Updated: Aug 14
An overview of the benefits of power bag training, exercise tutorial and product review
The power bag can offer a unique and dynamic dimension to your fitness sessions. Their unique design affords the trainer multiple exercise options.
For example, with a power bag you could perform conventional movements – such as squats and deadlifts – or get down and functional by integrating them into exercises like burpees and (my personal favourite) hanging snatch into over-head throw.
Power bags can be used to develop strength, functional strength, muscular endurance, core stability and, if you dare do burpees into cleans, they’ll have your heart racing like a horny rabbit’s.
Granted, you could well argue that the fitness benefits and methods of application thus far outlined can all be got and just as well satisfied by traditional iron. However, the power bag stands out amongst the exercise crowd when we consider its application in explosive movements.
Because they’re not only shaped like a tubular cushion but are as soft as well (though much heavier of course), you can drop, hoist, toss and throw your power bag without worrying about doing a demolition job. The same cannot be said for kettlebells. (Want to learn three excellent KB exercises?)
My other half banned me from throwing kettlebells in the garden when she returned home one sunny afternoon to find the lawn looking as though a herd of wild horses had run roughshod over it. Now I’m only allowed to toss my kettlebell in the park – which, as you’re probably thinking, is just plain weird.
With a power bag you can perform literally hundreds of different exercises. Sharing this similarity with the kettlebell, it’s like an all-in-one gym.
Do you remember that scene from Mary Poppins where she opens her bag and proceeds to pull out half the contents of her house? (The only item I can remember Ms Poppins fishing from bottomless bag is a long lamp.) Well the power bag shares similar properties only that it’s as though Mary filled it with the contents of a gym. You with me?
It is the versatility of power bags that have made them so popular. Rare that you’d find a gym that doesn’t have one kicking about the place. Also, they are becoming ever increasingly popular in the home. More and more people are recognising the multi-dimensional application that power bags possess.
How could a power bag best be incorporated into your training regime? The answer to that, of course, can really only be answered from a preferential perspective. Personally though, I think they make an excellent addition to a circuit.
I tend to use them in a power/explosive capacity where, after performing a snatch, the power bag would be propelled over head as high and as far as physically possible. The trainer then is rewarded with the added benefit of having to run to the power bag to perform the next repetition.
This accounts for why, in my circuits at least, the power bag station is usually feared above all others.
But what if I’m not into hurling bags about the place, how can I use them? Don’t worry, with a power bag you can perform many of the more controlled – ‘static’ – exercise that are typically done with barbells and dumbbells. And the bag doesn’t stop there. Power bags are great for floor work and core stability training.
In short: if you’ve got the space and inclination (a sadomasochistic bent also comes in handy) the sky really is the limit with what you can do with this highly functional piece of exercise equipment.
Below I have included an exercise chart of power bag exercises – just to provide you with an illustration of their functionality and also get you started if you decide to acquire a bag of your own
Power Bag Exercises
Bag swings are similar to kettlebell swings; they provide a great whole-body workout without requiring technical skill base.
. Keep the back straight
. Knees bent throughout
. Look forward
. Keep the core actively engaged
Squats with a power bag can be performed in numerous ways – as depicted or in the ‘front rack’ position; this exercise can be taken to another level by adding a plyometric jump.
. Back straight
. Feet slightly over shoulder-width
. Look forward
. Don't lock the legs at the top position
The lift (aka dead lift) is a terrific foundation strength builder and it offers multiple extensions (lift into clean, clean to squat, full snatch).
. Straddle the bag
. Back straight
. Looking forward
. Engage core and back BEFORE lifting
. Fire though the quads and glutes
Push-up and drag demonstrates how the power bag can be used to add that extra dimension to established exercises.
. It's best to start in the press-up position with the bag central and in-line with your hands
. To initiate pull the bag to the side
. Re-position hands and perform a press-up
. Grasp the bag and pull it across the body to the other side
Here you’re hopping into a lunge as you bring the power bag to the side of the body. A very functional movement.
. Start with the bag positioned on your shoulder
. Under control drop into a lunge
. Simultaneously bring the bag across the body and down besides the extended leg
. To conclude the exercise retrace your steps
And finally, plain old lunges. But of course with a power bag you have the option of including a press movement or, if you’re of that disposition, dropping into a burpee and finishing with a throw!
. Firstly, under control, hoist the bag up and over the head.
. Find a stable position prior to performing the exercise
. Lunge forward ensuring to adopt correct training principals: back straight, looking forward.
(Images taken from: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/347551296228219664/)
Right, shall we have a look at the one and only good power bag on Amazon? Follow me . . .
1: Of all the power bags listed none are as well rated as the RDX. With nearly 200 customer ratings they still retain nearly five stars. Which is pretty impressive considering the majority of the comparison products are rated three stars or less. Much of the customer feedback confirms the manufacturer’s product outline: durable, log wearing, worth the money. You can’t really ask for more than that.
The bag weights range from 5kg through to 25kg, increasing by 5kg increments.
RDX Sandbag Weight Training Power Bag with Handles & Zipper | Weight Adjustable Fitness Powerbag for Weight Lifting, Running, Exercise, Powerlifting and Functional Workout
.Our weighted sandbag is specially crafted with superior Maya hide leather material for resilience and unmatched performance.
· The bag features zipper closure which ensures you can add more filling to enhance weight.
· Our weighted power bag is manufactured with nylon handles that refuse to split, fray or tear.
· The bag is also waterproof.
· Resistant foam that will easily keep the sand within and will resist any leakage.
Click on the image for availability
Prices range from £40 to £70 – depending on the bag weight of course
Well there you have it, a comprehensive outline of the fitness benefits of training with power bags, a few ideas of how you can incorporate them into your session and an overview of a descent product.
(As we are very interested in user feedback at Hungry4Fitness, I would be very grateful if you could take a few seconds out of your day to leave a comment. Thanks in advance!)
Adam Priest is a former Royal Marines Commando, professional personal trainer, lecturer, boxing and Thai boxing enthusiast