Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mix It Up for Better Results

I fall into the trap all the time, my workouts tend to lean towards one type of training method until I read or remember something that makes me go, "AH-HA!" One of my major "ah-ha" moments was to remember that the workouts don't have to be so plain and stagnant. What do I mean?

In the fitness industry we get into trends, fads, and misinformation. Believe it or not some of these things can be positive or negative. A positive trend is to have shorter, more productive workouts. Those that don't run hours long performing exercises that simply drain our bodies without having a positive training effect.

However, with the idea of shorter workouts has come to bad ideas. The first being very focused on only performing 1-3 exercises for all your routines. This goes against so much training science that basically our body needs to be introduced to many different exercises and movements. The more our bodies are exposed to, the more our bodies are prepared for heavier intensities and prevent many common overuse injuries.

The second issue is performing only one method that becomes highly publicized. Sure tabatas and intervals are great, but if you sit down and think about it coming up with over ten different training programs is easy. Each type of training has pros and cons so only adhering to one form of training allows you to achieve some success, but also makes you accumulate the negative training effects as well.

I wanted to show today how you can easily integrate different training methods to accomplish different goals. You will see we I am not promoting performing twenty different movements, but several core different movements that should be emphasized. When combined with tomorrows workout, it is a very powerful accumulative effect!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

First Sandbag Challenge

I'll admit it, training day after day can be a little bit hard. Motivation is easy to lose without a clear direction and goal. For most people having short and long-term goals are vitally important. Long-term goals may vary from losing 20 pounds, dropping 10% body fat, eliminating back pain, to a host of other things. However, short-term goals are often best laid out some performance benefits.

Because we all can improve in performance rather quickly. Taking on the challenge of a workout can often inspire motivation and better adherence. That is why I wanted to put out the first Sandbag Challenge: Melt. Why Melt, well, if you do the workout right you can feel that you are melting unwanted body fat, but also burning up apathy and laziness.

Simply, you can do this program without being driven. It is challenging enough to be performed by even the most advanced athlete, but can be modified for a beginner as well.

What weight should you use? I would recommend the following guidelines:

Beginning women: 40 pound small bag
Trained women: 70 pound medium bag
Beginning men: 70 pound medium bag
Trained men: 120 pound large bag

Follow the workouts below and get ready as the competitions are coming. Yes, this is the first in a series of videos that will get you prepared for competitions where you can win major prizes by getting in great shape now. Just follow the video and let me know how you like the first Sandbag Challenge!

In Strength,
Josh Henkin, CSCS

Monday, March 23, 2009

Workouts for Busy Parents

What do you do when training can't be the focus on your world? What happens when you are responsible for your family? Most people give up on their fitness programs because it becomes too overwhelming to continue on a fitness program. However, that is one of the worst things you can do for yourself.

More and more people are single parents, and many times even in two parent households, both parents have to work. This seems too often mean sacrificing yourself and what is good for you for the sake of the family. While that can be admirable, sacrificing one's health does little for the good of the family.

I have worked with a lot of overweight kids. I wish it was a population that I never had to work with, not because I do not like the kids, but because it is a type of population that shouldn't exist. In fact, I remember losing it one time on a parent, yep, it usually is the parent's fault! I lectured her because she had brought her son to me that she believe had all sorts of problems. From ADD to "muscle control issues" to a host of other things, this Mom was convinced her son had something very wrong with him. You know what, he did! It was what they did at home.

I found out over time that the young man ate sugary breakfast cereals for breakfast, pizza and fast food for lunch, and often ate out for dinner. No wonder this young man was overweight and out of control. At the age of 12 parents still have a lot of control over these situations, there is no excuse. You can not ask your child to do something you won't!

I remember another client, Samantha. I told her not to keep bad foods in the house because every time she did, she ended up snacking on them. This was particularly true of ice cream and when I really confronted her about it (because she couldn't understand why she wasn't losing weight) she told me she didn't want to deprive her children of those foods, WHAT?! I turned and asked her 14 year old son standing next to her if he would feel deprived by not having ice cream in the house and he said a strong, NOPE! Truthfully it was Mom that wanted the ice cream in the house, not the kids.

Typically families that have unhealthy lifestyles will have children that model these bad behaviors. This is why I asked fitness expert, Chris Lopez to share some information with me. Why Chris? Very simply, Chris has written extensively on to create effective fitness programs for busy parents. His great site www.fitandbusydad.com is a great resource for those that want to be in great shape, but not sacrifice the priorities in their life.

Listen to Interview Here

Want to see how to make real fat loss workouts that can be done really fast? Check out today's training video as well. Featuring the new U-fill it Kettlebells, this is a simple and fun workout that can be accomplished with the U-fill it Kettlebell and Ultimate Sandbag.

In addition, I will show you some of my favorite fast fat loss routines...


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Big Changes are Coming

It use to be that I would read muscle magazines with the eagerness of the teenager I once was. I couldn't wait for the next "Get Huge Arms" article, little did I know it had been recycled about ten different times. Fortunately, I learned pretty early on that most muscle magazines are good for keeping your table steady and little to do with training. However, in the past few years I have used magazines to reinforce to my clients the "crazy training" we are doing is actually simply ahead of its time.

My clients often thought I was just trying to make them look silly by having them use kettlebells, or push sleds, or hoist sandbags. Then magazines such as Men's Health, Men's Fitness, and even Muscle & Fitness started to do articles on the benefits of these movements. I loved to cut them out for my clients, heck, they felt like they were doing something special as this was cutting edge for most people.

Well, I have very happy to say that this trend keeps going. In this month's Men's Health both the TRX and my friend Anthony Diluglio's "Ropes Gone Wild" program is featured. Oh yes, there is a mention of a sandbag, but my poor Men's Health associates really missed the boat here. I won't get into it right now!

However, I really recommend people stop off and see the new Men's Health this month as it does call the Ropes Gone Wild program "The Best New Cardio Tool of 2009". I have actually been using the ropes quite a bit myself as I recover from a stupid triceps injury. Not being able to do too much with my arm, I have found the Ropes Gone Wild program to be really perfect as I keep some upper body conditioning and movement. In fact, I have combined the sandbag work into a really great fat burning circuit like the one below...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Best Training Tool You Aren't Using

It is one thing for me to speak about the benefits of sandbag training. Of course there are always going to be skeptics that think I am just trying to sell my program. Well, firstly, I wouldn't be talking or developing a program I didn't believe in, there are so many unique factors with sandbag training that make it a must have in training programs.

Recently, Strength Coach, Steven Morris, wrote an article for Elitefts.com about the top 11 strength exercises for athletes. Guess who was on the list? Yep, our sandbag training program. Read Steven's article here.

I had never spoken to Coach Morris before, but I was intrigued by his insights in using our program with his athletes. Coach Morris agreed to spend an hour with me discussing how he trains his athletes and how sandbags relate to the development of his athletes. Not only did we talk about sandbags, but proper periodization, progression of different age levels, and common mistakes of most sporting coaches.

Listen to Coach Morris' Interview Here

Want to see the top sandbag drills for combative athletes? Check out this week's training program....

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Want to Win a FREE Sandbag Package?

Ah, got your attention? Listen, I really do understand that the economy just sucks right now. People are really thinking about what they can spend their hard earned money on. Heck, I know how it feels, I am thinking about myself where to make better decisions and keep with things that are very meaningful to me. One of those is this great program Sandbag Fitness Systems.

I found a way to make everybody happy! We are reformatting our website again, I am always a believer we can do things better and we've got some really cool things coming on the way. However, we want to get the message about the power and benefits of sandbags to more people. There are a lot of people on the fence on whether or not this is for them. I wouldn't do this unless I believed this was such an amazing training program for results. However, coming from me all the time can keep people skeptical.

That is how you can help make our program stronger and win a FREE package of your choice. How do you do that? We want to hear more about your experiences and your story. We want others to see how real people from different backgrounds have found success with our program. So, here is what we are doing. Every month will have a contest to see who has the best story. What are we looking for? Well, let me share with you a great example we recently received....

"Hi Josh,

I just wanted to write you to tell you how much I love the Ultimate Sandbag!! I've been into Kettlebell's for 2-1/2 to 3 years, and trained with them exclusively, I've gotten Great results from them, and can't complain, but I did feel I was perhaps missing something or could improve my training somehow. I've heard about Sandbags, but never gave them much thought. When I finally learned more about them I decided to give them a Try. I ordered the Medium Ultimate Sandbag. I was seriously impressed with the quality, to often something looks great online and when you get it, your disappointed, but I was very Happy with the Ultimate Sandbag.

First it looked really Cool, and not like a bag of Dirty Laundry. It also has 4 different Handles & 2 Flaps on the ends and can do things you can't with a Homemade Sandbag. I love sticking to the basics, but like to vary my grip to keep the Stimulus fresh, this is really easy with the Ultimate Sandbag! I thought a Sandbag was a Sandbag, and made three Homemade ones 50lbs & 75 lbs. out of Sand and a 105 lbs one out of Pea Gravel using Duffel Bags. It wasn't anywhere near as fun as using the Ultimate Sandbag, it looked like a Bag of Dirty Laundry, it wasn't adjustable. There wasn't anything I could do with it that I couldn't do with the Ultimate Sandbag, and of course there was Plenty of things I can do with the Ultimate Sandbag that I couldn't do with the Homemade Sandbags. Good luck trying to Clean a Homemade Sandbag over your head to the back of your shoulders for OH Clean/Squat Combos, or "Around The Worlds" or "Halo's" or even "Side to Side Swings. I wouldn't feel safe with a Heavy Homemade Sandbag whipping over my head or worst a Clients Head, you can only do those Drills safely with the Ultimate Sandbag.

The Material on the Ultimate Sandbags were more forgiving, enough Grit to keep a good grip and develop some serious Grip Strength, but not too Rugged like homemade Sandbags that ripped the skin off the back of your fingers and knuckles, I'm still a Bartender, no one wants a drink handed to them from a Gnarled up hand with skin missing lol. I also found that I didn't have to reset my grip mid set with the Ultimate Sandbag. I also love wrapping Towels around the different Handles to make a really thick Grip. I also love using the Ultimate Sandbag for Curls, because of the different handles, I can run 1-1/2" Manila Rope through it, and do Curls with different Width Grips, something you can't do with a Homemade Sandbag. Plus you can also attach Flex bands around the Ultimate Sandbag, and the Handles will keep it from slipping off and step over the bands then you can do Bear Hug Squats, Shouldering all with the Dynamics of Bands! To make a long Story Short, I lost the Duffel Bags & Kept the Sand and Gravel and Bought a Large Ultimate Sandbag which is easy to adjust the weight with! I'm going to experiment with Heavy Duty 6 Mil Zip Lock bags, in 10 lbs increments to adjust the weight, after all it only takes a few seconds to adjust the weight of an Ultimate Sandbag. BTW, Love the New Handle Design, and the Red Logo on the Side makes it look even cooler! As Versatile as the Kettlebell is, the Sandbag is just as Versatile, if not more! Kettlebell's used to be hands down my favorite Training tool, now it's the Kettlebell & the Ultimate Sandbag are my favorites! Your not going to get a Cheaper piece of equipment that can deliver so much! I read somewhere that if you can Lift a 250 lbs. Atlas Stone a 250 Lbs Barbell feels like a Toothpick, I feel the same comparison can be made with the Ultimate Sandbag! If you can Through around a 130 lbs Sandbag, a 135 lbs Barbell is going to be a Joke!

I am Underground Strength Coach Certified & Crossfit Kettlebell Certified, My Gym will only have The Ultimate Sandbag, and nothing else. After all why Take your Training Serious if you are going to train with Cheap Gear? The Ultimate Sandbag is easily the "Texas Bars" of Sandbags, and I learned the Hardware, a Sandbag is a Sandbag....NOT!!!

I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to make such a Cool piece of Equipment! Sorry for the Long e-mail, but I love my Ultimate Sandbag lol!!! Thanks for everything Josh, Keep up the Great work!

P.S. I'm loving the Syngery Program, my two Favorite Tools Kettlebell's and The Ultimate Sandbag! Life is good!"

Sincerely Pedro A. Morales

Cerfied Underground Strength Coach
Cerfitied Crossfit Kettlebell Instructor

Of course this was amazingly gracious of Pedro, yet, everyone may not be as confident as what to write. Instead of making you guys guess, we came up with what we want to hear from you. Remember, not only does this give you an opportunity to win something FREE, but help us improve so that we can give you and everyone the best training program possible. Entries are due by the March 30th so don't miss out!

Oh, did I mention that you can promote your business to thousands of people with this program as well? Write down the answers to these questions and send them to me at jsandbags@hotmail.com

1. Why did you choose to use sandbags in your training?

2. What results have you noticed since implementing sandbags?

3. How have you incorporated sandbags into your training?

4. How would explain the difference between our sandbags versus homemade versions?

5. How would you compare sandbags to other training implements?

6. What would you change or like to see from Sandbag Fitness Systems?

7. How would you explain the benefits of the various handle attachments?

8. What would you like to see different in our sandbags?

9. What new programs would you be interested in?

10. What would you like to see new on the site?

I ________________________________________agree to allow Innovative Fitness Solutions to use my testimonial in all marketing campaigns. Please provide your email:______________________________ Website:_____________________________

We got some new great training videos this week so be on the lookout!

In Strength,
Josh Henkin, CSCS

Thursday, March 12, 2009

New Generation of Core Training

Ooops, I said the "c" word. Yep, I said CORE, don't start throwing stones or rolling eyes quite yet. Yes, I am tired of hearing about the core about as much as anyone. There is so much overhype surrounding this topic, but some of it is actually legit.

It seemed that our industry has gone to too far extremes with the core subject. When it first gained momentum core training was associated as getting away from machine based exercises and getting onto all types of unstable pieces of equipment. This was definitely mainstream for some time and most of us gave it a shot. Heck, with my back issues I was looking for anything that could bring me back to a level of no pain and capable of being in my best physical condition. However, it didn't take long for many of us to figure out while conceptually these ideas sounded good, they just didn't pan out for those not in rehab.

This spawned a complete rejection of core training and the push for the idea of all core training was accomplished in the big lifts (i.e. squat, deadlifts, overhead pressing) came into vogue. The truth is these lifts do take a tremendous amount of core strength. Unfortunately, very few people are truly proficient lifters and have immense weakness in their trunk because they didn't have these exercises in their programs for most of their training career. In addition, many of the old-time strongmen that many of us reference had a large background in gymnastics, wrestling, and manual labor that help build that tremendous core strength.

Core training can be complex because the core is complex. It isn't just about your abdominals, it is about the low back and hips, it is about large superficial muscles and small stabilizer muscles. It is about not just producing movement, but resisting movement as well. It is not about moving just slowly, but explosively as well. Whew! See, core training may be much more than we often give it credit.

I've always felt as though sandbags were a very helpful tool in developing a great core because you could accomplish many of these goals. Holding a sandbag requires both superficial and stabilizer muscles to fire to great levels both to resist movement and maintain postural alignment. You can also create many movements that help teach force production through the core that decreases injury and you can train in ranges of motions and movement patterns that are hard to reproduce with most other training tools.

Allan Hedrick, Strength Coach for the Air Force Academy, wrote in the NSCA journal about unstable objects..

“But, applying the concept of specificity, it makes sense that training with a fluid resistance is a more sport-specific method of training as compared to lifting exclusively with a static resistance, because in most situations, athletes encounter a dynamic resistance (in the form of an opponent) as compared to the static resistance. Further, because the active fluid resistance enhances the need for stability and control, this type of training may reduce the opportunity for injury because of improved joint stability.” (NSCA Journal, Vol.25 Number 4)

While Coach Hedrick was speaking spefically about kegs, we can infer that sandbags would fit this criteria as well. This type of training may also be what biomechanics expert, Dr. Michael Yessis was referring to in his book, Secrets of Soviet Sports Training, when he mentioned to prevent injury we need to train in extreme ranges of motion. With sandbags and the drills in these videos you can see how we utilize sandbags to accomplish these goals.

I want to put forth my first video on this subject matter as it is important to master these drills first.

Got those drills down, then see the next generation of sandbag core drills...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Another Sandbag Believer

If you didn't believe me that sandbag training is one of the most powerful ways to improve your fitness read this new review by Better U!

Click Here to Read Review

Dropping Fat Fast

It sounds like an ad when you speak about fat loss. I know, I know, you think you have seen most fat loss programs. Yea, there are a lot of them! Usually though they are one type or another. They are intervals, so you don't gain a lot of strength. They are long duration so you don't stimulate your metabolism. They are one exercise focused so you want to die of boredom.

However, we summer peaking its head out, I wanted to show that you could have the best of everything. You can build strength, drop fat, and build muscle within one workout session. The tools we use and promote are the same ones we work hard with our clients to get their great results. Today is showing one of our favorite workouts. It combines repetition work, intervals, mobility, and yes...STRENGTH!!

Take our challenge and see how you do with this workout!

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Overload Myth

Let's face it, there are always going to be fitness myths that are perpetuated by marketing, hype, and unfortunately, bad coaching. Recently I had an opportunity to hear some top level strength coaches speak and was sorely disappointed when I heard some of these myths still being promoted! One in particular that drives me a little nuts is the misunderstanding fot he one of the most fundamental concepts of training...overload.

Progressive overload is crucial because this has everything to do with achieving results from your training. Most people associate load or weight with overload, this would be the most common view of overload, simply make things heavier! Guess what? This does work, making a weight heavier will stimulate more change, in fact, research has shown novice lifters need only 40% of their max and more experienced lifters 60% of their max to stimulate some strength gains. So, there is a minimum amount of weight people need to use to stimulate changes, however, overload isn't just about how much you lift.

Changing Leverage
Another means in utilizing overload is changing the position of the load. By changing where the load is placed in relationship to the body you can make the same weight feel heavier. A classic example can be shown by squatting. If we begin people with a bear hug squat this represents the base level of squatting and the load is more easily dispersed throughout the body. Therefore, this is the position where the greatest amount of weight can be lifted. So, when the lifter is looking for progression, they have several options...

1. Increase the weight of the sandbag
2. Change the position to a zercher squat (which doesn't have as advantageous leverages as bear hug)
3. Alter programming variables.

Now if we use option two and change to a zercher, the same weight will feel heavier. In the same respect, if we then change from the zercher to shoulder, again the same weight will feel heavier. This is definitely a form of overload.

Alter Speed
There times I think people would not have as much confusion about overload if we also looked at force production. The idea of increasing load is to stimulate the body to have to produce more force. This recruits more muscle fibers and motor units leading to better gains in strength and muscle. What most people don't understand is that when you move intentionally slower, the force production drops even though the time under tension increases. While slowing down and increasing time under tension is helpful for adding some muscle mass, it generally doesn't add as much to functional strength gains.

So, if you want to increase overload try lifting the weight faster. In using our squat example, we can work on slowly lowering the weight and then trying to add an explosive squat up. We can also add a pause in the bottom, removing any elastic energy, and then adding an explosive squat and we would again increase overload. This definitely demonstrates how lighter loads can be still very challenging.

Plenty More
There are a lot of options in increasing the overload of an implement. This post was intended to discuss two of the more popular means that give you a large return for your time. In our workshops and clinics we discuss many other training means, but I hope this helps you realize that training can be more than simply adding more weight!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Rope, Kettlebells, & Sandbag Seminar!!

I am very excited to announce our first San Diego seminar with Franz and Yoana Snideman of Revolution Fitness. This is going to be a truly unique seminar as the first time any program will combine Ropes, Kettlebells, and Sandbags into one incredibly unique seminar. You will get not only to be taught some of the top coaches in the industry, but we will cover programming and how to get the most out of your training for tomorrow! See what you might be in for....

At just $169.99 for two days, you can't afford to miss!!

Sign-up Here Today!!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Strength Your Missing

Teaching seminars and clinics teaches me almost as much of what people need as what I think they need to learn. My last seminar in Phoenix demonstrated this point to me in dramatic fashion. It was a tremendous opportunity for me to get really hands on with people and for them to experience how the details impact their sandbag training.

Nothing may have been more eye opening when we began the section on rotational training. This often overlooked side of sandbag training appeared to be the biggest challenge for many of the attendees. I am not big into trying to train "all planes of movement" as I believe many compound exercises do challenge us in all three planes. However, I also think that too many people train in nonathletic lifts.

I have to say that isn't completely true, the deadlift and squat are obviously athletic based lifts. Yet, it is when this is the only form of training one performs that we tend to see a loss of athleticism. This is due partly to the fact that we end up training flat footed all the time. While athletes spend most of their time on the balls of their feet it would seem plausible that we want to teach how to be efficient in other postures as well.

Learning how not to rotate through the back, but through the feet and hips, will not only prevent a low back injury, but improve efficiency and performance. In today's video I demonstrate how to learn these components in a systematic manner so you can achieve that movement efficiency to run faster, kick and punch harder, have a quick first step, and overall feel better!

In Strength,
Josh Henkin, CSCS