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Metabolic Stability – February 2018: Carries & Lateral Stability


I was excited to have this year be the first time I was presenting at the one day Perform Better conferences. Not only is it amazing to be around all time greats in the industry, I learn so much by working with coaches from all over as well. Hearing the struggles they face, the challenges of trying to introduce great movement strength concepts to people, helps us create better solutions for people.


One of the key concepts I was trying to share with people this year was dealing with the challenge of people in pain who also want to be in great shape! I think it was a pretty staggering statistic that in 2012 the U.S. prescribed enough pain killers for EVERY adult in the U.S. to have their own bottle!


It is why we focus on functional training in the first place. We want to help people train hard so they can achieve their fitness goals, but also make them feel better too. A big part of this is understanding how we produce motion and there is not more unique or human motion than locomotion.


This simple, but often missed concept has gained more popularity recently. We have people performing a lot more carries of different kinds to train locomotion. Sure, these are great drills as they train the core in a more unstable and real life setting. However, training walking and locomotion patterns isn't just accomplished by doing carries.


Let's face it, a lot of people don't walk well. We assume that no one needs to be taught how to walk, but we need to be taught how to run. Exercises such as carries expose a lot of our flaws, weaknesses, and imbalances in our gait patterns. So, what do we do? Just doing carries if we have these issues is just going to make them worse.


If we understand how we create locomotion we can develop progressions that allow greater success. Where do we start?


Side Plank Progressions


One of the key elements of locomotion is lateral stability. Dr. McGill speaks about how people often compensate in their ability to stabilize laterally when they create motion.


"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."


Side planks are a great place to start in teaching people the frontal plane stability that makes locomotion better. While side planks are nothing new to a lot of people, but how we teach, progress, and the intent in DVRT is quite different. For one, a lot of people struggle with side planks because they don't create tension into the ground. This will help not only be great for the core and hip, but scapular stability as well. Such concepts will prevent a lot of the shoulder and neck issues people experience, that the start.


The Ultimate Sandbag gives us an opportunity to use tension and the connection of the lats to the core and glutes to make the side plank more effective. By connecting the natural chains of the body clients can actually FEEL the power of the side plank fare better!


Step-ups and Sprinter Stance


Most people think that only carries are the way to build strength in locomotion. However, as strength coach, Troy Anderson, breaks things down, step-up and using our DVRT sprinter stance position allows us to build very transferable strength.


Ultimate Sandbags and kettlebells allow us the ability to load the core and change load position to create different outcomes. You quickly find out where your compensations lie and how to both create and resist force at the same time. This is where a lot of people have dysfunction to real world activities.


Not only are these incredibly safe, but powerful ways to build strength and have a metabolic effect as well. Learning to stabilize the foot, how force goes up the body, helps us build greater success to other drills like carries.


Great training teaches us that we can start at a very foundational level to develop great programs. Breaking down a movement pattern to really understand how our body functions allows us to build better progressions and exercises like these.



Josh Henkin, CSCS is creator of the DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training system and has been a kettlebell instructor since 2003. His work has had him teach at world class fitness events and teach his DVRT program in over 13 countries worldwide. Don't miss the upcoming DVRT programs in HERE.