Last week I felt very honored, I was asked to be interviewed for 3 different podcasts. I always love sharing what we do in DVRT and why it is very unique and incredibly effective. In all three interviews I was asked the same question, not just asked, but done so with great hesitation. Each interviewer admitted they hated asking me this question, but knew their audience had great interest in the subject. That question was could DVRT be used for creating muscle building workouts. I don’t think anyone should be embarrassed to ask this question but my answer surprised each coach. Not only can DVRT be used for muscle building workouts but do so far more effectively!
How can I say that?! Ultimate Sandbags aren’t as heavy as barbells and we don’t typically show exercises that look like those that are familiar in muscle building workouts. Well, I can say that by explaining these principles….
Backed By Research
It may surprise some to hear that we actually do have some research on how the Ultimate Sandbag differs from other forms of free weights. Over ten years ago we helped consult with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on studying if Ultimate Sandbags of the SAME weight would elicit any different response than dumbbells. If weight is all equal, then the answer should be no. As you may guess, that wasn’t the case!
This was the first study of not just looking at Ultimate Sandbags but actually testing tools of equal weight. Many times when such comparisons are made they are with ridiculous differences in weights (like a kettlebell study that looked at a 35 pound kettlebell versus over 300 pounds on a barbell). Weight was equal, the amount of reps performed was equal, and yet, the Ultimate Sandbag group expended more energy and had more muscle activity. What gives? Is it the super power of “Siberian Sandbags”? (just kidding on that)
It has to do with HOW the Ultimate Sandbag sits on our body and how we hold it during our lifts. The compression the load causes activates so many more muscles because the whole body has to be engaged the entire time. The weight only ever rests on our body’s structure during a shoulder position and even then our body has to work hard to keep the body from being pulled over to the side. The moral is basically any of our DVRT movements are going to use A LOT of muscles on every lift. That doesn’t allow you to create better muscle building workouts?
It Isn’t A Barbell
Admittedly, I first used my homemade sandbag as an alternative barbell. There wasn’t much information at the time on how to use a sandbag for anything other than a different type of barbell. However, that is what also made me abandon the idea of using sandbags at all. In retrospect, why would I use an alternative barbell when I could just use a barbell and it worked better (because it was designed for that purpose). Everything changed for me when I started looking at the unique aspects of using a sandbag and developing a system (that would later become DVRT) that would emphasize the unique benefits of sandbags and at the same time provide solutions for their perceived limitations.
So, how do we use DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training to make muscle building even better than that of a barbell? There are many answers, but a lot can be achieved with these 4 concepts…
-Planes of motion
-Instability of the implement
Most don’t typically program the above but that is because barbells with their great length, don’t allow for these concepts to really be optimized. People misunderstand that the barbell was originally made to be a dumbbell that you could use two hands for (true story) and with that the longer the barbells became (they started off much shorter) the more they were only used for up and down movements. While people on the internet try to do what we teach in DVRT with barbells, that is incredibly unsafe as the torque that can be created on the body only sets someone up for injury. Plus, you can’t really achieve the muscle building benefits we are speaking about with a tool that wasn’t designed to do these very things!
What I am suggesting doesn’t just apply to Ultimate Sandbags though. People often use every tool like an alternative barbell and that causes people to miss the special benefits of each of these tools. That is why we love to combine Ultimate Sandbags with kettlebells and bands because each of these tools do something unique.
Putting It Together
There is a lot of thinking differently that I’ve already discussed so it can be overwhelming to some. I don’t want it to feel like that because if something seems really complicated we tend to go back to what we are more comfortable with in our training. Trust me, it isn’t that difficult, it is just different. So, what should we aim to do?
Step 1: Program based off of movement patterns not muscles. That means the 7 patterns…
That means we are still training muscles, but so many more that makes our training more efficient!
Step 2: Decide how we are going to load the body and the position and/or direction we are going to move from. We can eventually work up to using both these concepts, but focusing on one at a time is key!
Step 3: Determine the plane of motion that you are going to use. Starting predominately in the sagittal plane and then introduce the other planes of motion that both our body is designed to do in movement and uses MORE muscles.
Step 4: Integrate appropriate sets and repetitions for the workout based on the intensity of these movements. While muscle building workouts typically focus on 8-10 reps in a set, because we are using SO many muscles at once and our movement is far more demanding, we can alter the rep ranges from 4-6, 6-8, 8-12 based on how intense the exercises are in the workout. We want to especially consider this when we have two different sides being trained and fatigue can accumulate quickly.
If you were to use these 4 steps in designing your muscle building workouts, not only would you have better workouts than 99% of people in the gym, but you would also find that you can enjoy your training so much more than you thought possible. I admit, you do have to digest some of this information, but it is well worth it. However, if you are one that love examples, we have done JUST that not just with the 3 workouts we are sharing today, but in our NEW DVRT Functional Muscle Building program.
Yes, we have a 51 workout program that gives you over 18 months worth of training. Plenty of variety through purposeful progression and using the concepts we shared in today’s post. You can get it for a VERY special price of which is 25% off with code “muscle” HERE. We hope that you see that we can build a body that performs and feels as good as it can look!