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The DVRT Clean and Press Challenge

DVRT Clean and Press

It is a challenge like no other.

You need strength.

You need endurance.

You need precise execution.

While some physical challenges pose obstacles with one or two of these qualities, I have yet to see one requiring all three at once!

What is this difficult test? It’s the DVRT Clean and Press Challenge.

You might be thinking that a clean and press doesn’t sound too bad, especially because CrossFit has been using them in WODS for years! Of course they have, however this challenge is quite different.

Right away, you will find that the "weight is NOT just weight". And while I know this is a popular thing to say—and it might not make sense to everyone—it’s one of the first lessons learned when using the Ultimate Sandbag.

With the unique leverage, dimension, and movement of the Ultimate Sandbag, 40, 60, 80, or 100 pounds feel much different than in any other clean and press challenge. Ultimate Sandbags often feel MUCH heavier and strength will be an issue!
We can all imagine the uncomfortable feeling of trying lift a very awkward object—no matter what it weighs. Then imagine how defeating a heavy and awkward weight would feel—next, think of lifting it for precise, exact repetitions!

You might say only 40 or 50 repetitions doesn’t sound too bad, given the RKC snatch test is 100 repetitions in 5 minutes. How hard could it really be to knock out half the repetitions of the snatch test in the same amount of time? The typical response we get to that question after someone tries the test for the first time is, "VERY BAD!"

In fact, renowned strength coach Robert Dos Remedios said this about the DVRT Clean and Press Challenge his first time through:

"My ego was smashed and my first reaction was to say ‘MAN, there’s NO WAY I’m going to pass this damn test!’"

DVRT Clean and Press Challenge Womens TestingBefore you think I am just challenging you to destroy yourself, know that you’ll experience incredible benefits from accomplishing this lofty goal. The most important factor of this test for most people is ACCURACY!

DVRT Master Instructor, Troy Anderson, found a simple way to think about dominating an object that moves differently every time you try to lift it. Troy realized that more people are mentally, not physically defeated by this challenge because they simply can’t "out muscle" the movement. You can muscle through barbell work, kettlebells (even though it’s not the right thing to do), and unfortunately even some bodyweight drills as well.

Senior RKC and DVRT Master Instructor, Steve Holiner, sums up the feeling and experience of the challenge:

"At a bodyweight of 195 pounds, I would need to clean and push press an 80 pound Burly Ultimate Sandbag 40 times in 5 minutes. I've done the kettlebell snatch test a bunch of times. How hard can it be? I can be a dumbass. The DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training Clean and Push Press is a highly technical full body lift that can smoke the entire body if not done properly.

I stepped up to the Ultimate Sandbag (USB) expecting to crush 50 reps. I stepped away from the USB furious—go figure—after only 36 reps. That sucked! My shoulders, biceps, legs and lungs were on fire. My technique started to fall apart with the exhaustion. It seriously took about an hour to recover. With defeat fresh in my mind, I broke down the areas I felt suffered in my technique and watched what some of the others were doing. I came up with a plan of attack."

Coach Holiner’s "plan of attack" is key. You can’t out-muscle this challenge, so you have to out-think it. Unfortunately that’s a lesson that will need to wait for another time.

How and why did we come up with THIS challenge?

We needed a fitness test for our DVRT programs, and we needed to physically prepare people for what they would endure at our DRVT programs. I want people to succeed and have a tremendous experience—and being prepared is all part of that!

Why the clean and press? When we look at any exercise, we examine the movement patterns that make up the drill. After all, we are more concerned with movement patterns than individual exercises.

The clean and press demonstrates so many movement patterns all at once:
  • The hip hinge, which is the foundation of the deadlift and other lower body pulls.
  • Anti-flexion and extension at three different phases—planks are supposed to teach this, but often fail.
  • Vertical pushing—the press is more in depth, but this movement is included.
  • Vertical pulling—most people miss this movement pattern, it happens when the weight is lowered.
The clean and press is a high "bang for your buck" exercise because of all these movement patterns. Transitioning from one movement pattern to the next in a seamless manner further amplifies the exercise’s effectiveness.

Add the dynamic factors of the Ultimate Sandbag to the clean and press, and now the challenge is really special. The DVRT Clean and Press Challenge isn’t just about being strong, well conditioned, or even familiar with the Ultimate Sandbag itself.
As Coach Remedios also said, "Basically I was not just in training for this test, I was in PROBLEM SOLVING mode." This is what we wanted—a challenge that makes you THINK! To pass the test, you have to design smart programs, evaluate technique, and troubleshoot your own weaknesses.

If that sounds a bit overwhelming, it’s okay. We are here to lead you through the DVRT process. We want you to experience the all-around fitness benefits that come with successfully completing the challenge. In upcoming articles, we will explain how to troubleshoot various issues, and will describe how to design programs that work! I hope you take the DVRT Clean and Press Challenge, and learn what you can achieve!

DVRTBookCover thumbnailJosh Henkin is the author of DVRT, The Ultimate Sandbag Training System now available in paperback and ebook format.