Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Exercise Technique Series - The Sandbag Back Squat

The Sandbag Back Squat is one of our top 3 strength building exercises, the others being the Sandbag Deadlift and the Sandbag Overhead Press. At Sandbag Fitness we perform it exactly (with just a few small adjustments) as you would with a regular Barbell. The major variations are based around working specifically with the bag as opposed to the bar. With that in mind, you could use the sandbag back squat as part of a modified Starting Strength or Wendler 5-3-1 programme.

The Sandbag Back Squat is the squat variation that will allow you to lift the most weight - it is therefore a vital component for building strength. However, we also include Sandbag Front Squats, Sandbag Zercher Squats, Sandbag Shoulder Squats and Sandbag Bear Hug Squats in this programme for the other benefits they provide.


  • The first challenge is to get the sandbag up onto your back - I normally Clean and Press it into position 
  • The sandbag should sit horizontally across your upper back - use your hands and traps to keep it in place 
  • Your feet should be at least shoulder width apart and slightly turned out 
  • Begin the movement by pushing your hips back into the squat 
  • Bend your knees and squat down so your knees are at least parallel with the crease in your hip 
  • Drive the hips back upwards and return to standing 
  • The chest should stay fairly high 
  • Feet should stay flat with the weight predominantly in the rear of the foot 
  • The knees can track forward but try to avoid them passing excessively in front of the toes 
  • The knees should remain in-line with the feet at all times - do not allow the knees to track inwards toward each other

All images and text taken from The Complete Guide To Sandbag Training (available on Kindle and All Other Formats)


  1. Gabriel Pieren17 May 2012 at 23:36

    Hi Matt!!

    Your Exercise Technique Series is great!!

    I have a question for you. I want to train my deadlift at home with my sandbag. I have weights and fillers and sand.

    Can i make my sandbag really heavy (200lbs to 300lbs) and make small increments to keep doing wendlers program for deadlifting?? I don't know how heavy can i make my strongman sandbag. I also have a barebones kit, would you use it for deadlifting??

    Thank you for your help and your great articles!!

  2. Matthew Palfrey19 May 2012 at 08:07

    Hi Gabriel,

    Thanks so much for the message - it means a lot to me that you're enjoying the blog. Although I'm not sure that it is strictly recommended, Mark De Grasse at My Mad Methods did a 300lb deadlift with his Brute Force bag!


    Let me know how you get on.

    All the best,


  3.  Matt, that's where i got the idea!

    I first have to get used to deadlift with sandbags, but as soon as i try i'll let you know how it works.

    Thank you for answering so quick as always!

  4. Matthew Palfrey19 May 2012 at 16:10

    It should work out great - those things are built to last. I'll look forward to hearing how it goes!