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The Best Ultimate Sandbag Exercises for Your Shoulders & Low Back

sandbag training

Jessica Bento, Physical Therapist (Creator DVRT Restoration, DVRT Shoulder Course, DVRT Pelvic Control Course)

Nothing is more disappointing to me than hearing professionals say they have an injury that is keeping them from moving better. Of course there could always be a true structural problem inhibiting the person and I would never suggest people do something that hurts. MOST of the time it is more that the professional doesn’t know how to make themselves better. That’s a big deal, not from just being a good role model, but do you REALLY know how to improve the quality of one’s movement and strength? That is why we use great scientific concepts in our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag exercises.

Many people think we are about teaching “sandbag exercises”. In actuality we are looking to use the Ultimate Sandbag to teach concepts about movement better. That means sometimes our Ultimate Sandbag exercises don’t look all that different from exercises you might already be familiar with in your training. However, it is the nuance that makes these drills go from good to great exercises!

One of the most important Ultimate Sandbag exercises is our lift/chop variations. They can come in obvious forms in many of our lift/chop progressions, but also in more subtle ones like how we teach Dead Bugs, Hip Bridges, Around the Worlds, and even MAX Lunges.

ultimate sandbag exercises

Why of all our Ultimate Sandbag exercises do I say lifts/chops could be the MOST important for shoulders and low backs? After all, what are you suppose to “feel” when you do such movements. We have to understand the goal of such movements before we see their immense value even beyond Ultimate Sandbag exercises.

While Josh has spoken quite a bit about the 7 primal movement patterns, it wouldn’t be hard to put lifts/chops as an 8th. Of all the exercises, lifts/chops contain so many important parts of many different movement patterns. For example, the cross patterning of the arm and leg are essential of gait. The hip stability needed for a lunge is largely influenced by concepts of lifts/chops. Even pressing and pulling exercises have a rather large component of lifts/chops. In other words, lifts/chops make pretty much everything better.

If that’s so, how come most people don’t prioritize them. Well, for one, they aren’t working any one specific muscle. Many people are still stuck in bodybuilding and that’s why they have a hard time even understanding so much of our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag exercises.

Lifts/chops stem from the therapy system of PNF. This ground breaking therapy system was one of the first to recognize the nervous system was more responsible for our movement and strength that individual muscles. Using diagonal patterns allows us to use more muscles and just as importantly, teach these muscles to work in a coordinated manner. The result is pretty much instant changes in mobility and strength.

Another reason that people have a hard time using lifts/chops is they see them in a very limited way. While many of these drills are good, they don’t progress these ideas outside of the realm of just “corrective exercise”. Just like any great tool, they can start in very foundational means, but should progress to more advanced movements. I like to think this is a great reason that DVRT Ultimate Sandbag exercises present such a unique movement strength training system.

Lifts/chops also represent the idea that “proximal stability creates distal mobility.” In layman’s terms. When someone experiences lack of mobility, it isn’t always or even rarely is just a flexibility issue. Stability limitations by the individual can cause the body to go into a protective mode and reduce the mobility of the extremities. Creating this stability by “turning on” many of the intrinsic muscles allows the body to gain immediate changes to mobility especially of the shoulders and hips.

These connection of the body completely change how we think of our exercises, workouts, and real goals of training the body for life. 

Outside of the progressions where do DVRT Ultimate Sandbag exercises give you a really strong benefit? One is the fact we can connect the core to our lifts/chops by actively grabbing and pulling apart the Ultimate Sandbag. The more opened shoulder position allows integration of the lats and core more effectively allowing the individual to feel that connection more profoundly in their movement.

sandbag exercises

Understanding this simple, but so often overlooked, concept allows us to set the foundation for progressions from stable to really dynamic. Physical Therapist and DVRT certified coach, Dan Swinscoe breaks down some ways we use these important details in our Dead Bug progressions.

Strength Coaches, Mike Yudin and David Padilla, show how they use these concepts for the warm-up of their athletes to get them more specifically prepared for the demands of athletic performance.

DVRT Master, Steve Holiner, breaks down how people really miss the details of our MAX lunge Ultimate Sandbag exercises that make it a big part of how it transforms into a lift/chop.

Fitness expert, Alwyn Cosgrove, shows how we take these concepts into dynamic Ultimate Sandbag exercises that show how working through progressions allow us to use lifts/chops far beyond the realm of just “corrective exercise.”


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While this not come CLOSE to the amount of ways we use lifts/chops with our Ultimate Sandbag exercises, my hope is that it opens your mind to what we aim with in true functional training. Thinking about how our bodies produce movement and how we can build layers from foundational to quite sophisticated is what our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag exercises are all about. Building layers of success that open a much bigger world of training for you!

Learn more about how DVRT is revolutionizing how people think of training and the fast results we can produce. Save 25% on ALL our online courses with coupon code “save25” HERE