It is interesting how much grip talk there is nowadays. Maybe it is because of the barefoot movement that is makes a lot of sense that we talk about the other side of the body…the hands! If we can agree that being barefoot strengthens our feet and is more natural, it makes sense that our hands need to be strong to be the great connection with the upper body. Interestingly enough, “sandbag exercises” have long been touted for their ability to improve grip. Yet, when it comes to Ultimate Sandbag exercises, a lot of people totally misunderstand these concepts.
Grip has been shown to have a strong correlation to the health of one’s rotator cuff, so you can imagine this isn’t something to gloss over. Yet, people really don’t understand grip training and how BIG of a difference Ultimate Sandbag exercises can be in developing it. How you grab and grip any implement will really determine the lasting success of the movement you do. If you approach an exercise, grabbing onto the implement (kettlebelll, dumbbell, barbell, Ultimate Sandbag) lacking a purposeful grip you are asking the wrong muscles to be the primary movers and looking for trouble down the road!
Oh man, if I only knew then what I know now!!!
When the “Old Cory” would set up for an exercise, I would strangle my implement (usually a barbell) and think shoulders and triceps while muscling through it. The “I’ve-Had-An-Encounter-With-DVRT Cory” creates a firm, meaningful grip and thinks lats, abs, and glutes while finessing through the movements. This is where some of the advantages of Ultimate Sandbag exercises really shine through.
Typically when we think shoulders and arms as the primary mover, our shoulders jack up close to our ears and we allow inefficiencies to creep into our movements. Do this long enough and you’ll be wondering why your neck and shoulder area gives you such problems. However, when we pull those shoulders away from the ears and put more attention on the lats and less on the arms and shoulders you will benefit from a healthy upper body for life!
It’s one of the most popular cues we use in the DVRT community – pull the handles of your USB apart, but It’s amazing how a simple cue like, ‘pull the handles apart,’ can look so different for so many people I train! I have found with our clients at Fitness Lying Down one simple cue that helps to universally engage the lats is closely related to The Fonz from Happy Days!
This ONE cue can completely change the outcome in your Ultimate Sandbag exercises!!!
Slightly rotating your thumbs out while holding on to either the neutral handles or outside handles your elbows automatically turn inward causing your lats to light up like a Christmas tree in December! And this is the response we’re expecting when we say, ‘pull the handles apart,’ but I’m finding when our clients at Fitness Lying Down give us, “The Fonz” we get what we want without undue stress on the shoulders, elbows, or wrists.
Once we establish “The Fonz” grip then the rest goes very smoothly. Think of our beloved power cleans with the Ultimate Sandbag. Once you turn those thumbs out slightly, don’t even think about it anymore, and continue separating the handles as you rise and extend your hips and feel the ease of your high pull as the USB floats into your waiting arms!
No handle tension makes one lose their “plank” and predisposes them to more rounding of the back and “yanking” of the shoulders.
Just fixing the grip can have tremendous changes to posture and power!
And now what if you’re performing awesome DVRT drills with the Ultimate Sandbag and not using any handles? What do you do? How can you create the same activation “The Fonz” grip offered without using any handles? Enter: The Lobster grip!
When grabbing something with your fingers, you are looking to include more arms and shoulders to play than necessary and they’re not very strong – meaning you won’t be very strong for the movement at hand. However, when you bring your lobster grip to the party your lats and shoulder blade muscles come, as well! And there is a lot of fire power back there to make you successful.
When we grab onto the Ultimate Sandbag for specific drills like Press Outs, we do so with the same purpose and intent that we do the handles!
“Soft” grip means not connecting the lats and core which makes us weaker in our movement, plus overloads the shoulder!
When we properly grip on our Ultimate Sandbag exercises we learn how to load the strong parts of our core and upper body and not injure our shoulders! We have a plank here that makes this such a killer exercise if done correctly!
Not paying attention to grip causes us to poorly load our shoulders and just flat out makes us weaker and let’s face it, sucks!
So, be cool like The Fonz while playing with your Ultimate Sandbags and enjoy the many benefits your body will reap from what has been sowed! Grip is important, how we do everything with Ultimate Sandbag exercises is important. The Ultimate Sandbag simply gives us the vehicle to do great things. Our understanding of DVRT movement system gives us the know how to accomplish and teach great ideas!
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