Monday, September 28, 2009

The Innovations Keep Coming

One thing I can not stand is a program or coach that simply shows new exercise after new exercise for the sake of doing something different rather than having purpose. People that often attend our workshops and certifications are shocked by the amount of exercises you can perform with our Ultimate Sandbag. The difference is that we have to take people through our progressions and teach them why they are doing different movements so that their is purpose behind their training and the training of their clients.

One such example is the "Cyclone" lift. The Cyclone is a combination drill that integrates components of the rotational deadlift and around the world drills to create a movement that builds the entire core of the body in very unique ways.

Very few core drills start the lifter in a position of rotation. This is a demanding position because the body can not use its normal dominant stance. Such a position also requires that the lifter be very efficient in their movement to create and absorb the forces of the lift correctly and safely.

The large range of motion that occurs with the Cyclone makes it a functional drill for just about anyone and an absolute necessity for athletes and weekend warriors alike. The benefits are:

1. Explosive hip power in new ranges of motion that aren't trained in standard cleans, snatches, swings, or chops.

2. A powerful core that can not only produce a great deal of force, but resist force as well.

3. Because it trains both the glutes, hamstrings, low back, abdominals, and muscles of the upper body we are truly getting an all round core drill. Very few exercises can train the entire pelvis and spine structures at one time.

However, just as with any exercise there are a few cautions. Firstly, is that one needs to be very proficient in both the around the world and rotational deadlift exercises. I would suggest spending time on half moon snatch and shoveling as well.

Size of the sandbag plays a big role. Smaller sized sandbags make it easier to maneuver through this movement, but our bigger ones make this a power house. A really easy way to use the bigger sandbags and make that progression is to change from sand to a lighter material for the filler bags. This gives you time to adjust to the different size and also slowly progress to higher weights.

Check out the Cyclone below!!

Don't miss out on the last few days of our BIG sandbag sale: Click Here

Want to see the power of sandbag training in person? See us in Orange County Oct. 17th: Click Here for more information

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

New Interview

The last couple of months have been an explosion for our Sandbag Fitness Systems. After many years of work, it seems we are making a dent in the "functional training" industry. Most exciting isn't the fact we have been bringing back the use of sandbags, but putting forth the science and meaning behind sandbag training.

Just last week I had the pleasure of being interviewed by world renown strength coach, Charles Staley. I have known Charles for some time, but still being interviewed by one of the most well respect strength coaches of our time is very exciting! We talked for about an hour and I think I even got Charles pretty psyched about sandbag training.

Check it out:

Don't Miss out on the Advanced and Burly Bag Sale Going on Now:

Monday, September 21, 2009

You Can't Miss This

For the past four years I have been trying my very best to teach people the benefits of sandbag training. No, not just they are hard, but the science that really does exist behind this form of training. 

Every time I run a workshop or certification the light bulb goes off! It is as though once people see and feel the power of the type of training we are talking about, sandbags quickly become a staple of their training programs. 

Here is what one attendee thought of my recent L.I.F.T. certification:

"The L.I.F.T. seminar is easily the best I've attended. I'm an aspiring personal trainer, with some experiance from lots of different things, Kettlebells, sledgehammers, bodyweight and so on. I'm a huge fan of functional training, and that's what I like about Josh's methods. It's not overly complicated, it is highly effective and usefull, and it is actually fun. Also I like the emphasize on the corrective and rehabilitating aspect. Even though that is not the main purpose of the training, it is a very nice b-effect. I have several bio-mechanical issues I've been struggling with for years, and several of them improved heavily during the seminar, leaving me better not worse after workout. There's no doubt in my mind that couch Henkin is on to something really great here. And yes, you can build some serious strength with this;) This is going to be a major staple in my regime, both for myself and clients." Henrik Eberhardt, Norway.

I am happy to announce that we have a one day workshop in Irvine, California coming up October 17th for a crazy low price. 

NSCA Members: $149
Students: $99
Non NSCA Members: $179
On-Site Registration: $199

Thursday, September 17, 2009

They are so full of it!!

I have to admit, this is going to be one of those posts where I can't help my personal feelings really get the best of me. Recently I had a well known strength coach write me and say how much he enjoys the sandbags for conditioning, they are a really great tool for that. WOW! Is that all you think this training can be for, conditioning? 

This doesn't surprise me, the industry as a whole is generally full of contradictions. We love to refer to the training of old-time strongmen, but very few actually perform any sort of the training these amazing athletes did. They were not only well conditioned, but possessed amazing flexibility and strength. Listen to what the great John Jesse wrote in his book, "The Encyclopedia of Wrestling Conditioning"...

"Sandbags, heavy stones, and war clubs were used for the development of strength by wrestlers of many nations for several hundred years, long before the invention of the iron barbell."

I think most of us can agree there are few athletes that can match the amazing all-round athleticism of wrestlers (this is coming from someone who played every team sport, but never wrestled). 

John Jesse goes on to say...

"Sandbags over 100 pounds are awkward to handle and provide a true test of all-around strength, particularly in lifting them overhead or brining them to the shoulder with one hand. Some of the old-time strongman wrestlers would shoulder a 180 to 220-pound sack of grains to the shoulder with one hand and then walk several hundred yards with the bag on their shoulder. A few were capable of pressing the same bag overhead with one hand after bringing it to the shoulder."

Let's face it very people really do understand the amazing all-around strength these athlete possessed. It almost seems impossible by today's standards. 

That is why I have placed challenges such as the "3 Rounds of Hell", or "The Warrior Challenge". I have received hundreds of emails of people trying to accomplish these challenges and not coming even close. So, I am DARING you to get into the best fitness of your life! Don't be want of the cheesy infomercial fitness gurus that most people (whether or not they admit it) are trying to emulate. Challenge yourself to be so much more!!!

Don't Be This               Become Super Human

Don't Miss Out on Our Sale on The Ultimate Sandbag that Can Help You Become Super Human: Check It Out Here Now!!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Newest Fitness Challenge

Having something to train for is so much more fun than just working out. It is easy to just run through the motions when you don't have a goal, but let's face it training with a goal in mind completely changes every aspect of fitness training. That is why I wanted to come out with a new fitness challenge for all of you. This one is slightly different, it is just a challenge, but one with a special reward for those that dominate it!

Now till the end of the month the Warrior Challenge is going to reward one winner with a prize valued over $200s! That's right, one winner can take home a FREE Burly or Advanced Package, let me explain how and why!

For the last few years I have had to listen how sandbags are great for conditioning, but if you want to get really strong you have to use barbells and dumbbells. People quickly forget load is load and a shifting load is far more difficult than a stable one. That is why those that have worked with our Burly and Advanced Packages write in on how challenging these sandbag are in every respect.

I didn't want to try to convince people though, I simply think having people experience this type of training is the best solution. Why the Warrior Challenge? It is no secret that complexes and flow exercises have become very popular for their ability to train a lot of fitness qualities at once. Well, I wanted a drill that could strengthen the ENTIRE body in a way that was impossible with any other training implements. The Warrior Challenge encompasses the best of sandbag training, shoulder, shoulder squat, shoulder to shoulder press. These drills entail explosiveness, head to toe strength, core power, and endurance.

The challenge? Perform 30 total repetitions of the entire complex; shoulder, shoulder squat to shoulder to shoulder press. Dump down the bag and repeat, this is one repetition. The challenge is to use either our Burly or Advanced sandbag package and perform this drill in as little time as possible. No easy task to say the least and really makes you feel like you can conquer any challenge, exactly why I named it the Warrior Challenge.

How do you win? A person needs to sends us a video with the weight of the bag and them performing the Warrior Challenge. The person with the best relative score (that is the weight of the sandbag compared to their bodyweight) and time you can win your choice of either a Burly or Advanced Package.

For those that want to take the challenge, but don't have our Burly or Advanced yet, I have decided to put them on special until the end of the month. Not only is there a discount, but if you pick up a Burly or Advanced during this time you will receive two FREE workouts with our heavy duty sandbags. Below is the Warrior Challenge in action and beneath is the very special discounts! Don't miss out on becoming your own fitness warrior.

Burly Black-Save $30!!: $178.99

Burly Green Camouflage-Save $30!!: $188.99

Advanced Black-Save $30!!: $170.99

Advanced Green Camouflage-Save $30!!: $180.99

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Is Your Workout Dumb?

“Tough”, “hard”, “improves coordination”, “powerful”, these are all terms people throw around as though they actually mean something. Program after program, person after person, I hear references to these terms that end up meaning nothing.

For example, swimming 2000 meters is hard for me, however, does it mean I should be trying to accomplish it? Does it have any relevance to my fitness goals? Performing ten minutes of kettlebell snatches is tough, again, does it have any meaning to my goal? People often mix up very specific training for general fitness. In the two examples I just gave both would be useful, but to two completely different types of athletes. Improving in both of these fitness tests would require very specific training and if getting better at them had meaning to your fitness goals then spending considerable time training for them would be worthwhile.

However, what I often see is the random testing of ones self to these relatively meaningless tests. A test is only good if it provides feedback upon a desired outcome that has meaning. That leads me to my other two favorite statements, “improves coordination” and “builds lots of power”. Again, two of the most vague statements that one could possibly say.

Let’s take a look at “improving coordination”. My favorite definition of coordination is, “the harmonious functioning of parts for effective results.” In strength training terms we have two slightly more scientific definitions of muscle coordination, intermuscular and intramuscular coordination. Intermuscular coordination refers to the ability of the muscles to work together to perform a task efficiently while intramuscular coordination has more to do with maximal motor unit recruitment, rate coding is optimized (firing rates of motor units), and syncrohonization, activation of motor units in a synchronized manner. Ok, I am not saying all this to be a jerk, however, I do find it important to realize that we use terms commonly without much meaning behind them.

Most times people refer to coordination to my first definition, basically, they learn how to move better. In this respect, coordination is very important, however, many coaches are prescribing programs that do very little for coordination. Why? Many programs fall into the trap of being very redundant, same patterns, same speeds, same ranges of motion.

Let’s look at some classic patterns. Here is a program commonly prescribed for upper body strength:

Military Press x 5
Chin-ups x 5
Bench Press x 5

A quick look at this type of routine and you may find nothing really that wrong with it. I hate to say wrong, but more lacking imagination and training a lot of fitness qualities we need. During our L.I.F.T. certification in Sweden we talked extensively why it was important to build complexity and to analyze many needs into a routine. Let’s look at the same routine with three different L.I.F.T. types of programs.
Workout Option A
Sandbag Shoulder to Shoulder Press x 5
Body Row with Hands Pronated x 12
Band Horizontal Presses x 30 seconds

Workout Option B
Eccentric Pull-ups x 3
Suspended Pike to Push-up x 10
Sandbag Clean and Push Press x 15

Workout Option C
Single Arm Suspended Push-ups with Arm Extension x 5 each side
Single Arm Band Row with Pause for 2 seconds x 10 each arm
Sandbag Around the Worlds x 30 seconds each side

You can see how quickly we add some much needed sophistication to a relatively simple concept. We have not taken away from the general idea of an overhead, horizontal, and upper body pull. Instead we have changed a few important variables.

Not every repetition and set scheme is the same. Since the body needs to be challenged with some higher strength intensities, moderate, and endurance, we have organized the exercises to reflect this. The first exercise in the series is designed to provide the higher intensity levels and will be performed when the body is more fresh. The intermediate schemes are in between, and endurance is laid at the end of the routine when fatigue is at the highest.
We have shown many different patterns in which to stay true to the idea of overhead, horizontal, and upper body pull. This goes very well with the Pavel Tsastouline idea of “same, but different”. Changing the rep/set schemes, implements, and patterns allows us to train these natural patterns of movements in a way which our body’s “encyclopedia of movement” grows.
Speeds and ranges of motion have been manipulated to stimulate other fitness qualities and coordination patterns. Simply changing speed or the range of motion can often provide a completely new stimulus to the body. Plus, we have added in the much neglected part of isometric training with some of these movements.
A workout like this can be easily modified to any fitness level simply by adjusting patterns or levels of progression. This means we can make some of these “corrective” in nature or even high level of performance.

Hopefully you can see now that most of the routines and programs that we are following are not building us long-term success. They are sacrificing some immediate specialization for the sake of long-term progress and results. Don’t be fooled into performing a routine just because someone said it was “hard” or “tough” make sure that the programs you are following are matching the goals YOU have set forth.

Next week I will share some videos demonstrating these concepts in further detail and releasing a NEW sandbag challenge!

In Strength,
Josh Henkin, CSCS

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sandbag Attack In Sweden

It has been a week since my last newsletter, where have I been? Well, I am excited to say that I was busy putting our the first L.I.F.T. certification for a bunch of amazing coaches in Sweden. The European coaches from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and England were all fantastic to work with and we got an opportunity to demonstrate the power of the L.I.F.T. program.

For me, it was really important for these coaches to see how much of athletic based training we were still missing from most programs. My goal was to teach how to put together training programs that would correct poor movement patterns, challenge their strength and endurance, as well as being fun and exciting. I think we accomplished just that! 

The vehicles that we used in teaching these methods were our "Ultimate Sandbag", the Jungle Gym, and strength bands. It quickly became obvious to these coaches that these tools were far more versatile than they had ever imagined. However, it wasn't just about teaching exercises, heck, anyone can put up seminars of just random exercises (forget, they already do:).

No, I wanted this to be about having purpose behind everything that we do as coaches. It was about finding the right progression and being able to maintain the interest of the client or even yourself in training. It the upcoming days I will post excerpts from the L.I.F.T. system so that everyone can see what makes this program so incredibly unique. However, nothing is like attending one of these programs for yourself. So, we have new dates coming up soon and in the meantime you can see the action for yourself.