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How Ultimate Sandbag Training Changes How We Train Glutes

sandbag training

Believe it or not, we don’t try to be controversial when we give our ideas of functional training. However, change is always difficult, especially when there is an overwhelming amount of people doing one thing, suggesting something different can definitely make you sound crazy! A great example of this is how we teach hip bridges for the glutes so much differently than pretty much everyone else.


In our DVRT educational programs, I think the way we train glutes really throws people for a loop, at least from a foundational perspective.  Hip bridge? You got that right, I purposefully didn’t say glute bridge because there is so much more happening during this bridge than JUST what happens at the glutes. 

My hesitation sometimes in speaking about this subject is that people will quickly jump tot he conclusion that I’m pushing some weird Ultimate Sandbag Training agenda. The reality is that my goal for DVRT is to bring science to life. Plus, it would be SOOOO easy for me to simply have people put an Ultimate Sandbag on their hips and thrust away. After all, that would be way more comfortable than a barbell!

The truth is we don’t want to do something because it is different, but because it is better! We lead all our programs with lots of the “why’s” of everything we do in DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training. Without knowing the why’s then it just becomes more “stuff”. I always tell our attendees we look at exercises as solutions to a problem. So, you better know how you are going to solve the problem at hand. 

The challenge can be that people don’t know what the issue is in developing the glutes the way MOST people do the hip bridge. When I ask coaches, “how do the glutes help the low back?” The answers are all over the place, but sadly almost none are actually correct!

sandbag training

We do train the hip bridge differently for good reason!

Much of it has to do with helping to stabilize your sacroiliac joint (SI joint for short). Many people have heard of the SI joint, but not everyone. This joint is an important for function of the pelvis in both creating movement as well as providing stability The truth is that most people that suffer from chronic low back pain have more SI joint stability issues than anything. 

In order to help stabilize the SI joint there are two strategies your body uses (I’m giving you the short version of a very detailed series of actions) both form and force closure. Form closure has to do more with the “pieces” of the pelvis fitting together right, where force closure is accomplished through a connection of ligaments, fascia, and muscles all working together synergistically to create stability. 

Is your head spinning? Don’t worry, I will show you shortly how DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training makes this pretty simple to see it in practical terms. 

This is a way I demonstrate how we bring science to life. You SEE how activating the right chains makes the glutes a lot stronger when we thought they were weak!

The series of connections your body relies upon for this force closure to be effective is what the fascial lines, slings, chains, whatever you like to call them play a rather large role. That is why DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training doesn’t look at individual muscles, but how they work together (hence the reason hip, not glute, bridge). 

While there are whole text books devoted to exploring these ideas, I’m going to try to make it as simple and usable as possible for a daily blog post:) One of the more important fascial slings that play a role in force closure is the Posterior Oblique System (POS). You’ve probably seen us talk a lot about the POS in our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training blogs because they are both REALLY important and rather easy to wrap one’s head around. 

The POS has been described as its role in force closure to, “….form closure provides stability to the SIJ, for mobility to occur further joint compression and stabilisation is required to withstand a vertical load. Force closure is the term used to describe the other forces acting across the joint to create stability. This force is generated by structures with a fibre direction perpendicular to the sacroiliac joint and is adjustable according to the loading situation. ]Muscles, ligaments and the thoracolumbar facia all contribute to force closure. Force closure is particularly important during activities such as walking when unilateral loading of the legs creates shear forces

Force closure creates greater friction and therefore increased form closure and what is called “self-bracing” or “self-locking” of the joint. According to Willard et al. Force closure reduces the joint’s ‘neutral zone’ thereby facilitating stabilization.” (you can read the more HERE)

This is a big reason that on a barbell deadlift one is taught to “break the bar”, or when teaching a kettlebell swing to, “break the handle”, or why in all our Ultimate Sandbag Training exercises we speak a great deal about creating tension against the Ultimate Sandbag, not just holding it. 

sandbag training

Simple cues like “pulling the handles apart” is an easy way to engage these chains.

The connection with the lat, core, and glutes plays a big role in how we move in life, how lift in the gym, but NOT in how we perform hip bridges?! When a young lady at one our DVRT course asked me, “is there a reason to put the weight on the hips?” I replied asking, “based on what you know now, can you tell me why you would?” Of course if we look at how the body functions, the answer would be no.

It wouldn’t probably be a huge leap to suggest that without using the lats and core during a hip bridge that we are exposing the lumbar spine and SI joint to possible issues. However, I am very understanding the dilemma this young coach was facing. 

shoulder exercises

These chains are well established, but it shows how even though many say they are into functional training, they end up bodybuilding. However, in this case (as well as many others) when we train the body in a functional way we can improve cosmetics AND functionality. 

For one, how could the “sandbag guy” be right and so many people be wrong? Well, as DVRT Master, Steve Holiner, puts it so well, “we can agree that DVRT is NOT a sandbag course right?” I know I often say that and of course begs the question that if isn’t just a users course on Ultimate Sandbag Training what is it? DVRT (notice I didn’t say Ultimate Sandbag Training) is designed to give people the knowledge of how the body functions and we express and use these principles in Ultimate Sandbag Training, but in all tools we use. 

The young coach was also battling that the facility she worked at was programming hip bridges with the weight on the hips. I’m sure that is a really confusing dilemma. No one wants to believe the people they are working for don’t know what they are doing right? Fortunately, I know the facility very well and I can say they are outstanding coaches. However, we ALL evolve and grow, or so we should. 

As more information is provided, why would we not want to use it to our advantage to provide even better results? It wasn’t long ago that the same industry thought the best way to train the body was to isolate all the muscles, that aerobic exercise was the best way to lose fat and improve cardiovascular fitness, or crunches and sit-ups were the best way to train the core. 

Over the years as we learned more about the body we evolved and grew overall as an industry and realized there was a better way. In fact, the best coaches I know do this very thing! Could you imagine if your doctor, accountant, mechanic, plumber, wouldn’t use the most current information in their practice or business? You would call them outdated and “behind the times”. 

That why when DVRT Master, Cory Cripe, breaks down the why’s and how’s of how we use Ultimate Sandbag Training hip bridges I’ll ask you the same question I asked the coach. “Why would you do it any other way?”

Want to see how Ultimate Sandbag workouts make your training better? Check out our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag workouts HERE and DVRT Online Education HERE for 20% off with coupon code “save20”. Find out how we use just Ultimate Sandbags or how we integrate them with other great functional fitness tools!