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Functional Power Training for Better Fitness

sandbag training


It is one of the questions I love to ask fitness professionals and strength coaches, “are all tools the same?” After all, I’ve heard for many years, “weight is just weight.” Maybe at a first glance that seems true, as we can go back to the age old question which weighs more 100 pounds of feathers or 100 pounds of stones? That saying actually helps me illustrate my point that I think weight can vary greatly depending upon how it is structured. 

Sure, 100 pounds is a 100 pounds, but we know that 100 pounds of feathers would look and feel quite differently than 100 pounds of stones. Just in every day life watching someone “gym strong” use a wheelbarrow, dig into the ground, or lift bags of “stuff” we can see how true this can be in our world. So many times I’ve seen strong gym lifters struggle to do the manual labor activities that we have done for generations. 

When I  describe it in such a manner, I hope it makes sense. That leads me to wonder why people often then default in their training to barbell work? Time and time again when I see diagrams of how people progress their tools they all ultimately lead to barbell work. Why is that? 

To the best I can deduce it is a matter of load, but that sends people down often a road of missing a lot more in their training. Can the barbell hold the most weight than any other free weight in the gym? Yes, but the barbell is ALSO the most stable and balanced training tool in the gym. Does that mean that the high weight of the barbell is equal to that of other tools? It does beg the question. 

We actually know the answer to this question from a very popular exercise. It is EXTREMELY rare to see someone dumbbell bench press what they could with a barbell. Just the slight instability of using dumbbells causes us to use a smaller weight than in the stable barbell. 

There is more happening here than most people actually realize. When our body has to stabilize to some point, we have to integrate more muscles and use them in a more coordinated fashion. When something is so perfectly balanced we can muscle through a lot of things and those weak spots in our body can get easily overlooked. 

Another great example is that of a power clean. A classic power exercise that not only helps us learn to generate more force, but done correctly, helps us learn how to decelerate, brace our core correctly, and a host of other functional fitness benefits. However, are all weights equal when we power clean. 

When we use tools like kettlebells and Ultimate Sandbags, we see that the movement becomes very different. The instability (the very different types of instability they both create) causes us to have to be more accurate and fluid with our movement versus a barbell. It is VERY difficult (although not impossible) to muscle through kettlebell and Ultimate Sandbag cleans. The weights end up being self correcting and hardly can people clean significant weight with either of these tools simply by cheating the movement. 

Using these tools can bring so much more awareness, strength, and movement capability, but they themselves often don’t get maximized. What DVRT Master, Cory Cripe breaks down is how we progress the different ways of using these tools to create better progressions and give even MORE power to your drills like power cleans. You don’t have to give up your barbell, but I wouldn’t blame you if you did!

Take advantage of our VERY limited time DVRT sale! Save 25% all throughout DVRT and when you purchase any Ultimate Sandbag, you will get a FREE Core Strap that really expands your our functional training goals. Just use code “save25” HERE for only a few days!