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The Oldest Core Exercises Ever?!

sandbag exercises

I don’t know what it is, but when people see something they don’t recognize as an exercise they can lose their minds! Especially if it doesn’t fit into their current mindset of what strength should be all about, or what they think they should know. It happens to a lot to us when we talk about our DVRT core exercises. The more advanced core exercises seem to be so out there that people on the internet really let us have it!

The internet can be a place where you have to learn to have pretty thick skin and belief you are doing the right thing if you are going to survive “on the line”. 

A great example are DVRT core exercises like the one DVRT Master, Cory Cripe, shows his client doing below with one of our DVRT Water Bags.

What kind of absolute silliness is THAT! C’mon, that looks like one of those “functional training circus acts”. This is the conversation that starts around DVRT core exercises like these, but they actually have a very strong and old history to them.

Now, before I explain where these core exercises come from, they actually are derived from two places. One is physical therapy and the system of PNF that uses diagonal patterns to restore the body’s function and the nervous system. Many of you have heard me talk about these ideas quite often so let’s spend MORE time talking about the second place.

I often tell the story that I had no intention of developing DVRT. In fact, I was initially happy with my homemade duffel bags and was hoping to find a book that would tell me everything I needed to know in how to optimize “sandbag training”. It was quickly evident that there wasn’t a lot of material, most of it out there was just a few “here these are good exercise to do” pages. There was rarely more than about 5 pages in any sort of strength training book.

However, I got some great inspiration from former USC professor and strength coach, John Jesse’s, “Wrestling Conditioning Encyclopedia”. His book had probably one of the most extensive sections on “sandbag training”, which was still less than ten pages. However, in there were some interesting ideas of motions we could optimize the unique concept of sandbags. In fact, he mentioned specifically both lighter and heavier sandbags for being a powerful way in building core exercises for real life and sport.

sandbag exercises

I’m one of those people that respect history, but also okay in realizing that just because something is old, doesn’t mean it is good! You can see by some of these diagrams these exercises wouldn’t be optimal for the athlete or non-athlete based on what we know about the body now! (this book was written in 1974 to be fair.)

However, the idea of rotational and more movement oriented core exercises did grab my attention. The idea that wrestlers were far more into movement than most of the functional training programs of even today was intriguing. Especially when we consider that most of the old time strongmen that people love to reference had a strong background in wrestling first and foremost.

While my search for sandbag information failed largely in the realm of fitness and sports performance training. I decided to search in more the wrestling realm since it seemed to fit their value system. I’ll admit, the information was thin again, but I started just looking at the movements they used and started to see a theme in how they were using their core exercises.

Hindu wrestlers have long been known for their incredible fitness levels despite not having the best facilities. Their training spans centuries so they may know a thing or two in developing fitness, resiliency, and real world strength! Tell me if you can see some of the patterns we showed in the beginning with this demonstration.

One of the dangers of cherry picking an exercise like this and putting it into our current fitness landscape is that this gentleman may have been training since he was a little kid. He may have been doing such training for literally decades so we can’t just blindly put something like that into our own routines.

Second, there is a chance, I know it sounds silly, that we have just learned better ways to teach movement. While he actually looks overall okay with his movement, it is possible that if we combined science and tradition we could do even better. I’m not talking about just adding in Ultimate Sandbags to their core exercises but teaching concepts of hip hinging, bracing, etc. They may do a lot of this naturally, but it would be awesome to combine tradition and science! Maybe we would get something like Jessica shows here….

The key is that every DVRT exercise starts from a good foundation. I like to believe what makes our DVRT core exercises so different from everyone else’s (besides the intent and so forth) is that one version simply leads to another. It feels as though there is no end what we can create when we focus on developing good human movement. DVRT Master, Steve DiTomaso, shows you how to even begin these dynamic core exercises with a good foundation!

If you want to take your core training to another level, don’t miss 25% off AND our new DVRT Water Bag manual for FREE with coupon code “strong” HERE. Learn how bringing strength to life will have a very different meaning when you challenge yourself to real movement strength training.