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Get REALLY Strong From Proper Core Training

ultimate sandbag

The truth is that most of my clients didn’t really care. That is when we performed core training I knew it could be so important to helping their mobility, stability, functional strength, and that comes with better results in their training and more consistent training due to less injuries. Yet, when it came to core training they wanted to work on their “six pack” which no matter how much I explained core training and great looking abs don’t necessarily equal each other there was something that I overlooked. They FELT like their abs were being worked more and therefore they were happy because they felt like it would lead to them looking better.

Why do I share this with you? The reality is, most people do come to training for cosmetic goals. I would even have clients that were post rehab and they would say things like, “yea, I really don’t want my shoulder to hurt but I’d like to work on dropping 20 pounds too.” Don’t get me wrong, I am not against healthy weight loss, my point is that you don’t need to convince people by telling them what you do works, you have to show them and let them experience it.

core training

Part of the issue too is that fitness professionals, coaches, and even therapists don’t do well is truly understand why we are focusing on core training in our workouts. Sure, they throw out the sound bites like, “good for your low back”, helps you be “more stable.” I put these in quotation marks because if I ask most people that make statements how that works, they often really don’t know.

If you had to tell your mom and dad why core training is important, what would you say? That is always the challenge I pose myself because how we communicate things often tells us how well WE understand the point as well.

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Hard to argue with Einstein

So, what are the three big takeaways we can help people understand why core training is important to how move, how strong we can be, and how we can be injury resilient?

The Foundation For The Arms & Legs

The big confusion around things like core training stems from the fact that most miss the obvious thing. That is core training means we are focusing at the core of the body to be strong/stable so that the arms and leg can be optimized. Yes, your upper body and lower body are dependent upon the core. If they weren’t strong then your arms and legs can demonstrate the strength or mobility we want to achieve.

This happens because our body always wants to protect itself. When it perceives that you can get hurt in a movement, it will start to shut everything down so you don’t! Since injuring our spine from a evolutionary perspective would be devastating to our ability to live, our body takes protecting it very seriously. At the same time, it is also how our lower body and upper body are connected.

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One of the biggest reasons I focus on talking about locomotion in our DVRT functional fitness programs is because we can extrapolate so much about what our body does naturally through how we walk/run. If we think about it (you can try it right now), when we walk or run our opposite arms and legs swing. This happens to provide stability to our spine through what is known as the Posterior Oblique Sling (POS) which has the right glute connecting to the core via the opposite lat (same thing on the other side).

shoulder exercises

This information explains why dead bugs, bird dogs, and drills like lifts/chops are so powerful in building up the core in functional ways. That is because they train the natural connections and patterns like the fact we use diagonals to move in life. Most people don’t go to their gym or often their core training saying, “let’s go beast mode on some diagonals!” However, we probably should as it is the basis of how we move and perform.

Having feedback from our Ultimate Core Strap is extremely useful in helping people learn the movement pattern we want them to perform. Most people are so disconnect from their bodies that this feels very foreign to them. Once we have some proficiency we can remove the feedback and become more “reflexive” with our core training which is the HIGHEST level of core strength. 

Once we understand what we are trying to achieve with these diagonal patterns there so many great ways of using them as DVRT UK Master, Greg Perlaki shows…

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Lifts/chops often don’t get the same publicity for core stability as do drills like planks. However, they represent a very important part of core training because our body works in diagonal patterns and the goal of the lift/chop is to train these patterns that resonate with our nervous system but also teach the important concept of “proximal stability for distal mobility.” In other words, the better core stability we achieve the better mobility we will also receive for our hips and shoulders. _____________ What I love about our Ultimate Sandbag versions is that they can be taken to a host of different movement patterns as @dvrtfitness_uk shows that helps us bring this important core stability to many different actions we create. It allows us to dynamic train the connection of our shoulders, trunk to opposite hip which means creating better functional strength. _____________ One of the biggest pluses is that we can pull apart the Ultimate Sandbag and the position of the shoulders together allows us to connect to the chains of our body even better! So, what Greg shows here are awesome progressions to make what you may think of as familiar movements way better!

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Good Core Training Teaches How To Resist Movement

I know I grew up with things like the Presidential Fitness tests and sit-ups being one of the battery of tests we would all run through in junior high. Thankfully, over the years we have learned more about the body and see how exercises like sit-ups are a lot of stress on our spine and not so much work in functional core training.

How do I mean? The famed physical therapist, Shirley Sahrmann stated, “during most daily activities, the primary role of the abdominal muscles is to provide isometric support and limit the degree of rotation of the trunk…A large percentage of low back problems occur because the abdominal muscles are not maintaining tight control over the rotation between the pelvis and the spine at the L5- S1 level. ” (2002 p.71) We also know that by looking at areas of our body like the muscles that keep us from falling over side to side when we walk, are designed to resist motion.

side plank

That is why core training exercises like side planks are so important in establishing a strong foundation. However, most don’t get what they could from side planks because they miss these important concepts.

DVRT Master, Cory Cripe gives some great cues and how we look to progress the side plank. If you improve your side plank you are going to be shocked at how many knee, low back, and shoulders become healthier because most people lack good lateral strength. You can see some of the great progressions (we lay out more and in-depth coaching in our LIFT certification) we can use and we implement other tools because they give us a unique stimulus, not just “cause”.

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There’s an ongoing joke with our clients at @fitnesslyingdown that I have to stop being on the internet because that’s where I find these crazy exercises! ——— But this is what I love about the fitness industry is that it’s about sharing and developing. But when it comes to the inter-webs you do have to be careful because as there are many great resources and people to follow there are also (believe it or not) many not so credible “influencers.” ——— It’s safe to say one of the most credible resources out there is @jessbento_physiotherapist and I’ve learned when she speaks, it’s time to take notes and listen! But when I borrow from the internet I don’t just throw it at our clients. I first have to determine if it fits in our philosophy at FLD, I have to spend time practicing so I can coach it better, and find out where in the programming it belongs. ——— So these two gems have been unveiled in these last few weeks after spending some time with them myself and they are receiving some means and groans & hugs and puffs because of the challenge they provide. But it’s all about having the right progression to reach these more advanced drills.

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One of the big reasons I wanted to feature the series that Cory presents above is to show how we take those concepts of lateral strength and resisting motion to more dynamic actions over time as Greg shows.

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When it comes to lateral strength training it isn’t something we give a lot of attention to in our training. I mean there might be the occasional lateral lunge or side plank, but many times that is it! However, there are few ways to improve strength and mobility than improving lateral strength. Increasing frontal plane strength helps us have a stronger foundation for producing strength and being resilient to injury. As #DVRT UK Master, @dvrtfitness_uk says _____________ Lateral Strength Exercises! Frontal plane strength is critical for preventing injuries particularly in lower backs, shoulders and knees. Connecting the lateral chains of the body improves mobility in the hips and shoulders as well as stability in the core which helps to integrate the body as a whole. Some of these single leg exercises are great substitute for side planks and they still engage the whole chain from head to toes.

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Core Training As We Move

I notice often that people don’t really implement good core training because they don’t realize how to take what we do on the ground to more upright and functional positions. What we learn on the ground in our core training should also be reflected as we start moving.

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WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT! Is a pretty typical response when people see any of our DVRT drills that have Around the Worlds part of them. This swirling weight going around people’s bodies seems like madness, after all, what muscle does that even work?! _______________ When we think of great core exercises the two that should come to mind are forms of planks and lift/chops. While most people are familiar with planks, they  are typically far less familiar with lift/chops. The diagonal patterning of lifts/chops stems from the very famous physical therapy system of PNF. They train the chains of the body highly effectively because our body works in opposite limb patterns. ______________ The moving of the Ultimate Sandbag isn’t performed by the arms, but by the hips and trunk. Learning how to be more efficient in our movement doesn’t sound like many people’s goals, but that is what real world strength is largely based upon. The plank aspect is high when the weight is on the upper back and we want to resist extension. ____________ While there are other strength tools that are shown to move in this way, the Ultimate Sandbag provides us the BIGGEST range of motion and ability to keep the shoulders “open” to avoid issues in the shoulder. The result is not just great core stability, but also better mobility in both the hips and shoulders. ___________ Using the ATW with the movement patterns is effective in connecting the core to the rest of the body especially shoulders and hips! Plus we want to develop the “pulse” that spine expert, Dr. Stuart McGill talks about being the highest level of core work! Most athletes have the great ability to go to high force to relaxation very quickly. That is the VERY essence of the ATW! ____________ Strong work by @sweett_02 @dvrtfitness_uk @polish.fil @rdpaget @resultsfitnessscv

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These are advanced DVRT drills, but they teach about how to make that reactive strength part of more functional patterns. We aren’t moving the weight with our arms, but our lower body and creating stability through the trunk, and simply directing the movement with our arms. When people ask, “which muscle does this work?” I can’t help but honestly say, ALL OF THEM!

That is my other point in writing about good core training. When you train in ways our body was designed to function, you develop overall strength so much faster and you find your mobility increases so much faster. So, while these are advance movements above, all our DVRT drills layer progressions so that anyone can get to the point of doing great training as Larisa Lotz shows below.

Hopefully you have a new appreciation that good core training is challenging, purposeful, progressive, and essential to building all around functional fitness. Once you understand the principles and concepts there is almost no end to the great work you can create and success you can achieve. Greg finishes us out with 6 great examples of these awesome core training concepts.

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In our #DVRT world we often say, “the good thing about DVRT is that there are a lot of options, but the bad side is there are a lot of options.” I would love to tell people that 4-6 exercises are all they would have to do to develop all around functional movement and strength, but that just wouldn’t be the truth. Coaching to me, isn’t about a handful of exercises you teach, but understanding principles and concepts so you can develop systems that place people in positions of success and help them have direction with their progress. Movement is more sophisticated than moving up and down so we have to have better ideas of how to train people to be strong in a multitude of ways. ____________ This doesn’t mean that we have to confuse or overwhelm people. Our concepts and principles are actually pretty simple… -Position of the Load -Position of the Body -Plane of Motion we are training. I often say that this isn’t complicated but different. It isn’t different to be different, but rather to address all the needs of true functional training. What we can do is point to certain exercises that people should work towards being proficient in, not because they make you some amazing “sandbag” lifter, but because what they teach you about real world strength ____________ What @dvrtfitness_uk has done is broken down some of the best DVRT lifts that help show more sophisticated strength by helping mobility, stability, multi-planar strength, and developing all foundational movement patterns. If you haven’t been following Greg, he has some terrific break downs of each of these movements. That is why I wanted to share them, if you can’t do them that is totally fine, the point is then figuring out where to start, why you can’t, and build programs that help how you move, perform, and feel. That is what our goals should be in good training programs!

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