What does ‘Real World Strength’ stand for? I often like to use this term but I feel like it needs some rephrasing so everyone can understand the thought process behind it. When we say it in DVRT, we aren’t referring to what most people may think! Often when people say “real world strength” or resilience, they are thinking about trying to replicate what we do in life and sport, but that isn’t what we mean!
Similarly, functional training has the same bad rep and often referred to as training for life. Which is very loose and doesn’t really say anything about principles, methods and how that training is going to help and even why we use some tools for certain exercises. Trying to replicate what we do in life sounds like a good idea, but that isn’t what DVRT or functional training is about. We need to teach our bodies how to move and perform smarter. Exercises are “lessons” in movement and that often means performing movements that look very different than what we actually do in life. However, it is what those exercises teach us about real world strength and resilience that make them so important!
The gym for the last several decades has been largely focused upon going against the design of our bodies. Sure, we can all appreciate the desire to want to look better, but does building real word strength and resilience mean we can not look better at the same time? Would it not make sense that training our body as it is designed to function would lead to a body that could perform AND look its best? That is why I wanted to explore some key concepts of DVRT that show what functional training is really about and how it applies to real world strength.
Most fitness professionals and the average people know that core training is important. However, many think core training means ‘ab’ exercises and ‘feeling the burn’. Real core training is about integrating the trunk, pelvis and working on the kinetic chains of the body. The 35 core muscles work synergistically together to make things fluid and reactive and they also have a very important task: prevent unwanted movement.
The core refers to A LOT of muscles that have to not just be strong, but know how to work together!
Resisting movement is actually far more important than producing it. Most injuries occur because of the inability to do that. That’s why holding endless planks are pointless, as planking is really about learning how to brace and when to brace. Timing is really important to create that tightness. It’s called reactive strength or we can say real world strength. Have a look at the below picture and see that synergistic effect of core muscles that goes way beyond the transverse abdominis.
Is it really possible to isolate any core muscle and when you see how they are layered upon one another why would you?
These are much better ways to integrate our core into actual movements rather than trying to isolate the 35 different muscles!
Many times, what stops someone from actually learning what functional training means is that they want to know, “what muscle does that work?” It would be rather redundant if we kept saying, “all of them!” Of course we emphasize different ones depending on the drills, but the point is, we would be showing so many muscles being used it seems like there is no point. That is the true beauty of DVRT and functional training, we can get so much done in such little time.
That also opens the door for us to discuss other aspects of training like deceleration strength. I know, “what muscle does that work?!” You will see that when we really understand these concepts, training muscles is the least of our concerns in building real world strength and resilience.
Deceleration simply means the lowering phase of certain lifts and I refer specifically the ability to ‘catch’ the weight. In other words absorb force. It’s important as many people have issues with injuries because of the inability to absorb the force that is coming down.
Deceleration plays a big part in drills like kettlebell swings. In fact, the success of a kettlebell swing is predicated upon our ability to correctly absorb force. That is especially true when we add some instability in our sprinter stance and have to react to forces laterally and in rotation that are trying to alter our ability to be strong!
This brings me back to that reactive core strength (real world strength) to keep bracing at the right time and maintain ground engagement with the feet and keep tension to make this alternating swing fluid. However, the swing is a BIG leap in deceleration because of the long lever arm. That is why in DVRT we are so adamant about details of our lifts that most people overlook like on our Clean and Press.
Most just don’t look at how they lower the weight. Not only does this cause big time issues in the elbows, shoulders, and back, but has us lose out on a really great opportunity to build that real world strength and resilience.
Drills like our High Pulls are designed not only to teach the weight of the USB to “float”, but how to also decelerate with our hips and have that reactive core.
3-D Real World Strength
There is a real value of training deceleration and not just focusing on how much weight we’re able to lift. This is key for building up injury resilience, however there’s a couple of principles you might want to keep in mind before jumping straight into it any of these cool looking exercises.
-Learn the movement pattern first (sagittal plane – most stable position like the high pull and clean I show above)
-Keep the load close to the body (use it as feedback – Front Loaded Good Mornings are great example)
Building that foundation like Marlon Cruz shows also helps us build up to drills like kettlebell swings more effectively
-Resist unwanted movement (Sprinter Stance Hip Hinges)
-Add speed to the pattern (like High Pull above)
-Then introduce different planes of motion (frontal and transverse after) following the same first 4 steps as above
There are many hip hinges that can be ultimately taken through these steps to build real world strength and resilience.
Continue building strength and power in 3 planes of motion, the high pull gives us both power, acceleration and deceleration. Using a slider helps to learn how to load one side of the body whilst hinging through the hips. As I outlined the principles to progress, start with the load close to the body and resisting unwanted movement before producing movement moving laterally. The best example to this a Sliding Lateral Deadlift, which is safe and easy to pattern as it’s more controlled. Following our DVRT System, then move the weight up to the crooks of the arms to do a Good Morning which is a lot more force on the trunk however the perfect drill to learn to brace.
Have a look at how to build that lateral hip hinge in the video below:
Progress Step By Step
Once foundations are established then we can start adding faster, more powerful drills like the High Pull. The load stays close to the body in the High Pull as it’s going vertically, however it still requires movement accuracy to ‘catch’ the load with the hips and keeping a good plank throughout. The power comes from the supporting leg initiating ‘Pushing The Floor Away’ as opposed to using the arms too much.
The same thing happens with the Rotational High Pull where this catch happens on both sides of the body, doing a pivot and also extending the hips with the High Pull.
Following a system of progressions and regressions take the guesswork out of the equation and our training becomes more purposeful when the whole body work together as one, to prevent unwanted movement and create wanted movement with intensity.
Check our more great work as Greg helped us put together our NEW DVRT Functional Muscle program. 51 workouts, over 18 months worth of training helping you realize how we can help people move, feel, perform, and look their best! Check it out HERE for a special price when you use the code “muscle” or get it for FREE when you invest in any of our Ultimate Sandbags and use the same code HERE.