Better Mobility for your Squat, Lower Body Mobility and BJJ

Movement has been the hot topic of 2014.

Since learning the Anatomy in Motion system for Movement Therapy at the start of the year, attending the Ido Portal workshop a few months ago and generally fielding more and more questions from my clients about fundamental movement as opposed to just strength and endurance.

And I’m having a ball with the rise in interest in this topic.

I especially like it as it’s the anti-thesis of so much of the current fitness world, which is run by strength coaches promoting, well, strength; Physique coaches and their obsession with symmetry; Fat loss coaches flogging insecurity for the low price of €49.99 (with over €200 worth of FREE bonuses!!!) and Crossfit turning everything into a competition.

Movement for the sake of movement is being lost.
Movement quality is declining, being lost in the search of extreme weights, extreme power, extreme physiques, extreme WOD times.

But in one area, the thinking is relatively pure.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu possibly has the most varied and complex movement potential of all the martial arts at the moment. Of course we have wrestling and Capoeira, but BJJ is where it’s at right now.


With it being such a young art with such a hotly contested competition circuit, many practitioners are looking outside of the BJJ box to learn about better movement so they can take it with them onto the mat.
Strength is useless if you can’t move, endurance can be worn down if your fighting against your own physical restrictions as well as your opponent.
So movement, mobility, the ability to move freely and with confidence is becoming more and more recognised.

This is reflected in the rise in popularity of systems like Ido Portal’s, the MovNat and Primal Move and guys like Dewey Nielson.

I only heard of Dewey this year as my thinking moved back towards movement (it used to be my prime focus back as a martial artist living in the mountains), and he has some great drills.

When Seb, the BJJ guy who trashed his motorcycle and had to have his knee almost completely reconstructed, came to me and mentioned that he’s still not comfortable in the bottom of the squat. Well, we moved away from the barbell and towards the movement prescription.

After one round of this drill, his squat significantly improved:

This is a task focused exercise that is challenging all his joints, but particularly the ankle, knee hip and spine. Because of his focus on the task, he’s not thinking too much about controlling the movement, which means the body is free to do whatever is needed.

His joints are being taken outside of his conscious comfort zone, the muscles that are there to support the joint and decelerate movement are kicking in like a charm and his entire system wakes up as a result.

In one session his mobility increased several fold. After 2 sessions, he’s bouncing around. Imaging how he’ll be in a few months time?
And since the deep squat position is fundamental to any grappling game (think of the position you are in as you turtle up, side control, hold guard….it pretty much all deep squat)

For more on Conditioning for you BJJ, click this image

For more on Conditioning for you BJJ, click this image

Strength and endurance are key components of fitness but they form an incomplete picture, it’s an unstable model.
Mobility, ie the ability to move freely with strength and control, is the third side.
And three sides make a triangle, the most structurally sound geometrical shape.


Dave Hedges


Core Combatives Subject Management Workshops

In the past I’ve written blogs featuring one of my instructors, a man named Mick Coup.
Coup is a self defence expert, and by that I don’t mean your average internet expert, I mean a man who has walked the talk his entire life and now gets requests from across the globe to train civilians, Police and Military teams with his principal based method.

I’ve trained with Mick on a number of occasions now. Over the last 26 years I’ve learned from dozens of high level martial arts guys, and even more low level martial arts guys. But Coup is different. In a good way.
There is no room for nonsense, for filler or for bullshit in Micks courses. Everything taught is tried and tested, and the expectation is that you will also test it.

In September I’m bringing Mick back to run his Subject Management courses.
While these are ideal for Security & Police professionals, they are open to everybody, but places must be booked.
Here’s the details:


The Proven-Force Subject Management Seminar will introduce the innovative operational model of ‘Approach-Contain-Control-Restrain’ phases that concentrate upon probable tactics over possible techniques. This seminar takes into account the realities of actual situations involving hostile fully-resisting individuals, where there is a proven requirement for direct and immediate physical intervention.


The seminar will cover comprehensive and progressive subject-matter, which remains specific to the designated remit in order to achieve tangible same-day results.

Content includes:

• Four-Phase Operational Model: Proven-Resistance Format
• Emergency On-Scene Assessment & Planning
• Tactical Communication & Observation
• Proven-Risk Contact & Cover Team Procedures


This is the initial instructional seminar covering ‘force necessary’ subject management tactics, and as such addresses only ‘worst-case last-resort’ scenarios to provide an emergency default option. Dealing with actively and aggressively-resisting subjects will be the full focus of the seminar, using a team-based, progressively-phased operational model to achieve full compliance with a minimum injury-potential to the subject.


All material is practical and hands-on, and will progress to increasingly physically demanding force on-force training exercises during the course of the day.


Five hours, including breaks.


All material is presented at a fundamental core-skill level, and is not dependent upon specialist personal equipment. As such the material can be easily adapted to the specific remit and role requirements of law enforcement and military personnel or security professionals without compromise.

 Dress & Equipment:

Participants can wear standard training attire, or uniform if preferred. Mouthguards, groin protection and water/towel are recommended. Optionally, personal protective equipment and operational equipment can be worn as required.



The follow-on Potential-Force Subject Management Seminar will further cover the concept-based model of ‘Approach-Contain-Control-Restrain’ phases. This seminar addresses the realities of actual situations involving potentially hostile, unknown-intention individuals, with an option to immediately transition into proven-force tactics if increased levels of resistance are encountered.


The seminar will cover comprehensive and progressive subject-matter, which remains specific to the designated remit in order to achieve tangible same-day results.

Content includes:

• Four-Phase Operational Model: Potential-Resistance Format
• Pre-Incident Preparation & Policy
• Personal Presence Factors & Threat Indications
• Potential-Risk Contact & Cover Team Procedures


This is the successive instructional seminar covering ‘force possible’ subject management tactics, and as such addresses first-resort scenarios, with a ‘best-case first-resort’ escalating-force focus. Managing subjects who are not immediately resistant, but may potentially prove hostile will be the focus of the seminar, using team-based, phased, strategies and tactics.


All seminar material is practical and hands-on, and will progress to increasingly physically demanding force on force training exercises during the course of the day.


Five hours, including breaks


All material is presented at a fundamental level, and as such can be easily adapted to the specific requirements of the law enforcement officer or security professional without compromise. It is highly recommended that Subject Management #1 is completed prior to attending this seminar.

 Dress & Equipment:

Participants can wear standard training attire, or uniform if preferred. Mouthguards, groin protection and water/towel are recommended. Optionally, personal protective equipment and operational equipment can be worn as required.

Tickets are being sold via Eventbrite, THIS LINK will take you to the booking site.

Please spread the word




Dave Hedges

Ask Dave: How to improve the signal to noise ratio and Avoid Information Overload

So here we go with another “Ask Dave”
This one is an email from an occasional client and long time friend, the guy who edits my eBooks Mr Peter Madden.

Edited by Peter Madden, so any typo's are his fault!

Edited by Peter Madden, so any typo’s are his fault, not mine!

Here’s the email:

“I was trying to convince a college mate to come train with me this evening. He doesn’t have any specific goal in mind and he’s been training in a scatter shot manner at some machinery globogym somewhere. A smart bloke, he’s done some research online and has fallen victim to info overload.
So here’s the question – how to improve the signal to noise ratio? How do you cut through the static to set a friend/client/family member/bro on the path on the path of righteousness? What are the hallmarks of simple, well – reasoned advice and how can one avoid the lunatic fringe, the charlatans and the crossfit mafia?”

This is a damn good question as his buddy, the smart fella with a membership to a standard gym suffering from information overload, is pretty much most people.
He’s the guy I saw when I worked in commercial gyms, the guy doing the latest workout from whatever magazine. Badly.

I also have a large portion of my clientèle who WERE that guy. Many who come to me have run the gauntlet of commercial gym and mainstream fitness advice and got fed up, looked to the fringe and found a small place down a side street that offers kettlebell fitness alongside a host of martial arts training and never looked back.

So lets go point by point through Peter’s question and see if we can come up with some answers:

1: Information Overload.

keyboard warriorYeah, this is a biggie.
Never before has there been so much info so readily available. It seems that every dick trainer has his or her own blog (erm….like me for instance) non of which are answerable to anyone, there’s no reason for average Joe reading these blogs to doubt the information he’s reading.

Same for the magazine articles promising 6 pack abzzzz and bigger gunzzzz.

These articles and blogs answer to no one. Except the next blog or article that seemingly contradicts it. You know, “Squat for Bigger Gainzz” only followed by “Squats Destroy Knees and Back, Never do Them” Or the Whole Body vs the Body part Split Or the “Use Kettlebells” “Use Olympic Lifts” “Plyo’s for Fat Loss” “P90X changed my life” “Crossfit or Die” “Piloxing” ← yes, that’s a real thing!
No, really, someone has combined a shitty watered down interpretation of Pilates and combined it with a shitty watered down version of Boxing to ensure that you get none of the unique benefits of either! Fucking Genius!

Get your vomit bucket’s ready, this Ladies and Gentlemen, THIS IS PILOXING:

Sorry about that, I promise never to show that again.

Anyway, before I loose the run of myself and start ranting, lets get back to the point.
As soon as you read one thing, something else will contradict it, then something else will contradict that. So what are we supposed to believe?

Well apart from me of course, why not look at those people who are doing the stuff you want to do or those who look the way you want to look and work back from there.
If you want big legs, go to the biggest legs in the business, non other than Tom Platz.



And what does Tom Platz say about legs?


He goes on to say “If you only half squat, you only build half legs”

So there!

Lifting more weight?,
Building a bootilicious badonkadonk?

This is the advantageous side of the gamut of information available. Everything is accessible, you can look up and even contact the very best in the business instead of simply relying on what the spotty teenage personal training in the gym says or the latest blown out of proportion headline on the web.
But if you still can’t separate the wheat from the chaff and still struggle with information overload, stop reading!

Simply stop.

Instead remember this simple salient point:

The difference between a beginner and the advanced is that the advanced guys do the basics better. <- CLICK HERE TO TWEET THAT!

And regardless of what you think, you’re a beginner, so stick to the basics which everyone knows:

Push Ups
Pull ups
Overhead press

Hang on, if I take that list, do three sets of 8-12 reps of each of those, in that order, maybe reverse the order when I repeat it a couple of days later, will I see results?

Yes, my friend, you will.

In fact for a beginner hitting the gym twice per week, you’ll see better mates than all your mates combined!

2: Signal to noise Ratio

I’m pretty sure I already covered this, but…..

But really, to tune into the information that is relevant to you, you need to know what is relevant to you.

Be the blue line

Be the blue line

If you’ve no goals in mind, how do you know which sources to go to?
There’s no point reading my site if you want weight loss, I’m just not relevant to that market and will simply add to the noise (unless you do the above workout twice a week, eat a stack of veg with your meat and maybe run a bit that is……..)
So do a little soul searching.
Do you want to be bigger? Smaller? Faster? Pain free?
Until you narrow the bandwidth, all you’ll get is white noise.

3: “What are the hallmarks of simple, well – reasoned advice and how can one avoid the lunatic fringe, the charlatans and the crossfit mafia?”

Whoa! Big and loaded question!

The hallmarks of simple, well reasoned advice are that it is

a) Simple
b) Well reasoned

First off, does the training revolve around the basics?
And by basics I mean the central core paradigm of fitness training which is Progressive Resistance
The resistance can be any number of things, from external load to time under tension, from speed to duration, the specifics are not in question here but the underlying principle is.
If an exercise program fails to progress a person, if there is no discernible improvement in some form or other, then really that person is just spinning their wheels.
If you’re not getting stronger, moving more fluidly and developing better endurance, what are you doing?

All these things are easy to track and test.

Strength, well that’s simple, can you pick up a heavier weight now than this time last month?
Endurance, how many reps can you do with a given weight in a set time frame or has your 10k time come down?
Moving fluidly, ok this is a little harder to quantify, but if you are more comfortable sitting in a deep squat, if you can touch your toes easily, lift your arms straight over head and have no issues turning your head to reverse the car into a parking spot, then you’re probably ok.
If you end up barely able to reach your toes, if you end up getting stuck halfway into your squat and if a flight of stairs starts to look like Mt Everest, then chances are the training program is not for you. It’s probably fine for a pro powerlifter, but not someone who simply wants to be a better Human Animal.

Next is the well reasoned question.

Which I guess is where Peter is going with the “Crossfit Mafia” comment.

I’ve talked about crossfit many time, most commonly I’m heard to say that it’s a great idea that is badly executed.

What does that mean?

Back when I started gym training at the tender age of 16, I went to the school rowing team who I was friendly with, and asked to join their gym sessions. Fortunately the coach agreed to let me in and the journey started.
The training we did back then is very much in line with the layout of training offered by most crossfit gyms these days. Ie strength work which revolves around a few basic lifts and a metabolic circuit which varies in it’s exercise selection.

Regular members of my gym will also recognise that format, I still use it.

The difference back then was we did the metabolic work first and strength second, which is heresy in most strength coaches eyes. But what was the reasoning?

We needed to be strong and powerful while under fatigue. Power Endurance was more important than max strength. And using a variety of movement patterns reduced the overall risk of injury that single plane specific movements do as it exposes the body to varying stimuli causing a more rounded adaptation to occur.

All sounds very crossfit eh?

But it also makes perfect sense. It is well reasoned.

So why is Crossfit badly executed?

It’s the fact that amongst the growing number of gyms, there is only a small portion of coaches who actually do use reason. I’m fortunate to be in fairly regular contact with a few Irish Crossfit guys and they’re smart puppies that know what they’re on about.

But I also have members who’ve come to me from other crossfits around Ireland and they’ve told me about their experiences and why they’ve left (in all but one case, it’s was down to injury or seeing their mate injured through bad practice).

The problem is quality control.

quality control

It’s left to the individual coach. Whereas McDonalds is a franchise, so every service is identical, Crossfit is just a licence, so the gym owner can do what he likes within his walls.

And if that means handing a lad a 24kg kettlebell to swing on his first visit because he “is big enough” then that’s what happens (true story, the lad, a regular gym bunny looking to try something different, took a session in a crossfit where one of my lads was “moonlighting” said lad was on in visiting his physio the very next day, my boy returned to me and the world returned to order)

Asking questions is the best way to feel out a coach or a gym. See if you can take a trial session, talk to the existing members and then talk to the coach/owner. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, but if the people there move well, perform well and there’s a general atmosphere of high quality, solid work without ego, then it’s probably fine.

When you ask the coach a question, can he answer it without using big words? If he can, he probably knows his shit, if it turns into a science lecture, or simply sounds like bullshit, then it probably is.

So lets sum up will we?
1 – Think about who you are and what you need from your training, then the research process gets much, much simpler.
2 – Don’t do too much research, training is not a theoretical process. The sooner you get of your arse and get moving the sooner you will get the results you are looking for.
3 – Basics, basics, basics.
4 – Crossfit isn’t all bad, but it is only as good as the coach, the same can be said of ANY gym or class. So quiz the coach.

Hope that answers the question.

Dave Hedges


Ab Wheel Roll Outs, core strength without the back strain

abwheelgoodA couple of days ago I was watching our Thai Boxers train.

They’d set up a pretty cool circuit with various stations, some just conditioning exercises, other pad or bag work.
It was fairly intense and a pleasure to watch.

Until I spotted them using the Ab Wheel.

The Ab Wheel is probably the best bit of fitness kit ever to appear in an infomercial. They’re cheap and damn do they build serious core strength.

If done right that is

And I wasn’t seeing much done right the other day.

Truth be told, almost everyone I see does them wrong. Maybe thats why so many credit the wheel with giving them back pain

.And yes, I agree poor form on this exercise can do your back in pretty quick. Mostly because people focus on rolling out and back and forget to focus on HOW they roll out and back.

Poor form, notice the arched back and the arms are extended before the hip. There's no loading on the rectus abdominis here, just crushing force for the lumbar

Poor form, notice the arched back and the arms are extended before the hip.
There’s no loading on the rectus abdominis here, just crushing force for the lumbar

Just as you wouldn’t (I hope) just bend over and lift a barbell off the floor, or swing a heavy kettle with no thought for body mechanics, alignment and form, I am surprised at how many just grab the wheel and go for it. Maybe it’s because it’s not a weight, it’s not a lift, but that doesn’t mean it’s without its risk.

So how should be roll?

Watch this to find out:

So key points:

  • Tuck the hip under, ie posterior tilt
  • Engage the abs and glutes before you even start the lift
  • Keep the arms vertical until the hip is extended
  • Roll only as far as you can maintain control, if you by pass this point, simply face plant
  • Try to snap the handle to externally rotate the shoulders and get the rotator cuffs involved.

Keep all this in mind and go for it.
Few exercises are better for developing that anterior core strength.


Dave Hedges



The tag line on this site is “improving human efficiency” a thought that’s been central to my own reasons for training since I was first introduced to a barbell.

Working on specific mobility & postural imbalances

Working on specific mobility & postural imbalances

Efficiency has been a fascination of mine, especially because I am at heart, a lazy bastard.

So lazy in fact that I managed to develop a training philosophy around being lazy, I call it “The Art of Applied Laziness”
And at the core of that is the ability to move well in order to perform well, to identify and eliminate the weak links.

A lifetime involvement in the martial arts has ingrained in me the belief that excess action is wasted in the application of strength and power. But also that shit happens and if we can only work in narrow bands of strength and power, we leave ourselves open to having our arses kicked.

So supplementary training is key.

Supplementary training must be efficient in nature and the best way to ensure this is by taking an honest look at what our weaknesses are.

A look at what our needs are.

A look at what our betters are doing.

And then a good hard look at where we are right now, at this moment.

Sounds like a lot of work, but believe me, it saves a lot of wasted time and effort later.

Are we strong enough?
Mobile enough?
Too strong?
Too mobile?

Is the gym training helping or hurting our athletic performance?
Are we addressing imbalances, or cementing them in deeper?

What about posture?
Hows your breathing?

Thinking along these lines will do more for your performance and health than anything else.
Stepping outside your box, looking at yourself dispassionately and seeing the holes in your armour are the keys to moving forwards.

Join me this Sunday where I’ll be discussing this in detail with a view to helping Create a Better Cyclist.


Dave Hedges

The Best Coaching Cue in the World, Ever!

funny-teacher-blackboard-finalsBeing a coach can be rough.

I was first put in front of a class as an assistant Karate instructor as a wet behind the ears 16 yr old Purple belt.

From that moment until I left town at 19 as a Black Belt I taught with some frequency, and a lot of the time, I was pretty shit at it.

A few years later I was working in the hotel industry and very soon was made the training officer for my department. I still taught martial arts on and off and helped a few guys out with fitness.

I still struggled with the most important part of the whole coaching profession.

You see, like most new to the job depth of knowledge may not be the limiting factor, it’s usually the ability to communicate that is the failing.

Or at least it was in my case.

That was until many years later when I moved to Ireland and actually made a career out of coaching. By now I was in my late 20’s and starting to mature (slightly).
I was also developing my own style of teaching rather than trying to emulate my own instructors.

I also figured out that fancy language and big words don’t impress clients whatsoever.
It’s all about simplifying everything into soundbites, or as I like to tell prospective instructors that come to learn from me, try and use words of one syllable or less.

One lad I said that to really didn’t get it. I could actually see him try to work out a word that had less than one syllable, which we all know isn’t possible.

This act of simplifying things has led me to develop several unique teaching cues that fit me, my teaching style and the clientèle that I work with.

Possibly the toughest thing to get people to do well is to hinge at the hip while maintaining good spinal alignment. Such as needed in the swing, the deadlift or the squat.

After all, you can say “Chest up”, “Shoulders back and down” “Push the hips out”, “Maintain the arch” and all that jazz or you can simply use a simple, single phrase.

A phrase that will stick in their head, it’s simple, has no long words or fancy descriptions.

A phrase that everyone just gets.

“Tits out, Arse out!”

See, she can do it

See, she can do it

Everyone gets it.

You don’t need a degree in kinesiology to under stand this, hell even a prepubescent knows how to assume that posture.

It’s one of the most effective and efficient cues in my arsenal, and I just gave it to you for free.

You’re welcome.


Dave Hedges

Next Workshop:
Building a Better Cyclist – 27th July, 1000 – 1600, details HERE



I’m Back, and Gearing up for………

Wow, what a week!

If you hadn’t noticed, I’ve been away.

It was my annual summer holiday. Well, I say annual, it’s the second year in a row, so I guess that counts right?
Truth be told, I’m a bit of a workaholic, something my wife constantly chastises me about, so last year I doubled my holiday allowance, being self employed, I had a hard time clearing that with the boss. But instead of just taking a week at Xmas, I also took a week in the summer.

The family and I visited Donegal where my wife spent most of her childhood holidaying.
Now she’s bringing her kids there for their holidays.
It’s great, a whole week with my missus, the two brats and the dog in a part of the world that has shitty mobile phone signals and shittier WiFi coverage but has stunning beaches and gorgeous mountains.

And I’d rather be on a mountainside with the kids and dog looking over the ocean than sat staring at computer screen.

But I’m back.

Today is my first day back in the gym, back to my regular job of shouting at people for a living.

And a return to the blog.

Today’s blog is really a heads up.

In a few weeks I’ll be running the inaugural “Becoming a Better Cyclist” workshop.
An event that I was asked to create as several of my regulars either ride or have friends who ride.


I myself have never ridden competitively, unless you count the group of us that lived together in the English Lake District when we went out mountain biking together…
But I have cycled as my main mode of transport since my early teens.

So I understand the effect the bike has on the body.

I understand the postural havoc the bike can wreak.

And I know how to fix it.

Truth be told, most people when they enter a sport either do so because they enjoy it or because they want a hobby that will help them stay fit.
Few realise that sport and health are divergent goals.

All athletes, in fact everyone who trains in a one dimensional manner, be they a tennis player, BJJ fighter, cyclist or weight lifter will develop specific attributes that correspond with the needs of their sport.
They will also develop specific weaknesses.

For a cyclist we are talking about Quad dominance, terrible hip flexors, weakness in the glutes and abs and shoulders that are crying for mercy.


So it stands to reason that doing some off the bike work is absolutely necessary for keeping the body in check.

Two exercises I strongly advocate for any cyclist are the Bulgarian Split Squat and the Inverted Row.

Regulars of mine will recognise these as two central drills in most training programs I create. But for a cyclist, they’re a near perfect fit.

The Split Squat allows you to strengthen the leg in a closed chain manner without overloading the spine.

The Inverted Row allows you to focus in on reversing the effects of the forward flexed, rounded shoulder position you hold for so long in the saddle.

Both exercises also ask a lot from the core in order to keep the body stable as the exercises are performed.


These are just two of the techniques I’ll be teaching on the workshop.
I’ll also be going over the following headings:

  • Joint Mobility
  • Dynamic Warm Ups that are specific to the individuals needs
  • Postural Realignment techniques for common cycling ailments
  • Breathing & Breath control
  • Identifying weak areas and specific interventions
  • Stretching and whether to use it or not

It’ll be a packed day.
For more details and booking info, please follow THIS LINK

And I’ll see you there.


Dave Hedges