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Are Kettlebell Swings For Ultimate Sandbags?

sandbag training

Ian Vaughn, DVRT Master (Creator of DVRT For Real World Muscle & Strength and DVRT For Obstacle Course Racing)

Commonly when we hear swings and getups, we automatically think kettlebells and how the two are a perfect balance of ballistic strength with the swing – to slow and fluid controlled strength with the get up. There is no argument the kettlebell is a incredible tool and is something I’m not trying to detour away from a kettlebell enthusiast’s program. I LOVE kettlebells, but the great thing about DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training is it can bring an even BETTER understanding to the styles of training you love best. Just like when I played football as an offensive lineman, I still had to know how to play defense lineman to be a better player of the game.

However when Ultimate Sandbags come into the mix of getups and swings it’s not surprising people get the completely wrong idea because they don’t know the difference between a philosophy and a training tool. So I need to make this clear…

The Ultimate Sandbag IS NOT a kettlebell!


After coaching DVRT for a couple years, it never ceases to amaze me when a kettlebell purist sees an Ultimate Sandbag and grabs the suitcase handle and then swings it between the legs (then if you listen closely, you’ll hear creator Josh Henkin screaming “NOOOO!!!” from thousands of miles away). This is wrong simply because the kettlebell is better suited for this. The focus of the swing is accelerating and decelerating mass with control (or it controls you). So the USB MAX Lunge takes that pendulum into a horseshoe shape going around the body instead of back & forth with the kettlebell. However notice, they both end the same at the top of the swing with solid vertical plank: glutes tight with knees & hips fully extended, core braced, and arms extended. The big difference is they’re going in different directions and cannot be replicated if you tried to switch the movements with the two (this means don’t do a MAX Lunge with a kettlebell).

Don’t swing a sandbag like a kettlebell – don’t swing a kettlebell like an Ultimate Sandbag

Next is the Get Up. Once again, the same goes for the swing. Just because you can do a kettlebell style get up with an Ultimate Sandbag – doesn’t mean you should. Ultimate Sandbag Leg Threading can be very challenging to those who are experienced with kettlebell get ups. The big differences are head position (eye gaze), and even more focus on the unloaded shoulder (usually the unloaded shoulder acts as the limiting factor in the Get Up). Now that the Ultimate Sandbag is shoulder loaded this now puts more emphasis on the core and hip mobility:

Once notice how my eye gaze stays straight ahead (not looking up) and then my extended leg sweeps into a side plank.

So there are a lot of physical commonalities with the kettlebell and Ultimate Sandbag, but are certainly different in how we move with them once we focus on the purpose of the tool. This is why in my latest program (DVRT for Real World Strength & Muscle) I have a one whole Kettlebell / Ultimate Sandbag workout that gets progressed in each week to teach the similarities and differences of the two. It really packs a solid one, two punch to give real strength gains. I hope I gave a better understanding on how to utilize these two great tools.

sandbag training

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