• Sandbag Basics for K-9 Officers
    Sandbags offer an innovative, functional training tool for this special group of law enforcement officers.
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  • sandbagCanine (K-9) units have several unique and different demands than other law enforcement officers. For those strength coaches that are new to the law enforcement community, one of the demands of some law enforcement officers is handling the weight and unstable mass of their dogs. K-9 officers not only need to protect themselves and the public, but have the added responsibility of handling their K-9 partner.

    The Tactical Strength and Conditioning Facilitator (TSAC-F) needs to plan for the unique needs of a K-9 unit. One of the tasks that an officer may need to be prepared for is lifting their dog over a tall fence or unsafe obstacle.

    A sandbag is a tool that can be incorporated as part of a comprehensive strength and conditioning program. The shifting mass of the sand in the bag will be more realistic to the demands placed on an officer when they need to handle their dog. There are many sandbag exercises that can be safely implemented as long as the basic principles of strength and conditioning are followed.

    The sandbag is going to feel different than a barbell or dumbbell, so law enforcement officers should take some time to adjust to the new implement. It is important to warm-up with a lightweight sandbag to ensure the officer can control the shifting weight safely, and remains free of pain throughout the entire range of motion. If the officer is injured, or new to strength and conditioning, work on some basic bodyweight exercise progressions before adding sandbag training.

    Sandbag Overhead Press
    • Circular or cylindrical shaped sandbags work best for this movement
    • Start holding the sandbag against your chest with a neutral grip (palms in)
    • Lift the sandbag directly over your head, not backwards (biceps lined up with your ears)
    • Hold the end position for a few seconds until the bag is stable (elbows fully extended)
    • Recover by bringing the bag straight down to your chest
    Sandbag Front Squat
    • Cylindrical shaped sandbags with handles work best for this movement
    • Start by grabbing the handles and holding the bag tight to your chest
    • In the start position, elbows should be pointed forward with the bag supported with your arms underneath it
    • Squat down to a depth with no compensations or breakdowns in technique
    • Keep your heels down throughout the entire movement
    • Keep elbows pointing forward throughout the entire movement
    • Maintain a neutral spine (do not excessively arch or round your back)

  • Disclaimer: The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) encourages the exchange of diverse opinions. The ideas, comments, and materials presented herein do not necessarily reflect the NSCA’s official position on an issue. The NSCA assumes no responsibility for any statements made by authors, whether as fact, opinion, or otherwise. 
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