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The 3 MOST Important Concepts For Women’s Fitness

muscle building workouts

Jessica Bento, Physical Therapist

(Co-Creator of DVRT Restoration Certification, Pelvic, Shoulder, and Knees Courses)

There are differences between women and men, that isn’t a bad thing, just reality. We don’t have the same testosterone levels, we don’t have the same muscle mass, we have differences in our structure, our hormones cause changes in joint laxity, etc. So, it isn’t about women training differently because we are weaker, rather looking to address what women need and can benefit from in their strength training. That is why I wanted to make today’s post about the 5 best DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training drills that women should be focusing upon.

Why DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training? For one, I think it does the BEST job of making people stronger in ways that go beyond just moving up and down. Life requires us to be strong in all sorts of ways but most fitness programs still just place way too much emphasis on moving in just the sagittal plane. What also makes DVRT so beneficial is in how we use the tool of the Ultimate Sandbag to give feedback to the individual on how to use their body smarter. Instead of telling people to “use their abs”, we may tell them to “pull the handles apart” in order to show them HOW to use their abs. The difference becomes profound in getting better results much faster and improving the training experience.

The reason we lead with our education of DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training is because when you perform our DVRT exercises with the right intent it is AMAZING what one learns about their body and movement. We don’t just give exercises to make people work harder, we find the RIGHT movement to help people become better.

What are 3 concepts that really help women be stronger in ways that are more meaningful to them?

-Core strength

-Single leg stability/strength

-Movement in all three planes


women's fitness

Of course these concepts would be good for ANYONE, however, due to our structure and physiology they are especially important for great women’s fitness. With that said, where should you put your time? What exercises should you really strive to master? Well, these are 3 concepts that I think make the MOST out of your training time.

Core Strength/Stability

Why start with something that most people would normally associate with rehab? Well, if you read my last post for women, there are a lot of women that should be doing some base rehab core exercises. Whether it is due to having been pregnant or possibly wearing high heels, a lot of women have a core that is shut off. This tends to put a lot of ladies into a position where their backs hurt because posture is so off.

Loaded Dead Bugs help because they are our first step in seeing if people have good base control of their pelvis. You will be shocked at how many people can not maintain a neutral spine during this drill. Now, why loaded like I show in this video? Because we often need to do two things for people, help them feel what proper “bracing is like” as well as teaching them how to connect specific patterns. In this case the lat, core, and glute connection. This chain is essential in building true core stability as the core refers to 35 muscles not just being strong, but working at the RIGHT time and with the right other muscles.

There are lots of variations of this movement, check out our DVRT Restoration Course for more HERE

It is the inability to maintain correct pelvic alignment that is the reason that I help so many people who love to do swings, deadlifts, and more, but keep having pain in their low backs!

The core is a big part of everything we do and it makes what we do better. A great example is teaching foundational hip hinging in the form of hip bridges with knee flexion. These movements teach the glutes to work with the entire posterior chain better (which helps low backs, hips, and knees) but it doesn’t work well if we do not connect the core appropriately to our training. We can still “build better butts”, but we can do so under the realization that we can also help people move and feel better.

Side Plank Iso Pulls

If you can’t tell I am HUGE into priming the body before we jump into hard training. I know, you want to go and do the “cool” and “bad ass” workout programs and exercises. GREAT!! However, NOTHING derails a program like getting injured.

Being a physical therapist I can’t possibly tell you the amount of people that I saw because they did just this! They saw, read, or heard about the great exercise that they should be doing and they simply did not have the fundamental movement skills to do it well!

Does this mean you can NOT do any of those exercises? No, in fact, doing these types of drills prior to your workout will go a long ways in being a BETTER form of warm-up than jumping on the treadmill for 10 minutes or stretching.

In this case I’m talking about our DVRT Side Plank Iso Pulls. I would love to say to do the rowing variation, but the simple truth is that most people can’t engage the RIGHT muscles in the upper body while in this position. That is the key of this drill. Learning how to load the lateral hip with the core and upper back muscles helps especially women, gain some important real world strength and resiliency.

Some may ask is the Ultimate Sandbag in doing this, my answer is a resounding YES! The leverage of the weight of the Ultimate Sandbag and playing with slack in the handle is a HUGE advantage in the performance of this exercise.

Single Leg Stability & Strength

Of course building a foundation of squatting and hip hinging (not just deadlifting) is an important base for women to develop. It use to be thought that women had a higher incidence of injuries in sports like non-contact ACL ones because of differing structure of the pelvis. However, more research and a comprehensive look at such causes reveal something far more interesting.

A 2016 paper (you can read HERE)  explained that many of the issues that female athletes faced were more of a result of “anatomic, environmental, hormonal, and biomechanical. Neuromuscular factors appear to be the most important reason for the higher rate of ACL injuries in females compared to males. The at-risk situations for non-contact ACL injuries appear to be deceleration, cutting or changing directions, and landing. Prior to the injury, an awkward dynamic body movement and a perturbation event are usually observed.”

What does this mean to your training? JUST getting stronger doesn’t actually make you more resilient. That is because HOW that strength is displayed can vary depending upon how the body is taught to use muscles in very coordinated and specific ways. When we talk about the nervous system, we are referring to how our body reflexively controls very integrated movements in very rapid ways. That is why in DVRT we tend to teach progressions of more single leg training, not in just pistol squats or single leg deadlifts, but also with power and with the idea you don’t need to be truly single leg to get the benefits.

Drills like those that I show above aren’t truly single leg, but they have the need for the body to react to more unpredictable environments with less stable bases. Some of the drills, like the power based ones, are more advanced in teach more reflexive types of strength. Others, like the balance beam movements, can be introduced early on to teach the body how to quickly create stability and produce strength while doing so.

Movement In All 3 Planes Of Motion

In all honesty, single leg strength and stability ties in with our last point of using all three planes of motion. I realize that many female clients, just like men, come in with cosmetic goals as a primary focus. However, the point of this post is that we don’t have to choose function or cosmetic. We can accomplish both because of how effective true functional training can be in creating a fat loss environment and building lean muscle which improves one’s metabolism.

With that said, how we use the different planes of motion are key. We teach in DVRT to start RESISTING lateral and rotational forces before we start moving into them because many key chains in our body that allow us to perform higher level multi-planar movements need to know how to control the movements we want to perform and resist those we do not. It doesn’t have to be complicated, we covered some in the core section but can add higher levels through such drills as you see below.

All but one of the exercises above show you drills that teach how to RESIST movement while allowing us to produce movement as well. True stability is just that, allowing wanted movement while resisting unwanted movement. The key is we are moving and still building strength, we are just doing the work of learning to stabilize at the same time! Over a strong foundation we can take that to learn to move through all the planes of motion like Cari Satre and physical therapist, Jessica Swinscoe, show below.

These ideas hold true to men as well, but as women we get taught we are suppose to be like the men. In actuality, men could learn a lot from the ways of training that really benefit us as well. There are differences in men and women, they may not seem profound when they come to developing training programs, but they are important in understanding why we do what we do in the gym. Why are we not just focusing on individual muscles, just laying on the ground doing hip lifts, and so forth. Realizing what women need to be strong is so important in knowing where our training is going!

I wanted to share these ideas too because they do make up a big part of our DVRT Functional Muscle program. When we created this program I was worried that not enough women would see the value in building functional muscle, but that is how we accomplish so many goals of being strong, injury resilient, and looking our healthiest best! I’ve actually been using the program myself because it matches what I need in my training and that is being smart about how we think about building movement strength. Our hope is that women, just as much as the guys, will love this training program!

Don’t miss our 25% sale HERE and get our DVRT Functional Muscle program for FREE when you invest in any of our Ultimate Sandbags that are ALSO 25% off HERE