Special Announcement | Two Training Slots Available (Aberdeen)

January 8th, 2017

It’s been a few years now since I ‘opened the books’ for personal training to the public, and I’m excited to announce that from January to April I have two 70mins slots available at the tail end of the week for training whoever is brave enough :) . Some of you will know that my full time contract has me covering a large ‘chunk’ of Scotland and the geography of the region I lead on with regards to strength and conditioning means that periodically, travelling is as much a part of the job as training athletes. That said,  I’ve had a reshuffle of my schedule thanks to a growing network of great coaches emerging in various cities and it has allowed me to spend less time on the A90 and more time doing what I love – coaching and training people to maximise their potential!

Though athletes are welcome, 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.

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

 DISCLAIMER

 





Power Clean Clusters from Blocks

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.

“DON’T BLAME IT ON THE INTERNET”
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”.





An insight into the competitive season | Part 2

November 2nd, 2016

Though my athletes are in-between the ‘train to compete’ and ‘train to win’ phase of the Long Term Athletic Development Model, they are never to old for FUNdamentals.

The guys are in the depths of their competitive season and can easily become stale, demotivated and stagnant when it comes to their physical preparation sessions. As an S&C coach you’ve got to read between the lines and get a reading on how your athletes are feeling. This can be done in several ways. For example, wellness data collection (forms / subjective feedback) or a battery of morning monitoring tests (assessing neural fatigue, muscle tightness and providing objective feedback on readiness to train). We use both subjective and objective feedback with our athletes, although today the best indicator I had for readiness to train was being a human being! Simply paying attention to the mood of the group and intuitively understanding that we ain’t getting anything productive done today until the shackles of the previous nights fitness drills were shook off.

As I’ve alluded to, this morning the guys seemed somewhat ‘flat’ and I needed them to ‘get after it’ as this is their heavy day and they are at the intensification stage of an in-season wave. We introduced some simple competition today to create an atmosphere and get the guys going for their heavy lifts.

The clip below shows Round 1 of 6, serious hats were on until the final rope race where the victor claimed some brand new kit.

This slotted into the end of our warm up and worked a treat at getting the guys smiling and wanting to train hard!

Athletes want to compete!

DISCLAIMER





The Clean | Learn, Load & Explode

October 28th, 2016

We use the reverse chain method for teaching the clean to beginners. Essentially, once an athlete has demonstrated they are competent on the deadlift and front squat movement we get them cleaning from the high hang position.  This allows the athlete to benefit from the loaded jump element of a clean (the second pull) without worrying about perfecting bar path from the floor and is arguably the most important part of the clean for non-weightlifting athletes as it’s the section of the movement where most peak force is expressed. Typically, we’ll progressively load this during a mesocycle while working on our core strength lifts before progressing to low hang cleans in the next block of training.

As great as this movement is for teaching the clean to beginners, it’s also incredibly useful as a variation for an intermediate or advanced athlete. Simply load it up or use as part of a ‘clean complex’.

 

DISCLAIMER





Individualisation | Scapular Wall Slide Variation

October 26th, 2016

We use ‘Scap Wall Slides’ as a filler exercise between sets on our core lifts or as part of a warm up sequence. The purpose of which is to teach scapular control and activate the muscles of the upper back. Like any exercise, if ‘Scap Wall Slides’ are done incorrectly they are useless and simply reinforce bad posture and poor movement mechanics. That said, when performed correctly they are a useful prehab/activation exercise.

It’s not uncommon to see athletes compensate during movements and it’s important to establish the best variation of a drill for the individual, keeping the objective of the exercise in mind. A good trainer isn’t going to let an athlete set up for a deadlift like Quasimodo; a good trainer would stop their athlete and coach him/her into the right position and vary the drill if necessary to achieve the optimal position (raise the barbell for a period of time while working on mobility to eventually hit the desired set-up position). This level of coaching detail must be done on every exercise, including activation/ prehab based exercises if necessary.

In this video we have feet and hips away from the wall, with the upper back in contact, which is contrast to our standard wall slides where heels, hips, lumbar to cervical spine are all in contact with the wall while the elbows and wrists remain in contact and slide up and down (Y shape to W shape).

This variation is specific to the individual and we’ve coached him to inwardly rotate at the bottom to push away from the wall to allow for scapular retraction and activation of upper back muscles. Though he achieves the goal for this movement (scapular retraction, minimal lumbar movement when reaching upwards) he needs coached (and foot position modified slightly) to allow contact of wrist/ elbow against the wall while reaching overhead. He simply struggles with external rotation of the shoulder and super-tight lats at the moment, so we have a list of exercises that have been incorporated to enhance his mobility and strength in the shoulder area.

It’s important to be as progressive with mobility exercises as you would be with any core lifts. With this exercise we will gradually have the athlete walk his feet back towards the wall (as his external rotation ROM improves) and have his back flat against the wall.
Of course, there are other movements we’re using to ‘open up’ this athlete; however, this provides an example of choosing the right variation of a drill to reinforce good movement mechanics without subtracting from core lifts and the pursuit of strength.

DISCLAIMER





An insight into the competitive-season | Part 1

September 16th, 2016

The competitive season can be a tricky time to get physical adaptations in players. Yet with 19-21 year old athletes on the edge of professionalism, it’s essential they’re physically better at the end of the year than where they started during the summer. Skills sessions, game strategies and weekly collisions are only a few of the challenges the S&C coach must overcome. The video below captures one of our ‘Friday Exercises’ (the jump squat), we rotate intensity on the jump squat over three weeks between 40/45/50% throughout the ‘competitive season 1′ block.

In-season we typically rely on daily undulating periodisation to get the stimulus we need at the most appropriate time of the week; without negating a players ability to perform in training or game day. Exercise selection reflects this; however, there are exceptions. For example, Fridays are our speed-strength day, yet we load up the chin-up movement on this day as we’ve observed it’s one move we can overload the day before a game without negatively impacting performance.

Monday | Strength – Speed
Wednesday | Strength
Friday | Speed – Strength

Hopefully this gives a small insight into how I approach the competitive season of a tough sport, with the view to making my athletes better.





Power Hang Cleans (from blocks)

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!





Back-off to break through

July 28th, 2016

Changes in body composition can be tricky for athletes that are in season and trying to maintain/ develop a variety of  fitness qualities.

A go-to method I’ve used for my athletes and clients over the years that helps sneak some extra volume in without subtracting from strength or power is a ‘back-off’ set @ 70%+ in the core exercise.  I generally use between 70-85% and instruct the athlete to rep out, pulling them back for max reps depending on what week in the programme we’re on.

For example, today I completed a heavy set of three reps @ 100kg. Then took 80kg (~72.5% of my 1RM) and repped out, saving 2-3reps in the tank.





Strength & Conditioning for Rugby

January 31st, 2016

Today was another day of seminars, only this time through my day job. It was fantastic to pull all the S&C coaches in my region together and have a ‘meeting of the minds’ to share best practice and ultimately better support our athletes. Good S&C coaches make good rugby athletes, and while I’m eager to discover how Scotland perform in the up and coming six nations, I am already excited with anticipation of the next generation of players to come through the system and put their stamp on the blue jersey.

Sometimes I wish my athletes moved as well as my coaches! There was great enthusiasm coupled with some admittedly agile and impressive movement in our ‘Judo for Rugby’ workshop today.

 

 

DISCLAIMER





Training Update

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 :) .