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How To Create Smarter Muscle Building Workouts

One of the really incorrect assumptions about functional training and what we do with DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training is that it is “good”, but it really doesn’t build any muscle. When it comes to muscle building workouts, people instantly go back to isolated training techniques. “They work!” Is what many people will say about those muscle building workouts, but my question back is always, “compared to what?”

You see, I hesitate to call isolated training really “bodybuilding”. That is because originally bodybuilding and muscle building workouts had little to do isolated training. I won’t say none at all, but there was very less “arm day” that we would see nowadays in websites and articles. Muscle building workouts focused a lot more on movement, whole body exercises, and what many of us what would like at as “functional training” today.

muscle building workouts

100 years ago muscle building workouts weren’t very much about the best long head triceps exercise. 

Even old time bodybuilders like Franco C0lumbo, Tom Platz, and even Ahrnold (not a typo, that’s how you have to say it), spent way more time on movements that would like they came from a book on functional training but were on muscle building workouts just in the same.

Franco Columbo working out on the famous rings of Venice Beach show that muscle building workouts use to be a lot more similar to functional training. Way before Crossfit and functional training, people trained in ways that would look similar to many areas of gyms today. 

I wanted to share that little bit of history on muscle building workouts because so many people look at what we do in DVRT and can’t see it helping them in goals like functional muscle gains, but it absolutely does. Let me give you a few examples and reasons why.

You Train More Muscles

People that want to perform muscle building workouts usually default to isolated muscle building because they can “feel” the muscle they are training. That is SUPER inefficient though if you are actually looking to build muscle. There are 640 muscles in the body and I realize a lot of them people don’t care about. After all, when was the last time someone complimented you on your brachialis anticus (the muscle that actually causes your biceps to look like a peak).

You can not pay attention to these muscles, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t important and they won’t help your muscle gaining efforts. I like to use this analogy, if you run a business you want to make money right? You can’t just stare at your widget or sales numbers to understand what is happening with your total business, you will never make the money you want. The same is true in your muscle building workouts.

Meaning, if I can use one exercise to train 50 muscles let’s say, why would I want to prioritize an exercise that works 5? Hopefully that makes sense to you and then the question becomes more interesting in how?!

sandbag cleans

Movement Patterns First

Instead of worrying about your arm day or leg day, the 99.9% of us would be better served in training the full body each workout. At the very least, upper and lower body splits only. Why? For one, if you follow the classic modern isolated approach of…

Day 1: Legs/Abs.
Day 2: Chest.
Day 3: Back/Abs*
Day 4: Rest.
Day 5: Shoulder/Abs*
Day 6: Arms.
Day 7: Rest.

Your legs get trained once a week, your chest and back get trained once a week, but smaller muscles like your shoulders and arms get hit 2-3 times a week. Does that even make sense? So the muscles that have a great potential to improve your functional muscle growth are trained once a week, but the smallest muscle groups are hit way more frequently?

Now, people will say the big muscle groups need rest. That is true, but that also means the smaller ones need rest and recovery as well. The recovery is needed because a full day of work on a “legs” because the amount of work (volume) is often very high. However, look at a typical isolated leg workout…



-Machine squat/leg press

-Leg extension


-Romanian Deadlift

-Lying Leg Curl

-Seated Leg Curl

This was seriously taken from a popular “bodybuilding” website. No one can argue that compound exercises (squats, deadlifts, lunges, etc.) work more muscles, that is just fact. What happens in these isolated workouts is people naturally get tired during the workout so the body is continued to be hit in isolation to compensate for the fatigue. However, I think universally if you said which is better for muscle building workouts, squat/deadlifts or leg curls/extensions, people would say squats and deadlifts. However, with the common training model that only allows us a couple of big muscle group lifts and only once a week.

sandbag workouts

If we move to focusing on movements (squat, hip hinge, lunge, push, pull, rotation, and locomotion) and doing fully body workouts 3-4 days a week that means we can perform a form of a squat, deadlift, and lunge 3-4 days a week, doesn’t that sound more efficient for muscle building workouts?

Stability Training for Better Muscle Building Workouts

I like to believe what I have presented above so far isn’t so crazy for most. Hopefully it makes a lot of sense and you find yourself nodding a lot. The last piece of better muscle building workouts I would like to present IS very different. That is using true instability training to help these muscle building workouts.

At first you might think, “Josh isn’t instability training for those SMALL muscle groups?” Well yes and I have to clarify what I mean by stability training, but it is hard to train smaller muscles without the bigger muscle groups, the reverse isn’t true. So again, if I train MORE muscles, that sounds pretty good right?

The stability training we use in DVRT is more based on the science of stability than balancing on a squishy object or trying to hold to dear life to a barbell bouncing. People don’t usually like stability training because it isn’t smart and it isn’t progressive. Focusing on body position and load position we not only make stability training both more thoughtful and progressive, but we are actually able to train more muscle groups. Crazy idea right? We can ACTUALLY make you move better, function better, AND build better muscle? No way man, impossible.

It isn’t impossible because I used a lot of concepts that were used in strength training for a long time before the invention and use of machines and a heck of lot of drugs (sorry but it is true). What I did with DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training was not re-invent concepts but connect them into an actual system. A lot of older ideas that people will reference or point were not set with any specific system of training. Why is that important?

A system helps give us direction to where we are going or where we need to begin. I’ll be exploring this in more upcoming posts about how to use DVRT for building great muscle building workouts. Right now though you can see how DVRT UK Master, Greg Perlaki puts these ideas into practice into a great workout that will building how you function, feel, and yes, build muscle. These concepts can be found in our Dynamic Variable Resistance Training Courses  that are 20% off with code “save20” HERE