By Jenna Anderson | Photography by Greg Lindstrom
Whereas summer in the Flathead revolves around warm sunny days, cool mountaintops, and relaxing lake afternoons, winter explodes out of the gates with powdery mountain slopes, crisp cross country ski trails, and off-the-beaten-path athletic endeavors on snowmobiles. Playing in the snow brings (and keeps) people in the Flathead during the winter months, and it not only takes a passion for the cold weather, but also a degree of athleticism to maneuver through the backcountry with grace and power.

Fortunately, I have a workout that will help prepare you mentally and physically for the demands of your favorite winter hobby. The best part is you’ll only need one piece of equipment. You can find it at your local gym or make one yourself. What is this magic piece of equipment?

A sandbag.

The sandbag is your new best friend in your arsenal of training options due to its versatility. Since it isn’t uniform like a dumbbell or barbell, the weight is going to move, shift, and change with each rep. You’ll have to challenge your grip and stabilizer muscles, which will make most exercises twice as hard to complete. Sandbag training isn’t for the faint of heart — it’s a surefire way to ask your body for change, improve your performance in any chosen sport, and leave you feeling confident about your ability to handle any situation.

Sandbags create what’s known as functional training by helping you develop strength with movements that replicate aspects of your sport, such as shifting and changing powder on the way down the mountain, uneven surfaces while snowshoeing, or having to physically manhandle your snowmobile around a tough corner or tight spot. You’ll build explosive power, have a continually changing weight to train the body how to accommodate an unstable environment, and learn how to move a more compact weight more efficiently.

The workout below is known as a complex — you’re moving through each exercise for 10-12 reps, and then resting one minute before repeating for three rounds.

The workout

SANDBAG FLOOR PRESS Lying on the floor, grip the sandbag and press it like a bench press.

SANDBAG TOES TO BAG CRUNCH Hold the sandbag over your head, keep your lower back down, extend your legs (don’t let your back off the floor), and use your abs to pull your toes up into a reverse crunch until they touch the bag.

SANDBAG PUSH-UP Put the bag on the floor and do full-body push-ups with your hands on the bag.

SANDBAG FLOOR CLEAN TO FRONT SQUAT With the bag on the floor in front of you, grab it and explode upward, flipping the bag over your wrists and onto your forearms, and then do a front squat. Flip the bag out of your arms at the top of your squat and back to the floor.

SANDBAG DIAGONAL SHOULDERING Stand to the side of the bag, squat down, pull it up and across your body to the opposite shoulder, and stand up. Do each side for prescribed reps.

SANDBAG BURPEES Yes, the burpee is known as the king of bodyweight exercises. Now, add a sandbag, a squat, and a push-up. Start with the sandbag on the floor, jump back, do a push-up with your hands on the bag, jump forward and clean the bag to your chest, and then press overhead.

There you have it: six exercises that will condition you mentally and physically for the winter ahead.

Want more? Get a hold of me on my website at or by email at You can also email me — with the code “WNTR16” in the subject line — if you’re interested in a free 30-minute preseason consultation that includes a body fat analysis and postural analysis.