Many men treat weightlifting like a religion. Pump iron, have faith, and you will sculpt a six-pack. Amen. But there's a faster way to reach beach-body heaven: Sling sand. "A sandbag's shape shifts, forcing more muscles to work together to maintain balance," says Josh Henkin, C.S.C.S., inventor of the Ultimate Sandbag Training System.
Perform the exercises as a circuit, doing as many reps of each as you can in 30 seconds before moving on to the next one (use a 30-to 70-pound bag). Rest 30 seconds between moves. Do the circuit 3 times. (Think you’re tough? We dare you to try these 15-minute Muscle Shredders!)
Related: Protect your back and dodge sports injuries by avoiding Your Top 4 Gym Mistakes
Hold a sandbag in front of your thighs. Lunge to your left, touching the sandbag to the floor. Quickly stand up, flipping the bag onto your forearms as you press it overhead. Return to standing and then lunge to your right. Continue alternating sides. "Keep your weight over your heel," says Henkin. "That will force your hamstring and glute to activate, so you'll lift from your hips instead of your back."
Place a sandbag on the floor and assume a pushup position so the bag is to your right. Grab the bag with your left hand and drag it underneath your chest to your left side. Do a pushup. Now drag the bag back to your right side with your right hand. Do another pushup. Continue alternating sides. "Brace your core to avoid rotating your body as you drag the bag," says Henkin.
(Want to experience a cutting-edge sandbag workout for yourself—on the actual sand? Then check out the Men's Health and Women's Health Beach Boot Camp this summer. We’ll not only introduce you to sandbags, but 11 more of the hottest trends in fitness—all packed into an awesome 90-minute beach workout.)
Hold a sandbag in front of your thighs. Step back with your right foot and swing the bag to the outside of your left thigh. Stand up, raising your right knee as you flip the bag over your forearms to catch it at chest level. Pause and return to the starting position. Repeat, switching legs halfway through the set. "To increase difficulty, go into your next lunge without pausing," says Henkin.
Holding a sandbag at arm's length, raise your right leg behind you as you lower your torso until it's nearly parallel to the floor. Pull the bag to your chest, pause, and then slowly lower it. Switch legs after 15 seconds. "It's harder to hold on to a sandbag than a dumbbell or a barbell," says Henkin, "so you'll work the muscles in your forearms in addition to those in your back."
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