It might be very well the MOST popular question I get in regards to the functional training strength concepts we share. In fact, I got it while being interviewed on a podcast the other day……”So Josh, this stuff with Ultimate Sandbags, kettlebells, and other tools, that’s great for conditioning but what can it do for strength training in a serious way?!”
Such situations remind me years ago (it was around 2004) and I heard a well respected fitness professional present and he started talking about kettlebells. This was when kettlebells only went to 32 kg (about 70 pounds, yes, there was a time where only three sizes were available!) and he talked about their role in strength training.
His opinion was that because the kettlebell only went to 70 pounds it was good for conditioning and not much to do when it came to real strength training. After all, the barbell could go much heavier right?! Once his presentation was done I approached him and asked, “I have to know, have you ever lifted or felt a 70 pound kettlebell?” Admittedly, he said no, but was insistent it was just 70 pounds so what’s the big deal.
I didn’t want to make too much of an issue about it, so I left it with suggesting he try to use one because the weight felt differently. Years later I would see this coach again. He remembered our conversation and chuckled about it, he told me how he tried a 70 pound kettlebell shortly after our last talk. His impression? He couldn’t believe how heavy 70 pounds really felt!
Before kettlebells had all sorts of sizes, before they had faces, they were just simple tools that could be highly effectively used for strength training and great conditioning.
No, this isn’t a story to tell you how I was right, but one of the biggest contradictions we have in fitness is these two well held beliefs. One says “all weight is just weight”, while ALSO acknowledging that different weights can feel quite different. It isn’t hard for people to conceptualize that 100 pound bag of anything is far more difficult to lift than a 100 pound barbell, but ask them if a 100 pound Ultimate Sandbag is heavy enough for strength training and they will tell you…naaaaah.
How do we believe in these two things at the same time? This also became such a point for me to talk about in strength training because the gentleman that interviewed me had his hesitations. He had gotten one of our Burly Ultimate Sandbags (not what I would recommend for a started but okay) and during the interview he had yet to fill it. I suggested he fill the Burly to 80 or 100 pounds, of course he went with 100.
Shortly after I received an email. In the email he told me how heavy that 100 pounds felt and how he “got it” at that point. This conversation reminded me of a great strength training challenge that DVRT Master, Troy Anderson came up with years ago.
A big believer as well that these tools were for serious strength training, Troy’s idea in getting people to “get it” was to suggest a 100 pound workout. The name really implies what the program involves.
Using a 100 pound Burly Ultimate Sandbag (women could use a 60 pound Strength, but aim for that 100 pound Burly;) and about a 100 pound kettlebell (97 or 106 pounds is fine, close to 100 pounds is important ant and women could use a 62 pound) for an entire workout.
Ways to make that heavy kettlebell actually feel accessible!
The whole point was to show what 100 pounds in these tools would feel like and do for real world strength training in ways that most never experienced before. How EVERY muscle from head to toe would be trained!
What could you do with such weights?
Don’t cop out to just kettlebell swings, we want you to use good movement patterns so you can….
-Goblet, Rack, Bear Hug, Front Load, Shoulder Squat
-One hand push press, jerk, press from different positions, Arc Press, Press from Fists
-Suitcase, Rack, Goblet lunge, MAX, Shoulder, Front Load, Fists lunge
-Swing, High Pull, Suitcase Deadlift, Deadlift, Front Load Good Morning, Sprinter Deadlift, Lateral Cleans
-Supported One Arm Row, Sprinter Stance Row, Supinated Rows, Single Leg Rows
Just as some ideas. One of my favorites was a simple Ultimate Sandbag complex like the one below.
Such a complex like the following is a great way to manipulate the same weight in a different way for new strength training gains.
If you thought that this was ONLY for the guys, check out the serious work Jessica puts in on a Burly Ultimate Sandbag!
If you are willing to take on the challenge, you will find out all new things about your real world strength training by such a simple challenge. It will open up a whole new world of what strength means and how weight isn’t equal and until we understand and appreciate our tools we won’t ever be able to maximize them. Like this great series that Troy and I take you through would not normally be seen as serious strength training until you find the challenge yourself!
Save 35% on our Burly Ultimate Sandbags with coupon code “burly” HERE and take your functional training to the next level.