Get Over the Bag…
It’s Wednesday, more appropriately known as “Humpday” to office workers, Facebook goers and camels worldwide. Thought it would be a fitting time to write about how I got “over the bag.” Now before you go thinking I’m protesting the Ultimate Sandbag Training System, I’m not. I want to tell you about my journey to pass seemingly the hardest physical test I’ve ever been tasked to accomplish- Josh Henkin’s, Ultimate Sandbag Clean and Press Test: 50 Reps at 100lb+ Burly in 5 minutes.
In all honesty, Hell Week in college was a breeze compared to this because I’ve never been faced with a task that I could not accomplish in at least 2 tries, that is unless it’s Level 340 something in Candy Crush. What? Don’t judge me.
Now I’ll give you a quick backstory. For those of you playing at home, I’m 260lbs, so I’m not a small kid and yes, even I could drop a few pounds- I’m just like some of you. These days, I love to move but I dislike the notion of “working out”. So anything that is non-traditional has a huge appeal to me, hence why I was so drawn to the Ultimate Sandbag in the first place (well that and two fractured vertebrae…a story for another time).
The very first time I attempted the Clean and Press Challenge was at the yearly DVRT Master Trainer gathering in AZ. With the knowledge 8 weeks prior that I would have this test, I managed 33 Reps in 5 minutes. I gassed out, dropped the bag on my head a few times and ended my attempt feeling defeated. Only one person over 210lbs passed that day. I went home days later wondering if I would ever finish this challenge as it mentally had gotten me. (Josh wrote a great article about, “When Failure is the Right Option.”, check it out.)
The next few months went like this: Life. Procrastination. Excuses.
At the end of January I made it a goal of mine to complete the Clean and Press Challenge. I got in a few days of training before February 9th, when Robert Dos Remedios posted his successful completion of the challenge on the DVRT Fitness Group Facebook page and that gave me a new feeling of motivation and desire to complete this challenge. I read Dos’ article about his journey and figured I too, would need to problem solve to find MY way to get over the bag.
I set one of the following goals for each session throughout my training:
BE FLUID: Efficient and clean movement.
JUST COMPLETE IT: Finish the work in the given time.
LEARN FROM IT: Where I would need rest and where I could push out a few more reps.
I attempted the Clean and Press Challenge 3 times and learned each time what I had to do to pass it:
I passed my Clean and Press challenge on 3/7, at 11:15am with 50 reps in 4:55.
What I learned at the end that worked best for me was the following:
I laid out a perfectly good 3 day a week plan, however, I felt tired and unable to fully recover like I needed to between sessions, so I dropped down to 2 days a week and left 3-4 days between each training session.
I did no auxiliary cardio at any point and time during this program.
Weeks 1-2: Technique and Speed
Weeks 3-4: Volume
Weeks 5-6: No training other than the test.
As you can see, within 9 days(2/26-3/7) I went from barely getting 45 reps, to 48 reps and finally 50. I felt the test itself alone was enough work to get me over the hump.
I worked best in 5, 1-minute cycles. I would work for 30-32 seconds and then rest to the top of the next minute and then repeat the whole process again.
I found that training with a #90 Strength bag and #108 Burly more effective than going as low as #80 Strength because there wasn’t much difference in timing and because the difference in load was so great, the #108 felt heavier afterwards.
Don’t get too excited when you pass the test, you’ll become very weak all of a sudden and need to use the floor to help you stand up.
Since completing the challenge I have found a new kick in my step, as if this challenge was something I needed to prove to myself that I could do. Just like sports, all it takes is one win to start a streak. I now have set my eyes on getting the #130 Burly as well and I look forward to getting over that bag too!