More flexible and variable than dumbbells or kettlebells, sand bells are sand-filled disks that can be lifted, slammed, tossed, curled, or flipped like a heavy pancake. The following playful workout mixes high-intensity cardio and strength training with two levels of progression, creating a user-friendly class for any participant.

Sand Bell HIIT Details

FORMAT: strength and cardio conditioning

TOTAL TIME: 55 minutes

GOAL/EMPHASIS: variable heart rate training with overloading of major muscle groups

EQUIPMENT NEEDED: exercise mats or towels and one sand bell (SB), between 5 and 25 pounds, per participant. Attendees should be able to lift the SB from the floor safely and correctly and press the weight overhead without compromising their neck, back or shoulders.

MUSIC: Any selection will work; intervals are tied to time rather than the beat. Create an upbeat, high-energy playlist.

CLASS OVERVIEW: Each round contains two levels (initial and progression) of one cardio move and two levels of a strength-based move (a total of four).

Perform each exercise for 45 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of rest. Complete each round twice, 8 minutes total. Emphasize that the progression is an option and participants may stay with the basic version if desired. Provide low-impact versions of the moves or use body weight only.

Note: During the 15 seconds of rest, demonstrate upcoming exercises or progressions.

Warmup (6 minutes)

Using body weight only, do each of the following moves for 30 seconds. Complete two rounds.

  • squat
  • jumping jack
  • alternating lunge
  • inchworm (from standing, walk down into high plank and back)
  • stationary lunge (right foot forward, then left foot second time through)
  • spider (from high plank, step foot to outside of hand; alternate sides)

Work Phase (40 minutes)


Initial Move Progression
SB slam + two jumping jacks SB slam + jump over + two jack flip turns
alternating SB lunge alternating SB lunge with chest rotation


SB slam: From ready stance, lift SB from floor. Stay low through legs and keep core engaged. Lift SB overhead. Release/let go with force from low squat. Perform two jumping jacks.

SB slam + jump over + two jack flip turns: Slam SB on ground, jump over SB, perform jumping jack facing away from bag, then do 180-degree flip and do second jack facing bag. Pick up SB and repeat.

Alternating SB lunge: Do alternating R and L lunges, holding SB against chest, arms crossed in X.

Alternating SB lunge with chest rotation: While holding SB, rotate ribs to side of forward lunging leg.


Initial Move Progression
SB jumping jack SB overhead press jack
SB stationary lunge stationary lunge with SB row


SB jumping jack: Do jumping jacks while holding SB against chest, arms crossed in X.

SB overhead press jack: Holding opposite sides of SB, press it overhead as feet go out, then lower it to chest level as feet come in.

SB stationary lunge: Do stationary lunge with SB held against chest, arms crossed in X. Complete exercise with R leg forward for entire 45-second interval and L leg forward the second time through.

Stationary lunge with SB row: Stand in wide staggered stance/lunge preparation with R leg forward. Hold edge of SB with L hand. Pull into one-arm row while lowering R leg into stationary lunge. Repeat on opposite side in second set.


Initial Move Progression
slam burpee slam burpee with side plank
SB wide squat SB wide squat with curl


Slam burpee: With good form, pick up SB, raise it overhead and slam it on floor. Then do burpee, hands on either side of SB upon release. Lift SB for next rep and repeat.

Slam burpee with side plank: Do one slam burpee and add side plank (one side) before returning to standing. Alternate sides for plank.

SB wide squat: Hold SB to chest, arms crossed in X. Perform wide squats, feet turned out 45 degrees.

SB wide squat with curl: Complete SB wide squat, but grip SB across forearms as if holding a tray. Curl SB toward chest while lowering into squat.


Initial Move Progression
SB swing SB swing, toss and bound
triple-kick SB touch triple-kick SB touch with balance knee


SB swing: Grip SB with both hands and, from wide stance, perform kettlebell swing. Maintain straight spine and hinge at hips.

SB swing, toss and bound: (First ensure that participants have 5–8 feet of free space in front of them.) Perform three SB swings. Release SB on last follow-through, allowing it to fly forward several feet. Staying in squat, perform plyometric squat bounds past SB, and then flip to face opposite direction. From there, perform series again.

Triple-kick SB touch: Place SB on floor next to kicking leg. Do three repeating front kicks and then step kicking leg back into low lunge, tapping SB with nearest hand.

Triple-kick SB touch with balance knee: Perform triple-kick SB touch, but after touching down, pick up SB and hold to chest while bringing kicking leg through to balance knee lift. Lower SB to floor with another low lunge and repeat.

For round five and a cooldown, see “Sample Class: Sand Bell HIIT” in the online IDEA Library or in the January 2019 print edition of Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at 800-999-4332, ext. 7.

Pamela Light, MA

Pamela Light is a group fitness instructor and personal trainer in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA with a bachelor’s in Exercise Physiology, a Master’s in writing, and 25 years’ experience in the fitness industry. You can find videos of Tape Box workouts in her Facebook group, Pamela’s Light and Fit Community.

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