Sunday, February 22, 2015


By Steve “Coach Fury” Holiner
DVRT Master Chief Instructor, Senior RKC, Original Strength Instructor

Why is DVRT so damn important to me?

I’ll tell you. The Dynamic Variable Resistance Training system is the lens that I view all of my training and programming through. I had a lot of questions when I started out as a Coach. It wasn’t as though I hadn’t been to my share of fitness certification programs. Many times they did a good job showing me how to use a specific tool, but I wasn’t sure how you put all the pieces of the fitness puzzle together. I would go back and have more exercises, but I wasn't sure if I really had better solutions.
I thought DVRT was going to be much of the same, but DVRT didn’t show me a bunch of sandbag exercises. Don’t get me wrong, we learned a lot of movements, but it was never really about just learning a cool new exercise. I was really drawn to how each exercise was explained in having a very specific purpose as well as how each movement built a layer upon the next. When you begin to really understand the why's and how's of something, there is a really great sense of empowerment that comes with it. That sense of confidence that you really are armed with the skills and knowledge to help people transform their lives.

Whether or not I’m using Ultimate Sandbags, kettlebells, barbells or bodyweight with someone, I orchestrate my approach to their goals through the principles of the DVRT.

Here are a few key points that are always buzzing in my brain.

1) Weight is not the be all end all of strength training. Heavy DOES NOT fix everything in my book. Getting stronger does.There are so many more safe and effective ways to build strength than adding plates to a bar. I didn’t really understand that until I went through my first certification with DVRT/Ultimate Sandbag creator Josh Henkin. Being “strong” is something you gain a whole new appreciation with in DVRT. Just when you think you have conquered one challenge, you find a new one. To me, that is exciting as you start to really find how much of your untapped potential you have yet to reach!
ultimate sandbag training
2) We need to not only move in all directions, but to be strong as we move in all directions. This is a biggie within the DVRT system. I loved what DVRT Master, Kari Negraiff, said, "we become strong in 360 degrees of motion." We move and train in all of the planes of motion. You know why? Because that’s how me move in the real world and in athletics. This is true functional strength and bulletproofing. Yea, it sounds like that “functional” training buzz word stuff, but in there is a real way to make it applicable and fun. Once you open your mind you start to see how much your training was once limited. It isn’t just expanding your toolbox, rather, giving you the instructions on how to really build real world strength and fitness.

3) Don’t just work the stabilizers. Don’t just work the primaries. The way approach stability and instability within the DVRT/Ultimate Sandbag nails both of these crucial muscles groups. We all like to THINK we are hitting the important areas of the body, but with DVRT I learned how much we were really missing! It wasn’t about just building up smaller stabilizers or sometimes the neglected muscles of the body. More importantly it was building them in conjunction with the natural movements of the body and that is just freaking cool!
Mark Fisher Fitness member, Gabe Schwartz, saw significant results in both strength and muscle gain when DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training was added to his program. Gabe will also claim that DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training is his favorite part of his program. Score. These results were so noticable, that Gabe was named MFF’s  client of the month for February 2015. Double score.

These results are not unusual though. My fellow DVRT Master Trainers,  Chad Skrederstu and Ana Skrederstu of 168 Fitness in Pasadena, recently shared the amazing story of their client who not only lost 34 pounds in just a few months, but he actually can out perform many fitness pros in some pretty impressive feats. Including dominating our Clean and Press test with 48 repetitions with an 80 pound Burly in just 5 minutes. If you haven't tried it, that is freaking amazing!!

Seeing these types of results really shouldn't be that surprising though. I mean, this stuff works, that is why we get so excited about it. As Chad so greatly put it about DVRT...
"It's a strategic training system that provides a roadmap for results for all types of populations . In 2015 programming is our biggest competitive advantage over other personal trainers and strength coaches."
 Yea, it really does give coaches and users and edge, that is what we want to do, give you real world results.  
Those are some of the reasons DVRT is so important to me. Here are a few reasons why it should be important to you.

-Knowledge is power. You will, without a doubt, leave a DVRT certification or workshop with a whole new way of seeing fitness that you will be able to apply directly to your clients.
-This is a very effective and safe system that is loaded with practical progressions and regressions.
-Our community is awesome. We’re here for you long after the cert or workshop is over. 

This isn’t a sales pitch. I’m a part of this system because I love it. There I said it. It was a game changer for me. Being able to share this knowledge with other fitness professionals is why I worked so hard to become someone that could actually teach DVRT as well. I want as many fitness professionals to experience what DVRT can do for them as DVRT had key part in my success. Come check it out and see if it can do the same for you.

Check out to find a workshop or certification near you HERE
Can't make it to one of our live events? Try our 60 days of our awesome DVRT membership program HERE

I hope to see you at a workshop or certification or workshop soon!



I consider myself very fortunate to work at the best place on Earth. We are Mark Fisher Fitness and we give a shit. 


Sunday, February 8, 2015


A better workout? You got it in the bag.

A loaded barbell being hoisted might be an impressive sight (Google: "Jackman, Hugh, dead lift"), but one-dimensional moves don't belong in your workout. Barbells and dumbbells are static—sandbags, on the other hand, fight back. Though they appear to be one of the least-threatening tools in the gym, they can humble even the most avid exerciser.
"The sand moves around in the bag as you lift it," says Valerie Waters, who trains Ben Affleck and Bradley Cooper. "It's like the difference between picking up a 50-pound dumbbell and a 50-pound kicking, screaming, writhing child." (Which isn't recommended for your home workout.)
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee recently found that doing a given workout (equivalent weight, exercises, sets, reps) with a sandbag instead of dumbbells resulted in a significantly higher heart rate and a 10 percent higher calorie burn. And don't be surprised if you feel it in your abs. "All of your muscles—especially your core—have to work harder, because you're stabilizing the weight," Waters says. "It's amazing how intense a workout you can get with just one bag."
Steve Holiner, trainer to Broadway's leading men at Mark Fisher Fitness in New York City, explains what to do when you pick up the bag.
• • •
1. Rotational Lunges
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold a handle in each hand, palms facing each other. Step back with right foot. As you bend knees, swing bag outside of left knee, resisting the weight (keep torso facing forward). Reverse, then repeat on other leg. That's 1 rep. Do 3 sets of 8 reps.
2. Clean to Push Press
Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width in a hinge position over the bag. Hold a handle in each hand, palms facing each other. As you straighten legs explosively, bend elbows, flipping bag tight to chest and allowing it to rest on fists. Then press overhead. Do 3 sets of 8 reps.
3. Shoulder Carry
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and bag lengthwise between feet. Bend knees and hinge forward to grab bag by its middle. Straighten legs explosively and hoist bag onto shoulder. Walk forward for 30 seconds, then switch shoulders and walk back. Repeat 3 times.

Sunday, February 1, 2015


By Josh Henkin, Master RKC, Creator of the DVRT System

Ultimate Sandbag Rotational Lunge by Darrell Banning

It was only about 15 years ago when the deadlift was vilified. If you coached your clients to perform the deadlift, you were almost considered an irresponsible trainer. Only the super hardcore, "crazy" lifters really did it!

It’s hard to believe that I’m talking about the deadlift. In the late 90’s, it was very rare to find people performing it—at the time, many people thought it was hard on your back, dangerous, and not something that everyday people should be doing. Now, the deadlift has had one of the biggest turn-arounds in fitness. Now it is touted as a corrective exercise, one of the most functional drills, and appears in nearly every fitness magazine workout. Pretty crazy!

Now only one question remains—how do we help people improve their deadlift?

The deadlift’s resurgence in popularity has a lot to do with the hip hinge dominating the movement. Learning how to load the hips is essential for people who want to actually help their low backs, increase performance, and gain real world strength. Yet, the deadlift has other important aspects past the hip hinge that many people overlook.

Links in the Chain 

While we most often associate the deadlift and the posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, and low back), the deadlift is really a function of connecting the entire body. Try standing up and slumping your shoulders, now, try to round your low back. It’s pretty easy to do. This time, stand back up, hold your shoulders down and back and while keeping this position, try to round your low back. It’s much harder to do!

Now you can really see how important the upper body is when performing the deadlift. Truthfully, one of the best benefits of the deadlift is that it teaches the upper body (trunk) and lower body to work together. This benefit is also one of the biggest challenges of the movement. How do we teach this concept so that people understand how to make the body move as one unit not as disconnected pieces?

Like many other functionally-based exercises, that understanding is the biggest challenge. The deadlift requires a lot of multi-tasking! We have to understand how to hip hinge (a feat in itself), brace through the trunk like a moving plank, and keep an active upper body to help maintain alignment and posture. The deadlift is not as easy as some may think!

I want to share four strong solutions to improve your deadlift. These drills might also dramatically change how you see movement.

These four drills are not the usual "make your deadlift better" drills. We are going to examine the big picture of how to make stronger connections and better movement.

Front-Loaded Good Morning: 

This is a super simple looking drill that becomes a powerhouse exercise with the right intent. Holding an Ultimate Sandbag in the front-loaded position instantly makes every movement a dynamic plank. Why not just plank more? Because in real life, we need the ability to brace our torso when we move. The Front-Loaded Good Morning is an easy exercise to test for this ability. With an active upper body, we will learn how to create tension throughout the entire body to develop the proper stability. One more little benefit of this drill—it also teaches us how to hip hinge!

Front Loaded Good Morning with Ultimate Sandbag

Lateral Drag: 

One of the keys to developing real world strength is to constantly look for what strength coach, Dan John, calls "leakages". Yes, that sounds bad, but the phrase really refers to finding movement compensations stop your strength from reaching its full potential.

The Lateral Drag uses the friction of the Ultimate Sandbag moving on the ground to create an environment where strength leakages in the upper body, trunk, and even lower body cannot hide. People who love crawling will appreciate the strong cross patterning created and challenged by this drill. The Lateral Drag makes the body smarter and stronger!
Ultimate Sandbag Lateral Drags Tyrone Woodly
UFC Fighter, Tyron Woodley demonstrates the Ultimate Sandbag Lateral Drag

Rotational Lunge: 

A lunge? Really? I know you already perform about three lunges when practicing get-ups, but this drill is much different. Lunging continues to be an undervalued movement (click here for a whole article written on that subject), but it can be extremely important for improving your favorite lifts like deadlifts.

The Rotational Lunge makes the lunge movement even better! Lunges challenge our mobility, stability, and strength not just up and down, but side to side as well. Why do people hate lunging? Because when lunging, light weights will sometimes humble even the strongest people.

The Rotational Lunge is one of the STRONGEST multi-planar exercises. Our bodies move in three planes of motion, not just up and down. It’s funny that while walking works in all three planes, most of our gym exercises only go up and down. The Rotational Lunge accomplishes everything that a basic lunge does, but amps up the challenge by requiring the body to stay strong in all three planes. This is the same connectedness that is also so important for the deadlift. With the Rotational Lunge, it doesn’t take much weight to find your weak links!


In some ways, Shouldering is more advanced that the deadlift. I would even suggest that it could be more helpful for those looking for an edge with their deadlift than for beginners. By starting with our hands in contact with the ground, Shouldering requires a huge range of motion, and has the lowest starting point of any exercise. Our bodies have to get low, and some people do not yet have the strength or mobility to do so.

Shouldering also requires a good amount of power from a dead stop, and without momentum. For Shouldering, you will need to know how to tense everything properly to create enough force to move the weight, and to resist the forces created by the moving Ultimate Sandbag. Otherwise—as evidenced by videos on YouTube—an ugly wrestling match that looks anything but functional can happen!
Ultimate Sandbag Shouldering

Add in a one sided load to a position that looks a lot like a strong standing side plank and you have another DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training exercise with about five or six benefits for your strength training.

Thinking about the big picture of movement and strength will allow you to problem solve and excel in your training. You can have variety—purposeful variety. I would suggest that you select no more than two of these DVRT variations for any one workout. Choose drills that don’t compete such as Front Loaded Good Mornings with Rotational Lunges, or Shouldering with Lateral Drags. You will soon be amazed at how much stronger and more resilient you will be. Senior RKC, Steve "Coach Fury" Holiner has some insightful words about the power of this concept:
"Using DVRT to challenge a person’s lateral and anti-rotational stability has reaped big benefits on the deadlifts of my own and my clients. Being strong and stable in other planes of motion will really help you wedge between the bar and the floor and get a solid pull when life gets heavy. Lateral lunges and shoulder squats are two of my faves for this purpose. Adding cleans to those lateral lunges, or staggered stance cleans will not only strengthen your stability it will also help generate some extra power for that initial pull off the floor."