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

Ask Dave: Should I Prevent My Body Rotating During Swings?

24 03 2014

I had an interesting question the other day from one of the Lunchtime Fitness members.

First of all, I love it when my guys ask me questions, it’s one of the things that makes my job special. When questions come in, either face to face on the training floor or via the internet it challenges me to give the best answer I can, it reminds me that I have an intelligent and curious group of people training with me and that it is my duty to furnish these questions with the best answers I can.

And if I can’t answer, then it highlights a hole in my knowledge that needs plugged.

This particular question comes from a relatively new member to the lunchtime session. He’s a smart lad with a passion for running. He was recommended to take up the kettlebell training to supplement his endurance work.

This particular day I had him performing hand to hand kettlebell swings. As he’s still fairly new, single hand swings are fairly new to him as I like to ensure people have adequate ability with a 2 handed swing before progressing them to the far more valuable single hand versions.

After his set he asks me an excellent question that I feel worthy of sharing:

“See when I’m doing swings with one hand, how do I stop the core from twisting?”

Alright, I paraphrased that a little, but essentially he’s asking how to avoid rotating his spine during single handed swings.

My answer:

You don’t.

As with most things I try to relate my answers to something the asker is familiar with. In this case running.




When I told him that rotation is actually something we should encourage, his interest was piqued. I can assume he’s been doing his homework and has been reading about core stability and how the abdominals are really designed in order to prevent movement and provide stiffness and not to create movement.

But if this is truly the case, how would we:

  • Walk
  • Run
  • Throw
  • Punch
  • Kick
  • Open doors
  • Swing across monkey bars
  • Swim with Front Crawl
  • Swim using Back Stroke
  • or any number of other activities?

You see when we do most of these things we find that our hips and shoulders work in opposition. In other words as our right leg moves forward, rotating our pelvis to the left, then our left arm swings forwards rotating our shoulders towards the right.

In other words the top part of our spine is moving clockwise and the bottom part is moving anti clockwise. The whole thing is being rotated.

But that’s not all.

As that right leg swings forwards, the hip must lift. When the right hip lifts, the right shoulder drops flexing our entire spine to the right.

But, but, but, but, but…….. I read EVERYWHERE on the internet that of my spine flexes and rotates, it’ll explode!!!!

No, it won’t.




Yes, if I’m stupid and take my spine through to its mechanical end range of motion either too fast or with too much load, then yes, it probably will.

If my body is out of alignment already and my spine is unable to move efficiently, then the risks go up.

But if your healthy and build up in a gradual, progressive manner, then training in a manner that encourages rotation in the spine is perfectly healthy. In stead of viewing the core muscles as needing to prevent motion, why not think of them as arresting movement. But if they’re never shown a movement, how can they know when to fire to protect the spine?

If we look at the sport of kettlebell lifting where we have men Snatching 32kg kettlebells and women snatching 24kg bells, one handed for max reps. In competition they’re only allowed one hand change on a ten minute time limit, yet they manage from 150 to 240 reps in that time.

Think of the training volume they must put in doing one handed swings and snatch with a variety of weights. Each swing and snatch involving flexion, extension AND rotation of the spine on every rep, yet the injury rate is incredibly low.
Their mobility is astonishing, their strength tremendous and their endurance the stuff of legends.

But according to the text books, they ought to be crippled.

As the kettlebell passes through several stages of the swing our spine will also move through several stages.
Lets start a the to of the swing, the theoretical end point. For arguments sake, and as we’re using the swing in the context of general fitness, not specific to developing out snatch, we will take the end point as the arm is out parallel to the floor, the bell at chest height.
At this point we are stood tall, the spine extended. Now depending on how far along you are in your kettlebell journey, you will either be standing square with no rotation or if your more advanced, you’ll be rotating towards the bell as your waist and weight bearing shoulder pull back to further accelerate and control the arc.

correct swing technique loading the posterior chain and activating the stretch reflex

OK, not the best illustration i know, but you can see the shoulders turning. I’ll post a short video of my swinging a heavy bell later today!

As the bell drops, we maintain an extended spine until the arm makes contact with the body. At this point we hinge at the hip and follow the bell as it swings through the legs.
Again how you move will depend on how far you are along your kettlebell journey. A beginner will let their shoulders turn slightly here to allow the bell to pass through the legs and load the hamstrings. There will be a twist in the spine caused by the shoulder coming forwards. More advanced lifters will really turn, swing their unloaded hand back resulting in a larger rotation of the spine coupled with a degree of flexion through the upper back.
This all reverses then with the spine extending and rotating back to its start point.

That’s a lot of movement.

This is a good thing and more movement, means more muscles are involved. We’ve a stack of muscle that controls the spine, from the big obvious ones like the lats and abs, to the wee ones like the multifidus. By allowing the spine to move, all these muscles are stimulated to fire, to strengthen, to coordinate and to become more effective.

Yes, being silly with a swing and firing a massive weight back through the legs with sloppy form is going to destroy you. But if you build up gradually, you’ll find that you will naturally swing with less and less conscious control as the body learns to control the load.
In the long run our backs become bullet proofed. It understands its limits, it knows how to rotate, flex and extend while being subjected to some sort of load. It knows where it’s limits lie and to stay just shy of them.

But if you never train to go near these limits, you’ll never know where they are.

This is why the kettlebell has picked up such a reputation for creating bulletproof athletes, guys who are incredibly resistant to injury, who can demonstrate incredible strength and turn their hand to almost anything despite only training with these relatively light weights.

As always, approach with caution and build up slowly.
My personal journey into kettlebell lifting began when I’d blown out my SI joint and a lumbar disk with a linear barbel lift. It was learning the kettlebell lifts and slowly building them up that brought me back to fitness. That was several years ago, since then I’ve competed in several kettlebell sports competitions and also walked a mile whilst swing a 24kg kettlebell hand to hand, that’s approx 1800 consecutive swings non stop!
So you could say I’m a firm believer in training with the bells and allowing the spine to move naturally, but in a safe and progressive manner.


Dave Hedges



1 Leg Romanian Deadlift with an important regression

21 03 2014

I like single leg work.

I think I got into it as I’ve always lived in out of the way places, at least until I landed in Dublin. Out of the way places, means limitations on training facilities.
Even in Dublin, we keep our place minimalistic. We do specialise in Martial Arts so floor space is a premium for, we can’t be cluttering the place up with stacks of equipment.

So Kettlebells and Bodyweight training fits my personal ethos as well as my Gym’s ethos extremely well.

The problem then is getting a good load into the posterior chain in a hip hinge pattern.

Kettles are all about the posterior chain, but in a very ballistic pattern, load and explode.
This is fine, but sometimes we want time under tension, we want controlled tension we may even need to hypertrophy the hamstrings. One thing we definitely need is to improve how the Hamstrings, Glutes and low back work together as a team.
And for that we need the deadlift.

But kettles are light.

No really, they are.

A pair of 40kg kettles may look big and intimidating, but really that’s only the same as a barbell loaded with 2 x 20′s and 2 x 10kg plates. So not much then.

Unless we do the lift standing on one leg….

But then another issue pops up.

Most people are so unstable and out of touch with how their supposed to move from being paid vast sums of money to sit at a desk all day. As soon as we get people to hinge, they try to do it all with their back. And that aint good.
Get them out of that and into a decent hip hinge and we’re usually ok. But sooner or later we want them on one leg, and that’s a big leap forward. A jump that they feel right into their lumbar.
So we have a stepping stone, a half way house.

We take a split stance and instead of doing a 1 Leg RDL, we do a 1 Leg Emphasis RDL.

This allows the person to get a stack of load into their hamstrings and glutes but with enough stability they can keep their back in good shape. When they get used to this, which often times doesn’t take long at all, they can start lifting the back leg and get into the full lift.

This video explains it all for you:

I’m on the final approach now of getting the new eBook, “Fighting Back – How to Reduce Back Pain and Improve your BJJ Game” ready for launch.
Just a few bits to get dialled in and it’ll be ready to go.

As a teaser, check out the incredible cover that my layout dude and graphic designer put together for me:

Almost there!

Almost there!


Dave Hedges


Mobility Matters

11 03 2014

Last weekend was a busy one. My Mum was over for a visit on the very weekend I told her not to come as I was away all day Sunday teaching a workshop. But as usual, if you tell me mum not to come on a certain weekend, guess which weekend she’ll choose to come……?

Anyhow, the workshop

I love teaching workshops, they’re a chance to interact with people at a whole different level, they are set up for teaching and learning as opposed to my regular day duties of coaching.
Of course I always try to educate my clients as I coach them, but not everyone wants that, some just want to break a sweat, others are simply focussed on getting their desired outcome from the training.

A huge part of the weekends workout was about movement and trying to enhance it.

If we take a look at performance we have to recognise that it all starts by moving well, then adding all other attributes on top of that.

After all, if you can’t move freely, you’ll never move optimally.

This is where mobility training comes in.

It’s been a while since I wrote a monday mobility post, but i think I’ll have to get back on that.
But lets stop a moment and consider what mobility is and is not.

Everything we do involves moving. In fact all those muscles you work so hard to build are only there in the first place to move us.
If your training interferes with your movement quality, how useful is it really?

Strength is good
Flexibility is good
Combining them gives us mobility, this is better.

Whatever your training entails that day, start out by doing mobility work to warm up with.

In between sets, don’t sit idle, go through some low level movements, the type that don’t interfere with your recovery and maybe address something your program or your sport misses out.

After the session, do some of the thing your training for.
If you’re a martial artist, do some of your drills, or hit a bag.
If you’re a runner, run a bout, do some sprints.

It’s all well and good lifting weight, but we lift weight to get stronger so we can move with more speed and power. Very often people take up lifting and actually end up with poorer quality of movement than they started. They become “Gym Strong” but not real world strong.

In your gym session, focus on big, full body lifts. Use isolation lifts sparingly and only if absolutely necessary and move in between each set.

I’ll grant that this hasn’t been my best thought out blog post, but it’s a topic i’ve written a lot about on in the past and since taking the Anatomy in Motion courses has been brought back to the forefront of my mind.
In teaching the workshop over the weekend I got to work with people I don’t usually work with and get to see how their training has made them move.
So expect to hear more about mobility and movement over the next few weeks.

Until then, buy yourselves one of these awesome T-Shirts, scientifically proven to increase both your awesomeness and attractiveness by 736%

Click here to get your T-Shirt and give €5 to Mental Health

Click here to get your T-Shirt and give €5 to Mental Health


Dave Hedges

Improving Efficiency and Eliminating Pain

3 03 2014

Hi All,

If you’ve ordered yourself a Mind Over Metal T-Shirt, they arrived in last week but as I was away on a course, I’ve not had chance to get to the post office and send out the ones that can’t be collected.
I’ll be getting on top of this tomorrow, I’ve shirts to send to the four corners of Ireland and even one that’s going out to Canada.

If you haven’t ordered your yet, get on it here:

Click here to get your T-Shirt and give €5 to Mental Health

Click here to get your T-Shirt and give €5 to Mental Health

Now, where was I all week?

I was with a guy called Gary Ward, the creator of the Anatomy in Motion (AiM)  method of physical/movement therapy.
AiM is kind of hard to define, but it fits perfectly with the tag line I use on this website:

“Improving Human Efficiency”

I first heard of AiM when a very smart Physiotherapist friend of mine told me about them and that I ought to look into it. I did and very quickly became an avid reader of their material.

Their philosophy seems to be that the body can heal itself if it’s allowed and encouraged. Something I firmly believe in.
It also revolves around studying the foot and how the health, strength and mobility of the foot affects every joint up the chain.
Anyone who knows me knows I think the Hips and Feet are crucial for athletic performance. Everyone goes on about the hips, but Gary Ward is the first person I’ve come across who really gets the foot.

And he really gets it.

Already after only studying the first two of his 5 module syllabus, my clients are reporting that their old injuries are falling away, their step is springy and their joints are loose.

All from following a few simple exercises that are designed to realign the skeleton and encourage proper muscle function, timing and coordination. The exercises are based on exaggerating specific phases of the gait pattern. Gait, or walking is hard wired into us as human beings, it’s one of the most primal of the primal movement patterns. In fact our foot and pelvis are unique in the animal kingdom to allow us to become the only truly upright biped and able to travel for huge distances.

If we are working at optimising this deep rooted pattern, the effect it has through everything else we do is phenomenal.

Now I just read all that back and it sounds a bit hypey I know.
But after the course where all the attendees were basically treating each other, my own injuries have never felt so good. But still, that tells you nothing.

I’ve been testing the Module 1 info on some of my regulars who’ve all reported improvements. And also Paul Cox who runs the martial arts side of Wild Geese.
Paul’s hip is destroyed with arthritis, I saw the MRI scan he had taken a couple of years ago and it looks like it was designed by Slartibartfast

"Look at me - I design coastlines. I got an award for Norway... I've been doing fjords all my life...for a fleeting moment they become fashionable and I get a major award." — Slartibartfast, Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy

“Look at me – I design coastlines. I got an award for Norway… I’ve been doing fjords all my life…for a fleeting moment they become fashionable and I get a major award.” — Slartibartfast, Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy

Well, after one session Paul managed to get an entire night of undisturbed sleep, first time in years!

I’m not taking credit for this, but the only thing he changed was the addition of the AiM exercises created specific to his needs.

After module two I took one of my girls who has had knee problems on and off since her teens. The result of an old ankle injury.
She’s currently building up the volume on her running in preparation for running three marathons on three consecutive weekends.
Last time she escalated her running, her knee swelled like a balloon.
Since giving her one session with the module two AiM info, she running faster and smoother than ever. The nagging knee pain has completely dissipated and she sent me the following text message:

“feeling more grounded and stable when I walk. Normally I have this rushing posture, leaning forward on my toes. Now I’m using my whole foot and feeling more relaxed. Also much less of a twist side to side of the hips when I jog/walk, something I especially noticed walking down stairs.
Thanks again!”

I’ll be testing the system out more over the coming weeks with my regulars, many of whom are beaten up by a lifetime of hard playing. So expect further reports popping up here.

I’m also now offering this as a service.

The initial AiM appointment will need 90 minutes, if further sessions are needed they may not take as long, but still allow a minimum of an hour.
If this sounds interesting to you, go HERE to book yourself in.


Dave Hedges

Random Monday Musings and Spine Health.

17 02 2014

Having a random thought kinda day here.
I’ve attempted to write a single blog post conveying useful information but have failed each time. So instead here’s a few things that other people have written that you may enjoy and a couple of snippets from my own brain.

1: “Deadlifts are the worst thing you can do for your spine!”

This is a peach of an article from Tony Gentilcore where he takes on the deadlift detractors with some solid facts.

2: Getting Our Stretch On

On Saturday we had a guest instructor visit WG. Lisette Krol of Tribe Dance & Fitness dropped in to teach us a few things about flexibility and show some of the stretching practices she uses.
I gathered together a fine group for her to work on consisting of champion BJJ players, top level Kyokushin Karate instructors, Free Runners, Kettlebell Sports athletes and other assorted lunatics, all of whom were buzzing after the event.
One thing I was impressed with was that her list of the top stretches mirrored my own, she just takes them to Nth degree.
A standout point in my mind, echoed by Gan who owns Tramore Tactical Fitness and Aidan of the IADT Freerunning Society, was the instruction on how to develop the spine and shoulder flexibility. So many of us have terrible rang of motion through our spines, which if you think about it has 24 articulating vertebra or in other words, 24 opportunities to move. Yet we spend so much of our time trying to prevent the spine moving.
Doesn’t make sense.
I’ve worked with many who have hurt their backs getting poor advice from ropey yoga teachers, shit personal trainers and under qualified pilates instructors who had them back bend all wrong. I’ve also dealt with many who’ve spent years trying to stabilise their spine and ended up immobilising it.
Take the adage that “You’re as old as you’re spine is flexible” and have a think on it.
Then give Lisette a shout and visit her flexibility classes.

3: Kettlebell & Bodyweight Training Workshop

The countdown is on, three weeks until I teach my first workshop of 2014.
On March 9th I’ll be showing lesser known variations on Kettlebell lifts and how to combine them with top tier bodyweight drills.
There’s a hell of a lot more to kettles than Turkish Get Ups, Swings, Snatches and Jerks. And if you’re interested in developing strength, power and endurance in multiple planes of motion, you really need to look outside of the standard exercise box.

You can get more info including booking details HERE.


Dave Hedges


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