Monday, 31 January 2011

A week at a European Tour event...

Hi all,

As a bonus blog this week i decided to jot down all the happenings around the gym during the Volvo Golf Champions event @ The Royal Golf Club, Bahrain. There was a sudden burst of activity on tuesday evening so i had to get cracking right away!

The world-recognised European Tour logo

Some of the golfers who visited the gym this week:

Michael Campbell
Peter Hedblom
Oscar Henningsson
Michael Jonzon
Johan Edfors
Padraig Harrington
Alexander Noren
Soren Hansen
Jose Maria Olazabal
James Morrison
Richie Ramsey
Thomas Bjorn
Brett Rumford
Raphael Jacquelin
Gregory Bourdy
Ian Poulter
Andrew Marshall
Greame Storm
Thomas Bjorn
Oliver Wilson
Steven Gallacher
Jose Maria Olazabal
... and many more top names

Alexander Noren, Golfer and athlete

"Definately one of the best gyms we have seen at a golf club"   

IMG, International Golf Management

- Padraig Harrington seemed delighted we actually had kettlebells here! Yes, Paddy... we do.

- Pierre (a swedish physio who came to train his golfers at RCC) claims "There is only one better gym i can think of on the tour and that is Wentworth"

- Every golfer that walked in today was shocked at the quality of our gym. Personally, that is a really nice reward after the past 14 months work getting the gym space to where it is today. Very proud.

- Most of the golfers that came in on Day 1 were Scandinavian. Is that significant?

- Both (swedish) trainers I saw working were very 'hands on'. Close to the client with lots of floor and body weight exercises.


- The European Tour "physio unit' moved in to RCC today, great looking set up - 3 highly qualified guys

- Pierre worked some ART stuff on my shoulder, i think if i had him for a month he would cure me. Im starting to see a different level of trainers now who are more medical then physical. These guys rarely 'push' their athletes - its definately more Technique/Quality based. Again, Pierre is 'hands on' which to me is a great indicator of a high skill level.

- Watched Padraig Harrington on the range, he looked superb.

- Ian Poulter (possibly my tip for the title) arrives in high fashion, of course.

- Anthony Wall stole a Swiss ball from the gym, he promised to bring it back!

- Spoke to Cornel Dreissen (South African physio/trainer)... OMG am i suddenly feel like the 4th best trainer in this gym! feel like i know very little about corrective, movement patterns. Although we have a great system here (i used to think!) these guys are top-of-the-food-chain physical practitioners.

"The RCC gym is a great space for training. It is no way inferior to anything else I have seen in the region. The guys should be proud that they have a world class training space in which personal training clients/golfers can work effectively towards their goals"
                                                                                                                                           Cornel Dreissen

- Just watched a doctor try to diagnose a golfers injury by asking questions (not getting anywhere!) when there is a room full of practical 'hands on' trainers fixing problems in the gym without asking questions! Thats the difference between theory and practise.
- Spoke to Richie Ramsay about pre-tournament training. Interesting point he made was that he doesn't do anything new, in case he feels DOMS the next day, pretty straight forward thinking there.

- Brett Rumford attempting a 500m row and getting 1.38. good effort but that places 7th on our list! Best lightweight time though as he weighs 74kg. He also steals a foam roller and promises to return it!

RCC leightweight rowing king, Brett Rumford

- The swedish contingent are 100% more into the Strength and Conditioning side of golf than anyone else. They have set up camp from day 1 and basically took over. Its great to see golfers training like athletes and in a group who all seem to love it. Very very impressive, but expected really from professional sportsmen?


- Went over to see Alvaro Quiros drive off the 10th tee in the Pro Am, not a bad start.... 325 yard drive just off the green! He later pops into the gym and claims "it's too much hard work in here".

- Again it seemed to be the Scandinavian golfers who were in the gym prior to playing/warming up.

- Helped Andrew Marshall go through a basic gym program, showed him some basic corrective supersets involving Scapula retraction & Pec minor stretching to help his golfing posture.

- Showed Pierre some of the TRX and Valslide stuff we do and they he really liked it. I think maybe he will use these tools in the future, they are definatley effective for basic strength and even rehabilitation exercises.

Pierre going through some TRX progressions for VM/1 leg strength


- Walked into the Royal Golf Club on its first tournament day and the place looks amazing! Well done to all the RGC staff and IMG guys who made this possible, a proud day for all im sure.

- 3 of the top 4 on the Day 1 leaderboard have been gym regulars this week. Now i'm not saying the gym is the answer to playing better golf - far from it - but i am saying that this group of guys have come into the gym as a group, each day and left as a group and have great camaraderie and rapport with each other. I think it makes a massive difference when you are walking around happy and positive rather than spending your time sulking, tweeting or moaning about greens. If was all about mindset then the Scandanavians have already won this competition, i really hope one of them goes onto to win this week.

- Took Mikkel Erikkson (Tour Director) through a Valslide sequence. It great to show these guys (who travel everywhere) new things that our clients and members get every day.

- More great testimonials from top level trainers and physios about our gym.

"This is probably the only gym we've been to on tour that has kettlebells and totally caters for golfers of the highest level, I can't think of another that is this good"
Shane, Tour Chiropractor

Markus, Taking Michael Campbell through a session


"The best gym on the tour"
Mikael Erikkson, European Tour Director

- As you can imagine, i'm a little bit ecstatic at the above testimonial. I knew that we had something really great here and this week's feedback has really cemented what we already knew about the RCC gym.

- Michael Campbell in the gym at 5.30am (before his coaches!) to go through his warm up routine, great to see.

- Ian Poulter comes into the gym for warm up and signs our gym shirt. After a quick chat he says he feels sorry for the members having to play on such a tough course. A lot of the pro's seem to be talking about the severity of the greens here - which makes me feel great about my own game!

 - I had the chance to caddy for an amatuer, Kevin Aherne, in a Pro-Am competition alongside Paul Casey and Darren Clarke. It was an awesome experience and the 2 pro's couldn't have been better value. Apparently we got great coverage by Sky so look forward to seeing that. I had a few tactical differences to Darren Clarke! Even though i was right on both he was brilliant all day and gave Kevin a lot of great reads on the greens. Walking down the 18th, even as a caddy with a few thousand people watching is a great feeling, probably one i will never get again, so it was a really great day.

Ready for a great day, what an experience!


- Tournament finishes with Paul Casey the eventual winner at -21

- Anders Hansen's caddie, Nick Mumford, Leaves me 24 ProV1 balls and 5 gloves for helping him out in the gym, nice.

- All the brilliant testimonials we got for our gym all week really made me realise how good a training environment we have here. Our clients will continue to get the best training as we are always looking to improve our knowledge. This week, rubbing shoulders with some top guys in the industry really helped us towards achieving that.

Volvo Golf Champions 2011 winner, Paul Casey

All in all it was a great week for us here at the gym, we learned a lot from the guys who passed through and im sure they learned some things from us too. For the Tour Director to say we have the best facility on the European Tour is an amazing accolade to go into 2011 with, our staff, members and training clients should be very proud of what we have here.

Thanks :)

Thursday, 27 January 2011

5 ways to f*ck youself up in under 5 minutes!

Hi all,

If you hadn't noticed, i've returned to a more witty/gritty style of writing. I'm swearing more and trying to inject the humour back into my blogs as i feel this is what people respond to best.... and it's showing in the blog hits over the past month. Many thanks to my new clients and readers who are sharing on facebook with thier friends and thanks to those who are leaving comments on posts that are in my archive (please keep doing that, it really helps spread the word). I think there are a few really good blogs from last year that you may want to check out... no pressure, honest.

Read my f*cking archive and comment douche-bag.

Seriously... Please, please leave comments. This is my only real feedback I get from people other than my PT clients (who i get to talk to each week).

Onto today's blog...
Why do i want you to f*ck yourself up in 5 minutes?

It's not that i'm against steady state cardio, i'm all for it as part of a balanced exercise program. Its just i think people do far too much of it at the expense of other great forms of exercise. The 'finishers' in this blog will ensure that you can add a cardio element to your sessions without spending too much extra time at the gym, exercising away all that muscle you work so hard to build! They can also be used as quick-fire sessions, so from now on there is really no excuses not to train because "you have no time". If you dont have 5-10 minutes each day to exercise then you really need to look at how you spend your time each day, nobody is that busy!

You will notice I have put a heading under each challenge called "Don't say it;s easy if...". This is for all the people I meet who declare that the sessions I design or challenges we set here are 'easy'. The reality of this situation is that these people (lets call them gym-jokers) do not do any of exerices properly or with enough effort, so therefore  they are always 'easy'.

Example: We have been doing my new 6 week training plan and the sessions have been kick-ass, really tough - enjoyable - but tough. When i asked one guy who was doing the same sessions in another gym, he said they felt easy. Obviously that pissed me off enough to write this in my blog. Again the reality was this person performing barbell clean and presses @ 20lbs when our training group is at 45kg (about 95lbs). Just a thought before anyone thinks this shit is 'easy'.

Poor weight selection and bad technique often go hand in hand

The 'In'famous 5

1. 500m row (best time)

Why? This is a real test of all-around gym conditioning. It will test strength and stamina. It will reveal your weak points. It will test your lactic threshold and pain tolerance. Why not test yourself? Warning: Expect not to be able to do anything in the gym after a 100% effort row.

How? Set the distance for 500m and row as quick as you can.

Dont say it's easy if... you have it on a level lower than 8 or you can't break 2 minutes (female) or you can't break 1.35 minutes (male)

I couldn't stand up properly for 10 minutes after my 500m best time

2. Farmers walk and Bear crawl (superset)

Why? Because its a brutal combination that will make every other gym member jealous of the fact you are doing things that look a lot cooler and tougher than they are. Expect to fall over or stop during one of the bear crawl sets.

How? Find a stretch of floor 20m minimum and pick a set of DB's that are heavy. Whats heavy? We have been working on bodyweight divided by 3 for base level DB selection. For example:

78kg athlete (divided by 3) = 26kg. The minimum DB's they should use are 26's.

Bear in mind we have guys using well above this weight, it's just a good starting place. Pick up anything you think you can handle! We quite like the 40's at the moment. 3 sets in 5 minutes is good going.

Don't say its easy if... You cant lift your base level DB's (detailed above) or you don't walk at least 40m (2x20m) per set.

The Cardio and Strength benefits of FW will carry over to nearly every other exercise you do 

3. 1000m row (best time)

Why? Don't ask. Maybe because your Daddy never loved you?

How? See 500m row above and times by 2.

Don't say its easy if... You can't break 4.30 (female) or 3.40 (male). Expect a very lonely feeling when you are tired with 600m to go!

Daddy wasn't there for Austin - Probably the reason he loves the 1000m row?

4. Tabata (anything)

Why? If your in the fitness industry and you haven't heard of Tabata training, you're probably not in the fitness industry. Type 'Tabata' in google search and read up yourself. It's a brutal, short and intense interval sequence that helped the Japanese speed skating team win multiple gold medals in Seoul 1988. Studies have shown it increases aeribic and anaerobic conditioning

How? 1 round of Tabata training = 20 seconds maximum effort follwed by 10 seconds rest (30 seconds)

A full Tabata session last 8 rounds = 4 minutes.

Don't be fooled by the length of time. If you haven't dont htis before, it's a real bastard. Expect to hit your lactic threshold at round 3 with 5 remaining. I love the pain/reward dilemma of this system. Yes it hurts like f*ck! but yes it's only 4 minutes.

Don't say its easy if... You do not hit every 20 second blast "balls to the wall" style. Real tabata's are often not finished! Try the rower if you really hate yourself.

RCC member, Eman Jeddy, Post-Tabata

5. The RCC 4 minute finisher "Carnage"

Why? Because we are a horrible lot here and spend most of our time trying to figure out ways to test people's body, mind and spirit. Very often we are called names, we don't really mind. This test is no exception.

How? 4 minutes, 4 moves, no rest.

Perform 1 minute of each with no rest:

1. Jumping Jacks
2. DB Thrusters (6-10kg DB's) - deep squat into shoulder press
3. Long jump/Burpee
4. Bear crawls (forward and backward)

Don't say its easy if... Just don't say its easy, because its not! Expect to fall over and curse the nearest person to you. The Long Jump/Burpee (for some reason) seems to be the hardest thing we have created/done in the gym. Enjoy!


I hate the word "beasting" (military term for ragging out people with excessive exercises and no real plan). I think those trainers who "beast" clients represent the lower levels of expertise in the fitness industry. The key to program design is to manage stress not purposely accumulate it through excessive punishing of clients. Think about it... Give anyone 50 burpees, 50 squats, 50 push ups, etc and they will get tired/injured quickly. If my clients' goal is to get fit, i will use the whole hour to achieve that, not a quick fire 15 minutes and laugh as they throw up in the nearest bin! All that shows me is the lack of knowledge the trainer has, not the quality.

The finishers provided above are 'short-duration' challenges for those people who are fit and ready for them.  We always place these 'challenges' at the end of a structured strength program and would never give these to anyone who was not at that level of fitness. Its very important to keep challenging yourself in the gym, it keeps you coming back for more and ultimately improving.

Try some of these out at the end of your sessions and let me know how you did? Especially the rowing times. Our current records in the gym are:

500m   - 1:26.9
1000m - 3:19.6
2000m - 7:23.2 (very beatable)

These are falling fast so get your times in! (Picture evidence recommended)

Please share below with FB friends, clients, etc. if you like this. I will be posting 3-4 blogs in quick succession over the next week or so, so look out for them.

Thanks for reading :)

Monday, 17 January 2011

Green Faces Diet: The final results and conclusion

I swear to you right now this is THE last blog i will write on GFD, apart from the fact its a really horrible, energy sapping bastard of a dieting strategy, i cant stand the name any more, its annoying me... big time.

In total, 15 people started the 7 day challenge earlier this month. The goal was simple, eliminate all the bad stuff from your diet over a 7 day period and see what happens, the results were as follows:

ED =   -1.6kg
NW=  -3.0kg
RSM= -2.0kg
PD =   -3.3kg
LD =   -3.0kg
DG =  -1.1kg
AG =  -2.0kg
ZAT= -2.5kg
ZM = -4.0kg
VA = -1.5kg
JH =  -2.2kg
MN = -2.5kg
MS = -3.5kg
SH = -3.3kg
NH = -2.0kg

It doesn't matter what you think about this short term strategy, it really works for a quick result... the question is whether people can keep it off or not? My next blog will cover this question in detail when i interview a dietician client of mine, so more on that soon.

What happened?

- Generally, the women struggled with it.

Im not trying to cause a stir here or be clever, im just reporting what i saw over the week. Could it be a bodyweight issue?Possible. Women are lighter and weaker than men so that could make sesne from a physical point of view.

My guess (after speaking with one of the women) is that women are more emotionally attached to food than men and find things they love to eat hard to give up. Remember, Its not a bad thing to love eating food, its just the quantities and the types that tend to de-rail most womens'/peoples' fat loss goals.

Salmon, Aspargaus and Roquette salad with poached egg... magical.

- Some people struggle more than others

This could be due to a number of different reasons. It is far to simplistic to say "im tough, i can do it" or "you're a pussy, you can't stick it out". There are definitely different body types that suit this diet better and its proved when you watch someone go through the same exact week as you but seems to be having a terrible time. I wont go into detail about protein and carb type athletes but its all to do with how each individual uses carbs/protein/fats as fuel (read 'The Anabolic Diet' for more information).

Is the GFD really worth the effort?

- Most workouts suffered

Everyone has reported a drop off in performance during the workouts, which is obviously (long term) not a great thing. In a recent blog by Alwyn Cosgrove, he mentioned that some people would come in and train empty stomach and feel terrible, when only half a banana prior to the workout would have allieviated that feeling and resulted in a normal training session. Does that seem worth it? Of course not. You should stick with whatever works best for you.

- Most people were really bored after 3 days

This diet is boring, end of. yes you can get 'creative' but at the end of the day, its the limitation which drives you nuts, even after a week. You can eat just as well (in my opinion) by adding in more colours like yellow, red, orange and go longer term with it, maybe having green days?

One of the more outrageous combinations on the GFD!... protein and fish oils!

Is the GFD really worth it?

If you asked me this last week i would say yes, definitely 100% it is worth it. But today, Im going to sit on the fitness fence here and say 'it all depends'.

If you are:

- Returning from a holiday where you know you have put on a few Lbs
- Been really slack in your diet and feel pretty shabby about yourself
- Have some digestive issues and dont know what is causing it

Then it IS definitely worth one week, to go GFD.

If you are:

- Already eating 90% healthy foods
- Doing 5 hours or more physical activity a week
- Happy with your current fitness and bodyfat levels

Then it IS NOT worth the hassle. Stick with your normal programme - you really don't need it.

For the last time ladies, NO... i wont go out with you both (sorry, Don't try the GFD)

Different ways to incorporate the GFD without going nuts

- Last meal GFD

The last meal you eat each day is strictly a GFD combination, It'll work too.

- 3 day 'pre-event' GFD

(Thanks to louise for this) Imagine...Its Tuesday, you cant fit into your new dress and there is a big night on Friday (yes i have dresses too - its not that weird). Get on the GFD for 3 days to shrink your man-sized ass into that gown and your golden. You could even tell a tall tale about your new 6 week long fitness regime and make some interesting conversation while your there?

An aside: For some reason people love to talk health and fitness at parties? why is that? when someone is telling/boring me of how they used to be this and how they once were that, all im thinking is "what the hell would these people talk about if i wasn't here?". Probably the weather. I went to a party last year and pretended i wasn't a trainer and that i had moved to accounting to test out this theory - within 10 minutes my cover was blown and i was explaining why lager and cigars were not ideal when starting a fitness regime. anyway....

- Rainbow Faces Diet (RFD)  - (TM. funny if you have seen 'the love guru')

Thats right, just eat a diet that allows all the colours (except white - milk, sugar, flour, rice) and thats a pretty healthy option right there. Add in some green days every so often and limit fruit to the first half of the day for best results.


I honestly have tears running down my face writing this last section because i will never blog about this f*cking topic again and im SOOOOOOOOOO Happy about  that!

If you want a quick fix and lose around 3kg (average) in 7 days then its definitely worth it. It may hurt you it may bore you but to be honest fat people bore me! hahaha, there i said it. Im honestly bored of people complain about their weight when they do nothing about it, this is your chance. Challenge yourself to 7 days of super clean eating and see what happens. whatever the result, i garauntee you will learn something about yourself and the way you think of food.

Ok im to celebrate my GFD divorce!

Hey, its f*cking green ok!!! its allowed

As always, spread the word and share with FB friends if you like this. Its been getting more hits lately so thanks to everyone who reads, much appreciated.

Great blog coming up next...where i try to pick a verbal fight with an irish female dietician, i must be crazy! :)

Friday, 14 January 2011

The Magnificence of Mobility

Hello all,

First of all i would like to thank all the new readers of the blog for sharing comments and feedback, particularly on my last blog. Its nice to write stuff that is being read and appreciated (and enjoyed in several different countries) its why i write in the first place. We just finished a GFD 7 day challenge and the results were again very good - i will write more on this in February blog "6 week training results" - but the average loss was about 5lbs across everyone who tried it.

Things are starting to pick up again at the gym as all the clients crawl back from their festive celebrations - I have made a commitment to start the year off with a bang, everyone is going to get pushed that liitle bit extra over the next 6 weeks.

Starting on Saturday 8th January (which is now in the past) we embarked on an experimental 6 week training and diet plan which was a combination of several different diet strategies along with my own training sessions i have been working since 2010. I will post a blog of results in February which will show results. Lets hope it works!

Today's blog is all about Mobility. I kid you not when i say that one DVD i bought (well actually it was lent to me by a friend, cheers Leigh) a few years back, 100% changed the way i trained people. The amount of money i have made using this program has been absolutely ridiculous (Thanks Eric Cressey and Mike robertson - more on that later) and the results that my clients have enjoyed from using this program have been amazing!

MM has earned me 1000's, fact.

Definition of Mobility

Mobility - "The quality or state of being mobile"

Think of the people you see at gyms across the world, do they produce quality movement? Let me tell you that here in Bahrain - they dont! more on that later....

During every assessment, i get clients to perform the primal patterns:

Squat (one for the guys!)




These are the basic human movements that should be easy to execute on command. But very often, clients/gym members will struggle with them.

Why is this? This could be a number of reasons from lack of basic strength, lack of co-ordination to stiff joints and tight muscles.

What can be done? By identifying faulty movement patterns you/your trainer can start to work out which muscles and joints are tight and are impacting normal movement.

The system of "assessing" and "correcting" should be the foundation of everyone's training programs or it will lead to dysfunction and injury somewhere down the line.

Cressey, Robertson and Hartmann's newer product - Assess and Correct

FYI- Im not getting paid to plug these products, its just they really are 'the shit' when it comes to corrective exercise and mobility exercises.

Are you mobile? Can you perform perfect technique in the Squat and Lunge? If not, read on. If so, read on.

The difference between Mobility and Flexibility

I could say that im asked this question all the time but i would be flat-out lying to you! Nobody has asked me this because they dont really care. But, i do ask myself this question all the time and here is the answer.. i give myself. In training terms, Mobility deals with the range of movement around a joint.

E.g. Skipping rope dislocation to assess shoulder mobility

Flexibility deals with the length of an individual muscle.

E.g. Adductor stretch to assess adductor length (another one for the guys!)

"The length and quality of each individual muscle tissue can affect a person's mobility and exercise technique in both a positive and negative way".

What am i saying? If you have short, tight and weak muscles around a joint, your mobility will suffer - if you have strong, quality supple muscles around a joint, your mobility will improve - simples.

What should you do? You should get yourself assessed  by a qualified trainer who can then write you a program based on your individual needs. Every one of these types of training programs should start with a corrective warm up with both mobility and flexibility drills specifically included to target an individuals' issues.
I dont mind the shameless plug here but that's what we do best at RCC gym. We write great training programs from our comprehensive assessment process. Plug over. Continue blog.

Working with Bahrain golfing prospect, Daniel Owen

The Bahrain/Modern day world problem on quality movement

The clients im seeing coming into the gym now in Bahrain (generally) have extremely bad mobility, flexibility, movement and technique. So what's going wrong?

I believe (and this is just my opinion) that the youth of Bahrain (and probably most of the world) are not doing the same things as we did as kids 20+ years ago. They do not fall over, they do no learn to get up. Its as if they have missed a crucial development stage during youth when you acquire motor control and basic movement. As a human being its very difficult to watch young people fail at basic movements, as a PT its very difficult to know where to begin when teaching exercises. I believe mobility and flexibility training is the only way forward with these individuals.

In the summer i took part in a 200-strong class taken by Alwyn Cosgrove who was taking us through a basic warm up:

- side to side jumps
- bear crawls
- jumping jacks
- push ups... and so on

When i told him i had clients who couldn't do these movements, he didn't understand what i was saying! In the end i dont think he believed me. Come to the Middle East Alwyn, Take a look for yourself, kids have forgotten how to move properly and walking into gyms with mobility issues aged 9! WTF!

Babies learn naturally to crawl, walk, run, fall...

Other factors that could affect poor motor skills in this region are:

- Hot weather does not allow kids to be out as much
- Massive reliance on motor transport to get from place to place
- No major parks or cycle tracks on the island
- Cheap home help means that every household will have atleast 1 maid who will do all housework
- Poor nutrition. The region has completely fallen in love with American fast food. Its also cheaper
- Its not compulsory for kids to take part in PE lessons

The way things are going... well, put it this way, it doesn't look great. I now see kids in the malls who are an unbelievable size. I always look at the parents. Its crazy but most of all its sad! Rant over.

Take home message

Everyone needs to incorporate some form of mobility and flexibility work into their training programs. How and when you do it is up to you. You can have extended corrective warm ups (which we favour at RCC) or you can have complete sessions devoted to corrective exercise. It would be a wise move which ever you choose, otherwise you're probably going to end up:

1) Tight
2) Injured
3) un co-ordinated
4) and have no friends

Ok... maybe not the last one.

For ideas of mobility drills, check out my youtube channel

See ya :)

Sunday, 2 January 2011

The game-changer (exclusive content)

Hello all,

Happy new year, i hope you all had a great festive season and are ready to follow through with the 2011 goals?

Pretty interesting title? Well, this blog will be a pretty interesting read. The truth is i have been sitting on this amazing information since the summer and have not got around to turning the notes into a decent article/blog... until now.

In case you haven't read some of my earlier blogs, I travelled to the US in the summer and attended the Perform Better seminar and got to listen, learn and hang out with some of the biggest names in the industry. I dont want to name drop (actually i do) but i met:

Martin Rooney
John Berardi (worlds leading sport nutritionist)
Alwyn Cosgrove
Eric Cressey
Al Vermeil (chicago bulls strength/conditioning coach)
Thomas Plummer (Fitness Business expert)
Bill Parisi (CEO, Parisi speed schools)
Gray Cook
Greg Rose (Titliest Performance Institute)
Robert Dos Remedios
Mike Boyle
Todd Durkin
Steve Cotter (Kettlebells)
Fraser Quelch (TRX)
Nick Tumminello
... And Thomas Myers (author of Anatomy Trains).

If you are a fitness professional and you dont recognize any names on that list, I suggest you go and do some reading on their individual websites. They are all industry leaders and you could spend the next few years learning from the great work these trainers have put forward. But for today's blog i want to concentrate on the last name, Thomas Myers.

This guy probably knows more than you about anatomy
Thomas Myers is an anatomy expert, period. The closest we (trainers, gym users) ever get to people is by touch, this guy actually cuts bodies up for his research. It is safe to say he knows what he is talking about when it comes to the intricate workings of the muscles of the human body.

The following information was taken from notes taken by myself during Thomas Myers key note speech during the Perform Better seminar (of which only 500 people got to hear).

What is 'Anatomy Trains'?

This book shows how the body is inter-connected entirely by myo-fascial tissue (remember fascia from the last blog?) and identifies different lines/trains that connect the body. It looks at the body as a whole organism and not the traditional 600+ muscles attached to bone we all grew up learning about.

Opening question f the talk: How many muscles in the body?

Answer: 650+ (as we all thought)

Thomas Myers: Wrong. There is one muscle in the human body compromised of 600+ fascial pockets!

All these muscles are inter-connected by fascia

In one sentence, this guy had the whole room of fitness experts, trainers, doctors, etc in complete silence. He had commanded everyone's attention. Here are some other points taken from his talk:

- Injury roots start at an early age, people grow with their injuries

Some clients i train will have carried injuries from childhood and it almost impossible to fully correct these in just a few sessions per week.
- As fitness trainers it is "our parental task to design fitness programs for a neolythical body in an electronic world"

Due to modern technology, the way in which we move has changed, trainers must find a way to get people to re-engage with primal movements and avoid the modern day postures of offices and home life.

- Are you in shape? Round is a shape.

This picture is just wrong, but you can't argue he is very round?

- The neuro-myofascial web cannot be seperated. Training in isolation is not an optimal method.
- The key of modern training is to break bad habits not teach movements

Corrective training is the cornerstone of all good training programs. Anyone can design and implement a punishing training program but not everyone can design a program that allows the user to get great results and be injury-free. A truly effective program will manage stress not accumulate it.

- "Wherever your pelvis is, you are" Think about seated posture.
- The fascial system is affected by habital movement and needs focused work.

The foam roller/hockey ball are great ways to identify what is actually going on with your body. If it hurts like hell when you roll on your IT bands, then you have chronically tight IT bands from daily habits. Ironically, the clients who 'hate' rolling are the ones who need it the most, funny that?
- Is your scapula in the correct position when typing? are you even fit for typing?
- You need to incorporate 'long-chain' movements into your training programs.
- Yoga, pilates, bodyweight exercises using the whole body are the best for training fascia

His words, not mine. Don't think for 1 minute i'm going all Yoga on you. But it does seem to have excellent benefits for myo-fascial health.

The warrior stretch is a classic exercise which invloves the whole body

- Every warm up should include a dynamic element

If you do not include mobility exercises into your warm ups by now then you have been living under a rock. Mobility (or Dynamic flexibility) movements are the ideal start to each training session. Assess clients for individual issues then implement corrective strategies in the warm up and during the sessions for best results.

- Training with vector variation is useful (think kettlebells, clubs, etc.)
- Elastic rebound training is a great way to train fascia (jumping, running, plyometrics)
- Place more emphasis on propreceptive training for optimal 'fascial fitness'
- Rollers are good but may not be enough to truly correct fascia issues, regular massage is key.
- Hydration plays a massive role in the condition of your fascia system.
- To rehabilitate fascia completely, it may take up to 18-24 months!

So at this point im thinking (along with every other fitness dude in the room) 24 months!!! There is no way any gym rat would change their whole way of training for so long just to get optimal fascial health - no matter how good the final results, it just wont happen.

Which brings me to the main idea for this blog. How can you incorporate this philosophy into your training, stay healthy and not taking 18 months off lifting!

A: Create an off season for your body

Every athlete needs 'down-time' at some point

All sports have an off-season. They need to have an off-season so that athletes can rest and recover from the daily grind of matches and training. If they did not have a rest, the performance of each athlete and the standard of every competition would decrease - not to mention a massive increase in injuries.

Your body is no different. In order to grow/improve (whatever your goal is) you need some quality time out of the gym as well as in it. Below i have mentioned 3 different methods of incorporating mini 'off seasons' during your training year - see if you like the look of one and give it a try.

Method 1: 25 days on, 5 days off

A pretty simple concept, you take the last 5 days of each month off normal training to work on mobility, flexibility, foam rolling, corrective ball work, massage, restorative measures, relaxation, etc. The options are endless, you should start each 25 day training cycle fully refreshed and motivated when hitting the gym. I would say 2 or 3 longer periods off during the year (1-2 weeks) could be added to make this even better.

Method 2: 6 weeks on, 1 week off

You cant train "balls-to-the-wall" every session, all year round without something going wrong. You can do it for a while but your body will soon start telling you when its had enough. Niggling knee, wrist and shoulder injuries will develop into serious issues and will lead to time off training which can have a negative pyschological effect - i know, ive been there.

Excessive weight training and shoulder pain go hand in hand

This method breaks up training cycles into longer 6 week periods with 1 whole week off to work on corrective issues mentioned above. My recommendation for the the 6 weeks would be to use smart progressive methods as the weeks went on and not just lift more weight. For example:

Week 1: 70 % effort
Week 2: Increase 10 % effort (80%)
Week 3: Increase 10% effort (90%)
Week 4: De-load week (50% effort or change to Bodyweight movements)
Week 5: Maximum effort (100%)
Week 6: Maximum effort (100%)
Week 7: OFF

This is just one of numerous strategies to avoid an all-out approach when it comes to training. Use smart progressions and plan time off in order to continually increase performance. Try different rest periods and see what works best for you.

Method 3: Utilizing 'de-load' weeks, bio-feedback and extended restoration periods.

Ok so after thinking about this for a while... i have decided there are 3 essential methods to utilise for optimal performance when it comes to maintain healthy fascia, these are:

1. Deloading weeks. Training at approximately 50% to recover from intense training cycles without actually stopping training.

For an in-depth document on the subject, check out Eric Cressey's "The art of Deload"

2. Biofeedback. Have you ever walked into a gym and known it wasn't going to be your day and then walked out? No, thats not being a pussy - Thats called Biofeedback - listening to your body and knowing when to push hard and when to hold back.

After reading (my hero) Andre Agassi's autobiography recently, he mentioned in some chapters that his trainer, Gil Reyes would take one look at him when he walked into the gym and say "Not today, man, you ain't going to achieve nothing in here today". Some would say thats a cop-out from a trainer? I say Gil Reyes was a very smart guy, who knew explicitly how his athlete performed. This is Biofeedback.

Gil Reyes is a master of Biofeedback

The problems with Biofeedback are obvious. If you are a lazy bastard, you will always choose to do less. You could claim to be using biofeedback but actually you would be selling yourself way short. To effectively use biofeedback you must be:
- Experienced enough to 'listen' to your body.
- You must be willing to push hard when you feel good and lay off when you feel crap.

Its a tough skill to master, but i think you'll find that all the guys/girls who are 50+ and still in great shape are those who were excellent at biofeedback and used a long-term moderate approach to training.

3. Extended restoration periods. Periods of time (lets say 4 weeks) devoted completely to restoration and recovery. These are the off-seasons in your own training year.

This is something i have been using sub-consciencely for the past 2 years. I always take 2 seperate periods off per year (July/August & December/January) to give my body a rest from heavy lifting. Taking time away from the gym is vital for continued progress. So why not plan these times around your life?

Going on holidays in August? use this time away from the gym and fully recover for a hard winter program.

Busy work schedule on in January? Take this time to work on your flexibility, soft tissue work.

Final thoughts

Whether you write your own training programs or make a living writing other people's, you should always program in some form of down-time/deload/rest periods... whatever it takes to keep you and your clients injury-free. I hope i have shared enough ideas above for you to make your own decisions on what would work best for you. Training intensely for extended periods of time will ultimately end up in injury.

Everyone should strategically use 'off-seasons' to work on other components of fitness like Mobility, Flexibility, soft tissue work, etc. If you dont have any real knowledge of these areas then im guessing you will end up hurting yourself... or even worse, your paying clients. No paying clients = no job. Simples!
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'til the next time...