Friday, 30 November 2012

Must Have Training Kit For 2013

Do You Have Any Fitness Goals For 2013?

"Fail to plan and you plan to fail"

Sensible words for anyone who is trying to improve their health and fitness for the long term. While I'm always keen to say that the real key is to work smart, hard and consistently - a few purchases here and there can really help. In this newsletter I've written my list of essential Sandbag Fitness training kit to make sure that you smash any and all goals that you have for the forthcoming year!

Train hard!


Number 1 on the Sandbag Fitness kit list has to be The Complete Guide To Sandbag Training - 188 pages of straightforward sandbag training info, exercise descriptions with images and over half a year of programmes!

Now available in Paperback, eBook (pdf and ePub) and Kindle. And you can currently get the Paperback for 50% off until the 21st December!

Click here to get the Paperback

Click here to get the eBook

Click here to get the Kindle version

If you're still following the sandbag workouts with a homemade sandbag then it might be time to upgrade to one of Brute Force Sandbags excellent products. The Heavy Hitter is my personal favourite:
  • It loads to 90kg/200lbs
  • It's just the right shape for load carries and bear hugs
  • It is handleless so it really develops your grip
  • It's practically indestructible
Click here to check out the Heavy Hitter

If you're serious about tracking your progress (you should be) and you want a great timer that will easily cope with all of the workout options at Sandbag Fitness then you need a Gymboss. Affordable and portable, this is simply the best timer out there.

Click here to check out Gymboss timers

Do you need some additional coaching?

Training for a particular goal or event?

I offer coaching services for those who have serious goals or those that need to get the very best results in a shorter period of time. If you can't train with me in person then I also offer Exercise Video Analysis and Online Coaching - both highly effective options.

Click here to get Online Coaching

Click here for Exercise Video Analysis

Click here to book Personal Training Sessions with me

Interested in MMA or other combat/contact sports?

Sandbag Training For MMA & Combat Sports is my 194 page guide to get the very best from sandbag training to improve your strength, speed, power, endurance and agility. It explains, in detail, how to perform over 60 sandbag exercises and includes a full range of training programmes to get you in fighting shape.

Click here to get your copy

My Gift To You

"And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make."

I started Sandbag Fitness back in 2010 as a way of documenting my training and helping others to improve their heath and fitness. Nothing has changed and I still do it for the reward that comes from seeing others achieve their goals.

You can email me anytime you want with questions, feedback or even just to say hi. I personally answer all emails. Say hi to Matt

Check out a range of free articles here

Get involved in the conversation on Facebook

I hope you have a great holiday, wherever you are and whatever you're doing. 


Saturday, 24 November 2012

Get 50% Off My Sandbag Paperback!

To celebrate the holiday season I'm offering the chance to get 50% off The Complete Guide To Sandbag Training in paperback!

This crazy offer is unlikely to be repeated any time soon and I might even change it once the egg nog has worn off so make the most of it.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

The Plank - How Good Is It?

In recent years the plank has become the "Number 1" exercise for developing core strength and protecting the back from injury. It's an exercise that can be used by a wide variety of individuals and has a much lower incidence of injury associated with it than say a standard sit up or crunch. But how effective is it at developing core strength? Is it just an exercise that doesn't aggravate existing spinal/postural conditions?

The Plank

What is Core Strength?

Another "buzz" word, core strength is heavily touted as the primary goal for most strength programmes in todays fitness industry. Most people incorrectly identify core strength as abdominal strength but it should really be used to describe the stability and strength of the spine as a whole. Thus, we you see an individual following a programme that heavily includes some abdominal and lower back work to promote core stability there is most certainly a deficiency in the programming. When talking about core stability we should think about all of the muscles that assist in supporting the spine, these include:

  • Cervical - upper back (rotators, extensors, lateral flexors, anterior flexors)
  • Thoracic - middle back (rotators, extensors, lateral flexors, anterior flexors)
  • Lumbar - lower back (rotators, extensors, lateral flexors, anterior flexors)
  • Transversus Abdominus
  • Multifidis
  • Diaphragm
  • Pelvic Floor
  • External and Internal Obliques
  • Rectus Abdominis
But we all know that there are many other factors that affect spinal alignment or posture. An individual with excessive anterior flexion through the shoulder girdle (rounded shoulders) is certainly having their posture affected. So we should also consider that shoulder position is another important factor in maintaining spine strength and alignment. This then opens up a whole new area of core strength - one in which we can view the musculature of the entire torso as "core muscles". And if our definition of core strength is to maintain good posture and spinal alignment then this is entirely correct. So, we can also include:
  • Deltoids
  • Trapezius
  • Latissimus Dorsi
  • Pectorals
  • Gluteals
A slightly different view of core strength but I hope you can appreciate this integrated approach.

Biomechanical Assessment of the Plank

I will keep this section purposefully simple. The plank, in which we are required to maintain neutral spine under load in the prone position, can achieve the aim of activating core muscles. The characteristics are as follows:
  • Lack of movement through the pelvis/spine
  • Weight supported through the arms
  • Position is prone
If we accept that, in exercise terms, we generally improve in the specific areas we focus on then the plank would achieve the following:
  • We would improve our ability to activate core muscles and maintain a stable postural position
  • We would become strong in the prone position
  • The arms would become better at supporting our body weight
This is where we can start to see that the plank has some flaws. Improving strength in a prone position has a very limited application for the general population. In fact most of us display postural problems in the following situations:
  • Standing for extended periods of time
  • Picking up a load from the floor
  • Twisting while holding a load
  • Twisting without a load
  • Lifting something above the head

While I certainly didn't want to go ahead and bash the Plank as an exercise (I programme it myself), I did want to raise the point that it's important that we qualify the exercises that we select for our own programmes and the programmes of others. I think the Plank has it's place but I certainly don't class it as the best or most effective exercise for most individuals. 

Take a look at the exercises that you are currently practising and try to ascertain the precise benefits that  they provide for you. Is it appropriate to progress or regress the exercise? Have you selected an exercise based on it's proposed benefits rather than it being right for you?

Train hard (and smart)!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

How Do I Get Started With Sandbag Training?

I often get asked this and my answer is always the same - get started.

I can talk for a long time (some say too long) about the benefits of sandbag training but the reason I got started was because the sandbag was easy for me to get hold of and very inexpensive. I simply purchased a 25kg/55lb bag of sand from a local hardware store for £1.50. I decided to try sandbag training and started sandbag training on the same day - no drawn out decision making process, no procrastination, no nonsense.

If you are thinking about giving sandbag training a go then you should just do it. Do you know what happens when you start thinking about improving your fitness and goal setting but then do nothing about it, telling yourself that you'll "do it tomorrow"? Your brain (and eventually your body) will start to make the association that fitness and goal setting = no action. Pretty soon you'll be incapable of doing anything.

This is also true of any process of change. Have you ever written a list of things that you have to do and then not started crossing things off that list straight away? It doesn't work. You need to build momentum early on and then, once you start to see results, you'll begin to get into a routine.

This is a post about sandbag training and there are literally hundreds of workouts to try on the blog so you shouldn't be short of ideas. But, it could also be a post about anything that you need to change and want to improve in your life. So get out there, do something positive and let me know how you get on.

Train hard!

Monday, 19 November 2012

The Milo Experiment Rises From The Ashes!

A few months back I wrote about the Milo Experiment - my attempt to conduct a very simple, linear strength progression with my sandbag. The goal was to add a small amount of sand each workout and keep going until I couldn't add anymore. See the original post here

Well, with one thing and another, I got sidetracked and never did any update posts. One of our followers (Randy) pointed this out to me the other day (thanks Randy). The thing is, I did actually carry on with the experiment but I was just lazy in telling you guys about it.

Want to know what happened?

I ran out of space in my sandbag.

I was following the experiment with my Heavy Hitter and I got all the way up to max capacity - that's around 90kg or 200lbs. I now need to get myself a new sandbag - thanks a lot Milo Experiment. Sure, I'm much stronger than I ever have been before but I have to go out and spend money on another bag.

But seriously, if you want to massively increase your strength in a very simple, methodical way then you should try this. Get yourself a sandbag and go through the daily ground to overhead lift (or lifts). Add a small amount of weight each day and commit to it. You'll be amazed at what you can achieve.

Train hard!

Friday, 9 November 2012

Todays Workout - Serious Strength

Todays workout is a simple strength session.

Load up a heavy sandbag and complete a max set of clean and press - ideally reaching fatigue around 5 repetitions. The clean and press can be done in anyway that you see fit. See here for some clean technique.

Rest for 3 minutes and repeat for a total of 5 rounds.

Train hard!