Something that I have been inspired by, in what has been a tough few months, is how good coaches have shown that our workouts can still be highly productive, motivating, empowering, effective, and fun even if we don’t have the familiar gym to use. Now that gyms are slowly opening back up, my big hope is that we don’t forget some of those lessons to form powerful workouts. After all, I think having less is sometimes an opportunity to do more.
It took me years when I had my own gym (which I had for over 10 years) to learn that it wasn’t how much equipment you had, but how well you used it. At one point I realized I needed to think about how I was running my gym. There wasn’t one singular event that led to that time of self-reflection. Rather, I was just overly frustrated that I didn’t think I was giving the results to people I believed was possible.
You can see just a bit of my gym that had A LOT of “stuff”.
It wasn’t that my clients were complaining or anything, I had many that stayed with me for that entire decade, some even longer. It was me, I just kept looking at what we were doing and when I asked myself the question I think all coaches should ask about their workouts, “am I really delivering the best training possible?”, something in me just said no.
I began to look at my gym with a different pair of eyes. Slowly I walked to every piece of equipment we had (ask Jessica, we had A LOT!) and asked myself questions like…
“What solution does this piece of equipment offer?”
“What does this do uniquely well?
“How many people can use this piece well?”
As well as many others. Quickly I started realizing a lot of stuff just took up space and if there is anything any gym owner can’t replace it is space! The gym started to take a better shape and I started realizing that I had become a coach of equipment and exercises, not methods, concepts, and ideas. This revelation has allowed me to help so many people upgrade their workouts so they can deliver better results. After all, I have found out over the years I was far from the only coach that has gone through this process. So, what are 3 keys to really upgrading your workouts? There are obviously more than 3, but if you can apply these to your workouts you will be inspired to, as Apple said, “think different”.
#1: Train In More Than One Plane!
Most fitness certifications don’t touch on planes of motion. I remember in college talking about planes of motion, but I don’t ever remember discussing WHY this was important! Almost EVERYTHING we do in life is done in 3 planes of motion (sagittal: up and down, front and back, frontal: side to side, transverse: rotation). We can move THROUGH these planes or RESIST them. In walking straight ahead we move through the sagittal plane while resisting frontal and transverse forces. So?
Almost everything I see in the gym is sagittal plane dominant. A point I use in my presentations because when people think about the number of exercises they can use in their workouts there is no short list! Ask them to do the same for frontal plane exercises and that list shrinks A LOT! Here is the thing though, it shouldn’t!
Above is from my upcoming Perform Better presentation where I show when it comes to sagittal plane training our exercises library for our workouts is quite big, while when it comes to frontal plane it shrink pretty dramatically for most people.
Why does it matter? When we use other planes of motions we build a smarter nervous system can adapt our strength to more diverse situations as well as we activate more muscles. Yes, we have muscles and chains that are designed specifically to optimize the other planes of motion, so we aren’t really accomplishing functional training in our workouts if we don’t address these needs!
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When it comes to lateral strength training it isn’t something we give a lot of attention to in our training. I mean there might be the occasional lateral lunge or side plank, but many times that is it! However, there are few ways to improve strength and mobility than improving lateral strength. Increasing frontal plane strength helps us have a stronger foundation for producing strength and being resilient to injury. As #DVRT UK Master, @dvrtfitness_uk says _____________ Lateral Strength Exercises! Frontal plane strength is critical for preventing injuries particularly in lower backs, shoulders and knees. Connecting the lateral chains of the body improves mobility in the hips and shoulders as well as stability in the core which helps to integrate the body as a whole. Some of these single leg exercises are great substitute for side planks and they still engage the whole chain from head to toes.
DVRT UK Master, Greg Perlaki shows how frontal plane strength training is far more than just side planks, lateral lunges, and maybe carries.
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When it comes to the best core training you aren’t doing, it isn’t a big leap to say it is lifts/chops. For those that are already using these great drills, we are going to give you so much more value, if you haven’t heard of them why are they so crucial? ___________ The core represents 35 collective muscles functioning together to help create stability and movement at the same time. That also means some muscles aren’t best trained when they are “burning” or trying to be isolated. Many of our deeper core muscles aren’t those that we consciously contract, so we need patterns, load, and specific tension techniques to teach the core how to work at the highest levels. ___________ Diagonal patterns are great representations of this concept because our body is designed to work in diagonals. Whether it is how our opposite arms/legs move during walking and running or how we create power we use rotation many times. What makes these #DVRT lifts/chops special is the grip we can take and the tension we create that gives us better use of the lats and core. ___________ When you use these drills when we are lying on our backs we pull against the handles and upright we pull the USB itself apart. Follow the work these great coaches use @thesandmaven @ultimatesandbagsaus @corymcripe @jessbento_physiotherapist @delarosa_training
As you can see adding in other planes of motions to your workouts shouldn’t be that overwhelming as these DVRT drills all display the use of other planes of motions from subtle to more profound ways!
#2 Movement Patterns
I am far from the first that has used the saying, “train movement, not muscles”. What does that mean though? We should understand that our body is designed to perform movement not individual isolated muscle actions. Does this mean when we focus on movement we don’t train muscles? Absolutely NOT! As I wrote above in point #1 we actually TRAIN more muscles. You see this is a MAJOR mistake people make about their functional training workouts, they think they won’t train the muscles they want to develop, but the whole point is we do so more effectively and efficiently!
One of the things that I am most proud of in DVRT is that we teach these concepts through our workouts. In many other instances one movement pattern is emphasized WAY more than others. For example, in the kettlebell world the “Big 6” movements are swing, snatch, double squat, clean and press, and get-up. If you break that down, their focused six exercises have 4 hip hinge elements, 3 have a push, 1 squat, 1 lunge, 1 rotation, and 1 gait. That means no pulling and a severe imbalance in the 6 movements. That is why in our Progressive Kettlebell Movement certification we tried to give much more balance to the movements (you can check it out here). However, it is just one of those things where the tool of the kettlebell demonstrates the most versatility in hip hinging. Yet, our goal even then should be to find balance in our workouts and you rarely find that.
In our DVRT workouts we try to give equal attention to the movement patterns. No matter the tool, you should be looking to strike balance in your training. If you don’t see a movement pattern in one workout that is okay, just make it a priority in the next. All of a sudden you have a program that is well balanced so you are more injury resilient, you become stronger faster, and you move so much better!
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I didn’t know how to do it, I was really just guessing. Like probably a lot of young coaches, creating programs that I knew were thoughtful, progressive, and effective was something that I didn’t really feel comfortable with when I began my fitness career. Unlike today, back 25 years ago, information wasn’t nearly as abundant. Now, the challenge is finding trustworthy resources to help guide the next generation in doing better than we did when we began. ___________ That is why my passion lies now in teaching those that really want to make a difference how simple, but also thoughtful, good programming can be to create. First, if we just focus on the 7 foundational human movements (squat, hip hinge, lunge, push, pull, rotation, locomotion) we will be ahead of 95% of the industry that still sees much of the body as a mish mash of parts which couldn’t be further from the truth! ___________ Once we embrace the idea that movement patterns do truly the best job of blending the software (our nervous system) with our hardware (joints, muscles, ligaments, etc.) we are well on our way to actually help! From there, we want to think about how do we position the weight on our body and the stance we take. This starts to teach how we can use weight for more than just a way to stress an exercise, but to teach HOW to create better movement. ___________ Creating specific tension against the weight (as I show in the squat, the side plank, and front loaded good morning) that gives me core stability that allows me to express greater strength and better stability. Having these changes to my stance as well as the load position which brings in the 3 planes of motion we often neglect. Why? Because what muscle do we use when we have to resist force? A LOT of them! __________ As you can see in the last slide, our body is not meant to work in isolation. Training in our #DVRT system doesn’t take away from building muscle, in fact, I’d argue we train way MORE muscles creating programs in this manner. Muscles you didn’t even know existed, but are so powerful for how we move, perform, and gain resiliency. _________ Amazing work @thesandmaven !!!
#3 Have A Very Thoughtful Warm-up
Time is ALWAYS the biggest obstacle for the majority of people I work with in their workouts. Even fitness professionals, who love to workout, find when they actually see an increase in their business it can be hard to fit their workouts. That is even with people that LIVE in a gym! It shouldn’t be a surprise then that when it comes to trimming workouts people often sacrifice their warm-ups in the process. They want to give more focus to the training they believe will accomplish their fitness goals more.
I get it, heck, I’ve done it. You know what happens every time I do so? I hurt more, I recover slower, and I don’t get to my goals faster. Don’t get me wrong, your workout doesn’t have to be 30 minutes long. If you are thoughtful about what you are doing, then you can prep your body fast and well! That is what people like strength coach, Martin Adame, does so well with our DVRT Restoration ideas!
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Using strength training to help mobility still doesn’t make sense to a lot of coaches. Probably because when we typically think about strength training we are using load to make a movement more challenging. Instead, the way that strength coach @martinadame1 shows using the Ultimate Sandbag is more about connection. Wait, connecting what? _____________ Of all the methods we can use ourselves to improve how we move, helping reconnect our natural kinetic chains that get a bit “lost” through lack of movement, injury, or just in needing to prime our body more specifically is one of the most effective means. What Martin shows is that the load of the Ultimate Sandbag help gives feedback to our body to create more of a reaction to our core to create better stability. _____________ Then how he either is pulling apart the handles or trying to “break apart” in the crooks of his arms allows us to connect the lats, shoulder girdle, and overall the core from “top down” while his feet connect the core from the ground up to gain better stability. As Martin simply explains…. _____________ As I was getting ready to get my training started today I realized my body was extremely tight and not moving optimally. I decided to fix it! Put together 4 amazing @ultimatesandbag movements. The emphasis was to connect my body from the ground up! Wanted my body to feels safe and take the “breaks off”.Started my movements on the ground and proceeded until I was standing. My body feels amazing! It’s ready to put in some serious work!
So much of the core training we show for our DVRT workouts are great ways to get you moving better and use that time for your warm-up in a smarter way as DVRT UK master, Greg Perlaki demonstrates below.
If you can use these 3 ideas I am positive that your workouts will become more efficient, smarter, more practical, fun, and get you way better results. I know this because it is something Jessica and I practice every week in our own training!
Want to find out more? Save 25% on our DVRT Online Education with code “save25” and you can now apply for payment plans on our DVRT Online Certifications (US students only unfortunately) HERE
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Core training typically gets discussed in terms of just “ab exercises”. I put those in quotation marks because nothing works even the ab muscles the same way. As spine expert, Dr. Stuart McGill states, “when all muscles contract together they create a “superstiffness” that is higher than the sum of the stiffnesses of the individual muscles. Consider the architecture of the abdominal wall. Stability comes from a symmetric stiffness developed by the muscles around the spine. Activating just one abdominal muscle would create just one source of stiffness but would also result in an interruption of the force linkage. Consider that the entire abdominal wall has its anterior connection to the rectus abdominis muscle. The forces in the oblique muscles are directed to the rectus and its sheath, and then transferred to the rib cage and pelvis to enhance torque production and stability. As the three layers of the abdominal wall contract, a superstiffness is created to enhance stability. Teaching activation of the entire abdominal wall to patients and to performance athletes alike, is important.” _____________ What @dvrtfitness_uk shows are drills that demonstrate these points. The use of the Ultimate Sandbag is done because of the feedback it provides us to proper core training. Instead of saying rather useless cues like, “use your core”, “tighten up your abs”, better cues like “pull the handles apart” simply gets us to engage our lats that help us activate our core to properly brace. The dragging creates deliberate friction that gives us tension and connection at the same time. The diagonal patterns of the USBs movement taps into the natural design of our core. As Greg explains… ____________ One of the easiest way to get people moving, performing better or get rid off aches and pains is to improve connections within the body. The primary function of our core muscles is to create stability for the spine and also to connect the upper body with the lower body. Here are some of the principles that we like to do with our clients to get them to improve mobility and feel more connected when performing their exercises.These are more like the higher end of the spectrum of progr