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Build strong stabilizers and a tough, powerful core with this back-to-basics home gym.
Most of us subscribe to the notion that if you pump iron and have faith you will build a six-pack. But there are faster, more interesting methods. One of the most cost-effective and enjoyable is as close as your nearest hardware store. “A sandbag’s shape shifts as you move it, forcing more of your muscles to work together to maintain balance,” says PT Josh Henkin, inventor of the Ultimate Sandbag Training System. The sandbag can be used to work almost any muscle, but stabilizing yourself throughout movements means you always hit your core and hit it hard. If you want to turn this into a workout, choose 5 of the moves. Perform as many reps as you can, explosively, for 30sec; rest 30sec, then repeat for the next exercise. Perform three full circuits.
Hold the bag in front of your thighs. Lunge to the left, touching it to the floor. Explode upwards and thrust the bag overhead. Your arms should end up straight. Return to the start and repeat to your right. “Keep your weight over your heels to activate your glutes and hamstrings,” says Henkin.
Assume a push-up position with a sandbag on the floor to your right. Grab the bag with your left hand and drag it underneath your chest to your left side. Do a push-up. Now drag it back with your right hand. Do another push-up. It offers a much more powerful chest contraction than regular push-ups.
Hold one end of the bag with both hands. Flip it overhead so it rests on your back. Tense your core and extend your arms so the bag brushes up past your shoulders and overhead. When your arms lock out, pause, then slowly lower. This position hits your triceps’ fibres from multiple angles.
Hold a bag in front of your thighs. Step back with your right foot and move it to the outside of your left thigh. Stand up, raising your right knee as you flip the bag to catch it at your chest. “Make it harder by going straight into your next lunge,” says Henkin. The twist hits your core and thickens your obliques.
Holding a sandbag at arm’s length, raise your right leg behind you and lower your torso until it’s nearly parallel to the floor. Pull the bag to your chest, pause for a beat, then lower. Switch legs after 15sec. “A bag is harder to hold than a dumbbell,” says Henkin, “so it’ll work your forearms.”
Squat behind a sandbag, then deadlift it to your hips. Now push your backside back and dip at the knees. Flip the bag onto your forearms at chest height, straighten and press it overhead. Contract your abs during the press to turn this into a full body-sculpting move.
Hold the sandbag near the ends with both hands,palms facing up. With your elbows tucked in, raise the bag to your chest, bending at the elbows as if you were curling a barbell. Return your arms to your sides. The instability from lifting the bag means this builds serious strength in your arms.