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Ultimate Sandbag Training 21-15-9 WOD

Ultimate Sandbag Training 21-15-9 WOD


Some will be horrified we are using a Crossfit concept.

I am sure there will be some that say we aren’t doing it “right”!

I’m not really trying to be Crossfit or really against it here either.

The popularity of Crossfit means they are doing some things right! Now execution is something that is important in any program.

One thing I really like is the focus on using density training to improve strength, endurance, and in this case, stability.

Most of the popular Crossfit workouts are based around this density idea. Basically density is doing work in less time.

An easy way to think about it, if you did 100 squats in ten minutes then repeated the workout another day and did 100 squats in 9 minutes, you improved your workout density.

This works really well with our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training because we aren’t going to be changing the load by 5 or 10 pounds. So, workout density gives us another way to make incremental progression in our workouts.

I don’t believe 21-15-9 is anything magical in repetitions schemes, but it seems to a very forgiving program.

How? I mean isn’t 21-15-9 super hard?

Yes, I am not going to lie, it ain’t easy!

However, if you break it down, 21-15-9 allows for a 30-40% drop off in volume from one to another. To put that in perspective, most coaches will only allow for a 20% drop off from set to set in typical programs. So, the fact we are stressing the density side with less rest, we are being quite generous with the drop off in repetitions.

The great thing with the idea of 21-15-9 is that it makes for a fast, focused, and extremely effective workout with tons of variety. I often look to combine a lower body dominant with an upper body dominant exercise. We can focus on heavier lifts, or those that have more movement. To be honest, I like to rotate those options so I don’t get burned out on one more than the other.

Today I want to share with you one of my favorites. It allows us to put a spin on two common exercises like thrusters (squat and press) and kipping pull-ups.

For this DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training workout, we are going to use forward lunges to press and bent-over rows.

sandbag training

Start with Clean on the Fists

   Lunge forward and you can rest the knee, but hovering is optimal

Woman doing sandbag workouts with Crossfit movements

Drive up through the front heel and use the momentum to carry into an overhead press


These two DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training movements get the heart rate going like the exercises mentioned, but we have added elements that I want to work upon. The forward lunge to press has a lot of stability, flexibility, and strength demands that if you don’t possess you get exposed. In many squatting movements I see from people they can mask some of these weaknesses.

The bent-over row I think is one of the great missed exercises as it works on core stability, horizontal pulling, and is hard to breathe when you are working hard. The bent-over row helps balance out all our pushing exercises and it is always interesting how people THINK they have good core strength till they have to repeat strong efforts of the bent-over row.

sandbag training

Working on the Ultimate Sandbag Bent Row with the Milwaukee Fire Department

You have a few options in this workout. You can use two Ultimate Sandbags or one for both (typically people can handle more load in the bent-over row so two is an option, but not a must). I find that the fatigue from one does carry over to the other so you can use one to start out. No bobbing, no sloppiness, everything is about the cleanest repetition you can perform.

The actual workout is quite simple. You are going to do eleven forward lunges to overhead press, rest as little as possible and perform twenty-one bent-over rows. Again using as little rest as possible, go back to the lunge to press and perform eight each side, then fifteen of the bent-over rows, then finally five lunge to press and nine bent rows. Once done record your time and weight. In a week you are going to repeat the workout and see if you can use the same workout and perform it in less time. Even small reductions in time can be big leaps in improving your fitness!

For your math smarties, yes it is isn’t 21-15-9 purely, but rather 22, 16,10 on the lunge to press and 21-15-9 on the rows, don’t worry, it is ok!

What if you can’t perform all those repetitions in a row? Try to go back and forth as best you can till you have all the repetitions completed. Record how many sets it did end up taking you to complete the workout and again, next time see if you can beat it!

You will find this isn’t a long workout, so after you get through the series it is a perfect time to work on some DVRT correctives and restoration. However, because of the intensity you will get a pass on the duration. Now enough talk, let’s go train!

sandbag workouts

Get our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training WODs and 300 Challenge workouts together for a special price for a limited time HERE!