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3 of Best Functional Fitness Methods You Aren’t Using

sandbag training


My last post on squats (you can read HERE) was to open a much bigger picture of what functional fitness can be. This combines one of the most important and missed concepts of strength training. In fact, Alwyn Cosgrove and I have been playing on how to systemize this best for people and makes for the third component of programs functional fitness workouts.

That build up is to what Alwyn was referencing vector loading. That may be like “WHAT?”, but in a moment you will see how this is so important in truly building functional fitness. In fact, when most people try to tell me their views of functional fitness, they mention things like “training for life”. We can’t even approach such an idea if we miss this concept of vector loading and we really have three means of accomplishing this important variable.

Method 1: Planes of Motion

Showing you the different forms of squats was to help think about that we move in three planes of motion. Many people have heard of the planes like sagittal, frontal, and transverse, but few know how to progress or actually implement these ideas. Heck, even though most people would say they heard of the three planes of motion, they don’t know how to apply them to functional fitness programs.

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MAX Lunge is a perfect example of a strength training exercise that incorporates all three planes of motion.

When we walk or do most things in life we use all three planes of motion, but most times in the gym most people ONLY use the sagittal plane. In fact, even more experienced lifters have a really bad balance between developing strength in the various planes. Why does this matter?

Study after study, researcher after researcher actually points to weakness in these different planes as reasons for people experiencing injuries. Whether we are talking about the big 3 (shoulders, knees, or low backs) or even foot and neck issues! Plus, you can’t optimize your sagittal plane strength in lifts like squats, presses, and more if you have weakness in these other planes keeping your foundation from being strong. That is a big part of functional fitness. DVRT Master, Steve Holiner, breaks down some foundational concepts of using planes of motion in your functional fitness training.

We can apply these concepts to make our strength training that much better as I showed in this video using the planes of motion.


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Method 2: Vectors

I thought this discussion was interesting because I hadn’t really thought about it in that way before. As Alwyn demonstrates vectors use planes of motion, but instead of just up and down we have it come from a different direction.


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What Alwyn shows makes a lot of sense when we also put it in terms of what we had been using with our core strap and ARES sled. We were providing another vector of force that created a new stress to teach bracing of the body, where our weaknesses were hiding, and how to better connect the body.


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One of my favorite DVRT drills to teach a more dynamic plank and how to press with the RIGHT muscles of the body. 


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Not only is combining the ARES sled fun, but we add a new direction of load which means we have to stabilize and create force at the same time in a way most gym exercises don’t ever really touch!

Method 3: Body & Load positions

I always made this an integral part of DVRT because it brought in the other planes of motion without people really realizing it! As DVRT master, Cory Cripe shows, we take frontal concepts of a side plank into more dynamic squats, but as Ara Keshishian we can keep taking that concept to another level!

Going to more unstable movements like lunging while emphasizing frontal plane is huge!


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