Building a Disc Golf Home Gym, the Sandbag

There are a few things that I’ve done for my disc golf game that have had an impact greater than everything else combined.  Field work, upshot practice, and learning to throw from a stand still are a few that come immediately to mind.  These are the 20% of things that get you 80% of your results. All highly successful people in any field will tell you that finding the 20 that gets you the 80 is crucial.

At the top of my 20/80 list for disc golf is the one disc round.  It’s one of my favorite things to do and I use it for a lot of purposes.  It’s taught me how to throw a putter for distance.  It’s taught me how to throw a hyzer with an under stable disc.  It’s taught me a lot about how the wind affects the flight of discs I would never have thought to use in the wind.  It’s also taught me what my most versatile discs are.

I only need one disc.
I only need one disc.

If I play a one disc round for fun, I always grab either a stable mid or stable fairway driver.  Those are the discs that make up 20% of my bag, but get 80% of my throws.  The value of having one disc that can do just about everything can’t be overstated.  It often makes me wonder why I carry so many discs to begin with.

Like a lot of other aspects of disc golf, this concept translates over into other areas of life.  Finding one thing that gives a lot of benefits is valuable in a lot of areas.  One good chef’s knife in the kitchen can do the work of a $1000 set of a bunch of different knives.  One good pair of shoes can serve where many people have 4-5 pairs.  One good coat, one pair of jeans, one great video game, and the list goes on.

Despite it's name, this movie is NOT part of the 20% of movies that are better than the other 80%.
Despite it’s name, this movie is NOT part of the 20% of movies that are better than the other 80%.

All that said, then, and it’s no surprise that the first piece of equipment I recommend anyone buy for their disc golf home gym is a sand bag.  This is the 20 that gets you 80 for sure.  The sand bag is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment you can have to train with at home.  With a quality sand bag, you can get a full body work out with just one implement.  You can work every muscle effectively with just one sack of sand.  There are a few key benefits that make sandbag training perfect for the disc golfer.

Sandbag training builds stability.

A sandbag is a mass of constantly shifting weight.  Unlike lifting barbells, kettle bells, or dumbbells, the weight is moving around in a way that requires you to use not only your primary muscle groups to move it, but to also incorporates all of the smaller stabilizer muscles as well.  Disc golf is a game that requires both of these muscle groups to work together.  The fine control needed to accurately throw a golf disc often comes from these small stabilizers.  Very few implements work those smaller muscles along with the larger muscle groups as well as a sandbag.

Sandbag training works your core.

No matter what you are doing with the sandbag, no matter what motion or group of muscles you are working, you will also be maintaining core strength at the same time.  Distance in disc golf starts in the legs, but is then generated most by your core.  The spinning motion used to throw a disc relies heavily on a strong core.  One sandbag training session and you’ll feel what I’m talking about.

This is the Onnit battle bag and filler that I use and love.
This is the Onnit battle bag and filler bags that I use and love.

Sandbag training works both slow and fast twitch muscle groups.

A solid disc golf throw relies on a steady and strong base.  That comes from your slow twitch muscles.  It also relies on explosive acceleration.  That comes from your fast twitch muscles.  Sandbag training works both of those groups of muscles.  You can change the load, type of movement, and rate of movement all with the same implement.  This works both groups of muscles without changing the tool you are using.

Sandbag training builds your grip.

Grip strength is also a huge component of distance in disc golf.  Every exercise you do with the sandbag will simultaneously work your grip along with whatever other muscle groups you are focusing on at the time.  The shifting weight of the sand will test your grip like very few other tools you could use.

Sandbag training is inexpensive.

It’s a bag of sand, for crying out loud.  While I recommend and use what is called a “battle bag” for versatility and durability, you could literally just fill up a bag with sand, wrap it up in a few layers of duct tape, and do most sandbag training routines.  This is a great example of using the 20 that gets you the 80.  A small investment will pay huge dividends.  Home gym equipment can get pretty pricey and for under $100 you can have one implement that covers a vast range of use.  Here is a really good article on how to buy a sandbag which includes how to do it on the cheap!

Sandbag training mimics movements you’d actually do in real life.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  You will most likely never have to bench press your way out of a jam on the disc golf course.  You aren’t going to have to french press a disc into the basket.  Most traditional training movements with barbells and dumbbells not only don’t translate to anything we do in disc golf, they also put undue stress on our joints because they are not natural movements.  With a sandbag, you can do exercises that directly translate to how you move in real life as well as on the disc golf course.  As a bonus, when moving the sandbag, you allow your body to move through its natural and safe range of motion.

You can fill this battle bag with more than just sand.
You can fill this battle bag with more than just sand.

Sandbag training is fun.

Honestly, I hate working out.  I love having worked out, but I despise the actual act itself.  For some reason, though, I actually kind of enjoy slinging the sandbag around.  I get pretty rough with mine and it keeps on taking a beating.  You can also get pretty creative with it.  There aren’t really any hard and fast rules so as long as you are safely moving the bag of shifting weight.

All in all, in my opinion, the sand bag is the best piece of training equipment to start your disc golf home gym with.  It’s cheap, it’s versatile, and it’s very, very effective.   Following are some of my favorite drills to do with the battle bag.  You will immediately see and feel how they directly help your disc golf muscles.  You can put all of them together into one circuit, repeat that circuit 3-5 times, and get a great full body training session.

If you are looking for a complete sandbag routine, this 4 week sandbag essentials plan is pretty solid.  I’ve run through it a couple of times and plan on doing it again..  This is great if the sandbag ends up being the only piece of equipment in your new disc golf home gym.

The alternate shoulder swing builds good rotational and upper body strength.

The Zercher squat is a straight forward squat variation.  Squats are a great way to build core and leg stability.  Unlike most people you see squatting in a gym, you do not have to be moving huge amounts of weight for this to be beneficial.

The high pull will work a lot of the back and shoulder muscles that are used in throwing a disc.

The bent over row hits your lats, back, biceps, forearms, and grip.  It’s one of the best disc golf specific exercises out there.

The sandbag spin is my favorite sandbag exercise.  It thoroughly works your core and your entire upper body.  Do 3 sets of 10 in each direction and you will feel it for sure.

Sometimes the best tools are the simplest.

If you’ve been following along with the recommendations for your disc golf home gym up ’til now, this is the perfect time to add the sandbag to your training schedule.  If you haven’t been following along up ’til now, head back and read this and this.  Then subscribe below to stay informed as we continue to build your disc golf specific home gym.


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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”