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3 Exercises to Help Your Clean and Press Challenge

sandbag workout

Since we have started the “Level Up” Clean and Press Challenge we’ve seen many in our DVRT community getting back to a standard that gives so much information about your training, where you should be going with it, and giving people something so beneficial to train for (if you missed it you can check out the post HERE). For us, it has allowed a discussion to be renewed not just about technique, but how to train smarter. One of the most common errors we see when people approach any training goal, but especially something like the Clean and Press Challenge, is that they just try to keep repeating the test and/or just doing Clean and Presses over and over.

Don’t get me wrong, there is benefit in practicing your technique and every couple of weeks seeing where you are at in the Clean and Press Challenge, but focusing TOO much on both the test and exercise can cause you to go backwards in your training. That is because sometimes the best way to approach getting better at something it to do something different! No, nothing like going for a 5 mile run, rather, focusing on exercises that aren’t the actual Clean and Press, but can strengthen your ability to perform the movement and get a bigger “engine” for the Clean and Press Challenge by building up qualities of the movement. Wanting to share this idea better, I wanted to cover 3 DVRT drills that will help you do just that and avoid both overtraining and frustration in just beating yourself up over and over again. So, let’s get to it!

Front Loaded/Fist Loaded Squats

These two DVRT squats are similar but also quite different. The differences actually get lost on many people and cause them not to use them to their full potential. First, why would a squat help our Clean and Press Challenge efforts? While the Clean and Press is not a squat pattern, the leg strength we get from these movements as well as the mobility allows us to increase the ability of our lower body overall to create more power and strength. Of course, it just isn’t any squat, what makes using the Front Loaded and Fist Loaded positions such great squats is the heavy emphasis on the core integration in these movements and having that connection of the core with our lower body is so essential in seeing that transfer of strength.

Which should you use, Front or Fist Loaded? It depends and you can cycle both during the week, alternating weeks, or even in training phases. Front Loaded allows us to handle more load and create more tension while Fist loaded causes more compression on our core and the position doesn’t allow us to use tension as much. They create different enough effects on your strength where both should be integrated in your training at some point.

DVRT Master, James Newman covers some of the important aspects of the Front Loaded squat position.

clean and press challenge

Ryan Sellz shows the small but profound difference in our Fist Loaded squats. This position increases the core training as well as gets people used to the rack position for the push press of the Clean and Press Challenge. Many times the core fatigues on people as much as anywhere else on the body. 

High Pulls

An exercise that isn’t exclusive to DVRT is high pulls. Even though many other tools have high pulls, why we like to emphasize our DVRT versions has to do with the arm position and the fact that the weight of the Ultimate Sandbag is so far below the handles, it increases the amount of force the lifter has to create. As it relates to our Clean and Press Challenge, the high pull is so underrated in teaching both how to create the “float” of the Ultimate Sandbag so you aren’t expending unnecessary energy AND how to properly decelerate so you don’t beat up your arms and low back!

DVRT Australia Coach, Cam Ward, shows how we don’t want to perform our high pulls and common faults in the movement. 


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DVRT Master, Cory Cripe breaks down how we aim to nail the high pull for all the benefits it can provide us!


This might SOUND like a no brainer but people get so into just training for the Clean and Press Challenge that they often don’t build up their upper body strength, stability, mobility, and endurance making the push press of the challenge that much more difficult and energy sucking. Working on strict pressing can help build up the upper body so that we can be stronger, more efficient, and can help us with our mobility. That doesn’t mean just doing the same press either, by working on different positions of pressing in our DVRT system we can find where we have holes in our strength and reinforce them with better movement as well as strength.

Intermixing strict pressing with our clean work as Cam shows allows us to be better at our clean while also building up our upper body.

I show how not only can we combine our squats with our clean and press training in a very simple and effective way, but how we can emphasizing the lowering portion to build greater strength.

Cory shows one of the great ways we can build stability and strength with tall kneeling presses.

DVRT UK Master, Greg Perlaki shows also how we can change our body and loading positions to build better overhead pressing because more efficient we are at connecting our lower body and core to our upper body, the better carry over we will get! These 3 DVRT movements don’t exhaust our options in using other drills to enhance our Clean and Press Challenge training, but they do serve as an important foundation in which we can build from in future training and help us see JUST training for the challenge isn’t really the point, it is learning to train smarter!

You can check out our DVRT courses and workout programs for 35% off with code “labor35” HERE and if you want to invest in any of our Ultimate Sandbags/water bags to train these qualities you can grab them 30% off with code “laborday” HERE 


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