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The Evolution of the Barbell

One of the hardest questions I receive is, “tell me about your Ultimate Sandbag?” Sounds very reasonable and it is, however, the question isn’t really the question. What do I mean? 

Have you ever bought a barbell and asked the someone “tell me about this barbell.” What does that mean? Do you want to know about the type of metal, are you worried about the type of finish used, what type of bolts are implemented? Do people ask how the kettlebell mold was made and how they determined the length of the handle, the distribution of weight of handle versus ball? You get my point hopefully. 

I mean, if you are really into manufacturing we are happy to share the details about our Ultimate Sandbag but to most details of stitching used and other structural nuances mean very little in practical terms for people. 

sandbag workouts

Places like Impact Athletic Performance are more concerned with how the USB is going to help their clients and make their training better. 

Of course there are things people SHOULD know to be a smart consumer about “sandbags”. For example, all canvas materials absorb sweat and especially in today’s world this is a big deal. This is why a major branch of the military is only allowed to get their sandbags from us because they had an outbreak of ring worm with canvas. The length and distance of the handles are VERY important, so much so that they will change how an exercise is performed and can actually make a very negative experience if they haven’t tested how the different lengths and distances impact the biomechanics of a lift. I could keep going, but you are free to email us with any questions. There are lots of companies that like to say they are the strongest or best, but they assume you don’t know what to look for and it usually means nothing.

So, what is it that people really want to know? Mostly they want to know what this Ultimate Sandbag does that make it necessary if people have equipment like a barbell? Just a nice conditioning tools.

DVRT Master, Cory Cripe and his crew at Fitness Lying Down shows the direction our fitness training could have gone with more dynamic strength training. 

That is why I hesitate to talk “sandbags” because a construction, or homemade sandbag look nothing like our Ultimate Sandbag. Even if you have some pretty good home tools you couldn’t possibly reproduce the Ultimate Sandbag. Funny side story, about 12 years ago we ran into an issue where about 20 USBs had stitching that was missed. We were smaller at the time and couldn’t afford to send them all back have them re stitched and then shipped back to us. We decided to go to a local shoe repair store. You know a place that deals in leather all the time and stitched repairs. They thought they could help us and about 2 hours after dropping the USBs off we got a phone call. They had tried their heaviest duty needles and higher powered switching machines and it still broke the needle on the materials. So, this ins’t go to the store and grab yourself some materials and with a little sweat you could have something similar.

sandbag training

Yea, not sure how I get how these are even mistaken to be the same thing other than they are both filled with sand? Don’t even get me started on the log sandbags that are even FURTHER away from what we do!

ANYWAY, just thought the story was funny , if I don’t like to discuss things in terms of “sandbags”, then I prefer to say that our Ultimate Sandbag is the evolution of the barbell. How in the world does that make sense? 

We need a tiny history lesson. If we don’t understand our own history we don’t learn the lessons we showed for the future. 

The first barbell was invented as a way to put two hands on a dumbbell. Dumbbells were far more popular at the time even though exercise equipment was generally not very popular because most of society didn’t see a need with manual labor and farming dominating life. Exercise didn’t seem to make a lot of sense for most. 

So dumbbells were the first more mainstream fitness tool. They were often much lighter earlier on and used very differently than today they were actually made out of wood, metal was VERY expensive. It made sense that when the barbell did come around, it wouldn’t be the seven foot length or myriad of plates that we see today due to the expense of metal. 

The first barbells were about 4-5 feet in length and had a solid globe to put a little sand in or some loading agent in. That meant lifters had to figure out how to make these light weights feel heavier, they focused far more on movement based drills than anything we would imagine seeing the barbell used today for. 

Over time, a fitness equipment company named York barbell made more of the familiar barbell in the 30’s and as the length got longer we could put more weight on the barbell. However, as we aim to put on more weight on the barbell less people started to move because you can’t move as much when the weights are piling on. This was done largely because York supported the sport of Weightlifting that required a barbell that allowed the competitive lifts to be trained and standardized!

You can see how when York went from the smaller to larger barbells the intent changed quite a bit. 

So, it wasn’t because of some scientific understanding of strength, but because they wanted to simply load heavier to meet what was the nature of the sport. Now, if this sport developed amazing athletes that would be one thing, but many of these lifters would still do gymnastics, manual labor, rope climbing, dumbbell work, and a lot of other training than most do today. This was also the “secret” of the Eastern European lifers in the 60’s and 70’s when they dominated the Olympics. These athletes played a wide diversity of sports and this was credited (don’t use the drug excuse everyone was on drugs) with much of their ability to develop high levels of strength. 

My point, if you look at how we use the Ultimate Sandbag, it is far more in life with how lifters would have used the hold barbell to make more dynamic strength. Of course we have the supposed advantage of a deeper understanding of functional anatomy and therefore should create tools that more specifically address what movement needs to be cued and optimized with strength training tools. So, I hope you see that in reality, the Ultimate Sandbag isn’t a “bag of sand” and if you see it is as such  you are missing the point. If you see where the barbell should have gone then you see an opportunity to almost right our fitness history. 

Don’t miss 20% on our Ultimate Sandbags, DVRT Workout programs, and Online Certifications/Courses HERE with code “save20”

Coach Robin Paget shows how smart and multi-faceted our fitness training can and should be!