Category Archives: Bootcamp

Strength, Conditioning & Martial Arts

Ever since my Karate instructor turned to me and said “Dave, you’ve got to get strong” I’ve known that to be an effective martial artist or, in fact, athlete of any sort, we need to do some form of strength and conditioning.
This was around 20 years ago.
Yet, to this day so many instructors still tell their students not to strength train, instead telling them that endless sets of push ups, sit ups and running are enough.

This is not, never has been, and never will be the case.

You need to add in a structured training program if you want to be competitive, or even if you simply want to reach your potential.

Our own kickboxer, Chris, has just come to this realisation. After taking to strength training for the first time he recently had the best fight of his career, an easy win.
He told me that he never felt as fresh, as explosive and focused. He was able to recover faster throughout the round, and so able to keep his punches sharp and accurate.

Chris had been training 3 mornings a week for 40 minutes to an hour, lifting heavy weights, performing hard circuits and high-octane cardio.
He put on a small amount of weight but looked leaner and harder.
When he attended his regular training you could hear when he was on a bag, his strikes echoed through the building.

After 6 weeks of strength and conditioning he became the fighter he always wanted to be. He had the skill, he had the speed, he even had power. But no matter how much running and skipping he did, he coud never go the distance, until now.

The entire training program he followed is detailed over on the Wild Geese Facebook page, in the notes section (here: but over the next week I’m going to spend time at the keyboard and I’m going to write out a PDF document for download detailing the workouts that we used and also how you can personalise and vary them to suit your individual fighters needs.
Hopefully this will allow you as a coach help better prepare your fighters and competitors. If you’re an athlete looking for that edge, this will be just that.

We called this training program “The fighters boot camp“, but really it is for anyone willing to work hard and push themselves to the next level. Here’s some of what goes on:

The next Boot Camp starts October 11th.
The eBook will be ready before then.
Drop a comment if you have any questions.



Man, I feel Electric!

How many of you can say that at 8.30am when about to head into work?

Not many eh?

These words were spoken to me by one of my Boot Camp participants, today was Cardio day of week one.
We started with the fitness test which will be repeated on the last day, then went into a slightly easier than normal cardio session. Intensity will build over the coming weeks, but today is week one and also test day so the actual workout wasn’t the meanest.

It was afterwards though that Eoin comes out from the changing rooms with his bag over the shoulder, the last one to leave, with a happy grin and a light behind his eyes, “Man I feel electric, that was brilliant!” And off he went, bimbling along to the office.

I nipped out, had to get some bleach and a few bits, also stop by Lunch!, a local coffee shop that does the best Double Espresso Machiato. As I’m out I’m looking at the hordes of grey people walking by.
Dark suits, grey hue to the skin, eyes fixed on a point in the distance as they all walk in a huddle, aiming towards the Irish Financial Services Centre just over the river.
It’s reminiscent of a George A Romero movie, only it’s daylight!

I will ask you a question, would you rather sleep untill the last minute, rush around getting ready and go straight to the office, to have your senses dulled and brain melted. Or would you rather get up earlier, spend an hour in the company of hard charging, motivated, positive people, then have a long hot shower and leave feeling, as Eoin said, Electric?
Who do you think will perform better in work? Mr Electric or Mr OMG?

An early morning workout can and will set you up for the day, it fires the nervous system, refreshes the blood and gets those “happy hormones” flowing through the brain. It clears away the fog and even if it is cold and wet outside, you won’t care because you will feel alive, you will feel like a real human animal, sharp, focused and alert.

But hey, you could have an extra hour in bed instead….

I wonder, do some people ever really wake up?

Take control of your life, one step at a time.

If you want to feel electric, you know what to do.



Sandbags, Boot Camps and the Warrior Mindset

This morning saw the end of week three on the Wild Geese Boot Camp.

Week three is my favourite, the group have bonded, they know what’s expected of them and they buckle down hard and get stuck in.

There’s no wasting time teaching exercises, that’s all been done in the previous two weeks. Everyone is fired up and ready to get stuck in.

Last week I introduced my Booties to a friend of mine. A friend who has helped me create some brutal workouts, a friend who takes no prisoners, ever.

This friend is a humble sandbag.

It kicked everyone’s arse.

So this week I brought it back out, and listening to the gang before we started the warm up I could hear the murmuring. They were saying things like:

“I’m gonna lift that f**king sandbag today”
“No way is that sandbag is going to f**king beat me today”

“Nice, the sandbag is out again, that’s a tough drill”

And when we ripped into the circuit the guys ripped into the sand bag with an aggression level rarely seen. It was awesome.
One lad, Colm, especially impressed. Last week the bag thoroughly humbled Colm, today he was out for revenge. As he stood towering over the bag he had a look in his eye, when I called start he bent down, slammed his hands powerfully into the sides, grabbed a big handful of canvas in each mit, dropped his hips and launched the bag skywards. He cleaned it like it weighed nothing, but he wasn’t done, you could see the abs tighten, the legs firm up as he braced, looked up and pressed hard and aggressively.

He was the first one on the bag, when I told the gang to get a to a station ready to begin the circuit, he walked straight over to his old nemesis, and set an example for everyone else to follow.

Today Colm didn’t just lift the bag, he owned it.

This is the Wild Geese spirit, this is the warrior mindset.

As tough and brutal as a Sandbag Clean and Press may be, a warrior is even tougher and even more brutal.
A warrior knows that physical hardship is only half the battle.

He knows that a battle must first be won in the head before it can be won on the field or in the ring.

“Iron” Mike Tyson used to stare at his opponent from the moment he laid eyes on him right up to the fight started. He would stare aggressively, challenging his opponent to match him. As soon as the opponent looked away, he knew he’d already won. The fight had already taken place without a single punch being thrown.

Developing a mindset like this is hard work, it may be the hardest thing you every do, but in doing so you will become greater than you ever thought possible.

You will accept and relish any challenge thrown at you.
You will push on with tenacity and courage.

You will not stop.

Yes you may fail, but that will just serve to make you stronger and more determined.

Chris, one of our kick boxers and the man who organised the first Boot Camp is a prime example. Taking to kickboxing in his late twenties and early thirties he wanted only to prove to himself that he can do it. In the ring his nerves constantly got the better of him and he took a loss after loss. Eventually things changed, his focus sharpened, his body hardened, his determination never waivered and now he doesn’t just step into a ring, he stalks into the ring.
No longer is he a mild mannered executive trying to prove himself. When the glove go on, his face changes, his body language changes, he becomes a warrior.

A sandbag is cheap and cheerful to build and keep at home. But it will kick your arse like few other training tools. If you are interested in developing not just the physical strength, but also the mental strength to take on whatever life throws at you, keep an eye out here as I’ll be giving you step by step instructions on how to build your own and some of the very best exercises and routines to use.

For now, here’s an example of the Clean and Push Press exercise done with my old bag:



The Bear Ghrylls of Fitness

The above quote was from Eoin a Wild Geese Boot Camp participant and Kickboxer. I don’t know what inspired the comment, but I like it and it got an important laugh on the first session of the Boot Camp when nerves were high and anticipation hung heavy.

We are now half way the first week of the Bootcamp and camaraderie is already building, the lads an lasses are working hard and shouting for each other to motivate them on. It’s great to see.
We often work harder when there is a like minded peer group around us, people who have similar goals, similar ideas, people who want to see you work hard because in doing so, they work hard.
It’s like a self perpetuating circle, I encourage you to work hard and seeing you work hard encourages me.

Often I tell people to give their training partners encouragement “For purely selfish reasons, if I can motivate you, just maybe when it’s my turn and I’m struggling, you’ll do the same for me!”

This team mentality is the only resemblance the Wild Geese Boot Camp has to a military style bootcamp. Hell, my guys are unshod unless their outside running, not a boot in sight!
But as in a real bootcamp a camaraderie is built, nurtured and encouraged. This group mentality helps each individual member push that little more, go a little further, dig a little deeper.
Eventually when the individual is out on their own, be facing another man in the ring or a brutal ascent in the mountains, that person will already have driven themselves to the edge of their abilities. They’ve gone to places in their minds where all doubt is eliminated, where only 100% pure focus on the task at hand exists, where your too fatigued to consider failure. Because to do so is to let yourself and the team down.

Of course it’s not just the boot camp where this happens. Every Tuesday at the Combat Conditioning session we raise the roof. Just last night the guys and girls were hitting max deadlifts left right and centre, the noise of them shouting each other on was phenomenal. Even the newest guy was hollering his lungs out as the others strained on the bar.
When the time came to put strip the weights, one of the guys turned to me and said, with a hungry look in his eye “What’s next?”

Then came the circuit:
3 stations, Pull Ups, Push ups and Burpees.
The workout was simplicity in it’s most brutal form.
in a team of three, one person on each station. You stay at that station, doing as much as possible, the only person counting is the guy doing burpees, when he hits 20, all change.

It’s rough, but it’s a hell of a buzz. The lads were really shouting for the guy doing burpees, the faster he went, the less pain they suffered at the other stations!

There was a time a while ago where I was considering giving up this life and rejoining the work force, getting a “proper” job.
No chance, to do so would be letting the team down, these guys and girls are working too hard, they’ve come too far, there’s no way I could quit on them.

And who would want to sit in an office when you could be running a gym filled with some of the most highly motivated and positive clients imaginable?

Whatever you’re going to do today, give it 100%. Start strong, but most importantly, finish strong.