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THE Key To Building Smarter Workouts

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

sandbag training

Variety. There are a variety of coffee drinks, there are a variety of ice cream flavors, there are a variety of cookies out there, and more! However when it comes to fitness and exercises – there should be no variety.

“Geesh, Cory, that’s kinda harsh – isn’t it?” And maybe I’m being a little bit of an exercise & fitness snob, but the more I go down the rabbit hole known as DVRT the more I understand when I used to talk about different exercise variations – I wasn’t doing those exercises justice.

And some might be thinking and obviously pointing out how the “V” in DVRT stands for variable – what’s that all about? Variable – variation: seems to be the same thing. Think about it this way, Dynamic Variable Resistance Training, the Variable in DVRT is the exact reason why we don’t recognize exercise varieties, but progressions/regressions!

And here is where many miss the boat when it comes to DVRT – they believe it is all about sandbag exercises. However, if we can appreciate the system DVRT provides it would make all of our jobs a whole lot easier by working with progressions and regressions – not just exercises. You follow?

Using just the “simple” concept of a side plank we can see how important building blocks and proper progression are to training success in our workouts

Why did I used to refer to all these as exercise variations in the past? Because I was limited in my knowledge of progressive overload. ::HUH:: Back when I thought I knew everything about fitness and exercise, the only way I could make an exercise more challenging and different was by increasing the amount of weight, sets/reps, or play with the tempo of that exercise.


Having a system to help people find success is what makes our workouts at Fitness Lying Down special. The tools give us potential, systems gives us the HOW!

Now I wasn’t wrong for doing so – but when that is all you can count on to increase the intensity of an exercise, then it’s easy to see exercise variations and not progressions. Going from a barbell bench press to a dumbbell bench press with one arm is just a bench press variation. And it must be easier because the weight is less, right?!?!  Where’s my game show “your wrong” buzzer? Thanks to how DVRT has revolutionized progressive overload my programming playbook got a whole lot bigger and my clients (including myself) are greatly benefitting from this fitness a-bomb!

Creating a systematic approach to increasing the intensity of an exercise without needing to change the weight of the implement has been my best fitness friend by far! Instead of just putting unnecessary load on clients, I have the ability to take the same weight and make it feel heavier (or lighter) just by changing other elements of their environment – holding & body position, to name a few.

Progression in our workouts doesn’t mean that all the exercises look the same even! See how we build in DVRT workouts from the ground to standing. 

When I say that a shoulder squat using the Ultimate Sandbag is just another squat variation we use – I wouldn’t necessarily be wrong. BUT saying that is telling everyone how a USB shoulder squat is on the exact same playing field as a USB front loaded squat. That’s what variety is: it’s the same, but different. Getting a vanilla latte is like getting a classic latte, but different. However, doing a squat with a USB on your shoulder is the same squat as doing a squat with the USB in a front loaded position, but more challenging. 

Not a variety, but a progression.

This is why many struggle performing a high-level shoulder squat (evidence of struggling would be feet turning out, hips swaying, etc) when they haven’t even shown mastery in the front loaded squats in a sprinter stance. How could a sprinter stance, front loaded squat have anything to do with a shoulder squat when the feet are shoulder-width apart?

When I was beginning my journey with DVRT – these are the exact same questions I would be asking. How could a half kneeing arc press build a stronger MAX lunge? Why would a lateral plank drag improve my overhead press? How on Earth could a drop slide good morning using the Core Strap help keep my MAX hip hinge power clean to FL MAX lunge safer for my body?

I would ask these questions because I only saw USB exercises and not necessarily DVRT progressions & regressions. But learning more and more about DVRT and steeping myself with the L.I.F.T. material I have so much more respect for exercise progressions & regressions.

Keeping with the squat example – if I see someone performing a shoulder squat unsuccessfully, I can lean on the DVRT system of progressive overload in order to build up the necessary strength to shoulder squat. Rather than my former mentality of, ‘oh boy – I hope they don’t get hurt doing that because I don’t know what else to do…and…because I don’t want to tell them they can’t do it and I don’t want them to think I’m a bad fitness professional y’all.’

Present day, feeling like Neo from The Matrix after he discovers he’s no longer Mr. Anderson, when something comes up as a problem on my training floor I have the ability to offer solutions to these strength problems. And, maybe as silly as this might sound, I’m very passionate to help educate fitness enthusiasts and other professionals to not only better understand and incorporate progressions and regressions into their programming, but to also use the correct language when referring to this because there are power in words and how we use them!

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