Category Archives: strength training

The Best Kettlebell Lift for Fighters

Kettlebells, we just love them at Wild Geese.

Why do we love them? Because we are fighters, and that means we look for the most efficient technique for any given situation, we look for the most bang for the buck.

We know that a jumping cartwheel kick may look cool, but in a fight the good old fashioned rear cross is far more valuable to us.

We put that same philosophy into our training, and the most efficient tool we have come across to date is the Kettlebell, and the most efficient Kettlebell movement for our needs is the one arm clean & jerk.

The Clean & Jerk (or Long Cycle) involves swinging the bell from between the legs, up to the “Rack” position on the chest, then powering it overhead using the legs, back and finally the shoulder and arm.
It is a full body lift.

Done with a single bell will involve a whole heap of core stabilisation, far more effective at strengthening your midsection than any amount of sit ups. Driving one bell over head using the whole body is as close to a punching action as you’ll get while lifting weights.

Forget punching to the front with dumbbells, that trains the shoulders in the complete wrong manner, the jerk is actually better for developing a sharp snappy punch that just keeps on coming.

Taking the combat element away from our training, after all not everyone is a fighter, we are still left with one of the best full body conditioning drills. The One Arm Clean & Jerk uses every muscle in the body, and does so explosively. There are few other lifts that will ramp up your metabolism as high in a short space of time, so it is perfect for fat loss as well as strength and conditioning.

To learn this lift purely from a blog post is doable, but really you ought to find an instructor. You will also learn this lift on my Level 3 Kettlebell workshop. However, I have filmed the lift for you, even including a bit of slo-mo. Please remember, unless you have a foundation of swings and presses (as in the Level 1 workshop), there’s not much point in rushing ahead of your self and trying to perfect this lift.

Never had as Much in the Tank

Our kickboxing coach ran a grading over the weekend.
These are brutal, especially as you climb the ranks towards the coveted black belt.
Gradings involve endless sets of push ups, sometimes totalling in the region of 400, multiple rounds of bag work, skipping, pads and of course all wrapped up with several rounds of sparring.

It aint easy.

One of the attendees cam up to me with an outstretched hand just yesterday and had this to say:
“I’ve never had as much in the tank as I did over the weekend, everything you said about strength, power endurance and stamina were was bang on the button, it’s exactly how I felt. Even after 400 push ups and rounds on the bag, when we did the sparring I was still strong and able to move.
Thanks, the Bootcamp was the best thing I’ve ever done, it’s made an enormouse difference”

I was blown away so I replied, “Thankkyou, not me, It was yourself that turned up 3 mornings a week for a month, it was you who ran the laps and lifted the Kettles, you did the work”
Which is true, I only run the thing, it’s the gys and girls that do the work.

And work they do!

A “Martial Artist” may not need to be strong and fit, but a fighter does. Condidtioning is so often the deciding factor in any arena, you may take a beating for the first round, but if the guys exhausted and you’re still fresh, the tables have suddenly turned in your favour, if you tire first, the beating will continue.
Fighters are without a doubt, the most well rounded athletes, physically and mentally prepared to push through any situation. So often I hear that matial artists just need to run and do push ups, this is wrong, building strength and endurance can level the playing field, or tilt it in your favour.

If you’re interested in taking your strength and conditioning to the next level and burning a bucket load of calories, then drop us a line on
The September Camp has already started but we are taking bookings for Boot Camps starting October 11th and November 15th


Loose the Shoes

Pavel Tstasouline says it, Steve Maxwell insists on it, power lifters, gymnasts and martial artists don’t think twice about it.

Train barefoot, or as close as you can to it.

Get some martial art shoes, power lifting slippers, converse, cheap squash shoes, dunlops green flash, or even, if your a hard core strength type a pair of flip flops.

Me, I like to go natural, no shoes or socks.

Now obviously employ some common sense here. I’m not talking about going out pounding the pavement or something similar, I’m talking about in the gym, on the weight room floor or in your own home.

But why?

There are a multitude of sensors, nerves and muscles in the foot that when encased in your top of the range Nike Air trainers, just don’t need to work. They get lazy and like anything else in the body, get weak.

This can lead to a whole range of problems right up the body from collapsed arches, shin and knee pain, sciatic pain, hip misalignment, back and neck pain.

The usually prescription is orthotics. I say get the shoes off and get the feet strong, allow the sensors and proprioceptors the option of working. These sensors in the foot let the rest of the body know whats going on, how to balance, what impact to brace for, how much force to contract with.

Much is written about the “ends of the chain”, usually meaning grip strength, but little is released regarding foot strength. After all what is it that takes all the weight?
You got it, the things you stand on, your feet.

I have an athlete training with me, she suffers arthritic knee pain. Since loosing the shoes in the gym she’s noticed strength and stability increases that take pressure off the knees. And that was within a week of me suggesting it. Her arches are beginning to reform (they were half way collapsed) her ankles no longer roll inwards and her balance it far, far better then it ever was. She can’t believe the difference.

Don’t just take my word on this, try it out. Get the shoes off before you get under the bar, let me know how you get on.


Wild Geese
every cause but our own

Deadlift, or should that be Healthlift?

The deadlift, one of the core movements that should be in anybodies training program.
Yet as I spend more time in commercial gyms I don’t see people doing it, when I did my “fitness instructor” certification it wasn’t taught.


As a lift it has a bad name. It isn’t considered safe and there doesn’t seem to be any fancy overpriced machine based exercise that replicates it.

Is it safe? Like all weight lifting, or in fact any exercise there is an element of risk, it it largely dependant upon the individual. Proper warm up and good techniques will reduce this risk to a minimum, improper warmup and poor techniques will almost guarantee injury.

What is it?
Simply reaching down and picking a weight off the floor. Set a bar up, stand with your toes just under it, reach down keeping the back straight and body tight, drive through the hips and stand up.
The benefits of the lift are immediate, the entire musculature of the back and lower body is used to move the bar. Your back and core will become strong and resistant to injury, reducing or even eliminating that nagging back pain. The legs become like pistons, powerful and enduring. The hips become snappy, essential for a fighter.

Does that mean you get huge like Arnie? Not with a minimalist routine like the one Pavel Tsatsouline wrote in his book dedicated to the deadlift named Power to the People! I have it and highly recommend it.

The book goes into great detail and talks about 2 lifts that together do work the entire body and can build great strength. As a fighter, I believe adding a Power to the People! style weight programme to the training is an excellent way of boosting your explosive power, strength and resilience, without running the risk of overtraining.

Pavel does go on a bit about the side press, and while it is a fantastic lift I think I’d substitute the clean and press, at least some of the time.

I was deadlifing yesterday and feel great today, I haven’t been able to deadlift properly in a while due to injury (from other activities), so approched it with caution. I only planned a super quick workout here’s what I did:
Deadlift, 1 rep followed by 5 reps of Steve Maxwell’s Maxercist burpee (hindu pushup followed by jumping to a high bar to do a pullup).
I added weight to the bar each time round doing:
50, 70, 90, 100, 110kg, all for one rep with a set of maxercist in between. Next week I’ll go heavier as the old injuries are feeling good and there was no pain the following day.

Happy healthlifts


Wild Geese
any cause but our own

Smug B*****d

I got this in an email the orther day, it’s from a guy called Jason Ferrugia pretending to talk about his training but really bragging about what a great holiday he’s having.
Smug git. Anyhow, it does give you a few ideas about holiday training, so while he’s out enjoying himself and I’m stuck home working for a living, we’re both keeping in shape, getting stronger and fitter.

Read on and be as envious as I am:

I recently had the pleasure of spending
an extended, Memorial Day weekend down
in the great city of Austin, Texas. For anyone who has never been, I highly recommend it. Among numerous other things to do, you definitely need to check out the museums, catch a flick a nd dinner at The Alamo Draft House, grab some food and drinks at The Oasis on Lake Travis, and go experience the incredible live music scene on Sixth Street. If Bob Shneider is playing, do yourself a favor and get a ticket. Thanks to Chad Thompson for that great recommendation.

Two of my favorite things in life are
training and good music and Austin
combined both of these passions perfectly.
Austin is a very fit and healthy city as evidenced by all the hiking, biking and walking trails around which we definitely took great advantage of. It is also known as the live music capital of the world and you can see every kind of music imaginable being performed in the countless bars downtown.

My only warning would be to those of
you that don’t deal with heat too well
to wait until October to visit. It was
at least a hundred and fifty thousand
degrees during the time we were there.

With so many great things to see and do it would have been easy to skip training while exploring Austin. That’s the great thing about the Muscle Gaining Secrets workouts and the style of training that I have developed over the last 14 years.
It takes very little time to get in a
great workout that will help build muscle and burn fat. On day two we did a quick 20 minute workout in the room following some of my Home Gym Warrior and bodyweight only training principles. With my Jungle Gym and TNT Cables safely packed for the trip this time we were able to get in a great training session in the comfort of our own hotel room without taking away too much time from sightseeing and having fun.

On day four of our trip we made our way over to Hyde Park Gym, thanks to the recommendation from Jake Andrews. It was a great hardcore style gym, which I highly recommend. Definitely my kind of scene.
Again, we had a full agenda of stuff we wanted to do so we wanted to get in and out of the gym quickly. Thanks to my time saving training system we got everything done in less than thirty minutes and were on the roof of The Iron Cactus eating our post workout meal and enjoying the sunshine in no time.

With summer right around the corner nobody wants to spend countless hours in the gym.
There are too many fun things to do and see. But we all still want to look good at the beach. The great news is that you can have fun this summer and still look great with my time efficient workouts and nutrition plans in Muscle Gaining Secrets.
Three days per week, 30-45 minutes and
you’re done! After that you won’t have to be ashamed to take off your shirt at the next pool party.

There’s still five weeks ’til the Fourth of July; plenty of time to get in great shape for summer.

Go to
now to get started today.

Be relentless,
Jason Ferruggia
Performance Enhancement Specialist
Chief Training Adviser, Men’s Fitness Magazine Author, Media Spokesperson, Consultant

Thanks J, can’t wait to see the photo’s


Wild Geese
any cause but our own

Sweep the leg. Do you have a problem with that?

It’s on TV now, I’m sat here mucking around online while the missus is sat flicking through TV channels, guess what she found, hang on it’s the final……..

……………Go on Danny Laruso!! That’s right, The Karate Kid!

Anyway back to the point, 21 years ago I was sat on the sofa, aged 10 watching this same film. Within the month I was training. I had joined the local karate school (St Martins Jnr Karate Club, under Sensei Jack Parker) and finally started something.

This had a major effect me. Karate was one of the few things I really stuck at as a kid. As I grew up, all the other lads grew out, I was a beanpole. While I cycled everywhere, I wasn’t strong. Around the time I was 16/17, Jack turned to me and said that if I wanted to continue improving to black belt standard and to stand a chance in the tournaments.

As a result I asked my mates on the school rowing squad if I could join their gym sessions, they asked their coach and a new era started.

We had two gym sessions per week, the lads obviously had other sessions out on the water, I ran and practiced karate. Plus we’d meet once or twice a week for a session on the ergo’s (what we called the concept 2 rowers, still my machine of choice)
One session was “light day” consisting of Pyramids, the other session was “Heavy day” using 3×10. The exercises were always:
Leg Press, Bench Pull, Power Cleans and bench press. I think that was all, there were certainly no isolation’s!

It’s the warm ups i really liked though. A 20 minute circuit that would make Steve Maxwell blanch, then onto the weights.

Now, I realise it wasn’t the most scientific training we could have done, but we got results!
I put on a little weight, but got much much stronger with conditioning to match, got my black belt and fought for my country. The rowing squad were in the top 15 in the country.

When I need to train up for something these days, I always look back to those days, my first gym experience. Although I know much more now, it was the heart and soul we put into the training, it was the basic exercise selection, it was the high intensity circuits.

I look around the Gym I work in and see the girlie boys spending over an hour trying to get from a b cup to a c cup while I’m in and out in less than an hour, full body done, heavy weights moved and heart in the mouth intense cardio ( I like to finish with a 4 minute tabata after a strength workout). I could never get my head around bodybuilding.

I got into training to improve my martial arts, I continue training to improve not only my martial arts but everything else I do. If strength isn’t functional can it truly be called strength?

Fuck it, the sun’s shining, the Karate Kid won his fight and I’m in the mood to get out into the garden and do some training of my own. Bodyweight only, cos I took my Kettlebells to the gym.

Lets go


Wild Geese
any cause but our own

The worlds most universally abused exercise

Lets face it, most lads are in the gym cos they want to look big, and they want big guns.
No I don’t mean AK-47’s, I mean arms, more specifically Biceps.

Men want big Biceps. So men do Bicep curls.

Or do they?

I’m currently working out of one of the commercial gym’s in Dublin city centre, yesterday seemed to be the official arms day (Monday is reserved for chest, so arms are on Tuesday), now I’m a freelance PT, so I’ve no business interfering with the general populace but it’s just so heartbreaking seeing so many people making such a mess of what is essentially one of the simplest exercises on the menu.

The biceps curl. All you have to do is straighten and bend the arm at the elbow, that’s it.
Yeah I could go into engaging the core, breathing techniques blah blah. In essence, a bicep curl involves starting with a straight arm and bending it until the hands come close to the shoulder, extend the elbow until the arm comes straight and repeat for the number of reps you have planned in your log (oh wait, that’s a whole other post!!)

And yet as I look around I see the majority of lads using weights that are that bit too heavy and compensating by only extending the arm to 90 degrees. The only rep worth anything was the first one when the arms were actually straight, subsequent reps were only half reps and were heavily assisted by the front delts and by the hips (as you swing and lean back).

Lads, leave the ego at the door, Iron is always going to beat muscle (unless your into bending nails), so find a weight you can control not a weight that will control you.

Better yet, forget curls and get on the pull up bar. Actually don’t, cos I need it.


Wild Geese
any cause but our own

PS if it’s big guns you want, check out this article by Jason Ferrugia:

The Next Level of Core Support

Since I got a copy of Jim Smiths recent book “Combat Core”
i’ve been posting articles and informatin that he’s been kind enough to send through to me.

Jim is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and an expert trainer who writes for Men’s Fitness and the Elite Q/A Staff etc, he has been involved in strength training as a performance enhancement specialist for over 8 years and has worked with athletes from various sports who compete at various levels and is on of the founding members of a group of lunatics collectivley known as the Diesel Crew.
He has published many articles about his unique training style and innovative methods for many prominent strength and fitness related sites and also the authored of three renowned strength manuals.

I’ve just posted his latest article, The Next Level of Core Support – Dynamic Planks, on my site. In it Jim takes one of those useless mini trampoline things and turns it into an instrument of torture.

Have a look if you dare……

Wild Geese
any cause but our own

More Effective Muscle Building Workouts

By Jason Ferrugia

Why is it that almost all of the muscle building workouts you read about advocate body-part splits? Monday is chest day, Tuesday is back, Thursday is legs and Friday is arms…or something like that, I guess.

Why does everyone just do what everyone else is doing and follow the herd like a bunch of sheep without stopping to ever consider why?

You need to understand that most forms of muscle building workouts have just been passed down for decades from one generation to the next, without the inclusion of rational thought. Sometime in the 60’s, sensible muscle building workouts started becoming less and less prevalent with the rapidly growing usage of anabolic steroids.

In the days of old, men like Steve Reeves and Paul Anderson trained with far more reasonable, lower volume programs. Unfortunately these smarter muscle building workouts started to disappear during the 60’s. By the time Arnold got to Gold’s Gym in Venice for the first time, high volume, body-part splits were the widely accepted way for everyone to train for size and strength.

These types of muscle building workouts are not based on deductive reasoning but just on the fact that “it’s what everyone else is doing.” The proponents of these training methods will always blindly tell you that “higher volume training is needed for hypertrophy gains.” Says who? I can tell you for a fact that the University of Chicago isn’t wasting time examining the effects of Jay Cutler’s marathon workouts. There are no studies saying that you need 8-12 sets per body-part to grow. In fact there are studies that show the opposite; that one set is just as effective as three.

The proponents of this type of training will also tell you that higher volume training is associated with higher levels of growth hormone secretion. What they don’t tell you is that the level of GH increase is not enough to make any difference at all. In fact, almost anything you do elevates GH. Extreme temperatures elevate GH but my biceps don’t get bigger every time I take a shower. The increased GH secretion from training is so minimal that it is not enough to make the slightest difference whatsoever.

For the drug free lifter who does not possess muscle building genetics quite up to par with the current Mr. Olypia, training this way is a huge mistake. Not only does it drain your amino acid pool and glycogen stores but it dramatically enhances your recovery time between workouts. If you do 8-12 sets for chest on Monday you can not recover from that workout and be able to train again for seven days. So you are only getting one growth stimulus per week or fifty two per year. Now if you reduce your volume to the point where you can recover faster and more efficiently without draining your amino acid pool and glycogen stores so greatly, you can train bodyparts twice per week instead of once. Now instead of 52 muscle building workouts per year for each bodypart, you can now do 104. In fact, if your volume is kept low you can even get away with training bodyparts three times a week in certain situations. Now, which do you think will be more effective; 156 muscle building workouts per year or 52?

To train more often you absolutely have to lower your training volume. The total sets per workout should be kept low and the total sets per exercise should be even lower. There is no need to hit four sets of incline presses, flat bench presses and decline presses for your chest workout. Doing that is a form of neuroses; you think that you need to hit every angle and do and endless amount of sets to stimulate every last muscle fiber, but this is simply not the case.

The reason these types of muscle building workouts remain popular is because nobody wants to be told that they are wrong. Admitting your mistakes is something many people can’t do. It is why when something radically different is proposed, the high volume proponents get upset and offended. Nobody likes to have their ego bruised so they keep on doing and promoting the same old high volume workouts that they always have.

That’s fine, let them continue to do what they choose; personally I have way more important things to do than spend all of my waking hours in the gym. If I can get better results in a fraction of the time with short, highly effective muscle building workouts, I will choose that option every time.

Cut your volume down, up your weights and intensity and get ready for the “what are you on” questions to start rolling in.

Jason Ferruggia is a world famous fitness expert who is renowned for his ability to help people build muscle as fast as humanly possible. He is the head training adviser for Men’s Fitness Magazine where he also has his own monthly column dedicated to muscle building. For More Effecive Muscle Building Workout tips, check out

Wild Geese
any cause but our own