Ask Dave: What do you think of German Volume Training?

So I’m on the way out the gym the other day when a young lad from the BJJ stops me to say hello.

hi there

Immediately I’m faced with a dilemma.

My missus needs me home so she can meet her cousins for a dinner date but this young fella just passed his personal trainer exams and has been bubbling with great questions ever since.

A dilemma I choose to deal with by taking time to chat with the lad while psyching myself up for a cycle home so fast that even Lance Armstrong would have to nod in appreciation!

His question was simple:

What do you think of German Volume Training?

And my answer, “it’s bang on if you’re looking to bulk up. Is that what your looking to do?”

His answer then was, “No, I want to get leaner”

Ah. then we have a problem.

German Volume Training (which from here on in will be called GVT) is fantastic. I’ve never used it, nor have I ever programmed it for anyone, but I know several bodybuilders that have made great gains on it.

The problem then is, what if you’re not a bodybuilder?

GVT is a targeted, intense mass building protocol. For a BJJ player, the problem with the program is two fold.

1: They compete in weight classes, so bulking is very often out of the question.

2: GVT is energy sapping and doesn’t leave a lot in the tank for a session on the mats later.

3: As a bonus, body building type practices don’t do a lot for your movement quality.

So what would be better?

For his goal of leaning out, the first thing to do is look at his diet. That’s where changes in bodyfat occur.

But for the gym, call me biased but there’s a great resource out there called “Fighting Back” that deals with the needs of a BJJ player in some detail and even includes specific warm ups and strength training options.

I hear the author is really, really good looking too……

Here’s a link (click on the image):

Click the image for more info

Click the image for more info

Other than that, I have used Jim Wendlers 5/3/1 with great success on a few of the BJJ lads, but again, there’s a point where they need to back away from the constant drive to lift more iron and instead look at movement quality, building strength outside of the saggital plane and building power at odd angles.
And for this a combination of tools is key.

Basic barbell lifts, kettlebell lifts, bodyweight drills, sandbags and sledgehammers all have their place.

But for that you’ll have to come see me!


Dave Hedges


Burn Bright, not Out

There are times that I wish I had a talent for writing poetic prose.

Because this post would work really well if I could wax lyrically around the phrase

“A candle that burns twice as bright, burns half as long”

But that’s not really me. So Instead keep that phrase in your head and fill in the fancy stuff yourselves…..

The inspiration for this post came from a conversation yesterday in the gym, as so many of my posts are.

But it also follows a bit of a theme from the last few weeks.

Yesterday though I was working with one of my lads, a fella with a laundry list of injury that seems to scupper any attempt to return to any level of serious training.
He’s just coming back to training now after a serious lay off and is pretty much starting from scratch.

But he and I have both noticed something different about this time compared to his previous returns.

Scratch that, 2 things are different.

1: Anatomy in Motion. Damn this method is awesome! It is THE missing link between injury rehab / physio and high performance training. It is without a doubt the most beneficial training I’ve had in any of my careers!

2: (and the important part of this post) His attitude has changed.

No longer does this lad want it yesterday. He’s not chasing some dream that must be fulfilled now. Instead he’s showing patience, a calm understanding of where he’s at and holding onto a vague picture of where he ideally wants to be.

Now I know having a “vague” idea of the goal goes against just about every success guru’s teaching ever.
But sometimes it’s all we need.

I’m of the opinion that so many folk are getting so beaten up in training OR getting no where with their training at all because of the current trend of super-awesome-mega-insane-hardcore-elite-XXX-fusion-special forces-military bootcamp-insert buzzword here-training.

Have a goal we are told.

Now kill yourself until you achieve it.

But what about the bigger picture?

What about in 30years from now?

Would you like to be rolling around on the floor pretending to be a monster and chasing your grandkids around?

Or do you want to be on the waiting list for a hip replacement and surgery?

If we are candles, we want to burn bright enough to stand out, to inspire, to be awesome, but not so bright as to shorten our lifespan.

The fella that has inspired this post has finally figured this out. And while he’s desperate to get back into boxing, desperate to fight before age becomes a limiting factor, he has also figured out that first and foremost he needs to be healthy.

If this means putting the fight off for an extra 6 months, so be it.

If this means following a training program that to an outside viewer looks like nothing at all. Subtle movements, bodyweight exercises, not a violent movement or heavy weight in sight.
But he’s happy with this. He trusting in the process. He’s accepted that 1% better every day is a surer way to progress than do or die.

He’s enjoying the process, as boring as it maybe, because every day he hurts a little less, he can do a little more and he knows that soon the barbells will be brought out to play. Just not yet.

Enjoy the process, become attached to the process and before you know it your goals will be nothing but road signs that you pass on the journey.

Now, there are times we need to turn up the gas.
I’ve just put a handful of people through 8 weeks of serious graft, some for the Irish Kettlebell Sports National Championships and another for a full contact K-1 fight, all of whom compete this weekend.

But even still as we went there were times where we held back, times we pushed forwards. All in the name of building the flame to burn its brightest come competition day, but never burn out.

It’s process.

It never ends.

Train for life.


Dave Hedges

and don’t forget to download your copy of the Ultimate Guide to the Kettlebell Swing, just click the link, or the image below:



All About That Swing

This weekend see’s the Irish National Kettlebell Sports Championships taking place in Meath.

I’ve two from my Kettleheads GS Team taking part. I was meant to be taking part too, but if you read regularly, you’ll be well aware of my recent injury.

But enough about me, lets talk Kettlebells.

There is Hard Style Kettlebell Training.

There is Kettlebell Sport

And there’s everything else.

Look around the internet and you’ll see die hard followers of Hard Style vigorously defending their system as the best thing ever.
You’ll find a similar attitude from many in the kettlebell sport world.

And then there’s a smaller number who are a bit more open minded.

But I’ve got to hand it to the Hard Style lads, they are right in their opinion that the Swing is one of the best conditioning exercises one can perform.
In fact, if you only ever used a kettlebell for swings and nothing else, you’ll not be doing the tool a disservice.

And at Wg-Fit, we do a LOT of swings.

Few exercises will hit so many common weak areas in a persons armour as the humble swing.

And by that I mean:
Stretch loading the hamstrings
Grooving a good hip hinge
Dynamic core strength, particularly with the one hand swing
Scapula control
Grip endurance
and of course, cardio.

One of the reasons the 1 arm swing is such a top core training drill is that it adds a rotational element to the movement.

As the bell travels down and back through the legs, your upper back will turn to allow the arm to come in towards the midline. If you don’t rotate the bell will either slam into your leg (done that, it aint fun!) or you’ll dramatically shorten your back swing.

As you progress in skill and strength, you’ll gradually be able to turn the upper back more and more, swinging the free arm behind you and really loading up the posterior chain and what is known as the glute to opposite latissimus sling.

posterior oblique sling

This gets even better if you use a staggered stance with your swing.

You get to load up two of the biggest muscles in the body, stretch loading them and then having them both powerfully contract to throw the kettlebell back outwards.

I’ll admit not everyone is ready for this, but then not everyone is ready for one arm swings of any sort.
You must go through all the prerequisite stages building strength and skill along the way before jumping into staggered stance, one arm swings with a deep back swing.
But once you get there, prepare to see your potential for force production skyrocket.

I’ve put together the Ultimate Guide to the Kettlebell Swing, which is free 26 page PDF download.

Get your copy by clicking on the image below and following the instructions:



Dave Hedges

How to Cure Rigor Mortis

We’ve a running joke in Wg-Fit with a couple of our older members.

I’ve two lads both in their early fifties, neither of whom are showing any signs of slowing down and growing old gracefully.

The two of them both came to me because they heard I advocate a holistic method of training based on the three foundational principles of Strength, Endurance and Mobility.

And for both the lads, mobility was their weak link.

In fact the joke we have is that they’re the first people to be cured of Rigor Mortis.

Kevin, otherwise known as “Hardcore” told me a story the other day. He’d been to the GP for a check up and when the Doc got him to do some range of motion tests, one of them was a squat.
Kevin dropped straight down into a rock bottom, relaxed resting squat. Sometimes known as the “Asian squat”
The Doc was dumbfounded. I was delighted.

So whats the secret to developing good mobility?

Its simple in theory.
Application can be more tricky, but the theory is simple.


The key is:


Even Yoga teacher and good friend of mine Ann Dempsey agrees.

Build strength. Work in the range of motion you currently have, but use all of that range. Do NOT try to go beyond it.

This new strength will let the body know it’s safe to open up a little bit more range.
Then some more.

Yes a bit of stretching is needed, but do it dynamically.

Get into the stretch you want to develop, now go gently into discomfort and back out again. Do this 10 times and hold the last rep for 30 seconds or more.
This is one method.
The other method is to use load.

Go into the stretch you want but use a weight or a band to pull you into into it. Now go in and out, gently. After a few reps you should be significantly further than when you started.

But if you never put strength into this range of motion, you will never keep it. The body will feel threatened and will lock down.

Mobility is the combination of strength and flexibility.
Neither one of which is much use by itself, but together they build mobility which leads to graceful, fluid movement and a resilience that will baffle those around you.


Dave Hedges

Enter the Push Up

Push Ups are under rated.

I could leave this post there and you’d have as much as you need to know.

But lets expand.

You know how the plank gets touted as a great core exercise?
Well imagine if you added some movement to the plank?

There’s a stack of ways to do this, I’ll probably cover them in future blog posts, maybe even a pdf download…
But the most basic would be simply to lower towards the floor and back up while maintaining position.

This is often called a “Push Up”, some time, “Press Up”

But it’s not just a core training drill, although that’s most people’s limiting factor when starting on the exercise.
It’s also great for the shoulder joint.

When done with good form.

And by that I mean adhering to the following technique points:

  • Start in a good plank position, pelvis tucked under (posterior pelvic tilt), chin tucked in
  • The hands should be directly below the shoulders
  • This means the arms are vertical
  • Rotate the pit of the elbow forwards, or the point backwards.
  • As you lower towards the floor, the elbows stay close to the sides, they can flare out as far as 45 degrees, but no more.
  • The hip stays tucked under.
  • Lower under control, move deliberately
  • Keep the chin tucked, do NOT allow the shoulders to raise up towards the ears.
  • Press out powerfully, but don’t lose form.
  • Stop the set when form deteriorates.

There’s more to push ups than you’d think!

Using my "plank-o-meter" to check form

Good Start position, using my “plank-o-meter” to check form

Forward head posture Scapular winging out Low back collapsing

Bad Start Position: – Forward head posture
-Scapular winging out
-Low back collapsing


But done right we are working the entire torso. You should feel the Lats work, the lower traps, the abs, glutes, even the thighs. And of course you’re working into the chest and triceps.

Done wrong we stress the low back, we grind up the shoulder complex and over use the upper traps & neck. We achieve nothing good.

Good bottom position

Good bottom position

Bad bottom position

Bad bottom position

Actually those pics were taken today after I discovered my injured shoulder could just about take a push up, but I couldn’t get into a bad enough position to really show it because of the pain it caused.

Let that be a lesson.

If I can’t demo bad form without it hurting my injured shoulder, yet the good form pictures were comfortable, what makes you think poor form is good for your “healthy” shoulders?

One last consideration is depth.

Obviously we want to go as deep as possible.

Correction, we want to go as deep as possible while maintaining good form.

This means keeping the shoulders set. If our shoulder starts to roll forwards, we’ve probably gone too deep. Watch someone do a push up or video yourself from the front or side.
If you lower into a push up and as you approach the bottom you see your shoulder come up and forwards, you’re losing form.
You’ve lost the serratus tension, you’ve probably lost your lower traps and you default to your upper traps.

Not a healthy state to be in.

I deal with this a LOT when I get the Thai Boxers coming to me.
Help them keep the shoulder position, even if that means sacrificing depth for a short while and their shoulders magically stop hurting.

Have a look at these two images I found on google images, I’ve no idea who they are and am not doubting their work ethic, but look at how the shoulder has rolled forward in the bottom position:


Here’s a video:

Get this nailed and you’ll notice the immediate benefits.
I’d suggest getting a solid set of 20 reps done before looking to other variations, such as using the rings, going wider, narrower, explosive etc etc.
You’ll find loads of variations like these and more in the No Equipment, No Excuses eBook (hint, hint…!)No Equipment, No Excuses - Bodyweight Training for the Home, Office or on the Road



Dave Hedges




Pain isn’t necessarily the problem

skeletal-alignmentI’ve  a very interesting client in at the moment.

He contacted me after his physio told him that his back was sore because his core was weak and he needed to strengthen it.

Now this particular lad is a bodybuilder and bodybuilders typically have pretty well developed muscles. Especially the abs.
But he took the exercises the physio gave him and started doing them, gaining relief, albeit temporary relief.

So he gave me a shout as he knows I know a thing or two about core training.

I took a look at him though my Anatomy in Motion eyes and immediately saw that the problem had fuck all to do with his core.

His hip was hiked up on one side.
His weight was held predominantly in one leg.
He had very little pronation or supination in either foot.
He struggled to internally rotate the hip.
When he walked he never accessed any rotation.

We’re working on undoing all this, it’s not easy, but he’s doing it.
Yes we’re working on the core too, we’ve been doing Turkish Get Ups, crawling patterns and single leg work, but these are all secondary to the real work we’re doing, ie restructuring his posture to improve his movement potential and reduce his likelihood of pain.

The point I’m making here is that there’s little to no point in working on pain symptoms if you first haven’t looked for a root cause. <—- TWEET THAT!

This is why I use Anatomy in Motion to assess all my private/semi-private clients before we start training. We even use it with my group clients to a degree, although we’re limited for time.

If you need to get yourself assessed, drop me a line and we’ll see what we can do for you.

AiM Postural Assessment & Correction


Dave Hedges

Ask Dave: What do you think of Zoo and Animal Movements?

“Hi Dave, quick question..zoo training or animal movement training or whatever it’s called! Are you a fan of it? I know you have a video of it up on your channel of it from a few years back. It’s the latest craze to hit commercial gyms although it has been doing the rounds for a number of years! Just want to know your opinion? Thanks Dave!”

Hello Mate,

I just recently heard about this thing called “Zoo” so had a wee look and am afraid to say I wasn’t terribly impressed.

Here’s why:

Animal type movement is great, I use a good deal of it in my place and follow the work of people like GMB, Ido Portal, Dewey Nielsen etc who all advocate this type of work.
If you look at all the names mentioned, you’ll see a level of fluidity and control in their movement that is lacking in the Zoo method.
This is because Zoo is taking these movements and using them solely for metabolic conditioning and going at them hell for leather. The idea seems to be that faster is better.

However, with animal and bodyweight flow type training, slower is actually better.
Initial progress in these drills comes by first smoothing out the movement, this can only be done with conscious practice and a moderate to slow pace. True skill is demonstrated by moving very slowly but incredibly smoothly, this shows that there are no weak links in the chain which can be hidden by speed.
With crawling patterns I will on occasion test people by having them freeze at particular points, I stand behind them and issue a loud bang as the freeze signal.

Only when the movement can be performed slow and smooth do we allow it to be accelerated or move to the next level of difficulty.
Then we look to link the movements through whatever transitions. The transitions must be as controlled as the main movement.

We should adhere to the maxim, “Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast”

Zoo is (from the little I’ve seen so far) to animal movement what Kettleworx is to Kettlebell training.
That unfortunately also means the truism that the lower quality something is the more money is thrown into marketing it and the more people actually end up doing it will probably hold true.


Dave Hedges