Yesterday I shared with you some experiences that I am sure sounded too good to be true. One woman who had broken her back and we helped her get out of pain, while another who had knee pain that we got rid of in less than an hour. With stories that I am sure create skepticism I felt compelled to share HOW our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag exercises are capable of creating such crazy results.
As I said, it isn’t magic, it IS science. Sadly, most people even in the fitness industry don’t really understand how the body works. We are still infatuated with looking at individual muscles as though they work by themselves in the body. Some professionals have gotten better understanding works as a whole, but what does that really even mean? Without knowing so these well meaning professionals fall into the trap of isolating the body.
Sure, they choose better sounding muscles like rotator cuffs, glutes, etc. but they miss the point too! I first learned about the specifics of the body’s function around 2000. Renown Canadian physical therapist, Diane Lee, had a text book called “The Pelvic Girdle”. It isn’t a light read and to be honest, I didn’t get a lot of it. Especially a section where she was discussing this idea of the “outer unit”.
These were very detailed chains of muscles that orchestrated movement in a very efficient way. At the time, I thought, “man this is cool! I have NO idea what to do with the information.” So, while I learn some of the amazing keys of the body, it would take me almost a decade to know what to do with it!
While I would like to purely blame the fact that I am not all that bright, the truth is that no one was actually applying these concepts that existed in physical therapy to fitness. Heck, Jessica will tell you that most physical therapists were even unaware of these ideas!
The difference came when I had to really fix myself. After a 25 year injury collapsed and I had three spinal surgeries in ten days, there was no choice other than to try to find another way. For a long time I was unable to train like all the experts said. My low back didn’t seem to fit any model. That is really why I got motivated to really experiment and research with DVRT Ultimate Sandbag exercises. I just HAD to believe there was a better way!
What I started to wonder was HOW did we make these connections in the body, they exist, how do we tap into them? I started to think about the ideas that I had learned from many different systems. There were ideas from different programs that I liked, but I thought were just a bit incomplete.
Someone that did really inspire a lot of what we do with DVRT Ultimate Sandbag exercises was physical therapist, Gary Gray. Being one of the fathers of the functional training, Gary is well known for his concept of “chain reaction”. He was one of the big proponents of the fact that force entered the foot first and this caused a chain reaction up the body and through these specific chains in the body.
Okay, the feet are important, that’s good to know, but what do we do with that information? If they are important how do we use them? Taking from another concept, one developed by top professionals, Gray Cook and Mike Boyle, their “joint by joint approach” really gave me the idea. Looking at their system, I realized that the upper and lower body are actually designed in the same manner. Hmm, that is interesting right?!
Then at a national conference I was listening to Philadelphia 76er’s Strength Coach, Todd Wright. Todd is an awesome guy and a disciple of Gary Gray’s. He was presenting on the foot and said something so simple I was like, “holy crap how did I miss all this!!” He shared how the feet have over 50 bones in them. When you consider there are 206 bones in the entire body that is pretty staggering! Again, has to be important but what do you do with that information?
Then I went back to the joint by joint approach and looked at the hands. Between the hands and the feet over HALF of the bodies bones are here! I am starting to think they are REALLY important and my background in strongman training taught me that gripping can cause a chain reaction up the body. If that is true, then what happens if we “grip” the ground our feet?!
Slowly I started play with these ideas with our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag exercises. I started trying to grip the ground with my feet and create tension with my hands whenever possible. Guess what? I felt stronger, I felt my core get “tight”, my glutes squeezed by themselves without having to think about it, my lats felt like they were on fire! This simple idea of creating tension from the outside in started to connect these chains that I had learned about so long ago!
I am not going to claim I created these concepts. Martial artists use the feet like this all the time. Powerlifters are known to cue to “break the bar apart” when they perform their competitive lifts. However, no one had put this into the complete system of movement. Such a simple idea would completely transform our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag exercises and make the Ultimate Sandbag an invaluable tool!
The simplest changes in technique can have profound impact upon the results and performance of our Ultimate Sandbag exercises.
Why? Why is it any different than any other weight? One of the big things that separates the Ultimate Sandbag from the barbell is our ability to take a neutral grip. Why does that matter? Gripping this way puts our shoulders in a better position to create tension in the lats and connect our core and stabilize our shoulders. People often grab the Ultimate Sandbag with the snatch grip handles because that’s what you do with a barbell.
Well, 90% of our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag exercises are done with the neutral grip handles because by pulling the handles apart we INSTANTLY get stronger and more stable. Using the wrong handles actually completely changes our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag exercises and the results we can get from them.
The other great benefit was the fact in DVRT Ultimate Sandbag exercises we having such a wide variety of holding positions. Far more than any other strength training tool. So what? Not only does moving into these holding positions make the same weight of Ultimate Sandbag feel heavier, but allows us to integrate these chains to even higher levels.
That is because we don’t casually hold the Ultimate Sandbag we always try to create tension against the Ultimate Sandbag. This simple difference dramatically changes the impact of our Ultimate Sandbag exercise and how they feel.
When you see Ultimate Sandbag exercises like the ones below, the success is not in how challenging they are to perform, but what we try to achieve. Focus on watching how we use the ground, create tension in the handles, and keep tension during the movements. These types of movements can completely transform your movement if you pay attention to the details!
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