Archive for September, 2010

Summer Updates

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

This summer has been more fast-paced than any summer I can remember. While I’ve managed to rehab my back and shoulder to around 85%  of full throttle, I’ve also been training people in Glasgow, both through FMT and a commercial gym. In addition to training people and myself, I’ve been involved (and still am) in a British Judo talent identification scheme and I have tested out my up and coming EBook on some of my summer lab rats.

Stay In The Game…Or Find A new One
For now I’m excited to report that I have been ‘tryed & tested’ by the UK SPORT talent identification scientists and I have been selected from 1230 men to attend phase 3 (15 or so men) of the selection process. Judo is a very physically demanding sport and very technical. I’m pleased to have the opportunity to try it out and see how far it goes. Coaching rule number one: practice what you preach. It wouldn’t be right for me, or any young coach, to promote certain techniques, workouts and advice without being actively involved in the process myself. Regardless of what happens with the selection process, Judo is definitely my new sport…It’s like rugby only you get awarded for dropping someone on their head…

An Experiment
As I alluded too, at the start of this year I wrote a program that specifically targets the off-season (not pre-season) of rugby players. This summer was the testing phase of the program and I am happy to report some superb results.

“Here are my results for last two weeks…..and I must say I am very very pleased…Your programme obviously works mate and I am very thankful for you letting me try it out…If you ever need help testing out any more don’t hesitate to ask as I would love to continue with it.”

This guy ended up squatting 185kg on his testing day and added 15kg to his bench press max – all in the space of 12 weeks. Most guys are coming back with 15kg increase in their bench and +20kg on their back squat for one maximal rep. What surprised me though, is that 89% of subjects increased in relative strength and maximal strength. In real world terms  – they performed more chin ups at the end of the program than they did at the start, with an increased bodyweight! This shows that the weight these lab rats gained was good weight. Aka MUSCLE.

There is still a lot to be finalised before the release next year – more information over the coming months.

September: Exercise of the Month

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

The Front Squat

The front squat is a quad dominant lower body movement. If you’re a sports person and your acceleration needs developed then chances are you are not performing enough of this movement. Or if you’re just trying to build up size in the front of your legs then this exercise should be a priority.

With the front squat less weight is used (compared to a traditional back squat) due to the bar resting on the front of the shoulders. To some that may sound like a bad thing, but your back doesn’t think so. Due to the trunk being in a more upright position, it is easier to maintain a neutral positioning of the spine. The picture below demonstrates this point:


As you can see, the front squat will still overload the legs (with the appropriate loading) while placing less strain on the lower back.

It goes without saying that the front squat should be treated like any other squat; heels down, hips back, chest up. Doing all that should allow for a straight back; however, there is one cue I use with my clients that is extremely important – ELBOWS UP. As this movement is carried out, it can often be the case that the elbows drop. Doing this creates a strain on the wrists, and eventually will become the limiting factor of the movement. Simply keeping the elbows high and chest out should resolve this problem.

There are two main grips that can be used with the front squat; Olympic grip or cross-over grip. Remember, we’re not using this movement as a progression onto Olympic lifting and so it doesn’t matter what grip you take. Personally I prefer the cross-over grip as it allows me to keep my elbows high and eliminates strain on my wrists (so I can lift more weight). Below is a video demonstrating how to set up the cross-over front squat grip.

Unlike previous ‘Exercise of the Month’posts, I am not giving a recommendation for beginners, intermediates or advanced trainees. This is because I think the best thing to do with this exercise is to add it into your existing regime with whatever methods you use to achieve your goals. For example, if strength is your goal then perform this movement with high sets and low reps. Whatever method you use, expect sore quads if you’re new to the front squat (or haven’t performed it in a while).