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Thursday, December 18, 2008

An Excellent Article on Simplifying Training

Just a quick link today to an excellent article on simplifying your training and improving the efficiency of your workouts.

The article is by Pavel Tsatsouline and was posted on Tim Ferriss' 4 hour Work Week blog. (I highly recommend getting a copy of Tim's book)

The main thrust of the article is that many people do too much fluff in the gym and that you can eliminate much of the crap, work hard on the basics and achieve better results.

The article outlines a plan to cut powerlifting training down to bench, deadlift and squat. Of course you may not be into powerlifting but I think that the principles outlined in the article are sound and could easily be applied to other fitness areas. For example an Olympic lifter could choose clean and jerk, snatch, pulls and squats and apply the program, or a kettlebell lifter might cut back to snatches, turkish get ups and presses.

I've kind of being doing this for the last few weeks anyway. I've been squatting heavy, doing either pullups or military presses and then a short conditioning workout at the end of each session. It allows me to squeeze in a workout before my clients and athletes turn up to the gym and i'm hitting rep PBs on back squat.

Anyway check out the full article here

Tim Ferriss - Pavel Tsatsouline Blog post

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Insider Video #2 - Online Coaching

Here is the second video that shows how our online coaching system works.

In this video I'll show you all of the features that you get with one of our personalised programs including access to your program online, exercise videos and diary functions and more!

Insider Video #2 - Online Coaching System

Insider Video #1 - Personalised Programs

Here is the first of two videos that i've put together to show you how we put together personalised strength and conditioning programs for our clients.

Just click the link below

Insider Video #1 - Visual Coaching Pro

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Olympic Weightlifting Coaches Course

On the 1st and 2nd of November NSW weightlifting ran a 2 day, Level 1 coaches course and as usual I was there presenting and coaching the coaches.

I don't want to bore everyone with a blow by blow analysis of the weekend but I did make some observations that I think are important for ANYONE who wants to add Olympic lifting into their program to take note of.

So to start off here is a little video of highlights of the course and then a few points.

#1 - Everyone at the course was already an experienced fitness trainer or sports coach and EVERY SINGLE ONE had trouble with some aspect of Olympic lifting. This is not because they were bad coaches or athletes, in fact most of them were pretty good. The fact is that Olympic lifting is several orders of magnitude more complex than basic weight training. Speed exponentially magnifies errors in positioning and this leads to less than perfect technique.

#2 - After 2 days of intensive coaching from one very very experienced weightlifting coach (Steve Tikannen has been doing this 5 days a week for over 10 years) and one fairly good coach (thats me, i've only been coaching 4 days a week for 3 years) the participants still had a lot to refine in their technique. I suggest that anyone who wants to get good at olympic lifting is going to need some ongoing revision sessions and lots of practice.

#3 - Flexibility - Very few people off the street, even fitness trainers, have the required degree of shoulder, lower back and glute/hamstring flexibility to get in the positions required for the full olympic lifts. In particular poor shoulder flexibility is a massive problem for a lot of people from a bodybuilding background. Bench press is an ok exercise but not if you do so much of it that you can't get your arms overhead without looking like you are about to cry.

#4 - Critical positions in weightlifting - I've now assessed a bunch of people from this course and the last few we've run and despite hammering the following points into them during the course inevitably some people forget the following

4-1 Staying over the bar - If you want to lift big weights with the power clean, snatch etc then you've got to have your shoulders over that bar until right at the end of the triple extension and shrug. Way to many coaches let their athletes sit back during the second pull and drag the bar up their thighs. This severely reduces the loads lifted, the power produced and thus the training effect of olympic lifting.

4-2 Pulling position vs receiving position - Any time you are pulling the bar whether it's from the floor or from the hang the feet should be under your hips (narrowish stance) Any time you catch the bar (power snatch, power clean, full squat versions) your feet should be a bit wider in a squat stance. Enough said.

4-3 Bar overhead = push the head through. It's not that hard but again a lot of people try to hold the bar out in front with pure muscle power. Easy with 20kg, not so easy with 200kg!

Anyway thats just a few observations, if you want more info on Olympic lifting feel free to email me or come along to a seminar!

Strongman Competition

On the 9th of November the first ever Oz Strongman nationals were held in Brisbane.

Originally I had planned on training up and competing but after injuring myself earlier this year I didn't get back to full training until about august by which time it was a bit late to make a run at the competition.

Instead, contest organiser Chris Andrews asked if I would help referee the comp and I gladly accepted.

The comp was huge success with 28 athletes in 3 weight divisions battling it out across 6 events plus Pro Strongman Warrick Brant putting on some awesome demos.

A full report with pictures will follow shortly but in the meantime if anyone is interested in competing in strongman in 2009 I suggest jumping on to and signing up!

Crazy times!

Ok so you may have noticed that over the last three weeks I haven't posted anything to the blog or sent out a newsletter. This isn't because I've gotten fat and lazy or taken a holiday (I wish!)

Rather it's because since the start of November I've been running around like a madman running some private kettlebell instructors courses, an olympic weightlifting coaches course and refereeing at the innaugural Ozstrongman nationals in Brisbane and as I type I'm getting ready for my final interstate trip of the year to Perth.

So therefore I'm doing a bit of a bulk update tonight.

Contact Magazine Part 5

Another two articles from the archives this time dealing with workouts using minimal equipment and another on preventing common overuse injuries.

Article 7 - March 2007 - Deployed workouts

Article 8 - June 2007 - Avoiding Common injuries

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Kettlebell instructors certifications 2009

I've just uploaded the dates of my kettlebell instructors certifications for the first half of 2009.

Dates and links to the certification info pack here

Kettlebell instructors certifications

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

New Kettlebell Site - Under Construction

Just a quick post to let everyone know that I've started work on a new website devoted entirely to kettlebell training.

The new website will be a complete resource with videos and articles on kettlebell training as well as interviews with trainers and info on courses, certifications and instructors all over the world!

As soon as the first set of pages are done i'll post a notice here and in the newsletter so that you can check it out.

For any kettlebell instructors out there who would like to contribute material to the new site please contact me at

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Training without Training

In strength training routines it's fairly common to do a program specifically tailored to improving one lift or one area of training. Often theses routines call for high intenstiy or a high volume of specific work on a certain area and often they are pretty effective at boosting personal bests.

The problem is that sometimes after you finish a high intensity deadlift routine or a high volume squat routine you enter a period where even looking at those exercises is enough to make you want ot leave the gym and because of that you may start to slide backwards!

One solution to this problem of temporary mental burnout is to avoid the exercise in question and focus on a variety of related exercises so that you can maintain your newfound strength or fitness gains but also maintain your enthusiasm for training.

As a quick example if you've just done a heavy deadlift routine and set a new personal best take 2- 4 weeks and focus on the following exercises

Partial deadlift pulls from above the knee
Power cleans or power snatches
Clean pulls with 50 - 70% of your best deadlift.
Good mornings
Kettlebell Swings

If you include a couple of those exercises in place of Deadlifts you may even find that you work on weak points in the deadlift and when you return to full deadlifts that your numbers jump up again!

Here is a short video from my training of some partial deadlifts.

Remember if you are interested in Olympic lifting or serious strength training, we are running a workshop on the 30th of November at Olympic park in Sydney!

Contact Magazine Part 4

Two more articles from the archives of Contact Magazine.

Article 5 - September 2006 - CrossFit

Article 6 - December 2006 - Summer Workouts

Monday, October 20, 2008

Kettlebell Heart Starters

I've got a confession to make. Despite being a fitness trainer I'm really not a morning person. I often find it hard to get going in the morning and generally before I can get anything productive done I need to get my blood flowing.

The problem I have had in the past is that I like to do my major workouts in the afternoon and doing a second 40-60 minute session in the morning is too time consuming.

Therefore recently I've been experimenting with some 5 minute mini workouts that I can do with little or no warm up and with just a couple of bits of equipment that I can keep in my living room. The aim here is a quick convenient workout to kick my body and brain into gear not to flog myself (that comes in the afternoon workouts)

One quick note - if you are going to do these workouts pick a kettlebell that is one size (4kg for women and 8kg for men) lighter than what you would use for a full workout. So if you regularly swing a 32kg drop back to a 24kg.


#1 - A quick Crossfit "Fran" Variation
Kettlebell snatch 10 reps each arms, 7 reps, 5 reps
Pullups - 20, 14, 10

#2 - 5 rounds of
10 Kettlebell swings
10 pushups
10 situps

#3 - 3 rounds
3-5 Turkish Get up each side
3-5 windmills each side
1 minute of round the body kettlebell passing and figure 8's between the legs

#4 - High Octane Cardio
5 rounds of
30 seconds of Kettlebell swings
30 seconds of skipping

Try some of these workouts when you need a break from office work or whenever you need a bit of a wake up!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Completely Random Workout

Over the past few years of training people with kettlebell and CrossFit methods I've noticed something.

Even though from session to session these workouts are highly varied and challenging, quite often when athletes are given a workout they'll mentally start to break it down and pace themsleves. Conserving energy in one area in anticipation of a harder exercise thats coming up. For example a good runner might ease off on the run because they know that a set of 30 burpees is up next.

The other day while training a group of three clients (all of them experienced in my regular training methods) I thought i'd try something slightly different.

After a warm up and a brief kettlebell strength workout I laid out their conditioning for the day.

1. Set out on a lap of the oval
2. As each individual arrives back at the start point they will be given a mini workout to complete before heading out again on the next lap
3. The mini workout will be different for each client, each lap.

Examples of the mini workouts that they ended up doing.

A. 20 burpees + 100 situps
B. 10 burpees + 10 double clean and jerk (kettlebells) x 3 rounds
C. Boxing for 4 minutes
D. 20 m sprints with a burpee at each end
E. 10 pushups + 10 alternating split jumps
F. 20 kettlebell snatches + 20 pushups x 3 rounds

This workout turned out to be one of the hardest both physically and mentally that the group have done. At the end all three of them looked like they were about to collapse!

So if you want to spice up your workouts and introduce an element of unpredicatability I suggest getting a friend (or enemy) to write out say 3 - 6 little mini workouts and stuff them in an envelope then head out to the park or gym and start pulling stuff out at random and hammer through them as fast as possible.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Junior Weightlifting Nationals

We're back!

Last friday the NSW Junior Weightlifting team flew to Melbourne to compete in the junior nationals.

For many of the guys it was their first major competition and I was pretty impressed by the way they handled the pressure and came out firing on the platform.

Other states had bigger teams but it seemed like a fair number of lifters on those teams had been rushed into the competition and to be honest some of the technique displayed was pretty bad and in some cases downright dangerous! I'm not blaming the athletes for that but questions should probably be asked of coaches who allow their lifters to pull maximal weights off the ground with badly rounded backs.

I've got more photos and some video to come but in the meantime I've attached a photo of the team. From the left. Back Row, Martin Harlowe (manager), Dr Robert Mitchell (head coach), Charlie Gray, "Big John" Carty, Ricky Gulyamov (1st place U20, 77kg), Patrick Chow(3rd place U18 62kg), Nathan Bannantyne, Emilo "Milo" McFarland (3rd place U18 77kg), Don Stevenson (coach). Front row, Damian Ussia(3rd place U18 105kg), Patrick Canavan (7th place overall U16 competition), Ryan Pasfield, Luke Lilli.

The barbell is loaded to 157kg, the heaviest lift of the competition!

CONTACT Magazine part 3

Here are the next two articles written for Contact magazine.

Article 3 March 2006 - Kettlebell Training Part 1

Article 4 June 2006 - Kettlebell Training Part 2

Monday, October 6, 2008

Kettlebell Instructors Courses

As regular readers of my newsletter will know I run Kettlebell Instructors Courses all around Australia. In 2008 I've been fortunate enough to travel to every capital city in Australia except Canberra (see you guys early 2009!) to run the courses.

A highlight of every course is the final few minutes when participants are put through a timed snatch test to demonstrate just how tough kettlebell training can be!

Here is a short video of the most recent instructors course in Sydney being put through their paces.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Weightlifting - Junior Nationals

Just a quick post todaay before I fly out to Melbourne for the Junior weightlifting nationals.

I've been fortunate this year to be heavily involved in the recruitment and training of our state team and after a lot of hard work it's good to be taking such a large team (13 lifters and staff!) to the comp.

In case you need some motivation to train this weekend consider this.

After less than one year of training two of our juniors are snatching bodyweight.

One of our lifters, 14 yr old John Carty has lost 60kg (not a typo!) training with us this year.

I'm going to be pretty busy coaching and organising the team but I'll try to remember to take photos and post some when I get back on Monday.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

CONTACT Magazine part 2

So here are the links to the first two articles written for CONTACT magazine

These articles were written as an introduction to my ideas on military fitness and while a few things have changed they stand as a good jumping off point for anyone who needs to use their fitness for dangerous jobs.

Article 1 September 2005 - Are you Combat Fit?

Article 2 December 2005 - How to Ace any Fitness Test

"CONTACT" Magazine part 1

Before I launch into posting links to the articles i'd like to mention how my column in "CONTACT" came about.

In April 2005 (boy that seems like a long time ago!) I ran one of my first kettlebell workshops at the Royal Military College Duntroon in Canberra for some of the Australian Defence forces PTIs and unarmed combat instructors. Before driving down to Canberra I emailed the editor of CONTACT, Brian Hartigan and asked if he would be interested in covering the workshop.

I think at first he was a bit skeptical but he agreed to come out to the workshop and have a look for a possible story. After the workshop we had a bit of a talk and by the end of our meeting he'd offered me a column in the magazine!

The first article ran in September 2005 and since then I've written 13 articles (CONTACT is a quarterly) and Brian has kindly allowed me to republish all of the articles including the current ones.

If you are interested in anything to do with the Australian Army, Navy or Airforce then I highly recommend getting a subscription to the mag.

New Blog!

I've been meaning to start a blog for a while but the last few months have been so crazy with travelling for workshops that I haven't had the time to sit down and get one up and running!

Anyway, the plan is to supplement my regular newsletters with more nuggets of training info as well as posting links to interesting articles and sites that I find.

To get things rolling i'm going to be posting links over the next few weeks to the complete back catalog of articles I've written for "CONTACT" military magazine as well as EVERY SINGLE newsletter I've written over the last 3 years.