Yesterday I was fortunate to once again host the Irish Movers Group for a movement class.

This is new group that hopes to introduce the idea of “Movement” to a much wider audience.
Each month it is hosted by someone different who teaches their own interpretation of the topic, look up the group on facebook and come join us for a play.

The conversation at the end that I’m referring to was about the value of individual drills or exercises.

You see i grew up in the martial arts community before I became a fitness coach. During my time in Martial Arts i travelled a lot and trained in many different clubs covering many different arts. But one thing was always present.

Outside of the full contact ring sports (Muay Thai, Judo, Kickboxing, BJJ) many of the martial arts seemed to place a greater value on performing drills than actually being competent in a fight.

And that seemed to defeat the purpose in my mind. Why spend hours training drills that were never applied during the sparring part of the class?

Similar things happen in the world of fitness.

Fitness training was always meant to improve a persons athletic performance. To make them run faster, throw further, hit harder, jump higher.
These events were the application of the drills practised in the gym.

Successful training was measured not by the weight on the bar, but by the performance in the field.

In other words the training had a true and proper purpose.

These days people train to replace the manual labour we used to perform, or they exercise because they think they should.

Wouldn’t it be better, both physically and mentally, if we went back to attaching our fitness training to a grander purpose?

We don’t need to be competitive athletes to go to the gym. We don’t even need to play a sport.
But we all age.

Maybe our gym time can be spent working to slow down the decline of our physical health?
To ensure our muscles, bones and connective tissues are kept strong (read THIS post), to ensure our heart & lungs keep pumping and to stimulate the brain.

When I see regular gym goers who can’t lift their arms overhead or squat full range it bothers me. When I see people who attend fitness classes walk with their knees buckling on every step, it bothers me.
When I look at other dads of my age who can’t chase their kids up and down the slide or show them how to climb a tree, it bothers me.
To me it says their efforts are in vain, they are practising skills but failing to reap the benefits, just like our martial artists who spend hours drilling techniques but still can’t fight.

"The Daddy Bear is going to eat you!"

“The Daddy Bear is going to eat you!”

The human animal is supposed to be a well rounded, adaptable creature.
Train to keep it so.


Dave Hedges

Join the Movement

Working on specific mobility & postural imbalances

Working on specific mobility & postural imbalances

I got moving on my mind.

Movement is the new hot topic, and rightly so.

For too long the bodybuilders ruled the training world and everybody trained like demons in order to look great while standing still.
Then we had the “functional training” craze which I’m still trying to block out from my memory.
Nowadays it’s mostly a combination of Olympic Lifting, Powerlifting and high intensity intervals. Which is cool.

If we look at most athletes and what they do, it’s usually something from Oly lifting, something from powerlifting, a but of interval work and then a shit load of their actual sport.

So the current “model” that fitness is following isn’t far from the what ought to happen.

The problem lies in that the vast majority of the training takes place purely in the saggital plane, ie front to back.
We squat, we deadlift, we snatch, we press, we pull. All in that front to back plane.
We always maintain good form, use the same routine each time we approach and set up the lift.
We are still training and moving like machines.

So this is where the rise in popularity of “Movement” comes in.

Guys like Ido Portal, Dewey Neilsen, MovNat, Primal Move, Animal Flow, GMB, Andreo Spina and the rest are encouraging you to get out of the saggital plane and into utilising all three planes at the same time.
Yes every one of the above mentioned guys still uses the saggital plane for basic strength development, and so should you. But you also need to get out of position, you need to change from one position to the next, you need to explore ranges of motion both loaded and unloaded.
You need to stimulate the central nervous system with physical conundrums. Take it places it really has to think about to get out of.
The joints thrive on challenge, take them to your safe end range under smooth control and then bring them back.
See how many ways you can get into and out of that end range.
Discover where that end range actually is. You can’t know centre until you’ve found the ends.

All this adds up.

Martial Arts guys, Gymnasts and Dancers do this already in their training. Contact sports guys like Rugby players will do a good bit of it in their sport.
But if you don’t take part in a sport like this, when will you ever explore these ranges in your daily life unless you put it into your training program.

So move.

Google the names I mentioned above, watch their videos.

Drop into WG-Fit on a Saturday morning for the Motion is Lotion class or attend one of the monthly Movement Classes hosted by the Irish movers Group.
The next one of these is in my place on Sunday 25th Jan, 1000-1200.
All are welcome.

Now, get up and move.


Dave Hedges

Efficiency Over Duration

The_Persistence_of_MemoryTime is sparse.

Many people say they don’t have time to exercise.

I don’t believe them.

What most people mean is they can’t be bothered training. If they just said that, I’d be fine with it, I appreciate honesty, but saying you don’t have the time? That’s poor.

What some other mean, is that they don’t know how to train in a limited space of time.
Most people think a workout must be an hour or more of sweat and grind.

But does it?

Absolutely not.

Efficiency and intensity will trump duration in every case with the exception of developing endurance.

Even still, frequent, short, intense sessions will build work capacity which can then be honed into endurance when time allows.

So how do we get a full workout in in under an hour. Scratch that, that’s too easy. How about in 20 minutes?

Lets look at the major movement patterns. I stole these from Dan John, but since he includes them in almost every article he produces, I don’t think he’ll mind…

We have:

Upper Body Push
Upper Body Pull
Hip Hinge
Everything else (ie, Gait, Core, Prehab/Rehab etc)

Pick one exercise from each category, pick a rep range and go for it.
That’s it.
I tend to use the “Everything else” category for the warm up, you may choose it for a finisher.
But a sample short sharp workout may go like:

1A: Pull Up x 5
1B: Clean & press x 5
1C: Front Squat x 10
1D: KB Snatch x 10L/R
As Many Rounds As Possible (AMRAP) in 20 minutes with good form.

Ensure you adhere to good form!

kb front squat Neghar

If you’re following a progressive program rather than a WOD format, then pick 1 or 2 big lifts per session.
Maybe on day 1 use Deadlifts and Presses, on day 2 it can be Front Squats and Pull Ups.
Set a stopwatch for 15 minutes and get as many reps as each done as possible in that time span.
This is so effective, Charles Staley wrote a book on it and called it Escalating Density Training or EDT.
I use it a lot with my clients, especially those looking for fast results with little time used.

2-4 short sharp sessions per week may just be enough to get you the results you need, but only if you put in the required effort.

Each day in WG-Fit we run a lunchtime session with a short sharp “WOD” written up and many people following specific training protocols developed for their needs.
Most attendees only have a 30 minute window in which to train. A few can stay longer, but all of them get in on their lunchtime and get it done.

Join them.

Click here for details

Dave Hedges

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

Kettlebell Workshops, CLICK HERE

Upcoming Kettlebell Workshops and Instructor Training


Up until the last year or so I was running kettlebell workshops as well as hosting international kettlebell coaches, such as Steve Cotter at Wild Geese.

I stopped doing these as there just seemed to be a glut of workshops and courses for people to learn about safe and effective kettlebell training.
Turns out that quantity did not equal quality and the majority of the courses are neither safe nor effective.

So I’m relaunching them this year, with a an instructor level module.

I have 4 levels of workshop, we’re starting with 1&2, with the others coming later in the year.

The Level 1 & 2 kettlebell workshops each cover 3 lifts, that’s all.
The workshop lasts for three hours.

Three hours to cover warming up and then three lifts, sounds like there’s not a lot of content.
By eliminating quantity of content, we can focus on quality of content.
By eliminating breadth, we can focus on depth.

The aim of the workshop is to leave you with doubts or questions as to how to use the kettlebell, how to apply the lift and how to ensure safe and effective progression.

This level of detail simply cannot be acheived when dozens of exercises are taught in the course of one day. When it comes to retaining information and developing skills, less is more. 

Depth of knowledge trumps breadth of knowledge.
It’s take nearly 20 years of teaching martial arts first, then working as a training officer in the Hilton Hotel I worked in, then back to martial arts teaching and now fitness coaching to realise this.

I’ve also added an instructor level module, not a certification, but a module where we can analyse the teaching element of the content covered over the workshop.

The workshops are suitable for anyone looking to start training with kettles or to look deeper at the kettlebell lifts.
And for anyone who teaches or wants to teach the lifts.
But also for anyone who questions the efficacy of kettlebell training to come and see for themselves.

My methods hold no allegiance to any one system or style, I’ve learned from many sources and used them effectively to train a vast array of people from BJJ champions, Thai Boxers, Kettlebell Sports champions, candidates (who passed) for the RKC and normal people who simply love to train.

Have look at the tutorials on the articles page to see the level of detail we go into.
And for booking information, follow these links:

Kettlebell Level 1: Click Here
Kettlebell Level 2: Click Here

Dave Hedges

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

Kettlebell Workshops, CLICK HERE

The Windmill, an Underrated Exercise

The Kettlebell Windmill is a classic exercise that also opens up a gateway to some pretty cool, more advanced drills.

To be fair, most people never need the more advanced versions, but the windmill really ought to be in everyone’s tool box.

Here’s why:

It teaches us to hinge into our hip with an emphasis on one leg. As we sit into this leg, the hip moves into internal rotation.
The hip both flexing and internally rotating will load up our glutes nicely, meaning that even when performed without a load, say in a warm up, we are putting some stretch load into our glutes and giving them a good reason to contract.

The raised arm is supporting rather than lifting a weight.
This is important as reduces the risk of damage in the shoulder joint and can actually have a therapeutic effect on the shoulder.
If I were to move my arm in the pattern it goes through during the windmill, but unloaded and either standing or lying down, it would look very much like a standard physio rehab drill for your rotator cuff.
But in a windmill, the arm is static while the body moves kinda like a weird closed chain / open chain combo, plus we can add significant loading to the movement.
These two points ask a lot more from the shoulder muscles than you might think and can replace all pressing actions, at least temporarily, while maintaining or even building pressing strength.

In the video below, watch the orientation of my hand as I go through the lift.
You’ll notice it doesn’t (or rather, shouldn’t) change as I move. If I do my best to keep the palm facing forwards, or even orient the thumb slightly backwards, I take the shoulder into a nice external rotation.
This puts a bit of a stretch into the pecs and allows the back to take most of the strain.
This is important as all the best pressers, be it in bench press or military press, will tell you the press from the back.
As we usually load the back with pulling actions, it can be difficult to visualise this, or even feel it happening.
The windmill, with its overhead support, almost feels like a press but much of the load is in the back. This helps a lot in getting people to use their back musculature to stabilise the shoulder during the more standard pressing actions.

I’d talk about the core training benefits of the lift, but that’s been done to death on every other kettlebell blog everywhere on the internet.
I actually don’t use it for “core training” I use it as a complete upper body strength drill.
That said though, go heavy on this, especially with both hands loaded and you’ll feel the midsection working like mad to keep the spine safe.
And that’s a good thing.

Have a look at the video:

The lift is not owned by the kettlebell community, although that’s where you’ll see it the most. There’s no reason not to use a dumbbell, even a barbell to load the movement.
But as it’s the movement itself that holds the benefit, be sure to practice a lot with either no, or very light weight before trying to load up.
Once you have it nailed and are adequately warmed up, feel free to load it all you want.
In this picture, I have 40kg in the top hand and 64kg in the bottom hand, for a total of 104kg. I weighted just below 90kg at the time.
I rarely lift this amount in this lift, but with regular exposure to submaximal loads with 24’s and 32’s I can perform this feat from cold. But the key point here is repeated practice with submaximal loads.

triple windmill

Have fun with this lift, and be prepared for some funny looks if practised in a standard public gym.

I’ll follow up this post with a look into the more advanced version of the movement, the Side Press and the Bent Press.

Dave Hedges

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

Kettlebell Workshops, CLICK HERE

Some Advice for the New Years Resolution Success

This is for the people who are hoping to make a start into fitness in 2015.

I’ve two words for you:

Just start


That’s it.

But don’t go in blind, nor should you jump in with both feet.

These are probably the two biggest errors most people make when trying to make changes, especially if one of those changes involves increasing physical activity by joining a gym.

First off, don’t go in blind.

Gyms are selling cheap memberships and running special January offers right now to entice you in. But be aware, you get what you pay for. If you pay bottom dollar, expect to be left to your own devices or if you are assigned a coach, don’t expect much from them.
Decent gyms offer decent training and will personalise information to you. Even if you are part of a group session, you’ll still receive progressions and regressions on exercises to best suit your individual needs.

Do some homework before signing up to anything.

And then, don’t jump in with both feet.

Most people most of the time will jump into training with the energy and enthusiasm of a teenager. But can’t maintain it.
Training is a process, it takes time and consistent application.

The bedrock principle behind all physical training, regardless of the modality or the desired goal is this:

Progressive Resistance Training

All the best programs out there advocate an easy start and then ramping up. The technical term is “an accumulation phase” where work capacity is gradually built before the hard graft kicks in. I like the term “on ramp” as it’s less fancy sounding.
But use the on ramp to build up momentum so that when you start to approach your (old) limits, you should be able to just run right over them.
If you jump in with both feet and go balls out into a training program, you’re not leaving yourself space to progress into and will probably run out of energy or enthusiasm quick sharp.
It’s a bit like the Tortoise and the Hare.


If you have decided that this is the year to start training, then please get advice and start easy.
In no time at all, that advice will have you progressing further and faster than you ever thought possible.

Dave Hedges

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

Kettlebell Workshops, CLICK HERE

Where People Stand is Perhaps Not as Important as Which Way they Face

“where people stand is perhaps not as important as which way they face”  – Terry Pratchett, A Slip of the Keyboard

Terry Pratchett is without a doubt my favourite author of all time.
I’ve read pretty much everything he’s written, owned or owned his entire catalogue (many in hard cover)
And just received his latest two offerings as Christmas presents from my sister who’s as big a fan as I am (ever since I lent her one of mine back when we were teenagers)

I’m currently racing through “A Slip of the Keyboard – Collected non Fiction” and loving it.
It’s in one of the short essays in the book that I found the above quote and immediately stopped to write it down.

Right now we’re fast approaching January 1st, 2015.
In other words, the New Year.

And what happens at New Year?

No! We don’t all get shitfaced and count backwards from ten badly out of sync with whatever clock we’re attempting to focus in on….

What I’m talking about are the resolutions.

And I’m also talking about the folk who’ve maybe over done it over the xmas break with all the excess, but oh so tasty calories we have imbibed.

But it doesn’t matter where you are now, how unfit or badly behaved you think you’ve been, it only matters that you are now facing the right direction and are taking each step in turn, left then right, then left again, towards getting your mind and body back to where it should be and then beyond.

No one cares if you’ve had cake for breakfast, beer for lunch and Cheese & Wine for supper every day for the last week.
Not if you’re back to eggs, meat and veggies now.

No one cares if you spent the days on the sofa in your underpants watching the Top Gear Xmas Special, the Bourne movies and whatever else was on the box.
Not if you’re back to packing your gym bag the night before to make sure it;s ready for you today.

New years resolutions are pretty much bullshit, a few minutes of critical thinking will prove it so. But a daily step forwards in the direction of travel are proven effective.
Small increments.
Start now.

Wild Geese doors open on Sat 3rd and full service resumes on Mon 5th.

1% better each day, no matter where you are starting from.


Dave Hedges

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

Kettlebell Workshops, CLICK HERE