Combat Athlete Training Systems: Tiger Crawl Warm-Up Movement

The Tiger crawl is one on the fundamental warm-up movements we perform at CATS.  This movement is a combination between a Spiderman stretch and a Bear crawl. The objective is to stay low and try not to extend your arms, kinda like staying in the half push-up position as you move forward.  The gliding disc's you see here are used to help slide along the track and keep a fluid motion while not having to lift up your arms.

The hip should drop down and touch the turf or floor as you shift from side to side.  This a challenging movement and recruits pretty much all the muscles of the body and provides an excellent dynamic warm-up.



Discipline. Make the Right Choices in 2016

In 2016, Discipline drives actions. Discipline is the suppression of base desires, and is usually understood to be synonymous with restraint and self-control. According to Wikipedia, self-discipline is to some extent a substitute for motivation. I disagree, often times you may have absolutely no motivation at all to do what needs to be done. It is Discipline that drives your actions to do what needs to be done to keep in alignment with your goals or objectives, even though, at that moment, you have no motivation to do so, and also may be the opposite of fun. This is in line with the mental toughness concepts we promote at CATS.

Having control of personal emotions and wants, that if left unchecked, often let us down, by allowing us to make choices not in alignment with our true desires.
Virtuous behavior can be described as when one's values are aligned with one's aims: to do what one knows is best and to do it gladly.

Make the right choices this year regardless of being motivated or not. Be mentally tough and stay the path whatever that may be.

Hopefully you continue to make CATS part of your life, and continue to strive forward toward your health and fitness goals!



Challenge 1 - Aftermath

This is a legit Polaroid photo after our first CATS Challenge! Coach Nik Hawks, wearing only shorts, a heart rate monitor, and no shoes, led us up a steep starting incline that included the instructions, "Jog or run, do not stop until we get to the next challenge." Approximately 1/2 way up, he led us to a pile of small boulders and we were instructed, "Find one at least the size of your head and carry it to the top, anyway you need to, and do not put it down." This portion of the challenge started to level the playing field, and we had to learn to get comfortable being uncomfortable, lugging a cumbersome and awkward stone to the top of a the mountain. Passers by asked, "Why are you carrying stones UP the mountain??" We told them, "To build it higher!" Once at the top, our legs screaming, we put down the stones. But only for a moment. We had to swap stones and carry them DOWN the mountain, undertaking a couple of challenges on the way. 

So the point is, even though we train hard in the gym - we're strong, we're fit, we're beasts - you've got to take time out to enjoy the fruits of your labor and be functional with what you've built. The Challenge Series are not meant to be a workout, but a fun way to challenge our fitness and strengthen the ties within our awesome CATS community! See you next time, details coming soon for CATS Challenge 2!

 — with Stephen NaveTimothy S. LuceyNik Hawks,Pinita Maberry-Nave and Justin Auld at Cowles Mountain Barker Way Trail.



The Details - Challenge 1

January 2, 2016 marks the first event in our CATS 2016 Challenge Series.  Now, here are the details: 

There is no cost to attend this great challenge. It's totally free for you and your friends, and one of the fun ways we mix things up at CATS. You'll be led by experienced coaches who know what they're doing, injecting a ton of fun along the way during this great team building challenge. Not to mention, this is a great way to recover from any new year's eve indiscretions to your body!

The starting point is on Barker Way. Take Interstate 125 in San Diego to Navajo Road. Turn right onto Navajo. Turn right at Cowles Mountain Road, then left onto Boulder Lake Ave. Turn right at Barker Way and look for the trailhead on your left.

The Barker Way (fire Road) route up Cowles Mountain is a quick, steep hike that is good training. This fork is clearly marked 100 yards into the trail. Turn right for the Fire Road. The climbing begins in earnest at this point, and heads up to the East Ridge on Cowles. The ridge plateaus for a 1/4 mile or so and then steepens again to the upper "S" sections. ( I'd call them switchbacks, but on a 12 foot wide fire road, its more of an "S") Climb these "S" sections to the top. Total hike: 3 miles round trip. Don't be fooled by the fact that there is only 900 feet of elevation gain: 400 feet gains in the last 1/4 mile.

Let me know if you have any questions, and please contact me directly if you are attending so we have a head count:
Tel/Text: 619-519-2700



You Need a Coach

You need a coach. 

Yet, most people don’t have a coach. They resist it. They think that they can “do it on their own” and often aren’t willing to make that investment in themselves. In my opinion, this is a trap that most people fall into that holds them back from having massive success in their lives. And one of the easiest ways to achieve success in your life is starting with your health and fitness. It is the easiest and longest lasting way that translates success, accountability, and a stronger sense of belief and self-confidence into the rest of your life. 

- Coach Nave




CATS 2016 Challenge Series - Challenge 1

Start your year off right and join CATS for our first CATS Team Challenge of the year on January 2, 2016! 

This first CATS Challenge will take advantage of Cowles Mountain (pronounced Coals) with its outstanding views at 1,591’ above sea level, for a 3 mile out and back Challenge Hike. This unique event will be led by Nik Hawks (aka Coach Hox). Nik is a great friend of Coach Nave who runs to stay sane and dabbles in ultra-marathons above 9,000 feet, gardens to stay healthy, and sells cookies online for others to engage in the driven lifestyle of excellence through “motion, diet and attitude.”

And the challenge?? Yes, there is more to the challenge than just a hike that will test your mental toughness and athleticism as you climb the 933' vertical ascent of Cowles Mountain in this CATS Team event. 

This is the first in a series of challenge events led by Coach Hox that will increase your mental focus and toughness as you learn to overcome the trials posed by strength/endurance events as you increase your athleticism. Remember, easy never gets results. The series will culminate in a 12-mile challenge at Otay Mountain in June – details to be released as we approach the final challenge.

Interested? Contact Coach Nave directly to register and get more details. You don’t have to participate in every event. You can pick and choose. Friends are welcome! So is there still a challenge, of course, but the main objective is to have fun! Beers are on Coach Nave and Coach Hox after each event.

We look forward to this great team building challenge!



CATS Holiday Hours

Combat Athlete Training Systems will be closed December 23 to 27. We will reopen Monday, December 28, and close again from December 31 to January 1.  Please look forward to our first event of the New Year on January 2nd, 2016. DETAILS COMING SOON!

We wish you all the warmest of holiday cheer!




shoes on street.jpg


Effective immediately, we are instituting a NO STREET SHOES policy in the Combat Athlete Training Systems facility. Bring indoor only training shoes and change before beginning your training session.

“Street shoes” means any shoes, regardless of whether they are running, training, walking, or other shoe worn outdoors for any purpose. Street shoes will not be allowed on any of the training environments, including turf, black mats, and Zebra mats. The reason behind this policy is your safety and health. This is a private facility where training is often conducted barefoot, on your hands, and on the floor. In order to ensure the safety and health of everyone, including you, our clients, staff, and coaches, this policy will be strictly enforced.

For further explanation for our policy, consider the following:

1. Bacteria
Your shoes pick up sneaky bacteria which are then spread when you wear shoes inside. A study from the University of Arizona collected germs and microbes on footwear. The researchers found 421,000 units of bacteria on the outside of the shoe, including E. coli, meningitis and diarrheal disease; Klebsiella pneumonia, a common source for wound and bloodstream infections as well as pneumonia; and Serratia ficaria, a rare cause of infections in the respiratory tract and wounds. Granted the study was co-sponsored by The Rockport Company, but even so, it definitely brings the point home.

2. Toxins
EPA studies provide proof that various toxins can also be tracked indoors via our shoes, including lead, mercury, and gasoline in contaminated soil, along with coal tar, a known carcinogen used in driveway sealants, which is tracked indoors from driveways and parking lots. Even the US government is concerned about the carcinogenic nature of coal tar and the dangers it poses to people and especially children, both outside and indoors. This doesn’t even begin to touch on other toxins that we trudge through outdoors, including carcinogenic herbicides and other toxins that can cause immediate and relatively minor problems like skin rashes and gastrointestinal upsets

3. Dirt
Bacteria and toxins aside, street shoes also just bring in a lot of plain old dirt and grime. This means more cleaning, which means: A) more cleaning; B) more cleaning products; and C) wear and tear. Wear and tear means replacing training surfaces more often, leading to increased costs.

Our new policy does not mean you need to go out and buy new indoor only training shoes. If you have a pair of shoes you use to train, simply toss them in the washing machine and bring them when you come for your next session, wearing alternate shoes to get to the gym. You will change into your clean shoes once you arrive at CATS.

If you have any additional questions about this new policy, please feel free to ask either Coach Nave or Coach Roumell.  


2nd Annual CATS Thanksgiving Pre-Feast Workout


2nd Annual CATS Thanksgiving Pre-Feast Workout

We hosted our 2nd Annual CATS Thanksgiving Pre-Feast Workout on Thursday Morning. This awesome group of athletes went through a high-intensity workout that challenged their cardio, strength, and muscle endurance. Those athletes that tracked their caloric expenditure averaged between 800-1500 calories during this 90 minute session, prepping their metabolism for the feast!

2nd Annual Pre-Feast Workout.jpg


More classes, less excuses.


More classes, less excuses.


Halloween was yesterday. And you know what that means for most people? I mean, what it really means, the cold hard fact? Here’s how I see it, it’s the start of the holiday season. Eating candy in the break room, left over from the kids. One piece won’t hurt. But what ends up happening is one piece every time you take a break, and that’s several times a day. And you haven’t even hit the “real” holiday season yet, starting with Thanksgiving. Then on to more gluttonous family gathers, belligerent office parties with decadent offerings, Christmas gift baskets filled with processed products and shitty candies.

Most people start their new year resolutions on January 1. But why wait until then, when you are already noticing the muffin top you’re developing. Muffin tops are gender neutral, my friend.

And here at CATS, we get it. Even though we look like superheroes, we really are human. So we’ve upped the ante. We’ve added more offerings to our class schedule. And if you’re an unlimited small group class member, you have ZERO excuses… keep it tight this holiday season, you’ve got options. All small group training classes are included with the Small Group Training memberships. Drop-ins, we've got you covered.

06:00 – 13:00 and 15:00 – 19:00 (M-T-W-Th-F)

7:00 – 12:00 (Saturday)   


Train on your own in our elite training facility using all our unique tools. Open gym is included in the Unlimited Small Group Training Package or as a stand-alone option. NOTE: Small group training and private coaching get priority on tools, but feel free to come anytime to soak up the motivational CATS atmosphere!  

06:00            First Call/Reveille (M-W-F)

Our old faithful HIIT morning class gets a name makeover! Reveille is a bugle call used to wake military personnel at sunrise. The name comes from réveille (or réveil), the French word for "wake up."

12:15            Brown Bag Lunch (M-T-W-Th-F)   NEW!

This 30-minute lunch time class is designed to fit perfectly into your midday schedule and keep you invigorated for the rest of your workday while providing a metabolic boost by focusing on the Bulgarian Bag and body weight exercises and incorporating DLB and HIIT principles.

16:30          METCON (M-W-F)

Another name makeover! Meet your goals head on and fully amped in body and mind. This high-intensity metabolic conditioning training taxes all 3 energy systems and acts like a fat-incinerator to ensure results that leave you fit and motivated for the demands of LIFE using all the tools in our kit.

1800             Phase 1: Bulgarian Bag  (M-W-F)   NEW!

Used by Professional and Olympic level athletes to take their overall body conditioning and muscle endurance to the next level, this class focuses on the 10 core fundamental movement patterns with endless variations for all levels. Test your muscle strength endurance with this amazing Dynamic Load Based Training tool that hits virtually every muscle of your body in a high-intensity, power packed training session!

19:00            SAQ (Speed, Agility, Quickness) (T-Th)   NEW!

SAQ combines a variety of speed, agility, and quickness drills. The purpose of SAQ training is to enhance your ability to accelerate, decelerate, and dynamically stabilize your entire body using movements in all planes of motion.Speed ladders, agility cones, agility poles, and hurdles are just a few of the many tools we use to help develop proper sprinting mechanics, enhance muscle recruitment, reaction time, and core stability. The skills acquired from these drills are imperative is most team sports and are also carried over into everyday life, improving balance, coordination, and better proprioception.


09:00            The Grinder

Another name make-over for our tried and true Saturday HIIT challenge small group class! We kick it up a notch during this challenge session utilizing The Grinder as the proving grounds for weekly performance tracking.

 10:15            Basics of the Bulgarian Bag  NEW!

One-time attendance at this class is required for all CATS memberships (this includes open gym, private coaching, and small group memberships). This required class provides the basics to get you up to speed on the Bulgarian Bag. Attendance will not be deducted from your monthly membership for this required class.

Starting December 1st

 17:30            Joint Mobility   NEW!  

Lead by Coach Anthony Roummel, this class takes his love of barefoot training into the future by integrating body weight, balance, and your breath to experience a challenging, unique workout. Move, swing, hold, release, and fly!


Zero. Check in now. 

See you soon.




Working with David Weck and the WeckMethod

Combat Athlete Training Systems has been working with David Weck and the WeckMethod.  We are experimenting with the Bosu Elite, working with Elastic Priming primarily for the hip flexors to facilitate a more correct and upright Squat.  More to come...

The Bosu Elite Lab Station

The Bosu Elite Lab Station


Modifications to the Plank Push


Modifications to the Plank Push

At Combat Athlete Training Systems we work with all types of athletes.  James lost his leg below the knee and has made awesome progress using the principles of DLB training.  In this video you can see we made a few adjustments so he could perform the movement with better timing and rhythm.

The prosthetic just kept on limiting his ability of move smoothly, so we just took it off, and bang much better technique and smoothness throughout the whole range of motion.



Typical Workout Profile at Combat Athlete Training Center

Here is an example of todays training. 6 sets Bulgarian Bag protocol coupled with a short rest. Then on to Rogue Sled pushes and pulls. Nice HR response staying pretty much at 70 to 85% Max HR. Towards the end we needed to give a bit more rest for recovery. Good calorie burn and plenty more to burn post activity as our metabolic rate is raised throughout the day. Remember, DLB training is resistive training in a dynamic way with similar benefits, slanted toward muscle strength endurance.

Typical HR response from a HIIT workout.


Bulgarian Bag: Focus on Tactical Preparation and Application

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Bulgarian Bag: Focus on Tactical Preparation and Application

This handout focuses on who is the Tactical Athlete. The tactical athlete is anyone who engages in high-risk/high demand operations. These operators/athletes require high levels of muscular strength, muscular endurance, speed, power, agility, balance, joint mobility, muscle flexibility and mental toughness. They need to have a superior energy system development and must be able to operate in an anaerobic environment for extended periods of time to handle the rigors of these high intensity environments. The tactical athlete needs to have an increased level of situational awareness as well as the ability to adapt quickly to an ever changing environment. 
The main tool to prepare these operators/athletes is the Bulgarian Bag. Topics include, reinforcing operational skill sets, reducing the possibility of injuries, usability and sustained fitness, functional movement patterns, forces in the environment and more. Check in out and let me know what you think!

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Sticking to Your Nutritional Plan While Traveling

by Sumiko Marie

(Editor's Note: Sumiko is a talented kettlebell competitor and bikini athlete.  She travels frequently aroud the world and is one of the best examples I know of someone who plans the plan and sticks to the plan.  She takes a few simple steps to make sure she's prepared while traveling and these simple tips are effective for any type of athlete, whether preparing for a physique competition or getting ready to battle on the mat or in the field.)


Travel. Life on the road. Work or pleasure. No matter the reason for the adventure, it takes preparation to maintain consistent nutritional programming. With a little bit of forethought, you can have your cake and eat it too. (Actually, protein…maybe I should have said protein.)

I will tell you something. I love to travel. Nomad. Gypsy. Call me what you will! Home is wherever I happen to be so you will find me on the road more often than not.

Whether it is for an overnight trip or two weeks, preparation is key to not going off the deep end nutritionally. It is a delicate balance. As a kettlebell sport athlete and bikini competitor, it is vital that I stay on track – especially during travel.

Here are my top 3 tips for any type of travel:

1.     Stay hydrated.

2.     Do your research.

3.     Have a back-up plan.

1.  STAY HYDRATED. Water, water, water. During travel, I avoid high sodium food options and replenish my body with a minimum of four (4) litres of water per day and sometimes up to seven (7) – think 1-2 gallons. This one step really makes the difference in how my body handles the flight, minimizes jetlag, etc.  

I admit I like to cut it close when it comes to air travel. I don’t like to wait around and waste any time. I check in online and then get to the airport in time to zoom through security and board. But, I learned my lesson about playing it too close. During my last flight from Belgium to New York – I made it to the airport barely in time to join my boarding group! I didn’t have a chance to stop for water. I was at the mercy of the flight attendant. For seven hours. In this time I will typically consume at least 3 litres of water. As you can imagine after my 11th refill, she cut me off! Apparently, she needed to save some for the other passengers. #lessonlearned (Tip: Pack a couple of the larger 1.5L bottles empty and fill them at the airport. I buy water in the airport shop and consolidate. It is less bulky and way easier when traveling light)

2.  DO YOUR RESEARCH. Have a plan. Preparation is key to success and being hungry without a plan…no bueno.

Spend an hour or so online before you travel. What restaurants are near your destination? What supermarkets? Nutrition stores? Meal delivery services are growing in popularity…is there an option near you? Will your hotel have a refrigerator in the room or do you need to request one? Will the hotel prepare meals to complement your “dietary restrictions”? (Tip: I have had better luck with hotel and restaurant staff accommodating  “dietary restriction” because of health requirements than as an athlete that’s “just picky” if you know what I mean…)    

If you are traveling internationally, learn the local language to identify the items you need. For example, here in Belgium you find Flemish and French – chicken=kip or poulet, turkey=kalkoen or dinde, oats=haver or avione, eggs=eieren or oefs. It really helps when you are cruising the aisles of the supermarket to easily identify the items.  

The strictness of approach depends on what type of training you are doing and where you are in your schedule. If you are in the final weeks of preparation before a competition then your restrictions are tighter than if you are simply maintaining healthy habits while traveling.

I have been known to eat a half-frozen turkey patty on a flight if I am within weeks of a bikini competition. Food for fuel is the name of the game and when it is time to eat – I am going to eat! Keep in mind that it is not always so strict and it is most important to design a plan based on your specific needs and restrictions. What can you carry-on? Can you prepare sufficient meals to travel with? If it is a shorter trip then sometimes you are able to take with you everything that you need. (Tip: You can have frozen packs on flights BUT they will not typically allow you through security if the pack is melted and gel-like in substance)

3.  HAVE A BACK-UP PLAN. Be prepared. I always have something to eat with me. Usually enough to tide me over for two meals as a “just in case”. Unexpected delays. Rerouted flights. Lost luggage. Shops close. Plans change.

I prefer to eat my meals from whole food sources (chicken, turkey, eggs, etc) but we make concessions when we travel. Honestly, I love Quest Protein Bars. LOVE them. But there is some addictive quality to them (My name is Miko and I am a Questbar Junkie).  I know my limitations. I cannot eat just one. Don’t laugh. I lack control…if there are five in my bag then I eat five. Nevertheless, if you have more willpower than I they are great in a pinch…one of the few protein bars that I can read through the ingredients label and understand. Toss a couple in your carry-on and you are set.

We do what we have to do in a pinch. My experience is that low/no carb travel days leave me feeling better and with more energy to push through.  (Tip: For back-up, I travel with water, protein powder and raw or unsalted nuts – personally, I like almonds/cashews.)  

There are so many more specifics to address depending on your particular variables. The above represent the basic top three tips for successful travel based on my experience that can apply in all scenarios.

As I wrap this little segment up, let me give you a snapshot of what my “minimalist approach” looks like.  Keep in mind that I travel light (carry-on only and light enough to lug around all day with me). I usually look for resources at my destination to fill my requirement.  

I eat 5-6 times per day. This is what works for me to maintain my energy and stamina while also training at least 6x per week. Each meal is either a shake (protein powder pre-measured) or I pre-package the portion (of chicken, turkey, etc) in a ziplock bag and freeze it overnight before departure. If I am having a complex carb with the meal, it is pre-measured and ziplocked. Think dry oats, quinoa or brown rice…99% of the time you will catch me with oats because I find this easiest to travel with measure and prepare.  (Tip: Prepare everything ahead of time. You are less likely to deviate. We all know that the interpretation of a “heaping scoop” varies depending on how famished we are! Let’s set ourselves up for success!)

If you are going to pack your meals or even if you will prepare the bulk of your meals once you arrive, below is also a list of what I consider the “must haves”. As with everything speak with your health professional before making any major adjustments as suggestions are based on my experience and do not replace the direction provided by a licensed medical professional. Yes, my disclaimer is done so let me get back to it and share a few more ideas:

Clearly this list is not all-inclusive and things vary trip to trip but maybe these get you going in the right direction. If you have specific questions or I can provide more helpful hints based on your travel duration and programming. Follow me on twitter @sumikomarie |IG sumikomarie | or just send me an email at






Bulgarian Bag Ballistic Squats with HIRTS attachment on Power Rack

The squat is one of the most essential exercises in any strength and conditioning program.  Not only does the squat work all the major muscles in the lower body, but it also stimulates a large growth-hormone release, thus helping your upper body develop as well.  We are all familiar with the traditional squat using a barbell using a slow tempo (isoinertial resistance, more commonly described as constant resistance), but increasing the tempo, however, creates a ballistic movement.  Ballistic resistance training involves releasing the external load into the air without decelerating (note that your feet do not necessarily need to leave the ground to create a ballistic movement, the focus is on constant motion).  The most commonly used ballistic training exercise in athletic training is the jump squat, which many strength and conditioning professionals prefer to the heavy back squat for power development.

Researchers have favored ballistic lifts for power development, noting that the mean acceleration, force and power achieved are higher, which they suggest should lead to greater adaptations.  Moreover, there is no accompanying deceleration phase, as seen in concentric-only or stretch-shortening cycle movements.  This means that there are no sections in the whole range of motion (ROM) where the muscles experience a reduced level of activity and therefore are less stimulated.  Researchers have suggested that this leads to greater strength development at varying points in the joint angle ROM.

Here I demonstrate Ballistic Squats using the Bulgarian Bag coupled with the Suples HIRTS attachment. This variations for the back squat and front squat are shown using a traditional power rack that is found in most training facilities. Each rack may vary and set up may vary as well, but follow my lead as demonstrated and attach the bands securely to appropriate attachment points.  Please note that you will need to vary the attachment points when switching from the back squat to front squat setup.  I am using a 37lb. leather Bulgarian Bag with 4 red HIRTS bands. I could use the 50 or 80lb. bag to add more weight and could attach more bands for more elastic resistance to create an even more explosive power development movement. 

This is a strength/endurance movement for the legs and back. Legs are obvious, but there a significant amount of isometric hold with your posterior chain to keep you from being pulled forward while performing the back squat. Even though, I am leaning back, there is still significant force to resist being pulled forward.


- Coach Nave

For further reading and research on ballistic training:

To purchase Bulgarian Bags and HIRTS:



Advanced Bulgarian Bag Movements: Dips with Bag on Back

Dips. A classic standby for upper body chest, shoulder and triceps strength and conditioning. Use the Bulgarian Bag to add variation to your workout with this effective exercise. I've listed this as an advanced movement because, as commonly seen in your typical gym, few people understand how to perform the movement correctly as it requires increased focus to put the load on the correct muscles and joints. This movement performed incorrectly can wreak havoc on your shoulders and also creates the risk of your pectorals tearing away from your breastbone.  Ouch.   Therefore, first perfect your dips using just your body weight and progress to this muscle building variation.



Bulgarian Bag Side-to-Side Pushups

This movement really opens up the chest and can be challenging to do correctly. In the video I am using a 26lb. bag and have placed my arms through the straps in order to stabilize the bag on my back and provide additional load to an already difficult movement.  This movement is a great variation to throw into your resistive training routine, and I have added it into the end of some of my chest training sessions for for some burn out sets to really pump the blood into the muscles. You could also use this to add to a lower intensity/higher volume workout if glycogen depletion is a goal.

I would love to see some of our female athletes performing this movement, as it a demanding upper body exercise.  Ladies, please share some videos of yourself performing this movement and I wil lpost it here on the website. 



MMA Specific Movements with the Bulgarian Bag - PART 1

This is the first of three videos demonstrating MMA specifc movements using the Bulgarian Bag with Larry Jackson showing us the movement basics.  The speed of the movements as shown is low intensity for learning purposes. Once the proper technique has been learned, speed and power of movement can be increased, as well as increasing the weight of the bag used. 

1. Focus: Core strength/develop power for reversal
• Bridge with side bag plant (simulation of mount escape)
• Bridge to top of bag single knee 4 bag strikes (simulation of knee on belly)
• Bridge to top of bag single knee 4 bag strikes (heavier bag/hip power focus)

Please share your thoughts and comments and we would love if you would show any variations you also come up with!