Recently we had someone contact us interested in training at Fitness Lying Down, but after looking at our website they asked if we primarily use sandbags. This person was concerned about us using sandbags because of having “bad” shoulders and thinking our program might not be for them.
I absolutely do not blame this hesitation of using sandbags for strength training, not at all! From what I see on social media of how people use sandbags in their own workouts, I would be terrified, as well, if that is what I was getting into (especially with shoulder issues)! But that did get me thinking about the sandbags and how we use them.
I knew when I came up with Fitness Lying Down seven years ago that I wanted sandbags to be a big part of our training. I hate to say it now, but one reason was the uniqueness of this piece of equipment. To stand out in your local community, you need to provide a service no one else is providing and when it came to fitness and strength training I didn’t see anyone else in La Crosse using sandbags in 2014.
Fortunately there was more to this “sandbag training” than just adding sandbags to traditional gym exercises. Through DVRT (Dynamic Variable Resistance Training), there is a systematic way of training using the Ultimate Sandbag (USB) with endless progressions and regressions making training with the USB more practical and smarter than with other fitness tool out there. Change my mind. But we also are not limited to only using the bags at FLD. The beauty of DVRT is its inclusiveness to kettlebells, resistance bands, suspension trainers, sliders, bodyweight, and more to provide the right load for each individual for the best exercise for them!
Again, I can understand the mental images someone gets when they hear we train with sandbags at FLD. I can see the clinicians faces wince when our sandbaggers talk about using the sandbags for their strength training. I can imagine those who don’t know what we do could come to believe that what we do is very easy or very challenging just from the aspect of where they’re coming from. The wonder of training with the USBs is how there are 11 different ways to hold the sandbag. Now think about how many different ways you can hold a barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, etc. The holding position can make a tremendous difference in intensity regarding the way you are holding the bag.
For example, we have a deadlift exercise – which is a hip hinge movement pattern – where the hands are grabbing onto the handles and the bag is lifted from the floor. Let’s say you are doing that with a 35 pound bag and it’s getting easier. Instead of reaching for a heavier USB, what if we changed the holding position to make this exercise more intense? Let’s say we placed the bag in what we call a front loaded position with the same bag being placed in the crook of the arms and being pulled across the chest. Moving from a deadlift exercise with the bag in the hands to a good morning exercise with the bag in the front loaded position, doing the same hip hinge movement pattern, has made this same 35 pound bag feel heavier because of the demands of the new holding position has created!
This type of training doesn’t create muscle strength, but movement strength. And that kinda strength is necessary because training muscles in isolation doesn’t allow for the connections that your body needs to make when moving in space. However, training the body in an integrative way as a whole being provides for everything else to be included besides just muscles. This is where our “sandbag training” is elevated above the other methods of strength training because we use the load of the sandbag in relation to how it’s placed on the body for feedback to create strength for activities outside the gym and not only for exercises only found in the gym.
I don’t believe we fix people at Fitness Lying Down (remember that we’re only a gym). But I do know we make people better, and when it comes to fitness, health, quality of life…better is best!