When times are tough you start to look more critically at what you really need in life. There are a lot of metaphors for life lessons that happen in the gym and vice versa. This one, in particular, is really relevant because almost all of us have had to take a look at how we can still train or start training when things are far from normal. The new challenge has caused many to re-evaluate if the training that they were doing in the bast were actually just a lot of “stuff” or really based on better movement, fitness, fat loss, and muscle building workouts.
With that evaluation comes the examination of the tools we choose to emphasize. I know for myself when I first was running my gyms I had a lot of “stuff” like A LOT. It wasn’t till I was having a personal audit of what I was doing that I started to realize that a lot of that stuff was just about having well, stuff. Much of the tools I had in my gym weren’t that important, provide something powerful, or do anything unique. As renown strength coach, Robert Dos Remedios says, “if you haven’t used a specific tool anywhere in your workouts for the last training cycle, you can probably get rid of it.” That might be shocking for some, but when you think about the fact we have limited time and energy to devote to better movement, fat loss, and muscle building workouts, that time has to be used as wisely as possible.
My first gyms had more stuff than I could even tell you about today. Over time though my training got smarter and more efficient. That is why we have helped consult with military, fire, police, US Border patrol, and sports programs on how to use these same ideas to achieve better results and take the confusion out of training.
Two tools that became a high focus in my client’s training and that of my own were bands and Ultimate Sandbags. You might think Ultimate Sandbags were obvious for any our fat loss or muscle building workouts, but before I released them to the public, I actually worked with clients and myself to see if they truly offer a unique benefit. The fact they did (which I will describe in a movement) is when I decided to bring them public, I didn’t bring them to the public and then try to find a purpose!
Why Bands and Ultimate Sandbags For Fat Loss & Muscle Building Workouts?
Bands and Ultimate Sandbags actually share a lot in common! Both are incredibly versatile, portable, relatively inexpensive compared to a lot of other fitness equipment, and are unique in what they can accomplish for fat loss and muscle building workouts. While those are all great positives, they also share some unfortunate negatives.
They are often seen as “lower class” strength training tools especially compared to barbells (which is a BIG mistake), people often don’t take them seriously because they don’t know how to progress them, their loads are unique which makes it hard for people to wrap their heads around the idea they can be so powerful. So, why WOULD we choose bands and Ultimate Sandbags for our fat loss and muscle building workouts?
Both bands and Ultimate Sandbags can be used in familiar gym exercises like squats, rows, presses, lunges, etc. However, their application of load is very different, even from each other. Bands due to their elastic nature create an instability because the load actually gets heavier as you push out. Typically, when you get to the top of a squat or many exercises the weight gets “lighter” from a biomechanics perspective. Meaning you hit angles during the lift where most free weights apply less resistance. Bands though get harder so they require force through a greater range of motion.
Ultimate Sandbags have several factors that make them unique. In fact, recently someone asked me to compare the loading of an Ultimate Sandbag to that of a barbell. I shared with him that doing so was almost impossible. You have completely different leverage (the center of mass of a USB is away from the handles while a barbell’s center of mass is right where you grab making any USB weight instantly feel heavier), they have a dimension which changes how the weight moves, how you move, and how you hold the weight, and there is insatiability of the Ultimate Sandbag that requires higher levels of not just strength and stability but movement accuracy as well.
Planes Of Motion & Powerful Patterns
When it comes to fat loss and muscle building workouts, rarely do we discuss concepts like planes of motion or angles and direction of force. Ironically, these are powerful ideas that make the body use more muscles, teaches the body to move better and increases qualities like stability and mobility at the same time. Why don’t we use these ideas more?
If most training is based upon the barbell (which is only a rather recent development in fitness), then we have a tool that was specifically designed for more up and down movement. We then base all other training on the same concepts. That leads us to use great tools (like bands and Ultimate Sandbags) in extremely limited ways and never fully exploring their potential in delivering results.
Since both bands and Ultimate Sandbags can not only be used in up and down movements in the gym, they can be used in more 3-D training, they are perfect vehicles to get better fat loss and muscle building workouts. People often look at the lighter loads and have a hard time believing this, but you have to understand that moving laterally, for example, you can’t use the same amount of weight as you would just up and down. You have less stability, but you have to work harder to produce force and resist forces trying to knock you over. Trying to compare the loads we use in conditioning and muscle building workouts when we move just up and down versus adding more dynamic action is truly apples and oranges.
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Better Progressions & Building Greater Success in Fat Loss & Muscle Building Workouts
Ultimately, bands and Ultimate Sandbags offer us so many opportunities to create success and more interesting workouts. What DVRT UK Master, Greg Perlaki, and our other great DVRT coaches have shown throughout these videos is how we can combine bands and Ultimate Sandbags in a myriad of ways to not only make the exercise more challenging but to teach the body how to work smarter. For example, bands are a great tool to teach how to create a stable “plank” when we perform higher-level Ultimate Sandbag or even kettlebell drills. Instead of yelling at people to “use their core” or “engage their abs” (which means nothing to most people) the band gives feedback upon how to use the body correctly.
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