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Ultimate Sandbag Training Olympic Lifts?

sandbag training

Ultimate Sandbag training is one of the most interesting forms of fitness training for so many unique reasons. In 25 years of being in the industry I have never seen ANYTHING like it! What am I talking about? I have never seen an implement just stir up so much controversy. You have people that think they are doing sandbag training because they are being “hardcore”, you have others that think sandbag training is just a “cheap” way to train a lot of people, you even have some that think the whole idea is pretty stupid and it is a barbaric form of training. Oh, and one more, my favorite are those that really have no idea why they are trying to use sandbag training as they are just taking their favorite kettlebell, barbell, or heck even medicine ball exercises and replacing them with a sandbag.

sandbag training

But why does this seem so different than any thing else in fitness? While there may be some different thoughts on using fitness tools such as barbells, kettlebells, dumbbells, heck, even medicine balls, there always seems to be some thought, a process, rights and wrongs to do with the methods and equipment. Not in sandbag training! Heck, just throw a bag of sand around and say you are working your grip and the bag is unstable and voila! You might think I am being sarcastic but this was actually the words of a strength coach in a popular fitness magazine!

Sounds like an angry day for me huh? It really isn’t anger as much confusion and concern. We’ve never claimed to have invented the idea of sandbag training, but I have often wondered why it never really caught on for all the years before? Was it that it didn’t work? Was it that our systems of training with sandbags were flawed? Seeing how people often misunderstand training with our Ultimate Sandbag makes me think the lack of a structured system and techniques set the sandbag back years upon years in fitness.

Isn’t It All The Same?

I think the biggest mistake I can trace back to the use of DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training is people thinking it is just another version of what they already do. Meaning, if you love barbells, you treat it like a barbell, if you love kettlebells, you use it like a kettlebell. It is neither and that isn’t unique to the Ultimate Sandbag.

I’ve been certified in US Weightlifting and kettlebells for a long time. Guess what? You don’t clean a barbell like you do a kettlebell. Sure, there are some similarities, but time and time again, the people that I see struggle are those that have spent the most time with another implement. That is because each tool has its own techniques that optimize its unique design.

sandbag training

Is Ultimate Sandbag Training the Same Thing?

Recently, I had a great discussion with one of our DVRT coaches, Ruben. He brought up the interesting idea of how does Ultimate Sandbag Training fit into and go along, with Olympic lifting. Now, for some, you may not be familiar with Olympic lifts such as Cleans, Snatches, Jerks, etc. (fun names right?:). It use to be very unusual to see any form of these exercises in general fitness programs, but now we see them all the time, both their barbell versions and those with dumbbells and kettlebells.

Really quickly, “why use them?” Well, they help you create power and power helps us for many functional fitness goals. Whether it is to run faster, jump higher, prevent falls, decrease risk of injury, optimize high intensity protocols, or because they are fun. Power has a big role in functional fitness.

We can talk more about Olympic lifts later, but let’s get back to the point. There are many strength coaches that have fallen in love with Ultimate Sandbag Training because of the ease in which you can teach these lifts that require more flexibility and complexity with the barbell or other implements. I don’t blame them, if Ultimate Sandbag Training allows you to spend more time training than trying to learn a lift because of unnecessary complexity, that is a plus! We don’t want to mistake complexity for sophistication, they aren’t always the same thing.

The Ultimate Sandbag Clean not only has its own unique techniques, but depending why or how we are going to use the clean, that will change how we clean the Ultimate Sandbag. The crew at Envision Fitness breaks down important aspects of the clean. 

However, many coaches stop there or think that Ultimate Sandbag Training is just a prelude to teaching the barbell equivalents. As I pointed out in a previous posts weight is not weight and although Ultimate Sandbag Training does not get as heavy as in barbell training, the distribution of weight, dimension, and stability, make it an apples to oranges comparison. What do I mean? I have seen quite a few people able to barbell clean 225 pounds but far less people clean a 170 pound Ultimate Sandbag.

Fat loss and fitness expert, Alwyn Cosgrove, has said it so beautifully!

“I think that an exciting trend in resistance training will be a further move towards more “Asymmetrical and Alive” types of training.
Let me explain “Alive” – let’s say you can deadlift 100lbs. Now try to pick up a 100lb child who doesn’t want to be picked up! It’s an entirely different type of strength – one that grapplers and mixed martial artists can attest to.

I can remember my brother coming to visit and squatting over 200lbs very easily. I gave him a 100lb DVRT Ultimate Sandbag and asked him to clean it and front squat it. He couldn’t do it. The bag moves around too much.

Obviously we can’t just bring in a bunch of children or puppies for us to lift in training ???? , but the Ultimate Sandbag, the DVRT system and the TRX in combination make it so that every single rep performed is slightly different than the one before as the load moves and the body will need to adjust position to complete each rep. Much more demanding.”

DVRT Master Instructor, Paige Fleischmann, shows how we start training positions and angles that barbells just can’t go in developing power. 

That is far from where the differences stop! Some may find that the movements feel a bit different and they would be right! Each implement after all, has slightly different nuances that can make someone engrained in one, feel awkward when transitioning tools. However, we can go a bit deeper here with Ultimate Sandbag Training. Because of the dimensional differences of the Ultimate Sandbag, they can make you start in a different position and actually make you use your hips more so than some people do in the barbell versions. In many ways, it is even harder to cheat on the Ultimate Sandbag Training Olympic lifts because the dimension and distribution of weight makes it so much more regulated.

Shouldering such a unique DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training exercise that extends our range of motion, unilateral strength, and need to resist lateral motion. More “bang for your buck!” 

Now of course this assumes people perform these lifts correctly! One of my big pet peeves as I mentioned early about “sandbag training” is that people think they are doing the right thing for their body and goals, when in actuality they are hurting themselves. A perfect example is what I see people do in trying to use Ultimate Sandbag Training for Olympic lifts and grip work! People will think gripping onto the Ultimate Sandbag itself (not the handles) works their grip more. Well, they are correct, however, at a serious cost!

Olympic lifters will rely on a barbell that spins on the ends. This allows for the momentum to carry through the body and not put excessive stress on the elbows or wrists. Kettlebell lifters use a grip that allows the kettlebell to rotate to avoid the same issues. You see where I am going? When you THINK you are improving your grip with this form of Ultimate Sandbag Training you are actually putting excessive stress through the wrists and elbows. The result is a common tendonitis effect. You actually get weaker.

These are all good reasons to use Ultimate Sandbag Training properly, but maybe the biggest reason is that Ultimate Sandbag Training begins where others end. What do I mean? I made today’s training video to show how you could use the concept of the Olympic lifts and with Ultimate Sandbag Training greatly expand their use and effectiveness that you just flat out can’t do with other fitness program. Check it out and see if you are really following the essence of Ultimate Sandbag Training.

Here is a great DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training complex that will show you how Olympic lifting with the Ultimate Sandbag can give you new insights into real world power and strength!

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