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Avoid This Common Ultimate Sandbag Training Mistake!

sandbag training

When it comes to “sandbag training” there aren’t a lot of rules. Just grab and do “stuff” is how most people approached using a sandbag. Heck, when I began working with my own homemade versions in the early 2000’s, that’s pretty much what I did. Unfortunately, for that reason, the idea of using a sandbag to be anything other than just a novel piece of strength training wasn’t very popular.

That is why we began the idea of DVRT (dynamic variable resistance training). We wanted to get people away from what the implement was and more so how to use it to create real change in their training.

I remember back around 2003, having to be really convinced by a mentor that kettlebells were something different than a dumbbell. It wasn’t till I went to the RKC that year and saw HOW the kettlebell was being used to teach movement that I fell in love with the tool. You see, it wasn’t just doing “stuff” with the kettlebell that I liked, it was the thoughtfulness of what the movements and techniques were teaching about movement.


Fast forward of us doing DVRT for almost 15 years and we still kinda battle people focusing on the Ultimate Sandbag versus what we do with it. Trust me, most people wouldn’t guess that the Ultimate Sandbag is more complex to build than almost any other fitness tool (the amount of different components of the Ultimate Sandbag are far more vast than most realize), but again, the tool only gives us potential.

In the hands of a smart coach and lifter the Ultimate Sandbag transforms into a pretty amazing functional fitness tool. Sadly, for those that just look for a “sandbag” it ends up being just a bag of sand.

Knowing what to do is just as important as what NOT to do. That is why I wanted to share a few strategies to avoid probably the MOST common error in DVRT. Yes, a few weeks ago, DVRT Master, Steve Holiner, wrote about a big part of it a few weeks ago HERE.

Steve called the mistake “the lurch” that is where we lower from the top of our power clean with the arms, not the hips. The issue with this technique is that it puts a lot of force through the elbows, shoulders, neck, and back.

While Steve gives great advice in the video above, how can we use all the great progressions that DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training has to offer, but avoid the lurch?! The answer lies in just knowing a few of the easy steps that our system has to offer.

Again, many times on social media people see an exercise and don’t realize how to build it up, 0r break it down. The easiest way to start delving into the great progressions that DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training has to offer is to simply break the movement down into parts as I show below.

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We have some pretty awesome drills in #DVRT . Each drill though is layered upon something else and that is what makes our system so unique. Sadly, people sometimes see the “cool” exercise and don’t realize that progressions is the foundation to everything. How we get to the more sophisticated movements isn’t by accident and we always think about how we can build incremental success to the next level. A great example of a common mistake by people is when we move into more complex power clean patterns. ________________________ ???????? Lifters often think that the goal of such movements is to simply clean the weight up. That is only the halfway mark of the lift. The REAL goal is to demonstrate body control, strength, and deceleration ability of both bringing the weight up correctly and also coming back down in the right manner. Too many people catch the Ultimate #Sandbag clean with their arms. This places A LOT of stress in the elbow, shoulder, neck, and back. We want to catch the weight with our hips so when we move to more complex stepping patterns we have to plan how we are going to react to decelerating a weight in the right way! _______________________ ???????? One of the easiest ways to bridge from our stable and foundational bilateral position to these stepping patterns is to come back and clean in that base position. We can focus on just learning to clean well in driving from the ground, keeping the elbows high, and not throwing the weight at our body, but efficiently bringing the weight up to the front load or fist load position. This allows us to build success and proficiency in these new unstable positions. _____________________ ???????? Once we use this strategy for awhile we can use incrementally longer steps to learn how to also decelerate the weight. Starting with a really long step is too aggressive and often leads to compensation of using the arms and not the hips to lower the weight. We have to possess a combination of stability, mobility, and strength to catch the weight in the right manner. So, begin with a slow step and slowly build on the length of step (this is like adding more weight). This leads to success and getting the benefit of the exercise!

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Coming down in a more stable environment and THEN moving into our move complex hip hinge is the way we can bridge the foundational movements of DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training to the more sophisticated ones. Instead of jumping into the hardest versions, looking to make incremental progression is key. This is REALLY important since the lowering of the weight has both the best potential to build injury resiliency, but not used wisely, can cause injury.

Are you going to get hurt in repetition number one? Probably not, but what happens over time is you find that your elbows start to ache, your shoulders don’t feel great, and you can have a weird pain in the upper traps/neck. These structures aren’t great for absorbing high levels of force that is why using the hips is so important.

People sometimes think that our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training progressions are simply too hard, too complex, you name it. What they really miss is the system behind it that allows us to build success.

What I respect most though is coaches that can admit they didn’t do things perfectly and found ways to get better. We live in a weird age where everyone thinks perfection occurs each repetition or workout. The reality is that most of us are continually working on our skills.

That is what DVRT master, Cory Cripe, talks about below. You see how these concepts are important no matter what level of DVRT Ultimate Sandbag training movement we are discussing! Follow this path and you will be shocked at the results you can achieve. Don’t and you will be disappointed in how your training stalls.

Remember, it isn’t the tool, but how you decide to be a craftsman/woman!

If you want to learn more about how to build, progress, and implement these concepts don’t miss our NEW L.I.F.T. certification modules (loaded integrated functional training). You can get our Squatting and Pulling Modules PLUS a FREE Ultimate Sandbag with coupon code “strong25” HERE or get ALL 5 modules a FREE Ultimate Sandbag and Lever Bell with coupon code “lift20” HERE and get a jump on your education that will change the results you get from smarter coaching!

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The first video is my first day of trying MAX lunge #powercleans with the 80 pound burly #ultimatesandbag and truth be told, I was pretty amazed being able to do it. . The problem was I wasn’t strong enough for the eccentric phase of the movement and caught the USB with my arms and not my hips. And this can lead to joint problems down the road. . So a couple solutions. The second video is replacing the burly with a 60 pound strength and seamlessly going through the same power cleans and catching the bag with my hips and not my arms. Be warned, however, it’s no joke! That speed kills! . But I do like to go heavy and throw around the big #sandbags so what’s the solution? You’ll see in the third video how I make the same #powerclean happen, but I unload it in a more stable environment so I don’t completely fall over ????

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