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Building the Smarter Get-up

sandbag exercises

Ian Vaughn, DVRT Master (Creator of DVRT Real World Muscle & Strength, DVRT for Obstacle Course Racing)

Being in fitness today has never been more challenging. There is SO MUCH “stuff” on platforms like social media, it is hard to filter what is good and what is rather a great random act of social media. Let’s face it, there is a lot of motivation to show you something “sexy” over something that is productive. What can be REALLY confusing is when people randomly exchange one piece of equipment for an exercise for another.

Something we keep espousing at DVRT is using the RIGHT tool for the job. That is because the tool you choose should give you the best result and experience for the exercise you are using. The get-up is a great example of this. Often I see someone is banging a screw in with a hammer when they perform a kettlebell style get up…with a Ultimate Sandbag?

Yes, it somewhat works, but you know it’d be better with a nail (just as the kettlebell is with a get-up). Why? The instability of the Ultimate Sandbag actually makes is a high risk exercise, especially because heavier Ultimate Sandbags also get bigger! That size can cause the shoulder to get into a really bad position, in other words, there is a BETTER way to use Ultimate Sandbags to get more out of get-ups.

So while I could instead be a social media fitness policeman; telling each one of these offenders negative comments like “thats wrong, just a use a KB.” I’d rather write this article, with more emphasis on “hey have you tried this instead?” to bring on better positive reenforcement and understanding on the differences of these two great tools:

  • KB Get Up: Hammer& Nail 
  • USB Get Up: Hammer & Screw 
  • USB Leg Thread: Screwdriver & Screw

Notice in the USB Leg Thread my head position is much different than what most people are use to with any form of overhead get-up. That is because if we want to parallel the get-up to the foundational rolling patterns, head movement is important. In fact, Gray Cook has written the following about rolling patterns and head position…

“Remember, the head and neck are connected to the core, therefore where the head and neck lead the body will follow.” 

That means head movement is an important aspect of our Leg Thread that most people miss! Of course, if you have the weight overhead, you do want to look up because that is a safety issue. As Gray’s statement tells, the body will follow and that can be a problem with a weight above the head! It is important to know which to use in what situation. That is why it isn’t as simple as training in and out equipment.

One of the things that has plagued get-ups of all forms is the fact that people lack the hip mobility and core strength to really gain the benefit from the movement. People spend all sorts of time trying to problem solve these issues with all sorts of strategies, but the simplest and most effective could be another familiar drill. The Ultimate Sandbag Shinbox Get Up in another favorite to really test the mobility of the hips and stability of the shoulders. Here are two great examples performing it with a Around the World  infused with it for more mobility and them if want more stability…try it with the DVRT Core Strap:



Personally the USB shinbox get-up has been major game changer for my hips and shoulder joint capsules feeling smoother and less grindy feeling throughout the day when I demo exercises for my students. Using a core or power USB no heavier than 15-20lbs is all that’s needed. Not only that, I feel much stronger when performing kettlebell getups as well.

So to bring this all together I made a entire workout video on how you can apply swings and get up style variations to DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training. The movements featured in this workout will give you new way of viewing the swings and get ups outside the typical kettlebell enthusiast’s mindset. Do you want to the person who’s how to use a hammer and screwdriver? Or stay close minded using a hammer for everything and screwing yourself instead (see what I did there)?