Time to Get Mountain Ready

Are you as excited as I am for this year’s hiking season? June is my favourite time of the year because most of the snow has finally melted and the trails are drying up!  Much like any sport, off-season training is one of the major keys to a successful season. Hiking is no exception to this rule and training should be taken seriously all year round! With many gyms still currently closed due to the pandemic, at home training sessions are where it’s going to be at for getting your legs hiking ready! For a lot of us, space is limited so having squat racks and heavy weight equipment may not be possible in our homes! Fortunately, I’ve found a wicked solution for getting strong, mountain ready legs.  

Why Sandbag Training

No bands, barbells, or dumbells!  My favourite leg strengthening equipment is the sandbag. The sandbag is king when it comes to strength and conditioning training. I love the sandbag because it is so versatile and you can use it to effectively target all of the major muscle groups.  Sandbag training has been around for a while, but of course it’s gaining popularity as many fitness folks are having to improvise at home. 

Benefits of Sandbag Training

Tribesports.com has defined sandbag training benefits in the best way so I’m quoting their blog below:

1. Sandbags Build Stability

  Sandbag WindmillsThe nature of sandbag training is such that you’ll have to work hard to control the constantly-shifting centre of mass. This builds strength and stability and has performance benefits for anyone who needs to be able to control awkward objects in their life, work or sport. The vast majority of stability training involves an unstable surface, using a stability ball or wobble board for example. While this has some benefits it’s important that we also train with unstable objects as this produces a different set of strengths and skills.   
  1. Sandbag Training Can Be Done Anywhere

  I can use my sandbag in the gym, garage and outdoors. Plus, when I travel I often take an empty sandbag with me and fill it up when I arrive. It’s very difficult to do that with any traditional free weight.   
  1. Sandbag Training is Affordable

  Whether you opt for a homemade sandbag or a commercial model, sandbag training is versatile and affordable. Adding extra weight to your sandbag is either exceptionally cheap (at around £2 per 25kg) or free!  
  1. Sandbag Training is Tough! 

  If you’re looking for a challenging workout that will build strength and conditioning then the sandbag  is a great tool. Plus, weight-for-weight the sandbag is an incredibly tough training tool to work with. Most people report that they can lift around 40-50% less in a sandbag than they could on a barbell.   
  1. Sandbag Training is Great For Sports Performance

  There are few other training tools that offer the same level of challenge as the sandbag. Plus it is perfectly suited to unconventional drills like load carries, sprints, drags and throws – all excellent for anyone who wants to improve sports performance. And the sheer brute strength needed to train with sandbags develops strong shoulders, legs and backs like few other things.   You’ll also realise that you need great all round strength to use sandbag training, something you can often get away with in other training methods. If you cannot Clean the sandbag up to chest height then you’ll struggle to perform exercises like Sandbag Front Squats, Sandbag Overhead Presses and Sandbag Zercher Lunges. While some see this as a limitation, it has the effect of producing incredibly strong, well conditioned and well rounded individuals. It also builds tremendous grip strength, naturally”   

The Best Sandbag Exercises for Strong Hiking Legs

Some of my favourite sandbag exercises to get my legs ready to tackle the mountains include:
  • SandbagDeadlifts
  • Sandbag Back Squats 
  • Sandbag Lunges
  • Bulgarian split squats with sandbag on shoulders
  • Good mornings w/ sandbag

Follow Along Sandbag Training Leg Routine

This is my first ever youtube video so bare with me! I’ve uploaded one of my favourite sandbag lower body workouts for you to reference! Follow along or take a few exercises with you and create your own routine! 

Choosing a Bag for Sandbag Training

There are a lot of different sandbags out there, how do you choose the right one for you? First of all, consider the right weight for you. What’s your current strength and what are your fitness goals? A great thing about sandbags is that you don’t have to fill them up all the way. My sandbag is good for up to 35 kg and has the capacity for 3 small bags within it. This means that I can increase or decrease the weight by adding or removing the smaller bags depending on the exercise. Investing in a sandbag that is a bit heavier could be beneficial as you increase your strength. Happy Training!