Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Powerbag Training Works


Speed Training With Powerbags
Powerbag training makes more sense for a sprinter than a long distance runner.
Powerbag training makes more sense for a sprinter than a long distance runner.
Photodisc/Thinkstock

As we learned earlier, an advantage of Powerbag workouts is that you can design them specifically for your sport or particular event like a marathon or 100-meter dash. A sprinter may want to tailor drills to knock milliseconds off his personal record. A distance runner may want to work out with Powerbags to bolster endurance in the latter part of the race when form can tend to get sloppy, slowing him down and possibly leading to injuries. For instance, a sprinter may use a slightly heavier bag while the distance runner would tote a lighter bag around for a longer period of time. The rule of thumb is that running with weights on only helps runners who race 800-meter and lower distances. When it comes to distance runners, using any type of weights when doing running drills won't directly increase speed. Instead, it should increase stamina and reduce the risk of injuries -- two things that can ultimately improve a runner's race time [source: Benson].

You may wonder if weight training with Powerbags will transform your physique from one that looks like Achilles into one that resembles Hercules. The idea with this type of resistance exercise is to increase power, speed and endurance without bulking up. The key is to focus on form and work with moderate rather than the maximum weight you can lift [source: Vogt].

Some people find the convenience of Powerbags appealing: Rather than buy a bunch of weight-training equipment to get a cross-functional, full-body workout, you only need one tool [source: Whitehaven News]. Sure, you probably won't tote a Powerbag for 5, 10 or 42 kilometers at a time -- although you could -- but you can do a series of weightlifting and running drills with just one Powerbag.

Take squats, lunges, bench step-ups and toe raises, for example. You can enhance these common exercises by performing them while holding one or two Powerbags overhead, out in front, in a bear hug or steadying a bag on your shoulders. These exercises strengthen various leg muscles like the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes. Then you have core exercises like the crunch or chest throw -- where you get into crunch position then throw the powerbag out in front of you.

A few ways to do running drills with the Powerbag are skipping, then doing butt-kicks or high-knee raises while walking or running. The bag can be carried above the head, laterally or linearly, on the shoulders, out in front, in a bear hug or with a curl-type grip. You may even try rotating these holds while running for more variety. Some athletes create obstacle courses using a combination of all of the above exercises.

For more information on Powerbag workouts and running training, see the links on the next page.


More to Explore