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Why 3-D Strength Training Is Key For Real Functional Fitness

Sometimes people don’t say what they really mean. It happens in fitness all the time and when I would ask people what they wanted to achieve. It wasn’t they were lying, they just weren’t clear on what the goal was and why it was important to them. This happens to people all the time when it comes to functional fitness.

People like the idea of real world strength and fitness, but there is often a little voice in their head telling them that, “functional fitness is great, but I want to look better, build muscle, and lose fat. I know functional fitness is good for me, but I don’t know if it will really get me looking like I want.”

I get it, after all, many people showing functional fitness programs are missing the point and not doing it justice in what functional fitness workouts CAN deliver. In fact, functional fitness SHOULD get you all these results faster. Here a few reasons why…..

We Use More Muscles

In bodybuilding circles it would seem like functional fitness wouldn’t make sense. How do we get our rear delts built, how about developing the upper fibers of the pecs? Functional fitness doesn’t speak that language, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t accomplish hitting all these muscles, but way more!

There are over 650 muscles in your body. That’s A LOT! While bodybuilding hits some big ones, there are a TON that often get neglected in trying to isolate the body. Heck, there are 35 muscles of just the core alone so trying to isolate is ACTUALLY the inefficient way of building a better body.

There are A LOT more muscles than pecs, lats, glutes, quads, biceps, etc. 

The solution is focusing on movement patterns and not muscles. For example, when we perform a Front Loaded Squat we integrate so much more than just the quads, glutes, or hamstrings. There are so many more muscles of the trunk and upper body that get worked along with everything from the ground up. Doesn’t that sound like a way better squat to use? One that hits the legs and so much more?!

Training The “Other” Muscles

Focusing on movements and the unique ways we move in DVRT aren’t done just to do something novel, but to actually train the muscles that most exercises miss because we are trying to isolate the body. Just the mere act of sitting, lying, or putting ourselves onto a bench or any support actually takes away muscles from the movement.

functional fitness

People aren’t bad people because they do such exercises, they are missing the opportunity to build a much better body and better functioning one as well!

That is why we use positions like half kneeling, tall kneeling, and move in more 3-D patterns. Functional fitness in this respect allows us to train those “other” muscles that most programs miss. The ones that allow us to be stable so that the bigger muscles can perform to their top level.

While some take away these muscles by lying down or sitting down so they can “target” the bigger muscles more effectively, they are actually making their body only gym strong. I’ll give you an example.

One reason we focus so much on different progressions of bent rows is because our arms and back can only be as strong as our lower body and core can create a foundation for moving. Imagine asking a tall building to be strong, but it is built on a weak foundation.

What you see in functional fitness drills like Cory Cripe shows above is when we work in different positions, we actually get MORE muscles to work and they learn to work synergistically to make the body perform well in AND out of the gym! How many muscles does Cory hit here? How about ALL of them.

Moving More 3-D

If there is a reason people don’t like what we show in DVRT it is because it exposes the weaknesses that they don’t like to know about. However, achieving the great results we talk about isn’t ignoring what we aren’t good at rather identifying what we could build to be better.

A great example is how people are surprised when we take their functional fitness into true 3-D patterns. That means we move in one direction while RESISTING movement in other directions. This can happen in subtle ways like Ara shows in this kettlebell press…

Here we are in a half kneeling position which makes us resist forces from side to side. Pressing the kettlebell in one arm emphasizes our need to resist these lateral forces, but also those that want to extend our bodies back. That is why he has the band pressed out so that he can create stability in his core to help his body stabilize as it also produces motion. A great way to feel ALL the muscles of the body light up and build that 3-D functional fitness.

ALL of our lateral drags are built around this concept too. We are working on driving our body DOWN into the ground that trains so many of the pushing muscles while having us resist rotational forces that are trying to move our body out of alignment. DVRT UK master, Greg Perlaki shows this concept really well!

Over time, we can build to more dynamic actions of this nature. That is where a lot of our MAX (multiple axis) drills come into play. Every time we use a MAX where the weight actually moves as we do, we have to react and use more muscles to balance our body as we produce force. They can be in more subtle ways like Greg shows..

Building up to more dramatic movements like DVRT Master, Larisa Lotz demonstrates. The point though is how can we not only get the body moving better, but looking its best too? How do we create exercises that leave no muscle unturned? Understanding what the real intent of functional fitness is allows us to bring the most dramatic solution to the most common fitness goals!

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