Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New Innovations in Band Training

A few months ago I had a great interview with band expert, Dave Schmitz (if you missed it you can listen to it here). Since then I have received a lot of emails asking about the different methods of implementing bands in different ways. The options with sandbags and bands have almost endless options and variations and still allow you to train different strength qualities. Taking bands and sandbags to an outdoor bootcamp, or gym can provide you an incredible and unique training session.

Click Here to see our new bands and check out our videos implementing sandbags and bands.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Meltdown DVD Now Available

I am happy to announce we are now carrying Meltdown as part of our Sandbag Fitness System. I know this may seem odd that we would be promoting kettlebells, however, as I often tell people this is how my journey started. I started becoming interested in kettlebells about 2000. Then after investing in a few I was sold on how simple implements could bring about astounding results.

Since then kettlebells have made up a critical part of my clients' and my own training programs. How could you not when you have such a simple training tool that can be so versatile. This was much of my inspiration to bring back sandbag training.

Why make another kettlebell DVD though? My colleague and good friend, Troy Anderson and I wanted to do something different. We had seen a lot of the programs out there and while they were good, they usually rested upon one training method. We knew having worked with hundreds of people and leading numerous seminars that we could implement our own unique ideas on kettlebell training. This is what Meltdown represents!

Meltdown contains four follow along workouts that are all distinctly different in the methods and exercises used. There is also a detailed section about how to get the most out of y0ur classic kettlebell drills as well as examining the versatility and power of kettlebell training. The nice part is you can use these workouts as part of your existing program or as stand alone as well.

If you want to pick up your copy today just click on the link below, we GUARANTEE you won't be disappointed!

Meltdown DVD

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bert Sorin Interview

For those that love strength and learning from some of the best strength athletes in the world, then I have a treat for you! Bert Sorin of joined me recently for an amazing hour long interview. For those that are unfamiliar with the Sorin name, Bert's father, Richard, was the first to become certified closing the Ironmind #3 gripper, along with being the inventor of the blob lift. Grip strength is not the only topic we covered.

What did the Russians really do for performance training.

When do you perform speed or maximal strength training.

How to monitor and determine when you are ready for training.

The big differences between a beginner/intermediate lifter versus an advanced athlete!

Click on the link below to listen to the interview!

Bert Sorin

• 4 time NCAA Div. 1 All American Track and Field with 35lb weight and hammer throw
• Currently World ranked Highland Games Athlete
* Active in Powerlifting and Grip Contests
• BA degree from University of South Carolina with Deans List honors
• 2000 and 2004 Olympic Trials athlete

Bert Sorin Interview Click Here

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Berardi Bashes Sandbags?

One thing that I have definitely learned over the years is the old saying, "it is a small world" is very true. Recently a good friend and colleague sent me this link from nutrition expert, John Berardi's site:

It first appears that John is very much in favor of using odd object training into one's program. I couldn't obviously couldn't agree more. In fact, it seems that John even enjoys some sandbag training (of course he could use a real sandbag!).

Then I am somewhat shocked by some of the following comments:

"So, the next logical question is this - "do you always do such weird workouts?"

The answer - absolutely not!

Every member of our group lifts weights - you know, squats, dead lifts, bench presses, and the rest of the usual suspects. For example, right now I'm actually following Eric Cressey's Maximum Strength Program.

In addition, every member of our group incorporates some form of more traditional conditioning exercise. For example, the girls mix it up with 45 min fasted walks on some mornings and interval sprints on other training mornings.

So, as you can see, this type of workout is IN ADDITION TO sound, periodized, mixed training. It's certainly not in place of it.

That's right, unlike many "industry wierdos" we don't get seduced by one type of training and vehemently extol its virtues until the end of time. To this end, we don't do ONLY "Sandbag Training," "Body Part Split Training," "Whole Body Training," "Functional Training," "Heavy Duty Training," "Cross-Fit," or any other style of training.

Instead, we figure out what's fun and what works...and then we use it. Novel idea, eh? And to this end, about 80% of our workouts are more traditional."

I have great respect for Mr. Berardi, but these comments strike me funny. No, it isn't because I sell sandbags, but because at my very core I believe these "weird" workouts can often enhance strength more than "traditional" workouts. In fact, the very implication of "traditional" is strange to me as the invention of the barbell is only a about 100 years old. Yet, physical training goes back thousands of years. What did we all do before the barbell and bench?!

I have a lot of anecdotal evidence as well. When I was training for my first strongman competition I didn't perform much deadlifting. Tire flipping and stones covered that pretty well. Within three weeks I put 35 pounds on my deadlift! Not only that, but I was much thicker and dense.

Yet, why do such professionals have such reservations? The truth of the matter is it comes down to a few factors.

1. They don't use these implements and tools in an organized fashion like they would most gym exercises. It seems when it comes to training with odd objects, using well thought out programming goes out the window. Instead it becomes a "play day" which is fine, but don't expect great results.

2. They don't go heavy enough. I am so sick and tired of seeing on television athletes flipping 200 pound tires. Guess what, you still need load!! No disrespect to Mr. Berardi, but our women that average 140 pounds often flip 400 pound tires. Does this mean you need to handle maximal loads to get a good result? Of course not, however, you need to utilize a load and use it in the same manner and respect you would give a barbell.

3. Be more creative in the programming. We get so stuck on weights that we forget there are numerous ways to measure progress.

A. Take a load and try to perform as many repetitions in 30 seconds, i.e. tire flip, log press, sandbag shouldering, etc.
B. Use a scale of perceived rate of exertion.
C. Perform ladders.
D. Utilize density training.

As you can see numerous methods exist and this is a short list. You can't possibly judge odd objects if you don't use them in a well thought manner. If I applied the same style of implementation that most people use with odd objects to barbells, I would have a pretty crappy result as well.

The take home point? Using odd objects can make you strong, there is a whole history of wrestlers, fighters, strongmen, and so forth that have gotten very strong from using these methods. However, as with all results the programs have to be constructed well, throwing these objects out in front lawn and performing random work does not constitute a good program.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What is Sport-Specific

I often receive emails about designing sport-specific programs especially with sandbags. Many coaches are embracing the idea as sandbags are as close as one can train dealing with a live opponent. That makes sports such as American football, basketball, wrestling, mma, martial arts, hockey, and many others perfect for utilizing sandbags. However, we need to examine what we truly mean by sport-specific training.

To perform true sport-specific work we need to look at the demands of the sport, but the individual as well. Some texts suggest an athlete should not participate in sport-specific programs until a five year base has been used. This may surprise many that make youngsters participate in "sport-specific" programs. Base qualities need to be developed as this will make more sense as we delve into more particulars.

The challenge of sport-specific training is that it has to be very carefully chosen and the amount has to be well applied depending upon the time of year. SPP (specialized physical preparation) and GPP (generalized physical preparation) are often thought to be mutually exclusive. The truth of the matter is they both co-exist throughout the training year. The difference can exist in how much of one or another are used. In the early off-season, more GPP methods should be emphasized to counterbalance the overuse injuries and movements that the particular sport creates. As the off-season progresses into other parts of the year then more specialized techniques should be the primary objective.

Here is the kicker though, rarely do coaches and trainers have athletes throughout such prolonged periods of time in perfect situations. Having worked with professional athletes and spoken with many coaches that work with this group as well, I can tell you the text book version is not reality. One has to be critical enough to determine the best methods to help the athlete get back into optimal training shape. This may mean improving one's body composition and strength-endurance, it may mean improving their dynamic flexibility in specific patterns, it may require raising maximal strength and adding functional muscle mass. Heck, at times it may seem like all of these are needed!!

Sport-specific programs can do their best by realizing that they are not always so specific. The original concept is far more complicated than most give it credit. Analyzing exact movement angles to determine when certain forces are applied is beyond the scope of many training regime's. The truth of the matter, it may not be all that essential anyways when we look at the life of a modern athlete that includes not living at sports training dorms year round.

Don't worry, all is not lost! There are some ideas that I have put together that can help athletes apply some of our concepts and get the most out of their training.

1. Learning explosive drills such as shouldering, snatching, and push jerks are terrific in learning hip power for running, jumping, skating, etc.

2. Overhead work should be an emphasis (contrary to what some coaches say) as often weaknesses throughout the body can be found when one is not able to stabilize weight overhead. In addition, putting one's hands overhead is a pretty fundamental movement pattern.

3. Utilize shoulder lunging, step-ups, and other drills to counterbalance leg differences and instabilities.

4. Rotational drills such as the Around the World, shoveling, and others are more beneficial than drills such as Russian twists as it teaches integration of the hip and torso to produce and resist rotation.

5. Zercher squats and their variations are strong ways in improving dynamic flexibility and core strength.

6. Get-ups may be one of the best dynamic hip drills around!

7. The Jungle Gym hip raise might be the single best way to remove overactive hip flexors and allow and athlete to utilize their hamstrings.

8. Isometric upper body strength from drills like hand walking are amazing for shoulder stabilization, trunk training, and pushing strength. Use bands or the Jungle Gym to make it more challenging.

9. Sandbag complexes may be the single most demanding means in losing fat and gaining functional muscle mass.

10. Be creative and go through any movement pattern possible. People forget the great part of sandbags is their versatility. You can do anything with a barbell, dumbbell, or kettlebell with a sandbag, except it is just more challenging.

See how much better of an athlete you can create or be by applying these easy to follow guidelines!