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3 HUGE Sandbag Training Mistakes

sandbag exercises

Whenever I write a post like this I fully expect someone to make a comment like, “who made YOU the ruler of sandbag training?!!” Of course the answer is no one. However, good movement is good movement and it doesn’t matter what fitness tool you are using, if you do things to jeopardize your body, that isn’t good training! After 12 years (some doing some stupid stuff myself), I have really compiled a nice top three list of the BIGGEST mistakes people make with Ultimate Sandbag Training and just about any form of sandbag training in general.

You may wonder how I came up with such a list (maybe not, but I’ll tell you anyways:). First, there really is SO little information throughout the history of fitness about the implementation of “sandbag training”. This meant there was very little to follow in terms of proper usage. So, trial and error and just understanding how he body works made a HUGE difference. Then actually going through the process with ourselves and those in over 13 countries where we have taught our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training certifications have taught us a ton of what TO DO and what NOT TO DO! Let’s get to the list!

Sandbag Training is Not Barbell Training

This is the FIRST mistake I made back in the early 2000’s. I treated sandbag training like a barbell. At the time it made perfect sense, but as I began to wonder how to optimize the unique benefits of sandbag training and we evolved what people think of in sandbag fitness things changed a lot!

Like what? First off the handles we grab in exercises like Cleans, Deadlifts, and well MOST of our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training drills are the neutral grip handles.

sandbag training

How come? Why do we NOT grab the Ultimate Sandbag like a barbell? Well, really because it isn’t a barbell! No, I am not being a jerk in saying that, what I am trying to say is that each implement has its own technique. In this case, by using the neutral grip handles on most exercises (equally important is pulling the handles apart to create tension) we have better exercises for our shoulders and can help prevent many low back issues. Why? Pulling the neutral grip handles helps stabilize our core, upper body, and glutes so to encourage our body to use the RIGHT muscles!!!

Knowing the right technique makes Ultimate Sandbag training SO much more powerful!

You Put Sandbags In Bad Positions!

This could probably be a blog post in of itself, but let me see if I can make this brief. Positioning the weight on the body correctly makes you feel strong, helps you use the right muscles, and protects your joints. Putting the weight in the wrong position does the opposite. So, what am I REALLY talking about? Here are the three WORST things you can use Ultimate Sandbag Training in wrong positions on your body.

-Pressing on the back side of the wrists not on top of the fists: This creates a nasty lever arm on your shoulders. If you look at most fitness tools when you press them the weight stays close to your shoulder. Such a position isn’t an accident as you can use the big muscles of the body to protect your shoulder. However, moving the weight onto the back side of the wrists pushes the weight away from the body an increases the chance of hurting your shoulder.

-Putting the weight on your upper back to squat, carry, etc.: This might seem strange to many, but it is SUPER important. While I am not a big fan of putting anything on one’s low back (I’ll post really in depth why later) at least Powerlifters and such do a smart thing. When they get under the bar they actually create a shelf with their upper back and create tension against the bar. Since sandbags don’t sit the same way on the upper back two things can happen.

One, people put the load on their neck which is a horrible idea (I hope that doesn’t need a long explanation) and/or they lean really far forward on their lifts causing a huge lever arm on the low back. You could imagine neither is great. That is why we show you not only just different holding positions, but how to use those positions to create unique outcomes and make you better not just more tired.

-Those two are bad the last one is more subtle, not creating tension in the holding position. Like I mentioned above, tension is strength, stability, and honestly, safety. Like in our front load position, people get lazy and let their arms drop. We don’t want to be in a front squat position, but think of a front plank. Our cue is to BREAK THE ULTIMATE SANDBAG IN HALF!! Yes, I am yelling because it makes a WORLD of difference in feeling it in your low back versus the RIGHT muscles of your body.

People Don’t Understand the Instability of Sandbag Training

If there is ONE reason I am told that people want to use Ultimate Sandbag Training at first is because they want the instability that sandbags are suppose to provide. People really don’t understand what that means or how to use it.

For one, an super underrated part of Ultimate Sandbag Training is that the bags can be stable OR unstable depending upon our goals. Many times we use stability to teach and transform good movement really fast for people!

sandbag training

Focusing putting tension in the handles in something like a Dead Bug helps us use the core to a higher degree but more importantly bring in the role of the important upper body muscles that help create stability. 

sandbag training

Changing the challenge of an exercise can simply be a function of where we position the load to create stability (when we are learning) and challenging our stability as progression (as in the shoulder position). 

The point is that “instability” is too vague and without a purpose to it, sadly it becomes just a “shock your system” type of training. With more thoughtfulness and progression you can really dramatically change your results and the results you get with people! Listen to this strength coach talking about our DVRT programs!

“DVRT is what every strength and conditioning coach needs, but hasn’t heard of yet.

These modalities and drills are imperative to programs at our facility. Without them, a lot of our members would still be in pain.”-Vin Silano

With the RIGHT intent behind it DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training can be so exciting and helpful to solve so many issues. It doesn’t work though unless you know the why’s and how’s to DVRT! If you really want to unleash what can be done don’t miss our DVRT educational programs HERE and try these great workouts yourself!