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3 Smarter Ways to Smarter High Intensity Training

sandbag exercises

It use to be a struggle to get people to buy into the idea that by working smarter you could get more done in less time. The most popular example became that of high intensity training (HIT). After all, you know something is really popular when you hear women in their sixties talking about going to their “Tabata class”. Now, this isn’t an article on that whole mess (which it is!), but rather some of the other issues that high intensity training typically faces. 

It Has To Be High Intensity

HIT work has also fallen under the vague terms of “conditioning”, or “metabolic”, but at its essence it has to be high intensity. SHOCKING, right?! Typically I find that to be at least 70% of one’s max heart rate. No, this isn’t exact science but there are many factors that impact the ability of one to work at high intensity….

-Injury History

-Current Fitness Level

-Technique Required of an Exercise

-Goal of the Training

How do you find your maximum heart rate? There is some newer research to get more accurate measurements of one’s max heart rate, but the old standard that doesn’t work so badly for most is 220 minus your age. No, it isn’t exact, but gives you a nice estimate. With the rise of fitness tracking equipment you can get an idea and combined with perceived effort on your part, you can have a logical idea that you are in the right level of intensity. 

Believe it or not, I have seen people recommend biceps curls, sit-ups, lateral raises, basically exercises that wouldn’t normally fit our requirement of creating a high intensity environment. So, just because you do it for a period of time doesn’t make it high intensity.


This is an example of an exercise NOT good for high intensity

That also means that exercises that you are trying to learn the technique of, or find that your technique goes quickly in the face of fatigue are not going to be your “go to’s” for your HIT workouts. That leads us to our next point. 

High Intensity Doesn’t Mean Do Whatever

Many studies on high intensity training focus on things like stationary bikes and such because there is a relatively low technique value there. However, more recent current studies are looking at using strength training as a medium for HIT, but let’s face it, most of us knew that probably worked better for a long time. 

With that said, high intensity training  doesn’t mean just do the craziest, most random exercises to get your heart rate elevated. Just because the purpose may be to accelerate fat loss or increase your anaerobic output, strength training with HIT still has a lot of the impact upon the body, if not even more, than traditional strength training. That means you can quickly build imbalances in your training through too much redundancy of a specific movement, too much of a specific muscle group or area of the body trained, and what shocks man, too hard, too often. 


High intensity doesn’t mean leaving rhyme and reason at the door, be thoughtful!

What is an example of each? 

Too much of the same movement pattern would be something like the following…


-High Pulls


sandbag workouts

All done in succession. People love this especially in the kettlebell world, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense. These are the same movement pattern and can build overuse just like anything else. Plus, when we have so many different movements available, why do the same thing? 

We can just rehash this workout a little to the following…..

-High Pulls

-Lateral Drag

-MAX Lunge

sandbag workouts

Now we have a well rounded workout that hits multiple movement patterns and even works our stability at the same time. So, not only do we challenge ourselves, we can actually build ourselves back up! 

Of course you might look at the above and think, “lateral drags?!!” How is THAT a high intensity movement. Well, here is one of the most important points I want to convey is that high intensity doesn’t always have to be really fast! In fact, if you can intermix quick drills with longer time under tension exercises I think you will see far more benefit to your training. 

When we work with people they often are so surprised at how the most exhausting drills are those that place the body in longer time under tension. They are slower, but the body is being taxed by being active for so long. A few examples of such drills are….

-Lateral Drag

-Up Downs


-Front Loaded Good Mornings

Rest, Recovery, and Build Resiliency

Of course in our current culture, if something is good, then doing it ALL the time is perfect! Remember, HIT is high intensity, by definition you can’t do (maybe more accurate to say SHOULDN’T perform) high intensity work of any type all the time. Depending upon the intensity and duration of such training you may only be able to perform it twice a week. If you use smaller sessions you could go more frequent. 

Don’t feel compelled to do more though, there are other needs into training than just annihilating yourself. Working on weak links, focusing on technique, building overall strength by itself is equally important. Building a greater engine (in strength) with your high octane gas (HIT), is far more ideal than one over the other. 

Oh, and REST! Yes, it isn’t aerobic training going from one exercise to another with any rest (there is a time and place for this, but infrequently). Most of the research that shows the results of HIT demonstrates the need for a specific rest time. I’ve found 15-30 seconds can work well depending upon a lot of factors. While you might be tempted to just aim for 15 seconds, I often try to stay at 30 seconds and increase the volume (number of repetitions), or weight. Those variables while keeping the same rest can be a HUGE challenge. 

Of course, the last part is to use DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training. No, I know you will use a lot of different mediums and that is totally cool. However, if you aren’t using DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training in some form or another with your HIT I know you are really missing out. Why? Just the amount of different ways you can use DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training for HIT workouts. Whether it is for explosive lifts in all angles and positions, longer time under tension, or drills that challenge stability and strength at the same time. Workouts like the following can surprise you in just how challenging simple can be! 

Check out we blended the science and application of real high intensity training with our comprehensive program with renowned strength coach, Robert Dos Remedios HERE or check out one of our favorite DVRT high intensity training programs HERE. Save 25% on both with coupon code “spring2018”!

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