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Myths Of Getting Serious Strength

sandbag fitness equipment

Fitness can be a tricky industry to navigate, there are SO many people telling you that so MANY different things are good or bad for you that it can feel impossible to filter the truth. I don’t blame the fact that people that are in the industry and those that are fitness enthusiasts are left to just judging who is right by who has the biggest social media following, who looks the best, etc. I hope a good discussion about some of these concepts, giving you science, context, and practical information will help you be able to filter more successfully. So, what are some of the BIGGEST myths of getting serious strength?

Myth: You Only Need Heavy Squats, Deadlifts, and Presses 

There is a pretty strong contingency that will tell you that all you need to do is get strong at “the basics”. The problem is that even IF we could agree that something like squats were part of those “basics” I think it would be really difficult to get an overwhelming response to agree on which squat that would be, they don’t all do the same thing so which squat do we need to be really strong in performing? We have research now that shows that a rear foot elevated split squat can produce similar force production and muscle activity of a heavy back squat. People may want to argue this but it IS research that shows us this information. Which leaves open a much bigger question?

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Is it really true that those exercises people like to hold up are ACTUALLY the ones that help us create serious strength? Even if you say that, “well Josh, they still make you strong”, I can’t argue that is true. However, every exercise has a cost to benefit and every exercise should be looked at as how much they can accomplish overall? In the case of the back squat and rear foot elevated split squat in the study above, both make you strong and train a lot of muscles right? However, the back squat exposes the spine to more stress and doesn’t train the stability nor even the mobility levels that the rear foot does.

What if you can’t perform a rear foot elevated squat though? Shouldn’t we build some strength in the squat? Absolutely! However that is where our progressions of the squat pattern come into play and seeing how we use load position and dimension to challenge and build these squats is how we build serious strength.


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

With our Burly Ultimate Sandbag having the largest dimension and going from 60-150 pounds, we can build some serious strength in many different ways and in more movements. However, these progressions Cory Cripe shows are key to understanding how we have better options that just pounding heavier and heavier on our body than thinking about the overall functional fitness we can build. 


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Cory explains why some of these DVRT movements that look similar to other exercises actually build even more serious strength that will go further than the exercise by itself!


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

Cory also breaks down how we build incremental progression to adding more complex strategies to our squats in how we stand with a weight and how you hold the weight. 

People get stuck thinking about how you build serious strength because really of two reasons. The first is they like certain tools and in the case of something like a barbell, it is a tool that is designed for the smallest number of holding positions, it is built to be an up a down moving tool, it doesn’t change its dimension, and it is always placed and loaded in the most stable means. That may upset some people to hear, but that isn’t me taking a shot at the barbell, that is me studying the history of how and why the barbell was designed in the first place.

Alan Calvert is credited as being one of the originators of the barbell and his explanations are pretty fascinating. 

The other reason that people get lost on building serious strength takes us to our next myth…

Myth: Strength Is All About How Much Force You Produce

Being someone who has invested heavily into the textbooks on the science of strength training, this belief was one I held myself for quite some time because it would appear as the definition of strength in many books. However, as I got more into coaching it didn’t make complete sense to me. Someone could be really strong in let’s say a deadlift, but struggle on a certain step-up variation. Does that mean they weren’t strong? It wasn’t until I read this quote from the late, great, Dr. Mel Siff that did things make sense and make me re-think about DVRT even!

“Let us first correct that basic definition that strength is the ability of the body to produce maximum force. It is not! Strength is the ability of the body to produce force….”the ability of a given muscle or group of muscles to generate muscular force under specific conditions.”

That made ALL these sense to me because we inherently know people are strong in different ways. It also made me realize that the weakness for many people (even those in sports like Powerlifting) came not from a muscle being weak, but they weren’t strong under a different “condition”.

serious strength

Now the potential issue in sharing this idea is that people get pretty crazy what different “conditions” means. Typically it refers to variables like range of motion, speed, plane of motion, body position, and holding position. I know it may surprise you to hear that people will take these ideas and go to pretty big extremes, but here are some examples of how we use these concepts in a sensible manner to build both success and serious strength.


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Robin Paget shows using different planes of motion, movement patterns, and positions to build a really well rounded program. 

What do I mean by “extreme”? When people try to use exercises that do use these variables but highly increase the risk of injury in doing so as well as not showing how we establish good foundations in their use. Instead of people experiencing their great benefits and seeing how much more they can accomplish both in their overall fitness, but also building serious strength they go back to what they were doing before. That is a sadly lost opportunity we don’t want to see happen and why we share these types of posts to show how really smart fitness can also be very sensible and practical!

Don’t miss right now you can get a FREE Force Ultimate Sandbag with investing in any of our Burly Ultimate Sandbags. Just use code “freeforce” HERE (only available for mainland US).


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