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Re-Thinking How We Teach Core Training

sandbag exercise equipment

Whew, 10 days teaching 6 DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training courses in China, in three different cities, was definitely a whirlwind! Trying to get my mind right just in times for the holidays has my head spinning to say the least. Yet, I’m still dedicated to helping us finish 2018 strong with DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training. 

Going to China was kind of  interesting. I had been there several times but we were working with a new company that really believed in the value of education. Even then, they were somewhat concerned that “sandbags” weren’t very popular in China. I told them sandbags aren’t popular anywhere. At first they were confused, but I went on to explain what I mean. 

sandbag training

About ten years ago I was talking with fitness expert, Alwyn Cosgrove. Discussing what we were doing and where I was trying to take what we were teaching. I shared my concern with him that people ONLY saw the Ultimate Sandbag. That may surprise some because don’t I want you to perform Ultimate Sandbag Training? To be honest, ONLY if it means you use it for the great purpose we have put behind it with our Dynamic Variable Resistance Training system (DVRT). 

Alwyn actually helped to come up with the name DVRT way back when, as we wanted to help people realize that the tool is only the vehicle to help teach the concepts of functional fitness we want them to understand. It is an incredible tool, but it is only as good as the person’s knowledge of how to gain the benefits. 

Every time I teach, this time was no exception, to almost 100 Chinese fitness professionals, I watch and enjoy seeing people go through this very process. They may come in thinking that we are just going to teach them to perform, “sandbag training”, then they are shocked at how much more they learn! 

ultimate sandbag training

As always, I want to give you a real world example. After all, what confuses so many people about the term “functional training” is that they think it refers to the tool or the exercise. It is really neither. Functional training refers to what you are trying to teach the body about movement and HOW you teach that through the tool and exercises you use. 

There are many principles of functional training we teach in our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training courses. Let’s show you how one unlikely Ultimate Sandbag drill can accomplish so many in such unsuspecting ways. 

Principle: Force enters the body from the feet and hands

Students in our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training courses are always shocked how simple teaching good movement can become if we understand how our body creates it. Most people miss the obvious and focus on the obscure. They forget that the biggest fitness solutions can come from the placing emphasis on the most important factors of our body. 

For one, how about the fact that over HALF the bones of our body reside in our hands and our feet. Yet, we rarely cue people on how the hands and feet perform in setting our body, interact with the ground, and help us turn on most of the muscles in our body including our core. 

Most miss how the hands are essential for activating much of the upper body muscles and the chains!

That is why placing people in a half kneeling position is something we use a great deal in DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training. In that position we teach people to DRIVE through both of the feet to create stability of the pelvis from the ground up. Being a bit unstable, it becomes very obvious when people DO NOT do this as you see their rib cage expand and their balance is quite poor. 

When it comes to our hands, the Ultimate Sandbag is an incredibly important tool. Most people totally misunderstand grip strength and how to use the hands. While we have many handles on the Ultimate Sandbag (each used for a very specific purpose), we can still grip directly onto the Ultimate Sandbag itself. 

ultimate sandbag training

One of our key points is trying to “rip” the Ultimate Sandbag apart which you see brings the elbows in and ties in the hand, shoulders, lats, and core. 

Especially when we have the Ultimate Sandbag in the shoulder position to press overhead we want to create tension against the weight. We don’t casually hold the Ultimate Sandbag, but try to RIP it apart. That immediately engages the lats and core to protect and strengthen our shoulders. 

When you see our half kneeling Arc Press, we aren’t pushing up, we are actually thinking about driving our feet down as we continue to push the Ultimate Sandbag over the crown of the head while trying to rip it apart. In doing so we not only use the entire body, but we have healthier and more power in our pressing. 

Principle: We don’t move just up and down. 

Most people don’t simply know what to do with some of the knowledge they have. I am sympathetic to that. Back in the late 90’s I learned about the fascial lines and connections of the body. It took me literally years to figure out what to do with the information. The reason a lot of people just want to keep doing the same thing, is because they really don’t understand how complex our real world movement is and how we can best optimize it through proper progressions and exercise. 

Everything we do in real life has us moving through three planes of motion. That is doesn’t mean a lot unless we know how to use that in training. The sagittal plane (most up and down as well as back and forth) is the most stable plane, the frontal plane (side to side motion) is second, and transverse plane (rotation) is the most complex. 

We often START people in the sagittal plane so they can learn the foundations of a movement, then we progress by adding in the challenge of resisting the frontal and transverse planes, finishing with moving through the frontal then transverse. What does that look like? 

A front plank is a good example of a strong core exercise, but it exists only in the sagittal plane. Good to learn some foundations, but we don’t want to live there. Being in a half kneeling position challenges us to resist these frontal and transverse plane forces. Especially as we press the Ultimate Sandbag from one side to another. Adding in the use of a band accentuates these factors and reinforces the need of our feet and hands to create tension while bracing our core. 

Principle: Our body works as chains not in isolation.

The functional training movement has done a good job of getting people to understand that our body doesn’t work as a Frankenstein combination of parts, but a very well designed connection of chains to make complex movements appear seamless. We have several chains, but one of the easiest to wrap one’s head around is the fact that the lats, core, and opposite glutes work with one another. 

Most people look to design exercises around what we do in the gym, yet, our body wasn’t designed to perform in a gym. Unless we understand these connections we won’t fully grasp what functional training means and how to best teach in it ways that make a huge impact on people. 

The question is HOW do we connect these chains. That is where everything comes full circle. Using our feet we can tap into our core and glutes from the bottom up and using our hands ins specific ways we can connect our lats and core from top down. Hopefully you are starting to see why I am so adamant about HOW we use the Ultimate Sandbag. The tool is a vehicle in how we teach such important concepts and get powerful results that most think are “magic”. 

When you look at DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training exercises like our half kneeling Arc Press to Press Out, don’t watch just the movement of the weight, you are missing the bigger picture! Think about how we are driving with our feet and pulling the Ultimate Sandbag apart. The reward is a simple looking exercise that does all the following…….

-Teaches how to properly use the core. 

-Builds foundations to lunging and pressing more successfully. 

-Stabilizes the knee and shoulders. 

-Increases mobility in the hips and shoulders through proximal stability. 

-Connects the kinetic chains of the body. 

Most of all it is one heck of a DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training exercise that you FEEL all this working at one time. you start to learn that functional training isn’t a tool or an exercise, but a demonstration of understating how the body actually works!

Find out more how we change how we train by saving 30% on our DVRT online educational programs HERE with coupon code “holiday”