Daily Debt Training or How To Get Stronger Without Working Out

This has been an insane year for many of my regular members.

Some have had babies.
Some have been promoted in their jobs.
Some have brand new jobs.
Some have changed countries.
Some have founded new companies.
Some have been headhunted by rival companies.

I love this.
It not only means the guys that come to me for training have an unwavering attitude and thirst for training, but also for life as a whole.
The guys inspire me no end.

There has also been a couple of other outcomes as a result of these changes.

1: I’ve space for new members at last.
I’ve a very low turnover usually so I tend to turn away a good few people. But currently I have space in my Lunchtime and Beginner classes.

2: The Online Training program had to be brought back as some of the guys still train under me remotely.

3: Some of the guys struggle to find the time to train. And this is the point of this post.


It seems non of us have enough.

Certainly not those with new babies or new, jet set executive positions.

How then can you still train?

Introducing the Daily Debt method.

It’s a method my Wife used before Son no 2 started school.
It also the method one of my girls used to double her pull up number.
(I might have stolen the title from Mick Coup, it’s also referred to as “grease the groove”)

It goes like this:

Pick a handful of high value exercises.

Pick a number.

Complete this number of repetitions in a 24 hour period.


You’re selection maybe:

Upper Body Pull: Chin Up
Upper Body Push: One Arm Push up
Lower body: Pistol Squat

Today you have to total 25 Chin ups
Tomorrow, 25 Push Ups per arm
The day after, 25 pistols per leg

Pistol Squat

Rhia checking depth, she can be a tough coach!

How many reps you do in any one set is up to you, it maybe done in 3 sets or 30 so long as by the end of the day you have paid off that days debt.

Obviously scale the exercises and number to your ability, your wants and your needs, the example above is simple one I gave out recently.

You may choose instead:

Upper Body Pull: Hanging x 5mins
Upper Body Push: Handstand x 5mins
Lower body: Bridge hold x 5 mins

The possible combinations go on, especially if you have access to some kit.
If you have a kettlebell at home, clean & press it, do Goblet Squats or snatch it.
If you have a TRX, do inverted rows & feet elevated push ups
If you have rings, do Chins, Dips, variations of gymnastics movements.
If you have a child, get down on the floor and copy them, chase them on all fours, use them for squats (I still do this with mine, squatting with a wriggling 3yr old and squirming 6yr old is the epitome of odd object training!)

Even if you do have the time, this is a great way to bring up a weak area or up your non exercise activity to balance out all those christmas treats……


Dave Hedges

If you’re interested in my classes / private training, CLICK HERE

Kettlebell Workshops, CLICK HERE

And more info on the bodyweight exercises mentioned above CLICK HERE

6 Things I Learned in 2014

We’re coming to the close of yet another year.

It’s unbelievable how quickly the year has flown in. It seems like yesterday that my kids came down stairs to open their Santa stuff, yet here we are again making final arrangements with Santa before his visit in 2 weeks.

So I want to look back at some of the things I’ve learned over the last 12 months.

1: A Muscle Must Lengthen Before it Contracts

Learning about the Anatomy in motion system from Gary Ward and his right hand man, Chris Sritharan has been an eye opening experience.
The way in which these lads look at the body and broken down movement is astonishing.
In Gary’s 5 Laws, the one that states that muscles lengthen before they contract has been a game changer for many of my crew.
It means that if I have a muscle that is either not firing or is hypertonic, instead of getting on the foam roller and “smashing” it (to quote K-Star) or trying to stretch it into submission, I can simply find the position that add a little length to the muscle and then move into and out of that place.
In no time at all the muscle spindles and golgi tendon organs start telling the muscle to contract and lo and behold the nervous system kicks in to get that muscle firing properly.
Not only that but we can take any movement now and look at it through AiM eyes and see where the stretch is occurring, where contraction is happening and then begin to use that to build our training program.


2: Human Movement is both the Foundation AND the Top Tier of All Movement

Whoa, getting deep there!
But what is human movement?
Well, the term “movement” is being used a lot these days, and most of it is pretty cool.
As a martial arts guys, fell runner/mountain biker/snowboarder in my past and now S&C coach, you could say movement is what I do.
But all my movement & strength training left me with poor human movement which lead to injury.
So what is the most fundamental human movement?
The Gait Cycle, ie Walking.
Everything we need to know about the function of a body can be seen through its gait. If it walks well, it will run well and has the potential to do all things well. If not, it doesn’t

3: Hang for a Vast Array of Reasons

Ido Portal issued a hanging challenge. The idea was to accumulate 7minutes of hanging each day for a month.
I did it, as did many of my clients, and wow, good stuff happened.
Everyone noticed increased shoulder mobility, better grip, improved breathing patterns (hanging restricts the ribs so the diaphragm has to do its bit) and more.
I even felt my hip flexors stretch out.
Hang people, just hang.

washing line

4: Breathe

Following on from this is simply the power of optimal breathing.
Several clients have reported in with shoulder issues, back pain, tight hips and the like and non of the standard work was helping them out.
When I got them to breathe deep into their diaphragm, to expand the abdomen out in all three dimensions as the inhaled and to fully exhale, and I mean fully.
When we did this, their issues started to fix themselves, shoulders dropped into place, hips loosened out and the abdominals kicked in properly.

Here’s one of the breathing drills we do:

Breathe people, in deep, out even deeper.


5: Bottoms Up Kettlebell Work is Magic

Grab a kettlebell, hold it by the handle with the ball above the hand, ie upside down.
Now, do things.

Press it, walk with it, squat it, do Turkish Get ups with it. Whatever.
But feel what a light bell held in this manner does to the whole body.
1/2 Get Ups with a bell in the bottoms up grip have become standard fare in WG

Bottoms Up Waiters Carry feature in many of my guys programs.
Don’t take my word, listen to Eric Cressey:

6: Direct Scapular Work is Essential

Maybe no essential, but highly recommended.
I’m talking about hanging scap ups, push up plus, overhead shrugs, inverted rows with an arm screw and of course Turkish Get ups and Windmills.

I’ve fallen out with traditional rotator cuff work in favour of these straight and bent arm movements and supports. They just work better.
Just about every physio type rotator cuff drill is covered in the TGU and Windmill (which is why the kettlebell Snatch/Get Up/Windmill complex is so effective), but we also need real strength to control the movement of the scapular and therefore shoulder, which is where real loaded straight arm work comes into play.
You’re only as strong as your weakest link and with physio clinics being chock full of people with shoulder issues, get the scaps strong and keep them strong.

There’s more I know, maybe I’ll write a follow up post, but these 6 points are the ones that stand out to me the most.

Dave Hedges



Beginner Friendly Kettlebell Exercises


The original kettlebell

The original kettlebell

You’ll probably be reading a good bit about the kettlebell on this blog over the next while as I’ve decided to dust of me ole wristbands and once again train for Kettlebell Sport.
This is something I had to give up a few years ago through injury, but the Anatomy in Motion course I took last year seemed to sort me out, and I am able to keep myself in alignment by applying the AiM system on myself.

It really is a case of, “Physician, Heal Thyself!”

But one thing about this blog has become apparent, is that I have been neglecting the beginner.

As I tend to blog about something that happened in the gym that day or something that came up in conversation and occasionally something that is just in my head at the time I open the laptop. But then I get this email:

“Hi David, I wanted to say thank you for all your videos and get information. I am from the States and I wish there was a facility (and instructor) like yours near me, I would certainly be going there! I started a KB “beta test” workout through Breaking Muscle and they had no instructional videos so when I googled KB Snatch your website came up. Your video and breakdown instructions were most helpful. That also lead me to other instructional videos such as the swing, clean and press, etc. I will continue looking through your website and blog because I love it! Thanks again.
Claire M*******
Tampa, FL”

And it got me thinking two thoughts:

Thought 1: I really ought to write more for the beginning kettlebell lifter
Thought 2: I should be in sunny and warm Florida instead of wet and windy Ireland.


Back to thought 1.

There’s a studio or gym offering kettlebell classes on every street corner.
More and more gyms are adding kettles to their weight rooms.
People are buying bells for home use.

90% of fitness instructors teaching kettlebells have been on a course run by some muppet who hasn’t a fucking clue! <— Tweet that cos it’s true!

I can say that with absolute confidence and authority. I have had to undo the shit that these “certifications” have done on several occasions. One lady who taught her own classes came to me on a recommendation, the following week she came back and reported that not only had her back stopped hurting, but so had her clients.
One of my girls studied a fitness instructor course herself and went on the kettlebell module. When she came back to me we talked about the module and explained why almost everything the “instructor” told her was actually bollocks!

But I’m going off on a tangent and getting onto a soapbox, so…….breeeeeeeathe….

Of the plethora of possible exercises you can perform with a kettlebell which ones should you do as a beginner and which should you leave out?

The key drills are fairly obvious:

The Swing
The Goblet Squat

Next on the list would be a Military Press, but this is something I’d asses first. Many newbies are better served with push ups than they would be with a press.

I’d maybe add to that the “Around the World” drill as it makes a great warm up, passing the bell from hand to hand around the body is a great core activation drill while also developing confidence in the lifters ability to move a bell around.

This is the first clip that came up on Youtube for the Around the world drill. It’s a minute and a half long, but really you only need 10 seconds to get the idea (and no, I’ve no idea why he’s wearing gloves either…)

And the Deadlift and Romanian Deadlift make for great introductory steps leading up to the Swing.

Beginners don’t need anything more.
Yes you can use standard gym moves like lunges and bent over rows, but the three lifts above can be combined to form a solid workout on their own.

Enter the infamous 5-10-15 workout that features on my Level 1 Kettlebell Workshop

Or we can mix kettlebell lifts with bodyweight drills such as push ups, pull  ups and various lunge drills.

Don’t make it any more complex than this.
Beginners don’t need variety, they need to master the basics. A smart trainer can use a small handful of exercises to create numerous workouts while still ensuring that the basics get dialled in and mastered.

Only once genuine competence is achieved should more complex drills like the Clean, Snatch, Get Up and Windmill need introduced.

For more details on the Level 1 workshop and the beginner friendly kettlebell lifts, click HERE


Dave Hedges

On Mental Health

I just saw this clip of Irish celebrity Bressie talking about his experience with Mental Health.

I’m not familiar with the guy, but damn this is a powerful speech.

I ask you to watch and listen.

Then to contemplate.

Here’s the video:

Later this afternoon I’ll have a group of lads in from the RehabCare HOPS centre for mental health coming into me for an Eskrima class.
Seeing this video helps me realise how important running these classes is.
The segment of the speech where Bressie talks about how using exercise helped him gain “relative control of my mind” is such a powerful part of the speech for me, as the training I’ve done has helped me as an individual and I see the guys I work with focus through their own issues in order to do the training I give them.

My old Wing Chun coach, Sifu Mark Rasmus used to tell us, “The Mind leads the Chi, the Chi leads the Body.”
Whether you believe in the concept of Chi or not is unimportant, because we can leave out the middle of the sentence and it gives us:

“the Mind Leads the Body”

If we can control the mind through proper breathing, good training and a sensible diet, we all have a chance.

I want to thank everyone who’s bought a Mind Over Metal garment these last few months, you guys have collectively sponsored the HOPS Christmas Dinner, the money raised from the T-Shirts and Hoodies will cover a large portion of the bill for the 30+ attendees.

It means a lot.



Dave Hedges

Toe Gripping and Karate – Why You Shouldn’t Grip with the Toes

Not+if+he+has+a+foot+fetish+_ea7ad0572d21251b38b2470a3af65907Over the weekend just gone I was on the Anatomy in Motion level 1 course.
I took this about a year ago and felt a review was needed.

I wasn’t wrong, there were several points I missed the first time round.

If you’re not familiar with AiM, it’s founder Gary Ward has become known as the “Foot Guy” which is pretty cool.
He’s looked at the feet in more detail than just about anyone else, he’s also broken down the gait cycle and analysed what every joint should be doing in each stage of gait.

And I mean every joint, including all 33 joints of each foot.

As I grew up in the world of martial arts I always had the feeling that the hips and feet are vitally important to performance, but since attending the AiM courses, that feeling has become certain knowledge.

But like many in the world of Karate I was taught to grip the floor with my toes.

This is something that is drilled into many martial arts guys as a matter of rote.
It’s also something many many folk will do subconsciously to create stability in a body that is out of alignment.

Here’s me about 6 years ago in my back garden, you can’t see to well, but my feet are gripping like bastards during the tension segment of Seisan:

So is this gripping a good or a bad thing?

Have a we look at this video clip, don’t worry about the narration, just watch.
Look at the all the gorgeous movement, see the angle that yellow line traces as the foot pronates and supinates, watch the arches…..



Beautiful isn’t it.

Now if we grip the toes, what might change?

First of all, what happens when we grip?

Try it, put your relaxed and naked foot flat on the floor, put some weight into it and have a look. Feel the ground underneath your foot.
Now watch AND feel what happens when you grip the floor with the toes…


What happened?

Did your arch lift? Yup
Did your big toe knuckle lose contact with the ground? Most likely
Did your weight shift towards the outside edge of the foot? Probably

Think about that yellow line again.
If the toes grip and the arch lifts then the foot moves into supination, the foot becomes rigid and inflexible, the talus rotates externally, which rotates the lower leg externally, which moves the knee out and externally rotating the hip.
All the muscles on the outside of the leg load up while the inner side is relaxed. The IT Band gets tight, the VMO disappears, the glutes go to sleep and knee starts to get cranky.

I've no idea who this guy is, nor am I questioning his ability or intentions, but look at that right foot, it's maximally supinated and potentially injurious.

I’ve no idea who this guy is, nor am I questioning his ability or intentions, but look at that right foot, it’s maximally supinated and already showing signs of deformity as a result.

Just think about how many older karate guys have screwed hips and knees. How prevalent are hip and knee problems in the rest of the population?

The most common off the ball injury in pretty much every ball sport ever is the knee joint.

Now look back at that list above. VMO & Glutes on holiday, IT Band and lateral muscles of the leg over working, weight shifted to the outside of the foot held in supination. What direction is the force travelling through the knee?

It’s pulling it to the outside, and that my friend is not good.

Now imagine if the foot had the ability to pronate properly. Wouldn’t that allow the leg to internally rotate somewhat, for the low leg to lean in bringing the knee with it towards the midline and actually getting the VMO and the glutes to load up as a team.

This position, while sneered at by sports science, is actually necessary to load the VMO & Glutes. Valgus movement is very different to Valgus collapse

This position, while sneered at by sports science, is actually necessary to load the VMO & Glutes.
Valgus movement is very different to Valgus collapse

Doesn’t that sound more fun?

I wrote a bit about this in the “Knackered Knees” series, you can get them HERE <- that’s a link, click it.

So the long and the short of the post is this.

Gripping with the toes prevents the movement of 33 joints per foot.
If you’re stood on your two feet and gripping, thats 66 joints that can’t mobilise to create movement. That movement must be created elsewhere up the chain. And sooner or later, something will give out.

In my case it was my SI joint and a lumbar disk.
In my mates case it was his hip as he developed arthritis.

To pronate or not to pronate.

It’s all up to you.


Dave Hedges

Oh, and by the way, I haven’t got round to putting the prices back to normal on my eBooks, so take advantage and get yourself one for a fiver before I do. I’ll be fixing it either tonight or tomorrow depending on time. HERE’s a link for you..

Aaaaannnd, don’t forget the Self Defence workshop this weekend: DETAILS

A Forgotten Viewpoint on Fitness

Fitness is an odd word.

confusedFrom time to time I ask people what their definition of the word is.

It’s a question that is often answered by a look of confusion and a drawn out, “Errrmmmm….”

Then you ask them to define “Functional Fitness” and they seem to have an easier time. Easier that is as they at least have a shit load of marketing spiel and buzzwords they can drop here.

Now without pulling out the text books and dictionaries to get the modern definition of fitness, let’s have a think about what it could mean.

One of the greatest summations of fitness comes from the oft referenced Georges Hebert.
Hebert is credited as the founder/inspiration of Parkour/Free Running and also the MovNat system.
So he’s a pretty good influence.

Georges Hebert walked the talk

Georges Hebert walked the talk

He broke fitness down as follows:

“The final goal of physical education is to make strong beings. In the purely physical sense, the Natural Method promotes the qualities of organic resistance, muscularity and speed, towards being able to walk, run, jump, move on all fours, to climb, to keep balance, to throw, lift, defend yourself and to swim.”

No mention of any specific exercises or tools, just attributes that ought to be developed.

And that to me is fitness.

It’s not about the kettlebell, the barbell, the TRX or the Bosu Ball.
It’s not about the Squat, the Deadlift, the Bench Press.
It’s not about the size of your “gunz” or the tightness of your “bunz”

It’s about being strong, mobile and enduring enough to tick all ten of his boxes.

Walking is the most fundamental of all Human movement, we practice it even before we are born and spend the first year of our lives with the sole goal of achieving bipedal locomotion.

Running, is the next step up from walking. We can jog with almost the same energy efficiency of a walk meaning we can cover serious miles. Not only that we can put in a fair turn of speed when we need to.

Moving on all fours, or crawling, is very much back in vogue with the rise of Movement type practice. But not only that being able to get low and utilise four points of contact to locomote with is exceptionally practical in rough terrain.
And there are those that tell us crawling is a reset for our system. It certainly feels good in the hips, spine and shoulders.

"The Daddy Bear is going to eat you!"

“The Daddy Bear is going to eat you!”

Climbing. Here’s an experiment, put a child next to some rocks or a tree stand back and watch. I’ll bet in no time at all there will be an outbreak of climbing. It’s like crawling but on a more vertical trajectory.

Throwing, both hands, forwards, backwards, whatever. It’s fun as well as an expression of full body explosive power.

Lift. Picking up heavy things. Obviously.

Mind Over Metal Seb

Swimming is a life skill as well as great exercise.

Defend. This is the one I was getting to.
Up to this point Heberts fitness standards would be fairly common, most people run, walk and lift. Many Climb and Swim. And pretty much all of us would throw from time to time, even if that’s just the kettlebell ballistics.
But defence. The ability to stand up for oneself and those that you care about.
The ability to give and take a punch, to be courageous in the face of danger?


Could you?

Would you?

Mick Coup explaining the punch

Mick Coup explaining the punch

The reason Heberts list speaks to me is that it was the element of Defence that got me into fitness and training in the first place.
It’s 26 years now since I walked into St Martins Junior Karate club. 21 years since I added strength work to my Karate (defence), Running and cycling. 18 years since I added climbing. And even today my training still is still directed towards being effective in self defence scenario.
It’s something I’ve spent time in as a professional, as a martial artist and more recently a coach.

This weekend I’ll be sharing genuine, tried and tested Self Defence information and training over tow days.
There are a few spots left for late comers, details can be found HERE

See you on Saturday


Dave Hedges


Fixing, Fighting and Feeding

Got some busy weekends coming up!




This weekend I’ll be back out with the Anatomy In Motion guys, Messrs Ward & Sritharan for the Finding Centre Level 1 course.
I already took the course about a year ago but I feel a refresher is well and truly in order.

Knowledge and understanding of the Human Animal of the type possessed by these guys is a rare find indeed and I feel myself getting smarter just by being in the same room as them.

And then they start talking, and all of a sudden I’m back to being some caveman who shouts at people of a living!

But when I’m not shouting at folk to move faster, lift more, maintain solid form, then the AiM work we’ve introduced to WG-Fit over the last 12 months has been a game changer for so many of my crew and also the dozens of people who’ve come in specifically for an AiM session.
The words most commonly used to describe the process is “witchcraft” and I’m tempted to agree with them.

Mr Anatomy in Motion himself

Mr Anatomy in Motion himself

But all the AiM does is take the body back to its natural state, nothing more, nothing less. It’s deceptively simple and infuriatingly complex at the same time. But if we can centre the skeleton we can return the muscles to their resting length and we can hopefully optimise their function.
At least that’s the plan.

But to see people come in with years worth of old injury and degrees of pain, yet to have them leave feeling and moving freer than they have in years is astounding.

So needless to say I am looking forward to this weekend, 3 x 8 hour days of information overload, but what good information!


The following weekend I’m back to caveman mode as I teach my Self Defence workshop.

I usually schedule one for this time of the year as each December scores of people hit the pubs and bars for Xmas celebrations and partying, many of whom are what the bar and security trade refer to as “Holly & Ivy drinkers” ie not used to the hustle and bustle of the city at night.
And as it’s party time, everyone is out in force and that includes the nasties. The pick pockets, the addicts, the scumbags.
All hunting for easy pickings.

It’s a busy time for professionals, the Police, the Ambulance and Hospitals and the Door Security teams.
It really shouldn’t be this way.

So I run this course to help you avoid becoming part of this years statistics.

This year though I’m doing it differently.
I’ve been asked several times over these last few moths about non violent conflict management, which is a fancy term for talking your way out of trouble.
A few of my clients work in the social care sector and have found themselves in situations where they were less than comfortable, so I’ve added this to the course.
On Day 1 well start with the non violent means before introducing the more violent means.
Day 2 will be dedicated to the physical.

Why the mix?

Well, to be fair, there’s no guarantee either way. Someday’s you’ll talk your way out of a problem, but there are times where this simply is not possible and you must have the tools and the mindset in place to drop the chat and fight your way out.
It’s not a nice reality, but it is reality.

killeveryonein the room

The well known phrase “be polite, but have a plan to kill everyone in the room” sums up the core of this course.

Here’s more details:

Day 1: Sat 6th Dec, 1000-1600

- The Self Defence Continuum
– Non Violent Conflict Management
– Situational Awareness
– The “Fence” Concept
– Body Mechanics for Power Generation
– Three Basic Hand Strikes

Day 2: Sun 7th Dec, 1000-1600

- Day 1 Review
– Two Basic Defences
– Introduction to “Anti-Grappling”
– Determination & Aggression Drills
– Q&A

The workshop is open to all.
Previous workshop attendees will receive a deeper level of coaching.

Places will be limited so booking is a must.

Date : Sat 6th & Sun 7th December, 1000-1700 both days
Location: Wild Geese Martial Arts
Cost: Day 1 only: €65
Both Days: €100
CLICK HERE to book


Aaaaaand the weekend after that?

I’m having a pre Xmas dinner with the inlaws.
Can you say “over indulgence”????

Chat later

Dave Hedges