The best MMA specific training tool….

Thanks to Josh Henkins (sandbag fitness systems) for this weeks blog post….

Last post I spoke about the fact sandbags can definitely be a powerful training tool. So much so, it can be a great way to build extra muscle. No, you aren’t going to become a freakish bodybuilder, but maybe a guy like this.

That’s right! Most of the top UFC fighters are using sandbags in their training programs. In fact, speaking with top UFC strength coach, Kevin Kearns, he told me that sandbags are one of their favorite training tools to prepare their fighters. How about looking like Chuck Liddell, Rampage Jackson, Randy Couture, Rashad Evans, Matt Hughes, and George St. Pierre? That wouldn’t be so bad and I don’t think most could deny how these guys are amazing athletes and have physiques that function as good as they look.

MMA expert strength coach, Matt Wiggins, talks about how to develop the same power as these great athletes. What exercise does he recommend as the best drill? Take it from him….

“If you were around a few years ago, during my first stint with MMA Weekly, you may remember that I wrote an article about training to slam your opponent. Well, with all the new readers, and with Rampage’s title win (and eventuality of seeing him slam somebody in the UFC), I figured it was time to revive and update the article.

There are a few ways to train if you want to be able to slam your opponent, but the first thing you’re going to need is some plain old brute strength and power. Slamming – at least the way Rampage, Hughes and many others do it – isn’t as much technique as it is just out-muscling your opponent. (I guess I could insert an argument about how good it is to be strong enough to dominate bodyweight, but I think I’ve made my point in the past, so I’ll let that one go.) It’s time to get you strong.

Weights are great for strength training, but in many (not all) instances, I prefer odd-objects, mainly the sandbag. I’ve touted the effectiveness of sandbag training for years now. I won’t get into all the arguments as to why it’s so good; just take my word for it. If you think you’re tough, strong or powerful, a heavy sandbag will humble you in a hurry. Sandbags are also perfect for slam training.

There are two main exercises you should focus for your slam training: the Sandbag Shoulder and the Hug Morning.

The Sandbag Shoulder is pretty simple (notice I didn’t say “easy”). Stand with the bag in front of you just between your feet. Squat down and grab the bag (depending on how your bag is shaped, you can set it up on one end if you like). Plant your heels into the ground. Your butt should be down, back flat, head up, and chest spread. In one movement stand up with the bag and muscle it to your left shoulder. When doing so, focus on driving with the hips.

Many think that the kind of strength you need is that of the lower back. While this is true to an extent, it is hip strength and hip drive that allow you to pick up that opponent and slam him. Drive forward with the hips, and your whole body will come up. DON’T LET YOUR BUTT COME UP! You will then be lifting solely with your lower back and are asking to get hurt. This is a no-no. Drive with the hips. You will use your upper body to continue the momentum (or lack thereof) of the bag to get it all the way to your shoulder. Once there, drop it to the ground, and repeat to the other side.

The Hug Morning is a variation of the Good Morning. This is another one that will build incredible lower back strength and hip strength/drive. The first thing you have to do is get your sandbag into a Bear Hug (i.e. holding the bag around the center, vertically against the front of your torso). You can do the beginning part of a Sandbag Shoulder to get it there. Once you’re there, dip your butt backwards and lean forward. Your butt should go pretty far back, as if you’re going to sit in a chair. The lean of your upper body will mostly be as a result of your butt going back. At the “end” of the movement, your upper body should be roughly parallel to the ground (don’t force it there – as far as it goes is as far as it goes – forcing it to parallel can put your lower back in a potentially dangerous position) and your knees bent anywhere from 45-60 degrees or so (more or less 1/4 to 1/3 squat position). From there, drive the hips forward as forcefully as you can, straightening the body. Once again, don’t let your legs stay straight and butt in the air. Make the butt go back so that you have to drive the hips forward to straighten your body.

Once you get good and strong at these two exercises, you can try a few variations. You can morph either into a variety of suplexes and you can see if you can Hug Morning with enough force to get the bag all the way up to your shoulder.

How effective are these exercises? So effective that I made them staples of Program #4 in my “Working Class Fitness – The Programs.”

Give them a shot. You may not be slamming like Rampage in a week or two, but you’ll be on your way. And when you do slam your opponent the next time you roll, he’s going to wonder where it came from!”



Brighton Kettlebells
proudly uses these Sandbags as part of the Kettlebell Fighter strength and conditioning classes. Come down any Thursday (2pm) to ZT Fight Skool and give it a go!

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