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Metabolic Stability – January 2018: Syncing the Lats & Glutes Together

“Don’t add weight till you master your body!”

It is a common saying in our industry that at first glance seems to make a lot of sense. That is until we dig a little deeper and really understand that load can be an amazing teaching tool when used with the right intent!

We often believe that load is just designed to make an exercise more difficult. However, it can be the best way for clients to understand to move in the ways we want. For most of our clients, they don’t have the great body awareness to understand every cue we give because for the most part, they have never “felt” that before.

Your verbal cues might be amazing, but remember, that is only one aspect of learning. Having people understand how to control and use their own body can be a great challenge. Load though gives feedback, allows people to create tension that leads to creating stability and therefore strength.

What might shock most people is that we load people almost all the time immediately. Not because we are trying to be hardcore, but almost universally we all move better with load on our bodies. Chances are you already know this when it comes to something like the squat. If I give you a load in front of the body, you will get a better squat than if I ask you just to perform a bodyweight version.

It isn’t mystical, it is the reasons I just mentioned. Applying load in specific ways activates the smaller muscles that are not only often weak, but just not “awake”. Load can instantly activate our core and chains of the body. So, what is the secret?

Our goal isn’t just to throw load on people, but create deliberate actions with the load to use the right muscles. In our DVRT system, you will hear us cue actions like “pull the handles of the Ultimate Sandbag apart”, or “grip the handle of the kettlebell harder” and many more. The “secret” is really how we engage with the load to create a better foundation for movement.

A great example of this is demonstrated by the series of movements that DVRT Master, Ian Vaughn, has created with our Ultimate Sandbags and Perform Better mini bands. Why does this work so well? The mini bands can be used in a multitude of ways and combining it with specific tension techniques of the Ultimate Sandbag we can develop much more successful outcomes for the client.


Sprinter Stance Deadlift and Rows


A concept that we want people to embrace is that of using the feet. This is game changing for most people as we often cue, “use the hips”, “squeeze the glutes”, “brace the core”. These are all actions we want, but they aren’t accomplished by what these cues are telling us.

Simply stand up, grab the ground with your feet like they are your hands. REALLY grab the ground and notice how your legs extend, your glutes get tight, and your hips lock into place. So, HOW we use the hips, HOW we squeeze the glutes, and HOW we activate the core is all a byproduct of using the ground with the feet. How do you get clients to understand that concept. That is where using the mini bands under the feet, keeping tension on the band requires gripping of the feet!

As we know though, all good functional movements have the goal of not just working muscles, but connecting the chains of our body, specifically the posterior oblique chain of lats, core, and glutes. While the action of the feet get the lower body going, what we do with the upper body to connect the chains is equally as important. People often round their backs on many hip hinging movements because they don’t create tension at both ends of the movement. It isn’t complicated, the simple cue of “pulling the handles apart” is a huge advantage of using the Ultimate Sandbag. The more open joint position of the shoulder and pliability of the handles allows us to create great tension in the lats that transmits down to the core. NOW we have a great platform into create successful and powerful movement.


Dead Bug


The Dead Bug has come back into vogue, which is great. However, many coaches still struggle to get clients to truly understand the whole point of the Dead Bug. Sure, it is a core stability exercise, but what are we looking for? The goal is to keep the pelvis “quiet” as we move the extremities in a cross pattern.

Great, but again, how do we get clients to understand these concepts? Again, using the Ultimate Sandbag and mini band we can give feedback to make these connections and to activate the RIGHT muscles.

The mini band can be placed around the feet in advanced strategies and around the knees for an easier version. The goal is the same in both cases, we want to keep one leg stationary as the other leg moves forward. The mini band activates the glutes on the extending leg and strengthens the hip flexors on the static leg.

I know, do we want to strengthen hip flexors? Yes, as long as it is conjunction with such movements. Remember, hip flexors are core stabilizers too as long as they work with the rest of the core and don’t dominate it. In many people, hip flexors might be “tight”, but they are also very weak. This type of drill goes a long ways in stabilizing the pelvis and correcting a lot of tilted or rotated pelvis issues.

The upper body is the same as our deadlift and row exercise. Tension of pulling the handles apart activates the lats and core so the client gets important feedback and connection of the chains. The other benefit as Ian shows, is that we can create a lift/chop pattern to our Dead Bug. We know lifts/chops are an amazing way to build intrinsic core stability, so the Dead Bug is a perfect place to apply such a powerful movement.


Super Bands and Ultimate Sandbags Progressions


Ian also shows us how super bands can be a powerful tool in teaching movement and activation. Even better when connected with the tension techniques of the Ultimate Sandbag. You will see some of our foundational movement patterns such as hip hinging, lunging, and developing mobility like the shinbox are all easier to achieve with feedback.

Ian shows a few ways we use the Ultimate Sandbag to create the upper body tension that works so beautifully with the resistance the super bands provide to the core. You see how Ian just doesn’t hold the weight of the Ultimate Sandbag, but creates tension whether it is “trying to break the bag apart” with his forearms, or “ripping it apart” by directly grabbing the Ultimate Sandbag itself. These techniques teach our client HOW to activate the core and lats to stabilize the shoulder and core to not only build strength, but stability that instantly results in better mobility.

The band gives us direction of movement, it gives us feedback upon improper positioning/alignment, and most of all it forces us to brace the core so that we have that strong foundation in which to move. You won’t believe how a little resistance of the band transforms a common exercise into a powerhouse one! These techniques are not meant to be novel, but enhance how we get people to understand how to properly use their bodies.

What is most exciting to us about such methods is that in an era where many facilities are moving towards either small or large group training, you can still coach at a high level. While you may not be able to sit down and micro manage each and every client, we can use movement and great functional fitness tools to be our assistant coaches. In fact, they may be better coaches because they move people in the ways we try to communicate verbally. Building the “wins” for the client enhances the experience and results. The ideal win for the coach that wants to separate themselves in the industry, a process that allows you to not just get ordinary results, but extraordinary!

Equipment Used

Mini Bands
Super Bands
Ultimate Sandbag Core Power

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 educational programs HERE