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Nailing The Ultimate Sandbag Clean and Press Challenge

ultimate sandbag

 

Steve “Coach Fury” Holiner, DVRT Master (CoachFury.com)

Hey buddy, Let’s talk about the dreaded DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training Clean and Press Test. Yup, it’s one of the hardest fitness challenges you will ever undertake. This is coming from a guy who has done more kettlebell snatch tests than I could even count!
ultimate sandbag training
But it’s also completely doable if you train properly for it. Having tested many folks at this point, I’ve seen a big number of common flaws that cost people the win on cert day. What’s the biggest flaw?

Not getting the float on the Clean to Fist.

Float?

Yeah, Ultimate Sandbag Training (USB) cleans fall in the “ballistic” category. We need to generate enough force to propel the USB off of the floor high enough to get our fists underneath it.

Where does the float drive from? Your legs, hips and glutes. The Ultimate Sandbag Training Clean to Fist has similar properties to the beloved Kettlebell Swing. It is even more similar to the single rep KB Dead Swing which starts from the floor every rep. We hike the bell back, snap into our plank, make the KB float and then reverse the motion back to the starting position.

There are 3 key differences between a Swing and the USB.

-We don’t hike the Ultimate Sandbag. It starts on top of our feet. -Our feet will be narrower (more hip width, than shoulder). -We are projecting the USB up, close to the body, and not forward.

On the flipside, there are 3 key similarities between the Swing and the USB.

-Power is generated by driving the feet hard through the floor using your hips, legs and ass. —–Push that floor down, find your plank and find it fast!
-We do not use our arms or backs to pull the Ultimate Sandbag up. In kettlebell land, the arms do what we call “taming the arc.” The path or “arc” of the kettlebell in the swing is determined by the length of the extended arm. In the DVRT Clean to Fist, the arms guide the USB vertically close to the body. Guide is the key word here. Not pull, yank, or muscle. 
-We decelerate the eccentric phase (think backswing) so it lands softly back to the starting position.Now once you nail your float, you simply have to get your fist underneath. This will be way smoother and easier when your arms aren’t tensed from yanking the USB up. Keep your elbows high and then scoop your fist underneath as the USB hits the right height. This will save you a ton of wasted energy and keep you fresher for those last 10-15 critical reps. Every try to do more pullups after you hang from the bar between several reps. How’s that usually work out for you? It’s the same with the Clean to Fist. Make each rep crisp, light and efficient.

How do we get there?

Well depending on how much work you need here are a few things to try.

Deadlift a heavier USB and/or alter the holding position or foot position (ex. Front loaded Good Mornings, Sprinter Stance DLs).


Front Loaded Good Mornings are a powerful exercise to developing more core stability and power through the hips.

High Pull with an appropriate weight that allows you to generate enough force/float and then go heavier.

Ideally, you would train to the point of using a heavier USB for High Pulls than your Clean and Press Test weight. Nail high pulls heavier than test weight and watch how easy it becomes to drive your test USB into the air and scoop your fists underneath.

Nail the float. Nail the Clean to Fist. Nail the Clean and Press Test.

Stay tuned for more tips!

-Fury out

PUSH PRESS BUDDY!

Welcome back! So you want some more Fury wisdom on how to nail the DVRT Clean and Press Test? It would be my pleasure. Check this out.

The name of the test itself is a little misleading. It’s actually not a Clean and Press Test… wait for it…it’s a Clean to PUSH PRESS Test!

Mind you, all of the information that the DVRT Team has provided coaches it as a Push Press. Yet, at every cert many strong men and women fail the test because they try to strict press every rep. That’s 40-50 winded reps being grinded out in 5 minutes.

ultimate sandbag training

That isn’t to say I haven’t seen a few folks leave victorious this way, but I have seen a BUTT LOAD more fail that way.

What’s a push press? Great question. After reading my last article about nailing the clean to fist, you now own it with skill and precision. Now that Ultimate Sandbag is resting soundly on the top of your fists, pull yourself down into a ¼ squat and then drive hard through the floor, propelling the Ultimate Sandbag overhead and saving your shoulders and lats the majority of the work. Think of the push press as an assisted press. The lower half of the body creates enough momentum to assist in getting that Ultimate Sandbag overhead.

This is the crucial “second float” during the test. Float 1: Ultimate Sandbag to Fists. Float 2: Ultimate Sandbag from Front Load to Overhead Lockout. Be prepared to finish the press.

Push pressing will make your test soooooo much easier!

Think about it this way, would you rather use just your shoulders, triceps and lats to make 80 pounds fly overhead, or would you rather recruit legs, hips, ass, shoulders, triceps and lats to do it? When it comes to a specific number of reps in certain timeframe, I’m using as much of my body’s strong parts to do it.

Now that we have the USB in a beautiful standing plank with the USB overhead, we need to pull the USB back to the front load position. *This is worth repeating: pull the USB back to the front load position. Many, many folks will let the USB drop all the way down from the top. Ladies and gentlemen, that is not only bad form, but it’s also hazardous to many important parts of your body. Don’t worry, we still love you, but let’s clean that up.

From the Front Load position, re-clean the Ultimate Sandbag to Fist and repeat.

What’s a great way to train my push press?

1. Train the test with push press. Simple. Check out my original article on programming the test:CONQUERING THE BEAST

2. Push press with your test weight or heavier. Push pressing will allow you to get a heavier USB to that crucial lockout. Make friends with a heavier Ultimate Sandbag. Fall in love with your test weight.

3. You can work the Thruster (or Long Press). Pull into a full quat with the USB on your fists, then drive out of the hole. This will help proved the momentum to get that USB overhead. It will also help train a really strong drive from the 1.4 squat position.

Take some of these to heart and let me know how they work for you.

Nail the clean to fist. Nail the push press. Nail the Clean and Press Test!

On a very special episode of “Nailing the DVRT Clean and Press Test” we’re going to cover something that is crucial to life itself… BREATHING!

Strength wasn’t an issue when I first trained for the DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Clean and Press Test, my conditioning was. I would lose my breath to an unholy degree and miss reps and accrue ridiculous amounts of fatigue. To be clear, my conditioning in terms of the RKC Snatch Test (100 24kg kettlebell snatches in 5 minutes) was spectacular. I had a 28kg Snatch test pretty dialed in. The Clean and Press Test is a different animal when it comes to breathing.

Let’s take a moment to talk about quality “diaphragmatic” breathing. We want to inhale through the nose, using our diaphragm and breathing low into our belly. We brace around that belly of air, then let out a sharp “hiss exhale” as we explode through the concentric phase of motion. Repeat.

A kettlebell snatch (or KB swing, Ultimate Sandbag Clean or Ultimate Sandbag Snatch) has a pretty easy and comfortable pattern in terms of breathing. You would inhale on the downswing and let out that sharp “hiss” exhale on the upswing. We can simplify this as a normal 2 step breathing pattern with 1 inhale and 1 exhale per rep.

I’ve found the DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training Clean and Press Test to have a 7 STEP BREATHING PATTERN.

  • Inhale before the clean. *This inhale is only needed at the first rep of a set. Once you’re repping you’ll go from stage 6 to 2.
  • Exhale at the clean.
  • Inhale in the USB Front Load position.
  • Exhale at the Push Press.
  • Inhale as you pull the USB back into the Front Load position. *This is also the ideal spot to take a rest break if needed. While you’ll be forced to maintain the USN in the front hold the USB, this will allow you
  • Hold your breath as you un-clean the USB to the floor.
  • Start back at Stage 2. *See note in stage 1!
I have found the above steps to be a winning breathing strategy. Is it the only plan of attack? Hell no! It’s just the one I KNOW that WORKS.
GET A GRIP!
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.

-Fury