Fabi’s Functional Fitness Frenzy – blackPack Blackjack 21

7, 14, 21, muscle soreness, here I come!

There are a lot of things coming together at the moment: our aerobis gym starts to look like a gym, the blackPack ESY family has grown stronger, and our good friend Jim Ferris has just recently written a post in our FuncMove Experts Community. And what do all these occurrences have in commonly? The blackPack ESY. Since the blackPack ESY is my personal favorite and we haven’t done a Functional Fitness Frenzy in forever I have decided to do a workout that Jim Ferris has mentioned in his post: the blackPack Blackjack 21 workout.

Fabi's Functional Fitness Frenzy - blackPack sandbag workout

One is all you need

The blackPack Blackjack 21 workout consists of four exercises that are done in succession without a break. The repetitions are 7, 14, and 21. Thus, you will do every movement 7 times in the first round, then 14 times in the second, and in the third round you will give it all with 21 reps per movement. There are no breaks so only do them if you absolutely have to. When I read this part I already knew that it was going to be hard. The reality was even harder. You better get ready!

The workout summarized

As I have already mentioned this workout consists of four exercises that are all done with the blackPack ESY: Thus, you will only need one piece of equipment (a sandbag) to get a complete full body workout. It will challenge your legs most, but your upper body and your arms will also have to do a lot of work. Here’s the summary:

  • Lunge backwards (left leg), blackPack on shoulder, or as rotational lunge with blackPack held next to your body
  • overhead press
  • Lunge backwards (right leg), blackPack on shoulder, or as rotational lunge with blackPack held next to your body
  • hold blackPack overhead while lowering down on knees & getting back up again (see animated fig. no. 3)

What weight do I choose?

You can choose the training weight as you think is best for you, of course. As a rough guidance you can orientate on these values: 10 kg – beginners, 20 kg – intermediates, 30 kg – king blackPack. I have chosen about 15 kg, I think. I just grabbed a blackPack that felt about right. This is simply about testing yourself. If you are well-trained you can take on 20kg and above. Due to the high intensity with no breaks you can subtract a few kilos from the start.

The blackPack sandbag is available in different sizes

You can almost call it luxury that I was able to change the blackPacks in between the different movements (from blackPack ESY L to ESY M and back again, depending on the movement). Depending on which size of the blackPack was the most comfortable for a specific movement I have quickly changed the sandbags. This has, of course, absolutely nothing to do with the possibility to catch a breath for two or three seconds between two movements, never ever… For the lunges, I decided to do the rotational lunge version. To take it to the max I used the blackPack ESY L with a Loading-Bag AQUA. This will increase instability when moving the blackPack from one side to the other. And because of the size of the Loading-Bag AQUA you can only use it with the blackPack ESY L. For the other exercises I have used the blackPack ESY M since it has a more comfortable size for me. With movements like the overhead press my head will not get in the way of the sandbag and when holding it above my head constantly it has the perfect size. With the blackPack ESY M, though, you will only be able to use 20kg of training weight. If you want more you will need to stick to the blackPack ESY L.

Here we go!

To make sure you fully understand what I have tried to describe in the previous paragraphs I have asked Fabi to help me create animated movement sequences that will show the respective exercises relatively clearly, I think. The fourth movement, the overhead holds with lowering your body, I have constantly changed with which leg I get to the ground first. So if I lowered my right leg in the first rep, I would lower my left leg first in the second rep. Thus, you will distribute the stress on both legs. If you look at how functional this movement pattern is it makes extra sense to do it evenly. You don’t always think about with which leg to get up first in real life so you might as well train both legs evenly, right? In the animation for the backwards lunge Fabi shows the version with the blackPack placed on your shoulder. As I have already mentioned I did the rotational lunge version (see link above). Which version you choose is up to you. It will be hard no matter what you choose…

blackPack Blackjack 21 - backwards lunge with sandbag Abb.1: backwards lunge
blackPack Blackjack 21 - Overhead Press with sandbag Abb.2: overhead press
blackPack Blackjack 21 - Overhead hold with sandbag Abb.3: overhead hold with lowering body

Three sets and it is game, set, match

Jim Ferris is a Strength & Conditioning Coach who has lots of experience working with professional athletes from typically american sports like basketball or ice hockey. When I asked him if he could write a new article for our FuncMove experts community, the topic was sport in winter, he gave me the blackPack Blackjack 21 workout. As the hobby athlete that I am I like to dream of training like a pro. So when Mr Ferris from the US recommends a workout I know that there is a certain amount of professional expertise at work here. Especially athletes in winter sports can use this sandbag workout as an addition to their daily training or as preparation for the season. It won’t get more functional than this. So it wasn’t really a question whether I would do it, the question was more like: when can I start? And since the workout consists only of three sets it really can’t be that hard now, can it?

Like to do it again. Maybe not this week.

In his typical laconic way he had warned me: ‘It’s a tough one‘. As bad in shape as I was/am I was prepared for the worst. And during the workout it wasn’t actually that impossible. Even though I needed to take one or two short breaks. However, while a standard muscle soreness takes me about two days to fully develop, this time I could already feel it the next morning when I got out of bed. I can’t remember the last time it was so bad. Especially not with an incubation time of only a few hours. So if I look at it this way Jim’s warning was a huge understatement. On the other hand I really liked the workout and I am sure I will do it again. Maybe not this week, though. First, I will have to start walking normally again…

Now I ask you: did you do this workout? What are your experiences? How much weight did you take? Let me know in the comments below!

Sportive greetings,


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