John Brookfield's Grip Tips
By John Brookfield
Author of Mastery of Hand Strength, Revised Edition, Training with
Cables for Strength, The Grip Master’s Manual, and Real-World Conditioning
Brookfield Sandbag Snatch Test
Here is an interesting way to test yourself, have fun and greatly improve your overall strength and conditioning. In fact it works nearly every muscle in your body. Another great asset to this exercise is that anyone can perform the movement in a matter of minutes. It is also very safe and does not put pressure on your joints.
To get started is very simple and will only cost you about fifty cents to a dollar. First of all you need to purchase a sandbag. Not the big duffle bag type, but the smaller heavy-duty type that the highway department uses on the road. This type can be loaded to around seventy pounds when completely full. This type also has a neck where the sand goes into that can be easily grabbed by your hand. This type of sandbag can be found in most hardware stores.
You simply pour your sand into the bag to the desired weight of your choice and you are ready to go. You can also use dirt to load the bag if sand or sandy soil is not accessible. If your soil is fairly hard simply pour it into a bucket first then chop it up with a shovel so that it becomes softer and more granulated. Then simply pour it into the sandbag. Many of these sandbags have a drawstring or cord to wrap around the neck to secure it. This is fine, however, you may wish to simply just grasp the neck tightly which will help you use your grip strength as well. The sandbag that I like to use is around fifty pounds. This is just right to have a good neck to grab a hold of.
Once you have your sandbag ready you simply grab it with one hand and snatch it overhead (follow photos closely), you will find that this motion will come quite easy even if you are not used to snatching kettlebells or dumbbells. Simply swing the sandbag out and upward, letting it fall on the back of your arm. This will come naturally and because of the soft sand there will be no jarring motion that you may find with a kettlebell. Once in the overhead lockout position, simply swing the sandbag downward letting it swing between the legs then upward again into the lockout position.
Do as many reps with one hand as you can then change the bag to the other hand and perform as many snatches as you can with that hand. The idea is to keep going for at least ten minutes changing hands as many times as you have to. Just push yourself to finish at least ten minutes. If you have to set the bag down for a few seconds keep it brief and start again.
You will find that the sandbag snatch test will give you a great overall workout, heart, lungs, muscular system and will exercise your determination as well. It is a great physical test due to the fact that in a very short period of time this flowing movement will become natural to anyone.
Editor's note: John Brookfield’s books Mastery of Hand Strength, Revised Edition, The Grip Master’s Manual, Training with Cables for Strength, and Real-World Conditioning combine John’s limitless creativity with his friendly, downhome manner. John’s articles are also regularly featured in MILO: A Journal for Serious Strength Athletes.
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