Squat, deadlift, push, pull and various body bracing activities might be the meat and potatoes of our programs for strength.
BUT, I also add in the spices so to speak. Practicing various forms or jumping, crawling and getting up from the floor adds spice to our movement vocabulary and prepares us for when we might actually need the skill… it’s also great fun to play with these physical movements!
Falls, trips and accidents happen, whether during sport or day to day life. But did you know that many people just don’t know what to do when falls happen – they don’t know how to get up when injured, how to crawl or carry themselves to safety or to get help.
Practicing these simple movements, moving us from standing to the ground and back up not only make us stronger and fitter, but better prepare us for ‘woopsadaisies’.
The direction of virtual / online training is evolving at FiStrong with specific directions for the key areas I coach.
Generally the online membership has provided programs in a rotating periodisation. From a well rounded healthy program to a hypertrophy based program to a strength based program. The membership site also includes many random 10 minute works outs but honestly, I see no value in these. I gave into peer pressure to provide random acts of exercise. Haha
The rotating program periodisation works great in the gym under my supervision but I acknowledge that’s not the way many online customers want to train.
Moving onwards, I will be providing training programs, or products in three categories.
Health and movement focused.
Fat loss focused.
These will be thorough programs with updates as and when I see the need to update any methods or refinement.
These will be one time only purchases rather than a subscription.
The current online membership content will continue to be available for a one time only purchase. The content of this membership amounts to over 5 years on continual training at this point. That’s quite a volume of structured programming and still very valuable, but it’s not the direction I want to continue with.
To access the library of online membership programs, it can be found under ‘services’ tab on the main website menu. Click the button below to be directed to this site.
At FitStrong we practice the skills of strength and mobility aka moving strong and well.
Oftentimes however, outsiders have a mixed thought about what ‘practicing strength’ means.
Is it bodybuilding, is lifting to the extreme to boast our achievements at the end of the week, is it like the stuff you see cross fit doing – or is it something else?
Let me briefly define how I would categorise the key three areas of strength training that we practice and who these forms are generally for.
This is what I recommend to people who feel weaker through lack of activity, busy lives and work etc. This could be described as rebuilding the strength we know we should have. The ability to do gardening all morning without feeling worn out. The ability to play with our kids, or grand children if we’re at that stage. The ability to be able to get down to the floor and back up without difficulty.
Restorative strength forms the basis of my over 55s classes that run two mornings a week and hopefully a new class midweek (early evening).
This service is also available on a one-to-one basis and is covered in some of my current shared small group sessions.
Restoring our natural strength and abilities is well in truly covered in customised MovNat programs.
For sports, special endeavours and explorations. When we have established a good level of strength and want to take it further.
This a service I provide on a one-to-one basis owing to the specialised nature of the programming.
This often occurs in small group training when it’s a common goal.
Strength is a wonderful tool, an attribute every human was born to possess. Strength can be used to transform someone physically, to lose unwanted body fat, increase fitness and flexibility, increase self esteem and learn valuable lifestyle habits.
Our Amazing 12 program is the service I run throughout the year in waves to help people meet the person they know they are. I know that sounds cheesy and full of hype – but it truely is an ‘awesome’ program with fantastic outcomes.
If you are curious to learn more about strength training for you, why not get in touch?
The end of 2020 is almost upon us, and whether you’re glad to see the back of it or not, I plan on making 2021 a fantastic year.
2020 was to be the year I took take Animal Flow out to the parks. It was the year I was going to introduce MovNat, natural movement classes outdoors too, but alas, circumstances prevailed and these were shelved.
However, as the year ends I will be re-planning these awesome outdoor activities (in addition to the undercover sessions) and inviting everyone to try out.
For all who supported FitStrong this year, I sincerely thank you, from the bottom of heart. This has been a challenging year but above all, I believe many of us have learned the value of moving better for our health both physically and mentally.
How many times do you hear people say they’re killing time in the gym or whatever else? Yeah, I know it’s just an expression but the underlying statement implies time can be just thrown around like some spare change.
However, time can’t be earned back. If you’re in the gym just doing stuff, you’re not spending time on other valuable agenda items. You know, things like spending time with your family, tending to your home, garden, preparing healthy meals and attending to your career. Actually, much like the last two points there, you don’t just go to the kitchen or work to kill time. You follow particular tasks to accomplish specific outcomes… and that leads me swiftly to my point here.
Use your time in the gym to accomplish specific outcomes.
Do the work.
Three mighty fine rules to live by in the gym, the kitchen, in your chosen career and family time.
If your goal is to move better, practice that. If you goal is get stronger and more useful, practice that. If you want to [enter the goal], do what must be done.
Now, for many people, they might not know for sure what the practice should be to move better, stronger etc.
That’s where the willing professional comes into play and this is where I make my offer to finish off 2020.
Well, I could have been more imaginative in the title, but in keeping with the message, it says what it is – express.
Express FitStrong offers the chance to get straight to the point with the minimum fuss. In these 30 minute sessions we’ll warm up and prepare very specifically for the following session. If you’re coming in to work on lower back pain issues – we’ll focus directly on that. If you’re coming in to work on your deadlift strength, explosive power or metabolic conditioning, we’ll get straight to that.
Our slightly longer sessions do of course focus on goals, but we always include the ‘other stuff’ for a very well balanced routine, but let’s consider the wealth of time for some people and just get to the job at hand.
In keeping with the theme of 2020, this is available both virtually via a choice of video platforms or in person.
If you’re keen to jump onboard, get straight to the point with express training, email ASAP.
I get questions often from clients and friends related to why I spend so much time and money attending certifications and why always the expensive ones!
I am not wealthy. Comfortable, yes. My wife and I do ‘invest’ from time to time in the lotto haha but with no success. So, I don’t choose to invest because I can but because I want to.
What I want in particular from my investment in my own education is value (not cheap), quality, no nonsense education and skills. Just as important, I want to invest and learn subject matters that I consider important to share with my students and clients. Matters that match my personal and business ethos.
***NOT A RANT*** In the fitness industry it is really quite easy to attend any number of certifications and in most cases, in areas that require no depth of experience and even demonstration of time-spent skills, practice, patience and immersion. In other words, you bulk up continued education credits so you can keep your insurance by attending courses you’re not that invested in and walk away with a certification to teach others. You don’t have to be that good at the ‘new thing’ to teach it! I don’t believe our students and clients deserve this level of standards from a professional. Don’t get me wrong, there are many wonderful people in the fitness industry that I look up to, but most attendees to courses rarely shine. It’s no wonder that most personal trainers last only up two years before packing it in.
I was drawn to the Hardstyle methods of kettlebell training by Pavel Tsatsouline back in 2009. The methods he wrote, demonstrated and talked about were so detailed, precise and based on both scientific research and personal experiences teaching many, many people to become stronger, more mobile and able individuals. His Russian accent sure made his allure all the more compelling.
Unfortunately I didn’t have an option at that time to travel to the USA to attend a certification and instead (sigh!) opted for one of those fitness industry courses that both left me intrigued and wanting more. ‘More’ happened two years later when we moved to Australia from the UK and I got the opportunity to attend Pavels RKC (pre StrongFirst). The preparation for attending was vast. It was made very clear that 60-65% of attendees fail to pass certification due to poor preparation. You didn’t just turn up and leave three days later with a certification paper. You earned to title of SFG through proficient demonstration, teaching, professionalism over the long weekend and the extensive preparation leading up to the event. It was expected that you had spent time with the kettlebell in action, became skilled and strong enough to get through the certification weekend without the distraction of pain and suffering. The certification weekend was an exercise in testing, learning the hows, whys, principles and sharpening our skills further.
This is why I love StrongFirst or more clearly, Pavels ethos and principles. Training with kettlebells is not about just getting sweaty and forging strength with pure grit and effort. There is the execution of great technique, skill and programming methods to develop lasting strength and conditioning as well as the ability to drawn upon many tools in a teaching toolkit to help the masses. Indeed, the many cues, tips and tricks learned over that three day weekend stays with me every day when teaching.
The level of expertise within StrongFirst with its master trainers, team leaders and collective of instructors makes StrongFirst one strong business and school of strength.
Below, Joe Rogan had the immense privilege of interviewing Pavel. Getting time with Pavel outside of workshops and seminars is rare, so this video is well worth the time to watch. Keep a note pad and pen handy though. There are many learning points to grab hold of.
Other than StrongFirst
Apart from StrongFirst, I invest in my education with other great training organisations that similarly teach principle based methods.
If you have read this far, I would encourage you to look into Original Strength and their wonderful movement restoration system.
If you move well and have retained your youthful skills and agility, I would encourage you to look into MovNat and their real world natural movement system. If you want to move with the autonomy, physical competence or become a strongly functioning human in real world of contextual settings and programs, MovNat has a lot to offer. It may just be the way forward in general population health and strength.
Got any experience with StrongFirst, Original Strength or MovNat you’d like to share? Want to learn more about how to incorporate these wonderful systems into your training? Get in touch below.
Pain and discomfort, throwing up after exercise and sore muscles the day or days after is not an indicator of progress… believe it or not!
Working overly hard is hardly working compared to working strategically hard… and that’s what I’m about to get into here.
My last blog post discussed High Intensity Interval Training and it’s many demons for both trainees and even the gyms who don’t overly sell this over-marketed form of exercise.
Today I’m introducing to you the findings of some exciting research that demonstrates receptively how a simpler form of training hard (yes, I’m saying you can still work hard) elicits better and safer results.
This updated method of performing high intensity training for strength and power comes from the latest evidence based practice (and much research) from StrongFirsts Pavel Tsatsouline and plenty of credit goes too to Dr Craig Marker who shares his research with the wider StrongFirst community of instructors.
So boys and girls, let me introduce you to Anti-glycolytic training (AGT)
First off, let’s check off a few truisms.
Some exercisers like to feel pain when exercising hard.
Most exercisers don’t like pain the day after training.
Working hard feels great to some people in the gym.
Most people are exercising in part to burn fat / lean out.
Most exercisers just follow the herd.
Most gyms and trainers do not care about health first (just count all the gym chains that focus and market HIT!)
80%+ of training benefits are gained through accumulation of and adapting to moderate volume and intensity throughout the year.
For a day or two after an HIIT session, quality of life is compromised and gym time is cut or affected (stiffness, pain, low motivation).
HIIT does have its place – in a peaking phase of training once or twice a year for a few weeks only.
Mmmmm, #10 – Training hard but NOT to the ‘burn’ can help promote more favourable circumstances to oxidise fat over glycogen (blood sugars) as the main fuel during exercise.
Listing 10 is a total accident there in case you’re thinking I worked hard to come up with 10 key facts.
By definition, anti-glycolytic training refers to not using the glycolytic energy system during high effort training.
Digging a wee bit into exercise science for you, here’s the normal sequence of fuel sources the body uses once high effort exercise commences and continues.
Instant Energy: ATP/CP
Stored in our muscles and liver, adenosine triphosphate and creatine phosphate is a powerful, clean fuel that gives us the quick bursts of energy we need for a quick dash up the stairs, vigorously scrubbing the bath or a quick sprint. A set of 5-7 swings or a heavy press fits in this energy category.
Downside – it drains out very quickly requiring us to rest to replenish the ATP or, to start utilising the next energy source.
Fuel Booster Energy: Glycolysis
Glycolysis is a slightly less powerful source of fuel than ATP/CP itself but it will last up to 2 minutes further but, it’s a dirty fuel. The metabolic waste bi-product of using this fuel source is probably something you’ve experienced in the past in the lovely sensation of burning pain in your side. This is the feeling of a build up of hydrogen ions that the body is desperately trying to buffer out of the body – it’s removal as a waste product takes priority over any further energetic efforts. So, you’ve got to rest up to let the body do what it does – repair itself!
These highly acidic waste products cause a few issues that in the long term, we want to limit and prevent.
Issues of concern include:
Inhibits the creation of more ATP.
Causes damage to cells.
Extends the recovery times between training sessions.
‘Muscling’ through further repeated efforts carries increased risk of muscle strain, poor form and breathing patterns will take a hit – doesn’t sound too healthy actually!
For efforts to continue longer than two or three minutes, we cannot depend on the ATP/CP system or glycolysis and must instead rely on the use of oxygen. This incredibly efficient energy system utilises the oxidation of fat to produce energy the ins and outs of which go far beyond the scope of this post. This is where you get your energy for basic functions, long walks, jogs, bike rides and in the sporting realms, ultra marathons and such.
No supplements are needed to optimise this fuel source, just a lowering of the average overall intensity and breathing in lovely oxygen.
For the most part, we want to spend time using the latter and avoiding the nasty bi-product producing glycolytic system whilst still training to get stronger.
“How’s that gona work”? You ask.
Knowing that the ATP/CP system lasts 10 – 15 seconds or so and that we want to prevent going into the glycolytic system of producing energy we now have a window in which to work. Work in this case means hard work, explosive and pushing the comfort zone to the upper limits.
Yeah, this sounds like any other HIIT session doesn’t it.
So let’s define HIIT in its standard form.
HIIT = maximum effort intensity for a predetermined time followed by minimum time to recover and repeat.
Tabatta for example is 7 – 8 rounds of 20 seconds max effort and 10 seconds recovery. It was designed to be carried out on an indoor cycle and not the terrible forms you can see being performed in some gyms and programs.
While not all intervals are in the form of the now famous Tabatta, they all follow the same principle of max effort, short rest, repeat and pass out on the floor. Yay – way to go.
What is observed in E.V.E.R.Y workout is that form and technique and power output diminishes per round. The final set does resemble the first set in the slightest.
Is this good training practice?
Will this really develop good movement practice?
Will this create a good stimulus for strength and power improvements?
This has been observed for quite some time but was accepted in the name of forcing the body to accept the new level of pain and perhaps an increase in V02 max. To be honest, while conducting such training on an ergometer, running, rowing and such, there is only so much scope for a degradation in form compared with the likes of kettlebell swings, snatches, barbell moves and other loaded tools.
So, getting back to AGT, the findings in the labs have been quite the game changer and not what you’d expect.
What has been seen is that by stretching out the recovery time between high efforts of 10 -15 seconds, the body started to adapt to demands for ATP/CP through the oxidative system.
Essentially, if you stop asking the body for fuel sourced by the glycolytic system it is more than happy not to go there. Why would it – it’s damaging. Not what the body does best.
We know that strength is a skill and we talk of practicing the skill of strength to, well, get stronger. It works, it makes sense. It therefore goes without saying that being able to repeat those high effort bouts is a sane approach to high effort training.
It is now about High Intensity ‘Repeat’ Training.
Kind of ironic how the label given to High Intensity Repeat Training has the acronym of HIRT! You’ll possibly never feel the kind of pains and hurt from this method compared to HIIT.
Having these numbers gives us a massive boost in programming some high effort training to keep everyone happy, to increase our fat adaption during exercise and avoiding burnout, injury and all those aches and pains for the days following the training session.
How the Program looks
Amazingly simple looking, the program goes like this:
10 seconds flat out with powerful, crisp and strong form
50 to 90 seconds rest
Repeat for up to 10 rounds.
The rest period will depend on the individuals recovery rate.
An easy method we use is the talk test. Once the exerciser can speak a sentence without gulping for air, they are ready to go.
With time and as the session seems to feel easier, and more manageable, the 10 seconds of high effort can be stretched to 12, 15 seconds.
For simplicity in the gym, we’ve found that 10 secs ON and 50 secs OFF works just fine.
The movements that the exerciser can carry out well and safely at high efforts are the obvious choice.
Medicine Ball Slam
Sprinting on the spot!
Clean and Push Press
This list is no particular order but I do prefer the kettlebell swing as a stronger swing equates to a stronger clean, press, squat potentially and a bigger deadlift as well as all-round feel good factors. Who wouldn’t mind swinging the heaviest kettlebell they can get their hands on.
Actually, on that note, when we last ran this program last year, one lady started swinging the 12kg and finished 8 weeks later swinging the 32kg! A gent also started on the 20kg and finished on the 48kg!
Impressive you’ll agree.
So that is the first component of this next program.
Our programming has been building up in 2019 to tackle some of the best ways of training with kettlebells. Whilst carrying out individual exercises in sets of a circuit is great, carrying out Kettlebell Complexes is both immensely fun and beneficial. January we worked on setting up the year with a very healthy start. February we worked on developing strength endurance which leads up to this months strength capacity.
What’s that you ask?
Strength capacity is simply defined as the amount of strength work you can conduct in a given time. By the end of this month, most gym members and online trainees will be carrying out considerably more work per complex without really having to get seriously out of their comfort zone.
The Kettlebell complex is perhaps one of the more popular methods of programming for a some very clear and concise reasons. You take 2+ movements (3 to 5 being best) and string them together to execute each movement back-to-back. Simple!
Without going into too much details, Complexes:
Have been proven to increase body fat oxygenation.
Are very time efficient.
Increase conditioning and strength.
Are great fun… albeit a rather twisted kind of fun!
Make use of just 1 or 2 kettlebells.
‘No matter what your goals are—strength, mass, conditioning, or cuts—kettlebell complexes deliver. This is why they are so frequently featured in training plans by our best program designers like Master SFGs Geoff Neupert and Dan John.’
Screenshot from our Program menu within the Online Membership site.
Over 4 weeks we’ll be progressing from simple to somewhat more ominous sessions.
Online members and gym members do get the option to personalise these should there be need, but in every case we’ll work on adding a little bit of volume per week, so subtle it’s practically unnoticeable.
One Complex we’ll be employing comes from the library of fantastic workouts from Dan John – the Armour Building complex.
Here’s a quick demo.
For all those enthusiastic Bodyweight trainees who are choosing to leave complexes for another time, I have built a routine of short and interesting bodyweight flows. Essentially a complex and a flow are the same thing. One just refers to using an external load while a flow is bodyweight.
Here’s a quick demo of one of our bodyweight routines.
If you’d be interested to join in, head over to our Online Membership site and sign up for the month.* It’s only $1 a day! Oh, you’ll also get access to e.v.e.r.y other program on our site during the month including all the teaching videos and resources.
I’ve been talking a lot recently about solutions for anyone who’s stuck for time to exercise. We all get those times of the year when our days get eaten up with life ‘stuff’. Oftentimes if we haven’t got 45 to 60 minutes we think there’s no point in trying to do a training session… after all, ‘what can you possibly do in 10 to 15 minutes’?
If you’re a kettlebell fan, there are certainly lots of options. I will be going into much more detail on our new Online Membership that goes on release tomorrow but for today, you’ll find a simple 10 minute routine below… it’s in real time so you can follow along if you like.
1 or 2 kettlebells
Start each set Every Minute On the Minute (EMOM)
Rotate between the Clean and Press, the Front Squat and the 1 Arm Row
So in brief, each minute you start a set and rotate each exercise. It’s a circuit of minimalism. Now, there is roughly 30-40 secs rest between each exercise set but keep in mind that there are minutes between each specific exercise (from squat set to squat set etc).
Today I was working on a medium effort day, so I worked with kettlebells that felt 70% to me for 4 reps. A hard day may be more like 6-8 reps each and an easy day would be something like just 2 of each.
That is exactly how we schedule sessions. An Easier day, a Harder day and a Medium day.
Anyhoo, here’s the action oh, and sorry about absence of sound during a particular section. Youtube doesn’t like background music which I forgot to turn off – “oops”!
Would you interested in joining our membership online?
Just $1 a day for:
👉🏻 day by day training programs 👉🏻 short 10 minute workouts 👉🏻 mobility tips to get less stiff and achy 👉🏻 teaching videos for all the major movements we use and need 👉🏻 access to all the big successful programs we’ve delivered over recent years 👉🏻 Q&A opportunities at the tap of a button 👉🏻 live training sessions 😀
At FitStrong we focus on strength training and moving better as adults. Strength training often takes the path of using tools like Kettlebells, Barbells or other ‘stuff’.
But, oftentimes the use of these or even the mention of ‘strength training’ causes some alarm initially to some members. Why? Because they often have concerns with building big muscles.
They Confuse Bodybuilding and Strength Training.
Whilst the tools are the same, the way in which they get used varies considerably. Bodybuilding focuses on maximal muscle fatigue under certain timing protocols or large number of repetitions whilst strength training focuses on short sets, focussed tension and NO fatigue or muscular exhaustion.
For the most part, we work on getting stronger but when the time is appropriate or required, some clients will include periods of the year working on developing some muscle growth.
Typical example would be a young person wanting to get more muscular for their sport. Another would be an older client who needs to work more frequently on maintaining the muscle mass. The process here is less focussed on maximal effort but would use higher repetitions.
For the majority of us though, what we need in life is a stronger more agile body not a bigger body and as such, we prioritise strength and mobility.
Got any ideas or want more to chat more…. get in touch.