Our Last Sandbag Exercise Is the Flippy Sandbag Clean

Photo: Roman Zaiets, Shutterstock
Photo: Roman Zaiets, Shutterstock

This is just a fun one. It helps if your sandbag has handles, or at least a nice bit of slack in the bag that you can grab onto easily. (Reminder: trim your nails.) We’re going to do sandbag cleans.

A “clean” is a way of getting a weight from the ground to your shoulders. In the olden days, some lifters would use a barbell by bouncing it up their legs and belly to get it up to their shoulders (this was, and still is, called Continental style), while others prided themselves on picking up the bar “cleanly,” getting it there in one smooth motion. In the last century or so, a “clean” has come to mean the general idea of getting a weight from the ground to shoulder height. You can clean or power clean a barbell; you can do kettlebell cleans; and you can do sandbag cleans.

For these, we’re talking about a movement that’s very similar to a barbell power clean. You’ll yank the weight explosively off the floor by standing up with it, then once it’s got some momentum going, you’ll bend your knees to get under it and whip your arms underneath to catch it. I’m not great at these, but I can do them. Here’s me with five reps of my 23 kg bag:

It’s an explosive movement, and if the bag is heavy, five quick reps will take a lot out of you. I’d recommend doing these interval style: a couple cleans, then a bit of a rest, then repeat.

The clean also sets you up in the same zercher position that you can use for carries (like we talked about last week). Clean the bag, carry it around a bit, then dump it on the ground and start over.

Now that you know a bunch of things you can do with a sandbag, start stringing them together. Pick a few movements — clean, press, carry, squat, whatever you like — that take you about 15 to 30 seconds to complete. Then set a timer that beeps every minute, and do your sequence every time it beeps. Or challenge yourself to get a certain number of reps in: how long would it take you to do 100 cleans? Get creative and have fun.

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