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Smarter Strength & Muscle Workouts

ultimate sandbag equipment

It is a big fallacy I can relate to because I was at fault for believing it too! That is when you speak about functional training you aren’t discussing serious ways to develop strength or lean muscle. Functional training is “cute”, or nice for rehab, or maybe some good conditioning, but nothing big in the matters of developing serious strength or muscle right?

You see I got into functional training in the ’90’s when it was mostly balancing exercises. EVERYTHING had to be done on something that wobbled, shook, or made your body look like it was convulsing. To be fair, not all of it was bad, however we can definitely say it got overdone. It wasn’t that the science wasn’t accurate back then, rather, how we took the science and tried to apply and it. If I am being honest, it was just too new for us as an industry to really get how these concepts should be applied. That of course led to the bad PR that functional training actually gets.

For a short time I went ALL the way to the other side and believed that everything could be solved by just getting really strong on deadlifts, squats, presses, etc. I did get pretty darn strong and won some Strongman local contests. Yet, I also was achy, had less mobility, and it wasn’t only me! Many of the lifters that I would compete with at these contests would openly discuss the fact that it wasn’t if you were hurt, but how badly. It was this issue that caused many to use steroids and other drugs just so they could recover and compete. Seeing all this is what made me take a long hard look at what I was doing and maybe I needed to find something in between (genius right, lol).


Since then I have had SO much success in helping people move better, feel better, but also get strong, build more lean muscle, and drop body fat. So, how do we do it smarter, check out these ideas for building better strength and muscle…

Myth: Training In All These Different Directions And Patterns Is Just Dancing And Not Real Training

Several years ago a top powerlifter came to me to help him increase his lifts. Specifically, he was struggling to raise his squat numbers. He was at a 800 pounds and couldn’t break anywhere to get to 900, just a light squat right? After speaking to him about the program he was following and seeing him squat I could tell a few things that I could help him upon and others I could not.

There was NOTHING wrong with his squat technique and his program looked like a solid program that you would expect to see from a powerlifter. However, that didn’t mean the program was great. I asked him if I could try laying him on his side, having him lift his leg and seeing if I could push it down. If his hips were working right it should be REALLY difficult for me to drive down his leg. He was game and when we started his mouth literally dropped open. It was SOOOO easy for me to drive down his hip (a lot of people cheat this test but a discussion for another time), he couldn’t believe that he didn’t have any strength.

strength training

That became an easier sell that his program was missing frontal plane strength. When I had him perform a shoulder lateral step-up he couldn’t balance with more than 60 pounds. Decent, but for a good sized man that can squat 800, not what we would really expect. Our MAX lunge was a huge challenge to him as well as being able to strength the core and hips in this specific pattern could have great benefits for him.


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A post shared by Martín Adame, CSCS, (@martinadame1)

Strength Coach Martin Adame shows that we often leave SO much on the table when it comes to good training than most ever realize. 

The result? A few months of texting back and forth he finally hit me up when he was excited that he had hit a personal best! Not only that, but he felt better too from his training (kinda nice right?). I share this story because this guy was incredibly open minded and it benefitted him, but also it shouldn’t make sense if you believe that just lifting heavier is how you get stronger. However, our movement is more sophisticated than we often give it credit.

Myth: There Isn’t Enough Load On Your DVRT Exercises To Build Muscle

One of the toughest things for people to really grasp is how we build great strength and functional muscle with the weights we use in many of our DVRT workouts. The loads don’t look anything like they see in other workouts and doesn’t heavier weight always mean better results? Well, the truth is that just having load is not enough information to really give an honest answer.

Before you tell me, “but Josh heavy barbell lifting is always how people got really strong!” let me share with you that this is simply not the case. Fitness didn’t become really popular till the 70’s and 80’s and really due to the work of the Cooper Institute that at the time was telling people how important exercise was for their health and other goals. So, going to the gym was really only a pretty recent idea for the mainstream.

Second, iron had been expensive for a long time. Heavy lifting was regulated largely to some competitive weightlifters or circus style strongmen. Even then, iron wasn’t nearly as readily available as we have today. As you can see in the pictures above, you would just be likely to see people use gymnastics types of moves as you would lifting less than 100 years ago. Yet, there were people that were able to develop very appreciable physiques and possess a strength we would consider impressive today.

Moving as we lift is not just a way to make a familiar exercise interesting again, but requires more muscles to work to stabilize our body as we lift. Wonder why gymnasts, martial arts, and wrestlers are able to develop pretty impressive physiques and great strength even though their sports don’t promote much weight training? Many of the elements that we use in DVRT are derived from these sports that look how they manipulate positioning and leverage to build strength.


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A post shared by Martín Adame, CSCS, (@martinadame1)

Martin shows how we can build great strength, mobility, stability, and muscle all at the same time.

Not only do these movements train SO MANY muscles, but they also expose the most simple idea that people overlook. That is if I gave you a 100 pound barbell and a 100 pound Ultimate Sandbag, they feel COMPLETELY differently. The barbell is perfectly balanced and doesn’t move as you lift it. The Ultimate Sandbag is an odd dimension and even using handles (which makes the USB move MORE) you have an unpredictable weight that doesn’t have the same repetition done twice.

What Jessica and I have tried to do with DVRT is show people you can train hard, you lift challenging weight, but you can also make your training so much smarter. You can not only build muscle and strength that is impressive, but you can move in your everyday life better, have less aches/pains, and just enjoy everyday things better. That is what so many people I have worked with are interested in for their lives and hope to continue to bring you great ideas like the DVRT workout below to show you how!

This week you can save 25% on ANY of our Ultimate Sandbags/Water Bags and when you do you will get 36 workouts for FREE that will help you create an awesome gym no matter where you train. Just use code “sale25” HERE


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