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Top 10 Powerful Exercises People Get Wrong!

sandbag exercise equipment

When we released our L. I. F. T.  (loaded integrated functional training) and PKM (progressive kettlebell movement) certifications we instantly exponentially increase our already very large DVRT system. Sometimes that could be difficult to feel confident to know where to start or what you should focus upon. 

The good news is that our systems are all built on principles and concepts which make seeing any exercise in the right context really easy. So, I thought by focusing on 10 really powerful drills we could help demonstrate these ideas and help you see that the intent behind the movement is far more important than the exercise itself. Here we go!

  1. Windmills

The majority of people are introduced to the windmill with the kettlebell and with the weight overhead. The instant thought is that this is a shoulder stability drill. While it can be and that is an element when we hold the weight overhead, there are many versions of the windmill and the majority don’t have the weight overhead. 

Delving a bit deeper we see the windmill is basically a frontal plane hip hinge. When you place the feet in the right position and think about how we are going to create the movement, you see the dominant movement is a hip hinge. Being able to do so in another plane of motion makes our body stronger and smarter!

Physical therapist, Jessica Bento shows using the front load position with the Ultimate Sandbag is another great way to teach stability at the trunk and movement from the hips. Don’t yoga triangle and don’t rotate the low back!

2. Around the Worlds (Resisting Rotation)

More and more people are actually somewhat already familiar with the general concepts of the Around the Worlds. They see them first maybe as kettlebell halos where we love the kettlebell around our head. Again, most people see this as a “shoulder exercise” and it is but indirectly. 

The purpose of the exercise is to increase core stability. True core stability is not maximal tension and requires much more balance of relaxation and tension while we resist unwanted movement. What makes the core work? Moving the weight around the body does a few things, for one, we have an element of a lift/chop exercise which is a diagonal pattern used in the physical therapy system of PNF to restore movement. As the weight is behind the body we have a plank trying to resist extension of the low back while also resisting lateral bending as the weight moves around our body. 

The halo, like the Around the World, is a shoulder exercise only in the fact that better core stability helps shoulders be healthier and more mobile, NOT because we are trying to lift with our shoulders. Why not just keep with the halo versus the Around the World? 

For years, the kettlebell was the best tool to do this movement, but the Ultimate Sandbag is better because of the increased range of motion of the weight. This amplifies the impact upon our core stability and concepts like the diagonal and plank elements. 

Robin Paget does a great job showing how most people go wrong in the Around the World by lifting with their biceps, leaning to the side, and, moving their heads!

3. Goblet Squat

This kettlebell exercise became popular because it was such a powerful solution in building and teaching people how to squat better. However, people fail to realize that how we use the weight plays a big role in the success we have with the goblet squat and still have to coach the movement. 

goblet squat

As DVRT Master, Cory Cripe shows, the whole point of the goblet squat is create deliberate tension against the kettlebell to help connect the chains of our body and give us better core stability.  Our nervous system will limit how much force we produce with our arms and legs as well as limit our range of motion. That is because our body is trying to protect our very important spine. When we have better stability, our body turns off those brakes and we create better movement. 

The examples that Cory gives until the Ultimate Sandbag front load position shows us using more chest and trunk flexors rather our core and lats which help keep us stable and upright. So, how we hold the weight is so important!

This means the kettlebell itself is important and how we hold it is important. In upcoming posts we will go over how we progress the goblet squat in smarter ways. 

4. Power Cleans

One of my personal favorite drill to use with both kettlebells and Ultimate Sandbags is the power clean. The term “power” refers to catching the weight in a quarter squat or in a locked plank. Typically a “clean” by itself is dropping into a full squat to catch the weight. Why don’t we do this with kettlebells and the Ultimate Sandbag?

The whole point of dropping underneath the barbell is to reduce the distance the weight must travel therefore the lifter can use more weight. For competition, this makes sense. However, it isn’t necessary for every day people or athletes that aren’t Weightlifters. 

While kettlebells and Ultimate Sandbags seem like they are the same, the small differences are actually profound. 

Cory and Coach Megan Berner break down where so many people go wrong in their power cleans!

5. Plank Drags

As you can see, we are using more than just the Ultimate Sandbag so this isn’t just about propping the Ultimate Sandbag on some mystical fitness stool. Rather, We want to explain why we are using specific tools and how they impact how we teach and the results we get from these movements. 

One of our most popular Ultimate Sandbag drills is our plank drags. Both because they make planks way more interesting and they are so effective. However, in many instances people use a variety of tools because they think it is just about moving the weight back and forth. That couldn’t be further from the truth. 

The Ultimate Sandbag is EXTREMELY important in the plank drags for many reasons. 

Dimension: Most tools don’t deliberately use dimension as a training variable. The size of the USB in our plank drags plays a big role because that is what helps create the friction on the ground that gives both resistance, but also connection of the chains that we are trying to integrate. Take away the friction or lessen it by using a dumbbell or kettlebell and the power of this drill decreases. 

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sandbag training

Our smallest USB typically has almost 3 times the length of that of a heavier kettlebell. That is a BIG difference in friction!

Grip: We can grip a kettlebell in a similar fashion as the USB, but it still isn’t the same. The palm up grip is vital because it connect the lats to our core and makes the exercise so effective. Due to the fact that the Ultimate Sandbag is not a single piece (it is handmade constructed parts put together) we can actually use that pliability to develop pretension and connection to the plank drags before we start moving. 

DVRT UK Master, Greg Perlaki shows the right intent as well as form on the lateral drag!

There are other common mistakes people make…

Too Fast: Our plank drags excel as you go slower. While beginners may move a bit faster than advanced trainees, we are always aiming for slow. For a beginner that might be moving the weight from one side to the other in 2-3 seconds while advanced is aiming 5-6 seconds (why we also don’t need a lot of weight). 

Wrong Placement: Most people put the weight too high upon the body. The reference point we use is about bellybutton level. Why? Higher up is more shoulder and less core connection and the bellybutton is more lats. In other words we take away one of the most important concepts to the movement. 

Lifting vs. Dragging: Again, intent is everything. The goal isn’t must moving the weight, but how we move the weight. Lifting the weight puts emphasis in the shoulder and takeaway both from the core and our positioning during the exercise. Dragging builds those connections of the body and maintain proper alignment. 

Part 1

Hopefully you see that there is a lot more to these exercises than just getting through them. Their power lies in what you are trying to accomplish and how you execute them. Yes, this is only 5, but I didn’t want to overload you with too much. The next 5 is coming, but if there is a drill you have questions about email us at info@ultimatesandbagtraining.com and we will see if we can get I t in.