Problem Solving: The Road to Completing the Ultimate Sandbag Clean & Press Challenge



Several months ago I got inspired by a clean and press challenge that Josh Henkin came up with. Josh’s thinking that led him to create this test, was that he felt that the USB instructors that he certified should have a sound level of technique, strength, and endurance. This test would serve as part of all his certifications from now on.

I think the thing that people need to realize about a test like this is that, much like our education, it is a JOURNEY rather than a destination. The training and preparation is as important or even MORE important than the test itself!

I highly recommend that anyone who is a USB enthusiast, instructor, or aspiring USB instructor join Josh’s DVRT Fitness Group on Facebook. In this group, there is a great amount of information sharing and some really great training tips geared toward this test.

The first time I tried this test I went in COLD….no prior experience cleaning and pressing (from the fist) and I ended with about 35 reps in 5 min…..many of which were NO REPS due to improper technique. My ego was smashed and my first reaction was to say “MAN, there’s NO WAY I’m going to pass this damn test!”. I also called my good friend Josh some pretty inappropriate names =o) Josh recently wrote a great article about how Failure sometimes, is the RIGHT option. This should serve as the mantra for anyone stepping up to this challenge…it should serve as your fuel and your problem solving will become your guide to your programming.

After I recovered, I made it a goal to pass this test….and check my ego at the door. As part of this Journey, I was going to try different protocols, work on my clean and press technique, do speed work with a lighter USB, do strength work with a heavier USB….basically I was not just in training for this test, I was in PROBLEM SOLVING mode.

The key for me personally was to set my goal at 10 repetitions at the top of each minute….if I was able to get through the 4th minute at this pace, I would have the entire last 60 seconds to complete my last 10. Needless to say, this is MUCH harder than it sounds. My training included laddering down each minute starting with 10 then moving down 1-2 reps each minute to build up my power endurance. It’s also important to have some sort of rest period and to try to keep it away from a negative rest if at all possible (resting for less time time than it took to complete the reps). It’s also VERY important to dial in your technique as a missed rep due to poor technique is BRUTAL not just physically (as you have to essentially do an extra rep) but mentally it can be a deal-breaker.

One of my most successful training protocols was to use a 30:30 (seconds) work:rest interval doing JUST CLEANS for 5 minutes then JUST PRESSES for 5 minutes. I would finish the workout with 5 minutes of Clean & Presses (in a very fatigued state). Another training protocol I would use was more of a “contrast” training style. I would use an 80lb burly for 5 minutes at 8 reps at the top of each minute. Then I would use a 110lb. Burly shooting for 5-6 reps at the top of each minute.

I would suggest playing with all of these protocols and setting some goals for yourself. Start with 5 reps per minute and increase this number every couple of weeks. Like anything in life, NOTHING WORTHWHILE COMES EASY…the USB Clean & Press Challenge is no different! DO WORK!

Here is my successful 50 reps in 5 minutes with the 100lb.Burly USB


Anyone who knows me knows that I am NEVER satisfied so I have set some new goals, one is to complete the 50 reps with a heavier USB. I haven’t decided the exact loading but this weekend I decided to take a 130 lb. USB for a ride….I hit 31 reps (missed 3 reps along the way) but am confident I could have easily got 35 reps that day. =o) Here it is…


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Coach Dos is a sought after international speaker on a variety of conditioning topics such as Program Design, Cardio-Strength Training, Olympic Weightlifting applications, Sport-speed development, Explosive training, and CHAOS™ Speed Training. Coach Dos served as Director of Speed, Strength & Conditioning @ College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, CA, a position he had held from 1999-2015. Coach Dos is also the 2006 recipient of the National Strength and Conditioning Association‘s prestigious Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Professional of the year for 2006. This award is given to the top collegiate strength coach in the country (as voted on by his peers). In addition to contributing to Men’s Health magazine on a regular basis, Coach Dos’ first book Men’s Health Power Training (Rodale Books) was released in July 2007 and become a world-wide best seller. His second book, Cardio Strength Training (Rodale Books) is also a best-seller.