Holy shit! You killed me with two exercises!

“Holy shit! You killed me with two exercises!” said Andre Ramos Zavatini after a very short sharp shock workout at Wg-Fit

Yup, you read that right, just two exercises.

And neither of them were burpees!

First an introduction.

Andre Ramos is a BJJ black belt, a Capoeira maestro and all round good bloke.
You can find him teaching BJJ out of Lionheart Gym on North Frederick St, Dublin.

Andre is an old friend of Wild Geese and when he needs someone to put him through his paces we’re the first people he calls.

Which is cool, people like Andre are a pleasure to work with. He brings a smile, enthusiasm and a strong work ethic to every session. If you tell him to dig deep, few will dig deeper.

So when he said he only had 15 minutes before he had to go, he was shocked at how much quality work he could do and how much of the body he could work with so few movements in such a short space of time.

What two movements?

1A: 1 Arm Push Up x 5L/R
1B: Farmers Walk x 30m
5 rounds

Thats it.

I’m a huge advocate of one arm push ups for fighters.
The force vectors involved are close to those of a punch, force travelling from one hand through to the opposing foot. This places a huge anti-rotational stress on the core musculature and teaches whole body stiffness.


The Farmers Walk trains everything else, especially if you load it up.

And why wouldn’t you?

Go back and forth with minimal rest and you get this strange urge to breathe heavy, you’re heart rate climbs every higher and you may find yourself leaking.

farmers walk

Sounds a lot like a cardio vascular effect.

Or a stroke…..

Training takes many forms.
The form is dependant on the function.
Define the function and build the training around that.

For Andre today, the function was maximum effect in minimal time, it was strength and work capacity.

Once this was established, the form became clear, big push, big carry, small break.

He knew all about it.

Short sharp shocks built from 2-4 exercises are possibly the best way to condition a fighter.
Not the only way, but definitely one of the best. That’s why they are a frequent go to for any of our fighters prepping for an event.


Dave Hedges


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


Kids who don’t break their toys……..

If you read this blog it’s fair to say you like to train, like to play sport, you push your boundaries and explore your mental and physical limits.

And if you play hard, there’s a damn good chance that you’re going to get hurt.
Injuries are par for the course, we don’t want to get hurt, but it’s an undeniably inevitability. Kids who never break their toys aren’t playing hard enough.

So my mountain bikers are going to stack it on the single track.

My runners are going to go over on their ankles or pull a.hamstring.

My grapplers will land badly from a throw or tap a little too late.

My boxers will test their timing, and get it wrong.

My lifters will do that one rep too many or add one kg too much.

It’s a part of who we are and what we do.

When we’re in our teens and twenties, we’re bulletproof. We bounce. We get injured and are back in the game in no time.
In our thirties we get downgraded to bullet resistant. It takes a little longer to heal, our old injuries come back with interest, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

All we need to do is be aware of our bodies and learn to train accordingly.

Spend more time on mobility.
Do more single leg work.
Focus on training from the core out to the extremities.
Get the rotator cuffs jacked.
And know when to push and when to back off.

There’s almost never a reason to not train.

I’ve trained around many injuries and work with a lot of injured guys. Most of the time we.come back stronger as we take the time to systematically work on our rehab while also targeting our weak areas with targeted training.

Train smart and you can train for life.


Dave Hedges

“This’d Be Great For Building That Monkey Strength……”

“…….You know, getting Monkey Strong, not Powerlifter Strong”


This was the sentence uttered by Peter,  a private client yesterday when I had him doing an unfamiliar exercise.

And yes mate, I know exactly what you mean.

Monkey strong.
We know our closest relative the chimpanzee is many many times stronger than us poor Homo Sapiens.
But not only that, the Chimp is fast, agile and can cover fair distances over a variety of terrain and do it pretty fast.
I don’t have exact figures, pretty much everything I know about chimps comes from the Planet of the Apes movies and David Attenborough shows.

David Attenborough and the Rwandan Gorillas.

David Attenborough and the Rwandan Gorillas.

But they’re strong.

And this seems to be what Peter was getting at.

He’s been around, he’s done the gym, he’s done BJJ and now he’s dealing with an ageing body that no longer wants to do all the things his mind thinks it still can.
His shoulders are bollixed and his hip is fighting off the arthritis.

But he’s determined to grow old disgracefully. My job is to help him.

So we had him working some pressing strength. Not easy with shoulders like his.

But there’s an exercise that may not build absolute maximal strength, like the type displayed by power lifters, but will build “monkey strength”

It’s called the Half Kneeling Angled Barbell Press.

Jam one end of a bar into the corner, or a landmine jobbie or as I do, an old car tyre.
Load the other end.
Get down on one knee, the loaded end of the bar held at that same side.
Squeeze your glute for all it’s worth, lift the chest up, anchor the shoulder down and press that bar out.

Here’s my Canadian buddy Adrian Crowe doing some Angle BB Pressing:

That’s the angle barbell press.

It’s easy on dodgy shoulders if you’re strict while still allowing significant loading.
It asks a lot of assistance from the abdominals and glutes.
It puts some length into the hip flexors.

It pretty much ties together the entire torso, training it to act as a unit. Which is where the “monkey strength” reference came from I guess.

I use angle barbell work a lot with my fighters, their shoulders need to be taken care of and integrated “monkey strength” is far more important than simple, bilateral maximal strength like in a bench press. In fact I feature it in the Fighting Back eBook aimed at the BJJ community.

Click the image for more info

Click the image for more info

I highly recommend you try this lift.


Dave Hedges

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

Kettlebell and other workshops, CLICK HERE


3 Training Points for Bulletproofing the BJJ player

I work with a good amount of martial arts guys, many of whom train BJJ.

This isn’t news, I know, I mention it a lot.

Romulo Barral having his knee checked out

Romulo Barral having his knee checked out

But today I was working with a very experienced practitioner and we ended up chatting about the sport and its effect on the body.

Due to the nature of the game, BJJ is very much an upper body game. The legs are usually trained for flexibility and little more.

Yet most players fall victim to lower body injury. Knees are commonly injured, hips are stressed and the low back gets hammered.

It’s the reason I wrote Fighting Back in the first place, as more and more of the lads were coming to me with a very un-manly complaint of low back pain.
Why mention “un-manly” because they lads are proud of the shoulder pain they received as they resisted and escaped that submission attempt, the knee was hurt when so and so did this super-mega-awesome sweep.
But the back, well that just niggles away.

But there is a way around this, in fact three ways.

1 – Stop doing crunches for abs

2 – Open up those hip flexors

3 – Learn to deadlift, swing and squat

For abdominal strength, switch to various plank style drills.
A favourite version of the plank is the push up, I highly recommend this, especially if you utilise the posterior pelvic tilt as described in the clip below. If you simply hold the top of the push up, then that’s a plank. Here’s the clip:

For hip flexors, try Tom Furmans Activate Bridge.
It’s incredibly effective at opening the hip flexors via the process of reciprocal inhibition. By bridging up and pushing against the band we get a deep contraction in the glutes our hip extensors, which will allow the hip flexor to relax for a while.
The active stretch in between puts some length into the muscle before it begins to tighten up again.
Have a watch here:

If you wrap a resistance band or your belt around your knees and push out against it, the result skyrockets.

And then get strong. Like proper strong.
And there’s doubt that real strength comes from training the Deadlift, supported by the kettlebell swing.
Learn to squat deep, all the way down until the calves touch the hamstrings. Learn to rest in this squat position, move around in this position before we start to load it up.
I wrote a series on the knee which you can get hold of HERE

These few points can be done around your regular BJJ training, for example, open the hip flexors prior to training.
After training hit the deadlifts followed by a super set of Kettlebell Swings and Planks.

Or do a dedicated gym session 2-3 days per week.

You’re back and knees will thank you for it.

If you want to know more about the topic, don’t forget to check out the Fighting Back book

Click the image for more info

Click the image for more info


Dave Hedges

Minimal Training, Maximal Results

Once again the blog has been a bit on the barren side.

It seems that it is now October and Autumn has set in, last time I looked up It was the start of September and the Missus and I were preparing our kids to start back at school.

The last 4 weeks have been off the wall.

Off the wall in a good way, but off the bloody wall!

While my group classes have been a little quite of late, but hell, with the unseasonally good weather, why wouldn’t people want to be outside, but my private/semi-private services have been nuts.
Add to that the weekend workshops and September has been a blur.

That said, even though time has been against me, I feel I’ve made great gains in strength and mobility.


By taking on a minimalist training program built around the big rocks and then taking movement breaks whenever I can.

Lets explain.

The big rocks of training:

Upper Body Push
Upper body Pull
Lower Body

In my case they’ve comprised of:
Dips on the rings
Pull ups, again on the rings
Back Squats


As I have good mobility I can use a high bar position on the squat to go full range, ie my hamstrings touch my calves on every rep.
If you can’t et this deep, you’ll need to add in some extra work on the hamstring/glute with some kind of deadlift.

These three drills, hit 3-5 times per week with high intensity in the 3-5 rep range, albeit never to failure have helped with strength and muscle density.
Working the rings has been lovely on my old dicky shoulder.

Now for movement breaks.

Before you say it, yes I spend all day every day in my own gym, so I can train whenever I want to. While you are stuck behind a desk or whatever it is that you do to earn a crust.

But we all work.

Yes I work in a training environment, but I’m still short on time and have a family life to get home to.

This is where the concept of exercise breaks comes into its own.

It’s ridiculously simple.

Whenever you have 5-10 minutes, get down on the floor and move.

That’s it.

You may be working on specific actions, I do a fair bit of crawling and hanging. Sometimes I move into and out of various bridge type positions or work hand stand progressions.
Maybe it’s merely a few reps, other times its several minutes of unbroken motion.

Hovering is an advanced form of movement....

Hovering is an advanced form of movement….

All in, I think I train three days for around 40 minutes at a time, and then accumulate another maybe 30 or so minutes per day of non specific movement work.

If you’re a busy person, and lets face it who isn’t, this is more than adequate to keep you strong and healthy.

When you have the concept of exercise breaks down, the idea of not having time to train goes straight out the window.

Try it for yourselves.


Dave Hedges

How to Develop a Wheelie Strong Anterior Core

I know, terrible pun, but forgive me…….

Core strength is important.

No news there eh?

For years now the emphasis has been on developing the posterior chain strength, which is basically your hips, hamstrings and back. This includes your core with a posterior emphasis.

The strength and fitness industry as a whole pretty much threw out all anterior core work outside of planks and turkish get ups.

But as good as these movements are, their still not enough. Our anterior core, aka “da six pack” deserves more.

This is where the Ab Wheel roll out comes in.

If you deadlift, squat, swing snatch, then this is the opposite action.

The reason I like so much is simple.
It keeps the spine relatively neutral, which is good news for many people with a forward flexed posture, thunk of your fighting posture or even how you sit at your desk.
It loads the abdominals in a lengthened position. What the hell does that mean?

It means that as the wheel rolls out, it is stretching out the abdominals and the lats, while at the same time loading them. This pretty close to the way in which the abdominals fire in real world movement, the muscles are usually stretch loaded prior to firing. Have a look at this thrower to see what I mean:



What do you think, has she stretched out the anterior chain, including the abdominals in order to generate more power for that throw?
Now what if you were throwing a punch or a person?

There are a few important pointers that you must adhere to in order to both keep the spine safe and also get the most out of the exercise.

This video shows how it ought to be done:


Once the basic gets easy we have a few ways to progress the drill:

“Pennate Roll Outs”


Decline Roll Outs


Standing Roll Outs to a Ramp

Obviously the standing roll out is serious work, so be sure to have a solid base of kneeling work before even attempting it.
On any variation, stay within your safe range of motion, if you lose control at any point, then simple drop to the floor, trying to save it can put tremendous strain into the lower back.

This cheap piece of kit is highly underrated but if used well can and will build some serious core strength and give balance to a body.


Dave Hedges

If you want to know more about strength training for BJJ,check out the Fighting Back eBook:

Click for more info

Click for more info

Which includes a discount code for the new Fighting Back Rash Guard

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