Thursday, April 30, 2009
All three are great rescue dogs that often get a hello from clients before I do! There is Lucy who is the oldest and pure Boxer, Ms. Attitude supervises most training at the gym and can demonstrate a mean step-up! Elliott is the largest and often has the biggest mouth, of course he is all show and will often roll over his back before he would ever bite. Then there is my youngest Levi, a Boxer and Greyhound mix, agile, goofy, and not sure if he is bright, but darn cute!
Ok, they are occasionally a bit rough to handle, especially when other dogs are around. Levi may be the worst twisting and crying and basically throwing a temper tantrum. Usually this isn't much of an issue, but this past weekend I had a large heart attack. Levi broke loose and was in a dead sprint, that Greyhound and Boxer mix makes for a lightening bolt of a dog! Sprinting after him with over 120 pounds of dog with me was not an easy feat.
There was sprinting, jumping over bushes and rocks (desert landscape is no joke!), dodging people, making sharp turns, and other adventures on my wild chase. Eventually I was able to track him down, it was nerve wrecking as I am not sure if he would avoid traffic or other dangerous situations. My point? This is where all the things like "being in shape", "functional", and "training like an athlete" come into play. I was able to run fast, be agile, endure, and accomplished what would be most of my fitness goals.
This is really the test of training programs, can you transfer what you do to the real world. Can you go out and play with your kids and feel good and strong? Can you go out with friends on the spur of the moment and enjoy yourself like you did in your teens? Can you move the couch and not be laid up for days because you threw out your back? This is all about good training and this is why I designed Sandbag Fitness Systems.
I hope you will share with me some of your stories on how training has helped change YOUR quality of life!
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Once you sustain an injury like I did with my low back they never go completely away, but can be managed carefully. When I became active in strongman there just wasn't anyway my back could keep up with the other lifters. In a sport like Strongman, being able to lift big things is definitely the key! I had to think what weaknesses the other competitors had that I could optimize. It came to me in the idea of being faster and more mobile. Too many lifters sacrifice their mobility for more strength which is even evident in many sports as well.
So, I didn't try to overtrain and strain my back, instead, I trained far more variety of movements than most of my competitors. This allowed me to suffer less injures, maintain my athleticism and speed, and compete with guys who were stronger on the classic bar lifts. How does that apply in other areas?
This experience taught me the value of not losing sight that many of us need a lot of general training. Very few of us are elite athletes that train hours and hours upon the day. This means many of us fight chronic tightness and lack of movement excellence. By moving in a variety of patterns you can regain your own "inner athlete" and reduce your chance of experiencing injuries in your training.
Besides being designed for people new to fitness, my small sandbags were designed with the ability to perform more movement. A sloppy filled lighter sandbag is too difficult to perform diverse motions and patterns.
That is how I developed the Sandbag Stealth Challenge. Based upon the small sandbag this program is designed as not only a means to develop great strength-endurance, but mobility, strength in a variety of ranges of motion, help chronic injuries, and develop a resilient body that allows anyone to be an athlete! Try my challenge by following the video below:
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Nothing is more important than learning how to write great training programs. Check out this video that outlines how to create your own innovative fitness programs.
Go here to read the article:
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
There is no shortage of fat loss "gurus" and experts out there. Turn on the television early Sunday morning and you will be overwhelmed with the amount of infomercials and programs available. You would think with all this information out there we wouldn't be approaching a country obesity rate of 70%!!!!
The truth is that many of these programs, including popular programs such as "The Biggest Loser", give people a false idea of what real fat loss training is all about. That is why I was very excited to interview a true fat loss expert, John Alvino. Don't be mistaken, John is not just about looking good, he trains people to perform at elite levels as well.
Having read John's programs for years and hearing about his amazing success it was a unique opportunity to pick his brain about getting fast fat loss. If you haven't heard of John you need to! He has authored numerous articles for fitness magazines as well known as Men's Fitness. John has trained bodybuilders, fitness competitors, elite athletes, are real people. His 20 year history of getting results speak for themselves.
During this awesome hour long interview we learned some really interesting things...
- Why whey may not be the best protein supplement.
- How to use sandbags and kettlebells into fat burning workouts.
- The truth about low carb dieting.
- Is soy as bad as they say?
- How a busy person can get the same fat loss results as an elite athlete.
Don't miss John's amazing Fat Loss Program! Check it out here!!
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Yet, unstable training is not completely a poor idea. In the text book, "Conditioning for Strength & Human Performance", there is a detailed discussion that implements such as kegs and sandbags may be far more sport-specific tools as opposed to Swiss balls and wobble boards. Even though there is a lack of research supporting this claim, the authors state:
"...it makes sense that training with an active fluid resistance provides a highly sport-specific method of training for certain types of athletes as compared to lifting exclusively with a static resistance, because in many situations athletes encounter dynamic resistance in the form of an opponent as compared to a static resistance." (Chandler, Lee, p. 426)
Well, it also makes sense we can enhance these movements by adding some additional SLIGHT force application in the form of bands. Using bands while using sandbags can add a small amount of instability that will cause the body to have to resist a more horizontal force application that the typical vertical. In most cases, athletes have to deal with both and this is why this is a highly applicable training method.
Want to see it in action? Watch the video below...
Thursday, April 16, 2009
That's right! Most of the top UFC fighters are using sandbags in their training programs. In fact, speaking with top UFC strength coach, Kevin Kearns, he told me that sandbags are one of their favorite training tools to prepare their fighters. How about looking like Chuck Liddell, Rampage Jackson, Randy Couture, Rashad Evans, Matt Hughes, and George St. Pierre? That wouldn't be so bad and I don't think most could deny how these guys are amazing athletes and have physiques that function as good as they look.
MMA expert strength coach, Matt Wiggins, talks about how to develop the same power as these great athletes. What exercise does he recommend as the best drill? Take it from him....
"If you were around a few years ago, during my first stint with MMA Weekly, you may remember that I wrote an article about training to slam your opponent. Well, with all the new readers, and with Rampage's title win (and eventuality of seeing him slam somebody in the UFC), I figured it was time to revive and update the article.
There are a few ways to train if you want to be able to slam your opponent, but the first thing you're going to need is some plain old brute strength and power. Slamming – at least the way Rampage, Hughes and many others do it – isn't as much technique as it is just out-muscling your opponent. (I guess I could insert an argument about how good it is to be strong enough to dominate bodyweight, but I think I've made my point in the past, so I'll let that one go.) It's time to get you strong.
Weights are great for strength training, but in many (not all) instances, I prefer odd-objects, mainly the sandbag. I've touted the effectiveness of sandbag training for years now. I won't get into all the arguments as to why it's so good; just take my word for it. If you think you're tough, strong or powerful, a heavy sandbag will humble you in a hurry. Sandbags are also perfect for slam training.
There are two main exercises you should focus for your slam training: the Sandbag Shoulder and the Hug Morning.
The Sandbag Shoulder is pretty simple (notice I didn't say "easy"). Stand with the bag in front of you just between your feet. Squat down and grab the bag (depending on how your bag is shaped, you can set it up on one end if you like). Plant your heels into the ground. Your butt should be down, back flat, head up, and chest spread. In one movement stand up with the bag and muscle it to your left shoulder. When doing so, focus on driving with the hips.
Many think that the kind of strength you need is that of the lower back. While this is true to an extent, it is hip strength and hip drive that allow you to pick up that opponent and slam him. Drive forward with the hips, and your whole body will come up. DON'T LET YOUR BUTT COME UP! You will then be lifting solely with your lower back and are asking to get hurt. This is a no-no. Drive with the hips. You will use your upper body to continue the momentum (or lack thereof) of the bag to get it all the way to your shoulder. Once there, drop it to the ground, and repeat to the other side.
The Hug Morning is a variation of the Good Morning. This is another one that will build incredible lower back strength and hip strength/drive. The first thing you have to do is get your sandbag into a Bear Hug (i.e. holding the bag around the center, vertically against the front of your torso). You can do the beginning part of a Sandbag Shoulder to get it there. Once you're there, dip your butt backwards and lean forward. Your butt should go pretty far back, as if you're going to sit in a chair. The lean of your upper body will mostly be as a result of your butt going back. At the "end" of the movement, your upper body should be roughly parallel to the ground (don't force it there – as far as it goes is as far as it goes – forcing it to parallel can put your lower back in a potentially dangerous position) and your knees bent anywhere from 45-60 degrees or so (more or less 1/4 to 1/3 squat position). From there, drive the hips forward as forcefully as you can, straightening the body. Once again, don't let your legs stay straight and butt in the air. Make the butt go back so that you have to drive the hips forward to straighten your body.
Once you get good and strong at these two exercises, you can try a few variations. You can morph either into a variety of suplexes and you can see if you can Hug Morning with enough force to get the bag all the way up to your shoulder.
How effective are these exercises? So effective that I made them staples of Program #4 in my "Working Class Fitness - The Programs."
Give them a shot. You may not be slamming like Rampage in a week or two, but you'll be on your way. And when you do slam your opponent the next time you roll, he's going to wonder where it came from!"
You want to see how to perform this great drill? Click on the video below!!
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
So, I was motivated to start a series of videos to take you through those progressions. This is the same system I cover in my Sandbag 101 DVD that every customer gets when purchasing our packages. No, not just a DVD of exercises, but a deliberate and systematic way of getting stronger, leaner, and more athletic.
Here is the first installment, covering how different loading positions impact the exercises.
Monday, April 13, 2009
I've ranted about this enough times, so don't listen to me, listen to an expert. Strength Coach, Jason Ferrugia, is just that! Jason is known for two things, building some serious muscle and creating some bad ass fighters!
In Jason's book, "Fit to Fight: An Insanely Effective Strength and Conditioning Program for the Ultimate MMA Warrior", he states the following about sandbag training...
"The beauty of sandbags is that unlike some of the other strongman implements, they can be used almost anywhere (even in a stuffy public gym...
Sandbags challenge your strength, balance, stabilization, and coordination and provide an extremely brutal workout. When you lift a barbell the weight is evenly distributed, and never shifts. But when you lift a sandbag, the sand is constantly shifting around, which makes it incredibly challenging."
Oh and what about making your own? Jason isn't against it but read this....
"The only problem is this can get very messy and will make adjusting the weight of the bag more of a pain in the ass than it is worth."
Jason goes on to outline some of his favorite routines and exercises and the book is definitely a great read. You can pick it up http://tinyurl.com/dj3ose
Does Jason like our bag? You be the judge....
"I've been a big fan of sandbag training since 1996 and have used a wide variety of bags since then. I can honestly say that Josh Henkin's Ultimate Sandbags kick ass and are unquestionably the best on the market. They are also the only ones I use at Renegade Gym with all of my clients. The filler bags instantly eliminate the old school problems of having a huge mess to clean up every time you used your sandbag. And the multiple grips give you a ton of different options to choose from. Josh definitely set the new standard in sandbags with these bad boys. "
Strength & Conditioning Specialist
Chief Training Adviser, Men's Fitness Magazine
Sunday, April 12, 2009
The Sandbag 100 is based upon the principles of density training. By having a goal of a set number of repetitions in mind you focus should shift from counting mindless repetitions to how fast you can accomplish this workout. I would advise you use a weight that you could normally perform 10-15 repetitions with for each exercise. The fatigue comes fast because of the awkwardness of the sandbag so don't try to be too tough right at the start.
Alternating between squat cleans and clean and press is a fantastic way to hit every muscle in the body and still work on your strength, endurance, fat loss, and mobility all at the same time. Don't think either that I accidently prescribed cleaning the bag every time for both exercises either! This is a great trick that I learned from Strength Coach, Dan John. This repeated cleaning will strengthen you whole back side and teach you how to be proficient because as you get tired you will find your form wanting to change, don't let it happen! Plus, the cleaning for the squat clean is a little different for the clean and press. You will notice a little more upper body movement with the clean and press and full lower body power for the squat cleans, a really nice compliment.
Oh, and please don't ask where is the Burly Bags, they are planning to be released in June. I love it though as it is nice to have a bag that can load in between the medium and large and the slightly smaller dimensions make it for pressing overhead. It truly completes the set!
Thursday, April 9, 2009
1. The control group that performed moderate intensity only improved aerobic abilities and nothing really to anaerobic. This wasn't shocking as training is thought to be very specific and cause specific adaptations. However, the Tabata interval protocols improved both significantly.
2. The Tabata protocol only required four minutes of work being performed, while the control group performed an hour.
When this research came about people were excited! Heck, four minutes of work could be better than an hour? Can't beat that. So, what did people do? Many began trying to implement the Tabata protocol into their training. Yet, unlike many things in this industry, the original ideas where changed and misapplied. So, really are you doing the Tabata protocols?
I want to propose some issues with both the study and the way people are applying what seems to be potentially a great concept.
1. The study did not compare this form of intervals with any other form of interval training. The study compared the Tabata protocols to a steady state "moderate" level of training. How does Tabata compare to other forms of interval training? There needs to be some direct comparisons and studies to see if there are even more optimal forms of intervals.
2. In the study the Tabata protocols were performed 5 days a week. If you perform them 1-2 will you still get the benefit of the training? We don't know if frequency has anything to do with the results.
3. The study was done on a mechanically braked cycle ergometer, this means CONSTANT motion. Too many people are trying to apply the concepts with exercises that have a break built into them. For example, kettlebell swings, snatches, front squats, shouldering, are all bad choices because their is not constant motion with any of these movements, there is a rest period no matter how brief compared to cycling.
4. The other issue is the intensity, in the study it was "intensity of about 170% of VO2max" that means to the absolute max. Not kinda hard, pretty hard, it means with nothing left to give! You couldn't possibly being performing Tabata correctly and then go train like many are claiming.
The truth of the matter is that we really don't know the answer to some of these questions as with most research, more is needed. Other forms of interval training have been shown to be incredibly powerful and are often underused and misused. That is why interval sets is an integral part of my program. However, you have to follow some rules as well.
1. You have to choose drills that allow quick fluid motions and not long breaks (i.e. get-ups are a bad idea). Shouldering, bear hug squats, push jerks are all good drills.
2. You have to use a very sub-maximal weight to keep the intensity high and not allow fatigue to accumulate so fast you can't perform the interval. Since sandbags generally don't lend themselves to percentage based training you will have to use an RPE or a weight you can perform 20-30 reps normally.
I have always been a big fan of interval training, in fact, you can read an article I posted almost ten years ago!
Josh Henkin's Interval Article
Want to see some of the Tabata actual study? Read Here
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Some time ago I read an article on how a elite level Eastern European soccer team didn't do anything of the sort. In fact, they only performed step-ups and lunges for their lower body strength training. At the time I thought this was garbage, of course they had to squat and deadlift, you just can't load the body same if you don't.
I'll admit it too, I had a personal bias because I greatly enjoyed doing those lifts and while I did single leg training, I did it almost as a great after thought. It wasn't till years passed and working with more people and myself that I began to reevaluate what was most important.
It seemed as my interest in becoming more athletic, not just lifting big weights grew, I actually found myself feeling less athletic just focusing on squats and deadlifts. I found my hips feeling locked up and change of direction type of drills or those that required great hip mobility felt awkward and far too difficult. With my clients I noticed the great instabilities that became very pronounced whenever we did single leg training. I knew I was going to have to give this much more thorough examination.
Over time I found single leg training, especially lunging to be far underrated. That is why I created this single leg blast complex. It combines multi-directional movements with some bilateral power generation in different planes. Sounds like the best of both worlds? Try it out and you will see what I am talking about!
Sunday, April 5, 2009
I feel as though we have been making a dent. More and more elite performance programs, top training facilities, and serious home enthusiasts have embraced the Ultimate Sandbag. However, just owning our top of the line sandbag isn’t enough. Using them properly and seeing the true versatility is my biggest concern.
That is why I decided to do more! We have been selling our DVDs and e-books even before I created the Ultimate Sandbag. I thought the concepts were the most important part of training and the need for a better sandbag came a reality much later. Writing literally a hundred programs and showing several hundred drills, I believe our information products can launch some exciting training goals.
So, with economic times being more challenging I wanted to give all of you, our loyal customers, even more! I decided that getting a sandbag wasn’t enough, now when you order any of our package deals you will get much more. You will now get FOUR e-books packed full of programs and drills. In addition you will receive a very special BRAND NEW hour long DVD.
The new Sandbag 101 DVD was shot while I was giving a clinic at the renown Results-Fitness training center in
Learn how to avoid the common pitfalls of sandbag training, how to progress successfully, and how to create some killer programs. So, I hope you will be as excited as I am with the new changes and feel even prouder to be a part of a program that is serious about making positive changes.
Click Here to See All the Free Stuff
Josh Henkin, CSCS
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Sandbags are great for fixing “strength leaks.” When it comes to training football players and athletes, there can be no leaks! Leaks = injuries and lack of peak performance. So many guys are weight-room strong but can’t transfer that power to the field. Sandbags allow you to take your weight room strength, fix all the holes (common problems are weak obliques, and weak shoulders at odd angles), and make huge improvements in athletic ability.
Athletics is not just about doing weight lifting in a perfect bar path…no, you need strength at all kinds of joint angles and body positions. Sandbags, because they are almost alive, force you into all of these positions and angles and make you stronger in them.
"They are used as either a stand-alone conditioning tool, as part of a Strongman workout (along with Farmer’s Walk Bars and sleds), or as a finisher; a high rep exercise done at the end of a training session to push past mental barriers and increase mental toughness.
Most people overlook the fact that a heavy sandbag can even be used for Sub-maximal (repeating a moderately heavy weight for multiple sets of low reps) training. In fact, this will actually help your weight room lifts by eliminating those ever-present weak points.
How would explain the difference between our sandbags versus homemade versions?
Josh’s bags are bomb-proof. I’ve never had one rip, and the inner bags actually keep the sand where it belongs: in the bag! One of the problems with using store-bought duffel bags is that if they get wet, even in the least bit, they will simply rot away. Josh’s bags can withstand all types of weather and keep on tickin’.
Sandbags are probably the best bang for your buck. Because you can use them in so many different ways, plus the huge amount of exercises you can do, they are a tremendous value. I buy most pieces of equipment based on how many uses I can get from it. With sandbags, the number of uses are endless.
Why did you choose to use sandbags in your training?
I had been to a kettlebell seminar of Josh's and was so impressed that I signed up and paid for the second part of it two months down the line. However it turned out I could not attend the second seminar. So I wrote an email to you guys and you offered me a refund but while I was looking around your website for your email address I came across the Ultimate Sandbag. Immediately I was intrigued and read every article and blog Josh had posted about training with a sandbag. So when he offered me a refund for the second seminar I said, "How about if I just put it towards a one on one training session with you to teach me how to use the Ultimate Sandbag." Josh agreed and in that hour showed me so many interesting, amazing, fun, challenging exercises that I became as giddy as a kid on Christmas day. I immediately bought the Strength Sandbag Package the minute the training session ended, came home and started doing the exercises he showed me again because it was so fun.
What results have you noticed since implementing sandbags?
"One of the first things that I had noticed improve after training with a sandbag was my stability on extreme ranges of motion. I mean one of the first things that I realized when I picked up a sandbag was how clumsy I was with it because the weight kept moving. Trying to do a snatch+lunge movement was impossible and I kept losing my balance. But the more I trained with it the more my hips and trunk really had to start stabilizing all my movements not only in one plane of movement but two and three planes as well.
How have you incorporated sandbags into your training?
When I first incorporated sandbags into my routine I was using it to do very explosive, dynamic exercises such as the snatch+squat+press complex or the half moon snatch (which by the way became one of my favorite sandbag exercises). I really fell that these exercises complement kettlebell training very well so I started combining an exercise from each into supersets. For example I would do 30 seconds of half moon snatches immediately followed by 30 seconds of heavy KB swings. As of now I still use them in that way but I have also started to use just the filler bags themselves. For example, if I want to do a set of curls I don’t use dumbells anymore I just pull out a filler bag and do curls with them. I have found that they are just as effective but because I can’t rap my thumb around them like a dumbell, curls with filler bags really smoke my grip.
How would explain the difference between our sandbags versus homemade versions?
When I brought my Ultimate Sandbag home for the first time I had to show my brother. I started to show him the exercises that could be performed with them. I let him try a couple and he was instantly hooked. He asked, “How much did it cost?” I told him and he was a little apprehensive, “You paid that much!? I bet I could make one just like that for cheaper.” So the next day he set out to make his own sandbag to try an imitate the Ultimate Sandbag. In the end what he came up with was what he believed was a good sandbag. However he made the filler bags out of too cheap of material and too porous and the bag itself was just a military duffel bag. So when he filled it with sand and started exercising he quickly got a nice face full of sand. He also found out that the duffel bag had poor handles for grip so he just started grabbing the bag itself for exercise. However the duffel bag was far too coarse because it was designed for the military and his hands started to get torn up. It was at this time that he turned to me and said, “What did you say the price of that sandbag was again?” I couldn’t stop laughing for ten minutes.
How would you compare sandbags to other training implements?
I would love to sit here and tell you how training with the sandbag is. Like, "it feels this way when you use it" or "it feels just as that other training tool feels like when you lift it", but the truth is that it’s like nothing else that I have ever trained with. It’s simple but complex, easy to use but difficult to use at the same time. You simply have to try it to understand what it’s like.
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Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Does this mean that these people are not good athletes or coaches? Of course not, but they had fallen into the trap believe one or two exercises could get them well prepared to be athletic and fit.
We often use the former Eastern European system of training in high regards because the athletes and coaches accomplished the most with the least. One of the fundamental principles was committing an extensive phase of a vast array of movements to prepare the body for more specific demands of sport. This guaranteed well rounded fitness in the way of flexibility, strength, endurance, and athleticism.
So, if this has been used some of the world's best athletes why do we continue to ignore it? Part of this is that the idea of performing one exercise for hundreds of repetitions seems simple and allows one to get very good at one thing fast. However, you can see the limitations are great! The second reason is that most people don't know where to spend there time and feel that performing these workouts would be an extensive time of workout that would be unrealistic.
Today's video shows that this is simply not true as I use some of my friend's Anthony Diluglio's equipment to help combine with my Ultimate Sandbag a phenomenal and powerful workout anyone can get benefits.