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3 Reasons Your Shoulders Suck & Ultimate Sandbag Exercises Can Help

sandbag exercises

Save 25% on DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training Workouts and Gear with Coupon Code “spring2018” HERE 

Jessica Bento, Physical Therapist

I often think it is funny when people think we make things hard with our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag exercises. Why? When I look around at what coaches are talking about, what questions they are asking, and the best part, the responses, I can’t help but wonder. That is wonder why are people not focusing, sticking with, and trying to get better at some real keys. 

A great example is the shoulders. I hear A LOT about people’s problematic shoulders. Typically because I hear “bad” shoulders as a main reason people can’t get better at our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag exercises like our Clean and Press standard. 

Oh man, I hear it all and I’ll say some are legit. However, one of the things I think good fitness professionals should be able to do it be healthy. Now, of course it might sound like the pot call the kettlebell black. Yea, Josh and I have had some really bad injuries, life changing injuries. Yet, none of it has happened because of bad training, or because of what we weren’t doing in training. I think that’s huge! 


I’m going to tell you from my own journey! Lead from the front!

You might be asking yourself, “okay Ms. Smarty Pants”, what are these secrets to better shoulders. Here is the best part, they aren’t secrets, but they do take consistent work. Check out what I mean.

Improve Your Mobility and Flexibility

DUH! How in the world is THIS anything new? Having good mobility is not only just the shoulders, it isn’t just the thoracic spine. It means have good quality movement through the abdominal area and the hips. How does the trunk and hips have anything to do with the shoulders?

We do a lot of core training right? We talk about it all the time, we show great exercises for it. However, the trunk can get “tight” like any other area of our body. Whether you want to attribute it to sitting too much, hard training, or a host of other possible reasons. No matter why, we need to make it better. How? My two favorite ways are by soft-tissue work and simple base mobility drills like these two.



Use a larger ball that doesn’t cause you to cringe too greatly. If you find it too abrasive your body won’t release. Find a spot and try to breathe comfortably for three to four breathes. Move all over the trunk from sternum to lowest parts of your pelvis. If anything is painful do not work that area with this technique.


If you don’t open your trunk then both your shoulders and thoracic spine can be in a compromised position. When you try to use your shoulders THEN, you start to place stress on the wrong parts of the body and we all know if you are body tries to function in less than optimal alignment, you are more likely to hurt the body. 

The hips are also of great importance for shoulders. Sounds weird right? However, if you look at how the body actually works, the shoulders have a close relationship wit the hips. We have talked a lot about how the body works in cross patterns (opposite limbs work together like in walking or running) and if the hips don’t function well, the shoulder can potentially have problems too. Remember, pain may only be an indication of a problem, the the cause. 

Core Strength

Ha! We just finished talking about that a trunk that doesn’t move well could be a problem, well that doesn’t mean you don’t train it out of fear it could stop moving. Partly because when we are talking about the core, we are speaking about the reflexive core. I doubt anyone ever complimented you on your transverse abdominis, multifidus, or pelvic floor muscles. Yet, these muscles are extremely important and have to be trained well with the more popular obliques and rectus abdominis. 

How? One is by our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training lifts/chops along with Around the World variations. When most people perform such drills they don’t feel the same type of “burn” that let’s say 100 sit-ups might cause. That is because we are not just training the big muscles, but those deep reflexive ones that are a big part of our spinal stability.

The other reason core strength is important for you shoulders is because it helps create a good foundation to work from. When you activate the core right during pressing drills you use all the muscles of the body to do the work than just the small shoulder muscles. Makes sense you would want to use big and as many muscles when you do anything, right? We also know that anything that wants to be really strong HAS to have a strong foundation!

Ultimate Sandbag excesses like Pallof Presses are unique because we can create tension in the hands by trying to RIP the Ultimate Sandbag apart which engages more of the core and lats. These variations also teach the importance of pushing our feet into the ground to develop stability in the pelvis and core. 

Don’t Press with the Shoulders

I’ll admit, this is one of the biggest ones that helped me out personally. It didn’t matter if I was doing push-ups or trying to lift weight overhead, my shoulders HURT! Severe rotator cuff tears from my years of swimming left my shoulders in bad shape. I thought this was just going to be a chronic problem that I was going to have to live with for the rest of my life. 

Meeting Josh, I learned it didn’t have to be so. I thought being a physical therapist I knew how to  use and train the body right, but what Josh showed me really opened my eyes. Pressing from the ground up made all the difference in the world. Yes, a simple idea was one of the best ever. That I wasn’t pushing the weight up, but pushing myself down. This does not only require a different thought process, but coordination as well. If you stay with it, if you truly “get it” you will be amazed at how you don’t even feel your shoulders. Try it for yourself, you don’t have to just take my word for it;)

You will hear people try to convince you to do all types of isolated, “new”, and let’s face it boring types of strategies to supposedly help your shoulders. Yes, in some cases more is needed, my bigger question is though have you really tried? Have you really gotten good? Have you devoted the time to these three and highly effective methods? If not, chances are your shoulders are still achy, but they don’t have to be!

Find out how to transform your shoulder health and performance with our new DVRT Shoulder Restoration Course HERE use coupon code “spring2018” to save 25%!