Is DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training a unique form of functional training or just trying to push another tool as functional? I’m sure if you have followed us for any time you will know where I am going with this, but if you are new I want you to know that we believe something very important. The Ultimate Sandbag only gives us the POTENTIAL to perform smarter functional training. It is our Dynamic Variable Resistance Training system (DVRT) that allows us to actually achieve those goals.
Why the Ultimate Sandbag though, what would even give me the idea in the first place? The more I coached clients the more I believed we weren’t addressing how the body actually moves, we were just replicating the same exercises we were told were good for no other reason than “it makes people strong.” Getting stronger can be achieved in many ways and often we actually go for the most inefficient route, just trying to go heavier and heavier.
While I am all for using a heavier weight that you can use well, the truth is when we only focus on that quality we miss that true strength is a factor of many qualities coming together like stability, mobility, and ability to produce and resist force. That is why when strength coach, Wil Flemming asked Jessica and I to consult on helping Olympic hopeful, Mary Theisen-Lappen, we looked to what her training was missing.
After a few simple screens we found that this amazingly strong woman was lacking some of the qualities that we just mentioned. Here is someone SO strong, but lacked lateral and rotational stability, core control in more reflexive ways, and a few others. When we provided a program to address these issues (it was great that Mary and Wil were so open to them) something amazing happened. Her low back pain improved and she hit an American record of 359 pound clean and jerk.
How could we build great strength and success in our training without ONLY having the focus on lifting more weight? Could we achieve better results if we thought about MORE variables in training? That is what we tried to do with our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training program. What would be more effective is to change the dynamics of the lift slightly to stimulate new recruitment patterns and increase the use of often neglected muscles. In the famous book Dinosaur Training, the author, Brooks Kubik states, “You feel as sore as you do because the bags (sandbags) worked your body in ways you could not approach with a barbell alone. You got into the muscle areas you normally don’t work. You worked the “heck” out of the stabilizers” (Kubik, p. 115).
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Larisa Lotz shows that good stability training and the use of the Ultimate Sandbag work hand in hand and isn’t just about punishing your body.
Of course, the use of sandbags is not new, but there wasn’t ever a method to using them. People would just use them here and there, but why not actually program sandbags like we would any other training tool? That changes COMPLETELY the results we can get and what the tool can offer.
Allen Hedrick, the head strength coach at the Air Force Academy, has been using this type of training for many years. He has written and lectured on the idea of using odd objects, to increase performance and decrease the risk of athletic injuries.
“But, applying the concept of specificity, it makes sense that training with a fluid resistance is a more sport-specific method of training as compared to lifting exclusively with a static resistance because in most situations, athletes encounter a dynamic resistance (in the form of an opponent) as compared to the static resistance. Further, because the active fluid resistance enhances the need for stability and control, this type of training may reduce the opportunity for injury because of improved joint stability.” (NSCA Journal, Vol.25 Number 4)
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So, we can get you moving better, performing better, looking better, and being more resilient from injury. Not just our opinion but rather modernizing some of the lessons we have known for centuries. Sandbags have long been a favorite training tool of wrestlers and combative athletes. In John Jesse’s famous book, Wrestling Physical Conditioning Encyclopedia, he states,
“The use of heavy sandbags and their large circumference forces the lifter to do his lifting with a round back instead of the traditional straight back lifting with a barbell. It is this type of lifting that truly develops a strong back. It develops the back and side muscles in movements that are identical to the lifting and pulling movements of wrestling.”
It isn’t just about throwing an Ultimate Sandbag into your workouts though. The tool helps us think about these other variables in bigger and better ways allowing us to train smarter. It is funny, the barbell was made for lifting, the dumbbell was designed for lifting, but what makes a sandbag made for lifting? It is about understanding the role of dimension, using strategically placed handles to help the biomechanics of a lift, to give better feedback to people so they can perform better, and even create a better system of loading that allows the tool to function better. That is just SOME of the ways that DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training is both a powerful tool and training method to achieve better functional fitness.
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