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Ultimate Sandbag Exercises for Smarter Shoulders


You would think that after lifting since the age of 14 they would be killing me! You would think that I had more than a few occasions where I dinged them up more times than not! The truth of the matter is that my shoulders feel better now after the age of 40 than they did at 16. If you think I am going to credit our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag exercises then you would be right! However, not completely for the reasons you would think.

When I was a teenager and even into my 20’s, my shoulders were kind of a problem. In fact, one day in high school I partially tore both rotator cuffs bench pressing (c’mon, you didn’t think I would ONLY do one shoulder in this case do you?). Rarely did I go overhead with any of my working out, that was a time where we were told going overhead was VERY risky for the shoulders and we could develop the shoulders just from benching and pulling. With all that said, how did DVRT Ultimate Sandbag exercises help so much?

The truth is, they didn’t, not until I had to learn to be smarter because I was limited. What is a better sport to get into when you have had a history of tearing your shoulders, herniating your low back, and a host other fun aches and pains….If you said Strongman you would be right?! Okay, I know, that sounds insane right? Believe it or not it was this time that many of our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag exercises would start to take shape.

sandbag exercises

I trained with a group of guys that were pretty impressive. Time and time again, even though I had a long athletic background, I was being bested in most lifts by these guys. My competitive athlete side had this driving me nuts. Mostly because whenever I tried to push myself in the same way these guys trained I hurt, I hurt really badly!

If I couldn’t keep up with them in the gym, how was I going to be competitive in Strongman? I might as well give up and choose something else right? May have not been a terrible idea, but I am pretty stubborn;)

sandbag exercises

Instead, I decided to try to think about how to make my body stronger and more resilient in ways that would address my needs and teach me to move better. If there was one major fault that I could take advantage of with the guys, was that they just tried to use brute strength for everything they did. If I could train my body to be smarter, maybe I stood a chance!

Since so many of the competitions in Strongman have an overhead lift of some type, you better make sure your shoulders and upper body are strong. However, what I started to learn quickly was that it would be a lot more than training my shoulders and upper body that would be key. This was seen as pretty crazy at the time, most of the guys I knew were following popular Strongman training methodology where you used familiar gym lifts like incline bench, different triceps extensions, powerlifting, etc. to build up their presses.

sandbag exercises

I’d be lying if I said I NEVER tried any of these strategies, I did, but I noticed two things rather quickly. The first is that I didn’t improve all that much and the second was I ended up with achy shoulders more times than not! I decided I need to do things differently if I wanted to be competitive.

It Starts From the Ground Up! 

Using implements like logs, thick bars, kegs, and a host of odd objects really gave me a lot of inspiration to the development of our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag exercises. That was because the unstable and unique movement of these tools felt SOOO dramatically different from the barbell overhead lifts that I had become familiar with over time. My feet would almost dance around trying to find stability. It quickly became evident to me that learning to ground myself into the ground was going to be really important.

Being mindful of what the implement helps teach us about the movement is really essential!

While most other lifters were focused on lifting with their arms, I started to use strategies to teach myself how to push DOWN into my feet to create stability and strength in my upper body. Now it makes sense as we have learned that pretty much everything for the body starts from the ground up!

Sure, you might think we talk about this in our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag exercises so much that you got it right? Simple doesn’t mean easy and believe it or not I even bust some our DVRT Masters in using the feet correctly in our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag exercises.

Using the ground can also mean the hands as well if they are in contact with the ground or how you hold the weight that you are using. I show below how grip and creating tensions from hands and feet can solve many of the common shoulder issues like “winging” scapula.

Using the hands and feet unlocks HOW you use your core and your glutes to provide the strong platform for your shoulders to perform well and actually be healthy! Everything we do HAS to start with this simple (not easy) concept of functional fitness. Most people won’t believe that just increasing the awareness of feet and hands can be that powerful, but that is why people walk away from so many of our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag exercises so blown away. It isn’t what the exercises are, it is what they can teach you about movement!

The biggest mistake MOST people make about helping their body feel and perform better is that they believe you focus on the the individual area that may hurt, or not feel strong. The goal of functional training is to help people understand how our body works together and we have to address the whole, not the individual!

Find out so much more in our L.I.F.T. (loaded integrated functional training) certification modules HERE and total program HERE(get our Power & Strength Ultimate Sandbag for FREE with the complete set **only for US customers) for 30% off with code “lift1”. Find out how we use all these progressions to build a much bigger world of real strength.