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Is Your Grip Limiting Your Performance?

Nailing the DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training Clean and Press: Get a Grip!

By Steve “Coach Fury” Holiner
DVRT Master Chief, Senior RKC, OS Instructor, MFF Raptor Whisperer

Here we go! Round 4 of my tips on how to nail the DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training Clean and Press Test! Today, we cover dialing in your ideal grip, and arm position.

Let’s get to it. We use the neutral grip “clean handles” for Cleans, Clean to Fists and High pulls. Here are 3 common gripping errors we see when people take their shot at the test.

Folks don’t grab the sweet spot of the handles.
People crush grip the handles.
The arms are bent at the elbows.
The shoulders aren’t packed.
The arms come to close together during the clean.

I’ll go into some detail on each of these and offer up some “suggestions” (aka: stuff you SHOULD do) to make things better. 

Where to grab: When getting ready to pick up a Ultimate Sandbag, you want to be sure you grip the center of the handle and pull upwards. Way too often, you’ll see the handles gripped toward one side and heavily angled. The rubber of the grip will actually be digging into the mesh of the handle strap. This position is no bueno. Pull from the center of the handle.

Loosen up: If you’ve done kettlebell cleans before, you’ll know that you never want to crush grip the handles during the clean. You need a “slightly” looser grip to allow the kettlebell to correctly do it’s thing. It’s similar to the USB Clean to Fist. If you grip too tight, you’ll be forced to aggressively muscle the USB onto your fists. You need to ease the grip tension off just enough so you can scoop your fists underneath at the float and allow the USB to land beautifully on your fists!

Start straight: As you set your starting position, be sure that your arms are straight and not pre-bent. Bend arms lead to yanking the USB with your arms on the clean. We don’t want that. We want to use our legs and butt to make the Ultimate Sandbag fly. The arm cue I’m about to give goes right into packing the shoulders.

Shoulder pack: After you grip the USB in that perfect spot, fully extend your arms and rotate the pits of your elbows outward. They should pretty much face the front of the USB. You’ll feel your lats engage as you do so and your shoulders should get sucked into the socket. Think of your shoulders going down and back at the same time. Once you feel that happening, try pulling the handles apart to feel some extra shoulder packing love! Pulling the handles apart leads to the final big tip of the day.

You need space: This is subtle but a biggie! We often see a pretty decent and explosively clean to fist fall apart because the hands get to close together at the catch. Our shoulders are in a far less than optimum position to press from here. Pressing from this type of position is far more fatiguing too. The sand in the USB will also start to shift more to the sides. You DO NOT want this. Your test USB will start to feel way heavier! Keep pulling the handles apart through the Clean to Fist to land in the best position for that push press.

Alrighty then. That’s third installment in my “Nailing the DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training Clean and Press Test” series! PLEASE let me know if these things are helping (or not)!

Give it a go.

Thanks for the read.


Steve “Coach Fury” Holiner’s superhero headquarters is Mark Fisher Fitness in NYC. Fury’s a DVRT Master Chief Instructor, Senior RKC, and an Original Strength. He is available for classes, semi-privates, instructor training and programming at MFF. He also has availability for private training at Catalyst S.P.O.R.T. Check out www.coachfury.comfacebook.com/coachfury IG @iamcoachfury and Twitter @coachfury for more info.