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Smarter Ways To Build Advanced Functional Strength

core training

I just came back from a wonderful weekend teaching at the Perform Better fitness conference in Chicago. These are some of the best events for fitness pros, strength coaches, and physical therapists to further their understanding of the body and what made it even more special was Jessica was presenting as well!

functional strength

One thing that was really apparent is that our industry is still having a hard time understanding the goal of functional strength training. I don’t blame the coaches, literally everyone has their own definition, but that keeps us from understanding what is really possible with good functional strength training.

For example, one of the more unique aspects of functional strength training versus more familiar bodybuilding is the idea of using planes of motion. I know, you won’t read about planes of motion in most online articles, blog posts, or social media videos. That’s a shame because it is one of the most powerful ways to become really strong and resilient.

When we perform most movements in real life we aren’t just moving up and down, we are moving in environments that require us to be strong but also RESIST forces that are acting upon our body. Walking is one of the easiest examples at it is movement and resisting movement in all three planes of motion.

This is so important to understand because it means our body has not only individual muscles, but chains of muscles that are suppose to stabilize us to give us a stable platform to then move our bodies more efficiently. When we fail to have this stability we get compensation in our movement and that results in either (could be both) stagnation in training and/or injury.


This is one reason that so many of our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag progressions don’t look like a lot of our typical strength training exercises. We actually focus on what the body both does and needs in order to produce greater functional strength, move with more fluidity, and be more stable at the same time. A great example is our MAX lunge and as you see above you notice the chains that are all brought in at the same time. That is A LOT of muscles which means you build muscle more efficiently and can burn more body fat too! Good deal right?

In an effort to make such training methods more accessible to people, we created our Core Strap to greatly enhance our ability to train multiple planes of motion in a progressive manner.

Physical therapist, Jessica Bento, explains why such an unusual drill can be so amazingly effective for building functional strength. 

However, this simple attachment that allows us to provide another vector of force (most weights only act vertically, but now we can allow for vertical and horizontal forces) that will help us learn how to perform more complex movement like rotation. Coach Megan Berner shows this very thing as providing more feedback to a movement can help the learning process. Instead of putting a band around the waist though, having the Ultimate Sandbag in the Front Loaded position allows our core to create the proper stability so that we don’t rotate through the low back which often happens as people put bands on the body to try to do more advanced functional strength exercises.

Such concepts to improve functional strength don’t have to be overly complicated as I’ve been trying to show. One of my very favorite ways for people to really appreciate the power of these ideas in something super familiar like a lateral band walk. Below I explain why we use the concepts of trying to challenge other planes of motion in order to get better results in our training. When we actually understand not only all the options in progressing movement, but to connect the muscles of the body better we start to see we can accomplish SO much more!

Don’t miss this week saving not only 20% on ANY of our Ultimate Sandbags/Water Bags, but when you do you will get our Core Strap for FREE! Just use code “core” HERE