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The Best Upper Body Exercises

When I fell in love with strength training at just 14 years old, I was the VERY typically young man falling in love with weights. Meaning that I did all the classic mistakes of training. My workouts were those ripped right out of the pages of the fitness magazines and there were far more days devoted to my upper workouts than there were my lower body. In those workouts I had to make sure to hit every fiber of the pecs, biceps, and oh yea, gotta get that long head of the triceps more as well!

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I tell you this because I am definitely not one of those that claim they knew a better way to train their whole lives. In fact, I think experiencing the other methods, making mistakes is all part of you evolve faster and can speak more intelligently on what works and what doesn’t and for whom!

Since I had PLENTY of experience doing a lot of upper body training you would think I was a monster up top! Eh, not really. Being tall and not having the biggest bone structure I was far from huge. Don’t get me wrong, I had built some muscle and definitely some strength. Of course I had no idea that major drug use was part of what was needed to gain the muscle mass I would see in the pages of the magazines.

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I’m sure most guys would HATE to have the physique of a wrestler;)

I bring this up because it is either insinuated or flat out said that functional training can’t really build muscle like bodybuilding methods. Those things are said with two major problems facing such a statement. For one, we have to know how you are defining functional training (you can read my post yesterday HERE where I outline where our definition stems from and how we think about it!). The second issue we don’t have really any studies trying to compare the two for such a purpose (at least not that I know of). That means either side is purely making assumptions, but I like to pose some ideas that may give us some idea.

Can Functional Training Build Muscle?

Skeptics of functional training and even some that actually say they believe in functional training are often quick to say you need to do other forms of training. My favorite story to tell is when I was teaching DVRT and kettlebells in Moscow (yea, I’ll let that set in for a second) a young coach asked me, “is this functional training or is this strength training?” I was a bit taken a back because I didn’t know why he thought it was NOT about strength training?

Let’s face it, there are still a lot of people that think functional training is about how you balance on squishy objects or perform “dance like” movements. Which when you peel back both means almost no load is used! Listen, we have been big that load is not the ONLY variable, but load is still a variable and an important one. We still need to apply stress to the body and how we do so is important to building strength, muscle, and yes, functional training. If we look at the bodies of wrestlers, gymnasts, many martial artists I think we have some strong evidence to suggest that accomplishing all these fitness goals is possible!

What Makes For Better Upper Body Workouts

How does this all translate to better upper body workouts and the point of this post? Well, we need to understand how functional training impacts our upper body workouts. Here are the key points…

-The body works as a whole!: This is usually a less controversial point of functional training, but it does get overlooked by even its supporters in how we use exercises. For example, many people still love to put their chest on a bench or be supported by something when they do an action like rowing. The idea is that our core is our limiting factor and if we minimize the “weak link” we can keep training the back.

functional fitness

That is true, however, that also means that our real world strength capabilities are related to how much our core can stabilize our body. For ease of example, let’s say you can produce 500 pounds of force when you are supported by a bench, then you can produce 375 when you are not supported. Guess how much force you will produce in pretty much every real life scenario, if you guessed 375 you would be correct! So, those muscles would end up being a lot of show and not much go!

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I feel very lucky to have a group of awesome fitness professionals that are so great about helping us espouse better training ideas through DVRT. Even something as familiar as upper back exercises get a major upgrade when we think about how the body works in real life! ______________ When you see most people talk about training their upper back, they often lay on a bench, support their bodies, and try to take out the core and lower body. So? We are after the upper back after all right? Well, the upper back doesn’t work by itself and as @dvrtfintess_uk shows, the upper and lower body are connected! Plus, our body can only produce strength in the arms and legs if the core can stabilize the pelvis/spine. _______________ That is why in #DVRT we emphasize using the lower body AND core with the upper body training like in our rows. The cool part is both with our unique training system and how we designed the Ultimate Sandbag we have so many ways to train the body to make it smarter, stronger, and yes, look better! We give even more great examples and detailed explanation in today’s post. ➡️ You can find the 🔗 in my BIO. _______________ Great work by @corymcripe @coachmccartney @dvrtfitness_uk @jessbento_physiotherapist @seanlettero

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Not only should we understand using the whole body is important, but so is pulling from different directions. Why? Dr. David Tiberio puts it so well…

“…it could be argued, since muscles are activated by neural sensors (proprioceptors), that training in only one plane will inhibit the utilization of the other planes during functional movements that require three-dimensional motion.”

That also means in our pushing exercises that integrating more of the TOTAL body works better than just trying to work the “pecs” or the “shoulders”

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You might look at this and think what an amazing arm, shoulder, and chest exercise! Me? I say what an effective glute & lat movement! . . . I’ve seen people practicing their one-arm push ups on elevated surfaces like boxes and counters and the problem is the hand cannot possibly grab that surface and produce enough tension to create a lat response. Using the suspension trainer allows me the ability to “crush” the handle setting my lat on the same side to fire up. The press hand and opposite foot have a strong relationship and when I can use both of them together then this “upper body” exercise becomes a total body experience and one helluva gut buster. You’re welcome 😉

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You see DVRT Master, Cory Cripe FORCING his wh0le body to work in this type of push-up and there are so many ways to manipulate push-ups to develop serious strength and muscle. Benching is okay, but I would prefer a properly designed stability ball (like Duraball) that are made for loading so you can integrate the whole body!

DVRT Master, Sean Lettero shows how advanced we can make push-ups though to develop both strength and muscle while improving how we move and perform!

Of course in DVRT our affinity for pressing exercises is going overhead. It is the old time strongman measure of strength (they did so because they had no other choice) and while they didn’t have the science they realized that it took the WHOLE body to lift a weight overhead! In today’s world though we see so many shoulder issues because people don’t move and use their bodies well.

Physical Therapist, Dan Swinscoe, breaks down some practical solutions. He hurt his rotator cuffs during a powerlifting meet on the bench press and how he has been recovering has really spoken to DVRT functional training concepts.

The Ultimate Sandbag offers three great reasons that it should be a powerful tool in your pressing programs.

  1. The position of the arm is in a friendlier position. The hands facing one another puts the shoulder in a less stressful position and allows us to integrate our lats easier.
  2. The load is unstable forcing us to integrate the entire body from “toes to nose” to hold our “plank” well.
  3. In DVRT we have many different body positions that teach these concepts and we can also alter how we use the load.
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Progressive Overload Is Adding Stress To The Body & Not Just Keep Adding More Weight!⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ 🏋️‍♂️ One of our main principles in the DVRT System is how we use progressive overload with different body positions, loading positions and planes of motion to ensure gradual progress in training. There are other variables need to be considered like the stability of the implement, time under tension, speed and volume, etc.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ 🏋️‍♂️ This post covers load positions, body positions and planes of motion. Using these 3 variables will give more direction to training where focus is on improving efficiency. Simple doesn't mean easy, like bringing the feet together to create a more unstable position when pressing.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ 🏋️‍♂️ Using a Sprinter Stance (heel to toe stance) where the back foot is actively pushing into the ground creates an asymmetrical body position which lights up more stabilizer muscles. That active push into the ball of the foot engages muscles up the chain and stabilise the pelvis not allowing any rotation. It also works as a stable platform for the shoulders as glutes, core and lats work together. The rotational press is a true multi planar movement where the foot pivots and pushes into the ground. Lumbar spine remains stable and both feet help to create stability from the ground up and the load feels significantly heavier. ⠀ ⁠⠀ 🏋️‍♂️ Frontal Plane movements can feel easier as the feet are in a wider base (third video) however the same load feels completely different depending on how we load the body. The Front Load is a more stable position as the weight sits close to the body. It doesn’t mean easy though. Whereas the Fist 👊🏼 Load really lit 🔥 up the core and all the small stabilisers when moving sideways. The Shoulder Load looks like nothing however the body needs to resist lateral flexion and rotation. Worth noting that the wider base makes the shoulder load easier than a narrow stance. ⠀ ⠀ 📍To Find Out More About Smart Fitness Solutions Join Our Level 1 UK Certification in Marlow, Buckinghamshire on 9th February 📍⠀

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DVRT UK Master, Greg Perlaki shows how we can manipulate the body position to connect the entire body and add progression without changing the implement or load. Using MORE muscles to keep our body stable as we press! This results in a stronger, more mobile, and better muscle development because of how much of the body we are using and HOW we are using the body.

Our hope is when you better understand functional training you begin to appreciate how many fitness goals can be achieved by using a proper system like DVRT. Greg and our great DVRT coaches show how many layers of progressions we have in our training as you can see in how we can also use our Arc Press (a one arm press with frontal plane stability to it) in ways to help all these goals at once!

Don’t forget that our Ultimate Sandbags AND DVRT Online Education and Workouts are all 25% off with code “save25” HERE

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What The Feet 👣 & Core Have To Do With The Shoulders!?⁣ ⁣ ⁣ 💡So many people still think of the body as isolated body parts. However research shows that our body is designed to work as one unit. So, when it comes to #shoulder health, it really depends on what the rest of the body is doing. Particularly the core (including the grip and its connection to the lats), the hips and the feet. ⁣ ⁣ 💡That’s why these exercises could look nothing like shoulder exercises. Where in fact, they accomplish the integration of the whole body through its natural chains. ⁣ Pulling the sandbag apart with both hands helps to engage the core through the grip and lats where pushing the feet deliberately into the ground does the same thing from the bottom up. ⁣ ⁣ 💡 The body needs to fight against lateral motion as the sandbag goes from one side to the other. The above mentioned actions with the hands and feet provide the #stability and #mobility for strong and healthy shoulders.⁣ ⁣ 💡 Following these 4 progressions make sure that we can keep adding more layers to fine tune our movement strength and build strong foundations from the ground up. ⁣ #shoulderworkout #shouldermobility #barefoot #gluteworkout #ultimatesandbag #dvrt #functionaltraining #functionalfitness #rehab #prehab #performbetter #coretraining #stabilitytraining #correctiveexercise #functionalmovement #totalbodyworkout #conditioning #movementismedicine #ukfitness #ukfitspo #londonfitness #movegb

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