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Why The Ultimate Sandbag Changes Your Training

sandbag workouts

Jessica Bento, Physical Therapist (Creator DVRT Restoration Certification, DVRT Rx Shoulder, Knees, Pelvic Control, & Gait Courses)

sandbag workouts

If I had to narrow down the top question I get, it would have to be this one… “what if I don’t have an Ultimate Sandbag.” Might be strange to you if you are reading this, especially since this newsletter is on our blog, but just today on social media I had three people asking this very same question though.

It’s probably that one question I get that I hate answering. Why? Well, let’s be honest, it is kinda a no win situation. If I am honest and explain in great detail WHY the Ultimate Sandbag makes a BIG difference in a particular exercise, then I’m bias. It would be possible for me to lie and just say “use whatever” (as though our training tools don’t matter when we choose them) and they don’t get the result, the exercise feels awkward, and I have to sacrifice my professional integrity.

In the end, I choose to explain WHY the Ultimate Sandbag is so important for the exercises we show in our videos. Not only do I show so many ways you can utilize the Ultimate Sandbag, ways that are rather unique to the tool itself, but we also do so with other training tools. Each tool has a specific intent behind its use and that is what helps us make concepts and principles of strength training come to life.

So I wanted to go over AGAIN why this tool offers something that no other tool does….it does sometime different than dumbbells, kettlebells, bands, and you name it ( backpacks, towels, pillows…yes people ask if they substitute for those items too which never made sense to me since they have no weight just to start)


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So why is the Ultimate Sandbag itself important to the results we get in various exercises? Let’s take a deeper look…

It might seem like the most obvious idea in the world to say load is really important in our strength training. However, it isn’t for just the reasons that most people would assume. Load is a training variable, and an important one, and not necessarily always to just challenge the movement. Load can be an amazing feedback tool and help to teach movement, especially when someone doesn’t know HOW to get their body to feel or move a certain way. Many of the holding positions and ways we teach to use the Ultimate Sandbag is done for this VERY reason!

Whether it is how we pull apart the Ultimate Sandbag in the crooks of our arms to get more core stability and avoid rounding the low back, or pulling the neutral grip handles to engage the lats to stabilize the trunk. These are just a few ways we use the Ultimate Sandbag to create better feedback for movements like hip hinges.

The slight instability with the load of and Ultimate Sandbag that makes each repetition of an exercise slightly different than the last. This challenges movement accuracy which is something that is imperative to improving overall fitness and as well as strength. Now I realize tools like dumbbells and kettlebells have load to them but not variable load so I thought that this was worth mentioning.

This was one of the reasons we invented the homemade sandbag in the first place. It offers something that other tools don’t, it’s that simple. Barbells and dumbbells have us grabbing onto them right where their center of mass lies. That means the weight almost moves with our hands and is more balanced. If we take a kettlebell, the handle is actually much further away from the center of mass. This is why a kettlebell of equal weighted dumbbell actually feels heavier. There is more leverage against where we are holding the weight. One of the great benefits of using heavier Ultimate Sandbags is that you can’t cheat the lift. So many times on social media we see people cleaning 20 pound USBs and that’s fine, but you have to then make sure people don’t build bad habits because most people need WAY more load to execute proper power. That is unless we change some of the other variables as you will see below. This is even MORE significant with Ultimate Sandbags because unlike a kettlebell, there is basically NO weight in the handle. That means all the weight is away from where we are gripping. Such a difference creates HUGE leverage when we lift the weight making something like 100 pounds feel MUCH heavier than it would with something like barbells or dumbbells.

Not only is the weight heavier pound per pound, but having the neutral grip handles be pliable is an advantage in of itself. As Josh and I break down in the above videos that initial tension you make in the handles makes ALL the difference in the world! Not only can people develop more strength and power, but it can be the key to eliminate all issues with the low back discomfort too. I’m not making this up as connecting the lats helps us stabilize the core and get a better deadlift, row, clean, and more.

ultimate sandbag

We can work in patterns and postures that most tools don’t allow for. The reason a lot of movements we show look different is because the tool allow for us to train in so many different planes of movement and train movement, which tends to be hard to do with something like a barbell or other tools. Going into patterns that people almost avoid completely with the barbell (because it would be dangerous) and few times with kettlebells (again, they don’t lend themselves incredibly well for this…) like rotation really exposes the difference in load and the center of mass can work to increase the intensity of the movement of the weight. We can truly build strength in all planes of motion and with the instability I mentioned above, we can move in one plane and resist force on another plane which is really what multi planar training is about. This type of training is what we should be focusing on since it’s how we move in life and sport. Why not traing this way if its how we move?

Drills like Filip shows is just scratching the surface of what can be done.

Of all our DVRT concepts, the one that really is new to most people is that of dimension. This largely happens because most other tools don’t really use dimension of the weight to impact how the weight is used or how it impacts the training. In fact, many tools try to negate this role of changing dimension which is why you see bumper plates of all equal size in Weightlifting and all kettlebells are the same size in kettlebell sport.

When it comes to sport, it makes sense. You want to get so dialed into a technique that you don’t want something like changing dimension of a weight to throw you off. However, that is the OPPOSITE of how we think in DVRT. Of course we want you to improve in your training, but we want to reinforce accuracy of movement every chance we can. So, when we have weights of different dimensions we have different things that happen. Dimension also changes the level of stability of the implement. For example, both our Strength and Burly Ultimate Sandbags can hold 80 pounds. However, the 80 pounds in the Burly is VERY different than the Strength because of the dimensional changes and that Burly becomes way less stable. That means we not only have to be strong, but very proficient in our movement capabilities. The idea of dimension is something that anyone who has used any type of sandbag knows. It was actually sports coach and professor John Jesse that laid out in his 1974 book “Wrestling Physical Conditioning Encyclopedia”, “Forms of progressive resistance exercises used by old-time Indian wrestlers were heavy sandbags weighing 40 to 120 pounds…” (p.82) It wasn’t till we started DVRT that we actually systemized this concept.


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Cory Cripe shows how this concepts of dimension plays a big part in how we train.

Don’t get me wrong, some coaches realize this impact and use it to demonstrate why judging our programs and tools on weight alone actually lead us down the wrong path! As fitness expert, Alwyn Cosgrove, gave a great example of this…
“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 Ultimate Sandbag moves around too much.”

The number one reason that people will tell me they want to get into DVRT Ultimate Sandbags is because the weight is unstable. Well, it is, but not for the reasons that most people would believe. For example, when you hold the weight in the front load position for something like a squat, lunge, step-up, hip hinge, etc. the weight isn’t unstable! Where the load is placed on the body makes the body want to fall forward. You need a lot of upper back, core, and hip strength to NOT let that happen. Unlike a barbell Zercher position, the dimension of the Ultimate Sandbag makes this aspect much more profound!

I could go on and on on the benefits of using and Ultimate Sandbag but unless you feel the difference it can be challenging to really understand the impact it has on movements.

So hopefully you can see it’s very different from a band, towel, back back and so forth. It really does allow to not just train differently, but better!

Coach Robin Paget shows how easy it is to implement these ideas into comprehensive workouts that are largely effective. If you want to find out more, don’t miss our great sale on BOGO sale on our DVRT workouts and Online Courses HERE


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A post shared by Robin Paget (@rdpaget)