Sure, kids spend hours digging in the sand. However, when you gather up pounds of the stuff and concentrate it in a bag, it’s no longer child’s play. Sandbags are a serious fitness toy that can boost your strength.

Fitness sandbags are durable, usually oblong sacks filled with sand. Many have straps on them to make the bags easier to grip, move and position. Sandbags come in varying weight. Some unzip easily so you can remove or add sand packets. The large bags usually hold around 10-125 pounds. That’s a huge range. If you are unsure which one to use, grab the lightest one first and see what you can do.

What makes training with a sandbag special is the extra work you get by having to deal with shifting weight distribution as the sand moves around the bag. A deadlift with a 50-pound sandbag will feel different than a deadlift with a 50-pound barbell. Before you approach a sandbag, first find out how heavy it is. Second, commit to keeping good form. Your core should be braced throughout any movement. Your stabilizers will kick-in with every single repetition since the sand is constantly shifting and resettling.

Here Are 3 Sandbag Exercises to Get You Started

1) Plank Pull-Through

Get in a plank position with the sandbag positioned to the outside of your right arm. Reach underneath your body and grab the sandbag with your left hand. Pull it across the floor to your left side. Repeat on the other side. Do several reps until you feel fatigue in your abdominals, obliques, glutes, and shoulders.

2) Shoulder-to-Shoulder Overhead Pass

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lift the sandbag onto your right shoulder like you’re carrying a log. Your left hand should be next to your right ear holding the sandbag, and your right hand should be on the other side of the bag. Straighten your arms and lift the sandbag in an arc over your head to rest it on the left shoulder. Repeat. Your shoulders and core should start to tire.

3) Single-Leg Deadlift

Hold the sandbag horizontally in front of your thighs. Shift your weight to your right foot. Keep your left leg straight and let it lift behind you as you hinge at your hips and tap the sandbag on the ground. Return to standing, trying to keep your left foot from touching the ground. Repeat the movement several times before switching legs. Your glutes, hamstrings, abdominals, back muscles and more will kick-in during this movement.

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