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How 100 Pounds Builds More Functional Strength Than 300

sandbag training

It might sound crazy to say that 100 pounds can build more functional strength than 300 pounds, but that is because not all weight is the same. I learned this lesson the hard way when I was competing doing strongman events lifting 900 pound tires, 400 pound stones, carrying 300 plus in farmer’s walks. Those are definitely some heavy weights, but then why did a 100 pound homemade sandbag kick my butt over 20 years ago?!

functional strength

Yea, that is me behind that heavy stone!

To be honest, there was always little tricks you could use with any of the implements I mentioned. Once you got familiar with the tread of a tire, you could figure out how to grip it and use your leverage to lift much heavier weight that you might think! There is amazing sticky stuff called “tacky” that makes lifting stones A LOT easier as well as understanding how to make the weight part of your body. Farmer’s walks? It is funny, I never had amazing grip strength, but I could hold a lot of weight because I do have rather large hands (made my basketball days a lot easier).

functional strength

However, with the sandbag, there was no “trick” to lifting it. I was far from the first to discover this unique aspect to sandbags. In the famous book Dinosaur Training, the author, Brooks Kubik states, “You feel as sore as you do because the bags (sandbags) worked your body in ways you could not approach with a barbell alone. You got into the muscle areas you normally don’t work. You worked the “heck” out of the stabilizers” (Kubik, p. 115).

Brooks goes on to explain, “Lifting heavy versions of these odd objects is not possible without heavily involving the whole body…You will feel muscles you didn’t even know existed!” With heavier loads, you don’t just “lift” the weight. You must wrestle and fight the weight till you conquer it. Then, you will find exercises like curls unnecessary especially for building functional strength.

This story may make wonder why making the Ultimate Sandbag was created then if my original homemade sandbag was so good? Imagine if we could have all the benefits I mentioned and WAY more! The fact we could expand on these ideas and make a deliberate system instead of novel exercises for functional strength? Yea, that is why athletes from college to pros and the military, that had access to sandbags started using the Ultimate Sandbag.

When you combine the unique aspect of dimension (yea, our heavier Ultimate Sandbags are a VERY different size that you will see anywhere in the gym), the instability if the shifting sand, and even the handles are a BIG difference! How? The handles have no weight and aren’t at the center of the weight like you would find on the barbell. That means 100 pounds in an Ultimate Sandbag is WAAAYYY heavier than that of any other weight.


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A post shared by Cory M. Cripe (@corymcripe)

Coach Cory Cripe shows some examples of how these differences build such greater functional strength.

Fitness expert, Alwyn Cosgrove, explains it so well…“Let me explain “Alive” – let’s say you can deadlift 100lbs. Now try to pick up a 100lb child who doesn’t want to be picked up! It’s an entirely different type of strength – one that grapplers and mixed martial artists can attest to. I can remember my brother coming to visit and squatting over 200lbs very easily. I gave him a 100lb DVRT Ultimate Sandbag and asked him to clean it and front squat it. He couldn’t do it. The Ultimate Sandbag moves around too much.”

The functional strength that lifting heavy Ultimate Sandbags produces along with building greater stabilizers and conditioning means we can achieve so much at once. That is why you shouldn’t let just the number on the weight determine if you are building all around fitness as the numbers can be misleading and keep you from achieving as much if you don’t know all the variables that go into great functional strength.

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