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The Best Deadlift You Aren’t Using

sandbag training

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

To be honest, I really want to start writing about my experience and feelings of the DVRT Big 6 that were recently released with their standards. However, I’m committed to finishing up this 3-part blog series about hip hinges. So, for those 2 people out there following me in the DVRT universe (including you, mom) you will have to wait until next time for DVRT Deep Thoughts by Cory Cripe!

Now … to the hip hinges!

Part I of the hip hinge, I wrote a nice little ditty about the DVRT Hip Bridge and you can read that HERE if you missed out! Part II, I wrote an award winning piece on the deadlift – the next phase of hip hinging – and you can find it HERE if you need to review this masterpiece 😉

Before we begin changing our body’s position by moving into a sprinter’s stance or stepping with the hip hinge movement, we need to address the next progression of hip hinge movements: the good morning. This exercise is taking what we know from our deadlift exercise and changing the holding position by moving the USB into a front loaded position.

Of course, there’s a few stories I’d like to share about the good morning exercise because that’s what I do – I tell stories! The first story is when I was at UW-La Crosse and newly introduced to barbell good mornings. I couldn’t quite figure out if I was suppose to squat or deadlift with the weight on my back and it was really awkward and cumbersome. Plus, it put a pretty big strain my low back – so I ended up skipping this exercise all together because I saw the task, but never understood the intent. 

The next story is when I experienced DVRT for the first time in person at the Perform Better Summit in Chicago many years ago. Now remember that I’ve had a history of low back issues in the past … Josh had us performing good mornings with the USB. The first rep I’m descending into my, what I thought was a, hip hinge and ::SNAP:: there went my low back!

The Best Deadlift You Aren't Using

UGH! This was the first morning of a THREE day summit and I was going to have to be on IR because of sandbag training! My grandma was right all this time about training with sandbags; should have just stuck with barbell training 😉

But it was what immediately followed that made me a DVRT believer. Josh used this cue I’ve never heard about before, ‘make sure to grab the floor with your feet as you lower yourself down.’ Of course I’m paraphrasing because it was many moons ago, but because of that cue, when I did my next rep, there was absolutely NO low back pain and lots of core muscle feelings! I ended up finishing his hands-on course and made it through the rest of the Perform Better Summit with no problems whatsoever.

This event made me sit back and reconsider what I was doing in fitness with exercises for me and my clients. What was with the whole feet and the floor magic act? Why did it work? Well, here we go:

You might pick up on a common theme going on here if you went through the last two hip hinge blogs … your feet! Just as Josh instructed us at Perform Better, grabbing the floor with your feet and creating tension through the core by pushing the feet into the ground while descending into the hip hinge will create a chain of events through the body stabilizing the right body parts so the other body parts can move. 

And this will build the strength necessary for more dynamic, or ballistic, eccentric exercises like power cleans, shouldering, and shoveling.

Properly learning how to perform the good morning exercise in the front end will save you lots of headaches down the road with all things hip hinge. ‘Why’ you might ask. A big focus on the good morning is the eccentric phase of the movement – or lowering of the body into the hip hinge position. With the USB securely placed against the chest, there is so much more core work that happens, as opposed to placing the barbell on the back. 

My preference when holding the USB in the front loaded position is to turn the palms out, with fingers spread wide and pointing to the sky. I have discovered it’s easier to squeeze the shoulder blades together and spread the USB across the chest in this position and that, my friends, creates the necessary tension on the top half to match the tension on the bottom half! This kind of tension and strength is not something you can replicate with a barbell on your back #TRUESTORY 

With hands placed in this position, I love cueing the fingers to continually spread apart and point to the ceiling during the descent of the good morning. This visual feedback really helps clients at Fitness Lying Down to keep their spines in a nice, neutral position with the USB pulled tight to the body via the lats during this challenging hip hinge, not allowing the shoulders to round forward.

sandbag good morning

This is the correct form on the Ultimate Sandbag front load good morning. This is a moving plank and one of the HUGE benefits of this movement. IF you put the weight on your neck, you aren’t getting so many of the benefits AND you are putting horrible stress upon your neck!

‘But Cory, what if I prefer to turn my hands towards me during the good morning exercise and hold onto the USB?’ I don’t believe this is a “non negotiable.” I’ve seen plenty of people grab onto the USB as they hip hinge and still maintain correct posture & position – it’s the intention that matters here. Both ways of holding can be fruitful and both ways can lead to destruction – as long as the intention of creating tension in the lats is priority #1!

And the good morning hip hinge can be a great way to problem solve for other hip hinge exercises, as well.

Fellow DVRT Master Instructor, Steve Holiner, put out an excellent instructional video about “lurching,” catching the USB with the elbows during the eccentric phase instead of catching with the hips. Most of the problems with lurching can be solved by spending quality time on the good morning emphasizing the eccentric movement. Focusing on slowing down and creating tension during the hip hinge will train the core to brace effectively and be better prepared for the dynamic unloading of the USB from the top position!

ultimate sandbag good morning

Many people don’t understand the cuing of the Ultimate Sandbag good morning, so they fold at the hips and let the elbows go back. One of the big aspects of pulling the weight apart with your arms and grabbing with your feet is to keep you in good alignment. 

Once you gain proficiency in the Ultimate Sandbag front loaded good morning, the playbook of DVRT progressions really opens up! 

Learning to master the DVRT good morning using the Ultimate Sandbag will open up many doors to your hip hinge journey. However, I always love returning to the good morning because of the many feeling that come with it – especially in a good 20:40 MRT protocol session! It’s amazing to think the hip hinge exercise I detested the most in the beginning has become one of my favorites!

And now you can enjoy your good mornings – even in the evenings!

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