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Why These Squats Taught Me So Much About Strength!


Cory Cripe, DVRT Master (Creator of DVRT Movement Strength Programs)

I have to admit, halfway into the squat challenge I thought about the title to this blog, 

“Why I’d Rather Do the Clean & Press Test.”

I have a confession, being a really good squatter (I was complimented twice by professional strength coaches on my barbell back squats), I severely underestimated the DVRT squat challenge put out by Josh Henkin. I was plotting my approach to it on a Sunday night thinking about what kind of session I should do after it, like it was some kind of warm-up!

Being over 200 pounds, I needed to use a 120 pound burly USB to accomplish 60 squats in 5 minutes for satisfying the challenge requirements (you can read about the challenge HERE). Well, my heaviest sandbag at Fitness Lying Down is 115 pounds, so I’d have to make do with less weight. Maybe I should do the clean & press test AFTER the squat challenge, just because it wasn’t going to be too intense for me. I was very much humbled for thinking this because I got my world rocked after the squat challenge.

Six squats into this challenge and I started realizing how I might have made a mistake in underestimating this challenge and the weight I selected right off the bat! Now don’t be concerned, I was able to successfully get my 60 squats in 5 minutes (while greatly hating myself at the same time).

So why would I want to do the clean & press (C&P) test over the squat challenge? In case you are not familiar with the C&P test…in order to be DVRT certified you have to clean and press an Ultimate Sandbag so many times in 5 minutes. The weight and the reps depends on your sex and weight. I had to use the 100 pound burly and complete 40 reps in 5 minutes!

I thought repeating the Clean and Press challenge would be a “good” way to celebrate my 40th birthday!

‘Maybe Cory would rather do the C&P test because it’s less weight and reps in 5 minutes than the squat challenge,’ you might be thinking. Let’s just be clear, there is nothing easy about the C&P test, however there are little “rest periods” offered within a set that I couldn’t find with the squat challenge. Every time the USB is pressed overhead in the C&P test is a moment of “rest.” When that big ol’ honkin’ USB is held in the front loaded position it continues to crush your lungs and heart, stripping you of your will to live. 

When doing the squat challenge you want to approach it as a 30:30, meaning 30 seconds of work followed by 30 seconds of rest. So after completing 12 squats in 30 seconds there is a 30 second “rest period” where I can unload myself of the burly. This rest period ended up being a Catch 22 because I definitely needed to get the bag off of my body for a little break, but then what it would take to clean the USB back up when I was everything but fully rested just made it more of, well…a challenge!

How I felt after brought me straight back to my college days at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. Those were the days I would go into the gym and obliterate a muscle group, not even considering movement patterns, and I would be sore for days. As I was reflecting and talking about it with clients from Fitness Lying Down this last week, I couldn’t help but appreciate the balance of a total body session DVRT provides with training movement patterns over muscles.

Helping REAL people have success is what drives me at Fitness Lying Down!

Reminiscing on the former way I used to work out, I really started to appreciate more how we at FLD (including myself) benefit more from training with DVRT. There is always a balance, all movement patterns are respected and trained as equals. Even though there is a balance of movement patterns and less wear & tear on the body – soreness still seems to find its way into certain body parts. But after this squat challenge…only 5 minutes…I was sore from Monday to Friday in my thighs and glutes, no joke!

‘Well thanks, Cory, you have totally talked me OUT of doing the DVRT squat challenge!’ When I shared with Josh what I would title this blog he informed me that I will never be in charge of marketing at DVRT 😉

So why would you want to do this challenge – or why should you complete this challenge? The squat challenge is not about being hardcore or full out #beastmode. It’s about an opportunity to learn and grow – exactly what training should be all about, right? It seems like many out there are asking what is a good place to be at according to DVRT standards. There are all those calculations out there determining what your 1 Rep Max (RM) should be and how you can use that to decide what a 3RM or 5 RM.

Any good coach knows you get buy in from having your team also experience the “joy” of such challenges. Here is our great coach Megan Berner doing the squat challenge with an 80 pound Burly! 

Having the opportunity for standards gives you and me a sense of where we’re at and what we need to do to continue moving forward in our journey to be better. This is what the squat challenge, the clean & press test, and the DVRT Big 6 are doing for us. Having the 115 pound burly in the front loaded position was very taxing on my plank, but after going back to the video I was pleased of how I was able to maintain consistency from rep 1 to 60, but I still see some areas that can be better improved. 

I am planning on revisiting this challenge again soon. Why, you might be asking…because good friend and fellow DVRT master, Greg Perlaki, challenged me with some timing criteria inside the same challenge. You know, how about getting 12 squats in 25 seconds so you can have 35 seconds to “rest.” Thanks Greg.

But honestly, it is all about seeing how to improve and increase movement efficiency and aim my training accordingly. Not just by continuing to hammer the front loaded squats with the Ultimate Sandbag, but working on some weaknesses in other movement patterns and in other planes of motion to get a better result because nothing tastes better than better!

These DVRT challenges aren’t just about making you tired but helping people find where to spend their time training and how to get better! Check out Cory’s great DVRT Dynamic and Movement Strength Programs HERE and some important tips about DVRT squatting below!