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Why Your Strength Training SHOULD Go Sideways!

strength training

This week I am wanting to really get after it! That is opening up what training for functional fitness and real world strength training is all about. Why? Shouldn’t we just stick with showing you some cool DVRT moves? Hopefully you have been following us long enough to know that it isn’t the Ultimate Sandbag we are really about! Rather, we want you to understand how strength training with the right purpose and intent can be the biggest life changing action you take.

How could I say something so strong, it is just working out right?! Pain is an epidemic in our society. People hurt, they hurt a lot, and it is destroying both our physical well being and mental health as well! The majority of people are in pain are also reported to have depression or higher levels of anxiety. That shouldn’t be science, but rather common sense.

Yet, we largely ignore the solutions like strength training can offer to helping us achieve fitness goals beyond just how great we can look. Strength training with the right intent and message can be one of the most powerful tools we have. While most times people in pain think that strength training is only for those that already feel great, that just isn’t the case. It is about where we start and where we go with our strength training that REALLY matter.

That is the important part, JUST giving you exercises without a great purpose just becomes more “stuff” you can do in the gym. Let’s face it, most people have enough “stuff” they can do, they need ideas that really make a difference. Functional training is suppose to do that, but only if we take time to understand the REAL message of functional based programs.

Tomorrow’s post I am going to tackle the bigger idea of what functional training really means, but I wanted to take today to discuss a big reason we say DVRT strength training is real world training. Someone asked me on social media, “what makes your training real world, it doesn’t look like anything I do in life!”

Functional strength training has little to nothing to do with the equipment, but EVERYTHING to do with the intent.


That is a common misunderstanding how we are to apply strength training to the bigger world of functional training. Guess what, MOST of what you do in the gym looks NOTHING like you do in the real world. Really that is because of two reasons.

The biggest we have to realize is that we do live lives that we were meant to have. Meaning, that we weren’t designed to sit in chairs and offices most of the day. We were meant to be like most animals performing a wide variety of movements all day, every day. Now, we are proud of ourselves (myself included) when we get 4-6, 30-60 minute training sessions in a week. That wasn’t what humans were suppose to do in the “real world”.

Manual labor, farming, whatever you want to call it, but physical labor has largely (not all) dropped off radar. However, our lives are tremendously different than what we would even see 100 years ago. So, to say that what we do in the gym should emulate real world, well, that would be most of the time sitting in a chair;)

I’m not asking to do this is in the 110 degree Las Vegas heat, but this is far closer to what humans have done throughout time than what we see most in today’s world. 

Even if we would want to make an argument to strength training relating to every day activities like squatting to get on the toiled or deadlifting to lift up your laundry, I must ask the question….”how much do you need to squat in the gym to get on the toilet, and how much does your laundry actually weigh?!”

The reality of functional training is a system to help our body increase the way it functions. It can be hard to have this discussion when very few people, even those in the industry, really understand how humans are designed to function.

While we could get very complex, we don’t have to! Simple ideas can yield powerful results in your training. One of the easiest is the idea that we move through three planes of motion. While many can wrap their head around this idea, what we end up doing in the gym is ONLY up and down motions.

That is why lateral or frontal plane strength training is far more essential than most people realize. I’ve shared this quote my renowned spinal expert, Dr. Stuart McGill, many times, but I think worth re-sharing. Mostly because I am always amazed even with this information how many people really don’t change their strength training, no matter how much we learn about the body!

“Consider a 340 pound NFL lineman, who is strength trained in the weight room on Olympic lifts and power cleans. His coaches believe he is well trained. Yet the athlete has back pain that limits training. Measuring his cutting speed – the ability to take 5 fast strides forward, plant a foot and cut to the right reveals his great weakness and strength imbalance. The pelvis drops on the swing leg side and the spine bends laterally. He reports a twinge of pain. All of his strength training has been performed with two legs on the ground. All of the pulls, lifts and presses never trained the core in 3‐dimensions. The weak link is limiting his performance and causing stress and pain. Addressing this with loaded carrying exercises produced more lateral spine stiffness in his core. His pelvis and spine produce appropriate proximal stiffness (proximal to the hip joint) so that more velocity of all of the muscles that cross the hip joint go to the distal side of the joint resulting in faster leg speed. Further, the spine does not bend, the stress concentration at the joint is eliminated and the pain is gone. This example demonstrates that the hip muscles were limited by a weaker lateral core. Specifically, the gluteal muscles on the stance leg were confined by the lateral core muscles on the swing leg side of the body – in this case the lateral obliques and quadratus lumborum. Good training always addresses the elements that assist and potentiate one another throughout the body linkage. The core is home base.”

Now, it would be easy for me to tell you just do some side planks and your frontal plane training is done, but that isn’t the case. Just like moving up and down, our frontal plane strength training should progress from simple to complex.

Don’t mistaken simple for easy! What coach Brendan Krueger demonstrates is a great foundation of lateral strength training, but isn’t easy! 

Moving to more standing and dynamic actions like Coach Kreuger uses here is how we can layer our frontal plane training. Pressing out the Ultimate Sandbag as we move laterally with the ARES sled keeps our core engaged to help stabilize our pelvis, key in lateral training!

Progressing to really dynamic frontal plane exercises like DVRT Master, Coach Evan Supanich, demonstrates opens up developing mobility, stability, power, and strength all at once. While it looks like what we do every day it will definitely make us better at whatever we do! Yes, this is advanced!

The point of writing these blog posts for over 15 years is to help you get better results in your training. Not to just look better, but to feel your best and to empower you to help others discover how much control we have over the quality of our lives if we choose to take it!

Don’t miss how we build such great progressions in DVRT. We have great live DVRT certifications coming up in Seattle, New York, and Boston HERE. An opportunity to see how we change how people train, but more importantly, how they live!