“That’s the way it has always been done!” I hear that all the time from coaches, but to be honest, I have no idea what they mean. Fitness is something that the average person performed for general health, well being, or looks… isn’t very old at all. Even in the early 1900’s fitness was a small subsegment of the population. It really wasn’t till maybe the 1960’s even 70’s that fitness become more normalized through magazines and such (sure there were gyms in Europe and Jack LaLanne was promoting fitness in the 30’s but it was NOTHING like we see today). Heck, really heavy lifting like weightlifting was often done on basements or very lackluster gyms.
Man, his knee is really going over his toes;)
I share this little nugget of fitness history to point out that nothing in fitness has been “etched in stone” for very long. Many things we write off as genius in old time lifting was really largely a byproduct of necessity. For example, the standard for upper body strength for awhile was lifting weight overhead. Not really because there was special attention being given to the interplay of the kinetic chains and the need for combined full body stability and mobility, mostly because they had no other way. It wasn’t till the 30’s 40’s that the bench press became really a lift and the rest as they say is history.
What’s my point? First, you better ask someone to clarify what they mean, “it has always been done that way” and more importantly, as bodybuilding became the dominant form of training we lost some huge fitness and health benefits. Don’t get me wrong, early bodybuilding had more similarities to today’s functional training than it does if you go a commercial gym today. Over time though, as new ways of “building a better body” became developed, we became more unhealthy, weaker, and less likely to achieve those cosmetic goals.
I’m bringing this full circle because with Covid-19 making many people train with less equipment, space, and even many cases time, we have to think smarter about what we are training and how to do so better. Pushing is one of our 7 foundational movement patterns and has so many ways where we can not only build a good looking upper body, but a strong and resilient one as well. However, pushing should be thought of as a full body movement, not a shoulder or chest exercise. One of the most overlooked aspect of our static pushing drills (like our lateral drags) is the effort to drive INTO the ground and create a strong pushing action.
This foundation of pushing is far more important than most realize. Learning to push with our whole body and not just our upper body saves our shoulders, gives us better upper body mobility, and gives us instant strength.
DVRT drills like the half kneeling Arc Press are terrific ways to teach these concepts as either a continuation of our plank work or as we get to more vertical positions as Megan Berner of Fitness Lying Down shows. The key is to really stop training our upper body pressing as though it is ONLY the upper body working. I’ve seen time and time again people totally change how their shoulders feel and even their strength levels by understanding how to press.
One of the big reasons I like overhead pressing to teach all these concepts is because if we lose our stability of the whole body it impacts our ability to press well. In fact, a big benefit of using an unstable implement like the Ultimate Sandbag is that it also impossible to cheat the movement because the weight will become too unstable as coach Troy Anderson helps me show.
Once you get these power techniques down, do you need another Ultimate Sandbag? What if you do have another but it is too big of a jump of weight? We always wanted to maximize what a training tool could do because as coaches ourselves we wanted to get more out of the investment people made. One of the great ways we do so is by changing our body position as Travis Moyer shows.
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Make sure to scroll through to see so many of the ways we can get more from the same weight!
The fact we have an unstable tool, we have a safer shoulder pressing position (being in a more neutral grip), and learn to connect the whole body, DVRT overhead pressing is such an awesome way to build a strong, stable, and muscular upper body. Not just shoulders, but upper back, core, arms, the whole thing. There may have been unknowing genius that the old time lifters had, but either way, there is some amazing ideas that help us achieve more whether it is training at home right now or moving into the future. Smart training is always smart training. Check out some of the great ideas by our DVRT coaches below and check out the last slide to really see how much our body is connected!
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