Client Progress | He was only suppose to hit 120…

June 23rd, 2017

My process for training people is really pretty simple;

  • Test (get a baseline)
  • Plan the intervention then deliver it
  • Monitor as we go (and potentially modify if necessary)
  • Retest (check results)
  • Evaluate

A simple process. For the most part, this means I am testing my clients every tenth session to ascertain the progress they have made towards their long term goals (and by how much they smashed their short/ middle term goals).

It was very pleasing this week to be spotting Stephen for his Bench Press. The goal for block 2 was to take his 110kg Bench Press and hit a 120kg single; however, that flew up with ease and so we went up to 130kg…

 

This is a Judoka who is trying to get in the best shape for his sport (not a power lifter), so it’s very pleasing that he’s making good improvements on all markers while still developing his judo specific skills (he trains judo 2/3 times per week). With that in mind, Stephen needs to become more powerful and improve his aerobic capacity too. One tool we have been using to further develop athleticism is the power clean. Stephen couldn’t clean when we started training; however, with the reverse chain method we have made some good progress in technique (and power measured in RSI/ Broad Jump/ Power Clean). Stephen can competently clean his bw 90kg and the video below shows him hitting a 100kg Power Clean single, with less than optimal technique (yet safe). We’ll refine this as we go, and the goal with that specific move is ‘to make 100kg look like your 90kg clean’.





Velocity Based Training (VBT)

June 15th, 2017

I’m currently on a body composition and strength block of training with the volume now decreasing with the intensity increasing – pretty standard, only there’s a few tweaks that make this programme brutal (necessary for the adaptations I’m after). For today’s training I threw on a PUSH-Band to discovery my power and velocity on a heavy double squat. I’ll discuss this more from an educational point of view if there is interest as tracking velocity in the gym can be a very useful tool for coaches working with athletes who have graduated from the novice stage of training.

Tonight my Reactive Strength Index (RSI) was  2.41 m/s (suggesting I would benefit from a plyometric/ power block of training, however I completed a 30min run this morning which may have impacted my ‘spring’ in the evening.

My heavy double on the back squat was at 180kg which is 90% of my 1RM. Therefore I should of had one rep ‘in the tank’ or possible even two at a squeeze; however, my velocity of 0.25 m/s on the second repetition suggests this was my 2RM for the day (95% of 1RM). This makes sense as fatigue masks fitness and I am on a planned overreach stage in my programming.

More information on how VBT can influence your programming coming soon.





Client Progress | Upper Strength (chins)

June 9th, 2017

It’s great to see a client smashing their physical preparation goals. This is Stephen knocking out eight reps of chins with a 20kg plate around his waist at the end of a session.  We were not testing this today; however, I am known for throwing a few curveballs at my clients from time to time…

Pre Training Testing | 10reps @ Bodyweight

End of Block 1 Testing | 10reps @ Bodyweight + 10kg

Midway through Block 2 (today) | 8reps @ Bodyweight + 20kg

We’re definitely tracking to smash Stephen’s upper strength goal (10reps @ bodyweight +20kg), which is only one ambition of many!





Refinement | Nailing the Basics

June 8th, 2017

In judo you spend a lot of time practising the basics. Repetition, repetition repetition. That’s what it takes to learn the language. I’ve been doing judo for a fair few years now and there’s still plenty to work-on with the basic movements and principles which will make me more effective at having conversations :-) .

Whether it’s the fitness industry or the business world, there is often a desire to discover the next big thing‘What should we add to make a big change and get ahead of the competition?’.

Sometimes the biggest bang for your buck is refinement in what you’re doing and focusing on becoming a master of the basics.

Below is some footage of my second session on Thursday, repeating the entry of a throw. My body really didn’t want to be there after a high-volume squat session in the afternoon, but my future opponents don’t care about that, and so neither shall I.

Whether it’s nutrition, lifting weights or whatever else; if you can perfect the basic principles you may find yourself more successful than if you chase the smoke and mirrors.





Pin Press

May 18th, 2017

I’m a guy who has had two shoulder surgeries on my right side before the age of twenty, and my good shoulder has a grade 2 SLAP tear. Therefore, getting the upper body stronger over the years has been not only essential for my shoulder health, but a challenge because it has required some regular changes in modalities to manage stress/ adaptation.

Pin press is one exercise which allows me to develop upper body pressing strength without pain in my shoulders (due to less ROM than bench and the time under tension ‘unload/ reload’ at the bottom of the lift). It’s a useful horizontal pressing exercise which can be cycled in throughout the year to complement the bench press. Once my athletes reach a certain level on bench press and OH press, I bring in the pin press and push press to continue their upper body strength development. With female athletes, I typically bring this in as an option once they’re at 0.8 x body-weight on bench press as I’ve observed it allows them to get to a body-weight bench press quicker. For male athletes, I tend to include as an option when they can bench 1.25 of their body-weight, unless shoulder issues dictate that it’s in earlier, with the view to pushing onto 1.5 of body-weight. As always, there are many roads to London and different ways to do things. From a fitness industry perspective, I have observed that there is generally too much variety in people’s programmes. Variety for variety sake – perhaps an attempt to keep clients interested. Yet what motivates and keeps everyone interested is progress and results.  It’s essential to have tools and tricks up your sleeve as an S&C coach or trainer, but it’s crucial to know when and why to ‘change it up’.

If your pressing strength has stalled and you’re at the levels (0.8*bw for females / 1.25*bw for males) then this movement might be the way forward for you.

Happy training!

 

 





Strong Saturdays | 200kg 5RM

May 13th, 2017

On Saturdays, we lift!

Deadlift to be specific, normally after some max outwarm up’ cleans. The scientific rationale there is just keep adding plates until you can’t pick the bar up anymore. Our only deal-breaker is with the back; that must remain straight. On a strength day we’ll work in the 80%+ range with exact percentages, sets and reps depending on the programme and where it all fits in with the grand scheme of things. I write we, but I really mean me. Sometimes my coaches will join me for a Saturday evening lift, though sometimes they have life commitments (weirdos, I know).

This session comes three hours after a sweaty afternoon judo session, so as you can imagine, loud tunes are somewhat essential to get the job done. The shuffle threw me a bit of a bit of a curve-ball on this occasion!

Today was;

  • Cleans | Ascend to heavy single (120kg today)
  • Deadlifts | Work up to 2 reps @ 90%+ (I took 200kg for 5)
  • Belt Squat | 5 x 10 @ 70-75%
  • ‘The Beast’ Barbell Circuit

 

This was definitely a 5RM on deadlift, I’ve lifted it for 5 reps before so not a PB unfortunately, though maximal nonetheless. Additionally, watching this back is very useful because I’ve identified that my ‘SET’ position needs some work so that I’m truly straight. I’ll drop to the 70-80% range for the next few weeks to iron out my start position.

Happy training!





May Announcement | Two Summer Training Slots Available (Aberdeen)

May 8th, 2017

I ‘opened the books’ for the first time in a long time five months ago to two private clients/ groups and have been very impressed with the work ethic and attitude both clients have showed towards attaining their goals. It has inspired me to I ‘reopen the books’ in May and take on a two clients/ small groups who are brave enough for the fmt experience :-) .

As ever, athletes preparing for next season are more than welcome; however, these training slots are available to anyone who has an athlete’s attitude and appetite for ‘getting after it’. Whatever your goal, I’ll have the right carrot (and a few sticks) to get you there. You can read-up more on my qualifications and motivation for training people on my home page.

It’s worth noting I can take three people per training slot and would fully encourage you to train with your friends, regardless of a variance in ability. That said, with group training it is important that members of the group share a common fitness vision (i.e everyone wants to improve their aerobic fitness, or body composition etc).

Please use my contact page to register your interest and request more information. To maintain standards of the highest quality (what I expect of my own training) I’m cautious of how many people I take on at one time. This will be my last two slots for another five to six months  - act fast if you want to take your training to another level.

Summary

Venue | Exclusive access to a private gym facility for our weekly session (free parking / showers and changing room space)

Blocks | 10  x 70mins sessions (maximum three people per group)

Expectation | Completion of agreed upon sessions (designed by me) outwith our weekly training slot

Session 1 | Establish the baseline (movement screen as part of the session coupled with tests appropriate for your goal)

Sessions 2 – 9 | Weekly 121 coupled with a planned intervention to achieve goals established in session 1, including nutrition guidance if appropriate to goals

Session 10 | Retest and evaluation of progress

Happy training!

 

 





Core Strength

April 21st, 2017

I don’t know a single trainer or exercise enthusiast on the planet that would dispute the importance of having a strong core. So let me ask you this: if you wanted to build strong legs would you use endurance parameters? Often I see, hear and correct people who are smashing 25 reps of this into 1 min holds of that with 20 seconds recovery before another onslaught of the abs is undertaken. That’s commendable, and sometimes very appropriate; however, if you want to build true core strength you have to play with strength parameters and expand your exercise selection beyond crunches and planks.

Luckily, there’s lots of exercises and protocols to chose from. I’m still a huge fan of candlesticks and variations among other things.

For more help with ideas on building core strength, have a quick read of this article I posted in 2011. 

Happy training!





Wrap Up | Season 2016-17

April 17th, 2017

That’s a wrap on another Scotland U18 season. It was pleasing to see how far the boys came with their aerobic fitness improvements from January to March prior to their games in Wales, and it was absolutely fantastic to see them show some real Scottish spirit and overcome a strong Italian side during our campaign. I’m looking forward to hearing how the boys progress into the senior rugby scene and push on from there.

 

DISCLAIMER 





Client Progress – A Landmark

March 30th, 2017

When I reopened my books to new clients in early January I was pleased to see a fellow judoka wanted help in developing his athleticism to aid his performance on the tatami.

Prior to our training sessions, we followed the usual process of a thorough needs analysis before setting some clear goals. Through movement screening, fitness testing and an in-depth look into the requirements of judo, alongside a comparison to the standards of elite judoka, we determined that the ‘biggest bang for our buck’ would be to focus on closing the gap in strength and power for our first block of training.

While the results in the table below are outstanding and a testament to how hard Stephen worked, I think the most impressive thing was seeing him power clean 90kg (3 kilos over his body weight at the time) considering two months ago he had never cleaned. A bodyweight power clean represents an important landmark in the training journey and it’s always nice to see – much like a double bodyweight squat.

Exercise 20th January 20th March
Broad Jump 2.21 2.38
Back Squat 100 3RM 130kg 2RM
Bench Press 90kg 4RM 100kg 4RM
Chins 10reps at BW 10 Reps with 10kg around waist
Cleans Needed to learn Technique 90kg 1RM (bw)

We used the reverse chain method and progressed it over the course of eight weeks to ensure Stephen’s goal of being able to power clean his bodyweight was realised. While his technique can be refined, and optimised further, it’s certainly safe and effective. All in all, great results for a guy who has trained hard. We are continuing to push on with strength and align him to the edge of his weight category (u90) before turning our focus to conditioning (which is pretty good at the moment and being maintained).