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The Most Dangerous Exercise?

I have to admit something, sometimes I do post things simply to challenge the way we think about the way we do things. Fitness is an interesting beast, it is one of the few industries that can ignore the science to just stick with what makes us feel comfortable. The sad part is we don’t grow, evolve, or achieve what we really want when we have such a mentality. All of us should grow in one way or another. When we see something that seems so outside the norm of what we know, many fall into the trap of writing it off without seeing the great benefits it can possess. 

Those that you have been reading us for awhile know that I start EVERYTHING we do in DVRT with WHY. However, in a world where attention spans are shorter than ever, sometimes you have to stir the pot to get the discussion moving forward. That happened recently when I posted DVRT Master Cory Cripe’s video of this MAX Rear Step Clean to Forward Loaded MAX Lunge (that’s a mouthful right?). 

Overall the response was awesome and people were really interested and asking great questions. However, of course there were some quite loudly calling it “dangerous”, “stupid”, and a “quick way to get hurt”. 

I’m not going to lie, the exercise is advanced, but so what? Is not a heavy squat, deadlift, single arm push-up advanced as well? If we don’t know how to move well aren’t we risking ourselves with such movements too? Of course I don’t recommend starting here, but what I loved about what Cory showed was that movement is complex and where we want to go with it isn’t reflected JUST in the numbers of weight we can move up and down. 

Is this exercise dangerous? If you haven’t worked on building a foundation, progressing through our system, and spending time getting strong in these movement qualities then I would say yes, but again, that can be said of any advanced exercise. So, let’s move into the good stuff, what is actually happening here and what are the benefits of working up to such a movement?

Our MAX (multiple axis) movements can be applied to many DVRT movements. Why do we do it in the first place. The goal is to keep the lower part of the body stable (from about bellybutton down) while we create some movement in our thoracic spine. Why do we do this though? There are a few reasons…..

Joint By Joint: The other day I wrote a blog (you can read HERE) that we talked about Mike Boyle and Gray Cook’s Joint By Joint approach. They broke down simply that joints have a dominance towards stability or mobility. For our discussion, you see the lumbar area is designed for stability and the thoracic is designed for mobility. Hopefully you see that these movements actually tap into what our body is actually designed to do. 

Fascial Lines: Fascia is getting more and more discussion in the fitness industry and it should! As untying that is new though, there is quite a bit of confusion around the topic. All fascia is, is soft-tissue that basically encapsulates our muscles. One of the main reasons why is to help create movement, but also to help muscles to communicate to one another. That is why trying to isolate a muscle is completely futile. 

Why do we think of these fascial lines when we train? Because they are the keys to understanding how our body connects and our muscles work together to create movement. It is thinking of the fascial lines as we create exercises that allows us to improve strength, stability, power, mobility, and endurance all at once. It isn’t a magic trick, but science. 

functional training

When you look at the body you see that we are connected in opposites and what Cory is doing is tapping into those natural chains of the body. One of the easier chains to wrap your head around is the glute, core, and OPPOSITE connection of the lat. This provides stability to our low backs and power to our movement. 

So, you quickly see there is a lot of thought and benefit to using the MAX position. What Cory has done is sophisticate it with some important additional concepts. 

Stability: Again, I posted this the other day, but Dr. Brandon Marcello has a perfect definition of what stability really means. You see in the MAX anything that not only must the lower part of our body resist movement, we do so in an environment (more split stance) where we have to resist even MORE motion because we do not have a stable base!

Acceleration and Deceleration: One of the great unique ways we in DVRT teach power is not just acceleration, but deceleration too. Most overlook deceleration, but that is where most people get injured and that is the key in unlocking true functional strength. Knees, low backs, and shoulders are almost always victims where we can’t decelerate our bodies well. 

Why do experts like Strength Coach, Robert Dos Remedios like our MAX drills so much? Because he speaks at great lengths at how deceleration is key to injury resiliency. 

Both stability and the concepts of acceleration/deceleration amp up the level of difficulty of the exercise, but also offer great benefits. There are some important keys in what Cory is doing and it is specifically with the Ultimate Sandbag.

One reason we would NEVER do this with a barbell, for example, is we can’t create the proper tension. When Cory is in the hip hinge position you can’t tell but he is RIPPING the handles apart. This connection to his lats and core keep his body from rotating into the movement where we do NOT want him to be. 

Megan Berner breaks down the MAX Lunge and many concepts people overlook in order to just swing the USB. 

In the front loaded position he is PULLING the USB apart with his forearms making that same connection in another way. This is key because this is teaching his body HOW to be stable during a very unstable movement. 

You can see that DVRT Master, Sean Lettero, is actively pulling the USB apart in this hinge with the MAX position. Creating that tension allows him NOT to load his low back or create rotation in the lumbar spine. 

Lastly, you can see the action of Cory’s feet is key. His feet is what ultimately controls him and a big reason you see him barefoot. He is actively “grabbing” the ground and using BOTH feet in the transitions to not only create power, but to absorb it as well. 

My point in wanting to write this blog is that we often judge things without really knowing the intent. It just looks “weird” to many and we miss the opportunity to learn something that may advance us in ways we never imagined possible. That is what I love most about teaching and why we keep putting these blogs out to you! 

Love to ask questions? Feel free to jump over to our Facebook group HERE and don’t miss our incredible Memorial Day sale where not only can you save 30% on our DVRT education and Ultimate Sandbags, but get 2 FREE gifts when you invest in our Ultimate Sandbags HERE. Just use coupon code “memorial” for a limited time!