I’ll be honest, I NEVER thought in a million years when I started with that old army duffel bag in my garage that I would be talking so much about sandbag training. I often think of the old Allen Iverson line of “practice, we talking about practice?!” In our world I often think fitness pros and strength coaches are first like “sandbags, we talking about sandbags?!” Which if I have learned anything over the last 15 years of teaching our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag program is that people really have no idea how to use them!
Yes, I had a duffel bag AND hair, which one is more shocking?!
That is because what you see largely with “sandbag training” is what I created all those years ago. While I am not going to claim I invented the idea of sandbags for exercise, HOW you see people using them is based off what we have done with DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training. I know this because like many I began using sandbags as just as a cheap way to replace barbell work. Sometimes I would be training groups or teams back in the day and having that many barbells didn’t make sense (put yourself in a time machine to about 2002). Making some inexpensive sandbags made more sense and that is what I did!
I’ve been writing about sandbag training for a long time. One of my more popular articles showed up on the popular EliteFTS website in 2006!
However, as I have talked about many times on podcasts and the like, eventually that became problematic. Dirty, uncomfortable, lack of progression or purpose made me start to really sour and even dislike using sandbags for our training. As I was getting ready to leave them is when my buddy Nick got me to consider writing the “rules” of sandbag training. I say rules lightly because it was more about giving people guidance, a thought process, a way to actually optimize what this unique tool could offer in training. No one had done that before and even the tool of a fitness sandbag wasn’t standardized or thought about.
That is one of the biggest challenges of DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training, we don’t have complicated concepts and ideas to our system, we just do it differently. However, as I have said many times over, it IS how most of our strength training tools operate as the barbell is the ONLY one that really changes its physical load. You just have MORE dumbbells, kettlebells, bands, medicine balls, etc.
What I am trying to say is that optimizing DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training means being willing to think a bit differently. For example, not all our sizes are used in the same way. We don’t just have a load component, but a dimensional one with the Ultimate Sandbag. Such a variable makes a HUGE difference in our training. In order to help better break down what this means, I thought I would write a blog about the various sizes of Ultimate Sandbags we have and the BEST ways to optimize them.
For today, I wanted to start with the mighty but small Core Ultimate Sandbag!
Funny story about this Ultimate Sandbag was when I had the idea in creating this size, Jessica HATED it! She couldn’t see how it was a solution to better training (as that is our motivation with everything we do!) and I said, “you watch”. Fast forward to today and it is one of her two favorite sizes to use!
So, what is the thought with the Core Ultimate Sandbag. Loading between 10-20 pounds doesn’t sound like a lot so how do we get strong? Here are a few key drills that are highlighted through the Core Ultimate Sandbag.
Physical Therapist, Jessica Bento, breaks down how to do press outs right and how it isn’t just about using the Ultimate Sandbag for counter balance. Rather, the tension and core stability we get allows us to unlock the mobility and movement that our body actually possesses if we use the right stimulus.
You see how we can manipulate the press out with the Core Ultimate Sandbag to build more complex patterns. We can change how we hold the weight, attaching a strap to it (through our Core Strap HERE), and moving it in different patterns.
One of the best core movements that people really don’t understand, because it doesn’t make your abs blow up with soreness, are lifts/chops. The idea of a lift/chop is from the physical therapy system of PNF where we know the body loves diagonal patterns and these movements tap into just that!
Jessica shows how we can use lifts/chops in very dynamic ways, but we often start people half kneeling like DVRT Master, Sean Lettero shows…
Robin Paget shows how we apply lifts/chops to drills like hip bridges to get better core and glute training. you will also see how she uses these concepts to build better core stability in other movement patterns.
Check out some keys in getting MORE out of these DVRT drills. When I am upright I will grab the USB itself, when I am in a dead bug or hip bridge, we recommend the outside handles.
If I wasn’t already bald, THIS might be the DVRT Ultimate Sandbag exercise watching others do that make me so mad! People often don’t realize the goal isn’t just to move the weight back and forth. Using the Ultimate Sandbag creates friction and resistance, so if we lift, toss, or move the weight too quickly, we lose HUGE benefits to the movement.
DVRT Coach, Lina Midla, shows the perfect positioning and movement we want to see in lateral drags. That is because all the elements above play a big role, but so does the way we grip and apply tension as I explain in this great starting point of a bird dog.
When we look to progress our drags, we don’t necessarily look to go heavier. We instill slower drags (5-6 seconds to go one side to another is really intense), patterns we drag, and positions we can be in to drag from as our great DVRT coaches show below…
I wrote the other day HERE about why Arc Presses are way more powerful drills, especially for helping mobility in the upper body and core strength than most people realize. However, it is about doing it well and being super intentional. Part of that is being able to “pull the Ultimate Sandbag apart” with the hands that integrates more of the rotator cuff, lats, and core.
You can see how we increase the intensity of the Arc Press by incorporating lateral band resistance which amplifies the need for core and grip strength. However, you also see how we use these concepts to create very dynamic movements.
The crew at Fitness Lying Down shows some ways we progress the Arc Press to challenge more overall strength and stability training!
More Complex DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Drills
There are a lot of DVRT drills that are sneaky tough! Especially because our coaches are so good at making them LOOK easy that people don’t get how challenging they really are. Here are some great examples…
In the first video above, Robin shows our beast leg threading drills which keeping tension into pulling the Ultimate Sandbag is not only essential in keeping stability, but using that lateral stress to the body. Think of a moving side plank with the load and movement pattern!
Whether half or full around the worlds, people often struggle with being fluid and efficient and not just muscling the weight. Jessica shows that it should be smooth and the smaller dimension can help!
How we use the Ultimate Sandbag to make side planks better is often misunderstood. People think the tool doesn’t matter, but Jessica breaks down not only how to get more out of this type of side plank, but the role the Ultimate Sandbag brings.
Cory Cripe does a great job of showing the details that make all the difference!
Robin does a great job showing how many different ways we can use our Core Ultimate Sandbag (along with the Power here) to really make training so much better. It is awesome to see how when we put the right intent to it, even the most unassuming Ultimate Sandbag can be a huge power house!
This week only we are offering a great package of our Core Ultimate Sandbag, a mini band, a xl mini band and our Better Backs, Shoulders, and Knees 2.0 program for FREE. Just use code “core” when you check out HERE
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