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What Is The Most Functional Training Tool?

One of the easiest ways to get a reaction out of people is to make a bold statement on social media. I think we have ALL seen how a rather innocent comment on social media, in 2020 especially, can cause an avalanche of reactions. Of course, on one hand that is why people make such statements, often to get a lot of attention towards their following.

If you have followed us for the past 16 years, you know that isn’t us. Oh, we make bold statements, but we also follow them up with actual reasons why. It is much easier to say something “big” that you know everyone will like. That just takes saying the popular idea, but when you say something that isn’t so popular, you better be armed with 1 million and one reasons why you said such a thing.

Josh henkin

I’ve been teaching for a long time and having great opportunities to present with awesome coaches like this picture way back with Dan John, Pavel Tsatsouline, and Charley Staley

So, when I say the Ultimate Sandbag is the MOST functional training tool out there, I expect a reaction, but it also doesn’t mean it isn’t true. The natural reaction by many is to lash out with an emotional response and try to take personal shots at me (which trust me, don’t work, it is a piece of fitness equipment seriously!), instead of actual logical and thoughtfully based arguments. With that said let me explain why I believe such a statement is true!

The Elephant In The Room

It is easy for those that love other equipment to get angry at me for saying such a thing and respond with “well, you are just trying to sell us Ultimate Sandbags!” In which I respond, YES! Yes, I am. Not because I am offering you snake oil, but because I believe in what we do that much! After all, while people are use to seeing barbells, they aren’t inherently free. In fact, barbells were one of the first pieces of fitness equipment marketed to the general public. Did those companies just want to sell you barbells? I would think so and I would believe for the same reason as we do with the Ultimate Sandbag, they believe it really works. So, that point is really irrelevant right, if you are training at home, for example, and choose the barbell you have been “sold” on it being good.

Pretty much no one knew of kettlebells for decades until 2001. When kettlebells were re-introduced (I know this because I followed this path since I was watching about kettlebells back then interested if it was right for my training business) they weren’t met with open arms. There was A LOT of resistance, especially people saying they are no different than dumbbells and how “stupid” they were. So, to see them in commercials that sometimes have NOTHING to do with fitness is pretty amazing. The point being though, kettlebells were sold well and that effort of selling helped people see their value. Ultimate Sandbags are really no different.

The Intent Of The System

I would say the BIGGER difference with what we do is that as good as our Ultimate Sandbags are, without the system it loses a lot of that power. In fact, I have been seeing lots of “sandbag workouts” since Covid hit and most of them are absolutely horrible. They are often so bad in terms of training with purpose and moving with good mechanics that I would actually recommend people go back to whatever they were doing before.

As I’ve said many times, the tool is only as good as your intent behind using it. DVRT (dynamic variable resistance training) is the reason we have been taken a re-engineered ancient tool and make it seem so new and sophisticated. The system we use isn’t complicated, but a much bigger way of thinking about strength.

sandbag training

It has NEVER been about using “sandbags”, but increasing our ability to create and teach better movement strength. 

In order, to make my point, we have to agree first what functional means. Often, when people make statements that some tool or system is best, they fail to get an agreed upon foundational definition of what they are talking about.

What Is Functional Training?

There is no one definition of functional training. It was really developed by physical therapists to combat the overwhelming influence bodybuilding had (even into the physical therapy world). At a very foundational level, functional training is about looking at training through the eyes of how the body is designed to function. Sounds kinda “duh” of a statement, but many people think that functional training is about replicating daily life (which it is not), or it isn’t a real training method (it most certainly is!).

The quote from world renown spine expert, Dr. Stuart McGill, raises some important points about functional training such as connecting the chains of the body and realizing that the body doesn’t function as bunch of randomly assembled parts. That is why we focus on movement patterns and not muscles. That doesn’t mean we don’t train muscles, training patterns actually trains WAY more of them (which I don’t get people implying functional training doesn’t make you more muscular?).

sandbag training

Functional training also recognizes we don’t move just up and down in life/sport. Training up and down as a foundation is great, but adding in other planes of motion is equally important. The reality is that because the barbell evolved mainly for the sports of Weightlifting and Powerlifting (sports that move just up and down), the barbells we see now aren’t designed to move in other directions and angles. That is a HUGE downside.

strength training

Kettlebells and dumbbells do give us some good potential, but nothing like we get with the Ultimate Sandbag because we created the tool and system to meet these needs of function. When we have the same definition of functional training we can have far more intelligent discussions on what the best tools actually are.


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Rotation for example, is a plane of motion that most never train that is essential for functional fitness and while a couple of exercises can be done with the barbell for rotation, our options are FAR more limited because it wasn’t designed for such use. 

 Lateral or frontal plane training is again something that is so important for functional fitness and VERY limited with the barbell and as you see DVRT UK Master, Greg Perlaki shows we have many options. 

The One Variable People Can’t Get Over

If we are being really honest here ONE variable that keeps people thinking that tools like Ultimate Sandbags can’t be as functional as a barbell, is the issue of load. To that, I would say if they were meant to be used the same way, if they functioned the same way, and had the same systemization to them, I would say maybe, but that isn’t the case at all.

While people look ONLY at the actual weights of these implements, they miss a million significant differences in which weights are not equal! Like what? Ultimate Sandbags have the following variables that make their use and exercises seem SO much tougher.

-Position of Load
-The Plane Of Motion The Weight Moves
-The Weight Is Not Static
-The Handles Are Far From The Center Of Mass (the barbell is right where you grab it)
-Which Handles You Use & Do You Grab On The USB Itself

You can’t even use a barbell like an Ultimate Sandbag, for example, if I hold a barbell in the Zercher position versus the front load with the Ultimate Sandbag it looks similar but FEELS completely differently. Especially as Ultimate Sandbags get bigger, the differences grow more and more.

At the end of the day, I’m not trying to get people not to use a barbell if you like to do so. However, few ask the question what is the better tool to use? Especially because time is a variable that everyone tries to navigate you start looking at how to prioritize the tools and concepts you want to use. DVRT Master, James Newman does a great job breaking down some of these important concepts.

Our holiday sale is almost over! Don’t miss 30% on our Ultimate Sandbags, DVRT Online Certifications/Courses, and Workouts with code “holiday2020” HERE