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:



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

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


On not letting your mind control the show

The mind and how powerful it is is never far from my, well, mind.

Things like the placebo effect, which is very very real.

The Nocebo effect, which is its opposite.

Things like will power.




All these things never stray far from my thought process for long.

Why am I writing this now?

Well a week or so ago I playing with one of our BJJ lads, helping him get an entry through a barrage of punches and kicks.

After a while he succeeded in getting in without taking too big a shot and affected a double leg takedown.
Now he wasn’t handed the takedown, he had to take it.

We went down, I pulled him with me and his shoulder landed with pretty much all his bodyweight into my upper chest. I felt a wee pop.

We rolled a bit and he got an armbar.

About 20 minutes later i had searing pains in my chest around where he landed.

A visit to the physio and I was told I’d probably subluxed or dislocated my clavicle (collarbone) from its joint with the sternum.

I’m fairly tough (read: stoopid) so the pain isn’t too big an issue, but the restrictions in range of motion and the fact that my performance is negatively effected until we sort this annoys me.

But now the point to the post.

In the hospital when I went to get Xrays and see the orthopaedic, I was in more pain and discomfort than either at home or in Wild Geese.

Top is before, bottom is after a bit of manipulation, you can see the clavicle on the left isn't the same as the one on the right.

Top is before, bottom is after a bit of manipulation, you can see the clavicle on the left isn’t the same as the one on the right.

Movements in the consultation room with the Doc hurt more than when I was anywhere else.
Sitting in the waiting room was more uncomfortable than sitting anywhere else.

Same body, same injury, even the same day.
Different mind.

You see in the hospital I was the patient, I was there to be treated. At home or in the Gym I’m the Alpha and in control of my environment. But in the hospital I let that go and surrendered to their environment.

And in doing so my symptoms got a whole lot worse, when they told me that they weren’t going to do anything about it, I got upset, not a happy bunny at all.

Now today, writing this, I don’t give  a fuck. I’m back being the Alpha and so I’m doing some training according to how my body feels, I’m working on weak links, bringing up neglected areas and being productive.

Instead of suffering through an injury, I’m working around it.

By the time that SC joint is fixed and as my physio would say “rugby ready” I’ll have gotten my pistol squat back to at least as good as it ever was, probably better. I’ll have built my rotator cuffs up to near bulletproof standard and my core will be like iron.
I’m even considering doing some work on the ol’ gun show to keep the missus happy.

All productive stuff, all stuff that I usually don’t do as I’m training for other things. But as, for the time being, hoisting heavy iron, or lifting kettles overhead is firmly off the table, why not play with bodyweight and isolation stuff?

We all have good and bad days. We all have times where shit happens and things aren’t going our way.

I’ve had plenty of those, and I’m sure there’ll be plenty more to come.
But using this shoulder injury as an example, we can still find the silver lining to the problem. We can find the wiggle room in which we can still work.

Don’t let your head beat you.

what are you made of

Look for the little advantages, there’s always something.


Dave Hedges



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

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