Sandbag Training: Overhead Press

Our next sandbag training article in the series revolves around the Overhead Press. Whether it’s been on a Smith machine, with a barbell, or with kettlebells, just about everyone who trains has done some form of overhead pressing. Unarguably, the overhead press is a first-class compound exercise for building those coveted boulder shoulders!

The Sandbag Overhead Press Feels More Satisfying than Using Barbells

As such it features in many classic muscle and strength-building programmes, from the 20-rep squats routine to the famous 5×5 systems. Overhead pressing with conventional training equipment is fine, but the sandbag press feels that bit more real and satisfying for this traditional exercise.

Consider Yourself Very Strong if You Can Press a 200lb (91kg) Sandbag Overhead

Compared to barbell pressing, it doesn’t feel so harsh on the shoulder or elbow joints. Performing this lift with a heavy strongman sandbag is an excellent upper body and core workout. You can consider yourself very strong if you can press a 200lbs (91kg) sandbag overhead.

High reps with a lighter power bag can be equally satisfying too – you can’t fail to feel it blasting and bringing the heat to your shoulder muscles. In fact, once you’ve experienced the sandbag overhead press, it’s likely it will become a regular mainstay in your training sessions.

How to Perform

  • Use the clean to get the sandbag to shoulder height
  • Rest it on your upper chest
  • Take your preferred hand position on the bag eg. palms facing each other
  • Keep your elbows tucked and under the wrists
  • Make sure your feet are set approximately shoulder width apart
  • Press overhead until the arms are fully extended
  • Lower to start position

Main Muscles Worked

  • Deltoids
  • Triceps
  • Traps
  • Upper pecs
  • Rectus abdominis
  • Obliques
  • Spinal erectors


  • As you press the sandbag overhead, squeeze the glutes to prevent the lower back from arching.
  • At the end of a set, use some leg power to get some extra reps in. Bend slightly at the knees, then straighten the legs and push the bag overhead explosively.

Is this the king of all sandbag exercises? Which is your preferred sandbag exercise? 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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