Happy Wednesday, friends! It’s been quite some time since I’ve updated and even longer since I’ve come at you with a Workout Wednesday, but here we are. Now that the weather is getting colder and schlepping it to the gym is less and less desirable, I wanted to share a great at-home workout with you. This Kettlebell and Sandbag Workout post is sponsored by Rep Fitness, who graciously provided me with the equipment I used when putting it together.
Why a kettlebell and sandbag workout?
Two of my favorite pieces of workout equipment are kettlebells and sandbags. When I was more seriously taking on powerlifting as my primary fitness endeavor, I used both of them a lot for accessory work. They’re so versatile and can be used to build strength, endurance, and power. These days I’m doing a lot of different style workouts to get myself back into the shape I was in before my back pain problems.
While I’ve been spending most of my time at my local YMCA, at-home workouts are also something I love. I don’t have a car, so getting to the gym means a 20-30 minute walk and sometimes I just don’t have time to get there, get in a good workout, and get back home. Those days definitely call for home workouts!
The great thing about sandbags as a workout tool is that the weight is not necessarily evenly distributed throughout. Not only that, but the weight is constantly shifting, requiring you to readjust, maintain balance, and use accessory muscles. They’re great for functional training because the shifting weight is more representative of things we life on an everyday basis (unevenly distributed grocery bags, squirming children, etc.).
Kettlebells are similar in that they are great for functional training. Because the weight is at the end of the handle and can swing back and forth, it’s a lot like lugging a heavy purse. By learning to lift a kettlebell properly, you’re also more likely to lift other things in your life properly (helping you minimize injury like throwing out your back or straining muscles).
- 20kg (~44 lbs) kettlebell
- 25-30lb sandbag
Always be sure to warm-up before any kind of workout. Dynamic stretching and foam rolling are both great options to make your muscles pliable, warm your body up, and get your blood flowing.
Kettlebell and Sandbag Workout Circuit 1
- Front squats (kettlebell)
- Bent over rows (sandbag)
- Deadlifts (kettlebell)
- Alternating overhead press (sandbag)
This first circuit is about strength. The front squats with the kettlebell are great for helping you stay more upright in your squat (instead of leaning forward) since the center of gravity is shifted.
This is one of my favorite ways to squat, especially since I don’t have the wrist flexibility for a front barbell squat). Keep the kettlebell at chest height and keep your elbows close (don’t let them flare out to the sides). Keep your weight in your heels and sink down until your thighs are parallel with the floor, then squeeze your glutes as you push through your heels to return to a standing position. Complete 10 repetitions per set.
Bent over rows
The sandbag bent over rows, while not too heavy, are extra challenging thanks to the shifting weight. Keep your weight in your heels and bend your knees slightly. Holding the sandbag by the inside handles, hinge at the hips while keeping your back flat. Extend the sandbag toward the floor, then think about pulling your shoulder blades together as you pull the sandbag back toward the lower part of your chest (ladies, think about aiming for the bottom of your sports bra). Complete 10 repetitions per set.
The kettlebell deadlift is also at a relatively light weight because this is a movement that is so important to get right before you increase weight. Make sure the kettlebell starts resting on the floor between your ankles. When you reach to get it, bend your knees, keep your back flat, and pack your shoulders (rather than letting them shrug forward). When you drive your hips forward to lift the weight, you should be squeezing your glutes and activating your lats (in your back) to keep your body nice and stable. Hinge your hips backward to return the kettlebell to its starting point between your ankles. Getting used to this movement at this kind of weight will prepare you not only for heavier deadlifts, but for movements like the kettlebell swing. Complete 10 repetitions per set.
Alternating overhead press
Finally, the alternating overhead press with the sandbag once again provides that bit of instability with the shifting weight to help you gain strength in both your upper body and core. Make sure to keep your core engaged as you lift the sandbag from one shoulder, over your head, then rest on the other shoulder before repeating the movement in the other direction. Complete 10 repetitions per set.
After completing the first circuit all the way through, repeat two more times for a total of 3 sets. If one circuit isn’t enough of a workout for you, have no fear! There’s a second circuit to the Kettlebell and Sandbag Workout that you can either do on the same day or use as another day’s workout.
Kettlebell and Sandbag Workout Circuit 2
- Plank and pull (sandbag)
- Suitcase carry (kettlebell)
- Overhead carry walking lunges (sandbag)
- Plank reach (kettlebell)
The second circuit is more about endurance and your core. By having a plank exercise as both the first and the last exercise, you’ll work extra as you repeat your way through the circuit.
Plank and pull
The first exercise, the plank and pull, is one of the exercises I love to hate. Get in a high plank position (on your hands and toes) and position the sandbag to your left at about chest level. While holding the plank position — don’t let your body rotate! — use your right hand to reach under your body and grab the handle of the sandbag. Keeping your body steady, pull the sandbag all the way under your body and over to the right side. Then use your left hand to reach under your body to grab the sandbag and pull it through back to the left side. Repeat this as many times as you can in 30 seconds. Make sure you’re keeping your core engaged the whole time!
The suitcase carry is another favorite of mine. In this movement, you’ll stand next to your kettlebell and squat to pick it up with one hand, keeping it at your side. With your core engaged and the kettlebell held to one side of your body, walk all the way across the room you’re in. If it’s a short room, walk down and back, turning around without letting the kettlebell swing. Then repeat the movement on the other side. If it’s a long room, walk down and turn (don’t let the kettlebell swing!) then squat to put the kettlebell back on the ground. Move so the kettlebell is on the other side of your body and squat to pick it up with your other hand and walk back to the other end of the room.
Overhead carry walking lunges
The overhead carry walking lunges with the sandbag is killer. Hold the sandbag straight overhead (keep your arms as straight as you can) and proceed across the room doing walking lunges. The first few will probably feel okay, but after that you’re going to hate me. If it’s a short room, go down and back. If it’s a long room, just go to one side. Trust your body on this one and work until you’re fatigued.
It’s true that the plank reach doesn’t actually require a kettlebell, but this is a kettlebell and sandbag workout, after all! Get into low plank position (on your elbows and toes) with the kettlebell 12-18 inches away from your head. Without rotating your body, reach one hand out toward the kettlebell and tap it, then return to plank position. Alternate hands for 30 seconds.
Repeat the full circuit two more times for a total of 3 sets, resting as needed between circuits.
About Rep Fitness
The equipment I used for this workout came from Rep Fitness. The sandbag is incredibly durable and holds up to 75 pounds! I’m looking forward to working my way up to a bit more load in there. The kettlebell is one of many sizes they offer and has a really great grip and feel. I received the kettlebell and sandbag in exchange for my honest opinions about the equipment, but all opinions are my own. If you’re looking for great at-home equipment (they even offer home gym packages), I highly recommend Rep Fitness.
Do you incorporate at-home workouts in the winter? What is your favorite kettlebell and sandbag workout combo?
For this Kettlebell and Sandbag Workout, please keep in mind that the kettlebell I used is on the heavier side for some movements, but on the lighter side for others. As such, you won’t see me performing exercises that I might include in another kettlebell workout with a different weight. Always make sure you are selecting a weight that is appropriate for your own fitness level and experience. While I am a certified personal trainer, please discuss any new workout routines with your doctor or personal trainer to adjust them as needed.