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The Secret to Upper Body Strength!

You may not believe it, but I’m actually a big fan of simple things. What is the EASIEST strategy to get someone stronger, more fit, and healthier. Seems like a good idea right? 

Ironically, while some may believe DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training is complicated, the reality is most coaches make things WAY harder than it has to be. A great example is how we really build upper body strength. 

In many circles you will hear people speak about a very common problem in performing pushing movements. The problem? When many people press, especially overhead, you see a big raising action in their rib cage. While we could talk about increasing lumbar and thoracic extension, I just call it roostering. Yea, like how the rooster looks like it is sticking out its chest, very scientific, but I think you get the point. 


Why is this a problem? The biggest reason is that is extends the abdominal wall and actually causes your spine to be less stable. This means all types of compensation occurs. We get back, shoulder, and even neck problems when this occurs. 

Now, I’ve seen all types of suggestions to this problem, but I find one that works, oh, about 99.9% of the time. It is so simple that you won’t believe it does work, but it does. Push down!!! 


When most perform overhead pressing they think about PUSHING the weight overhead, makes kinda sense right? However, the push you SHOULD think about is strongly into your feet. Try it…Stand up, relax your legs and try to rooster. Pretty easy to do right? 

Now, grip the ground as hard as you can with your feet, what happens? Do your legs straighten out? Does you hamstrings and glutes become way more tense? Good! Keep that tension going and now try to rooster, MUCH harder to do isn’t it?!

The pushing down into the feet sets your body’s natural platform so you can focus on transmitting force from the ground, up your legs, through your core, and carry it into your upper body. Guess what you have when you do this? You move from a standard plank position to an extended plank. Pretty cool huh?! 

I’ll come back to this point in a second, but that pushing into the ground is something you should be using when you bring the weight back down as well. A LOT of people forget this on the way down and end up performing some serious leaning back (which we don’t want) on the way down. 

If this is not making a ton of sense to you or you are wondering how you can teach a client to use this strategy it isn’t all that hard. Have them press an Ultimate Sandbag overhead, make sure they have their arms locked out over the crown of the head. 

Simply begin to do a very slow and controlled march. By lifting the leg even slightly off the ground the stance leg must really drive into the ground to create stability and balance. Try this for 30 seconds just slowly alternating your legs. Come back to your pressing and think about the feet, you will find that you are much stronger so much faster. 


Hey wait, what about that whole plank business? Even when you perform pressing drills in a horizontal position you want to think about your pressing with your feet hard! I spoke about this in yesterday’s post briefly, but it is so important! In fact, when people sag their hips during planks and push-ups most of the time the problem is that they aren’t pushing down into their feet. This simple change can be a game changer for many. 

In your next workout, whether you are performing DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training overhead press variations, lateral drags, or just push-ups and planks, think about your feet. Think about it A LOT and see how much stronger and stable you feel when you use this simple, yet really powerful technique!