Scott Corso, Physical Therapist, DVRT Master
About six years ago, I was looking for something different in my personal exercise routine. At the time, I belonged to a gym and also had a squat rack with Olympic plates in my basement, so equipment was not in short supply. But I wanted to find a way to train that was efficient, effective and required a minimal amount of equipment. Through my exposure to Functional Movement Systems as a physical therapist, I recognized the value of a training approach that focuses on movement patterns over isolating individual muscles.
As a result, my workouts were broken down into several of the fundamental movement patterns of squat, hinge, push, pull, lunge, rotate, and gait. But I lacked a way of progressively building each of those patterns that didn’t involve just adding more weight to a bar or grabbing a bigger dumbbell.
Additionally, I thought about how we as humans interact with our environment, we essentially do two things. We move our bodies and we manipulate objects in our environment. There are many bodyweight movement systems that are popular right now. I gravitated toward the suspension trainer as it allows one to gradually progress the way the body is loaded. But I needed to find a strength tool that would allow me to train with a loaded implement.
Looking deeper, we move our bodies and manipulate objects of various sizes and dimensions in multiple directions and planes of motion. My workouts at the time were limited primarily to the sagittal plane, but so much of life happens outside of this plane. In the world of athletics, it is easy to see how most sports involve moving in all three planes of motions. In fact, even the planes of motion are constructs designed to make learning easier, because most activities take place in combinations of all these planes. Even very basic activities involve combinations of these planes.
As I write this, it is a cold, rainy day in March. I need to put more wood in the wood stove. To get it from the pile to the stove, I will need to HINGE down to the wood (it is the end of the season and the pile is low). I will PULL it to me, then I will need to carry (GAIT) it into the house by stepping (LUNGE, GAIT) onto the porch. I will have to shift the wood from a SAGITTAL plane hold to a FRONTAL plane hold in order to open the front door. Next, I will need to bend down (LUNGE or SQUAT) in order to PUSH the wood into the stove. Because of the way the stove is configured, I need to load it from the side, involving a ROTATION in the FRONTAL plane. I could break down other activities that need to be done, such as putting the trash out or moving my dog onto the blanket portion of the coach.! The point I am hoping to emphasize is that preparing for “real world strength” involves training the fundamental movement patterns through multiple planes of motion.
You can see in the way we build better squats, DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training offers us so many solutions!
I first learned about the ultimate sandbag and DVRT through a podcast. Perry Nickelston, a chiropractor with a podcast called “Stop Chasing Pain” was interviewing Mitch Hauschildt, a Division I athletic trainer and strength coach. Both men were very involved in the Functional Movement System, so I was eager to hear what they had to say. Toward the end of the discussion, the topic turned to this thing called Dynamic Variable Resistance Training and the Ultimate Sandbag. Two comments grabbed my attention. First, Mitch said, “If I had to work in the fitness field and I didn’t have much fitness resources, you give me a TRX, an Ultimate Sandbag, and a couple of kettlebells, I feel like I could do just about everything I need to do.” I was intrigued and wondered if this sandbag thing could be the piece of equipment I was looking for.
If such tools are good enough for the Marines, it should work for us!
His next comment sealed the deal for me. He said, “I think the biggest impact of the DVRT system, because the sandbag is a dynamic implement where the sand shifts and they also have a water bag, where the water shifts, the neurological feedback it gives me and my athletes is beyond anything I have used in the past…..When I train with a sandbag on a regular basis, because of the high neurological impact that it has on my system, my body feels really, really good.” Mitch explained that he had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and the neurological activation this style of training afforded was beneficial. This intrigued me because I was dealing with my own health condition. All my joints ached and it felt like my connective tissue was shrink wrapped throughout my body. Later, I would be diagnosed with Lyme disease, but at the time I just knew that if I tried to increase my load in the gym, I would pay for it with achy joints and increased stiffness. I was hoping this approach would be different, in that it would allow a means of increasing the challenge to my body without leaving me feeling worse than when I started.
Learning how simple core drills like these DVRT exercises could accomplish so much made me a strong believer!
Fortunately, the DVRT system does not rely on just adding load to make the exercise more difficult. In addition to the typical ways of increasing the challenge by adding volume, density, or changing speed, DVRT also provides a systematic way of progression through changing body position, holding position, plane of motion, and the stability of the instrument itself. As a result, I was able to progress my training in ways that were more sparing on my joints and connective tissue. In general, I felt so much better after a workout.
Stealing this from Cory’s great blog post yesterday:)
My journey into these principles started with a DVRT workshop in Cheshire, CT. Since then I have immersed myself in the system through the various levels of certification and the Restoration program as well. Many years later, it has become my primary method of training. Not just for me, I rely on it daily in my work as a physical therapist and fitness coach. In addition to the concepts already mentioned, I love how it builds connections in the body. The concept of the sling systems wasn’t unfamiliar to me in my role as a physical therapist, but Jessica and Josh really provide a practical way of training them through the use of the Ultimate Sandbag and the various cues taught by the system.
The primary sling systems are the anterior oblique system, the posterior oblique system, the longitudinal system and the lateral system. These sling systems are essential for stabilization of the pelvis as forces are transferred to and from the extremities.
We don’t talk about muscles so much in DVRT because we train SO MANY through our Ultimate Sandbag exercises.
I love what Diane Lee writes about the sling systems in her book, The Pelvic Girdle (4th edition, p. 81). In it she references Stuart McGill and helps us understand why training needs to address more than just individual muscles:
It is now recognized that, although individual muscles are important for stabilization as well as mobility, it is critical to understand how they function together (work in synergy). A muscle contraction produces a force that spreads beyond the origin and insertion of the active muscle. This force is transmitted to other muscles, tendons, fasciae, ligaments, capsules and bones that lie both in series and in parallel to the active muscles.
Having the ability to teach important movement patterns like our hip hinge and give people better foundations and progressions is a BIG reason I fell in love with DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training in the first place!
DVRT has given me a system of functional training that focuses on training the fundamental movement patterns of the body. It enables me to add stress to the body in multiple ways that do not just require adding load. As a result, one tool goes a long way in building a solid exercise program. Because the system addresses multiple planes of motion and builds connections through the sling system, I feel it is foundational in building real world strength. So in the end, I found what I was looking for, a system of training that is efficient and effective. One that is both portable and can be performed in a limited amount of space. My squat rack and barbell have grown rust and dust, but my joints and connective tissue feel the better for it.
Check out this great workout I do just with the DVRT water bags to train so much of all around functional fitness!
Want to know more about how we help change how people see and achieve better fitness? Our DVRT Online Education programs are a great start and 30% off will help you really differentiate yourself in fitness HERE! You can get those programs and our Ultimate Sandbags for 30% off with code “save30” HERE. If you just want to jump start to see what we are all about, you can grab our FREE programs HERE