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The Measurement of True Core Strength

sandbag training

Cory Cripe, DVRT Master (Creator of DVRT Movement Strength)

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from people when they perform twisting, turning, rotational, whatever you want to call it exercises – it bothers their low backs! I know what you are thinking, these are pretty standard ways of building core strength so what gives?!

Why is this? Were we not meant to rotate our bodies? I sincerely hope you know the answer is OF COURSE!!! Of course we are meant to rotate our bodies! It’s how we can generate the maximum amount of power without being limited by gravity. How can you do THIS for 61 yards without being efficient in your rotation? Again, maximum power without being affected by gravity.

Core strength plays a big role in you creating power and strength in rotation, but maybe not in the way you first think! When it comes to rotational exercises, everyone is quick to point at the obliques as a major contributor. And I agree, the obliques are huge when it comes to rotation, but what exactly is the role of the obliques? I am convinced that these very important muscles exist to stabilize your pelvis and resist rotational forces when doing any movement – especially rotational movements!

core strength

Legendary strength coach, Mike Boyle, has talked a lot about our misunderstanding of core strength and how to build it. He cites the work of renown physical therapist, Shirley Sahrmann. According to Sahrmann, in her book Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement Impairment Syndromes, she states “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)

What this means is that a BIG part of building core strength is about teaching the body how to RESIST movement. Where people go wrong in those “twisting” exercises is that they move through the low back INSTEAD of the hips. There are many reasons that happens, but a big one is that they haven’t spent time building up core strength to teach the body how to resist movement.

sandbag exercises

I find success at Fitness Lying Down starting new clients building core strength with anti-rotational drills before exploring rotational movements. The ability to resist forces in the transverse plane … don’t turn when something wants to turn you … will establish a better foundation when ready to progress into rotational movements.

Now on to the applications!

My go-to anti-rotational core strength movements are pledge planks, plank rows, and renegade rows with the kettlebells. BUT here is what I have found: as easy as it is to build people from the ground-up, these plank variations can be very difficult due to lack of core stability and body awareness. Shoulders go crazy, hips are compromised, and the core is nowhere to be seen.

core strength

What if we can go into an upright position where gravity doesn’t have such a hold on us (as it would in a plank position) and perform the same movement, but more? Too good to be true you might say! Instead of being affected by gravity, which you cannot see, now you have the opportunity to face your resistance in a more tangible form. Enter our beloved Ultimate Sandbag and Core Straps!

Find out how to build real world core strength that helps you look and perform your best in our new DVRT Movement Strength program HERE