Sandbag Training: Deadlifts

There’s been an ongoing debate among strength athletes and fitness enthusiasts as to which lift is the “king of exercises” – the squat or the deadlift. Both are superb exercises which work your entire body and produce unbeatable strength and muscle gains.

Typically, it’s the deadlift that allows you to handle the most weight – just look at some of the monstrous weights lifted by powerlifters and strongmen. Whatever your opinion, the sandbag deadlift definitely deserves a try at some point in your training, so follow on for Sandbag Training: Deadlifts!

You’ll be amazed at how different it feels compared to the barbell version. While it probably won’t put you on the path to breaking Thor Bjornsson’s 501 kg world record deadlift, the sandbag deadlift does share several of the benefits of its barbell counterpart; namely enhanced core strength, improved grip strength, and increased hip mobility to name a few.

The sandbag deadlift also has several advantages over the barbell version. It’s not as harsh on the lower back, there’s no knurling to tear the calluses on your hands, and there’s no laborious plate loading to do. It’s an important exercise to learn if you want to maximise your training gains.

Sandbag Deadlift Variants

Just like most of the previous exercises in our sandbag training series, there are many variations of this exercise. Once you’ve nailed the basics of the deadlift try some of the following variants as you progress:

  • Stiff-legged
  • Single-leg
  • Sumo stance
  • Staggered stance

Want some ideas of how to implement the sandbag deadlift into your routines? You could place it into a circuit training session, or include it in one of your core training workouts. After a lower body workout in the gym, a few sets of sandbag deadlifts are a fine way to finish off the session.

Continue on to know how to execute a conventional deadlift using a sandbag with handles.

How to Perform

  • Position the bag so your feet are slightly underneath it
  • Stand with your feet approximately shoulder width apart and toes turned slightly out
  • Bend at the knees and hips and grab the handles (keep the hips higher level than the knees in this starting position)
  • Keep the arms straight as you stand upright until your knees and hips are fully extended
  • Bend at the hips and knees to lower the sandbag under control back to the starting position

Main Muscles Worked


  • Keep the sandbag close to your body at all times
  • Avoid rounding the back in the starting position
  • If grip strength is one of your goals, try using only 2 or 3 fingers on each hand (eg. don’t use your little fingers) while deadlifting the sandbag.

Are sandbag deadlifts the most effective exercise? What is your preferred sandbag workout? Let us know in the comments below, and on Facebook, and Twitter

Alan Riseborough

Alan is a strength and physique enthusiast and has 28 years' of training experience behind him. He has competed in powerlifting, arm wrestling, bodybuilding and grip strength competitions. He also includes rigorous bodyweight, sprinting and kettlebell training regularly in his routines. He believes in the transformative power of the squat which is (believe it or not) his favourite exercise!

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