This past weekend I enjoyed another great opportunity to bring our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag fitness concepts to Equinox. I really enjoy working with the staff at Equinox because they value fitness education and as such, we can discuss more in depth concepts. Being able to bring greater understanding of how our bodies function doesn’t just make us sound smart, they allow us to teach and progress exercises better!
Pretty cool to see these tools now in commercial gyms!
One thing I always try to emphasize when I teach is the fact that success in fitness is far less about a “magical” exercise but more so the intent and technique we put behind any of our movements. No exercise works like we want if we don’t follow this simple idea.
This also goes for looking for a “special” muscle to train. That is why in our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag fitness programs we don’t discuss muscles as much as movements and the connections that such movements give us an opportunity to make. However, every once in awhile it is worth discussing muscles, especially if it is sorely misunderstood and has the potential to change so many positive aspects of our training.
Sooooo, the Real Magical Exercise Is…..
There are a hand full of muscles that if we place our time in truly understanding can be so transformative. While muscles like the glutes have gotten a lot of the good PR, the truth is that there is one of equal importance that we almost never speak about or talk far too little. It is a muscle that is essential to our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag fitness programs and should be for you as well.
Okay, let’s kill the suspense, that muscle is the lats! Disappointed? Don’t be when you hear how much the lats can contribute to helping your shoulders, low back, and overall strength!!!
The lats are fare more important than giving you that nice v-shape we like in the upper body. Sadly, the lats are one of the most misunderstood muscles in our body because we do a poor job of truly understanding its anatomy. Now, usually I stay away from boring discussions of anatomy, but in this case it is worth noting on why understanding the structure of the lats impacts how we train and use the muscle.
Many coaches are surprised when I teach that the lats main role is NOT internal rotation of the shoulder. Sure, I realize that most anatomy books teach this about the lats, but taking a simple look at the muscle and we quickly see why that is not really the case.
The lats are the ONLY muscle that connects from the upper body to the pelvis. There must be a very important reason for that. We also notice that the lats don’t run up and down, but rather they are shaped more like a fan (very similar to the glutes). That means the lats do many jobs and often times, many jobs at once!
So the lats actually attach at the following:
-Vertebral: T6 all the way down to the sacrum
-Pelvic (in addition to the sacrum): posterior aspect of the iliac crest
-Ribs: last 3-4 ribs
-Scapula: inferior scapular border
-Humeral: intertubercular groove of the humerus
Most people only look at the last attachment point when they really talk about the function of the lats and miss all the others. So, in actuality most coaches only look at 20% of what the lats can do, that’s not too great is it? Who thinks we can get great results by only using 20% (btw, we do the same with the glutes too!) of what a muscle is capable of performing?!
Believe it or not, your lats are HUGE stabilizers of the body. As strength coach Eric Cressey elaborates,
“Your lats are actually powerful stabilizers of the lumbar spine. As Stuart McGill has discussed in Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance and his seminars, core stability is about the synergistic contribution of several muscles that all fire simultaneously to stabilize our spine. Through its attachment on the thoracolumbar fascia, the lats have an important influence on ensuring multi-directional stability at the lumbar spine.”
It is for this reason that in DVRT Ultimate Sandbag fitness programs we emphasize so much the use of the lats in everything we do. Whether it is building the squat, creating a better deadlift, or learning how to press without hurting the shoulder this concept is so vital and DVRT Master, Cory Cripe does such a good job describing a few ways we actually use these concepts.
It is really important to pull the handles apart on the USB to engage the lats as a stabilizer of the shoulders and core!
There is NOT a time where I can think we don’t use the lats in our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag fitness drills for one simple reason. Teaching people how to use the lats in everything we do simply makes us better! Whether it is helping us engage our core or protecting our low back and shoulders the lats are key! That is also why there is one big lesson to take away from the lats….they partner with the glutes in movement!
I get a lot of grief over this because it is not something many discuss, but it is so obvious when you look at how the body is structured. When people ask me why do so many experts miss this my simple answer is because many are stuck on bodybuilding, NOT functional training. That influences how we look, not only train the body. So, if you are angry at me about this, check out what Eric Cressey shares about this connection and why it is so important.
“You can easily recognize the TLF (1) and lat (3), but look at the way that the gluteus maximus’ fibers are oriented. Consider the line of pull on the left-side lat in this diagram. If those forces are transferred across that TLF, they go right into the “wheelhouse” of the gluteus maximus.
In other words, they work synergistically, linking one shoulder with the opposite hip. This is known as the “serape effect” and is readily apparent in virtually every athletic endeavor.”
That is why not only do we emphasize creating tension into the handles or the Ultimate Sandbag during our Sprinter Stance or any unilateral based drill, but in all movements we create where we must both produce and resist force at the same time! This starts to change how we even teach hip bridge progressions with our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag fitness programs as DVRT master, Greg Perlaki, demonstrates.
Learning just a little about the body allows us to transform how we train not to be different, but to be way better! That is why our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag fitness programs are so unique. Not because we try to create new exercises, but because we use our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag fitness drills to teach you about how to use your body at the highest levels!
Check out more with our DVRT workout programs for 25% off with coupon code “fall” for a limited time HERE
Check out Cory discussing how we grip the Ultimate Sandbag engages the lats and how “little things” are a big deal in hitting the right muscles!