Tuesday, December 29, 2009

More Challenging Upper Body Exercises

My challenge continues with another 10 upper body exercises. Now we are up to 20 awesome sandbag training drills. What do I like about these exercises so much? They allow us to train in ways that are just not possible with other fitness tools.

You will see the overhead press with cable attachment is something brand new. We are able to apply force in multiple directions providing a very unique feel of an old drill. Most people don't think of overhead pressing as a great upper back drill, but combining good pressing techniques with the additional load of the cable makes the upper back fire much more. This acts as both a great range of motion enhancement of the shoulder and muscle balance.

Other drills like the three point row integrates the whole body. The traditional row is enhanced with multiple pulling directions emphasizing various areas of the body depending upon the placement of the sandbag.

As you can see many drills can make your workouts brand new and help blast through some training plateaus! Wait till you see the remaining 30 exercises!

Monday, December 28, 2009

50 Upper Body Exercises Part 1

Competition, nothing gets my juices going like it! That is why when I received an email yesterday challenging me I couldn't wait to get going.

Michael C. from New Jersey (of course a good East Coast boy would write me a good challenge) wrote me: "Josh, I know you really are into the sandbags, but they don't seem that good for building the upper body. There aren't THAT many exercises you can perform with them."

Wow! My wheels just started turning in all the ways that sandbags can be used to perform all types of unique upper body exercises. So Michael inspired me to take on a personal challenge. I wanted to show all of you 50 upper body exercises you could do with the Ultimate Sandbag.

Maybe Michael was right, with a homemade or knockoff sandbag you can't do all that much training. However, with our Ultimate Sandbag and our new Ultimate Core Strap there is soooo much that can be done.

What makes sandbags such a great upper body training tool?

1. Change where you grab the sandbag or the position of the Ultimate Sandbag and you change the loading of the weight. Just see how different grabbing the ends is versus the handles, or doing a standard press is to a shoulder to shoulder.

2. We can manipulate leverage to create greater perceived loads. Try performing a press from a lunge position or just staggered stance. The load of the Ultimate Sandbag seems so much greater.

3. The Ultimate Core Strap allows for bands, cables, and leverage all to be used to create very unique upper body exercises that simply are not possible with other training implements.

Choose a pressing and pulling exercise every time you train and you will have great upper body development. Secondly, add in two isolation exercises if you want to build up some weak points, this is the same method the famous powerlifters at Westside Barbell use too! See all week what 50 upper body drills I suggest!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Taking Workouts to the Extreme

Innovation is often a result of addressing a specific need. That is how I view everything we do at Sandbag Fitness Systems. From the creation of our Ultimate Sandbag to our newest creations, everything is done to make what I want as a coach possible.

Years ago I was introduced to a unique idea by Strength Coach, John Davies. Coach Davies spoke about strength training with a weight vest on the body. Not just your traditional bodyweight drills, but lifting as well. It was amazing the result this had not only your strength, but conditioning as well.

For me this has become increasingly more important. Old basketball injuries to my feet have really taken their toll where running is definitely out of the question. Yet, I have found this "loaded conditioning" to be an excellent way to still get a tremendous cardiovascular effect.

That is why I am excited to launch the presale of our Ultimate Sandpack! Our Ultimate Sandpack was developed to counter all the short comings that I have often found with standard weight vests.

1. Weight vests always seemed to flop around when doing explosive drills or running. This often caused them to be tremendously uncomfortable and limiting. Our Ultimate Sandpack was designed to conform to the body limiting the bouncing and annoying aspects of standard weight vests. Therefore, you can jump, perform calisthenics, and even jump rope with our Ultimate Sandpack.

2. Weight vests can be hard to adjust and work with an array of people and sizes. We have designed these Ultimate Sandpacks and have found them fit perfectly for everyone from 5'5 to 6'5! That is a wide array of people!

3. Having different weight limits can be very expensive! Our Ultimate Sandpack was designed to work with our 15 pound fillers so you can go as little as 5 pounds and up to 45 pounds in a single sandpack!

4. Many weight vests cut into the shoulder and hurt the back, but our Ultimate Sandpack was made with comfort straps not to dig into the body and yet give a tight fit. Women and men use the Ultimate Sandpack very comfortably.

The Ultimate Sandpack has become one of my favorite tools because old basketball injuries have made it hard to run and my current oral issues can make my arms weak. So, the Ultimate Sandpack gives me an alternative to having to run, in fact, one of my favorite activities has become walking my dogs with the pack. On days my hands hurt and are throbbing, I can load more by using the sandpack and take some stress off the parts of my body that hurt. This and the new exercises that are now created make the Ultimate Sandpack a standard in our training programs!

Pre-order the Ultimate Sandpack: Retail-$169.99, Pre-order-$139.99

Friday, December 25, 2009

Are YOU Ready for 2010?

I really hope you had a wonderful holiday season! No matter what you celebrate I hope it brought a lot of happiness to you and your family. It definitely has not been an easy year for many people. I have numerous friends and clients that have been largely impacted by the change in the economy.

Sometimes it seems there is a lot of things out of our control. Yet, I am inspired by the ideas of efficiency and self-improvement expert Dr. Stephen Covey. In his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr. Covey states:

“The way we see the problem is the problem”, our problems all too often are a result of how we choose to see them and how we react to them. We all have them and we often have an opportunity to make negative circumstances into positive ones.

It would be easy to think that people like myself have very little problems. Wow! 2009 was a hell of a year for me not just business, education, or opportunity. Yet, there were many instances where my Ultimate Sandbag faced many challenges that could have easily made me quite.

However, I believe in what I am doing, and even though bad things happen we always try to make something positive in the long run. Yes, those positives may be hard to see initially. Yet, if you have a burning desire to make a change it can happen.

What is the problem with many New Year's resolutions? They aren't meaningful! We have to find something that makes us excited and willing to blast through challenges and negativity. As Dr. Covey says:

“Motivation is a fire from within. If someone else tries to light that fire under you, chances are it will burn very briefly.”

I hope you will be excited by our efforts and find that fitness is something that can help you take control of how you feel, your confidence, health, and many more factors. I truly hope that you will join us for an incredible 2010!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

FREE Workout, Holiday Sale

With the holidays growing closer the next few days, I wanted to put out one of our best workout series to help inspire people to keep on their fitness. This quickly turned into one of my favorite training routines.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Train Like a REAL Athlete

Ask ten coaches about training like an athlete and you are likely to get ten different responses. One thing that all the great strength coaches can agree on is that training like an athlete is the manner in which most should train. I know, you don’t compete at anything, but too often when people say they want to “be in shape”, “move better”, or have “better strength and endurance” they truly are telling me they want to be an athlete in life.

The beauty of the Ultimate Sandbag program is that it addresses all the needs of the athlete in way that no other training program can. The unique nature of sandbag training provides an element of that can’t be replicated. That is why we have been a part of elite MMA programs, NFL, Pro Sand Volleyball, top military, and many more programs.

To help show people how different the Ultimate Sandbag truly is I have posted below the Top 8 MMA sandbag movements. The drills shown aren’t only beneficial for MMA athletes, but anyone interested in maximizing their athleticism.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Is the King Dead?

I did it, I did it for years! I always made the squat the cornerstone of all my training programs. Who would blame me? There are hundreds of studies and practical experiences showing just how darn effective squat training actually can be for performance. Yet, that doesn't mean there can't be a better way and our thinking can't evolve.

When I think to my own training I can remember times when squat numbers would improve, yet, performance in sports I would enjoy would not see any improvement. Why did this occur? After really taking a look at my own training and to those that I work with I found some interesting observations.

1. Since the squat form of people can vary so greatly it is impossible to make an overall generalization if squatting is good or harmful for one's goals.

2. We live in an era where injuries, muscle imbalances, movement problems, and other physical issues play a large role in what happens during the squat. I could yell and scream about how awesome they are and how you HAVE to do them, but that isn't always the answer.

3. More important than squat numbers going up is whether or not they are leading people to the bigger picture of their overall goal.

I know for myself squatting was definitely a beneficial exercise, but I really didn't understand what I was missing till I started addressing my own weaknesses. Sports such as basketball and Strongman took a large toll on my body.

From these sports I had more than a few days where my hip would ache, I would have altered walking patterns, shoulder tightness and just didn't feel like I could progress in my training. I made the hard decision to take a break from the traditional back and front squatting and make lunging a priority in my training program.

Most people would say that I was "wussing out", but the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. The worst case from my own experiment? I would not get any better and possibly lose some strength. The result was much different than I expected.

After about six weeks of making lunging a strength focused lift for me I found that my hips felt better and more surprisingly my back squat went up! Why could this happen? A few things came to mind pretty fast.

1. Squatting is an easy exercise for us to think as a superior strength exercise because simply we can often handle more weight. More weight must mean more strength being built, but it is impossible to say that single leg exercises could not do the same at smaller loads. It would appear that lunges stimulate just as many, if not more muscles because of being slightly unstable. Therefore, we can't simply assume more weight equals more strength.

2. It is far more difficult to compensate on the lunge than the squat. The most common compensation is altering stride length to something shorter to remain more balanced. Outside of this pattern, it is darn hard to cheat a lunge. Many lifters know there are more than a few ways to cheat a squat.

3. You hit your weak points! I can't think of too many people that like to do what they are not good at. So many issues can be addressed with lunging, hip mobility, lower leg stability, and hip and leg strength. These issues can be missed with a lack of focus and time spent on single leg exercises. However, what I like so much about lunging is the dynamic stretch to one of the most problematic areas of the body, the hip flexors.

I also began to be in favor of using suspension training to enhance the training effect of lunges. The beauty of suspended lunges is that you can alter and progress range of motion and stability depending upon the version of the movement you use. Today I wanted to share some very important variations of suspended lunging that we use to take people's training to a new level.

The most difficult part? Being comfortable with not judging the success of the lift by how much weight you lift, rather by the results you obtain.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Beyond Abdominal Training

A lot of people have taken such a great interest in the story of my low back injury, I wanted to talk about really what has made a difference. 80% of Americans will experience low back pain some time in their life, and well, mine was a little more than some slight discomfort.

While most people think I am a powerlifter or strongman, the sport I played most of my life was basketball. It was also the sport most impacted by two herniated discs when playing in high school. Not knowing how to strengthen it, it eventually caught up with me playing in college to the point where I lost use of my right leg for a very brief time.

Even when I regained use of my leg, the pain was immense and I struggled with it for a long time. I did physical therapy and I went to corrective exercise certifications and programs. However, understanding what was weak and wrong didn't occur to me when I switched my philosophy completely.

What I learned about myself is that I suffered from some problems that a lot of people suffer from.

1. I really didn't understand how to move correctly. I didn't know how to produce force, absorb force, use mobility in my hips and spine to produce movement.

2. I didn't know how weak my hips were really! Renown strength coach calls this, gluteal amnesia, but I think it goes into hamstrings as well. When I realized how they didn't know how to work together I knew I had a lot of room to improve.

3. I didn't know how to resist force, I could produce power and force, but I didn't understand how to resist it. When I started incorporating drills that addressed these issues I saw my pain go down and performance go way up!

Many people want to know the drills I used to get better. To be honest, they are the exact same ones I have been teaching for the past four years. Now, I have outlined them in a series so YOU can see the progression of movement and learn how to help others or yourself get out of the same pain and frustration I spent several years with!

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Rotational Exercises