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How Do You Choose The Right Exercise?

Ultimate Sandbag fitness equipment

Jessica Bento, Physical Therapist (Creator DVRT Restoration, DVRT Rx Shoulder, Knee, Pelvic Control, & Gait Courses)

mobility training

Last week I wrote a blog (HERE) on why the Ultimate Sandbag is used deliberately in our movements. We don’t think about “hey, where can I get my Ultimate Sandbag exercise in for this workout?” Rather, we look at what we are trying to achieve, the movement pattern, the level of the exercise that best reflects that movement pattern for our goals, and then what tool allows us to best achieve all of this. 

I’ll admit, this is very different in how most people think about their training programs. A lot of times we are taught to think of a specific exercise first (where we get the idea that everyone has to perform a certain exercise) and/or they think of their tool first and then try to think of an exercise to use with it and so forth. Hopefully it makes MORE sense we start with the former than the latter. 

With that, I know that is going to bring up a few questions so I thought I would use today to answer them and give some practical examples of what I am talking about. 

How Do I Progress To Using THIS Tool

When kettlebells were reintroduced, many people didn’t think that they could make you strong because at the time the heaviest kettlebell was 70 pounds. Now, if all you did was do a two handed deadlift, it probably wouldn’t make you crazy strong. However, when we think about the foundations of kettlebell training (swing, clean and press, squat, snatch, Turkish get-up) two 70 pound kettlebells are incredibly challenging and able to build great strength in most people. 

ultimate sandbag training

My point? 

Getting stuck not using a tool for what it is designed to do best and to use it as just another tool would be used, is where people don’t realize the potential strength that can be built by a tool. For example, if you treat our Ultimate Sandbags like a barbell, you are going to miss so many of the unique benefits of the USB and won’t ever see how it is such an incredible tool for building strength, stability, and mobility. 

Now, that gets to my overall point. We often think that we need to progress to a certain tool because that tool can be heavily loaded. I’ve had social media posts myself using kettlebells and Ultimate Sandbags with people asking when they would progress to a barbell. This would only be somewhat a reasonable consideration IF all the tools I just mentioned functioned exactly the same ways and no other attribute but load is important in building strength. 

Since our tools all function somewhat differently we don’t have to progress to any specific tool as much as we have to think about how can we continue to work towards our goal in incrementally as possible. 

Well, How Do I Do It?

I could keep discussing all the considerations, but the better way of probably doing so is probably giving you some real examples of how we create these progressions. 

Case Study 1: 

New client, age 45, hasn’t worked out in over 3 years, history of low back discomfort but not pain

Goal For Series: 

-Want to teach proper upper body pulling mechanics

-Have client understand how to properly use their core while the upper body performs the movement

-Teaching how to engage the entire body from head to toe

Progression based on body position (we don’t have the ability to go over every level we would use in a blog) from foundational to most challenging…

Standing Band Row->Suspended Body Row->Supported DB/KB Row->USB Row

Jessica Bento physical therapistkettlebell rowultimate sandbag bent row

While there are A LOT of progressions in between all of these, the point was to show how we could layer proper progression. Standing requires the user to support the least of their body weight and the body position won’t be impacted as much by their fitness level and the level of tension of the band can accommodate for different levels. 

The body row is next because we still have our plank that we created in the standing position, but now place greater demands on maintaining that plank. Moving to the supported row we add in a hip hinge but use a more stable base of support to introduce the movement. Finally, moving to the USB bent row is most challenging because we have to hold our plank with the hip hinge as we row. The USB is used because of the grip allows easy means to integrate the upper body properly but we can create tension on the handles to make the weight somewhat more stable (using independent weights would be more unstable).

We can also take a good general rule of progression of integrating tools as we show in our L.I.F.T. certification (you can save 30% on the program now with code “save30now” HERE) for something like the squat. How would such progressions look? We use something like the following…

USB Press Out Squat->KB Goblet Squat->USB Bear Hug Squat->USB Front Loaded Squat->KB Double Rack Squat->USB Fist Loaded Squat->USB Off-Set Squat->KB Off-Set Double Rack Squat->KB Single Arm Squat->USB Shoulder Squat

Instead of doing things like elevating our heels on squats, these progressions along with the mini band for feedback on the feet teach us better squats. 

Of course someone would ask, when do you get to the barbell? To be honest, this is a good example of “I don’t know if I need to.” What I mean is that I can get plenty of load for most people through these progressions especially as we apply heavier USBs and kettlebells. Instead of chasing just heavier and heavier (I’ve seen few people best 150 pound Burly Ultimate Sandbags or 100 pound plus kettlebells on these progressions on a regular basis) I’d rather like to build the strength of our squat into more sophisticated levels by moving progressively to more single leg versions. 

***Below Josh shows how we can use these progressions to our advantage and how we can eventually move to the sprinter stance to continue our strength building and using these concepts to achieve superior results! 

These hopefully are ways to see how progressions of tools work in our system and hopefully yours as well! You don’t have to worry about precisely getting the right progression, but the simple question of asking yourself of, “why am I doing this?” Can go a long ways! The better questions you can ask yourself the better results you can deliver. 

Save 30% this week only on our Ultimate Sandbags/water bags, DVRT Online Education/Certifications, & Workout Programs with code “save30now” HERE