| Sandbag Training On Field Strong’s DENSE(R) Cycle

Author / Christopher McQuilkin

3-5 minute read

Anyone who has listened to a Power Athlete Radio episode knows John Welbourn, 10-year NFL veteran with 100 career starts and 10 playoff appearances, loves to do the repeater sharing stories from his NFL-heyday about adventures, specific plays or games, and the occasional tea-bagging of opponents. For TB specifics you’ll need to tune into the premiere podcast in strength and conditioning.

Every once and awhile we get to hear a new story from John even he is surprised he never shared, including one about the sparkle in JW’s eye called field strong:

Taking you back to 2008. While training for my last year in the NFL, a workout was devised that broke me. It involved a heavy sandbag, some KB step ups and 400 meter runs with the 135 sandbag. I smoked the first two rounds, and on the last 400 meter run I dropped the sandbag. I sat there in vain and could not pick it up for the life of me. And just at my darkest moment, some guy in a pick up pulled over and asked if I needed help. He mistook the sweat and pain on my face for tears and thought he was going to help. I grabbed the sandbag by the end and dragged it back to the start. Since that day, I have done the workout a few times and never had the same effect. I have waited for years to program it but never did with CFFB, and now the people are ready with Field Strong.

“The Sandbag Cycle”

The Field Strong program first launched in the Spring of 2014 freeing the world of terms like AMRAP and reconnecting them with strength and conditioning. The first ever cycle had a high learning curve of movement many experienced for the first time. As “fit” as they were, exposure to multiple planes of motion reminded them they’re merely a wad of cookie dough. After a few weeks on the second cycle, know simply as “the sandbag cycle”, they were carved out of wood.

Since 2014, the sandbag has been required training equipment for Field Strong and leaned on heavily for awkward, grip-intensive, full-body conditioning. With the Dense(R) Cycle we’re including the sandbag in both strength training, conditioning, and tensile strength building mind-f*cks. Each training day still includes barbell movements for heavy strength work. Much of the volume training connected with traditional bulking and hypertrophy rep schemes will use the sandbag too! This approach to training is a great way to target tensile strength, connective tissue/tendon health, and mental toughness, especially when coaching and training athletes remotely. Moving sandbags is not easy, they fight back. Deal with it.

Examples of application you’ll experience in this cycle include:

Sandbag Training Examples:

Heavy Primal:

We’re going heavy with barbell throughout the cycle in sets of 5’s, 3’s, and working our way up to 1’s but the real magic happens when we pull in the sandbag the hammer you with volume. You’ll be feeling your body getting denser over the next six weeks as we move sand in all forms of squats, lunges, presses and pulls!

Primal Complex:

Heavy squats, lunges, and steps are one thing, now finding creative and challenging ways to combine them is whole new ballgame. Power Athlete’s definition of Athleticism is: the ability to seamless and effortlessly combine Primal movement patterns through space to accomplish a known or a novel task. If you want a deep dive on Athleticism, take our online Methodology course. If you want to train to increase your athleticism, then start here adding load to your Primal movement combination through space!

Trunk Training:

To quote Fight Club again, “Is that what a real man looks like?” What is sexier than a six pack? All your friends buying you six-packs for being the strong person that helps them move into their new homes.

DENSE(R) Programming

Experienced athletes in the weight room will have problems with this cycle, mostly a cognitive dissonance with what 95-lb or 135-lb’s actually feels like. The DENSE(R) cycle’s approach is classic John Welbourn strength application with awkward bulking volume training and conditioning in place. While density, grip strength, and movement is the focus, we are still incorporating speed development with sprint skills and runs each week.

This is not just a clever name, expect to pack on muscle and “feel denser” over these six weeks with the opportunity to coordinate your new mass each day through sandbag and barbell training.

What is Field Strong?

If you’re new to Power Athlete, Field Strong is a ​performance based training program for field and court sport athletes, fighters and anyone who is looking to put​ pinnacle performance ​in front of anything else. John Welbourn, 10-Year NFL Veteran and Founder of Power Athlete, exposes members of Field Strong to the advanced training techniques that contributed to his career playing professional football.

Cycles are typically written in 6 week training blocks, with occasional 1 – 2 week “reload” weeks that offer loyal residents an optional deload from the training.

Do you like what you’re reading here? Thinking you want to take a run at Field Strong?

TRY FIELD STRONG NOW: 7 Day Risk Free Trial

Are you a Field Strong Athlete? How are you enjoying the program so far?

Related Articles

PODCAST: PA Radio Episode 389 – A Body Breakdown w/ Dr. Mike Martino
BLOG: Field Strong Equipment Starter Kit by Carl Case
BLOG: The Bench Press: A J-Curve or Vertical Bar Path by John Welbourn
BLOG: Power Athlete Squat with a Staggered Stance by Tex McQuilkin
PODCAST: On The Long Road w/ Dr. Fred Hatfield

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Christopher McQuilkin

Book a consult with me regarding coaching, training, life, education... anything your heart desires. Click below:

Former collegiate lacrosse defensive midfielder, 4-year letter winner and 3-year team captain. Coached strength and conditioning collegiately with Georgetown University football, Men's and Women's lacrosse and Women's Crew, as well with the University of Texas at Austin's football program. Apprenticed under Raphael Ruiz of 1-FortyFour-1 studying proper implementation of science based, performance driven training systems. Head coached CrossFit Dupont's program for two years in Washington D.C. Received a Master's in Health Promotion Management from Marymount University in 2010, and has been a coach for Power Athlete since October, 2012.


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