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Ultimate Sandbag Training Doesn’t Work

Skill Skeptic that DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training=Functional Training?

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Raymond Lee, DVRT 1 & 2

Before we randomly define about ‘Functional Training or Functional Exercise’

Let’s first of all take a look of what ‘Functional Exercise’ means according to Gray Cook’s DVD ‘Key Functional Exercises You Should Know’

(In case you never heard of who is Gray Cook, you better google it right now)

What is Functional Exercise:

  • Challenge Coordination
  • Challenge balance
  • Challenge tri-planar movement
  • Challenge postural alignment

The Goal of Functional Exercise

  • Enhance Mobility and Motor Control
  • Improve Adaptability
  • Improve Durability
  • Create a sound base for specialization
  • Combat Dysfunction

Now for those who are a long time reader of DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training website, I’m sure these aren’t going to be new.

However, just merely knowing it is different from understanding it.

My ‘Stupid’ History

Even though I was the first Korean to be a certified DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training Level 2 instructor in Korea 2 years ago, I hate to admit it but I was still ‘a little bit’ skeptical of DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training system (Now I’m guilty of that). Even though my body didn’t like heavy barbell lifting, I still had this mentality to compensate this ‘heavy macho lifting’ by using bilateral saggittal plane dominant using real heavy kettlebells and sandbag.

San Jose DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training class

Unfortunately as time went on, bad thing started to happen. In my case, my right anterior hip pain started to aggravate more than ever to a point where I couldn’t squat without pain. But still my stupid brain told me that my technique wasn’t perfect, or my focus wasn’t sharp. I just had doubt that multi planar movements like rotational lunge or lateral lifting wouldn’t help reach my heavy lifting goals as the weight would not be ‘heavy’. As a matter of fact, I thought it would only drain my energy for my heavy lifting. I was doing the same insane thing expecting the result to change. Unfortunately the pain only became worst and worst despite having all kinds of soft tissue treatments. But than one thing happened that ‘forced’ me to change my routine.

The Game Changer

It was last fall when Josh first came to Korea for the first DVRT Certification here. Before I had the opportunity to help translate Josh’s lecture, to be honest I didn’t expect myself that it would be new to me as this would be my second time to take Josh’s Lesson. But how wrong I was! I was able to realize the big mistakes that I’ve did in the past. Everything from mobility drills to warmup and programming, what I thought was old to me felt totally new to me again.

(The guy in the middle finally starts to understand what the inventor says)

(Photo Courtesy: Na Jiyong’s Facebook)

After successfully finishing first Korean DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training Cert, I was now on my way to prepare my Physical Therapy Board Exam. In order to pass the test, I really had to bust my ass and put every focus nothing but the exam preparation. In short, sleep deprevation, insomnia, increased appetite, real high stress level, anxiety, the list goes on. Now my fitness goal has changed from lifting heavy stuff to ‘maintaining my fitness as much as I can’. In short, I was forced to start everything new. I had to figure out not only on choosing the ‘big bang for the buck exercises’ but also programming a routine that wouldn’t make me achy and fatigued, not to mention ‘time efficiency’ for my studying for the next 3months.

My DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training Program

best sandbag

Ultimate Sandbag Rotational Lunge


As I knew that lifting heavy weights would interfere my daily routine, I had to manipulate the intensity using the DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training principles.

  •  Foot position
  • Placement of holding the weight
  • Multi-planar movement

I also had to find a way that I could squeeze the most in the least amount of time.

So what was the program like that I used?

Below is the sample routine that I’ve used based on Charles Staley’s EDT

Equipment that I’ve used

Burly Sandbags – 100lb

Strength Sandbags – 70lb

Power Sandbags – 25lb

Kettlebells – 35lb/54lb/70lb

Warmup – 10min

Half Kneeling Around the world

Sagittal and Frontal Leg pendulum on single leg stance

Light hip stretch

Kettlebell Armbar

Rotational Lunge

Workout A – Burly Complex for (12~20min)

Bent over Row – 3reps

Staggered Stance Sandbag Clean and Press – 3reps

Front Loaded Drop Step Lunge – 3reps

Depending on my condition level, the time varied between 12min to 20min.

Each set was completed on the minute.

Every minute I switched side

On good days, I would increase the reps up to 5reps but mostly I sticked to 3reps as this was the rep range I could execute with good form

Workout B – Multi-Planar Focused Bags&Bells (AMRAP for 12~20min)

Staggered Stance 32kg Kettlebell Snatch – 3~5reps each side

One Arm One Leg Lateral Bag drag – 2~3reps each side

Lateral Step Strength Bag Clean/Snatch – 3reps each side

Front Loaded Cossack Squat with Strength Bag – 3~5reps each side

Each workout was repeated as A-B-A for the first week and B-A-B for the next week and so on.

The Result

No matter how great the system, tool, and the program are, we have no clue to find out unless we ACTUALLY take action. Despite the program that I’ve planned, I was still skeptical of the upcoming result. I expected that I would at best be able to maintain my current fitness level during that time. However, some things have changed unexpectedly.

My hip pain has decreased for the first time. I accidentlly found myself squatting without pain.

I didn’t have to foam roll as much as I used to.

My weight dropped without loosing muscle. Before this program, I had this skinny-fat gut. But after this program, my weight decreased from 196lb to 189lb. Even though it was only 6lb decrease, for the first time I was able to wear my jean that I couldn’t even zip 2years ago.

Strength has maintained despite not using heavy weight. Back then when I was over 200lb, my max one arm kettlebell press was 88lb. After losing weight, I never expected to lift that stuff as I haven’t touched the bulldog for 3months. I used to think that I would only be able to recover that press by either gaining weight or constantly touching the heavy bell. However, to my surprise, I was still able to press the weight without that much struggle despite the stress and short amount of time that I’ve spent on my training.

Now I know that one arm kettlebell press is not the only standard for measuring strength, and the weight I lifted for my BW is just an average Joe. However considering the fact that I was a genetically ungifted skinny fat hard muscle gainer, I was very satisfied with the result. (Not to mention I was able to pass the exam as well)

If I could guess the reason behind why it worked, it was because of the intense multi-plane based movements which recruited the stabilizers to work harder than before.

Still Skeptic?

I know it takes a lot of guts and time, and perhaps many still may have doubt on something that is new. However, just because it is oldschool doesn’t mean everything is good. This can also mean, just because it is new doesn’t mean it is a fad. What’s important is to embrace the logic whether it is a tool, system, or a program. Being consistent may be the key but sometimes it never hurts to try something that has been proven. I suggest everyone to give it a shot with an open mind. It never hurts to judge something after trying it ?

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