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The Strongest Shoulder and Core Workout

ultimate sandbag

core workout 

Greg Perlaki, DVRT UK Master (creator of DVRT Dynamic Warm-ups)

I’m still over the moon by everything I learned and experienced at our DVRT Master Trainer Summit in Las Vegas. Personally I feel that there is something special in connecting with other like minded people who speak the same ‘fitness language’, share similar values and have similar backgrounds. These occasions are not just learning and exercising but also switching off, going for a hike or two, eating good food and getting to know each other more. Every time I attend these events or have chance to assist Josh, I learn a lot. This time was no different too.
core workout
The first day we covered what does it mean to be a DVRT Master Trainer. What responsibilities we have, how to communicate our training principles, share our core values, building our own tribe and deliver outstanding experience in live workshops and certifications. Then the second day rolled around when every one of us got really excited. At the end of the day, we’re coaches and coaching is what we enjoy the most. The hands on experience is something invaluable. It’s so easy to get caught up with our own bubbles, whereas in an environment like this means stepping out of the comfort zone and soaking the knowledge in like a `Big Old Sponge` So that felt pretty amazing, to be honest!
sandbag training
In the training day we covered the ‘Big 6’ of DVRT. If you don’t know these are the 6 exercises that represents the DVRT System: Max Lunge, Shoveling, Shouldering, Shoulder Loaded Sprinter Squat, Lateral Bag Drag and Half Kneeling Arc Press. Today I’d like to talk about what it means to be strong in different planes of motion. We all know that planes of motion is something important, yet we rarely program it in our fitness training. If I honestly look around on Instagram (like a legitimate source 😉 most of the times I see exercises and not principles, not systematic thinking or systems how to find a solution to a problem (physical therapist, Dan Swinscoe did a great job explaining the other day HERE)
One of the main DVRT principles is that before we move into a different plane of motion we have to be able to resist that first. What does this actually mean? In simple terms, it means resisting any unwanted movement. Taking out of any randomness in programming planes of motion, in the DVRT System we move laterally (frontal plane) before doing any rotational movements. Of course, assuming that we or our clients showed precision doing bilateral movements (sagittal plane) well. However, as I said we need to be able to resist that plane of motion first. It means that the first thing we do after doing any bilateral movements is to learn how to resist the frontal plane.
The Strongest Shoulder and Core Workout
Bringing this back full circle, when in Vegas we were talking about the ‘Big 6’, a lot of people found the Half Kneeling Arc Press difficult with the bigger bags like Burly, as all of us had to clear our head when pulling/pushing and, basically ‘battling’ with the Ultimate Sandbag. Which I have personally loved doing in the past. So, we were talking about not including the Half Kneeling Arc Press in the ‘Big 6’ and I was like… ‘Wait! What? No, that cannot happen!!!’
For me, the Half Kneeling position represents DVRT BIG TIME. I mean, show me a better way to introduce the concept of resisting frontal plane movements, building lunges without actually lunging, integrating the whole body, improve core strength and pelvic stability and it’s also accessible for a lot of people.
I will go as far as that I don’t even understand how can the squat be the king of lower body exercises?  I would pick Lunges over Squats on any given day…. Whether it is rehabilitation, building foundations, sports performance, beginner programming, you name it, Lunges are always on the top of my list, as well as everything that Half Kneeling. As it is really just like lunging. I teach Half Kneeling every day. When I assess new clients is one of the first things I do with them. So how can the Half Kneeling Arc Press is not included in our ‘Big 6’? Of course, it is included, maybe just not like we initially thought at the first place, doing it with the Burly.
The true power in this exercise lies in the small details and to be perfectly honest most people find it super humbling experience even doing it with a Power Ultimate Sandbag which comes in 35 max 40 pounds. So instead of going big and heavy we will focus on time under tension which makes it super interesting and evil at the same time to add more intensity to the exercise. Time under tension actually comes back in another 2 exercises from the ‘Big 6’… I let you find out what are those later.
Where do I start with Half Kneeling?
Half Kneeling Press Outs are probably the best way to start integrating the whole body (especially a powerful shoulder and core workout connection) and learn how to use the feet and the hands. The press out is like an extended plank, so the arms go out in level with the belly button to engage the lats. The arms should be locked at the end. Keep in mind that even a lighter USB is going to feel heavier, however our aim is to engage the lats and not to stress the shoulders.
Over the years DVRT has been evolved so much that we’re now using additional tools to improve coaching and give our clients feedback on what is it that they need to do and feel. Just as DVRT Master Cory Cripe shows here with a mini band wrapped around his back foot and front ankle to make sure he pushes them down to the floor.  This can be done by a training partner or coach to emphasize the use of the feet with a longer resistance band. All of these are coaching tools that can be utilized anywhere and any time to activate the core from the ground up.
sandbag workout
One of our signature sayings is that ‘pull the handles apart’ to engage the lats. It’s no different with the Press Outs or Arc Presses except the hands are grabbing and actively ‘breaking’ the Ultimate Sandbag itself and not the handles. Starting point is really, the feet and hands together. Once we understand and experience the power of these concepts, that’s when the magic happens. We’re able to create more stability in the body just by engaging the feet and hands properly. This core stability then improves mobility in the hips and shoulders too.
Half Kneeling Arc Press
The Half Kneeling Arc Press is truly one of the biggest bang for your buck exercises considering the integration with an upper body, lower body, and core workout within one movement. It’s like an entry level to lunging, yet it offers so much more than just lunges. It’s a vertical push and pull at the same time, as opposed to just a press. The USB needs to be pressed over the head with control and pulled down the same way on the opposite side. Gripping hands and active fingers make sure that the lats and core are all engaged. The real action is however pushing down to the floor in order to press over the head. There’s resisting lateral forces going here too as the bag goes from one side of the body to the other side. Kind of like a moving, dynamic side plank. Tie it all together, as everything we do in DVRT, the Half Kneeling Arc Press helps to connect the body through the kinetic chains improving stability, mobility and build strength together. You cannot ask for more in my opinion.
Time under tension
Changing the tempo of an exercise changing the intensity of it. Simply the light weight feels a lot heavier over time.
One of the things we experimented in our Master Trainer Summit in Vegas was utilizing this time under tension during the Half Kneeling Arc Press. People often miss the full lock out of the arms over the head, which is really another plank similar to the Press Out just vertical. Taking a 2 seconds pause at the top with the arms fully locked helps to engage the glutes, core and lats together. If we’re both pressing and pulling for 3-3 seconds and taking a pause in between for 2 seconds then we can see how the intensity of the exercise is going up.
Setting up standards for our DVRT community the concept of time under tension came back to execute this powerful exercise with clear intention and purpose as opposed to max out on the load. Using the Burly is more like a logistical issue for a lot of people. Personally, I’m able to do it with the Burly however my head needs to be slightly tilted to create space for the USB. I believe the standard is going to be 3 seconds up and 3 seconds down on the Half Kneeling Arc Press performing 5 repetitions on each side.
Hovering Arc Press as a new advanced standard for Big 6
Brainstorming on making the standard appropriate for every fitness level, I believe Travis Johnson came up with the idea that we can simply just make the Half Kneeling Arc Press to a Hovering Arc Press for advanced people. I really resonated with this as it highlights what DVRT is about. Adding sophisticated layers of progressions to an already great exercise means progressive overload. This concept allows us to kill two birds with the same stone. Removing the obstacle of ‘battling’ with the Burly and making smart and evil (you decide which one you prefer) changes to challenge the body.
Adding a lunge into your Arc Press where you don’t let the knee touch the ground can be a great way to work up to having the strength to hold the position as you perform the press. 
Core strap and beyond
One of the best inventions that we had within the DVRT System is the core strap and how that allows us to make coaching more effective. Obviously everything that half kneeling is like a lunge regression. With regards to the HK Arc Press the core strap brings out the frontal plane stability element of the exercise and help the lifter to use their feet and hands even more than before. Think about Pallof Presses half kneeling or one sided Arc Presses (they work as a dynamic side plank) and Chops are great to connect the hips to the shoulders via the core and integrate the whole body.
Of course we don’t want to stop being in Half Kneeling all the time and our goal is to move our strength training to more dynamic environments like lunges for example. Depending on where the resistance coming from, the core strap can be attached to the front of the USB or to the side – emphasizing resisting the frontal plane again. Have a look below how Jessica uses the core strap to a Drop Lunge and able to target both sides of the body making the lunge easier or harder.
From here we’re only a few steps away from working on our Max Lunge which is a true multi plane movement.
All of these nuances could make a real difference in training our clients and offer more sophisticated strength training and solutions for them.
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