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Aqua Bags: Implementation Within Strength & Conditioning Programs

Aqua Bags: Implementation Within Strength & Conditioning Programs

Oct 17, 2022

Perform HQ

The use of Aqua Bags have become quite popular in the S&C world over the last 5-6 years.

The popularisation of them came from the largely influential Frans Bosch. A piece from his largely influential principle of constraint based learning. We highly recommend you check out his socials, website and content if you haven't before.


The key piece or adaptations we're chasing with implementing Aqua Bags within our strength & conditioning programs is Perturbation.

Perturbation being defined as;

"A disturbance in motion that increases the chance of a breakdown in the human movement system.”

The water within the bag as we move it through space has an 'unpredictable' or 'disturbance' element. As we move the Aqua Bag, the human body moves with the bag on it or we move the human body and the bag through the sequence of the same movement. This requires the body to resist the forces or influences of movement to counteract the moving water. Causing the body to organise it self to manage those influences in order to complete the exercise successfully. 

So, if we put this within an exercise example. Here we have one of our athletes performing a half kneeling wood-chop with the aqua bag.


He will take the aqua bag over his right shoulder. 

As he does, the water will shift within the bag relative to the pace and intent he puts into it.

As he gets to the top the water will react to the movement of the bag and swish around. Most likely driving to his back hand (right side) and causing a large contraction of his contralateral trunk to resist all that extra momentum from the water moving around. Preventing the bag flying over his right shoulder. The kind of stress or demand you wouldn't get if he was holding other equipment such as Kettlebells or Cables.

This example here ticks off one of the big goals we try to chase with the use of aqua bags and that is 'trunk control'. A key element with sports and especially within the change of direction category.


So, to help categorise the where and when of using these. We can usually be adding them in through a progression model along the lines of;

1. Trunk 

2. Step Up/Step Down Variations

3. Gait 

4. Reactive 

5. Competition 

*Steps 2 & 3 being the most popular. Searching Frans Bosch on YouTube or going through his resources on his website will give you a large idea of what these two will look like.

Here Beauden Barrett from the Auckland Blues utilising one of the many Bosch Step Up variations.


Or one of our athletes going through Step Down Decelerations, punching the bag forward upon contact with the floor.

We can continue the progression line from trunk work to gait drill variations to the later stage progression of reactive element.

 Or adding in the final progression of competing.


Both of the above causing the athletes to use a larger degree of trunk control to manage the movement through out the bag. Encouraging the manipulation in body height, lower limb folding going in and hip drive/push coming out of their cuts rather than the throwing of their upper body.



Let's say for example your using progression one.

At the back end of your program you could add in something like a Half Kneeling Aqua Bag Wood-chop for 2-3 sets of 6-8 reps each side.

Moving towards progression two, the program could look like;

MP1: Hip rotation
MP2: Adductor isometric
A: Squat pattern
B: Hinge pattern
C: Bosch Step Up w/ Aqua Bag 3 x 3 each side


A final example could be number along the lines of;

MP1: Hip rotation
MP2: Calf overcoming iso's
A1: Aqua Bag Overhead 1-2-3s 3x15m
A2: Aqua Bag Lateral 45 Degree Bounds 3x15m


In terms of the actual weight of each individual aqua bag we've filled ours up at 5kg, 10kg & 15kg.

5kg - Seems to have an element of extra difficulty being less load and more control demand. But when we complete exercises having the bag away from the body this can be an ideal weight.

10kg - The middle ground and sweet spot to tick off what we're trying to achieve. It's easy to start here and go up or down in load based on either the struggle to complete the task. Or the need to increase load to increase the challenge.

15kg - This can be an ideal load as a late progression or more within the category of having the close to your body mass while completing an exercise.


In closing it's important to keep in mind the attraction these can have. There's a good potential for over use or lack of timing when adding these within our training programs.

Ensure the prior progressions have been ticked off before jumping into an exercise that might be adding another layer of skill or physical demand the athlete just might not be ready yet.

But most importantly the timing of knowing when to pull them out and express the quality you've built with the aqua bags to now be showcased in live scenarios.

Adaptations can come about quick. So get in and get out. Once you see the visual improvements such as body positions, output, skill and patterning it's time to move forward from them.