Perspective on Proper Strength Training

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I am not sure how many times I need to say this stuff…Okay, maybe just one more time.

Strength training programs should be comprehensive in nature with the emphasis placed on exercising the major muscle complexes throughout their fullest range of functional motion. The selected movements should include a variety of multi-joint and single-joint exercises, utilizing a good mix of machines and free weights whenever possible, and be safe and relatively easy to perform in terms of technique.

Muscle overload can be applied with a variety of tools: barbells, dumbbells, machines, manually applied resistance, body weight, sand bags, etc. Anything that can create high tension in the muscles can be used.

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A variety of exercise prescriptions can be used provided muscle overload occurs, such as heavy resistances / few repetitions, lighter resistances / more repetitions, minimal exercise bouts (i.e., 1 to 3 sets per muscle group) and / or varied rest time between sets and exercises (i.e., 30 seconds to 3:00+).

Set and repetition schemes may be varied, but the program should strive for intense efforts, accurate record keeping, a system for progressive overload and time efficiency.

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The short version is: 1.) Select exercise tool(s), and resistance / repetition schemes that reflect your current goals. 2.) Perform as many perfect repetitions as possible with the selected resistance. 3.) Write it all down. 4.) Next time attempt to do more than you did last time.

YES!! It’s really that simple.

Now get to it!



TAKU’s NOTE: Movements requiring excessive momentum for the execution and/or completion of the lift should be avoided. (More specific information is available upon request.)



Lower Body Blast

This week features another awesome workout from my friend, coach Tom Kelso.

Sometimes you want to get in the gym and really just crush it. The following workout will be both extremely challenging as well as highly effective. If you are looking for a tough workout, look no further. This workout features targeted lower-body exercises, combined with total body intervals.

Productive lower body workout combined with intervals:
Med. Ball squat-to-press :30 on/:30 off x 4 sets
Leg Press x 10-14
Burpees :45 on/:45 off x 3 sets
Barbell Squat x 10-14
Mountain Climbers :20 on/:20 off x 6 sets
Single-Leg Leg Press x 8-12 each leg
Versa Climber 1:00 on/:30 off x 3 sets
Stiff-Leg Dead Lift x 8-12
150 lb. dummy or other object drag/push :30 on/:30 off x 4 sets
Dumbbell Wall Sit for time
Leg Curl x 10-14
Completion time: 35:00 – 45:00
Do your best, and try not to get sick…

ANNOUNCEMENT: BlackJack Fitness is LIVE!

We’ve been working hard to put the finishing touches on the new BlackJack Conditioning Program, but it’s finally done.  BlackJack is a comprehensive program designed to promote strength, conditioning and endurance, utilizing very inexpensive and easily-obtainable training tools including sandbags, sportbands and the easiest of all, bodyweight.  The program includes a nutrition section as well, along with an incredibly detailed breakdown of every exercise in the program, including pictures.

Bj shot copy
I’ve tested the program on a very diverse group of people over the past several months – everyone from retirees to top-level athletes.  It absolutely rocked every one of them.  We incorporated it into a bootcamp program as well and the results are pretty astounding.  We’re very happy with the end result.  Take a look here for much more detail.  Watch the trailer, if you haven’t already, and post any questions you have.

We included a bunch of other options for you in addition to the eBook so please take a close look at everything that’s available.  Some of the bundles will literally save you over $100.

BlackJack + Mod.1 Bodyweight Conditioning DVDs

BlackJack + 1-Year Subscription to Hybrid Fitness

BlackJack + 1-Year Subscription to Hybrid Fitness + Mod.1 Bodyweight Conditioning DVD

Thanks for the support, everyone.  We’re very particular about the products we create.  We’re very confident that BlackJack will exceed your expectations in both presentation and effectiveness.  As both a coach and a fitness enthusiast, I would buy this program in a heartbeat.

Keep training hard!


Sandbag Training 101 – by Josh Henkin

There is no question…sandbag training works! Having been used for centuries by the world’s best wrestlers and martial artists, there is no arguing sandbag training can make you as strong as you look! However, as sandbag training has begun a resurgence the misuse of sandbags have begun as well. One may wonder, is it possible not to use a sandbag correctly? Well, just ask yourself if you can use a dumbbell, barbell, kettlebell, or even your bodyweight incorrectly?

The first rule of thumb is that a good sandbag should have mobility. Too many people have tried to “out think” the sandbag and end up ruining the basis of sandbag training. Unlike most other training implements you aren’t going to progress by five pound increments. Manipulating many of the other training variables such as placement of load and speed of movement will serve as better training avenues for variety and progression.

I will cover how to choose when you use each of these methods and progressions, but first we must discuss the most fundamental of ideas, how where you hold the sandbag impacts your exercise selection.

Bear Hug:

This position is the starting place for the introduction of sandbag training. Keeping the sandbag very close to the body and clasping the arms around the sandbag decreases the leverage working against the body. This makes this holding position the easiest to balance and lift the greatest loads. The dimensions of the sandbag will additionally impact the level of difficulty of this style.




The Zercher position is the secondary position of loading. The Zercher is a more challenging loading position because there is increase leverage working against the trunk and the upper back. It is vital in using the Zercher that the elbows remain as high as possible. When the arms begin to drop under heavier loads it is a natural tendency to have the upper and lower back begin to round. Holding the sandbag lower also decreases stress on the stabilizing muscles.



Shouldering is the most familiar holding position in sandbag training. Shouldering is most notable because it appears the most unusual in strength training. Holding the bag in this position places the whole body under an uneven load. This is one of the most powerful aspects of sandbag training and even though your body may be in a balance position of a squat, the uneven load makes the body unbalanced. This is far more challenging to maintain posture and balance during all movement especially unilateral ones.



The overhead position is the most challenging, yet very familiar to most lifters. Having the sandbag overhead places the greatest amount of leverage on the entire body especially the trunk. The sandbag being overhead is an unstable object that will move as you perform various movements. This makes the entire body unstable and all the small stabilizers must fire harder to maintain balance and stability.


Josh Henkin, CSCS has been a strength coach for the past fifteen years. Josh has spoken at numerous national conferences and written for over 20 fitness magazines. His Sandbag Fitness System is recognized as the most comprehensive sandbag training program.

Great Total Body Exercise!

I was working with a client this morning at her home.  Space and equipment are limited so we need to get creative with the workouts.  I’m not a huge fan of mixing things up just for the sake of doing something new, though.  I’d rather stick with movements that work and get results, as opposed to doing some novel “flavor of the month” exercise just to be different.

One of the staple exercises is the dumbbell clean deadlift & shrug.  As well as being a challenging, effective exercise, it’s also a key component of many Olympic weightlifting techniques.  You don’t need to be an Olympic lifter to incorporate this movement into your routine and best of all, you can do it with a barbell, dumbbells, kettlebells, sandbags, sportsbands, etc.  Seriously.  Depending on the weight you use, the clean deadlift & shrug can be a stand-alone exercise or a great component to a conditioning circuit.  It’s up to you.

The video below represents the movement using a barbell, but I suggest you try it with dumbbells or whatever training tool you have at your disposal.  The movement and mechanics are the virtually the same, but will vary slightly depending on what you’re holding.  You’ll feel this in your legs, back, traps, shoulders and arms.

Try supplementing this movement into your next workout and see for yourself how challenging it is.  Feedback is always good, so please post your comments below.  If you’ve got a question, we’ll get back to you right away.

Thanks and keep training hard!


New FREE E-Book Download!

Here’s a link for our new FREE e-book called “Training With Bags & Bands”.  The book talks a bit about the benefits of sandbag and sportband training and includes some killer sandbag and sportband workouts, along with images of each movement.

Download the FREE e-book here

Got questions?  Post them to the comments section.

Hybrid Fitness Team

Exercise of the Week: Sandbag Cleans

I recently posted a different “Exercise of the Week” just a few days ago….but hopefully none of you will mind another one.

Sandbag training has really gained in popularity over the last couple of years.  I hesistate to call it a trend, because I think sandbag training has the potential for much more longevity.  I think this for a few different reasons.  Among other things, sandbags are durable, portable, extremely versatile and there is a bag to literally accommodate any strength range.  Yes, I said ANY strength range.  You can literally push, pull, toss and drag them in limitless movement variations.  Use them for developing strength, conditioning, power, endurance, agility and coordination.  What can I say….we’re big fans of sandbag training at Hybrid Fitness.

One of the exercises I like to impose on my unsuspecting clientele is the Sandbag Clean.  It requires the perfect balance of strenght, power, corrdination and focus.  It works multiple joints and muscles simultaneously and really gets the heart pumping.  Are you convinced yet?  If not, you’ll have to try it for yourself and see what I mean.

  • Stand in front of a sandbag with your weight evenly distributed on both feet and knees slightly bent.
  • Keeping your back flat, bend at the hips and knees and reach down to grab the sandbag.
  • Keeping head up and back flat, explosively stand erect by pushing the ground away with your legs as you simultaneously pull / clean the sandbag up in front of your body and catch it at shoulder height.
  • Your knees should be bent to approximately a 1/4 squat position during the catch phase.
  • Lower the sandbag to the starting position.

Here’s the breakdown of what the sandbag clean looks like:

Sandbag Clean "start"

Sandbag Clean "start"

Sandbag Clean "middle"

Sandbag Clean "middle"

Sandbag Clean "finish"

Sandbag Clean "finish"

Sometimes, pictures just aren’t here’s a video showing the clean in real time.  It also comes with a pulldown exercise description, too. (click the link or the graphic to view the video)


We don’t sell our own sandbags so if you’re looking to pick some up, we suggest you go here.

Got questions?  Post them to the comments section and we’ll answer them ASAP.

Keep training hard!


P.S: You can view and create videos like the one above by utilizing the video exercise library and workout builder from Hybrid Fitness.  Join the community and see what the buzz is about.

Don’t miss out!

Just wanted to let you know that the crew over at Iron Woody Fitness is having a closeout sale on Kettlebells and Medicine Balls!  If you’re looking to pick up some gear, now’s you’re chance.

Iron Woody also has some of the best sandbags and sportbands in the business.  They guarantee their products and I can personally attest to their durability – I still use the same bands and bags that I bought almost 5 years ago.  They’ve been beat up by everyone from retirees to firefighters and they’re still holding strong.  The bands alone offer almost unlimited variety.  Throw in some bags and ‘bells and you’ve got workouts to last a lifetime.

Get while the gettins’ good!

We’ve put together a huge video library at Hybrid Fitness, so if you pick up some of this gear and need ideas on what to do and how to do them, we’ve got the answers.

Keep training hard!


Leg Conditioning Circuit

I gave this circuit a test run with a client on Tuesday morning.  We started off the workout with a series of sprint intervals up a shallow hill, so she was a little fatigued going into it, but regardless, the circuit is pretty effective.

Start with one time through the circuit, taking little to no rest time between exercises.  Rest a couple minutes, then go through a second time.  Although you’re not trying to necessarily fly through the exercises as fast as possible, you should keep a brisk pace and be able to complete everything in under 3 minutes.

As with most circuits, you can increase the intensity by:

  • Increasing the external resistance
  • Increasing the speed
  • Decreasing the rest time
  • Any combination of the above

Give it a shot and see what happens.  The Good Mornings can be completed using a dumbbell, barbell or a number of other implements.  Sandbags are nice because they’re versatile and portable.  I like to incorporate them whenever I can.  If you’re interested in picking some up, this is the place to do it:

Keep training hard!


Low-Tech Tools = High-Performance Results

We’ve posted a number of blog articles about the variety of training tools available. Additionally, we’ve posted dozens of “low-tech” training programs at, which involve everything from sandbags to sportbands to kettlebells to bodyweight. Why do I refer to them as “low-tech”? Because they don’t have a bunch of cables or attachments, they don’t cost thousands of dollars, they’re not difficult to learn and they take up very little space. On the contrary, they’re easy to use, easy to transport, inexpensive to purchase and you need very little space to train.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I’ve been going to the gym since I was 16. I love to run intervals on a treadmill or push my limits on a Concept 2 rower as much as anyone and I love to load up the lat pulldown or cable cross machines and see how much weight I can move. If I’ve got an extra $8000 laying around and a few hundred square feet of extra space at my house, I could get myself a couple of these machines. But for 99% of the population, the prospect of outfitting a home gym is out of the question.

Where does that leave you? Easy. Look to the low-tech solution.

With a few different bands of varying resistance, you can replicate most machine movements. Throw in a kettlebell or two and you’ve just expanded your options. Top it off with a couple sandbags and you literally have everything you need to get in shape, increase your muscular strength and endurance and skyrocket your conditioning.

We don’t sell these products directly, but everyone at Hybrid Fitness has purchased them for our training clients as well as personal use! With that said, we recommend you try them for yourself. You’ll be amazed how challenging an overhead squat is with tiny resistance band, or how a simple set of kettlebell Up & Overs will test your mental and physical limits. Visit our Training and Exercise of the Week sections for lots more exercise ideas.

Are you ready to give low-tech training a shot? We recommend you look to Iron Woody Fitness. Their customer service is second-to-none and they have everything you need at the best prices on the net. Plus, they’re just great people.

Iron Woody Fitness

Remember: You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get in the best shape of your life. All you need is a little guidance, some motivation and some imagination.

Good luck and keep training hard!

Jason K.