account My cart 0
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Save Your Joints On Your Squats

Ultimate Sandbag fitness equipment

Cory Cripe, Owner Of Fitness Lying Down (Creator of Dynamic Strength & Movement Strength, Leading DVRT Level 1 & 2 Certifications La Crosse, Wisconsin HERE)

train hard

If you read about Josh or Jessica speaking the praises of DVRT it would be all too easy to say, “of course they love DVRT, they created the system and equipment.” I think that is largely unfair if you know these two as they truly walk the talk, but more importantly, I feel I can rave to about DVRT because I’m a coach like many of you. For several years now my gym (Fitness Lying Down) has based our training on DVRT and the impact it has had on my life, my coaches’ lives, and my clients’ lives is what inspires me to want to teach and share with you how you can experience the many benefits.

I’ve enjoyed sharing my love of DVRT through my  award-winning series: Kettlebells & Coffee 😉 and now hosting a podcast I am able to go into greater depth into how I and other successful coaches use DVRT to so positively impact others. This post is going to be about one of my favorite topics, how we can train hard but build great resilience at the same time.

This blog will be about how we don’t have to beat ourselves up in order to achieve our fitness goals (and maybe shamelessly plug the upcoming DVRT Level I & II certification at my own gym Fitness Lying Down April 30th & May 1st HERE), we don’t have to wear our bodies out ignorer to be our best. Which is important as the idea of having “no gain without pain” is still very prevalent in not just gym goers, but professionals as well.

When discussing with clients and potential clients of FLD, I love using the word, resiliency, to describe one of the many benefits of training with this valuable system. Now resiliency can mean a whole lotta things when we train in DVRT.

But the resiliency I would like to cover is how we can train intensely and not have the wear and tear that other methods of training might come with. What do I mean by that? Reflecting on my previous fitness life of training with barbells & dumbbells, I believed that in order to become strong one would have to lift some arbitrary determined number on a lift. Now this was okay for me in my teens, 20s, and early 30s because I was able to recover quickly from an intense and heavy lifting session. Not so much today!

I will argue that I’m not old, but I’m also not young and am certain as I’m living the fourth decade of my life that it would take more to recover from the same workout I did in the past if I did it today. Add in running my own business and trying to be the best dad and husband I can be all require training smarter, not just harder. Exercise is stress no matter how you cut it (that is how we actually create change), but I do not want training to beat me up so much that it would place additional strains & stresses on my body that is quite unnecessary in this season of my life. I can’t be laid up for a few days because I decided going heavy or going home was the only way to build strength.

ultimate sandbag exercises

Not only am I referring to muscular stresses and strains, but let’s be honest, our ligaments and tendons aren’t getting any younger either and continuing to place crazy amounts of load on them can also lead to more days of required recovery – or worse: injury! So the best thing for my body and the many systems in my body is to move. And not just to move, but move as we are designed to move: up & down, forward & backward, side-to-side, rotating & resisting rotation. Think 7 movement patterns + 3 planes of motion = unlimited amounts of strength opportunities!


It’s called Progressive Overload, the most foundational concept to strength training. While most think the idea is to just keeping adding weight to an exercise (would be cool if possible, but we all know it isn’t) it is actually creating stress through many different ways. One of the ideas that got me most intrigued about DVRT in the first place was the emphasis on incremental progression beyond just adding more weight.

If we take this back to my barbell days the only demand that seemed adequate at the time was increasing weight so my desired adaptation of getting stronger could be achieved. And if I were to follow that thought process my life would be doomed to having to rely on various braces and sleeves for my joints with a good regiment of ibuprofen to help ease the pain. Thankfully, I’ve seen the light and can create better and smarter demands to generate a whole different adaptation that I never would have thought possible with strength training. This doesn’t mean I don’t get to be as strong as I have ever been in my life, but I do so while moving my best and also not hurting every day because of my training.


I love, love, love using this example at Fitness Lying Down – especially with my male clients that grew up on barbells like me. The ol’ barbell back squat. Mankind’s best way to develop stronger legs, right? For most barbell men out there, 135 pounds was considered the warm-up weight when hitting the squats on leg day. Now if 135 pounds on the barbell was an acceptable warm-up weight, why oh why is that same 135 pounds of Ultimate Sandbag so much more intense! Same weight, but different input.

For example, many men would have to make their way up to a 200, 300, maybe 400 pound barbell back squat to get that heavy effect on leg day. That is a ridiculous amount of weight and stress to place on one’s body no matter what the age. Let’s now take that same person needing hundreds of pounds to satisfy their squat appetite and use an 80 or 100 pound USB instead. I know, I know, “Cory, that won’t make you strong though!” If you throw around 100 pound plus Ultimate Sandbag on the squats I am going to show with no effort then I will say you have a fitness that I haven’t seen in my many years of coaching (including some NBA players).

Where do we start? We would begin with a bear hug hold for the most stable holding position. After the body adapts to the unique demands of the bear hug squat, now progress to a front loaded position, then place the USB directly on the fists, experience a whole new challenge with an offset grip, and then move the USB on the shoulder in your next squat progression.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Cory M. Cripe (@corymcripe)

Utilizing the various holding positions (and I didn’t even get to altering body positions) with the same weight is going to create more opportunities for the body to adapt and build a stronger squat than simply adding more weight ever could do and, most importantly, not at the expense of completely breaking down the body because as we grow older we need to make sure our training is smarter – not just harder!

If you don’t believe me, check out the great video our great Fitness Lying Down Coach/Nutritionist, Megan Berner shares below as well as some research that I wish more people would acknowledge! “The front squat was as effective as the back squat in terms of overall muscle recruitment, with significantly less compressive forces and extensor moments. The results suggest that front squats may be advantageous compared with back squats for individuals with knee problems such as meniscus tears, and for long-term joint health.” (A biomechanical comparison of back and front squats in healthy trained individuals)

Don’t miss 30% off our Ultimate Sandbags, Online Certifications/Courses, and DVRT workout programs with code “save30now” HERE!