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


Bullet Proofing the Body with Bodyweight & Kettlebell Lifts

In the midst of all the excitement talking about the launch of my Kettlebell Instructor Cert, I’ve almost forgotten to promote the workshop I’ll be teaching down at Dolan Fitness in Tullamore in a little over a week.

On June 2nd, I’ll be at Kieran’s gym teaching what we’ve titled “Creating the Complete Athlete with Bodyweight and Kettlebell Training”

That’s a pretty fancy title.

But it actually reflects the training that is most often overlooked by many in the strength and conditioning world.

An athlete needs to be strong, this is an irrefutable fact. And there is no better tool for developing maximal strength than with the barbell. If a training program doesn’t revolve around Squats, Deadlifts, a big Press and an olympic variation, then perhaps you should re-evaluate your training program.

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

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

But those lifts all one dimensional, they challenge you in a single plane and are all performed standing still.

Get out of the gym and into the real world and it all changes, you become challenged from every conceivable angle, you have to generate force from weird positions for unknown amounts of time and an unknown number of repetitions.
Just how many tackles will you make in that rugby match with how much of a rest in between them?
How many kicks will you throw in the ring?
At what point during that clinch stalemate will you get to explode into a flurry of action to gain the upper hand?

These are all questions an athletic training program needs to be prepared to answer.

This is why my athletes training programs have a heavy emphasis on bodyweight training and kettlebell lifts.

I’m no fan of the phrase “functional training” I believe it’s lost all meaning since it entered the mainstream fitness world. But I do believe that there are few better ways to achieve the ability to develop fitness in a manner that can be applied to your sport than with the use of bodyweight and kettlebells.

Develop power and power endurance with bodyweight training

Develop power and power endurance with explosive bodyweight training

The reasons?

Well, training with your bodyweight requires at the most basic level, a high degree of physical awareness, proprioception, balance and core strength.
Every exercise you do will involve moving a large portion of yourself through space.
You can train motions that require rapid changes in direction, changes in height, locomotive patterns and movements that replicate the force vectors of your sport.

Full body strength and coordination focused around the core

Full body strength and coordination focused around the core

Add a kettle, an implement that is used in repetitive swinging type lifts that utilise the stretch reflex and the elastic nature of the fascial network and you start to bullet proof a body.

Between the two methodologies and a principle based training program, I haven’t found any better way to get my athletes frighteningly strong but with the mobility and endurance to match that strength and the structural integrity to shrug off injury.

Be sure to drop an email either to me on or Kieran on

The day will be practical in nature, so bring some water as well as a notepad, pen and an open mind.

See you there


Dave Hedges



Bodyweight Minimum Standards, How Do You Measure Up?

What a weekend!

Saturday just gone I was over in Galway teaching the Bodyweight Workshop.
Sunday I was with Wild Geese Martial Arts founder, Paul Cox where we presented at the Filipino Martial Arts Exchange, then when I got home, the wife and I took a rare night out together at the movies where we saw Mama.
The Missus spent most of the movie clinging onto me with one hand and shielding here eyes with the other hand. Big scaredy cat!


But anyhow, back to the workshops..

Galway was cool.
I’ve run the bodyweight workshop in a few gyms now and always been blown away but the response I got from the attendees. In each workshop, at least half the attendance are instructors and coaches in their own right, and still they leave blown away by the possibilities of training with zero equipment.

Duckwalks - feeling the buuuurn!

Duckwalks – feeling the buuuurn!

Now I’ll admit, we did digress once or twice and grabbed the odd bit of kit to illustrate a point or show how to progress a movement by adding external resistance, but the majority of the work requires nothing more than your body and few feet of floor space.
The best thing is that when I created the workshop I actually wasn’t that confident that the first half would stand up to scrutiny, after all, how long can we talk about a simple Push Up and a Bodyweight Squat?

Well? How long?

An entire hour on each movement is how long. And that’s not even going into mad variations. We take the movement and dissect it, we strip it back to its absolute foundations, look at regressions, common errors and then progressions. The progression we build to are the unilateral versions, the Pistol squat and One Arm Push Up.

What makes the day workshop special is that it seems this level of technical detail in these simple exercises is largely missing, or possibly more accurately, it’s forgotten.
Very few people give these movements their due.

And that is a problem.

Each time I run the course, I have some very experienced gym goers and athletes humbled by these exercises that are considered basic.
Watching a person doing a Push Up or doing a Squat can tell a story. It shows limitations, structural imbalances and body awareness. It gives an idea of how well a person can move athletically.

So here’s a few minimum standards for these bodyweight exercises, see if you can pass them. Remember, quality is key here, I won’t accept half reps, poor quality reps, so neither should you. Accept nothing less than perfection.

And before you go on, no, I’m not perfect, some of these I struggle to meet:

Elbow Plank – Minimum acceptable standard: 2 minutes

Push Up – 50 real reps (25 for women), chest will touch the floor between the hands and the arms will come straight on each and every rep. Keep the spine in neutral throughout, that means no sagging heads or backs. (I rarely do high rep push ups, so don’t know if I can still do this. I’ll check this week..)

Bodyweight Squats – 500 reps, full range ie hamstrings meet the calves on each rep. Keep the feet flat, although 500 Hindu squats is also good.

Wrestlers Bridge – Weight on the forehead, for 1 minute. (This one gets me!)

Single leg bridge – 50 reps per leg, from floor to full hip hyperextension.

Pull Ups – overhand grip for 15 (5 for women) full reps. I give slight rider on these, I don’t expect guys to relax into a dead hang at the bottom, as that messes with my shoulder so I don’t like it as a technique. Keep the shoulders retracted the whole time.

Once you have these, try then the following:

One Arm Push Ups x 10 each hand.
Pistol Squats x 20 each leg

20 of these per leg please.

20 of these per leg please.

Just to reiterate, quality must come before quantity.
Do your bodyweight numbers add up?

Next week I’m up in Crossfit Causeway teaching Kettlebell Technique. That’s going to be a blast!

See you there!



Train to BE Good, not just LOOK Good

Don’t think bodyweight training is cool?

Check this out!

Awesome eh?

Did you notice the meatheads in the background? Did you see them looking on with bemusement?
I’ve actually had that happen to me when I’ve trained in a commercial gym.

It always amuses me that being able to move our own bodies with control, power and coordination causes such confusion. After all isn’t this the point of training in the first place?

Yet almost everyone goes to the gym and remains as stationary as possible for their training, we even have chairs to sit in for shoulder presses!
There’s even machines to sit on so we can train our legs. Think about that for a moment.

A machine designed to help you move as little as possible

A machine designed to help you move as little as possible

To get the very muscles that propel us over great distances or at great speed, we sit down. Where’s the logic?

Most are training just to look good standing still.

But we don’t live life standing still. We don’t interact with others standing still. We don’t fight standing still. We don’t kick a field goal standing still.

All these things require us to move our body though space.
They require coordination, not just of our limbs, but of our mind and body, of our central nervous system and of each muscle fibre firing at the right time in the right sequence.

Now we’re not talking about specific athletic skills, no boxer ever got good at throwing a punch without throwing thousands of punches.
We are talking about general physical ability or athleticism.

I have worked with many “gym bunny” athletes. Guys who do the whole stationary training thing. Guys who have bulging muscles that look the business but just don’t deliver when it counts.
After a few weeks of bodyweight based training, they ALWAYS report improvements in their athletic prowess. They move better, more fluidly, quicker and with less joint stress.

I’m not saying we don’t let then use weights, of course we do. But when we have them lift, they do so on their feet. We reinforce the lessons learned with bodyweight training by loading those same movements.
We increase the load by adding external resistance in the form of Kettlebells or Barbells, especially for lower body and total body strength. But for upper body strength I mostly change the leverage or the intensity of a bodyweight drill.

A push up can become a plyometric push up or better yet a one arm push up.
In my opinion, unless the athlete requires additional mass, the one arm push up is the absolute best upper body training drill.
Combine that with pull ups and there’s little else needed to build a powerful torso that will deliver in under any circumstance.

Here’s some footage from my Bodyweight Training Workshop detailing how we progress an athlete into the One Arm Push Up:

I’m running this workshop next over in Galway Kettlebells on Feb 23rd.
The day is dedicated to the mastery of bodyweight fundamentals and their progressions into ore advanced exercises. We also finish the day with Animal and Martial Arts based moves, some of which are featured in the showcase clip at the start of this post.

If you need to revitalise your training, improve athleticism, develop agility and move with the ease and grace of a professional fighter, drop me a line as places are limited.
For details on the workshop CLICK HERE



Develop Cat Like Agility with Animal Movements

Last week I asked my facebook members what they would like to work on in their training.
I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of people who included Agility as one of their answers.

Too many attend gyms, lift weights, get stronger and leaner and in doing so become locked into the movement patterns they train the most. It’s not just the gym population but runners, cyclists and even many martial artists.

People become locked into the movements that they train in the gym at the expense of all other natural movements.
Hence we have cyclists who can’t run or jump. We’ve Judo/Jiu Jitsu players who walk around hunched over, we have strength athletes that can’t lift their arms over head and so on, so forth.

So to hear people recognising that agility is an important part of fitness makes my heart sing!
If you play a “chaotic” sport, such as rugby, Mixed Martial Arts and a few others that require constant changes in posture, changes in direction, height changes, speed & power generation in a variety of directions, then you’re probably going to be fairly agile already. But most sports are becoming more and more contrived, meaning the people that play them are becoming more and more locked into certain movement patterns which leads to losses in mobility and as a result agility.

And that’s those who play sports. What about those that simply lift for general fitness/aesthetics?
I was at another friends gym a while ago and was surprised at her own lack of athletic movement even though her I highly rate her strength training routines and the aesthetic results they give.

But without an athletic outlet, you simply end up looking good while standing still.  For me, that’s just not good enough, we need to look good in motion. We need fluid, cat like movements, not stiff muscle bound actions.

And the best way to do this?
With animal based bodyweight drills.

Animal movements have been a staple of traditional martial arts conditioning since day dot. And for good reason.
Animals run, jump, crawl, roll and simply enjoy their bodies. Animals don’t “train” they play.
And while, yes, we do need progressively programmed training, we must never forget to spend time playing.

Animal movements invite us to get on all fours and crawl, to roll, to spin, to jump and to flow.
and while they are doing so they train the body to move in various directions, not just the saggital plane.
They are joint mobility, they are asking for strength and power to be produced in unusual directions, re wiring the nervous system, developing coordination, endurance and with gentle persistence, agility.

During this Sundays bodyweight workshop I’ll be sharing a host of animal based drills taken from the Asian martial arts that ask you to roll, crawl and jump, forwards, backwards and with a little imagination can be combined into universal patterns.
All while having a bit of fun.

There are still a few places available.

Event: Bodyweight Workshop – Equipment free strength & fitness from the martial arts and more.
Location: Wild Geese, Magennis Place, Pearse St, D2
Times: 1000 – 1600
Cost: €50pp
To Book: email



How to use Bodyweight Training for Athletic Power

You all know I love bodyweight training.
There’s something special about moving freely powerfully and unheeded by anything external. It’s just you against gravity.

When you train with bodyweight movements it brings about a superior level of body awareness, a level of athleticism and an aspect of playfulness that you just don’t get with other training formats.
Of course, I use kettlebells and barbells, but no matter what I’m working on, or what my clients are working on, there is always a good deal of bodyweight training in our programs.

Considering most of my guys are involved in contact sports, be that the array of martial artists I train, the rugby players or the GAA lads, it’s clear that strength, power, and agility would be priorities. But also my triathletes and runners seriously benefit from the increased agility, core strength and body awareness brought about by moving their own bodies through space in a variety of patterns.

The problem with bodyweight lies in loading. How do we recruit the high threshold muscle fibres, how do we develop real strength and power as opposed to simply doing endless sets of push ups and crunches a la most bodyweight programs?

Well the answer lies in changing the leverage of the body to both increase the workload on the target muscles and also boost the intramuscular coordination as the body struggles even harder to stabilise itself.

Check out this video of an upper body strength set I recently performed after a Kettlebell Pressing set.
In it I use a very tough variation of the one arm push up, starting from the bottom position, each hand change I add an extra rep. Here I do a ladder of 1L/R, 2L/R, 3L/R. That was enough!
In between I do some Lever lifts, a powerful drill for core strength, proprioception, the lats, the serratus and much more.

Here’s the clip:

One arm push ups are a standard for all my fighters. Take another look at my body position during the push up. The slight lateral curve of the spine the drive from the hip, though the torso finishing in a powerful extension of the shoulder and arm. Visualise the same movement but stood up, it’s a punch. A big right cross.

But what about the legs? How do we develop explosive power through the lower body?
Well, my go to drill for this is the Knee Jump, or as we call them, the “Monica” after one of our members (long story..)

The “Monica” starts from a dead stop and relies on a very powerful explosive contraction from our hips to propel us upwards from a kneeling position to our feet. You cannot perform this drill slowly, only genuinely explosive power will get the drill done. And for a contact athlete, thats a vital skill to have.
In this video I show the Monica and how we increase it’s effectiveness by combining it with other jumping and plyometric drills.

Watch the clip below:


None of these drills are easy, they don’t suit beginners, but if you train hard and need to bring your athletic performance to the next level, add these in.

I’ll be teaching these and much more during the Bodyweight Training Workshop this Sunday 2nd December.
Places on the workshop are limited, so be absolutely sure to book your place asap:

Event: Bodyweight Workshop – Equipment free strength & fitness from the martial arts and more.
Location: Wild Geese, Magennis Place, Pearse St, D2
Times: 1000 – 1600
Cost: €50pp
To Book: email