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Firefighter Fitness With Ultimate Sandbag Training

sandbag training

Captain Jordan Ponder, DVRT Master (fd-pt.com)

firefighter fitness

As a firefighter, I HAVE to look at fitness beyond just what a specific muscle does. It doesn’t matter if we are trying to crawl around small spaces, climb awkward and unstable platforms, trying to lift people, or quickly grab equipment in an unbalanced way to rush to the job. Our bodies don’t work as individual pieces so why would we train it as such. This is a big part of what interested me in using the DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training system to help my brothers and sisters in improving their firefighter fitness. However, what I have learned is you don’t have to be a firefighter to benefit from these ideas, if you want to be better in and out of the gym, this is how YOU should be training!

Our bodies are incredible! They are an incredible series of mechanisms that work together to assist you in doing all the things that you do. This goes from your Central Nervous System to your Human Movement System to your Hormonal System and a number of different systems. All of these work together to allow you to operate at your best. While this covers many fundamental functions, two of those are the ability to stand and the ability to kneel.

You might think this is nothing special, but training firefighters has taught me how such simple movement skills have been lost by our society. These essential human movements are now challenging for people and are ideas that we simply don’t address enough when it comes to functional fitness!

Everything should start with us standing. This is our base position for most movements to occur and we should own this posture first before adding challenge. This such a simple thing we teach in firefighter fitness because we can identify bad tendencies that we can help sooner and make people perform better and be more resilient to injury!

It doesn’t mean that it is wrong it just means that we can do it better when we reflect on the issues commonly associated with inefficient standing. A few of these are systemic and unconscious…

-Hip and Thoracic Flexion
-Scapular Elevation and Retraction
-Locked Knees

If you have done programs like Functional Movement Screen (FMS) you know that tall kneeling position is something that we use a lot. In DVRT we do so to increase the challenge of you to maintain proper posture while using the RIGHT muscles to create proper movement.

In firefighter fitness we often are called on to do things in compromised positions. We aren’t always at a position of strength and I am sure you see the same when you are unloading groceries, or simply playing with your kids. So, what type of things are we looking for?  These can include…

-Plantar Flexion
-Poor Foot Positioning
-Spinal Misalignment

Standing and kneeling are two core functions of everyone. However there are common issues between both of them. So what do we do to be better at both these core functions!

firefighter fitness


Transition is an essential element of continuing to BE A BETTER YOU! By having the ability to BE DYNAMIC and seamlessly going from one body position to another is the key to addressing our ability to BE BETTER at standing and also to BE BETTER at kneeling. The challenging thing though is that transition is difficult. It incorporates all those complexities we discussed to work together appropriately. That’s a lot of inner works that need to cooperate. So, how do we get them to cooperate?

Whether it is building firefighter fitness, or trying to build better movement for life, learning how to make seamless transitions is key!

firefighter fitness

You need to allow your body to converse in a way that will support you in developing the skills in transitioning from standing to kneeling. The Ultimate Sandbag is one of those amazing tools that can assist you in doing just that! With the BE DYNAMIC firefighter fitness program drawing from key elements of the DVRT Training System and Ultimate Sandbag, you can use simply cuing of both verbal and use of the Ultimate Sandbag to immediately create an environment for better learning and movement!

Here are some of the drills and progressions I use in our firefighter fitness programs that will also make YOU move, feel, and perform your best!


The Ultimate Sandbag provides cueing to your scapula and other muscles associated with thoracic stability in order to let you control core tension as you move your body the Ultimate Sandbag. From here, it also trains you to maintain that core tension so you can…



The Ultimate Sandbag allows you to lower your body back comfortably while pressing it out in front of you. That is because this action creates more core tension and when we connect the chains of our body we can instantly improve the quality of our movement. You would be surprised how many of my brothers and sisters we work with this upon because in firefighter fitness you need the ability to get up and down with often gear and very awkward objects.



People often assume everyone in the fire department is ready for a calendar pose. The realty is that many in the department are just real people with many of the issues you face in your own workouts. One of the big things we address in firefighter fitness is better mobility. How is that different than just flexibility? Mobility is your ability to control the range of motion you move your body in and improving it can be easier than you think!

DVRT Ultimate Sandbag exercises like this create core tension which gives “permission” from your nervous system that your spine is safe and allows your hips and shoulders to move better. Josh has written a lot about the idea when you get better core stability you get also better mobility. These types of Ultimate Sandbag exercises show you how!


Lots of people like to say that a huge benefit of “sandbag training” is the awkward nature of the implement. The truth is they rarely use this variable as they try to use even the Ultimate Sandbag just as a barbell substitute. In firefighter fitness we know all too well that implements are rarely perfectly balanced or cooperative. Drills like this Ultimate Sandbag exercises shows you how we learn to move, be reactive to an unstable object in a way we wouldn’t normally see in the gym.

All this is great but it only means something if you use it! Below you will find a program designed to use in our firefighter fitness programs but will help any functional fitness program too!

These movements intended to be done following sufficient warming up to allow you to train for transitioning and also with proper cooling down to complete your progress!

Perform 1A and 1B for the listed repetitions 3x before repeating the same with 2A and 2B.



Be Dynamic Training is here to support you in that as well. If you are interested in learning more about my “Be Dynamic Firefighter Fitness Workshops” you can check them out HERE