Shauna Sevon, DVRT Master Instructor
It’s been my experience with DVRT and Ultimate Sandbags that people tend to question it right away. The three most common questions I hear are: can they get stronger, does this strength transfer to other training tools (specifically barbells), and is there really any reason to incorporate it in their programming? To answer these questions, I wanted to share my experience.
About a year ago, itching to try something new and possibly get competitive, I began powerlifting. For those unfamiliar, powerlifters train and compete for a one rep max squat, bench press, and deadlift. Prior to starting my powerlifting journey, my experience with a barbell was minimal. Maybe it’s because I’m a woman, but the thought of bench pressing never even crossed my mind. My tools of choice were USBs and kettlebells (and still are outside of working on my three lifts).
It wasn’t until my now coach casually mentioned teaching me how to powerlift that I started questioning it. Could I be strong enough to compete? (A silly question as there is no minimal amount of weight you need to lift to compete.) I was thinking about how much weight I’d like to be able to move for each lift and bench press worried me the most.
For some reason, I had it set in my head that I needed to bench press my body weight, which was 125 pounds at the time. The only pressing I had ever done was overhead and with a USB or kettlebell. Never having pressed anything heavier than a 70 pound strength bag or a 35 pound kettlebell, I thought I would need quite a bit of training to bench press 125 pounds.
What I didn’t take into consideration is the strength DVRT gave my entire posterior chain, which is used during a powerlifting bench press. Everything I had done up until that day, be it rotational lunges to kneeling arc presses, had built a strong foundation for powerlifting. My first day powerlifting, we tested my one rep max bench press. Not only did I bench my body weight, but I worked all the way up to 160 pounds. To the male readers, this might not seem like a lot of weight, but keep in mind, there are competitive female powerlifters who cannot bench this weight.
Going back to the start of this blog, I think it’s pretty obvious that strength gains can be made and can transfer to other tools. To this day, I still use DVRT and USBs as part of my training program. Here are my top five DVRT exercises for bench press:
1. Slow descent overhead presses (3-5 seconds)
This teaches people how to really engage their lats which in REAL pressing movements is the most important driver of strength. The best part of the using the Ultimate Sandbag you get to do so while using an unstable tool and standing which both parts also really work the core which again, most people don’t realize is REALLY important to strong pressing work.
Geoff Lewis knows how to integrate his entire body and that is why he dominated the 100 pound Burly DVRT Clean and Press test!
2. Rotational lunges (yes, lunges)
How in the world do lunges impact your pressing strength, especially on the bench press?! Sure thing. Most people don’t realize that powerlifters incorporate a lot of lower body/leg drive in their bench press. Not only does the DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Rotational Lunge open your hips up, but they help make the hips and trunk strong all at once. Again, teaching the body how to connect to itself more efficiently which is what learning to be strong is all about. Understanding how to transfer force through the entire body rather than just a region!
3. Around the worlds
Well, you just got a WHOLE lot of great reasons and ways to perform the DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training Around the World from DVRT Master Chief, Kari Negraiff (read here!). Not only does the Around the World open the upper body up, it does so while teaching to have a reactive core and mobilizing the hips. In other words, ANOTHER huge “big bang for your buck” DVRT drill that teaches you real world strength!
4. Iso pulls
Lateral drags tend to be the “sexy” DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training drill, but Iso pulls are actually my favorite! People have NO IDEA how hard these are until they actually try them. It exposes weaknesses all over the body and if you want to be strong you can’t have weak links in your chain!
5. Heavy power cleans
Again! Lower body based movements for stronger upper body? Heavy Ultimate Sandbag power cleans are more than that. Yes, we get a TON of hip power which IS a part of pressing, but we have to create a stable trunk and learn to extend the entire body which creates more power than most other forms of the clean. Don’t believe me? Grab a 80 or heavier Burly Ultimate Sandbag and see what full body extension teaches you about strength!
There is something about being a smaller woman and seeing the guys eyes pop out that I have to admit is really cool. We live in an age where woman “empowerment” is being talked about a lot about in fitness. I think empowerment comes in showing people that what they thought was impossible is actually very possible. I’ve never been a very in your face person, but watching my ladies do things they never expected is one of the BIG reasons I fell in love with DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training!
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