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Where Most Go Wrong With MAX Lunges

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She thought I was crazy at the time, “what is this for?” she asked. When I had this idea for lunges I took Jessica to the local park with me to try it out. It looked a bit awkward and the giant fountain going off in the background made for a dramatic environment for what I didn’t realize would become one of our most popular DVRT exercises, MAX lunges!


The idea came to me as I worked with our Ultimate Sandbags in my “lab” of my garage. What I started to think about was “why not try to move the Ultimate Sandbag in ways that no other tool could move?” I knew we could hold the Ultimate Sandbag in so many different ways, but actually moving the USB during the movement was something that I had never seen before or thought any other training tool could really do.

Okay, it was unique, but what makes MAX lunges so important? For one, as we lunge in the sagittal plane (forward or backwards) the movement of the Ultimate Sandbag goes through the transverse and ultimately ends up with frontal plane resistance. Meaning, we have to create strength moving backwards like RESISTING the forces that the Ultimate Sandbag causes on our body. The result is building more sophisticated stability training along with power and strength.

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The second valuable and often overlooked aspect of MAX lunges was they allow for thoracic mobility while we create lumbar and lower body stability. Most people move in the gym as though the body is locked as one piece, however, when we walk and run we get thoracic rotation that helps us move more efficiently while our core and lower body tries to maintain stability. This not only means we build more true functional fitness, but we can build better upper body mobility and power in the lower body at the same time.

Fast forward almost 15 years from that fateful day in the park and while we have had MAX lunges as part of our system for that time, people still get keys of the movement wrong. Like what?

Progression of MAX Lunges

People often see a drill and just want to do that exercise. However, everything in DVRT is based on usually several other exercises. So, JUST trying to teach someone MAX lunges can cause frustration and lack of success in the exercise. What do we do?

Nidal Sinnuqrut in Germany shows a great foundation form of lunges that helps us build to the MAX version. The shoulder position is usually not appreciated by most people because it looks “simple”. However, the shoulder position really forces us to resist lateral motion and during a movement like lunges this really challenges core and pelvic stability. We should see fluidity and confidence in this DVRT drill before moving on to more complex lunges.

One of my favorite and most important progressions is Front Loaded MAX lunges. It does make the movement more stable, but more important we teach essential concepts for MAX lunges. The Front Load position activates more core engagement and pulling the USB into our body and trying to break it apart with our forearms helps us create more stability. We can go slow and move into faster levels to get ready for the deceleration of the exercise.

Where MANY people go wrong in these MAX lunges is they break it up into lunge and rotate which defeats the point of the exercise. Others try to over rotate the movement. We don’t want rotations of the lumbar spine which means we are aiming for just a slight movement of the thoracic spine. Ben Beeler gives a great demo of how the exercise SHOULD look!

This means for going to MAX lunges (the MAX refers to multiple axis) we have to learn to not to over rotate with the upper body, keep tension in the handles by pulling the handles apart, and stepping into our lunges with both feet being highly active to give us stability and power.

Douglas Sheppard of J and D Fitness does a great job of breaking down how we introduce our MAX lunges after spending time on these DVRT progressions.

DVRT Master, Steve Holiner, gives some additional important cues to think about in your MAX lunges because most people go too fast, too early in the learning the right way to move the USB. DVRT coach, Lina Midla shows how MAX lunges should look from some of the great progressions to the highest levels. Even when I am swinging the USB in the MAX lunge (which is a more complex kettlebell swing) I am in control of the weight the whole time by how I use by body and the tension I give against the Ultimate Sandbag. Owning the details is what makes this a powerhouse exercise versus just another “cool” drill to try.

It is important to us that you understand the why’s and how’s to our DVRT movements because the magic truly is in the details! You can check out all this great information in our DVRT Online Education that is 20% off with our DVRT workouts and Ultimate Sandbags with code “save20” HERE

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Lunges don’t usually get the respect that squats and deadlifts do because the weight we can use is obviously less. However, don’t let that lesser weight distract you from the immense benefits that lunges provide. Like what? 1️⃣ The position of lunging brings in all 3 planes of motion that shows how we can provide and resist force at the same time that is far more functional based strength while also building strong glutes. 2️⃣ The directions that we can lunge allow for horizontal and vertical acceleration and deceleration strength that both helps build important injury resilience qualities. 3️⃣ We can build stability, mobility, and strength all at the same time which are essential functional fitness qualities. ______________ What #DVRT coach @thesandmaven helps us show is how we can progress the lunge in more sophisticated ways. In DVRT we use the MAX (multiple axis) to really drive up what lunges can do. The MAX lunge is unique because the weight moves against our body’s movement, not with it. Really forcing the core, glutes, and overall lower body to work at a higher level to keep us producing high levels of force while resisting the great force trying to knock off our position and posture. _______________ The MAX lunge is also like a lunge kettlebell swing. We move into hip flexion, load the hips, and then on explosive hip extension we project the weight away from our body. Since whatever goes up must come down, there is immense strength not only swinging the weight out from our body, but absorbing it as well. If you were looking to take kettlebell swings to another level MAX lunges are a great option! ______________ Most importantly we have many levels of our MAX lunges and teach important functional fitness concepts. As Lina moves from a lateral clean she goes into a Front Loaded MAX lunge. This is a great way to teach the movement as we create tension against the Ultimate Sandbag and show how we want slight thoracic movement while we want lumbar and lower body stability, much higher level of strength training…con’t in comments

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