A Genuinely Functional Exercise for BJJ

17 04 2014

Sports specific training was a hot topic a while ago, riding in on the back of the whole “functional training” nonsense.

It’s still around, but I think it’s finally dying out.

But does that mean you can’t put together a gym program that is specific to the needs of your sport?

Of course it bloody doesn’t.

It does mean that taking the actions commonly found in your sport and doing them with a weight in your hand is usually a waste of invaluable gym time.

After all a BJJ player spends his life in a curled up (flexed) position working against the resistance of another human being, why then go to the gym and do more of this with only gravity as resistance?
Why would he put his spine under further stress and play deeper into any dysfunction their sport promotes?

Why not get to the weight room and work an exercise that will develop real strength while going a long way to rebalance the body?

In Fighting Back I look into the posture that becomes very common amongst many BJJ players and it becomes clear that all the time on the mat rolling in a foetal position tightens and shortens the musculature on the front of the body.
We’re talking Pectorals, especially the Pec Minor, the Abs and the Hip Flexors.

This means that while strength in these areas is absolutely necessary , there’s a good chance their getting worked adequately on the mat. After all, what do most people do when they don’t have a gym to train in? Push Ups and Crunches!
I’ll bet that your BJJ warm up contains dozens of push ups and crunches.

When you get in the gym you’d be better of with a simple, yet little known variation of classic lift.
I’ve made this lift a corner stone of many a BJJ player’s training program with great success.

It’s called the Snatch Grip Deadlift.
It’s like a regular deadlift but with a wider grip on the bar. This means you start in a lower position, asking more from the legs and with the arms wide to smoke the upper back. So you work the all important extension pattern of the body, learn to tighten the upper back and control the shoulder blades and develop ridiculous core and grip strength.

Here’s a clip I made especially for the Fighting Back manual

If this is a new exercise to you, start light and focus on form. Keeping a straight spine and the shoulders pulled back and down is more important than the amount of weight you can lift.
Limit strength is not a priority for BJJ, but a healthy spine and shoulders absolutely is. This variation on the deadlift will do more to balance the body than just about any other exercise you can choose, follow it with some high rep  1 arm kettlebell swings and you’ve a training program that will do more for you than 99% of all the other training advice you will see on the internet.


Click the image to Purchase

Click the image to Purchase


Dave Hedges

Fighting Back – How to Stop Back Pain & Improve Your BJJ Game

14 04 2014

It’s finally here!

It gives me great pleasure to finally announce the release of

Fighting Back – How to Stop Back pain & Improve Your BJJ Game

Click the image to Purchase

Click the image to Purchase

If I was marketing savvy, I’d have a really long sales pitch lined up for you here with testimonials and before and after pictures.
But I’m not, so I don’t.

What I do have is a line of BJJ players coming to me every day at my Gym for training. And amongst the GFT BJJ team that train out of Wild Geese Martial Arts, those that come to me for supplementary fitness work are the ONLY ones that don’t suffer with any form of back pain.
They also recover faster between rounds of rolling.
They pick up fewer niggling injuries.
They are simply tougher, which in a bout where skills are equal or even stacked against. This toughness can become the deciding factor in who comes out on top.

Personally I find BJJ fascinating.
I don’t train it myself, my martial preferences lie elsewhere, but from a strength coach / movement therapist point of view, watching the guys roll is fascinating.

Ok, I said fascinating twice there, but I can’t think of a better word.

The fluidity with which they move about on the ground, the agility they display and mad positions they bend their bodies into is incredible to watch. But the cynical coach in me is constantly wincing as their spines are loaded and flexed to degrees that they really shouldn’t.

Watching them train multiple times per week, and on the odd occasion getting in and rolling with them has had me thinking of what they need to train in order to simply survive the rigours of their chosen sport.
What movement patterns dominate the sport?
What muscles and lines of force (I love Thomas Myers Anatomy Trains thinking) are being prioritised by the sport?
What are the potential ramifications of emphasising these elements?
And what can we do about it.

This is my thought process for developing athlete specific training programs.
This eBook lays out pretty much the whole thought process.
If you read and digest the information in the book, you will be able to take it, and the sample training programs laid out in it and start to figure out how best to apply this to your own training.

I’ve given you details on how to warm up in a manner that will target all the common BJJ problem areas, there’s an equipment free bodyweight workout and gym workouts for training, 2,3 or 4 days per week.
These are carefully considered workouts that if work diligently, patiently and progressively will help you develop a strong body that is resistant to injury while becoming faster and more enduring.

Once you’ve toyed with them and the other information and exercises laid out, you’ll then be able to adjust these programs to make them more specific to your individual needs.

And that’s about as much of a sales pitch as I can stomach to write.

You can read more and purchase the book from THIS LINK


Dave Hedges

BJJ and the Office Worker, how one can help the other

11 04 2014

The clock is ticking down…….

I’ve got the final edit back of the long awaited eBook that is Fighting Back.
It’ll be officially released this Monday.

The whole thing started before christmas when one of my lads, a keen BJJ player and a dedicated lifter asked me why some of the lads were complaining of back ache.

This started a discussion involving the following diagrams being drawn on my mirrors:

The answer to the question

The answer to the question

Anyone who’s asked a good question at WG has at some point had diagrams drawn for them by me. And many of the blog posts on this site are essentially a transcription of these conversations.

When I sat down that evening to start the blog post on why BJJ players suffer back pain the article just kept getting longer and longer. Eventually we had to decide that it would be better suited to an eBook than a blog post.

The a-ha moment for Seb, who asked the question and for many that I’ve since spoken to and even the reviewers of the manual is the bottom left image on the mirror.
I found a better way to illustrate it:

Office posture vs BJJ posture

Office posture vs BJJ posture


Can you see how the picture of the office worker is almost identical to the posture of the BJJ player. In fact both players.

Now, the postural issues associated with sitting for hours have been well documented. But sitting is a passive activity, these guys are assuming very similar postures in a dynamic manner. They are doing hundreds of repetitions of crunches each time they roll with a partner. And the crunch is derided by strength coaches around the world.
A BJJ player goes through so much spinal flexion, very often under load and coupled with a rotation of some sort that it’s make Dr. Stuart McGills hair turn white!

In the eBook we discuss the potential consequences of this and also the methods I use to combat this and not just strengthen the back but to make the athlete as injury proof as possible.

This is a review I just got in from a very experienced and highly respected Combatives instructor, BJJ player and much, much more, a man named Cecil Burch,

I have been intensely involved in the martial arts for over 34 years, and with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for 20. In that time, I have competed at more tournaments that I can remember, and have put in a lot of time on the mat. In doing so, I have done some damage to my body, both through the physical training as well as the wear and tear of life. I wish I would have had Dave Hedges’ book Fighting Back years ago. In simple language even someone like me can understand, he gives you the prescription not just to fix bad backs, but to make them better and stronger so you can keep training hard for years to come. I truly enjoyed this book and have already implemented his advice into my own personal training regimen. I heartily endorse this book, and look forward to more from Dave.
Cecil Burch, 1st degree Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu

Learn more about Cecil at his website:  www.iacombatives.com

Tom Furman, also a life time martial artist as well as one of the original RKC guys and a guy who I steal a good bit of info from simply wrote, “Really, really, really, good. I love the massive amount of drills and illustrations. This is world class!”
Tom’s known for speaking his mind, he’s not afraid to say what he thinks, so to have him say that is high praise indeed. You’ll read more about Tom at http://www.tomfurman.com

You’ll be able to purchase and read your copy from Monday.

In other news, remember me telling you about Maria who’s on an 1100km solo trip by bicycle stopping to run the Paris Marathon, the London Marathon and the Dublin half marathon, each on consecutive weekends.
Well she’d hitting London tomorrow, having run the Paris marathon in 4hrs 11min and cycling her way north over the subsequent 5 days.
If you haven’t donated to her fundraising effort, she’s doing this challenge for the Laura Lynne Childrens Hospital and Pieta House. You can donate HERE

See you Monday


Dave Hedges



Warming Up for BJJ, Are You Doing It Wrong?

7 04 2014

Warming up is a pain in the back side. Everyone hates it, many skip it, other just go through the motions and the rest probably do it plain wrong.

Warming up for a weight session is fairly well documented, I’ve written about it myself in the past and I’ve a request to write about it again from a good and respected friend.

But today I want to talk about your martial arts practice. Specifically you BJJ guys.

Warming up for a sport isn’t much different initially to a gym warm up, we need to follow the same basic sequence:

Raise core temperature
Raise heart rate
Eliminate stiffness
Encourage full range of motion
Practice specific skill
Get the mind and body firing together

So those few minutes of holding a stretch aint going to cut it.

I’m not saying stretching doesn’t work, I am saying it’s a poor choice for a warm up.
What we need is movement. Stretch dynamically, ie go into the tightness and straight back out, do it multiple times, going deeper each time.
After a few reps we ought to feel the muscle just let go as it awakens and starts to fire. It ought to feel awake and ready to go.

Which is the whole point of warming up in the first place.

The next part of the warm up should be dealing with specific issues the sport brings up.
This is almost never done, unless the instructor is extremely switched on.

What do I mean by dealing with specific issues the sport brings?
Every sport has its particular movements and postures that are repeated more than any other.
For BJJ, it’s essentially the foetal position, curled up, spine and hip flexed.

So we often find BJJ players who have terrible extension. So why not work on that while warming up?

If we only ever strengthen the sporting postures, eventually the body will put it’s breaks on and prevent further progress or it’ll get injured. So spend time opening the hip flexors, extending the spine and retracting the shoulders.

The following video is one of the clips I have filmed to support the upcoming release of the Fighting Back eBook.
It shows the suggested warm up sequence from the book:

Now, if there’s a group of you, you may not all have rollers and bands. So here’s a bonus that only needs a skipping rope and less than 10 minutes:

Of course, if skipping is impractical, skip the skipping and instead run on the spot (get those knees HIGH!) or use star jumps.

The Fighting Back manual is still with my editor having the many spelling errors corrected, but we will be releasing it for purchase this coming Monday.

Be sure you get your copy.

Almost there!

Almost there!


Dave Hedges

42km Down, 1058 To Go, Maria is Up & Running

6 04 2014

Right guys and girls, let me tell you a story.

marialimerickI have a woman trains with me on a regular basis, someone who’s presence on the training floor always makes everyone else stand up and be counted.

She deadlifts 100kg
She swings a pair of 36kg bells
She does pull ups in double figures
She captains the Kettleheads Girevoy Sport Team
She holds black belts in Kyokushin Karate
The list goes on

And is now in France where she just completed part one of her next big challenge.

Lets talk about the challenge.

Arrive in Paris and run the Paris Marathon, from there cycle to London to run the London marathon the following weekend. From London it’s another cycle trip, this time across the width of England and Wales to catch the ferry to Dublin, where she’ll finish by running a Half Marathon in the Phoenix Park.

So over three consecutive weekends she’ll have run two full marathons and one half marathon, each in a different country, travelling only by bicycle (yes, and ferry!)

And the whole thing is a solo effort, she is completely unsupported. No follow car, no film crew, no one cycling beside her.

It’s an 1100km solo effort powered by only by her own two legs and indomitable will.

So why is Maria doing this?

Simple, she’s taking sponsorship to raise funds for two charities that she supports, Pieta House and the Laura Lynn Childrens Hospice.

She’s collecting money through her MyCharity.ie page  <—–that’s a link people, click it!

If you train at WG-Fit, you’ve met Maria, you’ve seen her train and I’m sure you’ve had her come and support you on the gym floor.
Now it’s her turn, she needs you to support her by donating.

In case you missed it earlier, here’s another link t the donation page:


Here’s some links to the charities she’s supporting:

Pieta House – The Centre for the Prevention of Self-Harm or Suicide – http://www.pieta.ie
Laura Lynn Childrens Hospital – http://www.lauralynn.ie


And those swings I mentioned, check this out:




Dave Hedges



Mind Over metal T-Shirts taking over the world! Pre-Order yours Now!

1 04 2014

Hi All,

Just a quick message to say I’ll be putting in the next order for the Mind Over Metal T-shirts we’re selling in conjunction with the Hope & Peer Support Centre for mental health.

The Yeti modelling his T-Shirt in Denmark

The Yeti modelling his T-Shirt in Denmark

The previous shipment has all but sold out, with shirts going out to Galway, Waterford, Cork, England, Denmark and even as far as British Columbia in Canada.

So far, we’ve raised €150 which I handed to the guys in the HOPS centre last week. With all the talk of cuts in the funding for mental health, they were very grateful for this small donation.

Maggie Duff in Galway

Maggie Duff in Galway

We’ve also noticed some unusual side effects of the T’s.

Lukas hit a PR in the deadlift the first time he wore it:

Lukas did 25% more reps wearing the T'shirt than last week with an ordinary shirt

Lukas did 25% more reps wearing the T-shirt than last week with an ordinary shirt

Seb’s arse got inexplicably bigger:


Seb's booty was never this big, until he wore the T-Shirt!

Seb’s booty was never this big, until he wore the T-Shirt!

Down in Waterford, my friend Tomo actually managed to squat to an acceptable depth!

Tomo hits depth for the first time, the only that changed? The T-Shirt....

Tomo hits depth for the first time, the only that changed? The T-Shirt….

And Shay’s awesome hit critical mass, I think he may have made the kettlebells he was holding pregnant!


Shay's awesomeness hit critical mass, after donning the shirt. I had to go for a lie down after taking this photo.

Shay’s awesomeness hit critical mass, after donning the shirt. I had to go for a lie down after taking this photo.

There are others with Mind over Metal T-shirts, but if I put too many out in the same blog post, we may overload the internet. And that’d be bad.

Oh, and now we’re also offering a full zip hoodie in the same colours!

So how do you get your hands on one of these?
How do you increase your awesomeness by an average of 37.34%
How do you give €5 to Mental Health?

Well you click HERE

And I’ll thank you.


Dave Hedges

Is Core Stability Over rated? What About Core Mobility?

28 03 2014

tricking1Core stability has been done to death.

It’s got to the point where people are training their core to be so solid that they are sacrificing any mobility whatsoever.

When these guys walk they find it very difficult to dissociate their upper and lower body, which basically means that their hips and shoulders can no longer work in the opposition to each other, you know, like they were supposed to….

Think about it, when you walk and step your right leg forwards, which way do you hips turn?
The right hip comes forwards too doesn’t it? At least it should.
Which arm swings forwards? If you say anything other than the Left arm, go stand in the corner and think about what you’ve done. I’ll tell you when you can come out.

So the hips and shoulder rotate in opposite directions as we run and walk. Surely to allow this happen we must move through the spine, and the muscles that control the motion of our spine are called the core muscles.
If they are trained with the sole purpose of being stable ie preventing movement, then we will no linger be able to move as we are designed to.

Now for another experiment.
Stand up and put your arms up. Now keeping both arms up, reach the right arm higher, stretch it towards the ceiling. What happened to your hips? Now reach the left up, relax the right slightly. now what happens to the hip?

The answer should be that as the right arm reaches, the right hip drops, and vice versa.

Seriously, stand up and try it. I’ll wait.

Done it, good.

So is all the chat and the research about core stability wrong?
Absolutely not, but it’s constantly being taken out of context.
Our core musculature must promote safe movement of the spine. the spine has 33 articulations, that means 33 opportunities to move.
If it were designed to be stiff, it’d be a solid pole, it isn’t it’s more of a chain.

So move it.

The muscles should be though of more as elastic, not solid. They can stretch and when stretched, they will snap back. Done well, they will have enough mobility to allow freedom of motion but strong enough to prevent excess motion.

End result, maximum efficiency.

And isn’t that why we train in the first place?
To increase our efficiency, to become better at what we do, to be faster, stronger and more fluid in our actions?

Do you see lions actively contracting their glutes? Drawing in their TVA’s?

Hell no! They get up, yawn, stretch and go.

Wouldn’t it be cool to do the same?

Well, the boys at http://www.OriginalStrength.net seem to think you can.
This video clip shows my wife using their Lateral Rolling drill.

My Wife can’t do the usual core work due to a diastasis recti and umbilical hernia, but this drill not only keeps her symptoms under control but has taken inches of her waist.

Try this drill, it may just loosen out those tight hips, tight shoulders and jacked up spine. In other words, there’s no downsides to it.

Here’s the video:


Dave Hedges


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