sandbag conditioning for football, stick with the basic moves:

 

  • Clean and Jerk

 

Take a loaded bag from the ground to overhead in any way possible. This is not always as clean looking as a barbell C&J but it will train your body to work as a unit, even when tired. Try for 5 sets of 20 reps. At first, don’t restrict your rest periods, just take note of them. Work your way down to 45-seconds rest. Then, when you hit that level, you can begin to add sets, reps or weight.

 

 sandbag-clean-and-jerk-sequence

 

  • Bearhug Squat

 

Bearhug a heavy Sandbag and Squat with it held at chest level.

 

You want to perform as many reps as you can in 20-seconds; rest for 20, then go for another round of 20. Do this after your Clean and Jerks and start with 7 sets, eventually working up to 10. When you can get 10-sets, add weight.

Just adding those two simple movements to your football conditioning program will produce phenomenal results. You can add them to the end of your Leg Training day or use them on their own as a conditioning day. You’ll notice that the entire session is fairly quick; don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s easy. If it’s too easy, you’re kidding yourself – add weight and get to work.

 

 

2.      Preventing Strength Leakage

 

Using weight is the #1 way to build your strength for football. Barbells, Dumbbells and Kettlebells are the foundation of any good football training program. But, they do have some limitations when used alone. Yes they build tremendous strength, but they can leave small gaps between weightroom strength and football strength. We call this Strength Leakage.

 

We’ve all seen the guy who can Bench 400lbs but can’t block the sun. This guy might even be a decent athlete, so why can’t he dominate on the field? He allowed himself to develop gaps in his strength so that he can’t take what he gained in the weightroom and take it to the field. He literally leaks strength from his joints or at his waist, and can’t apply his power to an opponent.

 

Using Sandbags, especially when doing Cleans, C&J’s, or any kind of Squatting, you are teaching the body to transfer power from the ground up, through the hips and mid-section. You also train the stabilizers, tendons and ligaments because the bag changes shape on almost every rep. There’s no way to settle into a groove when lifting a sandbag. This is how they prevent leakage – they train you in odd positions and hit those stabilizers in a way that weights alone can not do.

 

To ensure that you transfer your weightroom gains to the field, Sandbags are essential. Work those stabilizers in odd positions from varying angles with an implement that never stays the same shape twice. Sounds like a recipe for football success right there.

 

 

3. “Live Opponent” Work

 

Sandbags are alive…they move, change positions, and fight you every step of the way. Sounds a lot like a live opponent to me. Live Opponent work ties in closely with the concept of strength leakage.

 

Weights are fixed – they stay balanced, evenly distributed, and constant. This is good when it comes to building maximum strength. But, it can hinder the transfer of power to taking on a live opponent. Wrestlers, fighters, and martial artists have used sandbags for centuries because of their effect on strength when fighting someone. Football is, for the most part, a 3-hour fight. Every play you line up and fight your opponent. He will not stay in positions that allow you to block or tackle him. No, he wants to make your job as hard as possible.

Plus, they work the hips and trunk very hard…muscles very necessary for blocking, tackling, etc. Josh Henkin, probably the top Sandbag Training expert in the world once told me,

 

The major problem a lot of young athletes have today is weakness in the trunk and hips. I have NEVER seen a training tool hit these areas like sandbags. In fact, in John Jesse’s classic book, Encyclopedia of Wrestling Conditioning, he devotes a whole section to sandbag training as sport-specific and absolutely necessary for training all the muscles of the low back and abdominal area.

 

Your football training should reflect this. Sandbags, because they change shape and force you into positions that would be impossible (and even dangerous) to get into with a barbell. Think about tackling a big fullback. You have to drop really low while still maintain a power position in the hips and legs. Now you have to spring forward, hit, wrap the arms and drive your legs to bring the big ox down.  

 

 

4.      Lineman-specific Positions

  

Football-lineman-blocking 

Lineman and Linebackers might benefit the most from using sandbags, at least in terms of finding football-specific movements. Linemen, both Offensive and Defensive, have to be able to keep a low center of gravity and move themselves and their opponent in the direction they want. The line’s ability to control their opponents is almost always the difference maker in any game. I don’t care how fast your “skill” guys are, if the line can’t block, they aren’t going anywhere.

 

Here are a few Lineman-Specific Sandbag Exercises:

 

Bearhug and Duck Walk

 

The sandbag Bearhug is definitely old-school. It’s also widely practiced because of the great training effects on the back, legs, pecs, and grip. While it’s a good exercise, we’re always looking for something more. That’s what this sport is all about: always striving for more.

 

I noticed that a lot of lineman, backs and linebackers could keep a good football position when in a T-shirt and shorts, but once the pads, helmet and a live opponent were thrown in, they began to lean forward, get into a bad position and get beat. Seeing a strong, 275-lb lineman thrown to the ground because he was leaning forward is not pretty.

 

To prevent this, we do a sandbag Bearhug and Duck Walk combo. This is an excellent football training movement that will strengthen the back, legs, and entire upper body for many football specific tasks (tackling, blocking, pre-jump position). The only difference we make from the standard Bearhug is that instead of wrapping our arms around the bag like Ken Patera would, we grab the bag by the handles and hold it close.

 

From this position, you start duck walking. Shoot for 3 sets of 10yds to start, and increase the sets to 6 gradually. Keep your back extremely tight, sit back and do not lean forward. If I catch any of you leaning forward during this, I’ll personally throw you down.

 

Clean and Push

 

This is a cool variation of the Clean and Press that is perfect for football training because it is highly specific, especially for lineman. It will require great let strength, transfer of power from the legs through the hips and to the upper body and muscular coordination.

 

And, all you need is a sandbag and a little bit of room.

Load a bag, clean it in any way you see fit; use the various handles, mixed grips or just grab the bag itself. Now, clean it to chest height. When I say clean it, I don’t mean end up in one of those split-the-legs-8ft-apart kind of clean positions. No, I mean finish the clean in the good football position – just as you would be pre- block, tackle, jump, and sprint.

For the first few reps, hold that position, then pop the hips hard and push the bag as far as you can. Think if it like a standing Bench Press. It’s the exact motion used when blocking, making it an excellent movement for lineman. It is maybe one of the most football specific training exercises in the world.

sandbag clean Sandbag Jerk

 

  • After you get the motion down, begin to do the entire movement as one complete exercise rather than pausing with the bag at chest height before pushing. This is an ideal time to video the lift or have a coach/teammate watch you and critique your form. There aren’t many guarantees in football or football training, but, I can damn-near guarantee that this exercise will improve your blocking and tackling.

 

Use this exercise for conditioning, as a finisher or as a total-body accessory lift. Vary the sets and reps from high to low, with appropriate changes in the weight of the bag.

Both Lineman and Linebackers can vary either exercise by moving sideways during the movement. Don’t forget that we need as much, if not more, lateral strength than we do straight ahead speed.

 

5.      Leg Exercises

 

I don’t want all the talk about high-rep conditioning and odd position work to leave  you thinking that sandbags are only good for specialty work. In fact, quite the opposite is true. You can use Sandbags as a great alternative to barbells for strength work in the lower body.

 

Zercher RDL’s with Chains or Bands Added

 

My athletes are sick of hearing this, but most football strength training programs do not put enough emphasis on working the hamstrings. Sure, the posterior chain training has gained popularity, but most assume that a few sets of leg curls and some standard Deadlifts are sufficient to make the hamstrings and glutes strong enough to make you faster.

The truth is that the hamstrings have an amazingly high work capacity. Exercises like Deadlift variations, Squats, and even leg curls are needed, as the hamstrings must be worked in both of their functions (flexion and extension).

Zercher Romanian Deadlifts are a great way to hammer the hamstrings. However, doing these with a bar can be painful, especially when you start using big weight. Using a sandbag is less painful, yet harder. Always a good combination.

 

The only problem is, if you are a bigger athlete or you are using heavy sandbags, it can become difficult to effectively hold the bag in the Zercher position. By adding chains or bands, you can use a smaller sized bag but work the legs and back even harder. Plus, anytime you use chains and or bands, you are using accommodating resistance, and this is always good for athletes (teaches acceleration).

You can use this as an in-weightroom hamstring training exercise, done after your main exercise for the day. Go with a 3 – 5 sets of 4 – 8 reps approach.

 

6.      Build Huge Arms and a Powerful Grip

 

Don’t let any of the strict coaches out there fool you – arm training is almost as important as working the posterior chain when it comes to training for football.

No, the arm work won’t directly increase on-field performance. But, and this is one huge but, the way a player feels when he puts that uniform on can take a marginal player and turn him into a stud because of the increased confidence. Football players spend tons of money every season on duct tape, pins, glues, and elastic in order to roll their jersey sleeves up as high as possible, thus giving the fans the added bonus of viewing the gun show. There’s not a player in the world that doesn’t care if he has big arms. So, rather than fight it, let’s use it to our advantage.

Weights and Dumbbells should make up the bulk of your arm training, but if you want to really go from average to extraordinary, you should seriously consider adding Sandbags to your arm training.

 

Simply grabbing the bag will activate the biceps and forearms to a much higher degree than weights alone. A lot of guys neglect forearm and grip training so they can focus more on the biceps. However, if your bi’s progress much faster than the forearms, your progress will stall. The body will inhibit your upper arms from going much farther for fear of injury. Plus, we all know there are times when a strong grip will pay off in a game (carrying the ball, holding an opponent).

 

Sandbag Curls

 

These are an excellent way to work the forearms and biceps hard. Load up a bag, grab it any way you can with palms facing upwards or towards each other.

 Now, curl the bag. It won’t be a pure curl like when using a barbell, but that’s part of the point. Your hands and forearms will become extremely sore when doing Sandbag Curls so don’t go crazy at first. Go with a traditional 3 x 8 to start, adding weight slowly.

 You can also do Sandbag Reverse Curls by grabbing the bag with your palms facing down.

 

  • You should start adding Sandbag training to your program ASAP! The carry-over to on the field performance has to be seen to be believed.

 

  • Share/Bookmark

Submitted by DMorgan on Mon, 11/30/2009 - 2:02pm.

| Related Articles