Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sandbag Swing Variations

It is not a secret that the classic swing exercise may be one of the most beneficial drills one can perform. The transfer the swing possess to both sports performance and fat loss is tremendous. Talk about an exercise that can do it all, the swing is often a underappreciated drill and thought of as "too simple." Nothing can be further from the truth as there are a lot of nuances to the swing. Once someone is proficient in the swing they can create complexity with some of my sandbag swing variations. These new variations create rotational forces through the body that make the classic swing even more powerful!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Crossfit Controversy

There are few training concepts that have been as polarizing as the whole Crossfit program. It seems people either absolutely hate it or love it and nothing in between. I have always been a big believer that if you want to know about something, go to the horses mouth.

One of the people that I have tremendous respect for is Greg Everett of Catalyst Athletics. Greg is one of the few coaches that can not only write tremendous programs, but is an excellent athlete as well. Greg was at the early stages of the Crossfit development and has seen the program change quite a bit over the years.

I sat Greg down to find out his thoughts on Crossfit, Olympic lifting, and many other training concepts. Greg is brutally honest and doesn't pull any punches. Check out this interview with Greg by clicking below...

Greg Everett Interview

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sandbags in Iraq!

I know, I know, talking about sandbag training in the desert does yield some good jokes! However, I did want to share with you a story that really makes everything that I have been working for worth while.

About two years ago I was asked to do a private seminar for a unit of Scottsdale SWAT. This was done on their own dime because they were interested in maximizing their performance and reducing injuries. Many people do not realize professions such as law enforcement and fire do have a very high incident of heart attacks and other related illnesses.

Yes, part of this has to do with the fact many in this field do not take their fitness seriously after they make it through the academies. Another problem arises with the fact these professionals have to go from zero to one hundred, without warm-up, preparation, so forth. This creates a high demand on the heart and is perceived by the body as a huge stress. Without proper training, this can be very detrimental to one's health. Using many of the programs that I have shared over the years can help tremendously because they are built on the very same principles that cause many of our finest to suffer.

However, I digress....during the seminar I got to have the wonderful opportuity to work with not just great professionals that lay their lives on the line for us, but people as well. One gentelman I remember well, Thad, was heading off to Iraq and asked a lot of questions about how to remain fit while he was serving. Just recently I received an email from Thad that really made me feel good! I wanted to share this all with you to show that my mission more than anything is to help you get the most positive things out of your training programs.

"Hello Josh,

I just wanted to drop you a quick note to let you know I finally made it safely to
Iraq. Things aren't too bad here, just hot and dusty. I hope things are good on your

The sandbag has been holding up well, I use it often. I also joined a crossfit club,
it is a close to functional training as I can get.

The gym here has a good set of kettle bells, attached is a photo of my attempt at a
Get Up, I know I should have my lead leg out further and a strong thrust with the
hips, but we will consider it a work in progress ;-)

I am trying to remember as much as I can from the day of training we did back in
May, when I get back next year I will be due for a refresher.

Take care,

Thad B."

Thank you Thad and people like yourself who place great sacrifices for all of us!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

2 Exercises=Rapid Fat Loss

People always try to justify their various fat loss methods. I mean really, who doesn't mind being a little leaner, especially with the tempting holidays around the corner. Unfortunately, people again feel overwhelmed with the many different options it is hard for many to follow a consistent fat loss program. A simple program though of two exercises followed twice a week complimenting other training workouts can greatly enhance fat loss in just 20 minutes. Of course there are some rules in getting the most out of the workouts. Below is one of my favorites!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Improving Senior Fitness

Many of you may not see the value in me writing about seniors' fitness, I know we have some great seniors that use our program, but don't make up the bulk of our readers. Yet, many of us have parents that are part of the "baby boom" generation. Since that group makes up a large percentage of our country I think there is a lot of value talking about their fitness.

Personally it saddens me to see my father at 65 basically debilitated. He can not sit in a car for more than 15 minutes without pain, he can't walk a mall, basically many of his quality of life activities are severely compromised. This is extremely sad considering I don't think of 65 as being very old.

In fact, I was very inspired today when a 70+ year old gentleman came into my facility to speak with me about sandbags. He had been training with kettlebells for some time and wanted to add sandbags into his routine. This gentleman was very inspirational to me as he told me how he has worked up to pressing the 16kg bell and has the goal of the 24kg bell. The work this gentleman really does make me believe the whole idea that age is largely a state of mind. However, there are definitely considerations to make when working with older populations.

Some may think kettlebells and sandbags are the worst thing that our senior population could be doing. Actually nothing could be further from the truth. The reason that situations like my father exist is because they do not keep their bodies flexibile, strong, and mobile. Many trainers and coaches simply put seniors on aerobic programs. In fact, one of the US top strength training researchers, Steven Fleck, recommends strength and power training. He has found that one of the biggest problems that seniors face is loss of fast-twitch muscle fibers. Strength and power suffer leading to far more problems than cardiovascular fitness.

Therefore, implementing slowly some of the fundamental movements in our sandbag program is ideal for seniors. Working both components in a functional manner that is easy to adjust to any ability level makes sandbag training again one of the most versatile training methods available.

If you click on the link below you will see how Giovanni Salazar of uses our Ultimate Sandbags with his 69 year old client. This simple cleaning movement is one of the most powerful one could use to improve the quality life of a senior.

69 year old man sandbag clean

The best part is that these drills are relatively easy to learn and safe. Hard to find excuses not to allow all people to enjoy the empowerment of being strong and poweful.

Anthony Diluglio Interview

Over six years ago now I began using kettlebells. In essence they were what I had always been looking for. They were simple, but very powerful, compact, but amazingly versatile. Kettlebell training completely changed the way I approached training and made training enjoyable again.

Such an experience motivated me to become certified in 2003. I always consider that the all-star class as it had people such as Franz Snideman, Ethan Reeve, Steve Cotter, Mike Burgener, Steve Rochet, Josh Everett, Jason C. Brown, and Anthony Diluglio. I learned a lot not only about kettlebells, but training as well from this amazing group.

So many of these great coaches have had a profound impact on the industry since that time. One in particular is making great strides in changing the way professional coaches train and the way the masses view physical training. Anthony Diluglio is leading a charge of bringing physical culture back to the mainstream and in this hour long interview we go over his awesome Art of Strength training methods and his really unique training tools.

Listen to Anthony's Interview Here

Monday, October 20, 2008

Interval BS?

Interval training is promoted as THE way to lose fat. Unfortunately interval training isn't as easy as it is promoted. Firstly, the work session of the interval must be intense, no, not sorta hard but at or near maximal effort. This is the main reason work intervals usually can't go longer than 60 seconds at very well trained individuals. Starting out most work intervals can be as short as 15 seconds because of the intense nature of this sort of training. Imagine trying to sprint a marathon, not going to happen!

Typically sprinting or cycling is promoted as they are forms of training that can be done at a high intensity with no rest during the work cycle. Unfortunately, this is very repetitive and joint stressful exercises. Many often end up with knee, back, and hip problems. This quickly discourages intense training. However, utilizing full body drills that can help flexibility and movement skills in an interval training circuit can actually ehnance these qualites.

The key with choosing the right exercises is not only that they are full body, but they are performed at high speeds too. This means you are not going to use heavy loads, but keep the focus on moving fluidly and quickly!

Below is one of my favorite interval cycles and you can find more of these on my new DVD: Click Here to find out more

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bigger Sandbags or Better Sandbags?

For the past few months I spend almost half of my day answering questions on sandbag training. It is awesome to see the enthusiasm it has sparked, but it occurred to me that most of you never get to see my responses! So, I am going to post some of the best questions so that you can get the most out of your training too!

Q: "Josh, why don't you make bigger sandbags that go over 200 pounds rather than the small sandbags?"

A: The hardest part in espousing the benefits of sandbag training is that everyone wants to compare them with implements they are most familiar with. Often people want to compare sandbags to barbells, kettlebells, and so forth. The problem is that the type of training and their feel truly are unique.

Sandbag training has probably the richest history in physical training culture. Therefore, I am not going to even attempt to say that anything I do hasn't been done at one time or another. However, working with thousands of people I may have a unique spin.

Small sandbags are not simply for those that are new to sandbag training. I have mentioned in the past that small sandbags are ideal for movement based training or loaded mobility. The dimensions and loads can be extremely challenging by moving in unique patterns and motions. In fact, I first got the inspiration for this type of training from John Jesse's 1974 book, "The Encyclopedia of Wrestling Conditioning". Unfortunately I gave that book to my good friend Zach Even-esh (sorry Zach, should have kept it;).

In the book John Jesse speaks about the fact that sandbags were used for two different types of training. The smaller bags were used for rotational movements, moving in extreme ranges of motion, and grip training. This is the very same injury prevention that sports science expert, Dr. Michael Yessis promoted in "Secrets of Soviet Sports Training and Fitness". In fact, this concept inspired the whole functional training movement years ago, but was sorely misapplied.

The heavier bags, Jesse recommends, were for strengthening the hips and trunk for the demands of wrestling. We could infer that this very same idea would be very appropriate in prevention of many injuries as well as increasing performance. Since wrestlers are some of the best athletes in the world I would think of it as foolish to ignore such valuable advice.

To answer the original question though, 200 pound plus sandbags are very limited in their versatility. Yes, you could shoulder, possibly squat them, yet why not take some of the programs I have put on the site and try those and see how a 120 pound sandbag could demolish the best athlete. In fact, why not try some of the double sandbag combinations on here as well.

If you don't believe me definitely try some of the workouts in my new High Octance Sandbag DVD!

In Strength,
Josh Henkin, CSCS

See our Training DVDs here!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sandbags on Fox News!

Somewhere deep down I believed that sandbags would be only for the limited few that wanted really to workout. No, not just get a little six pack, rather people that wanted to feel good and enjoyed the benefits of hard work. You can only imagine my surprise when our local Fox News affiliate contacted me about doing a segment on sandbag training.

It was great! At first the news anchor thought we were going to use those cheesy yoga like sandbags, but it didn't take long for her to become a believer. Click on the link below and check out the segment. Best of all, see how fast it takes her to get out of breathe! I think sandbags might be part of the new age of real, honest fitness.

Fox News Segment

Don't forget to check out the new High Octane Sandbag DVD! 2-DVD set with instruction and four killer follow along workouts.

Learn more about High Octane Sandbag Training: Click Here!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Getting the Most Out of Your Training

A few weeks ago kettlebell expert, Mike Mahler, asked me to join him in an online interview to discuss how to optimize training in this very busy world! Not only did we discuss the topics of fat loss and strength building, but performance for young and elite athletes as well. Check out the interview on the link below....

Mike Mahler and Josh Henkin interview

Make sure to sign-up for our new special reports and interviews at You will get the latest news and special deals on our DVDs and Ultimate Sandbags!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Dual Sandbag Lifting

The versatility of sandbag never ceases to amaze me. It is so easy to become limited by our experiences in strength training and think of sandbag training only in terms of other implements such as barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells. The truth of the matter is that sandbags really are their own beast. So many of the drills are unique in not only in their performance, but feel as well.

One of the reasons I like sandbag training so much is that you can get amazing core training without really doing core work. Yes, this is a common idea nowadays, but most people still don't use implements like sandbags to accomplish this. Like Steve Maxwell said, "I can bring the most elite athlete to his knees in a few minutes of sandbag training."

Sandbags work the core because you have an odd weight resting on the body in an awkward position. It takes a lot of work by all of the core (abs, low back, and hips) to keep the body in good postural alignment. That is why drills such as shoulder squats, shouldering, side to side press, half moon snatches, etc. are so awesome for training the core.

However, one thing that too many people don't think of is actually implementing two sandbags into exercises. This creates a far new and more challenging demand on the core because you will have resistance coming from different leverage points and positions.

Check out some of my favorite drills using two sandbags and see how incredibly challenging this type of training can be!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Complexes for Fat Loss

Complexes are nothing new, ok, what really is?! However, there are so many great training methods it is easy to forget about some and focus on others. One of the best things about talking to colleagues is that you are reminded of training methods that are really helpful, but have gotten away from for one reason or another.

Complexes definitely fit into that category. Anyone familiar with Olympic lifting should be very knowledgeable of complexes. Often used in the sport for build a base level of conditioning and muscular balance, complexes are often underutilized by most.

In my KNOCKOUT! e-book I go over a whole extensive chapter discussing the value of complexes and the fact that using sandbags may be a superior tool for complexes. You see, the limiting factor in most complexes is grip strength. Most people just simply tire out from holding onto the bar for extended period of time. Therefore, the larger muscle groups are left greatly undertrained. Because of the hundreds of exercises you can perform with sandbags you can avoid such issues by utilizing drills where the bag is placed on the body. Not only does this prevent such problems, but is amazing for core training.

Of course if you want to challenge your grip you can definitely perform complexes where you grab the bag. This is far more demanding for grip training and gives you a vice for hands. In fact, check out the great series that my colleague Mike Stehle of has created to torture his clients, simply outstanding!!

Get the killer e-book KNOCKOUT!!, not just for combative athletes!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sandbags for Women

It doesn't seem to matter, EVERYONE thinks they are incredibly unique, why not? After all aren't we all very different? The truth of the matter we aren't all that unique, while some of us may have different training backgrounds, our bodies move and function in all the same ways. Such a belief of being "different" often comes when I work with my women clients.

There is no better comment that I get from women than when they tell me, "how do you know what women need, you aren't a woman!" While that may sound very rationale it actually is a very obsurd statement. Does a surgeon have to experience a heart attack to make them a better surgeon? Does a lawyer have to be sued to be better in their practice? Of course not, even more specifically, most strength coaches have never played the sport they coach professionally. Yet, they are able to provide great training programs because of experience and research.

The majority of my clients have always been women, maybe it is because women do not have the ego about strength that men often posses. Maybe it is because women don't have the experience at an early age lifting weights so they don't rely on their high school training to get them in shape. In any event, women often are more likely to be involved in personal training. The rules of training women? They are usually the same as men.

1. Practice multi-joint movements
2. Design rest intervals to match training goals
3. Keep training programs short, but focused
4. Repetitions should be varied not emphasizing high repetitions

Sandbags tend to be a great tool for women because it can be used in a circuit style training everything from head to toe. Training strength, flexibility, and the cardiovascular system. I asked my assistant Megan to put together the following video to show how women too can benefit from sandbags.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Lose 50 Pounds of Fat with Sandbags

The great thing about seeing sandbag training going mainstream is how much success others are having with the program. While I was at the Ryan Lee Bootcamp I was able to meet several professionals that I have spoken through only through email. BJ Gaddour was one of those coaches with some innovative ideas. BJ's new program ( is an innovative idea on how to optimize interval training, more specifically Tabata training.

Tabata is a 4-minute workout that was developed by a Japanese researcher with elite athletes. This scientist showed that 10 seconds of all out effort followed by a second interval of 20 seconds of rest done for 4-minutes could produce a better result that longer duration workouts. Of course though, this is not as easy as it sounds. This workout is absolutely brutal as 10 seconds of all out work done eight times is nothing to smile at.

However, BJ's system keeps you going and motivated. In fact, one of his clients lost 50 pounds using such a style of training, especially the sandbag. You can see it in action in the clip below.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Steve Maxwell Interview

Interviewing different professionals is not a new concept. I have known people that have done such things and made lots of money and interviewed I guess some interesting people. The problem is that very few people actually get the best coaches in the industry to reveal what they find works so well for their own clients!

Steve Maxwell is just such a coach. I have known Steve for several years even being an assistant of his at the RKC a few years ago. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Steve as he has been in the industry over thirty years! He has worked with thousands of people from those just starting a fitness program to world champion athletes.

Since then Steve has been forming his own unique system of training. Combining elements of joint mobility, kettlebells, and bodyweight exercises Steve has come up with not only one of the most complete systems I have seen, but one that is sure to keep people interested and challenged.

I got to interview Steve today and he shared with me some amazing information! Yes, I am going to steal some of his ideas for my own training. Some of them came at the perfect time just for my own training. Steve goes into great detail on training, anti-aging, and many of the fallacies of fitness. Also, hear how Steve found sandbags to be a HUGE hit with a special forces group, "even more popular than kettlebells!"

Listen to Steve Maxwell Interview

Visit Steve's Site