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The Best Upper Body Exercise You Don’t Know!

sandbag training

Cory Cripe, DVRT Master (Creator of DVRT Movement Strength)

Let’s talk about one of the DVRT Big 6 exercises, the arc press in a half kneeling position. 

sandbag exercises

But first…


That’s how many bones you have in your entire body. 


That’s how many bones you have in your hands and feet combined (27 bones in each hand and 26 bones in each foot). That’s an impressive ratio; over half of your bones reside in 4 places – this has to mean something!

I love referring back to the Joint by Joint approach laid out by Gray Cook and Mike Boyle (two gigantic geniuses of our day). It’s a broad brush they paint with, but it is a great way to look at the various joints that make up the human body and their role – whether they are meant for stability or mobility.

When you look at the role of your hands & feet, you’ll see how their main purpose is to provide stability. And this should come as no surprise after we reviewed how many bones are found in these body parts.

SIDE NOTE (and this really won’t have anything to do with this blog): I am proud of the education I received at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse and even though Anatomy & Physiology was a required course and I’m sure the skeletal system was something we went over and I know we studied the bones in the hands and feet (I remembers metatarlsals and metacarpals and the like), but it never really jumped out at me that, ‘Dang, there’s a lot of bones in those hands and feet!’ All I could think of was memorizing the crap out of this so I can get them right on the upcoming test!

sandbag exercises

Giving back by teaching the next generation of coaches is my passion!

Okay, back on track.

Now with this information, we should be starting each and every exercise we do from here on out with the hands and feet as a priority, not just an afterthought. Learning how to successfully create the needed stability through the hands and feet will send a chain of reactions through your body lighting up your core like a Christmas tree in December! Think of it this way, your hands and feet are the only body parts that can actually generate force production. Try this…

Stand up and jump, jump as high as you can. Now, get down on both knees and jump up as high as you can. Did you notice any difference in your vertical? I truly hope so and sorry about the bruised knees 😉

Now get in a plank position and let your hands just hang out like dead fish on the floor. You might find that this causes discomfort (and maybe pain) in the wrists. It’s time to make your hands come alive and spread those fingers wide and grab into the ground. Did you notice a difference? There was tension created by the force production resulting in stability through the shoulder joint. And this tension alleviates pressure off the joints and places the stress on the muscles, ligaments, and tendons – but don’t worry! This is what the soft tissue was made for.

After this small lecture in A and P, it’s finally time to talk about the arc press, but why did I take you through the lesson on the hands and feet? It’s because these appendages are going to give you more strength than you ever knew of, if you learn how to use them properly, in order to climb up the levels of the standards laid out by the DVRT universe for the half kneeling arc press!

When you approach the Ultimate Sandbag for the arc press, you can’t be shy. You have to firmly grab onto the sides of the USB and make your own handles. 

sandbag exercises

‘Make my own handles?’ 

Establishing a firm grip and ripping apart the sandbag will provide the same amount, if not more, stability in your upper body discovered earlier by grabbing the ground in the plank position. You should feel that the edges of the USB between your crushing grip form into a pretty solid handle when you grip with intent. The upper body stability established with the grip will make sure the movement comes from the core muscles – lats included – and not your shoulder joint.

But we also need to take care of the lower half, right? We talked about the importance of the feet and, to no surprise, they are just as important as the hands in the half kneeling arc press. An easy way to begin getting those feet involved is the rear foot. Are you allowing it to be lazy and lie down with the toes pointed behind you or are you propping up those toes and digging into the floor with them?

Strong connections are made to stabilize the hips when the back foot is engaged and active. And if your hips are neutral and stable, the arc press will be strong! 3 appendages down, one to go! We have had such great success getting our clients at Fitness Lying Down to be more aware of their front foot with one little, quite feedback tool: a resistance band.

sandbag exercises

It can be challenging for people to actually experience an active front foot in a half kneeling position. The solution for us at FLD is to place a resistance band around their front ankle and try to pull the foot off the floor. This right here is some pretty magical stuff and has our clients loving it because of the core strength they are experiencing as a result! 

RNT (reactive neuromuscular training), that’s what this is all about. The brain reacts when the foot is being pulled off the ground and fights against it because it doesn’t want to go there. This reaction creates more foot stability where the toes grab harder and we literally dig our heel in the ground! Stability through the foot also produces stability through the knees, hips, and shoulders! It’s amazing how much stronger we can be if we know how to use our feet the right way!

Whew! That feels like I went through a whole lot and I hope you were able to get something from it. Basically, pull tighter and push harder! Even if you think you’re doing that right now, slow it down to spend more time on maximizing your hands and feet for a stronger half keeling arc press experience! While you’re enjoying putting together a more grabby feel to this DVRT Big 6 exercise, I’m going to be dedicating my next blog to additional DVRT drills you can include to build more strength for a heavier arc press!

Don’t think that these DVRT drills aren’t about building up to some impressive loads! Check out how Cory applies these concepts to more advanced levels! Want to build up your functional fitness? Save 30% with coupon code “springsale” ALL throughout our DVRT site HERE