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Going Beyond Olympic Lifting

sandbag exercise equipment

One of the reasons I really love writing our DVRT blogs is because I love sharing my experiences with all of you. In all honesty, one of my big motivations in writing these blogs is sharing my mistakes, things I wish other would have told me, and helping people have as much success as possible.

Why do I feel like I can do that for you? Because honestly, I’ve done a lot of it. I’ve done bodybuilding, Olympic lifting, powerlifting, strong, kettlebells, pretty much you name it. I’ll be the first to say that I wasn’t a rock star in any of them, but when I dive into something I do take it seriously.

When I learned Olympic lifting for example, not only did I take my USA Weightlifting certification at the Olympic training center in Colorado Springs, but also spent a lot of time with a friend who had been on the national team.

All that said, it doesn’t mean I would become awesome, but I definitely learned a lot from the experience. To say I was shocked that Olympic lifting went from something we did in the corners of the gym and hoped we didn’t get yelled at, or the super hot garages where we could actually have good bars, to Olympic lifting being pretty common place in fitness is crazy.

However, if you ask a lot of people why they Olympic lift, they will tell you something rather vague like…POWER! Does Olympic lifting develop power? Sure does, yet, so do many things, and there is a huge limitation in how we see power training with Olympic lifting.

First off, you have to understand Olympic lifting is a sport, so it really isn’t meant or designed to be a fitness program or develop qualities outside of the sport. Many times, well intended fitness professionals add it in because it does give a more “athletic” feeling that most of the lifts we do in the gym.

The feeling of being fast, reactive, and agile is a really great one! Yet, what surprises people is that as good as Olympic lifting is, there might be just as good, if not better ways for people that want real world strength and fitness to achieve these goals.

This is a topic I am actually presenting on for a big sports performance conference in January. That is the idea of training power and strength in different planes of motion.

The what’s? There are three issues I typically find with non-Olympic lifters trying to benefit the Olympic lifts….power outside of the sagittal plane, teaching deceleration strength, and technique.

Even friends of mine that I respect with being great Olympic lifters will joke they are sagittal plane athletes only. Meaning that if you make them move more than up and down, they get into trouble:) That is obviously a big problem for people that want to be strong and agile in real world settings. You can’t really use classic Olympic lifting to solve this problem either.

The second part is that with all the discussion of “power” one of the most important aspects we neglect is our ability to absorb force very efficiently. This is something we have written a ton about in our DVRT blogs because most people get hurt trying to stop motion, not start it.

Then lastly, we take some weird honor in trying to make things really complicated. We tend to think the more confusing and technical things are, the better they are. I don’t know about you, but I rarely find that to be the case!

So, what am I proposing. Yes, I am suggesting that Ultimate Sandbag Training can go a long ways to help, but not just because I want you to use the Ultimate Sandbag. People often think an Ultimate Sandbag is just a weaker barbell. The truth is it is quite high powered.


For one, due to the distance of the handles to the center of mass, the Ultimate Sandbag always feels SIGNIFICANTLY heavier than a barbell of equal weight. We have the fact the Ultimate Sandbag is unstable so you have to be more precise with your movement. Then best of all, we can move it in so many directions that it allows us to build so many different types of strength and power at once.

Jared A. Forestieri shows how we can use the Ultimate Sandbag to train the deceleration part that Olympic lifts really do not train. You can take this into a multitude of directions too, but this is a great example!

DVRT Master, Ian Vaughn, shows how we take the power of the mighty Snatch lift and give it so much life by giving it motion!

Lastly, how could we not see the full potential of functional fitness when we take a classic Olympic lifting complex like “The Bear” and give it a true DVRT spin.

When you combine dimension, instability, weight, and accuracy, you have more than just “power” you have real world strength!

Want to learn how we are transforming functional fitness around the world? Check out our DVRT education programs HERE or save 25% on our Online DVRT courses and get a $50 coupon for your next order HERE with code “holiday”