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Does Movement Strength Training Make Us More Fit?

sandbag training

It was probably one of the most honest statements that I have ever heard. In talking strength training ideas with a friend of mine, he said, “I like to do my strength work first and then I’ll do my movement training after.” For many, that statement makes a lot of sense right? You cover all bases, you are nailing what functional strength training really means, or so we think.

What I took away from that conversation was the fact my friend believe “movement” based exercises and strength training were two DIFFERENT things. That is where I think people get confused.

I don’t blame a lot of people, there are plenty of bizarre exercises that are labeled “movement strength training” drills, but all they are is novel exercises. The problem with following things that are just different is that we don’t have real purpose or progression with our training.

I’m all for enjoying what we are doing, but if we aren’t actually achieving any results, how long are we going to spend finding time to train?

It doesn’t have to be one or the other. Understanding how movement and strength training are one in the same allows us to really benefit from what functional training really has to offer! A great example is a DVRT complex like Strength Coach, Joel Gunterman, demonstrates.

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Why do you train? What’s your goal? When thinking about “training”, we should think specifics to how we want to feel daily. Movement in all planes of motion. Frontal, Sagittal and Transverse. Looking to hit different movement patterns. Pushing, pulling, hinging, squatting, lunging, rotating, fighting rotation, accelerating, decelerating… how many people to you see train only in the Sagittal plane? That’s not realistic. When you train muscles, you will forget movements. When you train movements, you never forget the muscles. Here is a simple @ultimatesandbag complex to can hit them all. – Rotational Clean to Fists – Drop Lunge – Rotational Overhead Press Have a great day everyone! #todayigetbetter #todayigetstronger #dvrt @perform_better #performbetter #movement #movements #train #training #sandbag #sandbags #strong #strength #strengthandconditioning #core #corestrength #corestrengthing #clean #cleans #press #presses #lunge #lunges #squats #squat #glutes #glut #awesome

A post shared by Joel Gunterman MS, CSCS (@joelgun10) on

If you are seeing our DVRT system for the first time, such movements look really complex, but compelling as well. However, if you don’t know how we got there then it does become a mess like many think when it comes to thinking bigger about strength training. The reason those that “stick with the basics” dislike such training is because they think THIS is our starting point.

So, how can you get the best of both strength training worlds? DVRT is a simple system and hopefully gives you great direction. Here is how we build real functional fitness.

Understanding Foundations

Everything we do is based on the 7 human movement patterns. That in of itself has been a focus of many blog posts. Why focus on movement patterns in strength training versus muscles? The biggest reason is that our nervous system governs all. If you want to use your muscles to their highest levels, your nervous system has to want to “allow” you to do so.

When we isolate muscles, our body doesn’t learn how to use them in the way we move in life and therefore, our gym strength training never comes to life. There is research to show how our body uses our quads during a leg extension is different than how the quads are used in a squat.

sandbag training

Here is another HUGE benefit on focusing on movement patterns versus isolation. When we isolate, we purposefully take away a lot of the supporting muscles. That is the whole point of isolation, but that means we don’t hit so many of the muscles that not only make us look good, but perform at a high level and be more injury resilient. In other words, it makes our strength training so much more efficient. Who hates THAT idea?!

The complex Joel showed was based on a hip hinge (the clean), lunge (the crossover), twist (in the press), and press (the rotational press). You see it covers four movement patterns in one series. Efficiency at its best!

That takes us to the next important idea in strength training. However, it is important that such DVRT complexes are layered on the foundation of exercises like deadlifts, standing presses, and up downs.

Planes of Motion

Why do we love to see huge loads so much on an exercise? Mostly because it makes sense! If we see a big load then it MUST mean we have gotten stronger. Or does it?

Study after study shows that isn’t the case as our movement is more complex than moving just up and down. We love to make the leap in our industry of thinking that if we get REALLY good at moving up and down that will translate to more complex movements we create every day in life. The research fails to support this theory.

Does Movement Strength Training Make Us More Fit?

That is because our nervous system again plays a big role in how we use different muscles to perform various tasks depending upon what we are doing.

sandbag training

This research by Dr. Stuart McGill, showed how doing the same movement in a different position COMPLETELY changed how much of various muscles were being used. 

The issue with such knowledge is some people miss the bigger picture. That is we need to START people in learning how to move well up and down because that is the MOST stable position. We can’t learn calculus without learning addition and subtraction first!

That leads us to learning how to build strength training exercises to not only produce movement, but to resist it as well. As Dr. Brandon Marcello, points out, stability isn’t what people think!

core training

Stability actually requires strength, the strength to RESIST unwanted movement. That is where moving up and down while resisting forces acting upon our body are so key. This is the reason we spend so much time on exercises like Arc Presses, Bird Dogs, Lateral Drags, MAX Lunges, and Shoulder positional work.

DVRT Master, Cory Cripe and his great coaches of Fitness Lying Down, show some ways we teach HOW to resist motion in these various DVRT strategies. Connecting the body is the REAL point of stability. 

Working through these progressions allows us to then move THROUGH these different planes of motions. Owning these progressions and patterns takes time and while we aren’t looking for perfection, we need proficiency. Most try to rush through progressions and wonder why they don’t succeed. That is what makes our strength training in DVRT so unique. We don’t stop building one exercise upon another!

Learning the value of such a philosophy of strength training allows us to both enjoy AND benefit from our training. Isn’t that the smartest way to train?

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