Saturday, October 31, 2009

That is No Sit-up!

As much as I give the term “core training” a hard time, it actually is important. It is not the concept that I have a hard time with, it is the crazy marketing and hype. Having a strong core means more than abs, so having a strong low back and glutes are just as important. How you train these areas is more important than debating concepts.

My colleague Cem Eren helped me take some video of incredible core exercises with our Ultimate Sandbag that accomplish all the goals of functional core training. See if you can keep up with this workout as it leaves no muscle unturned! Don't worry even if you aren't a fighter you can still turn your core into the piece of steel that fighters are known for!

This is the last two days of our HUGE Doubles Sale! Don’t miss out on saving big money on our great Ultimate Sandbags. Click Here!

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Interview You Can't Miss

Last night I got to spend an hour and a half talking training with Senior RKC, Geoff Neupert! We really laid out some of the most powerful training information, especially using kettlebells and sandbags. Just in case you missed the call last night you can hear it for FREE!!
Geoff Neupert with Josh Henkin on mixing Kettlebells and
Sandbags - quite possibly the *perfect*
combination - don't worry - a replay is available.

All you have to do is click below.


Josh, an incredibly knowledgeable coach, gave
some great insights like -

- dispelling the myth of "roundbacked" lifting

- how to satisfy your need for variety and still
make excellent progress

- how to increase your hip mobility with sandbags
and improve your kettlebell results

- and of course, much more...

Catch it all here:


Keep Training Smart!


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Are They Better Than Kettlebells

That is the trick question that inevitably comes up during any of workshops, "are sandbags better than kettlebells?" I say a trick question because it is often hard to say whether or not another tool is better than another. There may be instances where a certain tool may be a better option than another. However, getting this question over and over again made me think long and hard about it.

I don't believe sandbags to be better because I would have to be able to prove that they produce a superior result to a nonsandbag or kettlebell related activity. Since such research hasn't been done it seems silly to go there.

Yet, sandbags do offer two distinct advantages over kettlebells.

1. Number of Holding Positions: Any kettlebell enthusiast can tell you that the various holding positions of a kettlebell is what allows a lifter to progress or create new exercises. Manipulating the leverage of the kettlebell follows the most basic of principles, overload! The kettlebell offers four holding positions: down by the side, clean or rack, by the horns, or overhead. Varying these positions alters the body's center of gravity challenging both the body's sense of balance and trunk stability.

Well, the sandbag offers eight holding positions; down by the side, bear hug, zercher, clean, shoulder, on the back, overhead, headlock. These additional options allows the lifter or athlete possibly more options for progression and creating challenging movements.

2. Grip training: Kettlebells are often promoted for their ability to develop grip strength. Holding onto a swinging kettlebell can often be a great challenge or doing bottoms up presses can be a great demonstration of grip strength. Yet, sandbags may still have an edge.

Grip expert, John Brookfield, states there are three types of grip strength. Most people only focus on crushing grip strength where swinging heavy kettlebells would come into play. However, there are two others, pinching and wrist. A properly loaded sandbag challenges all three forms of grip training and is a major reason they have been a favorite training tool of wrestlers and martial artists for centuries.

Want to hear the debate continue and see where I might give some more controversial points that may change the way people see kettlebells and sandbags? Come join Senior RKC, Geoff Neupert, and I for a special interview tonight for FREE!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How You Are Missing Out

It is inevitable that once something grows more and more criticisms come about from those that misunderstand. A great example of such a thing is the growth of kettlebells. I remember when I attended my kettlebell certification in 2003, more than half of the attendees had never even touched a kettlebell. Now in 2009 you can find kettlebells in Wal-mart, Target, heck, I even saw them at Best Buy!!!

With the popularity of kettlebells has also come massive confusion from all areas. There are people promoting only one use of kettlebells, others saying kettlebells can't build strength while others claim they can almost cure disease! The truth? Kettlebells are a phenomenal form of strength training that has done so much more changing the mainstream's concept of "functional training". However, the truth of the matter there is no one answer. Kettlebells have been used for centuries for strength, endurance, and yes, bodybuilding.

The problem with kettlebells is the same as any other strength training implement. People get stuck on a few good ideas and don't go beyond the scope of what they are good at. That is why complimenting kettlebells with other strength training tools provides a powerful result, typically better than anything that could be achieved with a single tool.

This was the whole concept behind my Synergy program. While many people assume sandbags and kettlebells are very similar, the truth is in all of our workshops people see the distinct differences.

How you combine these two functional tools can create fun and real result producing workouts.

1. The simplest idea is to take a common kettlebell drill and substitute the sandbag. For example, instead of kettlebell front squats, try the sandbag Zercher or shoulder squat. Instead of kettlebell presses, try a sandbag press or shoulder to shoulder press.

2. Using complimentary movements in alternating sets can bring the best of both worlds to a training program. For example, alternate sets of kb swings and sandbag shouldering, or kb turkish get-up with sandbag get-ups, lastly kb snatch with sandbag half moon snatches.

3. Alternate cycles of each which creates less of a total adaptation therefore stimulating new gains in training progress.

These ideas and many more are what Senior RKC Geoff Neupert and I are going to speak about this Thursday. This interview is FREE and all you have to do is sign-up at the site below to reserve your spot!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

More Than a Gimmick

It is always tough to put out new ideas. In this modern era of fitness and performance training so many things are said and done to just grab attention it can make many skeptical. That is why when I launched my Double Sale, I was a little hesitant to how it may be perceived. The idea of using double sandbags in different ways has been something I have been working on for some time.

Yes, the use of a single sandbag is awesome, but using doubles allows for some interesting training effects. For example, any type of shouldering movement challenges the body to resist rotation and lateral flexion of the body. This is a huge reason shouldering is such a powerful movement. However, we can amplify this effect in a couple of different ways.

1. The most obvious would be to increase the weight of the sandbag on the shoulder. This may or may not be the best for the individual.

2. Adding a second sandbag either in a standard position down by the side of the body or by using the much underutilized headlock position. Now we have added an additional force coming through the body at a different angle and position. We have utilized instability training without compromising the overall goal of getting stronger and being more athletic. This can be done with a sandbag of the same size or different size.

This method works really well for shouldering, squatting, lunging, and more broad movements. It can also be used for pressing overhead to stimulate more pressing strength. Try this....

Get a moderately loaded sandbag to the shoulder position, then take a dumbbell or kettlebell that usually you can perform five repetitions and try pressing for 3-5. Then remove the sandbag and try the same press, what did you feel? Easier right?! That is because we stimulated more muscles throughout the body to stabilize and gave our pressing movement a better foundation.

3. Finally, moving two sandbags at once increases coordination of the movements. You can't zero in on your strengths so easily and the instability of the sandbags are amplified when you use multiple sandbags. As you can see in today's video, when I clean or press the two Ultimate Sandbags the feeling is completely than focusing on one sandbag even if it is a heavier sandbag.

These training techniques are pretty new information and it can seem a little overwhelming, but I can tell you the results speak for themselves. Try them yourself and see the difference double sandbag training makes!!!! Don't miss out on the Doubles Sale!!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sandbags and Kettlebell Experts

Five years ago is when I began my journey of being the leading coach in sandbag training. I remember well being very apprehensive about releasing my first e-book. I wanted nothing more than to share with people a form of training that I found to be so immensely beneficial. Nothing is more scary than putting yourself out there for others to judge, comment, criticize, and evaluate your work. Before I put the book out to everyone I had sent it to a few coaches to get their opinions, heck, these guys would tell me if it sucked! Fortunately everyone was very kind with their words and feedback, yet, there was one person I wasn't sure about.

Pavel Tsatsouline had become a mentor to me and had helped me in my journey of regaining my own athleticism. After attending one of the very first RKCs, I wanted to send him my book for review. What I got back was more than surprising. Pavel was very encouraging about my project, but also thought I would enjoy diagrams he had from an early 1900's Russian strength training book that had numerous sandbag exercises in it! Unfortunately, a computer crash made me lose all the material, none the less the opportunity to see these exercises was very exciting.

Since my first experience with the RKC I have been a big proponent of the training, even in light of some people's negativity. I believe everything has to do with perspective and place. People are always shocked in our workshops about what they learn about training and themselves! Nothing is better than being able to show people the power of what you coach, however, that is often hard to do over the internet. The next best thing? Talking with another great strength coach about how to create powerful and real training programs.

That is exactly what I am doing next week with Senior RKC, Geoff Neupert. I have known Geoff for about five years and let me tell you he is about as big of a skeptic as you find. Having coached on the Division I level and being a top National Weightlifter, Geoff knows what works. So, next week Geoff and I are going to sit down and break down sandbags, kettlebells, and the most effective training programs.

Sales pitch right? Nope, absolutely FREE for you guys! Simply sign-up at the link after this post and you will get your spot on the teleconference. I suggest you don't miss the opportunity to learn some real secrets to training that our clients pay a lot of money to discover!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Can YOU Keep Up

Accountability, if I had to nail down success to one trait that would be it. Far too often I hear clients tell me, “YOU are going to get me to lose weight”, or “YOU are going to get me faster”, or “YOU are going to take away my back pain”. Right off the bat I have to explain to people that I can’t do anything for them. I can educate them on the best techniques to be used, but ultimately they have to be proactive in their own performance and progress.

The same applies with my Sandbag Fitness Systems program. I can direct and give ideas to people, but ultimately they have to apply the principles to get the reward. People often ask about motivation? I feel if you have accountability you have some level of motivation that should be growing inside. However, a great coach can bring out the best in you even if you are on the right track.

That is the route I took myself when I worked with Cem Eren yesterday. Cem is a coach with amazing enthusiasm and passion and that only makes you want to train harder. Add in his innovations and you have someone that any coach or individual is excited to train with. Cem showed me some of his contagious training ideas and emotion with his Warrior Den workout. Check out this workout, the great thing is that it is based around mixed martial arts, but anyone who performs it would only see a rise in athleticism, fat loss, and awesome strength gains. But who really wants that? See if you can keep up with Cem!!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Better Than Slamming

I get asked all the time about slamming sandbags.."Josh, why can't I slam the sandbags, it would be awesome!!" The reasons are many, but here are a few of my standard responses....

1. All power that a slam would develop is created in the extension (where the body goes back) not in the follow through of the body. If the lifter can extend properly they can develop a ton of power. If the lifter doesn't get the extension of the body the slam is almost rendered powerless.

See how these fighters perform power throws:

While a slam may sound loud without the extension of the torso, the only ones that hurt are those that get back into proper extension prior to the movement.

Soccer players do this every time they perform an overhead throw as well, yet, this is a motion we rarely train! That is why one of my favorite drills to show in our workshops is the back/body throw. When done properly it trains this motion and builds unreal strength in the trunk and hips.

2. There is a limit for every piece of training equipment. Most people would never think of slamming a kettlebell, barbell, dumbbell or other strength tools. A sandbag too has limits, even though the Ultimate Sandbag is made of top of the line materials it isn't invincible. The bigger the sandbag the more compressive forces that go through the bag and those forces could be HUGE!!!!

If you want to train the strength to perform impressive body throws or tosses try the Back/Body Throw and my other favorite drill below!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I Don't Get the Joke

The past few days have been just weird! I have been getting flooded with emails from customers asking if I had seen this sandbag or that sandbag. It seems like all of a sudden people found sandbag training to be an effective training method, almost overnight. I knew of course that companies one day would see what we were teaching and want to get in on sandbag training. Almost sad though what has just happened.

Most of these companies are straight up trying to take our design and resell it. Of course, if you aren't actually a sandbag user you don't pay attention to the details. Everything is important in the creation of the Ultimate Sandbag. There is a specific reason our sandbags are the size they are, remember in sandbag training you have to concern yourself with not only weight, but the dimension of the sandbags as well. People think our power sandbags are only for light sandbag training, the truth is everyone that attends our workshops finds the power sandbags phenomenal for rotational power development. You can see some of these examples below.

The construction of a great sandbag has to be right too! These other companies are selling cheap sandbags that the threading starts to fall apart and the material is thin and weak. Sandbags are different from any other training tool, most strength training implements are made out of metal. Pretty much metal is metal and as long as you can get the right price that is all that matters. However, with sandbags you have to concern yourself with getting strong enough fabric, the right threading, and the right type of stitching. Listen from a man that knows!

"As a Sports Performance Coach and US ARMY Veteran I am very particular when I make an investment in my fitness and training equipment. One thing that I can say is first and foremost is that nothing comes close to the Ultimate Sandbag and YES that even means the military issue duffel bags. The stitching on the bags far exceeds military standards and there was a lot of thought and planning in the design, function, and durability of this bag."
-Nii Wilson

Nothing is perfect, but you don't get much better than this! Being cheap doesn't pay as a well used sandbag will fall apart in days if you don't make them right. Don't worry though it is obvious who makes sandbags and who actually uses sandbags!!!

Then there are "sandbag like" products. I actually thought when a customer sent me a link that it was a joke product he was making a spoof, I was wrong!! This thing is being promoted as the Ultimate Sandbag (ok, we won't talk about the trademark violations), what a joke! Imagine that someone made a barbell that you could throw and slam, but you couldn't squat, deadlift, press, or row. That is exactly what this thing is, a somewhat glorified medicine ball. Hey just because you fill something with sand, doesn't make it good for sandbag training. You can't shoulder, clean and press, zercher squat, or perform hundreds of the sandbag drills that you should and when you only go to 50 pounds is it still strength training? Don't even get me started with the price!!!! To me, it is comparing apples and oranges.

Why do I bring this all up? Yes, I can admit, I am human and it ticks me off to see rip offs (don't worry we are taking care of it;), and I hate it when companies make products just to market and not to help people. Don't worry though, we are hard at work making exciting new DVDs and products that actually do something!! In the mean time see what our sandbags can do!!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Tough as Nails Workout

Some people believe that women's training has to be with skinny little fitness models lifting no weight, or super human women that no one can relate to. My goal is to show that women can maintain their feminine side as well as their athletic side. The key is the same with men, trying to discover athletic movements that involve as many muscles as possible. However, one of the common mistakes people make is thinking of challenging people only with weight. Our sandbag program offers many different concepts including changing leverage, balance, or speed of movement. Today's workout shows just that! Check out this workout (yes guys, you can do it too!) and see just what I am talking about.

BTW, don't miss out on our great sale during breast cancer awareness month at: Pink Sandbag with FREE Gymboss

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New Training Innovations

One of the most exciting parts of seeing my Sandbag Fitness Systems grow is what other coaches come up. A few months ago I met a really innovative up and coming strength caoch, Cem Eren, who runs an amazing training center here in Phoenix, AZ. Cem not only has terrific enthusiasm, but his training ideas seem almost endless. He showed me some of the great exercises he came up with and I couldn't wait to share some of his creative ideas with you!! This shows some even more amazing versatility with the Ultimate Sandbag!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Inner Athlete

I’ll admit it, my last video was less than stellar. I guess sitting in a car for five hours and rushing to shoot one of my favorite complexes wasn’t the best ideas. Yet, I love how much feedback one can get from these advanced movements. I could tell you my hips were tight and some serious work needed to be done on my hips.

After a week to get back into the flow of things I wanted to share some new drills that I have been working on that do more to get your inner athlete in top shape. What is the “inner athlete”? Whether you want to compete as a weekend warrior, play with your kids without being in pain, or being able to do things that make you feel your best without being wiped, everyone is an athlete.

The unfortunate part is so many people still get in a rut, it doesn’t matter whether they are using kettelbells, bodyweight movements, or a combination of a whole bunch of great tools. That is why sandbags have become so important to me, because the versatility is virtually endless.

In this weeks video I have four drills that are powerful whether you are a weekend warrior or an elite athlete, movement is king and these drills can do wonders for your movements.

One-arm Rips

This looks very similar to a single arm shouldering movement, however, it is all predicated off of the rotation of the hip. That rotation causes enough power that the sandbag should almost “float” up to the shoulder. An amazing drill for hip, trunk, and arm power. Believe it or not this is a killer upper body drill as well even though you don’t lift with the arms.

Lateral Step Around the Worlds

Around the Worlds are one of my favorite drills as it builds great power through the hips and trunk while providing mobility to the spine and shoulder girdle. Some people have seen these similar drills with other objects, however, the Ultimate Sandbag is unique because their dimensions work better in more complex versions. To add sophistication to the Around the World drill changing the stance can make the body view this as a whole new drill for stability and strength.

Scoop Rows

I believe bent-over rows get a bad name because they are hard! That isometric strength used by the low back is so important in overall back health. Add in a unique gripping option in placing the arms in a “scoop” position really toasts the upper arms and back in a unique way.

Squat Thrusts to Split Chops

Squat thrusts are nothing new, but people cheat them all the time. Taking the time to perform them right makes them not only a great conditioning drill, but powerful for hip flexibility and power. The split chop is another example how the Ultimate Sandbag just puts other sand tools to shame. Our overhead chops sure got a lot of popularity, but again, we need to think outside the box. Making this a split chop make sure that we can build some single leg power and amazing athleticism for anyone!

Try these drills in a circuit manner, either set some reps or simply use the Gymboss to count off intervals. You will find that you hit muscles you didn’t have and doing any extra “cardio” is not necessary. Best of all you will feel like you are regaining your right to being an athlete and enjoying the most important things in your life!

In Strength,
Josh Henkin

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Demon is Here!

At my first L.I.F.T. certification last month in Sweden one of the students asked me an incredibly hard question. He asked if I was leaning towards using sandbags over any other training tool. I had to think hard as how do you answer this question without seeming like you are just being a marketing agent? The only thing you can do is tell the truth. That is exactly what I did!

The truth is when I began my sandbag training program almost five years ago, no, I liked sandbags, but thought they were a nice simple tool. However, in the last five years, teaching, working, and developing the Ultimate Sandbag I have new perspective. I have found the Ultimate Sandbag has made sandbag training definitely a primary method of training.

Recently I found this to be very true as I became motivated to try to hit a maximal barbell squat attempt. Truly not a very well planned attempt, I felt motivated after a good workout using the Ultimate Sandbag and some TRX drills. To be honest, I hadn't used barbells for some time, probably about four months. Why? A few reasons to tell the truth....

1. My schedule has been very hectic, traveling, running the facility, shooting a lot of new sandbag projects! Busy has been an understatement!

2. No one has ever really devoted serious time to sandbag training and tested the results on barbell training. The history of sandbags has really been on wrestlers who traditionally do not use barbells. So this is hopefully the first of many stories of people getting great results in their maximal strength using sandbags.

3. I had spent so many years training heavy I wanted to see if using other patterns of motion could hit weak spots that would make me stronger without loading my back so much.

So, the result? I hit a personal best and with no weight belt! The explanation? I can only hypothesize, but these types of results can only be an indication that there are some major differences with sandbag training.

One of the biggest differences was the stability of my trunk, with all the talk of "core training" I found my ability to stay upright and stabilize was so much improved on the back squat. I also believe the different ranges of motion allowed for me to hit some of the weak points that are hard to hit with barbells, dumbbells, or even kettlebells.

So, what would I recommend others do? Yes, definitely start with the foundational drills: shouldering, squatting, pressing, carrying, and lunging. However, once you are strong in these drills you can attempt complexes like the "Demon". What is the Demon? It was a complex I designed to hit on a lot of the weak points of most lifters and athletes. Very few people ever train the heavy rotation pull in the Demon or the unstable pressing position of being in a lunge. This is not simply a complex to get in great shape, but to get scary strong too! The Demon is just another reason why sandbag training is breaking new innovations in strength training. Try it out!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Can YOU Keep Up with Pink?

This workout can make even the toughest men feel very humble, see if YOU can get through it!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Leaving Las Vegas

With the explosion of sandbag training in the fitness industry, traveling has been almost a weekly event for me. This means I really have begun the challenges of many of my clients that are working 50 plus hours a week, balancing family, and still trying to get more fit.

However, these challenges have made me appreciate the simplistic beauty of sandbag training as well. This past weekend I drove up to Las Vegas for some networking and was able to toss two sandbags into my car. It was great, they don't roll and bang up my car, and I had weights from 20 to 150 pounds without taking up too much room.

Having these weights available to me allowed me to still perform a very complete workout. I didn't have to focus just on conditioning because I had too little weight, and yet I could enjoy the fun of training outdoors!

So, I had to put my good friend Nick through the paces. One of my favorite ways to train when I am on the road and have my bags with me is to run Power Interval Circuits. Intervals work so well because you can alter the sandbags and keep the interval fixed. What do I mean? You want strength work you are only going to be able to get about 3-5 reps in with a heavy bag, perfect for strength. Want endurance? Use a lighter bag and you will move faster and get more reps in. Want power-endurance (the missing ingredient to many strength programs) then use a moderate weighted sandbag and try to perform the reps as explosively as possible.

The circuits are also amazing because you can use much more variety in your training, especially with the sandbags. For example, a typical workout might look like this:

Lower Body Pull
Upper Body Push
Lower Body Squat
Upper Body Pull

This does work, however, we can work on much more with the sandbags and improve your overall athleticism. Today's circuit may have the same idea, but looks totally different!

Lower Body Pull=Shoveling Deadlifts
Upper Body Push=Weighted Push-ups
Lower Body Squat=Reverse Clean Lunge
Upper Body Pull=Components of Clean and Holding Zercher Positions

Add in the stair climbing with the sandbag and you have more than a complete workout. Check it out!!!