DVRT Master Ian Vaughn (Creator of DVRT Strength & Muscle Program)
Questions are the key to greater understanding so you could imagine when I come across someone asking a really good one I want to share with all of you! A good question I got on for my recently released program (DVRT for Real World Strength & Muscle) is how does functional training build muscle? People often associate muscle with bodybuilding and isolation type training as the very few ways to build it. Many are very surprised when they ask me what my routine is, I answer, and usual response is always the same:
“Wait? You don’t use dumbbells, strength machines, or cardio machines?”
So why not? First off dumbbells are static and you can easily cheat form with them. Its no wonder why most do is curls and presses them with rounded backs, flexed wrists, and always doing half reps (no range of motion). You don’t get a lot of the feedback you can get from kettlebells and Ultimate Sandbag Training.
Secondly, its really surprising most don’t realize “strength machines” make you sit; therefore turning off your major muscle groups and last thing people need nowadays is MORE sitting during their exercise routine. Again, when we look at bodyweight exercises, kettlebells, and Ultimate Sandbag Training these tools synergistically not only work the muscles that many people associate with typical gym exercises, but so many more that most people probably couldn’t even name. The ones that help the big muscles actually be strong and our bodies resilient.
The Truth Teller
The DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training I believe is one of the best truth tellers of raw strength. Unlike dumbbells, the load its constantly shifting. So when you first attempt to clean & press the Ultimate Sandbag it’ll likely tell you “hey, you’re not using enough power through the hips to get me in the rack position – stop cheating by pulling/curling me up with all your upper body”. How many of us have seen people struggle loading luggage at the airport or having sore back after moving to a new place? What is the point going to the gym all the time if you can’t live your life without pain? With the Ultimate Sandbag Training we also train in 3-D versus always staying in a straight linear plane….we need to move side to side and rotationally as well. The Ultimate Sandbag Rotational Clean & Press is a great example of that:
Ultimate Sandbag Training/Kettlebell Swings
I like to the kettlebell as a cousin to the Ultimate Sandbag. Many of the same movements, but very different at the time. Swing variations are among my favorite because it teaches the body how properly accelerate and decelerate load (you control it or it controls you). A strong concept with swings is: Force = more mass multiplied by acceleration. To put it more simple terms, Pavel Tsatsouline (founder of StrongFirst) explains it best:
“If I set a 24kg kettlebell on your foot, you will find it annoying .
If I drop the same kettlebell from my chest level, you will need crutches.
If I slam the bell down the same height, you will need a new leg”
So we don’t necessarily need heaver weights, we need to use more power from our hips and then lock into a strong plank resisting the kettlebell or Ultimate Sandbag pulling forward. So at the top of the swing the weight can double or even tripe depending the power output. The hard style kettlebell swing and Ultimate Sandbag Training shovel swing are my favorites because they build real strength on so many levels because you’re using the entire body.
While a lot of people assume it is only your hips working, there is so much more! You have a moving plank, upper body closely tied in and basically just everything from head to toe. The kettlebell is the best tool to do this straight ahead while Ultimate Sandbag Training allows us to make it more 3-D!
We’re not thinking “chest day” or “leg day” anymore. It’s all one piece, the lats, glutes and core have to brace and engage at the top of the swing then relax. Tension and relaxing the muscles is a very athletic feat of real world strength and skill. When I think of this, Bruce Lee’s one-inch punch comes to mind. Notice how relaxed he is….and then BOOM!
We want to treat the body as one piece; not a Frankenstien body isolating one muscle as time. Isolation training teaches the body nothing about synergy or athleticism. Yes we all want to look good aesthetically, but you really truly build muscle in better ways. As more and more fitness tools come out, more seem to forget it’s not about the tool, it’s about the philosophy. So everything I just talked about with Ultimate Sandbag Training and kettlebell can still be applied to classic bodyweight/ring movements. Using tension in the right places to build strength and the pull up is great start to build upon this. Practicing tension is a true testament of strength because where one muscle tenses, another wants to relax.
For example the shoulders need to pack down into the lats (away from the ears) when first hanging, then to prevent the body from swinging & kipping the glutes need to tense to lock in the hips. So at first you’ll notice it’s very challenging to maintain tension in these large muscle groups. A great exercise help correct this is the Ultimate Sandbag Overhead Raise. Notice how the end range looks just like a hang position in the pull up and as I’m coaching I’m also using towel to make her brace her core:
These are great ways to help build upon your strength goals. Always remember simple doesn’t mean easier. Sometimes the most simple exercises are the toughest, and that’s what results it better strength and muscle gains. These are the type of workouts I’ve written out in my new program DVRT for Real World Strength and Muscle
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