I would have fired me, no really, within a few months of how I was training my clients I probably would have fired myself. That is myself of six years ago. I can be critical of myself now because of the evolution that I have gone through in my own personal philosophy. In fact, if I have learned one thing to be for certain is that you can’t be closed off from changing the way you see anything. In fitness it could be your philosophy, clients, or environment. But why? Why would I have not had a younger version of myself working for my current training facility?
The younger me fell into many of the traps and pitfalls that I speak about on this blog. While I was just getting into what would become our Ultimate Sandbag training program, I really didn’t know the journey that I was going to begin. Maybe it was all timing as six years ago I could not see the need of our Ultimate Sandbag training at the time. I thought all that I was doing was the “right” thing. But all too soon I would begin to learn otherwise.
Can Ultimate Sandbag Training Be More Than Just “weight training?”
Skills Not Drills: Speed expert, Lee Taft, made a statement that I thought applied perfectly to our philosophy as well. “We train skills, not drills.” Sure, many may be nodding their heads, “of course”, but I will tell you that I lost site of this important message years ago and I was focused on the drills. I needed to build big squat weights, pull huge deadlifts, press a brickhouse, well, you get my drift. I forgot why and I became consumed with the drills. I made the mistake so many coaches and fitness enthusiasts make, they prioritize the lifts over the skills and eventually pay the toll in developing pain, aches, and a whole new realm of dysfunctions.
I can hear the people now though, “Josh, I’m hardcore, I want to be strong, lift a ton, that is the purpose of lifting anyways. Lift big or go home!” The Josh of six years ago may have been nodding right along, even with two disc herniations I thought the solution to everything was simply “lift more!” Now years later I am finding that even the toughest Strength Coaches are finding the same things I did, I was wrong! Don’t believe me? Listen to one of the most hardcore guys, Zach Even-esh, describe his own experiences lifting consistently those big weights;
“Strong as all heck…. but as useless as a bike without wheels.
I wanted my health back.
I wanted to play with my kids…. pain free.
I wanted to wake up and go to sleep pain free.”
He goes onto to make a profound and strong statement…
“There is NO strength without your health. Without your health, you have NOTHING.” (Check the rest of Zach’s thoughts on his blog: Strong and Useless)
Sorry guys “lifting big” just doesn’t accomplish these goals. We forget the skills and get too focused on the drills. We sacrifice our health, our longevity for five more pounds on the bar, for that bigger lift. Don’t worry though, we aren’t also sacrificing “strength” for our own well-being. That was something I was positive we weren’t going to become in our Ultimate Sandbag Training program. We were not going to start doing crazy circus tricks and give a false impression of getting stronger. NO! We were going to make sure Ultimate Sandbag Training stayed true to giving results where you could see a transfer to almost anything, yes anything, you wanted to get become better in performing while staying healthy!
Ultimate Sandbag Training for Redefining Your Fitness Priorities
Change Your Standards: I always tell people that I can tell everything about their philosophy and biases (yes, we all have them) simply by looking at what drills they measure and prioritize. For example, if someone tells me they are basing their success off their deadlift numbers then I know the deadlift is very important to them and their program more likely than not is going to be based around improving their numbers in the deadlift.
We also have the other side of the spectrum of those that base everything around some mysterious “corrective test” that is suppose to show them if their pinky is properly integrated with their quads. Even with the best of intentions, inherently these people tend to base their training around that of the test as well and if you are going to do so in either case you better make sure that such things really are the answer to your goals!
“Ok smart guy, what do YOU do?” Yea, I can imagine that is running through more than a few people’s minds. I like to believe that our Ultimate Sandbag Training is first and foremost about getting the body to perform and function better in movement. Yes, vague as can be but let me get a bit deeper. I believe everyone should be able to perform the following patterns safely and proficiently…
-Lower Body Hinging
-Resist Trunk Flexion
-Produce Trunk Flexion
I could write extensively about each section here, but it is a beyond the scope of our blog (of course you can attend one of courses to get into it;), but the idea is that this is my base, my foundation. To be honest, not a heck of a lot more different than Josh of six years ago. However, there are a few profound differences stemming from the prioritization of these movements and how we see progress in each of them.
For example, for many years I greatly under-appreciated the progression of resisting rotation to producing rotation. Since rotation seemed to be such a fundamental movement pattern I got people training in these patterns early on. What I would find is that people struggled to control these patterns and it would be a huge challenge for them to see the benefit and reduce their risk of injury in these more complex patterns because they really didn’t have the right foundation. Even at very base exercises we weren’t getting the results we wanted. I found making resisting rotation to be an important component to getting my clients to the right point where we could achieve these goals. By learning how to brace and resist more unpredictable loads in a more stable environment it gave us a great ability to do so in more unstable patterns such as rotation.
This was the very beginning of my transformation with our Ultimate Sandbag Training program. All of a sudden I didn’t see the shoulder position in our Ultimate Sandbag Training program just as another loading position that was “hard”, rather a critical point of progressing to more complex movement patterns. Ultimate Sandbag Training Shoulder exercises are ideal for teaching this resisting rotation idea in a very functional position. We have the ability to manipulate not just load here, but also stability and the perceived load by changing the body position while we hold the Ultimate Sandbag in the Shoulder position.
The building blocks were forming, my clients were getting better and faster results plus feeling good more times than they were beaten up!
A Look Back to Go Forward
I remember one of the most profound ideas that shaped my early philosophy was the idea of a physical culture. These impressive feats of strength and physiques by very real people. Yet, I made the a crucial mistake, I had negated one of the most important aspects of this period, being healthy! I had pushed myself so hard for the “cool stuff” the big lifts, the unusual lifts, but I forgot all the actions these men took to feel good and most importantly be healthy!
As I begin to look back I don’t regret a minute of this period in my life. It allowed me to experience the training that so many espouse as being the “answer” to fitness goals. I couldn’t really judge or give feedback if I did not have this period of my life to go through the process myself. Waking up feeling like a truck ran me over, joints being constantly achy, feeling as though I had to warm-up to go out of the house, just crazy!
In my training facility we have a few copies of the classic magazine that was the last to speak about this idea of physical culture. I thought it ironic in a day and age where we have magazines such as “FLEX”, “Muscle and Fitness”, “Men’s Fitness”, and so on this was so beautifully and simply called “Strength & Health Magazine”. While we have been reminded of the strength part, it is also time we are reminded of the health!