Where Do I Start?
I get asked many times from different people online and in person about where do I start with DVRT (Dynamic Variable Resistance Training). I must admit there’s a lot of information that DVRT instructors put out and the “variables” make this training more “interesting” and they can also hold people back to get started.
So I decided to go through some of these foundational concepts to give clarity what to prioritise in training and also to avoid the shiny object syndrome. I have definitely been there, there’s no shame in this. As a coach I feel it’s my responsibility to prescribe the most effective exercises to clients. This could of course vary from individual circumstances but the upcoming posts are about giving an insight into the “DVRT World” and how we as trainers think about the continuity of movement rather than certain exercises.
Part 1 is about warming up! I know it’s the least sexy thing to do but it’s essential.
Without going into way too deep in the ‘how’s’ and ‘why’s’, these exercises are the safest and probably the easiest starting point for many when it comes to our extensive DVRT exercise library.
These exercises have the highest return on investment, meaning that they work instantly and with the right intention they get any person moving and feeling better. Learn and practice these exercises until they become the part of your warm up. Go through them over and over again and really pay attention to the details. I personally do these exercises every single day even after 10 years of practice.
The classic deadbug is a great core exercise that teaches how to ‘brace’ the core and more importantly works on the opposite limbs as we’re meant to move as humans.
The body weight version of this exercise however makes it difficult for individuals to learn the concept of bracing. That’s why adding different tools like the Ultimate Sandbag and mini bands are very helpful for learning how to grip and engage the right muscles (lats & core) and create pelvic stability which makes the deadbug more efficient.
Using the mini bands create such a feedback that replicates what’s going on during the most fundamental human movement: locomotion! It’s kind of like a mini push and pull motion going on during the exercise where the pelvis needs to be stable and the extremities move freely just as they are during walking.
Bird Dog Drags
Bird Dogs are kind of like the Deadbugs except the lifter now is ‘upside-down’ in all fours, however the action is very similar to the previous exercise. The aim here is to connect the opposite lats and gluteals through the thoracolumbar fascia which is one of the most important chains of the body. The drag itself makes the exercise an anti-rotational drill as the lifter needs to resist any unwanted movement that the Ultimate Sandbag creates.
It’s easier said than done. I recommend starting with a Core Ultimate Sandbag and not going too heavy either. The trick is to actively press the handle down to the floor and that helps to engage the lats and also keep the torso stable. It’s about this core stability exactly what we’re looking for here and this happens with deliberate and specific movements from both hands and feet. Especially paying attention to the non-moving hand and foot.This action comes back in other plank drag drills.
Side Plank ISO Hold
This modified Side Plank is also a great starting point for most people. Lateral strength is often an undertrained area and many struggle with side planks and tend to avoid them. Where most programs go wrong is that they would start the side plank with the legs extended. That’s in and of itself put more load to the core and gluteals and if an untrained individual start doing it they will of course get discouraged. Keeping the legs bent gives much more support for the whole trunk and people are able to ‘find’ their gluteals and use them correctly. This way the spine is less likely compromised plus adding the Ultimate Sandbag also bring those cross-connections alive and helps to connect the opposite lats to the opposite gluteals.
The recommended hold is about 2-3 seconds on the top, keeping the pulling arm/elbow close to the body.
Glute Bridge ISO Hold
As we know that gluteals don’t work alone, rather in synergy with other muscles and they are part of several chains.
One of these chains is the Posterior Oblique Sling which connects the opposite gluteals to the opposite lats through the thoracolumbar fascia on both sides. The Posterior Oblique Sling is designed to cross at the level of the lumbosacral junction and provides what is known as force closure to the sacroiliac (SI) joint. Force closure provides stability to the SI region by allowing it to distribute load between the lower extremities, spine, and upper extremities. This strategy is key in how the gluteals contribute to helping the low back.
Gluteals also responsible for making most real world actions (walking, running, changing directions in sport activities) seamless.
When it comes to training the gluteals on a foundational level (well, any levels really!) it’s best to integrate the body and use these muscle connections to improve how the gluteals function. Later on we can introduce single leg progressions to the hip bridge which is also more natural pattern for the posterior chain.
During this foundational movement the key thing is to create tension pulling the Ultimate Sandbag apart and use the feet purposefully to push into the ground. Keep that tension and pause at the top of the movement for 3 seconds with the arms in line with the torso.
Half Kneeling Press Out
This fundamental and easy looking exercise has many hidden gems that can be easily missed. Firstly, how we use our hands and feet is crucial to engage stabilizers and activate the core from the ground up. The pulling or ripping action of the Ultimate Sandbag creates a dynamic plank which provides core stability from the top down.
It’s important to note that the Half Kneeling position teaches to integrate the body and not only improve hip flexibility but strengthen some of the muscles that may seem ‘tight’ for the first look. We want to do this together with some of the deep core stabilizers for the optimal effect which will lead to long term benefits in both low back health and hip flexibility.
The Half Kneeling position also the first step to the Lunge pattern and there are several progressions in our DVRT repertoire.
Greg Perlaki / Master Trainer