DVRT: How an Overlooked Tool Delivers Extraordinary Results

Who says you need barbells to get strong and fit?

It took me a while to notice: this gym has no barbells.

I was at J & D Fitness in Las Vegas, Nevada to interview Josh Henkin, the guy behind Dynamic Variable Resistance Training (DVRT) and the Ultimate Sandbag. After being there for several minutes, I suddenly realized that J & D is a different kind of place. At first, it seems unremarkable and familiar. Like many gyms, there’s a pull up rig with rings and TRX straps, and there’s a substantial rack of kettlebells. Unlike most gyms, nearly half of the floor space is artificial turf. And then there’s that small mountain of sandbags… As it turns out, there is also only one barbell for the entire facility. But Josh, as you’ll see in our interview, makes you realize how sensible and smart this unconventional setup actually is.

Josh is tall, amiable, and damn smart. He’s been around long enough and he’s had enough success that he’s not out to constantly score points in our conversation or jump in to prove his point at every pause. His answers are thoughtful and considered. Straightforward and confident, Josh often weaves his responses into tidy narratives. It’s a gift that allows Josh to be engaging and plainspoken while explaining complex concepts.

Josh is also clearly passionate about DVRT and the Ultimate Sandbag.

Believe me, I get what you’re thinking: “DVRT” is hardly the sexiest-sounding or trendiest name you can give something. And then, when it comes to the “Ultimate Sandbag,” you’re trying to imagine what the heck could possibly be “ultimate” about a sandbag? Isn’t that something like, you know, the Ultimate Cinder Block?

But hold on. You’re about to see that, in the right hands, these things are actually very interesting, progressive training tools. So much so that DVRT and the Ultimate Sandbag have been featured by Details, The Wall Street Journal, Shape, Men’s Health, Oxygen, and even Access Hollywood, and the DVRT system has been rolled out in over 80 countries with ongoing certification programs in 15. Sounds a little sexier now, doesn’t it?

In our interview, Josh explains all this. And by the end, you’ll not only understand why this is impressive stuff, you’ll be eager to try it yourself. There are also some demo videos below that will take you from theory to practice in understanding DVRT and the Ultimate Sandbag.

Demo Videos

Because DVRT and the Ultimate Sandbag offer a complete approach that synergistically integrates a specific training tool and a comprehensive movement system, I asked Josh to also give a quick demonstration. He kindly grabbed a couple of victims to demonstrate—one of whom turned out to be the gym owner and NSCA State Director for Arizona, Doug Sheppard. (Remember that gym without barbells? Yeah, that’s where the NSCA State Director is training a new generation of outstanding coaches. But more on that in another article.)

Is DVRT be the Next Big Thing?

Day in and day out, I talk to a lot of people in the fitness industry. Quite a few suspect that gyms and fitness facilities are going to get smaller, not bigger. Just as CrossFit moved people out of big-box chain gyms, the era of big-box CrossFit and strength and conditioning gyms may be waning, as the fitness industry moves toward both more personalization and a more intimate redefinition of what a coach does. If that’s even partly true, DVRT and the Ultimate Sandbag are positioned for real success. The system is impressive in any setting, but for small facilities, garage gyms, home gyms, and any place where space is a premium, it’s not just a really sensible approach, it’s a no-brainer.

More ways to get fit without ever touching a barbell:

Of Muscles and Might: The Workman’s Conditioning Program