What makes sandbag training beneficial for everyone and different from traditional strength training?

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Sandbag training. It’s tough because of the constantly shifting sand while you’re lifting it, right? That’s what we’ve all heard. Is that it?

How many of you went to pick up your child, or your gym bag off the floor, the groceries from the back of your car, the laundry basket, or the pencil that fell to the floor and you ended up tweaking your back? We’ve all been there at some point, even though we’d rather describe the scenario as one that makes us look superhuman when it happened. Did you keep your spine neutral when you were twisting and picking something up at the same time or did you twist your lower back while picking it up?

These are real world problems. So what kind of strength training may help fill that gap? Let’s look at some benefits of DVRT training.

1. Creating Real World Strength

The founder and creator of DVRT (dynamic variable resistance training, aka sandbags) Josh Henkin frequently comments on how sandbag training truly mimics what we need for real world strength. What does that mean? Consider this, when you’re lifting something off the floor, are you standing straight or turned slightly to the side? When you’re reaching for something from high in the cupboard are you square on both of your feet or perhaps you’re leaning more on one foot, kind of a staggered stance?

What truly sets sandbag training apart from traditional strength training isn’t just the sand that’s shifting while you’re moving it around. DVRT is about training the actual foot stances you more commonly use in everyday life. It’s about holding the sandbag in different positions, angles that mimic what your everyday life looks like.

Granted, everybody’s daily life is different, but that’s the beauty of DVRT. Its adaptability and progressions are seemingly endless.

2. Fill The Gaps

Anti-rotation, rotation, lunge, squat, staggered stance squat, off grip row, lateral step to center clean, rotational clean to rotational shoulder press. That’s the tip of the iceberg of how DVRT can fill the gaps in our training. Ultimately, those descriptions are a variation and emphasis on how your feet are placed while training. For example, how you hold the sandbag, where you grip the sandbag, and what type of plane of movement you’re utilizing. If those constant variations don’t describe regular life, I don’t know what does. In other words the variations the DVRT are endless.

3. Very Untraditional Yet Effective Stability Strength

We’ve all heard of planks and bridges, zombies and thrusters, and other basics used to build stability. Think about it, are you actually engaging your abdomen and controlling your pelvis? How about a tall kneeling pressout, a lateral drag, a single leg bridge while holding the sandbag overhead, dead bugs while utilizing a sandbag overhead? These are some stability drills that really close the gap on “real world” application. Find out with some DVRT movements that are very untraditional but will truly build your stability!

Ultimately, how do these benefits make a difference in your daily life? Again, when you go to pick up your child, your gym bag, your groceries from the back of your car, the pencil you dropped (if you still own a pencil), are you thinking about actively engaging your abdomen and turning your toe so that your spine remains neutral? I’m not, but what if you’ve created a habit of it from your strength training so your body naturally does that? Your low back has now been automatically protected and you move better.

That’s just the beginning of DVRT!

Article by Cherie Sussner. Cherie is certified in DVRT, RKC, NSCA-CPT, OS, and TRX. She and her military husband have two very rambunctious little boys. When not chasing her children, she enjoys running half marathons across the country with her sister.