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The BIG Key to Greater Strength & Mobility

sandbag training

Jessica Bento, Physical Therapist (Co-creator DVRT Restoration, Pelvic Control,

and Shoulder Course)

ultimate sandbag

Growing up as a little girl I wasn’t too into princesses and the like. Instead, I fell in love with She-Ra (of He-Man fame) and my all time favorite….Wonder Woman! So, you could imagine when the Wonder Woman movie came out a few years ago how excited I was even as grown woman to see my childhood favorite come to life in such a cool way! After seeing the movie probably only 5 or 6 times since, I found a fun way to convey Wonder Woman’s incredible power to something to do with training.

I think Wonder Woman knew where the real power of the body was derived. Notice when she is MOST powerful she crosses her gauntlets. That “X” she creates unleashes something that no one can stop. While of course I am having fun with the idea, the truth is the something to learn there. That is our body is the same as Wonder Woman’s gauntlets.

The BIG Key to Greater Strength & Mobility

Our body is a bunch of “X’s”. How most people use and think about strength training actually goes against A LOT of what we know about how our body creates movement. While the gym teaches us very up and down and linear movement, the truth is that our body operates in opposites. It is why our arm and opposite leg swing when we walk and run, it is why we create rotation to produce high levels of power.

This is known as cross patterning and when we look at functional anatomy it is why things like the “spiral line”, or the Posterior Oblique Sling (POS) and Anterior Oblique Sling (AOS) are so important for understanding how our body works as one unit to make the complex movements appear seamless. You can even see below that there are so may muscles tied together for what is known as the “serape effect”.

strength training

A serape is a Mexican scarf (something that only people geeky enough to learn about the serape effect would even know;), but that isn’t as important as knowing why that is important. If you think about how a scarf fits around our body, you see the same pattern of the “x” and how our body is one big cylinder.

How does that impact your training? For one, we should stop trying to train the body in OPPOSITE as it wants to function. That means not just moving up and down as well as not just working from very stable environments. Very simple means of using our DVRT sprinter stance allows us to bring in these options, but we can take it a step further when we think about how we want to load the body.

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It isn’t about #Sandbags but the lessons of #functionaltraining we can teach like these 3 ideas! …. 1️⃣Our #core serves as the foundation for the shoulders. That does mean just #abs but all 35 muscles that connect to our core. Teaching how we engage these muscles gives a stable platform for our shoulders. … 2️⃣Grip and feet are key because that is both how we turn on our core and engage with the outside to make our body stronger and more stable. … 3️⃣True strength isn’t just the force we can produce but what we can resist as well. Learning how to move while resisting force and applying the prior 2 #functionalfitness concepts is what makes us real world strong and mobile!

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These are the concepts of our DVRT drills that start on the ground but get to very dynamic positions. 

While no one is dying if they load the body opposite, most fitness and health professionals are sought out to find “good enough”. People want us to help them learn the BEST ways to help the body to perform. With that in mind, if my left foot is forward, it makes sense that I want to use my right arm with the most load. This is known as contralateral loading, but you can just think of it as opposite loading.

That is why when you see in our dead bugs and bird dogs we have the same cross patterning built into our DVRT movements. When we use these foundational exercises to build connections in the body, we are very mindful of how these opposites lay the basis for strength and movement.


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We tend to think #loadedcarries are a good core exercise that not only makes our training smarter, but more effective. After all, who can screw up walking? Well, I remember the amount of time in #physicaltherapy school we took analyzing gait and the realization it is one of THE most complex human movements made me realize that A LOT of people can walk incorrectly! . . What actually makes loaded carries a good #coretraining exercise is what also makes it quite advanced! Being able to move through space while resisting other forces trying to pull your body to the side and rotationally WHILE you are mostly on one leg takes quite a bit of #corestrength to begin with! It is why we often see people leaning, changing the length of their stride, and quality of the gait motion when the get under load. We don’t ever have #strengthtraining exercises that actually serve as a regression to carries, or screens to see how well people can handle these strategies. . . That is why I used these marching variations. Going upon a single leg stance allows me to see the quality of the frontal plane stability that is so important in locomotion. At the same time I can teach the body to work better as when I lift up one leg, the other leg must drive down using the feet to guide the #glutes to create stability. Using the @perform_better bands as a press out causes me to brace like a #plank in my core to give me stability as I work on reciprocal patterns that strengthen the body like we do in walking and running. . . Using the Lever Bell and #kettlebells with the bands allows me teach the opposite action of the body in a progressive manner. Where we pressing out is easier than pressing up and pressing out with the band gives the movement some additional instability because of the pull of the bands. All of these can be compared to standing dead bugs that build foundational core strength in the first place! We have to think of using exercises as solutions of movements, not just what we do in the #gym !

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It is why unusual exercises like these end up making a lot more sense when you think about how the body creates movement. 

We have so many opportunities to take advantage of these concepts that many people miss, whether it is in half kneeling, lunging, even squatting/pulling/and pressing. The point though is to introduce these ideas simply and progressively. That is how we get the “magic” we talk about in DVRT, we think about how the body wants to move and perform, not what gym exercises tell us.

Training is thinking about all the ways we can give our body an advantage. How we can teach our body to connect with our nervous system. How do we bridge the hardware (muscles, joints, etc.) with the software (the nervous system). One of the very best ways is to take the lesson that Wonder Woman teaches us and think about those “X’s” when we develop our exercises. Be purposeful and thoughtful about how we teach, employ, and develop true functional fitness.

Don’t miss the final days to save 25% all throughout our DVRT site (except live events) and when you invest in our Ultimate Sandbags you will get A YEAR’s worth of training programs for FREE with code “holiday25” HERE

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Rotation is life! Our bodies are made for rotation, but the challenge is rotation is a complex movement pattern. Proper rotation requires us to keep a stable core while creating movement from the ground up through our hips. This can be challenging to teach people, that is why in #DVRT we look for progressions to teach people how not to just load up their body incrementally, but learn more sophisticated movements. _____________________ ➡️ I wanted to show from most to least complex because, well, it is social media and want to have people see where things can go! Our Around the Worlds are a great example of high level #coretraining because we can’t just have high tension, we need to be reactive with our core and achieve the “pulse” that spine expert, Dr. Stuart McGill, calls the higher levels of core function. It is all driven by the foot work that utilizes the power of the #glutes to drive the body and the trunk to prevent rotation in the lumbar spine. _____________________ ➡️ Using #kettlebells can be great in order to help teach an intermediate level and work around upper body restrictions that bilateral overhead pressing can challenge. Plus, using the kettlebells, we can create tension on one side to help stabilize our core as we press the weight overhead, not with the arms, but through the power of rotation of the hips. Adding in the press increases anti-extension effects and adds another important layer of strength to our training. _____________________ ➡️ We love to actually start with our Ultimate #Sandbag Press Outs. Being able to pull the Ultimate Sandbag apart and have the load as well, allows us to create a dynamic planking action and teach people how power comes from the ground up the chain of the body. Taking advantage of how our bodies are designed is how we use #functionaltraining to teach movement efficiency. ______________________ ➡️ I really hope learning the why’s of what we do in DVRT gives not just more options, but more solutions to fitness professionals. That is why we are also happy to give 25%off our DVRT online education with coupon code Save25… link in bio.

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