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Better Core Training & Stronger Shoulders with Mobile Hips

ultimate sandbag

After 15 years of teaching DVRT I am honestly surprised that I still have the same passion as I did when we started. The passion in some ways is quite different. In the beginning I think just the newness of everything got me really excited. Not knowing where things were going, what we would be doing, and a crazy drive to make a positive impact drove me. Now, I have a much better sense of all those things. However, I’m more driven because I KNOW the impact we can make and it is more about wanting to share with EVERYONE how they can improve people while enjoy fitness. A great example is why I keep focusing on the science of DVRT in things like our core training that goes way further than just training your abs.

core training

I was speaking to our DVRT Masters last weekend and told them, we aren’t that far off from bodybuilding still dominating the landscape of fitness. To be honest, if you want to bodybuild, I have no issues about that. My concern comes in when people that have a host of fitness goals and limited time come to us and we default to bodybuilding because we don’t know anything better!

Even many “functional training coaches” still are REALLY close to defaulting to bodybuilding. They still believe quite a bit things like……

-Shoulder exercises improve your shoulders.

-If you want to improve hip mobility, isolate your hips.

-Squats work your quads.

-Strong glutes are built in isolation.

and so on!

Of course core training is always a hot topic because everyone loves “abs”. However, the FIRST thing I do in all our DVRT courses is remind people of a simple fact. The core is called such because it is 35 muscles of the trunk and pelvis working synergistically to create a stable foundation for the arms and legs to move. Okay, maybe cool, but what does that mean? People want to know, “do I still get good looking abs?” and “how does this help me?”

core training

Core training is A LOT more than the superficial abdominal muscles.

Let’s address the first question. NO exercise program sculpts your abs. Low body fat levels help you see your abs. It is like when I use to coach junior high and high school summer basketball camps. I would have 8 year olds come by me and show me their “abs”. They were cute and all but they also weighed like 60 pounds. They didn’t necessarily have strong abs, but they had such low body fat levels you could see them. So, seeing great abs and having strong abs (or hopefully more about core training) are two different things.

The greater question is how important is core training. You still have the infamous contrarians of social media out there that will tell you core training is overrated. Yet, I still love this slide that Jessica put in her presentation when we taught together in Tokyo.

core training

When you read such things the truth is I can’t tell you what “studies” other people are quoting. There is also the reality that some studies use bad “core training” in their research. That allows for the contrarians to try to say that core training isn’t real and just go back to your sit-ups, crunches, and side bends. Not only is that just not effective, it is not good training advice!

At the most basic level, your core is meant to create stability to help your upper and lower body “communicate”. It is why we see your arms and legs move together reflexively in most athletic and real world actions. The better communication, the more force the arms and legs can provide. That means core training is important for both strong and mobile upper and lower bodies. However, like I said, not all core training is GOOD core training.

While we have hammered dead bugs and bird dogs quite a bit recently, another great demonstration of better core training is the use of lifts/chops. These are diagonal patterns that neural therapists in the 1940’s discovered helped neurological patients regain some function. Well, you aren’t a neurological patient, you want to be strong, mobile, and look great, so what gives?!

As athletic trainer, Brett Jones, explains;Proximal stability for distal mobility is a concept that has been referred to by Moreside and McGill in their article on hip joint ROM improvements and in their research the “proximal stiffness training” did lead to improvements in hip range of motion.  And Kibler noted that in reference to the concept of core stability: “Core muscle activity is best understood as the pre-programmed integration of local, single-joint muscles and multi-joint muscles to provide stability and produce motion. This results in proximal stability for distal mobility, a proximal to distal patterning of generation of force, and the creation of interactive moments that move and protect distal joints.”  The origin of the concept of proximal stability for distal mobility is often attributed to PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation developed by Kabat and Knott in the late 1940’s) and does appear in reference to evaluating and treating the trunk stating that “in an efficient state the trunk provides appropriate proximal stability or controlled mobility to support optimal task or postural performance.”  But please note the addition of controlled mobility.”

core training

It really isn’t magic, just science being brought to life. We will show what movements can make this impact! 

Okay, did that TOTALLY seem confusing? Basically what Brett is talking about is that our strength and movement are really governed by our nervous system first and our muscles a very distant second. When our nervous system perceives greater stability and “communication” from better core training exercises, we gain the ability to exhibit more force through the arms and legs while gaining great mobility in areas like the shoulders and hips.


Watch these drills and see how we use lifts/chops in different ways from warm-up to dynamic strength and core training. 

Brett goes on to explain….“In a study on Irradiation it is stated that: “The trunk is the central region for motor control of lower and upper limbs and can irradiate to them. …this motor control can be disturbed and does not allow effective movements at limbs.” “This principle (Irradiation) is based on fact that stimulation of strong and preserved muscle groups produces strong activation of injured and weak muscles, facilitating muscle contraction. So, these weak muscles can develop an increase in the duration and/or intensity by the spread of the response to stimulation…”

Translation? The more stable the trunk and pelvis (our core) and the more we “connect” the chains of our body, the healthier even injured and weaker muscles become and they work in conjunction with the bigger muscles. The result? You are strong and move better, sounds like a pretty good benefit of proper core training right?

What makes using the Ultimate Sandbag even better is the idea that we are using what is called “irradiation”. That is a concept where by creating tension at the hand, for example, creates a chain reaction of force increase down the entire arm, shoulder, and even into the upper body and core. The Ultimate Sandbag allows us to use specific tension techniques to optimize the irradiation while also apply load to our body to improve the strength of these actions. When you see the “magic” in changes of mobility like you see with strength coach Martin Adame shows is based on the VERY concepts we have been discussing.

The other benefit of using DVRT is that we can progress these core training principles to more advanced strategies as DVRT Master and Strength Coach Joel Gunterman discusses.

Learn how training smarter leads to enjoying your workouts more and getting greater results! We want you to be successful that is why we are offering 30% off our Ultimate Sandbags AND online education that helps you learn the science but bring it to life. Use code “fall” HERE for a limited time!