Archive for the ‘My training’ Category

Strong Saturdays | 200kg 5RM

Saturday, 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!

My Training Update | Judo & Controlling the Controllable

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

2017 is the year of getting back on the tatami and trying to develop my competitive judo. Though the past few years I’ve been as consistent as ever with general training and able to develop my athleticism, I’ve been unable to build momentum in my chosen sport. Being a S&C coach means that sometimes (a lot of the time) when judo practice is on, I am working with my rugby players. That said, I’m now boxing clever and getting in my mat time towards the end of the week and weekends which gives me consistency. I’m looking forward to building on that.

This past weekend I had a team tournament which was both great fun and a learning experience. A true wake up call to where I currently am. It has fostered a greater desire to improve and further refine my schedule where possible to allow for more judo. Before I go any further, here was the result from the weekend:

Fight 1| Won (Ippon throw)
Fight 2 | Lost (Osaekomi waza – pinned)

This post could easily turn into a breakdown and full analysis of every second on the mat; however, I think it more valuable to share a message with you that I often discuss with my athletes: control the controllable. You see, my first fight almost went the distance. It was a long battle. I was very pleased to win with a throw that scored ippon right at the end, but it was in that moment I realised how gassed I was. There was a short turn around in Fight 2, and I failed to recovery in time. We landed in a non-scoring position and ultimately I got caught in a pin that I failed to get out from. I didn’t recovery between bouts and though there were lots of ‘judo work-ons’ with regards to technique and tactics, I knew straight away I had a new focus in my training: fitness and improved body composition.

The rule of specificity means I need more judo to improve. More high level judo would not only improve my fitness but most importantly my skills. Guys my size with good skill throwing me every Tuesday and Thursday night in randori would help massively. Unfortunately, based in Aberdeen I’m somewhat of an outlier and, as I’ve alluded to, often work clashes with judo practice. While I’m looking forward (I think) to getting to Edinburgh for national randori/ sparring when my work has me down that way, I must focus on what I can fully control, measure and improve on. Fitness and improved body comp is an easy one to get a handle on! Though nothing will replace a good scrap at national randori, I will use the 2k row to assess improvements in my aerobic capacity which I can compare to the GB Judo Team’s standards. And for body composition it’s a case of using the eight-site calliper test and bring the weight slowly down. Strength and power are on the back-burner though I would expect to maintain or certainly only decline by 5% in my core lifts in terms of absolute strength, while my relative strength will increase.

Below is me shooting for an o-uchi-gari after battling for ‘my grips’. A reminder to get in better shape so that I can express my judo on the tatami whether it’s fight 1 or fight 8!

Power Clean Clusters from Blocks

Monday, November 7th, 2016

Admittedly, I’ve become somewhat of a weekend warrior. As I’m often coaching in the evening I’ve found it difficult to get any consistency and therefore momentum with Judo in the last couple of years. Sure, I can do conditioning or lifting most days and slot it around my schedule, but I can’t slot Judo class around MY schedule. The truth is, the hardest grapple I’ve had these last two years is finding a regular training slot for Judo practice.

To that end, I’ve looked at the weekends as a way to try and get some momentum back on the tatami and this past weekend reflected that. I enjoyed some Saturday conditioning followed by two newaza/ bjj sessions on Sunday.  I went to sleep last night fully prepared to wake up with the aches and pains that every Judoka is familiar with; the cut feet that stings in the shower, the staved finger from an over eager grip and the stiff knees from ‘basing out’ on those grafty butterfly sweeps. What I wasn’t prepared for was the pain when I breathed in/out or coughed. I’m no medical professional, but something certainly wasn’t (and isn’t at time of this post) right with my ribs.

Anyways, there was still training to be done! I was a bit beaten up and sore, but in the grand scheme of things – who cares?! I have a regular Monday lifting session which is purposeful/ planned and part of a bigger vision, so there is no way I wanted to miss it. I simply took a little longer on my warm up, then ramped up to my ‘working sets’ on my exercises with the mindset that I will listen to my body, yet will be aggressive with the lifts and give them my best shot. To my surprise, once I got going I was able to achieve the planned numbers for the day despite being sore during my bracing phase of the lift.

Mondays are currently clusters on the power clean from blocks. Specifically, today was 120kg singles (3 x 3 with 10-20s rest/ 3mins).

The takeaway message: you’re not always going to arrive at a training session fresh and feeling fantastic. Sometimes you’ve got to talk yourself into achieving the goal of the day and gauge how you feel and how your body is responding after an aggressive warm up.

Obviously if you’re unwell or injured you should seek a medical professional prior to exercise as per disclaimer. The advice I follow and give to my athletes when they are not 100% (but not injured) is: “warm up, ramp up to your working sets, then we’ll talk”.

Power Hang Cleans (from blocks)

Friday, August 19th, 2016

The hang clean is one of my mainstay exercises that I use to express power. It’s essentially a loaded jump, and like most exercises there are many ways to tweak it to ensure there are steady improvements made throughout the year.

The below video shows 110kg triples (80% 1RM)

Happy cleaning!

Training Update

Monday, January 18th, 2016

December and January are typically quiet months for me due to athletes having time off over the holidays in preparation for national fitness testing and camps. It means that I’m in the office more than on the road and I can dial down on a regular lifting schedule which helps in making progress/ managing fatigue.

I’m currently in week six of a strength block and I was pleased with hitting a 135kg on bench press in the second week in January. My previous best was 130kg, which you will see in the video is certainly a lot easier than it use to be. So much so that I didn’t have a spotter during the below session (not advisable when you’re benching). Granted I’m never going to win any records with my bench press strength, but then, I don’t want to. I have a objective notion of where I want my body to be when I am in ‘peak condition’ and though it will be some-while away, I’m tracking well to achieve it and enjoying the process as I go :) .

Training Montage

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

Some recent training footage of myself and some FMT athletes.

My training update: the pursuit of a black belt III

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

 Every so often I like to update readers with how my own training and development is going. Though I am a strength and conditioning coach who really enjoys the physical preparation required to perform well in sport, I have always viewed the weight training and fitness conditioning as a means to an end. In other words, my focus has never been “I just want to squat huge bro”, rather it has been “okay if I can squat twice my body weight that puts me in a better position to run faster, throw quicker and move better”. Relative strength is vitally important in sport, especially in sports with weight categories like Judo, therefore all my athletic development has been with the idea that I will increase my ability to perform on the tatami.

Alongside my athletic development I have been trying to acquire as much fighting skills as my body and mind will allow. When I was introduced to Judo I went to class just once a week for six months or so and used the sport as a form of fitness training. Then, something clicked.  I didn’t all of a sudden become a baddass-slamming-feared-judoka. Rather, something clicked in my head where I thought: this isn’t good enough. I wanted to move, and throw like my sensei. I wanted to be a good fighter.  When the time came, I wanted to fight and win a ‘line up’ for the grade of 1st Dan (black belt).  In my part I and II of this series I wrote about my journey and the steps and processes I was going through to achieve the overall goal. I am pleased to report that I successfully completed a ‘line up’ last year (23rd Nov 2013) and received the grade of 1st Dan (black belt). As I eluded to in my past posts, the journey to this wasn’t easy. Now I am very much at the end of the beginning and hopefully I have a long and healthy middle ahead of me, full of learning and improvement. Specifically, I am currently in training for my first judo competition oversees in Germany.

For the last three months I have been trying to alleviate knee pain (patellar tendonitis) and maintain my athleticism. While my knee problem hasn’t completely cleared, I am short on time and have decided to get back into full swing and spend as much time on the tatami as possible. The view is to peak around the time of my fights in September and I will be posting up footage of my training journey along the way. Stay tuned! 

My training update: the pursuit of a black belt II

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

In my last post I highlighted that I was going to compete for the grade of 2nd Kyu in Judo, or blue belt. I was super excited to have the opportunity to fight and was able to record all three fights.

On reflexion I was able to achieve my process and performance goals in two of my fights, though I must admit that I was hoping for a BIG crowd pleasing Ippon. Next time :)

There are many things that I need to work on if I am to progress and become the fighter I want to be, yet for now I’m pleased I was able to achieve my outcome goals for this grading.

If I could share a take-away lesson with you it would be this: use goal setting. Goal setting is a very powerful motivational tool which can really aid focus. As you’ve read, there are more than one type of goals you can set. Enjoy the process, execute the performance and the outcome should take care of itself.

Pre Summer Training 2012

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Here’s a look at some of the movements my training group were doing prior to the summer break. Stay tuned for videos of summer training which includes a brutal strength-endurance phase!

My training update: the pursuit of a black belt

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Forgive me readers for I have sinned, it has been too long since my last post. The truth is I’ve been busy with a few things: taking on more training clients (the grappling population), continued education (degree) and my own athletic development. Unfortunate circumstances have cleared time in my schedule to get back in front of the keyboard, so I hope you’re ready for some cool new training tips/ideas and motivation for 2012.

Before I discovered judo I was in the post-rugby era, where I was training four or five times per week which equated to around six hours. This was mainly based around lifting to increase relative strength and I’d throw in some form of anaerobic conditioning once a week. Then, in the 2011 summer I decided to go full throttle at judo (without worrying about my shoulder history as a limiting factor) and my training time per week doubled. Here’s what a typical week looked like:

  Am Pm
Sunday Instruct Spin Class Speed Upper
Monday Heavy Lower Submission Wrestling or Edinburgh Judo
Tuesday Off Tayside Judo
Wednesday Heavy Upper Tayside Judo
Thursday Off Speed Lower
Friday Off Off
Saturday Instruct Spin Class Off

The aim was (and still is) to fight my way to a  black belt while developing my own athleticism until I have reached my genetic potential. The above split was designed to help me achieve both of these goals and keep me in-shape for my weight class of -100kg.


By the end of summer time I made the grade of 5th Kyu (YELLOW belt) and was looking forward to sitting my orange belt grading sometime in the winter. Looking forward is a bit of an understatement actually, I admit it: I had the judo bug. I was obsessed and ambitious. My thinking was (and still is): if you want to be the best then you’ve got to put yourself in situations where you’re going to be challenged, where you’re going to learn, adapt and overcome. I wanted to fight. Most 5th Kyu’s don’t enter into ‘Open’ tournaments for good reasons; their movement isn’t necessarily fluent, they don’t always achieve kuzushi before a throw, they might not necessarily have ‘throw combos’ and they might not be able to read an opponent due to lack of experience. I was no different – but thought I’d give it a go anyway…

As you might have figured out, the results were not good. That said, I could not have performed any better than what I did. I used the skills that I had at the time and put in 100% effort.

Fight 1: Beaten by a ‘second dan’ black belt after 1min 28secs due to ‘ippon’ throw.
Fight 2: Beaten by Jamie (see above).
Fight 3: Beaten by a black belt on points.
Before my fourth fight I was sick three times…Going five minutes with a black belt is one of the most physically demanding tasks I have ever done.
Fight 4: Beaten by pin hold down (unsure of the opponent’s grade).

I wasn’t discouraged, in fact it was quite the opposite. My obsession grew: I was ready to sit my 4th Kyu grading. By the time the next tournament rolled around I wanted to be regularly throwing higher grades in ‘randori’ (sparing) and have an answer if I was to fight a black belt again. That’s when the Tonbridge Camp caught my eye: an international judo camp that was just for ‘randori’. After emailing the organizer to discover if someone of my grading could attend, I learned that the camp would be full of mainly black belts who compete internationally or have international ambitions, yet it was open to any grade that was willing (or stupid enough?) to ‘randori’ for two hours per session. Though my ‘sensei’ did warn me that I would be rag-dolled for the majority of the camp, my thinking was that I would become better from the experience. Don’t confuse this as naive or disrespectful – I was fully aware of my ability and the level of judokas that I would be facing; however, the aim of ‘randori’ is to throw a person, hone previously learned skills and think on your feet if the text book stuff doesn’t work. The aim is not to injury your opponent or cause harm. Needless to say, I wouldn’t have attended the camp if there was a situation where I had to fight.

Two hour sessions, three times a day. I may have been thrown over 200 times in the space of four days. That said, going to the camp was one of the best decisions I have made regarding judo and I definitely learned from the experience while having FUN. You read that correctly, thrown over 200 times…but it was fun! I managed to get in some throws on higher grades too, after all, that was the aim.

My next fight was going to be in February and I was feeling confident because my judo improved leaps and bounds since my last tournament. Unfortunately, I suffered a shoulder subluxation on my left side during a ‘ne-waza randori’ with my regular training partner at Tayside Judo and I’m now out of action for a while. A subluxation is also known as a partial dislocation: the humerus slips out and is back in within seconds. My history of shoulder instability means I have to take this injury seriously and return to judo stronger/more stable than I was. That said, if my scan shows that I have excessive internal damage then I may need to stop the sport forever.

Of course this is a blow to my judo and athletic development; however, you’ve got to make hay while the sun shines which means I’ll be able to get infront of the keyboard and post some new training blogs that will help others develop. Just because I’m out of action doesn’t mean you readers are!