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Programming Ultimate Sandbag Workouts

sandbag exercises


Trust me when you do anything for almost 15 years it can sometimes feel like a long time. It can be especially hard when you are talking about fitness. Something we always try to do with Ultimate Sandbag workouts is bring you something new. Sure, inevitably we talk about the same ideas or concepts, but if we can word it or present it in a new way it may click for someone that maybe it just wasn’t before. 

However, something that I think has always been difficult for people when it comes to our Ultimate Sandbag workouts is figuring out how to program them. Yes, in an age where almost no one actually follows programs, but a lot of people do workouts, I’m going to to speak about programming. 

I think a lot of the reason people have gotten away from programming is that they believe it is rigid, boring, and often just too complicated. It doesn’t have to be that way and after problem solving some ideas with renowned fitness expert, Alwyn Cosgrove, I think we have found a way to make everyone appreciate programming more especially as it comes to our Ultimate Sandbag workouts. 

sandbag workouts

The Same Old Same Old

I remember I trained the husband of client of mine for a few sessions. She wanted me to see her husband because she didn’t know why, but she thought there was something really wrong with doing the same program for literally 15 years! Of course she was right, but now we often have a problem on the other side, people change workouts every day. Why is that a problem if we are doing GOOD exercises?

The whole point of training versus “working out” is to adapt to the stimulus you are presenting to the body and it is this adaptation that causes us to get results. I know, we live in a world where we are told that adaptation is a bad thing and we never want to adapt to anything because “we want to be ready for anything!” Ironically, there is NO ONE that is skilled and successful that follows such a philosophy. 

Sports teams, the military, martial artists, you name it drill and drill and drill. Why? Because they want to be so efficient at their skills that they become automatic when it comes time to use them. The way you become ready for anything is by being so good at the important things that your body automatically goes to it when needed. 

sandbag workouts

Working with the US military many different times we got a great understanding of preparation, planning, and execution.

How does this apply to fitness and Ultimate Sandbag workouts? People think doing a program once is enough to get the stimulus and adapt. However, anyone that has trained for any appreciable period of time knows that the first time you perform any workout you spend a lot of time figuring out a lot of the “little things.”

Even in our Ultimate Sandbag workouts there is a workout or few where you have to find the right weight, the right level of the drill, the right pace, etc. This is especially true if you are adding exercises you are not as familiar performing. Often the first workout is one of the LEAST intense beaus of all the variables you have to iron out. 

So, programming isn’t boring and it doesn’t have to be stagnant. You want adaptation, but you don’t want to do the same workouts for 15 years! What is the nice middle ground? Alwyn and I agree that 4 weeks acts as a good block of training. By itself 4 weeks isn’t some magical or super scientific number we chose, but the reality works really well. 

Obviously 4 weeks represents a month and a month block of performing and progressing through the same workout seems very reasonable. The first week, as I mentioned, is going to help you figure out all the nuances and the following three weeks allow you to ramp up and build some adaptation to the workouts. 

Before you get too efficient, we reach the end of the 4 week block and are now able to add some more sophistication to the training. 

Some of the Ultimate Sandbag workouts I did for Men’s Health can be easily adapted to your training programs. 

What Comes Next

This is the part of our Ultimate Sandbag workouts that discussing with Alwyn has gotten me really excited. What we are going to discuss is going to apply to all your training, not just ones that have a heavy focus on Ultimate Sandbag workouts. After all, we are looking to teach you concepts and methods, not just tools. 

What has frustrated me largely with how most people program is they are very careful about the weight and the repetitions, maybe even their rest intervals. When it comes to using any other training variable though they seem to randomly be assigned and aren’t given the same consideration as load, reps, or rest. 

Our work with renowned Strength Coach, Robert Dos Remedios, helped answer a lot of these issues when it came to HIIT workouts, but what do we do if we aren’t doing HIIT or maybe how can we make our HIIT workouts even more precise? So, when Alwyn and I were discussing some of these questions for Ultimate Sandbag workouts we saw an opportunity to really change how people train! 

sandbag workouts

What we came up with was a series of 4 variables of focused blocks of training. That each month the variable of focus would change and this would give us an opportunity to really understand how to maximize DVRT Ultimate Sandbag workouts, but in reality all functional training programs in general. Because we could literally write a book on each one, I’m going to split them into separate blog posts. 

This one, we are going to talk about one of the more commonly used ideas that are often used poorly….load, reps, and rest intervals. 

The first block of training we want to build strength in very foundational levels. Meaning the complexity of the movements are going to be quite low. We want our Ultimate Sandbag workouts and training in general to have a strong foundation of good movement patterns and strength. 

It’s Not Rocket Science, But It’s Still Science

The above is a great quote that I stole from Coach Dos. The issue with programming is that people either don’t do it, or make it SUPER complicated. Obviously neither is ideal. Now, when Alwyn and I were talking about these ideas we weren’t just talking about Ultimate Sandbag workouts, but training in general. However, I told Alwyn I wanted to be careful because much of training also falls into the trap in being implement bias. 

What do I mean? While you may expect the guy talking about Ultimate Sandbag workouts to be bias towards the Ultimate Sandbag, that isn’t the case. Most of us are taught to progress our training first and foremost by incremental weight jumps. In all reality this is a severe barbell bias that is relatively new. What?!

As Alwyn and I spoke I told him if we looked at the modern gym we have tools like dumbbells, bands, kettlebells, medicine balls, bodyweight suspension, and yes, Ultimate Sandbags. Now unless you are going to stock the gym with loads of these tools NONE of them really incrementally change their physical weight. It is ONLY the barbell that really does so, so why do we automatically default to using this variable first and foremost in our training?! 

We could go back to old time strength training when barbells didn’t come more than about 100 pound sets (iron was VERY expensive back in the day) the idea of incrementally changing the weight wasn’t very practical. How did we make progress if that was the case.?

Listen, is increasing weight important? Of course it is, but we aren’t going to be basing much on percentage 1RMs (which is mostly unreliable anyways), but much bigger jumps. How do we do so after all if it were that easy why wouldn’t we be lifting thousands of pounds after a few years of training?!

Instead of JUST increasing weight we can also use building volume as a means to build progress and create an ability to handle more load while also make larger jumps in our Ultimate Sandbag workouts. I’ll give you a few examples based on having a very few number of Ultimate Sandbags available. 

Front Loaded Squat Work Block 1

Week 1: Front Loaded Squat 3 sets of 8 repetitions rest 60 seconds between sets (use a weight where 9 or 10 repetitions are possible)

Week 2: Front Loaded Squats 3 sets of 3 sets of 10 repetitions rest 60 seconds between sets (use the same weight as week 1)

Week 3: Front Loaded Squats 4 sets of 6 repetitions rest 60 seconds (aim for about a ten pound increase in load)

Week 4: Front Loaded Squats 5 set of 5 repetitions rest 60 seconds (aim for a load about ten pounds higher in load) 

Now, why did I do it this way? If you look at the total volume each week it ranges from 24 to 30 reps which is a significant difference but not too huge. You see people mess up the volume (sets x reps x weight) all the time. You will often see workouts that look like the following…

Week 1: 3 x 6-8

Week 2: 3 x 8-10

Week 3: 3 x 10-12

Week 4: 3 x 12-15

The issue is by the fourth week you have DOUBLED the reps that you did week one, that IS huge and why we want Ultimate Sandbag workouts to be smarter. What if you only had two Ultimate Sandbags? You could still do this where you have the following….

Week 1: 3 x 8

Week 2: 3 x 10

Week 3: 4 x 6

Week 4: 4 x 8

We do end with a higher volume but it is far closer and progressive. It allows us to build up work capacity and make bigger jumps in load. Okay, this is code partly that we are trying to make Ultimate Sandbag workouts not just smarter from a training perspective, but from a financial one as well. 

This doesn’t take into account adding speed changes we could make or other variables, but we are trying to make this easier to understand and actually use! Now, like I said this doesn’t just apply to Ultimate Sandbag workouts but most tools that you would be using and gets you out of the mindset that you need to add a pound of sand each week (which is unnecessary and impractical) or that you need that 2 kg jump in a kettlebell, or why don’t your medicine balls go up by a pound each. The answer is you don’t need to!

Understanding what we are teaching with Ultimate Sandbag workouts is meant to make your training better. If you could just gain an understanding of how to use weight and repetitions together you could get so far ahead of most people and build such superior programs to achieve success. What do you think of this idea so far? Go ahead and post questions and your own ideas at our Facebook group HERE

Want to see how Ultimate Sandbag workouts make your training better? Check out our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag workouts HERE for 25% off with coupon code “fall”. Find out how we use just Ultimate Sandbags or how we integrate them with other great functional fitness tools! 

sandbag workouts