All posts by Wild Geese Martial Arts

Wild Geese Martial Arts is Paul Cox & Dave Hedges. Together they lead a team of dedicated and highly skilled instructors covering several martial art styles as well as fitness, strength & conditioning and movement therapy.

On Keeping the Goal the Goal – Cardio edition

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”no” equal_height_columns=”no” menu_anchor=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_position=”center center” background_repeat=”no-repeat” fade=”no” background_parallax=”none” parallax_speed=”0.3″ video_mp4=”” video_webm=”” video_ogv=”” video_url=”” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_loop=”yes” video_mute=”yes” overlay_color=”” video_preview_image=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” padding_top=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” padding_right=””][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ layout=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” border_position=”all” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding_top=”” padding_right=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” center_content=”no” last=”no” min_height=”” hover_type=”none” link=””][fusion_text]

I’m delighted that people are finally getting the message that cardio is not only not bad for them but it is actually essential.

For long time the fitness industry rebelled against the cardio craze of the 70’s and 80’s, taking a massive knee jerk over reaction and doing it’s best to tell everyone that cardio was bad, bad for you and all you ever need to do is lift heavy weights and sprint or do high intensity interval training.

Thankfully, and I’ll give a nod to the works of Joel Jamieson (8 Weeks out & BioForce) and James Fitzgerald of Opex.
These two lads have done great work getting the word out that of the three energy systems, the aerobic system is the foundation that underpins the others.

Stolen from

Combat athletes have known this anecdotally and instinctively since day dot.
Kettlebell Sports athletes know this implicitly.

However, when I talk to my athletes and clients about cardio, the conversation often takes a predictable path, which is why I think we need to lay out a few points on how to think about the whole topic.

And we star with a quote from the Grand Visier of strength and conditioning, Dan John.

Dan has a (one of his many) quote which goes:

“Keep the goal the goal”

So, you decide that you need better cardio because you gassed out in BJJ last night.
That’s fair.

So you go running.
Also fair.

After a few runs, you start using Strava or similar and you’re now comparing this run against the last run and looking to make progress.
Which is fair, but this is where we need to start checking ourselves.

Is the goal to be a better runner?

Probably not eh.

You’re running to achieve better cardio-vascular fitness.
You’re running for the aerobic benefits.

And by aerobic benefits we mean the ability of the heart to push large volumes of blood around and the ability of the lungs to efficiently exchange gasses (Oxygen ad CO2)
There are other considerations, but we’ll not confuse ourselves with them just yet.

In order to best train the aerobic system Phil Mafetone, an absolute authority on the subject, suggests we work at a heart rate of 180 – your age.
Now this is a guideline, there is play in this.

But go too much higher and you will be working above the aerobic threshold, which isn’t your goal.

Roadwork has been a staple of boxing training since day dot, and for good reason.

Now relate this to your Strava times.
So you ran 10k, great.
Do you NEED to run it faster?
If you run it faster are you still benefiting from what Mafetone calls “Maximal Aerobic Fitness) or MAF.

(I’m always jealous of these people that can make cool acronyms from their names!)

Am I suggesting that you put away your Strava?
Not necessarily, what I’m suggesting is you only use it after your run to get a breakdown of the session.
A Heart Rate monitor would be more useful (many HR apps will sync to Strava….) as you can see how hard you’re working.

But I still don’t like this as it can be a distraction while running.

You can use the talk test.
Essentially, if you can hold a conversation then you are in the aerobic zone. If you can only snatch at short sentences, you’re working too hard.

I also love to nasal breathe as it has a stack of secondary benefits to it as well as slowing you down to a pace that is very likely to keep you in that aerobic zone.

But first and foremost we must keep the goal the goal and not get tied up by the act of running.

If you’re simply looking for aerobic development, may I strongly suggest you also use:

Circuit training, long intervals with short breaks (45:15 works well) keeping an eye on the heart rate as you go.
Select a variety of exercises, these can include relatively light strength exercises, kettlebell work and bodyweight drills work a charm. You can also have in stationary bikes, rower, jump jacks, skipping and sport specific drills such as shadow boxing, bagwork or floor drills.

These circuits should go on for a while, I’ve done them for over an hour in the past, but 20 minutes is a good start point.

These circuits are a great time to work on skill drills, such as a guard pass, or mobility drills such as cossack switches.

After all, the goal is aerobic fitness, so the exercises are of secondary relevance, we might as well pick ones that will give us maximal benefits across as many attribute categories as possible.

Other circuit formats would be to simply do one exercise for 5 minute then move to another, and carry on for 20 minutes though to an hour and a half.
With this format, you don’t have to run from exercise to exercise, but don’t hang about either…

Or simply set a timer for X amount of time (20-90 mins) and cycle through a few exercises, for example:
Kettlebell Clean & Jerk, Crawl, Sledgehammer Slams.
Say 10 reps of each, keeping an eye on that heart rate!

A few weeks of this and you should feel like you are able to recover faster from the more intense training, that your gas tank is bigger, that you don’t hit that pain place as quickly.

And then, a few weeks out from an event, THAT is when you switch to the high intensity intervals, the heart in your mouth suck sessions.

[/fusion_text][fusion_text columns=”” column_min_width=”” column_spacing=”” rule_style=”default” rule_size=”” rule_color=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=””]


Dave Hedges

[/fusion_text][fusion_products_slider picture_size=”fixed” cat_slug=”ebooks,video” number_posts=”5″ carousel_layout=”title_on_rollover” autoplay=”no” columns=”5″ column_spacing=”” scroll_items=”” show_nav=”yes” mouse_scroll=”no” show_cats=”yes” show_price=”yes” show_buttons=”yes” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” /][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

5 Exercises Strength Exercises Essential to BJJ

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”no” equal_height_columns=”no” menu_anchor=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_position=”center center” background_repeat=”no-repeat” fade=”no” background_parallax=”none” parallax_speed=”0.3″ video_mp4=”” video_webm=”” video_ogv=”” video_url=”” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_loop=”yes” video_mute=”yes” overlay_color=”” video_preview_image=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” padding_top=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” padding_right=””][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ layout=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” border_position=”all” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding_top=”” padding_right=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” center_content=”no” last=”no” min_height=”” hover_type=”none” link=””][fusion_text]

Over the last few weeks I’ve been involved in a new project.

It’s a project that revolves around my favourite things, Strength Training and Combat Sports.
I loooove training combat sports athletes, here a wee story on what I’m talking about, then we’ll get the meat of the post, those 5 exercises….

….Several years ago I started training a very keen BJJ practitioner called Peter.
Since that time, Peter has gone on to open his own very successful BJJ school and he and his wife (who I also train) have participated in BJJ competitions across Europe, often bringing home medals, now their clients are doing the same.

Peter is a great statesman for BJJ and is doing great work for that community not only through his school, but he has a few other projects on the go.

The latest one is the one he has asked me to help with.

It’s called, and in case you haven’t already guessed, it’s a service dedicated to helping the BJJ player to get the very best strength and conditioning advice possible.

It’s early days in the project, but we have some content already on the site if you head over.

As it is an S&C service for BJJ, I figured I’d get the ball rolling a bit here and offer up a selection of gym exercises that I feel carry the most value to the BJJ player.

1: Turkish Get Ups

Ah, the good old Turkish Get Up.

Few lifts offer quite as much as this movement does.
From core strength to shoulder stability, from hip mobility to proprioceptive feedback, this exercise holds a lot of value.

Learn it slowly, practice it with patience.

There’s a trend on the internet of people advocating Turkish Get Ups be done with very light weights, even with just a shoe balanced on your closed fist.
I’m not one of those people.
I do highly recommend you work it using a bottoms up (kettlebell held by the handle upside down, ie the bottom is facing up) grip for the first few reps of the workout.

Here’s how:

I advocate that you build up the weight you can shift, build it over a long timeline, but aim to go heavy, anything over half your bodyweight is excellent.

How many do we do?
If we’re doing the half movement, swap hands after every third rep, full movement after each rep.
You can then either go for reps or time, both work. I like time as it shifts the focus onto quality movement rather than hitting a rep goal.
A minimum time is 5 minutes, but I’ve gone as long as 45 minutes in the past. 5-10 minutes works well.
We translate that into reps and you’ll average out 1 rep every minute, so 10 minutes is 10 reps, or 5 each side. More or less…

2- The Deadlift

There are simply no better strength building tools for the grappler than the deadlift.
Not only that, it’s as simple as picking something up off the floor, and then putting it down again.
Or at least, that’s what it should be.

The key is to lock the core, including the lats down tight. Nope, tighter than that!!

Take a solid grip, in this clip I’m showing the Snatch Grip Deadlift, a great option for the BJJ player. But a standard grip (just outside the legs) is good.
Next take a deep breath in and tighten the midsection hard around it.

As you tension, lower the hips a touch, lift the chest a touch and feel the bar tighten as you put some tension into it.

Now push your heels through the floor, the bar should lift slowly off the floor.
Endeavour to keep it as close to the shins as you can and accelerate it upwards until you stand tall.
The push the hips back again and allow the bar descend along the same path it came up.
Lower it in a “controlled fall” as in you don’t just drop it, but you follow it down, guiding it as you go.

Don’t be tempted to go all out on this until you have plenty of experience.
And never take a set to failure, leave one or two reps in the bank.
I recommend sets of 3-5 reps for the majority of the training.

3- Ab Wheel

This innocent looking little device will be one of the best purchases you ever make. They’re cheap and take up no space, but they’re highly highly effective.

Why so effective?
They take the abdominals into a lengthened state under load.

Here’s how it’s done:

Pay attention to the details in this video, it’s the difference between screaming abs or crippling low back pain.

4 – Lateral Lunges

I’ve thought for many years that this movement is grossly underrated.
With more information coming about about the importance of the adductors in terms of knee injury prevention, I think the lateral lunge is about to have it’s day. You heard it here first folks!

We use the goblet squat position for this so the load is held to the front, loading the abdominals.
The foot on the straight leg (straight means NOT BENT!), the leg you step away from, must remain flat to the floor, don’t let the outside edge lift at all!
That will limit your depth, but will load up peroneals (outside of calf/shin) and the adductors (inner thigh) as you fall away.
The stepping leg lands, loads and then immediately pushes you back to the standing position.

It looks like this:

5 – Inverted Rows

I ummed and ahhed here about whether to put in pull ups, scap ups or inverted rows.
The truth is, done well, they form a continuum of progression.
We start athletes on inverted rows, move them to scap ups and eventually pull ups.
Reverse that list and you have regressions.

Why are regressions so important?
Because they are inevitable.
You will be tired, you will pick up injuries etc, so you will move down the chain of exercises.

The inverted row is also a better exercise for teaching scapula movement.

Here’s how I like to be done:

So how would we put these together?

Try this:

1A: Deadlift x 5 reps
1B: Turkish Get Up x 1 L/R (half Get Up x 3 L/R)
3-5 rounds, not including warm up / ramp up sets

2A: Lateral Lunge x 6-8 L/R
2B: Inverted Row x 8-12
2C: Ab Wheel x 8-12
3-5 rounds

Finish with your choice of exercises now.
Select a few that will get the heart rate up and help you with your game.
Set a timer, 30secs work, 10 secs break for 9-15 sets.
Select maybe 3-5 exercises and do them as a circuit.

For example:
Shinbox extension – Hindu Push Up – Sit through
Kettlebell Swing – Plate Slide Plank – Bridge escape
Sprawl style Burpee – Double Kettlebell High Pull – Deck Squat

The list of choices is endless, so have fun with it…


Dave Hedges

Also, my new personal blog/podcast thing:
And of course, check out the new site, there’s a lot to come over the next few months there!

[/fusion_text][fusion_products_slider picture_size=”fixed” cat_slug=”ebooks,ot” number_posts=”5″ carousel_layout=”title_on_rollover” autoplay=”yes” columns=”3″ column_spacing=”” scroll_items=”” show_nav=”yes” mouse_scroll=”no” show_cats=”yes” show_price=”yes” show_buttons=”yes” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” /][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

So you can hold a plank, what now?

The Plank……..



It’s a gym exercise that either creates dread or yawns.

You see the plank has been regarded for the last while as some panacea for all things core.
But the good Doc Stuart McGill, the foremost researcher on spinal mechanics doesn’t agree.
And he knows a few things.
GSP went to see him about core training back in the day!

McGill has said that once you can hold the plank for 2 minutes, it is of no further use.

And I see no reason to disagree with him.

2 minutes shows enough core muscle endurance to keep the spine safe.
And that’s it.
There’s zero strength to gain by going longer.
In fact, McGills more recently told us that several sets of 10 seconds is more than adequate for most people.

But you….

You are NOT most people!

You have nailed your 2 minute plank and are now looking for something more…

Here it is.

This is an exercise that offers a full body challenge, hip, shoulder and spine mobility AND stability is equal measures.
And yes, we call it a plank.

Actually, we call it a Clock Plank and it’s based on the work of Gary Ward, the guy I learned Anatomy in Motion from.

And here how it’s done:

Now don’t be shy while doing this, really reach, really really reach!

You’ll be surprised at how humbling this exercise can be, if you have a weak link, this will highlight it.

Now, go play!


Dave Hedges

If you find this post useful, just imagine how useful you’re mates will find it!
Hit the share button and make my, and your friends day a little bit more awesome!

How Fast Should You Do A Turkish Get Up, and the Most Impressive Get Up Ever Performed EVER!


It’s been a hell of a busy time over the last few weeks.

I’ve managed to move house, I now no longer live in Dublin, so I have a drive to and from WG-Fit each day.

This drive is turning out to be quite fun in that I’m finally able to dive into podcasts fully.
I know get what you’ve al been going on about for so long!

And I’ve started my own.

Well, I’m not sure if it’s really a podcast, or if I’m now a “YouTuber” or is it just me waffling away to myself in the car while the phone camera is recording.

A few weeks ago I put a call out on the Facebook for questions that people would like me to discuss while I’m driving.

I’ve now four or five videos, all answering questions either from my regular clients or from questions that have come in online.

Lets keep this going, if you have a question, let me hear it.
Answers are happening here

One of the very first was about the Turkish Get Up.

I haven’t written an article about the Turkish get up in like forever!

So lets remedy that…..

The question was about the speed of the get up. How long should it take?

This was a question one of my lads answered one day when we were discussing get ups in the gym.
When the question of speed came up, he simple stated:

“It takes as long as it takes”

Cue mic drop and exit stage left………


One thing the Turkish Get Up requires and rewards, is patience.

If you think of the lift as a series of motions, not one lift, then you’ll do well.

You set the start position, that’s the first move. Do it, finish it, secure it, then move on and not before.

Then you roll to the shoulder, not the elbow, not yet. I want you on your side looking up at the bell.
This section is the most missed out component of the lift, yet it is potentially the single most important section of the entire thing.

If you are familiar with the kettlebell arm-bar, a favourite move in the Hard Style kettlebell schools, then this is what I want you to think as you start a get up.

Arm bar, then raise to the elbow, then raise again to a straight bottom arm.
If you want to see an absolutely perfect example of the technique I’m talking about, go to the 2min 30 mark on this video (watch the whole thing, but the relevant part is 2:30) and prepare to have your jaw hit the floor:

Only now can you think about getting the hip up and sweeping the leg back.

Here’s a video of the Get Up I made for

And this is a 20 minute video on the get up that goes over just about everything in the Get Up:

All About the Turkish Get Up from Dave Hedges on Vimeo.

There are few lifts that offer as much bang for the buck as the Turkish Get Up.

Do them controlled, with a bottoms up grip for shoulder health and reflexive stability
Do them heavy because, well, because it’s awesome!
Do them as part of a complex for serious conditioning.

Of the complexes we use, my personal favourite is:
Snatch – Get Up (down portion) – Get Up (back to the feet) – Windmill, then swap hands and repeat.
I’ll drag out a 36kg bell and do this for 45 minutes every now and again, it’s a great “cardio” set.
Here’s my heart rate the last time I did this session:

If you have the techniques at an acceptable standard, I invite you to try for yourself.
Start with a 10 minute set before you attempt a long session.

And if you have questions, please ask.
Either in the comments below, of the facebook or drop me an email.

And that’s all for today.

Now, if you liked this post, feel free to share it and don’t forget to get in touch with your questions and comments, I’d love to hear them.

Chat soon

Dave Hedges
Don’t forget to check out the new Youtube channel:


How Much Caffeine is Too Much, and Updates on my move

Big news!!

Over the last week I have been busy moving house, and I’m currently sat in my new office in my new house!

Check it out:


View this post on Instagram


My Dungannon office is starting to take shape. In here I’ll be offering AiM assessments to start with. This may expand to a full on rehabilitation and performance clinic if I trade that rather grand sideboard that came with the house for a squat rack. I’ll also be running my online training from here. If you look at the book shelves you’ll see (in no particular order): Pratchett, McGill, Roald Dahl, Gray Cook, Seth Godin, Sapolski. A Kuhkri, a Scram, an Axe and a Spear. Details on appointment availability and bookings coming soon…. In the meantime, if anyone has a half rack they no longer need……. #sportsinjury #Newoffice #AiM #injurymanagement #strength #mobility #endurance #garyward_aim

A post shared by Dave Hedges (@dave_hedges) on

As I’m sat here finishing of my morning coffee and scanning my emails I see this from the guys at Examine:

How much caffeine is too much?

If you’re not familiar with Examine, they are an independent research review company. And I mean actually independent, they don’t bow to anyone!
So when they look at research and post up an article, it’s worth the read.

As ever they make the science digestible and include great graphics, like this one:

To cut a long story short, the basics are:
If you’re a healthy adult, you should be ok with approx 400mg of caffeine per day.
Too far over that and you’re likely to start seeing the negative effects of caffeine consumption, which are detailed in the article.

Not only that, consider all the other crap that goes into caffeinated drinks.
Starbucks own website tells us that their coffee can contain up to 13g of sugar (this goes up to a potential of 68g in their holiday speciality coffee drinks), compare that to Monster Energy drink, a fizzy “soft drink” that has 11g of sugar.

If you’re looking for a caffeine pick me up, please stick with good old fashioned coffee, the type that you’d find in any cafe in France or Italy.
Stay clear of the so called “energy drinks” and those ridiculous Starbucks coffee like drinks

Just for reference, according to the Dunkin Donuts website, their highest sugar content for one of their donuts falls in at 22g.
Think about that.
One can of Monster is half of Dunkin Donuts sugariest donut.
But Starbucks sweetest coffee is worth 3 donuts!

I’ll stick to my regular Macchiato.

What will you have?

Final note….

My new address signals a change in schedule and new opportunity.

I’ll be in WG-Fit, Dublin from 0700-1500 on Mon, Tues, Thurs & Fri
So the Bootcamp/Morning Crew and Lunchtime sessions run as normal, Assessment and Private Training are limited to mornings.

That said, in a week or two I’ll open up for Assessments in my office in Dungannon, Tyrone.
Keep your eyes peeled for that.

And last thing, as I’m now spending a good bit of time in the car, I’ll be talking to the video a lot more than writing.
So if you have questions you’d like me to talk about, please let me know



Dave Hedges

Random Friday Thoughts: Moving and Flexibility

Another Friday has rolled around, so here’s a few of the things that are front and centre in my mind this week.

1 – Moving

Nope, not handstands or “kinetic koans” whatever the fuck that means, actually relocating.

In 2 weeks I’ll be moving house which means I’ll have a fairly significant commute by car each day to and from WG-Fit.
This means there are a few changes to the schedule.

My operating hours will change to M/T/T/F from 0700 – 1500
Outside of those hours I will be working Online only barring the odd exception or workshop.
I’ll also figure out the video function on the phone and set it up in the car and start podcasting or Vlogging or something…..

Our resident Nutrition Guru Seba will be covering the evening sessions as well as taking nutrition consultations.
This will work out nicely as while I’ll still be doing all the program writing, Seb offers a contrasting teaching style and a different bank of knowledge for you to draw from.
You come to me for the biomechanics, you go to him for the nutrition. Both of us can help you get fitter, faster and stronger, but he’ll ensure you know how to fuel it better.

2 – Moving

Back to “Kinetic Koans” and other bits of bullshit word salad.
Ido Portal will be back in Dublin teaching this year, which is great, if you get chance and can pony up the fee, go to it.
I went to his Movement X workshop a few years ago in Blackrock.

Ido’s online persona is this gurulike character that is beautifully parodied by JP Sears and this video featuring the legendary Jujimufu (John Call) and our mutual friend Yuri Marmestein


In reality, from my experience, Ido is actually a decent bloke with a very well thought out methodology that if you’re smart enough, you’ll be able to see the principles he works from very quickly in his workshop.

The only issue is the online nonsense that comes out of the likes of him and many in that “Movement Culture”
Why does good information have to be presented in like a bad Pai Mei impression?


Why can’t people just use simple, plain, terminology.

Old school martial arts was taught secretly, therefor the poetic and vague language was a deliberate rouse to cause confusion. But now, information is free and easy to access, why use wooly language?

We should all aim to communicate in manner that is simple and clear. Or in the words of Einstein, “As simple as possible, but no simpler”


3 – Flexibility

Not the splits…..
But thoughts and actions.

Fixed ideas shut down development. Never be afraid to explore a thought process.
In training this means trying out new movements and exercises to see if their viable, in the real world, well kinda the same thing.

You just never know, the movement you’re not doing might be the very movement you need to be doing, but if you’re boxed into thinking you’re doing everything right, how would you know.

The danger then becomes hopping from one idea to the next, that’s as bad as limited thinking. Give things time, 4 weeks minimum, before you swap them to really see how they affect you.


4 – Actual Flexibility

Why are you stretching?
I get asked regularly if being able to do the splits is a essential for kicking.

Short answer:


Why do we stretch.
To restore our resting muscle length, to allow residual or habitual tension to dissolve away or to achieve a position we need for our sport.

Habitual tension is the tension you hold as a habit, this can be as a result of a posture you hold or a sport you play or something you learned as a kid from your parents.
Residual tension is that tightness that follows a good training session. For example, between the cycling and the squatting, my quads hold a fair amount of residual tension, so I like to gently stretch them to ease them out.

But if your goal is to kick better, then you are better served by kicking more.

That said, targeted work can speed the process. Here’s how:
Break down the movement, ie a front kick.
Look at the areas that close: Front side of the hip, the knee
Look at the areas that open: rear of hip, back of knee

Now, strengthen the closing muscles in their shortened range, stretch the opening muscles to teach them to lengthen.
That’s not just for kicks, but any position you want to get more range in.


Of course if you’ve questions, drop me a line.

I’ll chat soon.


Dave Hedges



The Simplest Way to Improve Every Performance Marker

If you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ll know that I’m a huge advocate of better breathing.

There is simply no easier or more comprehensive way to boost whatever performance marker you care to mention than by better breathing, using the appropriate breathing technique for the task and ensuring you are not only using the diaphragm to drive the breath, but you’re also getting the optimal gas exchange across the alveoli in the lungs, and able to transport the oxygen to and waste away from the cells efficiently and effectively.

And that is probably the longest sentence I’ve ever written in a blog post!

Fun Fact:

You can go about 3 weeks without food
You can go about 3 days without water
You can go about 3 minutes without oxygen

That ought to help you see why prioritising breathing is important.

Now, a few years ago I met Patrick McKeown, one of the worlds top experts on Buteyko breathing.
Pat teaches the work of Dr Konstantin Buteyko, a Russian Doctor who first spotted the correlation between breathing rate and disease.

Essentially, Buteyko teaches you to:

1: Breathe through your nose, which is Homo Sapiens default breathing apparatus
2: Breathe LESS volume of air
3: Develop a better tolerance to CO2 build up

This video clip is Laird Hamilton talking to Joe Rogan on breathing:


Now, ignore Laird stumbling over the science, there’s a link to Patrick McKeowns work below.

Instead, listen to how Laird talks about how he feels, how it affects performance,
If you don’t know who Laird is, he’s the dude surfing the wave in the image above. He’s considered to be probably the greatest surfer who ever lived.
The guy that more or less invented Big Wave surfing, came up with the concept of the tow in that allowed you onto bigger and bigger waves.

He is surfing’s Alex Honnold, Muhammad Ali, Usain Bolt.
He’s not a scientist, so forgive the bro-esque nature of the conversation, but he is all about performance. And if you have ever been out in any sizeable waves, you know how important breathing is!
Here’s his Wikipedia:

So, back to breathing appropriate to the task, I’ve covered that in a previous blog post here:

Breathing, an instruction manual

Book mark that Instruction Manual, better yet, print it out.

Last point before this blog turns into an eBook…..

Meet the Vagus Nerve:

Vagus Nerve, lit. Wandering Nerve

That fella is the shortcut to toning down your stress response.
Of bringing the Parasympathetic Nervous System online which turns down the Sympathetic Side.

The parasympathetic is the “rest & digest” side of the nervous system, rather than the adrenalised, high speed sympathetic.
As you exhale with your diaphragm, you press and stimulate the vagus nerve, this calms the system.
Using the mechanism we can better deal with stress, keep a clearer head under fatigue, recover faster from high intensity activity and actually switch off after a rough day at work.

Like I said at the start, there is NO better way to improve every performance marker than to breathe well.

And it starts with your all day every day breathing pattern, which should be all through the nose as mentioned by Laird in the video, as studied by Dr Buteyko and and as written about by Patrick McKeown in his books, which you can see using my amazon affiliate link here:

Pat McKeown on Amazon:

Now, close your mouth and breeeeeathe…

Chat later

Dave Hedges

Monday Mobility: Open Up Those Tight Wrists

Who doesn’t love the push up?
An iconic, classic exercise that can be done anywhere, anytime and carries a host of benefits.
A very common complaint on the push up is that it hurts the wrist, the hands flat on the floor can problematic for many.

There are a great many workarounds for this to allow you perform push ups, the simplest is to simply do them on a closed fist, or you can use dumbbells, push up handles, parallettes etc.

As a coach, I’d much rather you didn’t require a workaround, I’d much rather you trained the body to be able to assume the position.
In doing so hopefully resolving any problems in the wrist.

Working the hands and wrists is an important yet overlooked part of training.
Especially as most people no longer use their hands to their potential due to white collar jobs and urban living.

Those that I work with who perform more manual labour jobs don’t tend to have the same issues as the desk workers.
Grapplers less than punchers.
Climbers less than mountain bikers.

My point is we need to work the hands and wrists through a variety of planes of motion if we plan on keeping them healthy and strong.

This instagram video shows a very simple and highly effective mobility exercise that we all should be doing:


View this post on Instagram


One Minute Tutorial Opening and strengthening the forearm extensors and wrist. These drills used to be commonplace in the traditional martial arts, they’re getting lost now that martial arts is a sport. For anyone who punches hard, this is a must. It’s also very very useful for the office population who spend their days at a keyboard, you may not think so but your fingers are working flat out all day everyday and potentially building up a great deal of habitual tension. I say this a few times in the video, but it bears repeating a lot so l will use capitals: START EASY AND PROGRESS SLOWLY Got it? Good. #wgfamily #irishfitfam #wrist #wristmobility #wriststrength #sportsinjury #punching #muaythai #Kyokushin #karate #judo #bjj #strength #mobility #endurance

A post shared by Dave Hedges (@dave_hedges) on


I’d suggest working these daily if possible, they also work great as active rest between non grip intensive lifts.

If you stick them in your warm up (highly recommended) then follow them with the Pump exercise (a more dynamic Up-Down Dog from Yoga), this will tie the wrist and scapula together and get you ready for just about anything, here’s a previous blog post on the Pump:

Monday Mobility: The Pump aka Up & Down Dog


If you want more on mobilising the hands and wrists to get keep them strong and healthy, I’ve a video tutorial available on Vimeo on Demand, you can get that by clicking on this image:

a Video course

And that’s all for today.

Chat soon

Dave Hedges

Random Friday Thoughts: Tenacity and why you need it

This week has bee  flat out busy, so no blog posts for you.

Although I’ve a couple in the pipeline that will be coming out next week.

So today we have a few Random Friday Thoughts

Starting with: TENACITY

Right now, Special Forces guys are cool.
Yeah, I know, they’ve always been cool, but that’s because they are the modern version of the Ninja, all secretive and shit.

But currently, they’re all over the telly giving speeches or presenting “Hell Week” style challenge programs.

Most people have a view of soldiers, especially the more cloak and dagger specialist units, as hairy arsed, musclebound monsters.
Hopefully, this current trend of the celebrity former SF is showing that there is more to them then that.

I have friends that I’ve known for years that are/were SF and they’re some of the most rounded (if completely nuts) people I know.

Steve & Mark, two of the nicest lads I know, both former Marines

So what is it that makes these guys so special?

Hopefully this is what is coming though on these shows.

It can be summed up in one word: TENACITY

noun [ U ] UK ​ /təˈnæs.ə.ti/ US ​ /təˈnæs.ə.t̬i/

the determination to continue what you are doing

perseverance approving

When people talk about toughness and mental toughness, the word tenacity is probably a better choice.

To quote Denzel in Man on Fire, “There is no such thing as tough. There’s trained and there’s untrained, now which are you?”


Which are you?

Training is a long term project.
It’s not 12 weeks or 30 days.
It’s years.

And it’s not just an hour in the gym and it’s done.

If it doesn’t spill over into daily life, then you may have developed a stronger body or a more impressive physique, but you my friend are still untrained.

I look back over my life and I can see all the kids I knew growing up who really listened to our Coach Jack Parker and those that didn’t.
Not all of us became black belts or won prizes in competition. Most left for one reason or another, but those who listened took Jacks lessons into every endeavour they undertook, which is why now, on the facebook I see them doing great things.

And Jack taught tenacity, Karate teaches tenacity. As do many other training modalities.

Special Forces selection tests tenacity.

The most important attribute for any person to develop in order to go from their current state of being to a better state of being is tenacity.

Many of clients travel, when they do they ask for bodyweight training programs to do in their Hotel rooms and they message me when they do them. This is tenacity.

Another client has just emailed me from the recovery room after a surgery asking if she can still come to the gym when she’s released and detailed out her current state of health and the potential issues.
That shows tenacity.
Not bull at a gate aggression, but a long view, a patient observation of current position and how that aligns with her expected position and calling me to help her plot the course between the two.

I could go on, but I’m short on time so will wrap it up here with a closing statement.

You have always had tenacity, my kids have it, in fact today’s post is inspired by them winning awards in school for exactly that. They both made huge progress in weak subjects showing a determination and willingness to struggle.
They know I hold that quality dear, hopefully they will too.
You had it as a kid, you still have it now.

Use it.



Dave Hedges

Random Friday Thoughts – Bodyweight Exercise and Arthritis

We’re at the end of another week, and another hectic one at that!

A few things popped up this week that may well be relevant to you, so in no particular order:

1 – Bodyweight Exercises are not for wimps!

I’ve several clients who travel for business purposes, one is going away on a work trip but she’s also in preparations for a BJJ event.
So this week we ran her through the bodyweight only program we created for her to follow (her request) while away. She then sent the following text message:

I don’t have any part of my body that doesn’t hurt 😀 😀 😀

Just because you’re not hoofing around lumps of iron, it doesn’t mean you’re not putting strain on the tissues and the nervous system, you will get strong!


2 – Not All Bodyweight Exercises Are Suitable for All People

There was trend a while ago suggesting that a coach should insist on a client getting better at unloaded exercises before doing loaded exercises.
So they suggest training push ups to a good standard prior to doing any barbell or dumbbell presses. Same for squats etc.

The logic on this doesn’t follow through.

In a plank style push up you are pressing approx 60% of your bodyweight.
And that’s not taking leverage into account (ie taller or shorter folk)
So for me, at 95kg’s doing push ups is approximately equivalent to me bench pressing 50kg’s.
Now, I’m fairly strong, so that’s ok.

But what about Brian who’s in his 40’s, works at a desk and hasn’t seen his toes in years?
If Brian (who I’ve just made up) is 35% bodyfat at 95kg’s, he’s only got 62kg’s of lean mass with which to do his push ups.
His push ups will be WAAAAAAAY more difficult than mine! So he’d be better served starting with Planks and Dumbbell Presses.

This is reversed on lower body exercises, as these are mostly performed standing anyhow.
A loaded squat is a direct progression on an unloaded squat, so in this instance bodyweight absolutely should pre-empt additional load.

I also believe that it is possible to develop all the upper body and core strength you’ll ever need with just bodyweight, but it’s unlikely that you’ll get full lower body development without external load.


3 – Exercise helps prevent cartilage damage caused by arthritis

The Medical Express just published an article from the Queen Mary University of London talking about exercise and how it can reduce inflammation and therefore have a positive effect on inflammatory diseases such as arthritis.

The researchers show for the first time how mechanical forces experienced by cells in joints during exercise prevent cartilage degradation by suppressing the action of inflammatory molecules which cause osteoarthritis.

The study, published in the journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, demonstrates the benefits of exercise on the tissues that form our joints and how this is down to tiny hair-like structures called primary cilia found on living cells.

During exercise the cartilage in joints such as the hip and knee is squashed. This mechanical distortion is detected by the living cells in the cartilage which then block the action of inflammatory molecules associated with conditions such as arthritis.

Interesting eh?
They also say that the increased blood flow from exercise has an anti-inflammatory effect, all before going on to saying how they’re developing a drug that replicates the same effects as exercise.

Read the full post here:

Two things stand out in this to me:

I – The human animal NEEDS to move and be challenged physically.
Just as you feel bad for a dog or a zoo animal that doesn’t get enough exercise, we should feel bad for the human that doesn’t get enough exercise.
Walking is great, but you also need to take it up a few notches, and that’s what the gym is for.

II – We can’t help ourselves but to look for the magic pill that will cure our ills. And while yes, the medicine to replicate the anti-inflammatory effects of exercise will be fantastic for thoser too severe to actually get moving, I can’t help but think it’ll end up being marketed to the public as a wonder drug to replace exercise.
Call me cynical. You’d be right.


That’s it for today’s edition.

Chat soon

Dave Hedges