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




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


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

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

Monday Mobility – 5 Wrist Mobility Exercises from the Japanese Martial Arts

It’s Monday, so here’s another instalment of Monday Mobility.

This weeks drills are for the wrists, an area that was of particular interest the last time I ran the Bodyweight Workshop over in Galway.

While on the subject of the Bodyweight Workshop, did you know there are still places left on this Sundays workshop in Dublin? (super smooth pug eh? I’m getting the hang of this internet marketing stuff!)

Anyhow, I digress.

Over in Galway I had some pretty well known local coaches present, who were asking about wrist issues that they come across with their clients, particularly on the push up.

In today’s desk bound population, or even those that train, very often have tightness in the finger flexors, which of course run down the inside of your forearm.
If these are tight, then the chances are having your hand flat on the deck, then putting a large amount of bodyweight into it, as you do with push ups, is going to be pretty uncomfortable.Women Push Ups

So in the Galway we spent a good amount of time discussing the hand and wrist looking as specific mobilisation exercises that can be introduced to a training program in order to free up the wrist and allow for better hand placement and ground contact in the Push Up exercise.

This video clip shows a few of the exercises.

These ones are taken from the Japanese Martial Arts (you may have guessed that from the title….), over the years I’ve trained and been exposed to Goshin Jitsu, various Karate Styles, a couple of Aikido styles and pretty much whatever else was available in whatever part of the world I was residing in.

Here’s the video:

And yes, I know, I look like a baby with no beard!

Now, if you’re interested in attending this weekends BodyWeight Workshop, I have a few places remaining.
We take an in depth look at Joint Mobility, including the drills in this clip. We also look at specific mobilisations to ensure proper performance of the key Bodyweight Exercises.
The day always finishes with Animal and Martial Arts based bodyweight exercises that will strengthen you in ways you didn’t even realise you weak in!

Martial Arts inspired training methods for building genuine strength & power, not just "gym strength"

Martial Arts inspired training methods for building genuine strength & power, not just “gym strength”

Click HERE for booking details.


Dave Hedges

Imagine talking to an Alien……

Well, I’m back and getting into the flow of being back working with clients in the gym rather than playing with the kids on the beach.
Sometimes, the two aren’t that different….

"The Daddy Bear is going to eat you!"

“The Daddy Bear is going to eat you!”

After all, if you spend any time around kids, or remember yourself as a child, think of all the ways in which you used your body.

You’d run, crawl, jump, roll, climb and pretty much whatever else took your fancy. And these are all elements I throw into the training of adults here at WG, while yes, we stick mostly to good solid strength and conditioning practices, but often times we play and try to find the childlike pleasure of simple movement.

And thats most of what we got up to on our holiday with the kids, it was great fun.

And then just this morning after the Bootcamp one of my lads is chatting to me about his weak points and what he feels he needs to work more to improve his Kettlebell Sport performance.

This lad is with me less than a year but has made great progress, which includes having a crack at kettlebell sport, one of the most gruelling sports out there.

He said he needed to work his legs more.

I said that is no surprise, consider your previous five years of training and what you did.

You see he came to me from the “standard” gym, mainstream commercial fitness, where pretty much everything is done seated.

Bench press, seated military press, seated lat pull downs, seated leg extensions, seated leg press…….

And I thought, just imagine you were having a conversation with a being from another planet.

Alien Cartoons
Imagine this being asked you how we humans maintained and improved upon our physical capacity, how we built strength and stamina to keep strong and useful.
Now think about most people’s answer:

“Yeah, I go to this place we call a gym.”

“Oh really, that sounds cool, what do you do there?”

“When I’m there I lie down and work my chest, then I sit on this machine to work my back.”

“Oh, you sit and lie down?”

“erm yeah, and them for my legs,”

“those skinny things you stand on?”

“yeah these things I’m standing on.”

“Are they how you move around, say chasing stuff?”

“What was that? Oh, yeah, these are my natural method of locomotion.
So anyway to make these strong, I sit down on the leg press”

“Sorry, did you just say you sit down to train them, you don’t move about like their natural function indicates?”

Can you imagine the confusion.

You sit down to get fitter and stronger?

Especially our lower body, the very things that are designed to carry us around, we sit down to train them?

If you want to genuinely improve you strength and fitness, to genuinely increase your quality of movement and athletic ability get off your fucking arses and learn something from the kids.

Kids don’t sit still. In fact keeping them sat at all is a challenge (at least with my two, and I wasn’t much different!)

In August I’ll be running the bodyweight training course, which looks at real movement. We look at how to regain lost movement patterns, such as the squat and hip hinge.
We talk about using bodyweight to develop the strength and agility that is your birthright.

We also look at more playful movements from the animal world, the kind of things we did as kids without a second thought.

I’ll be posting dates and location by the end of the week, keep an eye out here for it.


Dave Hedges


Good Reads, Rapid Response, Armour of War and Falling Asleep in a Toy Box

Well, how was your weekend?

For my house, it was chaotic as Son no 2 celebrated his second birthday, so we had a house filled with kids and family. It was more exhausting than any of the workouts and training programs I set you lot to do!

Tactical Water Pistol Training with the boys in preparation for the ensuing birthday celebrations

Tactical Water Pistol Training with the boys in preparation for the ensuing birthday celebrations

Even the special birthday set we did in the Saturday Kettlebell class in his honour.
You’ll need one kettle and an interval timer. Set the timer to go off every 2mins continually and do the following:

1: Burning four x 2min
2: Full arm plank x 2 min
3: Around the body x 2min each direction
4: Figure 8’s x 2min
5: Press x 2min left
6: press x 2min right
7: Bodyweight Squat x 2min
8: Static bridge hold x 2min
9: bent over row x 2min left
10: bent over row x 2 min right
11: Lunge x 2min right
12: Lunge x 2min left
13: swings x 2min left
14: swing x 2min right

Do the whole thing continuously with no breaks.


Good Reads For the Week

Now to make up for my lack of anything informative to write about today, I’m going to share someone elses work.
There’s a strength coach I regularly steal ideas from, the latest of which was the Skater Squat Iso Hold my regulars have been having fun with this week:

It’s as fun as it looks!
But it’s great for the knee stability.

Ben also writes a (fairly) regular feature where he collects a shed load of the best articles from the best coaches and collated them into a single list called “Good Reads for the Week”
This latest edition is especially good because I’m on the list, click on the image below and his page will open in a new tab:

Click Image to open the site

Click Image to open the site

Rapid Response

This Sunday will see the Rapid Response 1 day Knife Defence Skills workshop being run.
It’s a full day of fluff free, BS free, no nonsense information that is tried and tested effective. There are still a few places available on the day, simply get in touch to book. More info can be found HERE

The next time I’ll be running this will be in Tramore on July 27th, details to follow.

Bodyweight Training

You all know I love me some bodyweight training, I’ve written plenty about it in the past. Well, there’s a guy named Tom Furman, he is also a big fan of the method. I just read an eBook of his titled “Armour of War, Augmented Bodyweight Training and the Art of Minimalism”

My verdict on the book?

Get it.

Click on the image for more info

A no nonsense resource

A no nonsense resource

And that’s me done, I have to go, the Missus just told me Son no 2 is asleep in the toy box and I have to try and get him into his bed…..


Dave Hedges