Sandbag Training: Power Cleans

Our next sandbag training article in the series revolves around Power Cleans. We’ve all seen weightlifters in the Olympics picking up heavy weights from the floor and hoisting them up before holding them overhead. The clean and jerk is one of the two lifts (the snatch is the other) in this sport which enables these athletes to do so.

The clean is a highly effective way to get the barbell to the shoulders. In fact, this exercise is important for power and is valued by strongmen, CrossFitters, and anyone who requires overall body explosiveness for their sport. Continue on for Sandbag Training: Power Cleans!

The Sandbag Power Clean is a Lot Less Technical to Learn than the Barbell Version

The power clean, a slightly less difficult version of the clean, is an exercise that belongs in a sandbag training programme. Thankfully, the sandbag power clean is a lot less technical to learn than the barbell version. It’s useful for getting the sandbag to the shoulders (known as the rack position) for preparing to do shoulder presses or overhead carries.

There are Many Ways to Use the Power Clean in Your Sandbag Training Routine

There are many ways to use the power clean in your training routine. Try it as a standalone exercise in a workout, for example, doing AMRAP (as many reps as possible) in a short-but-intense 5-minute session. If circuit training is your thing, the power clean makes a worthy addition to raise your heart rate for some metabolic conditioning.

As you progress in your sandbag training, aim to learn the sandbag power clean, and press to build more overall power and strength.

How to Perform

  • Stand with your feet slightly under the sandbag at shoulder or hip width apart
  • Descend to pick up the sandbag using the grip of your choice ie. overhand or neutral
  • Set up in a deadlift position (knees bent, glutes back, shins vertical)
  • Forcefully stand up and use an upright row motion to shift the sandbag to your shoulders
  • Dip to catch the sandbag and get your elbows positioned underneath it
  • Extend the hips so you’re fully standing
  • Reverse the motion under control to go back to the start position or simply drop the bag

Main Muscles Worked

  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstrings
  • Spinal erectors
  • Glutes
  • Hip flexors
  • deltoids
  • Traps
  • Biceps
  • Forearms


  • Keep your back flat in the deadlift position
  • As you lift the sandbag to your shoulders, always aim to keep it close to your body
  • Bear hug cleans are a good alternative, especially if you’re using a heavy strongman sandbag

Is this the most effective sandbag exercise? Which 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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