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Advanced Functional Training Drills For Real World Strength & Mobility

real world strength

Greg Perlaki, DVRT UK Master (Creator of Dynamic Mobility & Dynamic Warm-ups)

I must admit that I’ve made this mistake tons of times, a victim of social media “influence”. Even though 5-10 years ago social media was completely different and it wasn’t such an impactful part of our lives. Now whether we like it or not, it plays a HUGE role in our lives and its impact now iss undeniable. When it comes to fitness and finding a good source of information, we need to develop good filters to differentiate between valuable information and attention seeking which isn’t easy!
I know there’s a trend in the fitness world to do the most extreme or unusual looking drills just because they look cool. It makes me wonder if people see some of the cool looking and advanced DVRT drills as circus tricks. I know I had seen them that way before, until I quickly realized that things I can do, my 50-60 year old clients are not necessarily able to replicate. This is a lesson I learnt quite early on prescribing more advanced exercises like the MAX (Multiple Axis) drills.
functional training
Misunderstanding of these drills
There’s a common misunderstanding when it comes to these great exercises. Firstly, they look like there’s a lot of rotation going on in the trunk. So most people would write them off as dangerous, especially to the low back. Just a few days ago Josh and Jessica wrote about popular lower back exercises that do more harm than good. The Russian twist is probably the most obvious, especially considering it’s been around for decades. So it must be good:) However, as we know the lumbar spine is only able to rotate for a very limited range, so putting it through excessive movement would be detrimental.
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I really appreciate so many people found my post yesterday helpful about how the superman isn’t the low back exercise that makes you better. That made me think about other misunderstood drills that people use to help their “core” but end up just beating up their low backs. I thought an easy one to tackle would be Russian twists (You can read our FULL article on why these aren’t great with 🔗 in my BIO) _____________ The way most people perform Russian Twists is how I show here. That hard twisting upon the low back really beats up the spine. Professor Stu McGill, world renown spine expert, measure’s a sit-up (with a 150lb man) as producing 3000N, or about 675lbs, at the L4/L5/S1 segments, the lowest part of your low back. That means JUST holding that position places a lot of stress in one’s low back. This is especially problematic if you have a history of low back issues or have are new to fitness! (Plus, just not generally great for anyone) _____________ Then let’s get into the rotation of the lumbar spine. Most people don’t realize that the obliques are part of a series of muscles that actually are designed to LIMIT movement of the spine, especially the lumbar spine. The lumbar spine is not designed to rotate much, only about 10 degrees total. Russian twist or whatever you call them add rotation and torque to the lumbar disc, and that eventually will lead to injury. ____________ The difference in these #DVRT movements is we teach how to integrate the body and teach concepts of movement that help build resilience, not just build muscles. When you get the body working as it is designed to function, you can accomplish pretty great things!

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From an outside perspective the MAX Lunge could seem similarly dangerous. To be honest, if it’s done poorly and without any intention of the outcome, it could definitely make people hurt (that goes for pretty much exercise though). That’s why it’s REALLY important going through our progressions and knowing when to introduce such a drill to one’s training program. For example, before the MAX Lunge we would need to go through all the Front Loaded Reverse Lunges, Front Loaded MAX Lunges (which helps to prepare for SLIGHT frontal plane instability). Even the MAX Lunge should be broken down into different ‘chunks’ to practice the deceleration part and get used to the rotational forces that the Ultimate Sandbag creates, practice the side to side movement and once stability has shown then introduce speed as the last element.

 

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Rotation vs Anti-Rotation
Another common misunderstanding is how these drills are rotational and anti-rotational exercises. Rotation happens when the body rotates through the feet and hips keeping the lumbar spine stable (as it’s designed to function), whereas anti-rotation occurs when the body needs to resist rotational forces. This could be because the weight is moving around the body. However, the moving load doesn’t make an exercise rotational, only if the body rotates with it. These are significant differences especially considering how we approach training.

 

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In DVRT, we teach how to resist a plane of motion first before producing it. This is an often overlooked principle which could set up our clientele for success or a disaster. You see above the difference in the movement of the body during rotational patterns. That means all our MAX drills are actually STRONG drills to teach how to resist motion and that goes a long way in developing dynamic stability and injury resilience.

 

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Most people are not use to a system of training, they are often exposed to groups of exercises. What makes DVRT so unique is that it is truly a series of progressions all interconnected. It is like you can watch any of the Marvel movies by themselves and you would probably enjoy them, but they are so much cooler when you watch them in the sequence they were designed to be viewed. You can see my version of this concept in how we build up from our foundations. If you just saw the Tornado drill (the MAX lunge with Around the World) by itself, it looks like madness. However, if you take the time to learn the building blocks it makes so much sense!
Why are these MAX drills important?
These anti-rotational exercises are key for developing real world strength and power. They are truly integrating the whole body through its kinetic chains using both anterior and posterior slings. When people ask “what muscles do they work?” it is impossible to answer in one or two muscles. The benefit of being aware of these chains is that we get to train SO many muscles at once and do so in the manner they were designed to function!
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Best of all they’re single leg based exercises and following the principle of progressive overload we’re able to program them in a way that they constantly make more demand on the body. These are qualities like deceleration (which is key for injury prevention), 3 dimensional strength and power which not only translates into real world scenarios but recruit way more muscles than bilateral power exercises. It is a definite win-win in every possible way. Not to mention what makes them a powerhouse drill is the ability to keep stability at one area of the body while allowing mobility at another. This is the highest level of functional training we can see but takes time to develop these skills.

 

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Fellow DVRT Master, Cory Cripe discusses where many go wrong in jumping progressions in our MAX drills
Common Mistakes
I talked about introducing these drills in an early training phase when clients are not ready for them. Another one is how many people would think they need to rotate significantly. As I mentioned above the rotation that happens through the thoracic spine is a SLIGHT one. Keeping the gaze forward and not following with the eyes where the bag is going help certainly helps here. As well as creating good tension. This tension is either pulling the handles apart or pulling the sandbag into the body like an active plank (depending on the drill) helps to keep the core and lumbar spine stable and make people more successful. Another mistake could be when people are not loading their supporting leg during hip dominant exercises such as MAX Deadlifts/Chops/Good Mornings. Probably the most popular one here is moving too fast way too early.

 

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Probably THE biggest mistake especially in our front loaded position is people make the thoracic movement separate from what is happening below. They should be moving at the SAME time to take advantage of the chains and use the elastic energy that the movement builds in the movement. 

Solutions
-Progression Based Programming
-Thoracic Rotation Only
-Pulling Handles & Creating Tension
-Keeping Feet Aligned With The Hips
-Loading The Supporting Leg
-Moving Slowly Before Going Fast

 

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Follow The System
Not everyone is going to be successful with all the DVRT exercises, so finding the right one for the individual at the right time is crucial as a coach. However learning how to create stiffness in the core with simple techniques like tension and using diagonal patterns opens up a whole new world of possibilities for improved strength training. That’s why taking time to practice more foundational drills are absolutely important.
Don’t miss Greg’s NEW DVRT Dynamic Mobility Program. 80 exercises and 16 workouts to help you build not only great mobility much more efficient, but dynamic strength as well. Best of all, you can get it for a limited time for under $10 with code “save25” HERE