The other day I was getting a treatment from my chiropractor. Ever since we moved to Vegas I have gone through a few professionals to find one that could work with my body the best. I’m pretty happy with my current chiro and we end up chatting during the treatment. I can tell he is always intrigued by what we are doing by our Ultimate Sandbag exercises. Mostly because he can’t believe when we go through my health history that I am able to do the things I can!
Don’t get me wrong, nothing I am doing in my training is going to break world records. However, for me, being able to do the things I love relatively pain free is a HUGE deal. Of course you could expect that I give Ultimate Sandbag exercises a lot of the credit.
I really am not writing this to pat ourselves on the back. Instead, the motivation that Jessica and I have to keep sharing our DVRT posts is what we have gone through and the dramatic changes we have personally experienced. That is why when people tell us (many times professionals of many disciplines of health and fitness) they can’t any longer do a movement it breaks our heart.
Personally I know what it is like to lose the ability to do something. Losing my right leg completely for a period was a scary as things come! So, I never think of just showing people “cool” new Ultimate Sandbag exercises. Instead, I think of providing them solutions that will ultimately allow them to regain the very things they lost.
It is also a big reason I get disheartened looking at social media. So many times I see fitness pros posting this or that exercise for people with “bad” shoulders. While I never encourage people to train people into pain, I rarely see what they are doing to try to help the problematic area. The number of “bad” shoulders Jessica and I have seen improve dramatically tells us there are much fewer cases of people that can’t be helped than those that just need to be taught how to use their bodies smarter!
How can Ultimate Sandbag exercises be a big part of getting you healthier, more resilient, and better feeling shoulders? I would start with one of the most unassuming of our Ultimate Sandbag exercises.
Jessica often shows me something she has seen online and goes, “look another bird dog” with quite a bit of sarcasm in her voice. Why? Too often in fitness we find a good exercise and try to add novelty to it without having much purpose to what adding that variation brings to the exercise. How does it enhance it?
First off, why are Bird Dogs part of our discussion of shoulders? There are many reasons! One of the most important is that performing the Bird Dog correctly teaches us how to properly engage the ground.
A BIG reason that people hurt their shoulders is they try to use small muscles (like the shoulders) to lift a weight. Teaching them how to use the entire body completely shifts a weight from feeling in the shoulders to almost “magically” being dissipated throughout the entire body.
The Bird Dog plays a big role because in order to perform these Ultimate Sandbag exercises well, you have to use the ground to balance the body. That is where first learning to use your hands and feet can make such a profound difference.
We begin teaching these Ultimate Sandbag exercises by first learning to grip the ground! In doing so you find that you create an arch in the palm of the hand and we know from the feet, when we have an arch we have a more positive chain reaction up the body! Gripping the ground also gets our lats to be active and fixes the positioning of the scapula.
My right hands pinky is legendary for disturbing DVRT attendees, but helps people remember to really grip the ground to build strength ands stability. No, you don’t have to break your fingers to accomplish this, but does show once upon a time my basketball career.
Yup, no more need for serrartus anterior work or anything of that nature. These Ultimate Sandbag exercises build up from the chain and fix a lot of these issues that people are coming from these weak stabilizers.
The same goes for the feet! When we push into the balls of the feet we instantly feel our hamstrings, glutes, and yes, core kick in. Even if we just worked on creating this tension for time you would find that your shoulders feel a bit better.
What we are doing with these Ultimate Sandbag exercises are connecting the chains of the body and building a strong foundation through the true core of the body. It is amazing how fast the body transforms when you know how it works!
Where the Ultimate Sandbag Comes into Play!
DVRT UK Master, Greg Gergely Perlaki, shows that the greatest reflection of true functional strength is when you make difficult things look easy!
One of the great benefits of the Bird Dog is that it is a 3-D exercise. How do I mean? Many of the best goals of functional training is to teach people how to produce strength as they resist movement. That is why the Bird Dog is part of spine expert, Dr. Stuart McGill’s, “Big 3” core stability exercises.
That means when we are moving the body we want to not just randomly move the arms and legs, but want to do so with a little movement from the rest of the body as possible. This is where true core stability comes into play.
Believe it or not, lack of knowing how to use the core is a big reason people end up hurting their shoulders. You don’t need a PhD in biomechanics to know that the shoulder has a lot of mobility to it (or at least should!). If an area of the body has great mobility, then it needs another area to create a base of stability. So, if your core isn’t work right then your shoulders will definitely feel it!
Part of this discussion and why Ultimate Sandbag exercises are different than many other Bird Dog variations is that we are using the Ultimate Sandbag to teach the core HOW to work and connect the chains of the body. Most of the variations of Bird Dogs we see are just out to make the exercise harder.
That is why in our Ultimate Sandbag exercises, progression is key. One of the most unassuming ways of building great strength is in what we call ISO pulls. The name implies we are isometrically pulling the weight, in other words, first just teaching how to create tension. This tension starts to connect the lats, core, and then glutes together to provide stability.
Ultimate Sandbag exercises like lateral drags are simply a progression of our Bird Dogs. That means the principles are the same and Jessica shows how the little things make a big difference!
With that said, arm position plays a HUGE role here and another reason that Ultimate Sandbag gives us an advantage. By going palms up, we don’t get into the shoulder joint, but keep the load in the lats. Watch many other variations and they often have the palm down and they are wrenching on people’s shoulders!
Integrating the feet becomes another aspect of the series and we don’t start lifting them high off the ground. Most people are surprised how doing something like using a glider but trying to keep tension in the feet can become such a huge challenge. Like our upper body, we need to progress the lower body slowly. That is why if you don’t know our DVRT system and what we are trying to achieve, these progressions just look like random exercises to you.
Everything we do in these drills has a purpose and probably the most misunderstood is the drag. Creating slow, deliberate friction, while we are keeping this intentional tension makes people’s eye balls jump out. That is because most people don’t perform these movements with the right intent and end up just doing random exercises that LOOK similar! The question I always ask is, “what are you trying to achieve?”
It is the BIGGEST reason we are able to create success in DVRT Ultimate Sandbag exercises that most people think are impossible! Try these variations and see your shoulders change almost instantly. Not because of magic, but because you are learning how to use the body better!!
Monday is the release of our NEW DVRT Shoulder Restoration Course. Sign-up below to receive a special coupon code when the course becomes available!
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