Cory Cripe, Fitness Lying Down (Coach Of Our FIRST DVRT Online Live Workshop HERE)
I’ll be honest, besides being asked on social media how heavy the Ultimate Sandbags are that I’m using, the next popular question is how do I program using the DVRT system. When I’m instructing various DVRT courses and certifications there is much time spent discussing beginner workout programming and how to do it in a way that makes sense. My purpose is to lay out a series of blogs for you to have a better idea of making programs that makes sense – I’m kinda pulling the curtain back on the secrets of programming at my gym, Fitness Lying Down! Remember, beginner workout programs doesn’t mean easy, it means understanding and gaining familiarity with our unique principles, concepts, and lifting techniques.
I believe one reason qualified fitness professionals struggle with DVRT programming is because it takes what we have been taught about programming (even beginner workout programs) and turns it on its head! I remember when I was starting out in the 90s (yikes) we were inundated with the periodization models of programming where you have different phases of training and depending on what phase you were in would dictate how much load and volume you were going to program for your client.
Now tell me, do you think your clients, living regular lives, need to go through phases of programming? Our general population gym goers are typically not looking to have a 6-week phase of hypertrophy (muscle building) followed by strength-speed & speed-strength phases. Let’s be honest, they’re pretty much searching for something that will make their low back feel better and have an easier time fitting into those pair of jeans from last year!
When it comes to creating award-winning functional strength training programs, the other obstacle is the bodybuilding mindset. The fitness industry has been heavily influenced by bodybuilding and there are some particular issues I have with this influence.
Number one: Isolation. Bodybuilding is all about looking at individual muscles in a vacuum and the problem is that our bodies move in integration and not isolation. So putting together programs based on muscle groups goes against everything our body was made to do. We need to understand the various connections our bodies have and honor those connections with a program that ties them together.
Not only does that improve our movement and often a lot of ailments that our clients come in with, but as far as training muscles and helping lose body fat it is WAY more efficient as I’ll explain.
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Most clients don’t know how to use their body effectively or efficiently, that is why using specific tools and cues can make such a huge difference.
Number two: Inefficient. How many of you struggle with clients that say they have all the time in the world to train with you? Yeah, I didn’t think so. When we put together programs that focus on muscle groups and isolation, those programs seem to take up a lot of time because you have to devote so much time per muscle group and who knows how many exercises you need to use to make sure you hit the different angles of that muscle group. I mean you gotta attack the front, side, and rear delts, right?!?! I only say this because it wasn’t too long ago that this was my approach to strength training with my clients.
So, as my good friend Yoda would say, “You have to unlearn what you have learned.” When you can do that then you can start seeing training with a lens that your clientele will appreciate.
I would like to first begin this (what will wind up being a multiple blog) series on the quickest way to make a better, more effective functional strength training experience: movement patterns. Not really the pizzazz you were looking for, eh? Well allow me to explain how honoring movement patterns will simply your programming and enhance your clients’ experience!
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Efficiency also means knowing how we teach concepts of movement faster to clients so they can benefit.
Let’s start with programming. When you are tied to particular exercises you are limited in your capacity to see the bigger picture and will often times put together programs for your clients that are redundant. How many exercises do you really need to hit the pecs? I remember “back in the day” when we’d come in Monday first thing and hit the barbell bench press, then move to an dumbbell incline bench press, and then do a decline bench something or another! That’s basically a lot of the same pressing movement in one session. How much time does that not only take up in your session, but do you need to have that much volume dedicated to the same movement pattern in the one session? After awhile this can lead to overuse of the joints with unnecessary wear & tear on the body.
For many of our clients this over repetitive action in the gym will cause soreness not in the muscles so much, but the ligaments and tendons and joints. As a result of this unwanted soreness they may opt out of future sessions to rest their bodies because it hurts to move. This is detrimental to their progress and goals and could be hard on your revenue! The isolated muscle mindset can be not really found in any other system of training other than bodybuilding. It may because it doesn’t make bodies really healthier in the sense of how we move and feel.
In DVRT we recognize that the human experience is made up of seven movement patterns: squat, pull, push, hinge, lunge, rotation/anti-rotation, & gait. I’m gonna be brutally honest, all you need is to do one movement pattern in a session and move on! In regards to the bodybuilding program I mentioned above, choosing one of the press exercises (flat bench, incline, decline) would be enough and then I’m done with that press movement for the day. Move on!
Now do I mean to just do one set and that’s it? It could be depending on your time limit and goals, but typically we do a movement pattern for 2-4 sets for so many repetitions per set depending on the other training factors we are dealing with and call it good, next movement pattern please.
The benefit of training the movement patterns is you can keep it exciting throughout the week. Typically we see clients 2 to 3 times per week. What if we did a bench press on Monday (international bench press day), incline on Wednesday, and decline on Thursday? Getting all the volume we wanted to get, but spread out throughout the week so we don’t have to be concerned about over repetitive movements and redundancy and all the physical side effects that are created because of it. You see whether a beginner workout or more advanced, we aren’t sacrificing anything in our results but building healthier bodies and happier clients.
Do you have to hit every movement pattern in a session? Absolutely not! Again depending on the client and other training variables, I suggest 4 to 6 of the patterns should be highlighted in each strength training session. And you can always sneak in a twofer to help get the biggest bang out of your movement buck! Anyone know of the DVRT clean & press using the Ultimate Sandbag? Hinge – check, vertical press – check. Two movements in one exercise. So many benefits on so many different levels!
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We can use different progressions that challenge various qualities to allow for purposeful variation.
Now I don’t want to share all the FLD secrets…wait, who am I kidding? Of course I do! If I were to see a client twice a week (pretty typical in the industry) I would look at building a movement-based program for them like this…
This is a great model you can use for beginner workout programs or any fitness level you are training.
What I’m offering are supersets. You will perform the first exercise for a desired amount of reps and move to the second exercise for another desired amount of reps. Move back and forth between these exercises for the prescribed sets: 2, 3, or more times. Once you are done with that superset, you’re done. Move to the next adventure…I mean superset 😉 See how you can satisfy the movement pattern and be done with it for the session? This keeps your client (and yourself if you are looking for a better way to train) fresh for the week and not riddled with joint and ligament soreness/stiffness. Seems like a win-win to me!
Thanks for indulging me this far, but you might be asking how these movement patterns might be articulated by exercises in that particular program. Let’s do a quick breakdown of that!
Here’s the exciting news: as we dive further down the DVRT programming rabbit hole in this series you will see movement patterns, yes – but you will possess a better understanding of ordering and pairing exercises on other criteria that will keep your clients engaged in their sessions, not feeling like it’s the “same thing, different day,” and reenergize you and your programming designing magic! We often call it “purposeful variation”.
In closing, if there is one, huge takeaway from this first blog is that we as a fitness professionals need to swap out our old pair of glasses and see programming with a different lens! Move away from sessions that are exercise dependent and create an experience for your clients with the freedom of movement as your guide. I look forward to our next time together with another layer to add into the mix!
Can’t make it to Cory’s great gym, Fitness Lying Down? You can train with Cory as he is leading our first live DVRT online workshop, get a FREE Ultimate Sandbag (for US students) and a great discount HERE. Don’t miss 25% all throughout DVRT and get 2 powerful training programs for FREE HERE
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