The ONLY Thing That Works

Over the last few weeks we’ve had:

Maria win 2 gold medals at recent IUKL Kettlebell Sport World Championships in Korea


Aneta win Bronze at the Kyokushin World Union World Championships in Russia


We’ve also had members get their first pistol squat, PR their Deadlift, shave time of their runs

 


How?

Consistency

Its not really the programs I write or the exercises you do
Its really about showing up day in and day out and getting on with it.
Some days you won’t feel like it.

I’ve seen both Maria and Aneta almost drag themselves onto the training floor and struggle through their warm up

The same as anyone else

We all have days we don’t want to.

So we ask The question, what do we want more?

Do we want to be a better version of ourselves, are we willing to do the work and make forward progress, no matter how big or small the progress will be?
Or do want to stay as we are?

Not an easy question for some.

But Just like that Pull Up, the more consistently you do it, the easier it becomes.

Consistency is the ONLY thing that works

So while we may be on the wind down now, getting in some much needed rest during the Xmas break in a couple of weeks.
Are you thinking about the progress you have made this year, the barriers you have broken down and what the next stage in your personal evolution is going to be?

If you have, give me a shout, I want to hear about it

Regards
Dave Hedges
www.WG-Fit.com

 

Monday Mobility: The Cossack Squat

It’s been a while since we had a Monday Mobility post.

This is a commonly seen exercises, one that carries a great many benefits.

But to get those benefits proper form must be followed.

Which if you’re on the tight side, can very tricky to accomplish.

This video shows the two most common methods we employ to get the most out of this drill

If you get stuck at a particular level that you simply can’t seem to get past, you may need to investigate why.
It could be old injuries, specific joint mechanics or simply a lack of strength.

As you progress you should find your flexibility advances, squats become easier and you gain agility.

Have fun with this.

And of you have questions, ask away

Regards

Dave Hedges
www.wg-fit.com

Build Durable Fingers and Wrists, Save your Elbows

In our Motion Is Lotion and Indian Clubs classes we usually spend a bit of time on hand and wrist mobility.

Of all the subjects I go on about, this one topic that people tend to brush under the carpet and ignore.

We seem to take our hands for granted.

And I want you to stop it.

Especially if:

  • You’re a kettlebell lifter
  • You’re a fighter / martial artist
  • You’re a callisthenics enthusiast
  • You’re a “mover”
  • You lift heavy stuff
  • You have hands

Try this…

Pull your sleeve up so you can see your forearm, now wiggle your fingers.
See the forearm muscles dance?

Hands have very little space in them, so all the big work muscle is kept in the forearm.

Which means if you have elbow and shoulder pain, it behoves you to check out what is going on down in the hand and wrist.

Especially if your training / sport involves a lot of gripping and / or pulling.

If you have to bear weight into your hands an wrists, or take impact through them, this should all be a no brainer.

Fortunately, the worlds of gymnastics and traditional Asian martial arts have a solid library of techniques you can apply that will not only stretch, mobilise but also add strength to the tissues that move our hands and wrists.

Techniques that can, and very often do, clear elbow pain (assuming that pain is not from the shoulder and / or neck)

A lot of Tennis / Golfers elbow can be helped by strengthening the fingers, hands and wrists and removing excess tension in the finger flexors.

I have for you a video, it is 20 minutes long.

a Video course

If you buy this video you will learn all the aforementioned training drills, which I suggest you add into warm ups and active rest periods in the gym.

The video is hosted on Vimeo on Demand, which means when I update it (which I’m already looking at) you will have access to that update at no extra cost. As long as the page exists, you are in.

Enough of the sales pitch crap, here’s the link:

Honestly, I can’t stress the value of this stuff enough.

Like I said, mosty folk choose to ignore this until it’s too late.

Are you going to be different?

Regards

Dave Hedges
www.WG-Fit.com

Office Closed? Gym Closed? No Problem!

Today we have a weather warning

Hurricane Ophelia, Irelands largest storm in 50 years is just hitting the south of the country and will move north over the day.

Schools are closed and many businesses have opted not to open today.

Which means many of you will be at home twiddling your thumbs wondering how you’re going to get your customary training session in.

And the answer is, yes, of course you can.

Many of my members have their own Kettlebells at home, so they’re fine.
But what if you don’t?

No panic, you still have many options.

In recent years there’s been a huge resurgence of bodyweight training thanks to the rise of “movement”
A quick youtube search will throw up countless exercises for you to play with. I have a stack of tutorials on my own youtube and vimeo channels.

For strength you can’t go wrong with the simple basics:

  • Single Leg Squat, be that a split squat, lunge, Skater Squat or Pistol
  • Push Up, from your knees, plank style, one arm, divebomber, feet elevated….

Pick a variation that keeps you in single figures, and knock out several sets, all below failure.
For example, you can manage 8 high quality Divebomber Push Ups.
You will perform 4-6 sets of around 5 reps.

Simple.

Then what?
Lets get the heart rate up a bit.

Set a timer, 45 sec work, 15 sec breaks x 20 rounds.
We’re going to do a 20 minute circuit.

1: Crawl
2: Reverse Lunge
3: Mountain Climbers
4: Hindu Squats
you’ll hit each of these 5 times in the 20 minutes
If you have no space to crawl, simply lift opposing limbs off the floor, like that funny looking Lizard in the desert….

So there you go.

A hurricane survival workout for you.

Now, stay safe and enjoy your day off.

Regards

Dave Hedges

Of, and I suppose this is an opportune moment to plug my bodyweight training manual which is older than my Divebomber video above!!
But, as bodies haven’t changed, the exercises haven’t either
Have a look:

No Equipment, No Excuses - Bodyweight Training for the Home, Office or on the Road

Breathing, an instruction manual

Breathing

Breathe in

Breathe out

Repeat

All is well right?

So far anyway.

But then you go for a run.
Or you pull a heavy deadlift
Or swing a kettlebell a bunch of times
Or do a few rounds of sparring

And suddenly that breathing thing doesn’t seem so simple.

I encourage you not to take anything for granted.

Even the ability to breathe.

Its odd how much the most important things for our survival are so misunderstood and taken for granted.
Eating, sleeping, walking and breathing as prime examples.

But breathing.

If you follow my work you should already be aware of a variety of breathing styles depending on the activity at hand.

But as always, anytime there are differing “styles” in anything, it behooves you to look past the differences and pick out the similarities.

Breath in
Breath out
Eccentric
Concentric

Those last two terms are used to describe muscle action. And muscles are involved in breathing.

Which is a good thing.

Here’s a quick guide to breathing:

AT REST
Or during every day activity.
Breath via the nose, the sinuses. Keep the mouth gently closed and allow the tongue come to rest naturally on the roof of the mouth.
Notice the words “rest” and “natural(ly)

If we’re doing simple stuff, we don’t need to be panting like a dog doing our best to catch flies.

Read books on Buteyko breathing.

Doing Cardio
As above as much as possible.
Cardio training takes place at “conversation pace” It’s low intensity
Use this to practice nasal breathing so it gets to become the default setting at rest.

If you’re working too hard to nasal breathe either slow down or open your mouth to get over the hump, then shut it again.

High Intensity
Short duration high intensity work, a la interval and circuit type work requires higher levels of gas exchange.

Use a sharp exhale, blow out hard.

This triggers a stretch reflex type action in the diaphragm and guess what?

By ignoring the in breath and focusing solely on the out, you end up balancing the O2 and CO2 in a way that keeps you going harder and prevents fatigue at least in the short term.

During rest periods and immediately afterwards, continue the exhale only breathing.

Heavy lifting.
Valsalva and power breathing.
We need to maximise intra abdominal pressure.
So inhale, hold onto it, tighten the body, feel the pressure increase. Exhale only as you approach the lockout of the lift.

 

Chaotic environments
Such as the ring or the rugby field.
Do the best you can
Chances are if you’ve spent the time on each of the above, you will fall into the most appropriate style.

But don’t forget:
Breathe in
Breathe out
And always breathe out more than you breathe in

Regards

Dave Hedges
www.wg-fit.com

This post originally appeared in my Online Training Group on Facebook.
If you’d like to know more about this service, drop me a line:

When you work out the breathing, you can get away with so much

Had a great conversation yesterday with a client who came back after a lay off.

This lad is a regular guy, wears a suit to work, wife, two kids, just wants to feel better, move better and play with his kids.

He’d been missing for a while, as happens as his job gets quite intense and often sends him away on business trips.

So when he was in yesterday going through his program, I kept an extra bit of an eye on him.

And yes, you could see the rust, but not to the extent I was expecting.

Chatting after the session he said:

“When you work out the breathing, you can get away with so much!”

I could have high fived him!

Breathing is THE most fundamental element we have to work.

My thought process has always been to look for the commonalities between methods, styles systems etc.

Look at what all the various schools teach and see what links them.

The differences are unimportant to me, the similarities are the gold, that’s where the truth lies.

And all good training systems from Powerlifting to Kettlebell Lifting, Pilates to Punching People all have strong thoughts on how to breathe.

It’s a topic that often comes up in the WG-Fit Online Training Group and my in person clients are forever listening to me harp on about.

I’ll talk about specific breathing practices for specific outcomes in tomorrows blog

Regards

Dave Hedges
www.WG-Fit.com

 

How to Apply Elite Level Training to Your Training

 

At the highest level of any endeavour is where the best info lies.

Reading about and watching videos of the training of top UFC fighters, Pro Mountain Climbers, Elite Kettlebell Sports guys is inspiring and informative.

But is it applicable to the lower levels?
At the principle level, abso-fucking-lutely

The methodology may not be applicable, in many cases what the elites do would be way beyond the capabilities of the everyman.
That’s why they’re elite.

But the principles are the same.

Principles don’t care where they’re being applied.

Are you in an unfamiliar environment with unfamiliar kit?
Maybe
Does that change the principles of how to do what you’re doing?
No.

Taking the time to do things well ultimately winds up with those things being done faster, stronger, better.

So take time.

Regards

Dave Hedges
www.Wg-Fit.com

Attitude and Standards, this shit is important!

A few points on Standards and Attitude that have been inspired by the last few days in Facebookland.

Lets start with a Meme one of my online clients made using one of my favourite soundbytes:

In all my days I never once thought I’d end up as a motivational meme.

Lets get to the point:

  • Standards are goals to strive for
  • If standards are lowered, they are no longer STANDARD, they become variable
  • Not all standards are achievable by everybody.
  • But that shouldn’t stop you trying
  • Attitude is your willingness to work to your max
  • Attitude is your willingness to step up
  • Attitude has nothing to do with ability
  • Your attitude to training is probably the biggest indication of your potential to improve

In a nutshell, that’s it.

Attitude trumps talent.

Some of the specimens in the gym that you look up to or get intimidated by are outliers, naturals, genetically gifted.
Your only chance to get to where they are is through attitude.

And if you have the genetics and the attitude, then the world is your oyster.

I have over the years witness people with little talent, few natural abilities but a bucket load of attitude metamorphose into real bonafide athletes purely because they had attitude in spades and held themselves to the highest of standards.

And I’ve seen talented individuals waste their ability because they expected standards to apply to everyone else except them.

 

 

 

4 Things I Learned In the 9 Years of Wg-Fit

My family and I just celebrated our oldest sons 9th birthday.

And while it’s incredible to believe that my boy is now 9, his lifespan so far is also the story of WG-Fit.

My journey from my old career into my current career had just begun when my then girlfriend, now wife, became pregnant.

Paulie and I were running Wild Geese as a bit of a hobby.

But when Son no 1 was born, so was Wild Geese Fitness Training.

Or to put it another way:

Shit just got real!

So from running a few kettlebell and circuit training classes 9 years ago to running a flat out training service that includes injury rehab, Kettlebell Sports, Athlete Preparation, personal training and drop in group sessions.


What have I learned along the way?

1: Training programs and exercise selection are not nearly as important as we think they are.

Now I can see how some of you will look at this and think WTF!?! Dave’s lost the plot, but let me run with this.

Dan John said it best, “Everything works some of the time, nothing works all of the time”
Which really takes the pressure of.
All we really do is give our clients ways to progressively overload their system in order to stimulate super compensation.
In other words, they recover to a point beyond where they were when we trained them.

The actual methods used to acheive this is almost irrelevant.

I use mostly Kettlebell and Bodyweight exercises, with barbells, Sandbags, Clubs, Maces and Battle Ropes thrown in as appropriate.

The gym down the street has a full Crossfit Set up, another up the road has only power racks, weight plates and medicine balls.

Each gym uses different methods.

Each gym gets good results.

Because what they really provide is knowledge, support, accountability and a kick up the arse as needed.

The client buys into the Coaches philosophy, not his equipment.
The programming is a reflection of the philosophy.

 

2: Two People with the exact same goal may still need different training.

This should be obvious, but seemingly it isn’t.
Think of it this way.

You and your friend are going to meet up a certain location, for arguments sake, lets say the Eiffel Tower.
But you’re starting in Dublin, he’s starting in London.

You’re both going to the same place, aiming to arrive at the same time, but you’re starting from two different places.
He can simply grab the train, go through the channel tunnel, train on the other side and he’s there.
You have to either fly in, get a ferry or get across to England to the tunnel.

1 outcome, two different stories.

Why is training not the same?

You aren’t starting from the same place your mate is, even if you’re training for the same outcome.
So while your training will have many of the same elements of your buddies, it will also have many differences.

And if it doesn’t, maybe you should ask your trainer a few questions as to why.

3: Core Training is Important, but not THAT Important

Yes, I went through that phase of “get your core strong and all your inuries will fall away by magic”

In fact, it still seems to be the go to advice for many physio’s that I’ve come across.

But it’s not all that.

Certainly not if you believe lying on the floor waving your legs about is the same as core strength, or that you must brace your core all the time to prevent spinal movement.

Core training is a part of a larger training program.
A training program that uses multi joint compound movements that, guess what? Engage the core!
More importantly, they engage the core in a reflexive manner. Kind of how you want it to work in real life.

Yes, you add in direct core work because developing the abdominal muscles as you would all the other muscles is simply common sense.
But like all isolation work, it’s filler by comparison to the rest of the training.

And that bit about bracing the spine to prevent movement, stop it.
Unless you are doing heavy lifting (Squats, Dealifts, Presses etc) you don’t brace the spine in neutral.
No, in fact you load up the musculature of the torso which works best if the spine can bend and twist using that wonderful architecture to move storing, transferring and expressing power in what ever manner you wish.


Go to a wrestling/judo/BJJ/MMA match and see spines bend and twist under load without issue.
Watch a Javelin thrower load up the spine before he releases the arrow
Watch a sprinters abs get pulled in oblique lines as the spine transfers torque between the hips and shoulders….

3: The Foot

Oh, the foot. What an absolute marvel of evolution.

But how much is it ignored and taken for granted.

26 bones, 33 joints. All expected to carry us all day every day.
To run. To kick. To Jump. To Land a Jump.

Hey Bolo, have a look at me Foot!

Consider the forces the foot has evolved to endure.

Now consider how much time you spend looking after it.

You do your core work, your glute work, your rotator cuff work, but what about the foot?

Learning from Gary Ward and Chris Sritharan in the Anatomy in Motion training was eye opening.
It is without a doubt the most valuable training I have undertaken since becoming a full time trainer.

Gary Ward (left) and Chris Sritharan, the brains behind AiM

As a martial artist, particularly Karate. As  former mountain runner. As a dude who’s never really had a sitting down job, I’ve always known the feet are important.
I believe they are unique in the animal kingdom, no one else has that three arch structure.
Other animal have opposable thumbs, other animals have big brains, plenty use tools.
But who has our feet?

You want to celebrate our uniqueness as a species? Look down.

 

4: Training offers a window of sanity that people may otherwise not get

As my involvement with the HOPS centre for mental health has developed, to the point where I, with a small team behind me, have launched the MightyMile.com as permanent fundraising website for Mental Health, I’e started to really appreciate how physical training keeps people on an even keel in their own heads.

We are animals, and like all animals we need to move, to “exercise” and to stimulate the musculoskeletal system that we call home.

If we don’t, we grow weak and lethargic.

It also gives a period of time where a person can be completely selfish, focused on themselves.
They train to make themselves feel better, but in doing so they gain vitality that means they can help others.
They move well and feel free and confident.

They can put aside worldly problems and focus on that one rep, that one movement. It is a mindful practice, akin to meditation.

And they can see and feel tangible improvements. That one extra rep on the press, that first or second pull up, that few seconds shaved off that run, the extra 5 kilo’s on the bar.
These are undeniable, quantifiable markers of progress.

And if that’s not good for the ole head, I don’t know what is

Now, speaking of the Mighty Mile.

We’re getting close to October 7th where we will be doing a mile of walking kettlebell swings, or a mile of lunges or similar.

Sweat, blood, chalk and a lot of grim determination

Last year we raised around €7,500.
This year we are looking for €10,000
We’ll only reach that with your generosity.

To support us support Mental Health, simply go to the site and hit the PayPal button, enter whatever amount you wish to donate and that’s it.
The money will be be used to support research, provide courses, equipment and outings for those struggling with Mental Health.
Here’s the site: http://themightymile.com/get-involved/

Thanks for the support over the last 9 years, lets make the next 9 even better!

Regards

Dave Hedges
www.Wg-Fit.com
www.themightymile.com

 

Random Thoughts on Mobility

A few thoughts on Stretching and Mobility

Epreuve synthèse à l’École nationale de cirque de Montréal

This is kind of a hot topic at the moment, which is good.
But as a coach I see a lot of errors in how people approach it.

Coming from a martial arts background, stretching and mobility work is nothing new to me, it was just part of the practice. But that doesn’t mean the practice was always well thought out or good for us!

So here’s a few thoughts that come to mind when I consider the subject or answer client questions:

  • No, you can’d do too much mobility work but you can do the the wrong mobility work and make sure you limited time is well managed and your overall training is well balanced.
  • Mobility means being able to control your full range of motion.
    So yes, developing flexibility and strength are vital for the development of good mobility
  • End range is a place to visit from time to time, but not all the time.
    Over development of a joints range of motion can prove harmful over time, especially if that is uncontrolled range
  • The difference between Active Range and Passive Range correlates with the chance of injury.
    The bigger the difference between the range of motion you can acheive and the range of motion you can control, the bigger your risk of damage. Work on building active range.
  • Tightness may be there for a reason. It may be the only thing holding you together. So if a joint refuses to mobilise or a muscle refuses to stretch, take note and see a professional.
  • Mobilisation works best with movement, particularly joint circles.
  • You cannot force the body to offer up new ranges of motion, you must ask it for permission.
  • Foam Rolling IS NOT mobility work, but it can help with developing mobility
  • If you haven’t heard my “Blue Tack” speech, you’re life is incomplete
    This isn’t it, but it contains the point of the speech: http://wg-fit.com/wp/blog/how-blu-tack-helps-us-to-understand-stretching/
  • Not developing strength is the biggest mistake I see flexible people make.
  • Not practising mobility is the biggest mistake hard working athletes make
  • I haven’t run a mobility workshop in aaages, hands up if you’d be into attending one
  • No, put your hand down i can’t see you from here, drop an email instead…

 

There’s a lot more on this subject, if people are interested I can post more on it as time allows.
Do search the blog for “Monday Mobility” posts that i used to write before Mondays got so busy.

Enjoy your weekend

Dave Hedges

…………Improving Human Efficiency