Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I knew this would be the case...

...I have three times as many people coming to my seminar from overseas as are coming from Ireland.

Now...in fairness...I'm just being dramatic for the sake of comedy value and because I wanted something to right about but I do think it is worth mentioning and laughing about the fact that so far one local...that being Barry...has said they will attend versus three foreigners...one from as far away as Pakistan have said they will come.

It says a lot about Ireland and Irish sport in general I think. If over last few years I had excepted some of the job offers I've had from outside of Ireland or if I made a bigger song and dance and whored myself to the media here as other have I could slap a €1000+ price tag on this seminar...then market the shit out of it and sell it out a few times over....do you guys not think it is funny?

Anyway...it doesn't really matter as like I said...if one person showed up I'd be happy enough with that and I will probably put a ceiling on the number anyway. I'm thinking maybe 10. We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Principles of Strength and Conditioning

I am putting on my seminar on the 7th and 8th of February 2009. It is going to go ahead even if only 1 person shows up. I'm going to come back to post and fill out all the details and specifics so check back here if you are interested in attending. I just wanted to 'announce' it because I said I would set a date before Christmas.

So you have your date now...more information to come.

Proposed Seminar Format

Introduction to Strength and Conditioning for Athletes
I want the seminar to focus on preparing athletes of all types from all sports and I'm going to deal with everything from the generalities to the specifics of all the sports and athletes with whom I work.

Screening and Functional Movement Analysis
I am going to try and rope in a lot of the sports professionals with whom I work to cover very specific elements like this. Essentially everyone who is attending who is able will have a screening done and also perform them. It'll be a case of learning by doing.

Strength Testing and Fitness Assessment
I am going to drag a large number of athletes in by scheduling by mere coincidence their strength testing and fitness assessments to coincide with the seminar and once again...everyone who is able will do a full strength test and fitness assessment.

We'll then be able to look at the data we have and use that as a basis for much of the rest of the seminar.

We'll go into what the results mean and how to interpret them as a reference point for the information to come.

Strength Training Theory
I'm going to go through the basic principles of strength training but more importantly I want to discuss what all this theory means in practice.

Getting Our Pump On
As part of all this we are also going to TRAIN...we're ALL going to go through fundamental exercises, focusing on technique and the coaching points important to coaches and athletes.

That essentially will be the Saturday...I think we will have a proper catered lunch and dinner and drinks in the bar afterwards...so people can basically come for the day...bring their change of clothes for the night. There is plenty of accommodation nearby so a short taxi ride will be all that is needed for those out of towners and locals alike.

The Sunday will go something as follows...
Program Construction
This will be an opportunity for me to present my fundamental training theory...the how and why of what I actually do.
We'll then actually design some programs based on ours or others results from the previous day.
We can then examine and critique the various training options that we come up with.

Conditioning Theory
As with the strength training portion we'll go through very basic theory but focus more on the actual 'take home' points.

Getting our Sweat On
This will be acceleration, agility and speed session primarily but we'll also cover conditioning and field based conditioning games.

We'll wrap up with lunch and a good Q&A that will basically go on as long as needs be or until people get bored and start drifting away and I am left talking to myself.

When people have visited before they stayed at Bewley's at Sandyford/Leopardstown and I think people were pretty happy with that in the past. Maybe Ian could chime in and let people know how he found it?
Here is another venue that Damian found which is only a few minutes from the gym...The Bridge House. Accomodation in Dublin should be plentiful and reasonably cheap at the moment...I wouldn't imagine occupancy rates are 'maxed out' at the moment.

Seminar Cost
The seminar is going to cost €105...I pulled this figure basically out of my hole. It is what I charge for a consultation and program and is half the price I plan on charging for this seminar the next time I do it.
Now...you don't have to pay in advance for the seminar. In fact if you want to shaft me or it brings joy to your life to stick it to people who want to help you or you can't afford (or can justify to yourself not being able to afford it while sinking piss at a cost of €5+ a pint) then feel free not to pay at all. One of the things I've always been happy about is that my father always taught me that it is better to be screwed than do the screwing...I know my American friends won't understand that at all...and I know for sure that my Irish friends DEFINITELY won't get that...now that I think of it...not many people will probably get it...but I am fine with being taken advantage of or in being done over by somebody....BUT it will only ever happen once. So basically...pay or don't pay....come or don't come...I really don't give a shit. As the people that know me will freely tell you...you can't actually pay me enough money to work or help people who don't want to help themselves. If you do want to come and you do want to pay for it I am going to make sure you get all the information and help you want to the extent that it will be you that has to ask me to shut up or pretends to get something out of your car so you can slip away from me.

I don't want to 'out' anyone who is coming but I thought I would create a list of attendees and put you guys on a mailing list so everyone who is going has everyone else's email addresses etc so you can sort out travel and accommodation between you all.

So far I know that the following are attending:
Joel (Sweden)
Ian Mellis (UK)
Damien Martin (IRL)
Dwain McGuinness (IRL)
Alan Lavin (IRL)
Don Lehane (IRL)
Padraic Monaghan (IRL)

Well that's it so far. It looks like it is going to be a far bigger success than I ever imagined.

The following are people I suspect might attend:

So if you want to go on the 'are' or 'might' be attending lists then drop me a mail. It isn't going to be a massive seminar...mainly because I don't want it to be and partly because my personality should drive off the majority of those that are contemplating possibly attending. So before anyone gets too carried away I think those out of towners that are coming should compare notes. Staying in the same hotel would be a good start. The way I think things should go is that we kick of around 10am on Saturday...break for lunch...finish in the afternoon and then train...we can then shit, shave and shower (that's just my proposed order...it works for me...if someone has a better order feel free to let me know...it's all about learning) then go and have some dinner and a few beverages. Sunday morning we'll kick of again 10am and finish early in the afternoon. I'm pretty flexible...I've a good idea of all the material that I want to cover to make the seminar a stand alone event and to tie the whole lot together...the timing is pretty much up to all those that attend and I'm will to put it to a vote if neccessary so long as you all realise that I have the deciding vote.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Let me make something clear...

...these are not instructional videos.

Perfect execution of a superiorly designed and instructed 'functional' lift that I developed.

Monkey see monkey do...this is why all my athletes have such great form and technique...how could they not with a role model like this!

I only say this because apparently some moron on an Irish fitness board was commenting on what a bad coach I apparently am...the reason I say that this particular individual is a moron is because his evidence for my lack of coaching prowess was apparently the following:

Judging by the form of some of the athletes in his videos, I wouldn't be asking him for advice on weightlifting.

I know he uses the excuse that max outs don't have to be pretty.... but if you've solid form to start with you'll have it at any weight.

Edit: Does he even use oly lifts with his athletes?

1. I haven't posted very many Oly lifting videos but I don't think my athletes are too bad considering what I've seen elsewhere.

2. I tend to post videos that are 'interesting' rather than 'instructional' and to give people a 'feel' for what is going on in sessions.

3. I don't 'set up' videos...I post stuff as is...because I think most of the stuff that I see elsewhere on the web is absolutely a 'set up'...which is fine if you are posting videos as 'instructional' but I think it is pretty disingenuous if you are trying to present it as 'ordinary' training session or exercise.

4. I don't actually make 'excuses' for form and don't remember ever doing so...even when that other idiot TruthAxe was going on with that rubbish regarding ROK I agreed that her form was far from perfect...and that was why we were working on it.

5. I'd love to follow this individual around the gym and film him training...I bet every single exercise and session he did could be picked to pieces if he were training anywhere close to maximal...and that would be a stupid thing to do...as stupid as him saying I'm a poor coach because he's seen my videos.

6. I can post plenty of videos of Olympic level weightlifters displaying poor form and missing lifts....what the hell would that mean? I have been lucky enough to train with and beside Olympic weightlifting medallists and have seen plenty of less than perfect form on display in training.

Anyway...I just wanted to pass on my thanks to all those people (you know who you are) that email me links to this sort of stuff whenever and wherever it appears on the internet in the hopes of baiting me into going and annoying these people out there on the interweb. I can tell you now though that I will never post on that site...the level of advice and discussion there generally is probably amongst the worst I've seen on the internet with regard fitness and training. My New Years resolution will be to resist arguing with idiots as they drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience! That site let me tell you has more experience than most.

As an aside...I don't actually consider myself an Olympic lifting coach...mainly because it doesn't play a huge part in my day to day coaching. I think to really coach it well like anything else you need to be exposed to it often and consistently. As well as that I don't really think it provides the effects that people believe it does with regard to improving sports performance along with the fact that I think there are better ways to provide the performance returns that most people pursuing Olympic lifting are looking for in the first place.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Day 36-42

Going to attempt to make this a good training week. Didn't get off to a good start yesterday. I was basically stuck at the computer working from when I woke till 11pm last night and hardly had a chance to answer mail or annoy people on the interweb...and I always try to make time for that...no matter how busy I am.

This week is basically about maintenance...I want to maintain my weight at or around 110kg and keep the off mat portion of my training on track. I feel great at the moment and am looking forward to the Christmas and New Year period being over and everything getting back to normal in the New Year.

I'll be doing some testing between Christmas and New Years as well so we'll see where I'm at then.

Rest Day...too much work to do and not enough time to do it.

I weighed in tonight...109.6kg...and yes...I had a witness. Pretty happy that I've been able to maintain and manage my body weight so close to where I wanted it.

Bike - 25 mins
Ab Circuit:
Hanging Leg Raises - 3x10
JF Laterals - 3x10 each side

Standing Ab Pulldowns - 3x10
KB Side Rolls - 3x10 each side
Ab Roll Outs - 3x10
1A Horizontal Band Pull-A-Parts - 3x10
1B Vertical Band Pull-A-Parts - 3x10
2A Pull Up + Curl - 5x4's
2B Elevated Push Ups + Knee Raises - 5x8's

Bike - 20 mins

Went to the gym...warm up...started my session and just felt like crap so stopped. Did a bit but nothing worth mentioning really.


Note: It's Christmas morning and I feel like absolute crap. I think I've managed to work myself into the ground...I blame my non existent job and the long hours I've not been working...I had a bit of a cough yesterday...but today I am properly sick...the cough, congestion and I have the 'sickness sweats' so no training today. Going to spend my Christmas day sleeping I think in the hope that the rest will have me sorted out.

I am having a prolonged near death experience...no sleep due to hacking cough...constantly alternating between chills and full body sweating...along with soreness in every joint in my body. Not the Christmas and New Year period I was looking forward to.

Still sick as a dog but managed to drag my carcass to work. Thankfully stumbled onto the right combination of over the counter medications after going through cough syrups like it was some sort of wine tasting...my personal recommendation is Benylin 4Flu Tablets stacked with Nurofen Plus tablets...a fantastic oral only cycle.

No longer feel like I am on my death bed. The medication I'm taking has worked a treat. Not coughing anywhere near as much and when I do cough I no longer feel like my head is going to explode.

I think it is going to be a few more days before I am back ready to train.

Monday, December 22, 2008

If you happen to be feeling cerebral

I thought some of you reading this blog might find this interesting...as if you are reading my blog you are obviously incredibly intelligent and discerning readers.

The following is an excerpt from Malcolm Gladwell's book...a link to the book on Amazon you'll find right here. He also has a blog...that you'll find here.

I'm not sure whether I am infringing some sort of copyright here but Malcolm if you are reading this...I've ordered your book myself...and maybe someone else here will as well.

Anyway...here's the excerpt of from the book that appeared originally in The Guardian.

A gift or hard graft?

The University of Michigan opened its new computer centre in 1971, in a low-slung building on Beal Avenue in Ann Arbor. The university's enormous mainframe computers stood in the middle of a vast, white-tiled room, looking, as one faculty member remembers, "like one of the last scenes in 2001: A Space Odyssey". Off to the side were dozens of key-punch machines - what passed in those days for computer terminals. Over the years, thousands of students would pass through that white-tiled room - the most famous of whom was a gawky teenager named Bill Joy.

Joy came to the University of Michigan the year the computer centre opened, at the age of 16. He had been voted "most studious student" by his graduating class at North Framingham high school, outside Detroit, which, as he puts it, meant he was a "no-date nerd". He had thought he might end up as a biologist or a mathematician, but late in his freshman year he stumbled across the computing centre - and he was hooked.

From then on, the computer centre was his life. He programmed whenever he could. He got a job with a computer science professor, so he could program over the summer. In 1975, Joy enrolled in graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley. There, he buried himself even deeper in the world of computer software. During the oral exams for his PhD, he made up a particularly complicated algorithm on the fly that - as one of his many admirers has written - "so stunned his examiners [that] one of them later compared the experience to 'Jesus confounding his elders'".

Working in collaboration with a small group of programmers, Joy took on the task of rewriting Unix, a software system developed by AT&T for mainframe computers. Joy's version was so good that it became - and remains - the operating system on which millions of computers around the world run. "If you put your Mac in that funny mode where you can see the code," Joy says, "I see things that I remember typing in 25 years ago." And when you go online, do you know who wrote the software that allows you to access the internet? Bill Joy.

After Berkeley, Joy co-founded the Silicon Valley firm Sun Microsystems. There, he rewrote another computer language, Java, and his legend grew still further. Among Silicon Valley insiders, Joy is spoken of with as much awe as Bill Gates. He is sometimes called the Edison of the internet. The story of Joy's genius has been told many times, and the lesson is always the same. Here was a world that was the purest of meritocracies. Computer programming didn't operate as an old-boy network, where you got ahead because of money or connections. It was a wide-open field, in which all participants were judged solely by their talent and accomplishments. It was a world where the best men won, and Joy was clearly one of those best men. Sport, too, is supposed to be just such a pure meritocracy. But is it? Take ice hockey in Canada: look at any team and you will find that a disproportionate number of players will have been born in the first three months of the year. This, it turns out, is because the cut-off date for children eligible for the nine-year-old, 10-year-old, 11-year-old league and so on is January 1. Boys who are oldest and biggest at the beginning of the hockey season are inevitably the best. And so they get the most coaching and practice, and they get chosen for the all-star team, and so their advantage increases - on into the professional game. A similar pattern applies to other sports. What we think of as talent is actually a complicated combination of ability, opportunity and utterly arbitrary advantage.

Does something similar apply to outliers in other fields, such as Bill Joy? Do they benefit from special opportunities, and do those opportunities follow any kind of pattern? The evidence suggests they do. In the early 90s, the psychologist K Anders Ericsson and two colleagues set up shop at Berlin's elite Academy of Music. With the help of the academy's professors, they divided the school's violinists into three groups. The first group were the stars, the students with the potential to become world-class soloists. The second were those judged to be merely "good". The third were students who were unlikely ever to play professionally, and intended to be music teachers in the school system. All the violinists were then asked the same question.
Over the course of your career, ever since you first picked up the violin, how many hours have you practised? Everyone, from all three groups, started playing at roughly the same time - around the age of five. In those first few years, everyone practised roughly the same amount - about two or three hours a week. But around the age of eight real differences started to emerge. The students who would end up as the best in their class began to practise more than everyone else: six hours a week by age nine, eight by age 12, 16 a week by age 14, and up and up, until by the age of 20 they were practising well over 30 hours a week. By the age of 20, the elite performers had all totalled 10,000 hours of practice over the course of their lives. The merely good students had totalled, by contrast, 8,000 hours, and the future music
teachers just over 4,000 hours. The curious thing about Ericsson's study is that he and his colleagues couldn't find any "naturals" - musicians who could float effortlessly to the top while practising a fraction of the time that their peers did. Nor could they find "grinds", people who worked harder than everyone else and yet just didn't have what it takes to break into the top ranks. Their research suggested that once you have enough ability to get into a top music school, the thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works. That's it. What's more, the people at the very top don't just work much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder. This idea - that excellence at a complex task requires a critical, minimum level of practice - surfaces again and again in studies of expertise. In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is a magic number for true expertise: 10,000 hours.

"In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice-skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals," writes the neurologist Daniel Levitin, "this number comes up again and again. Ten thousand hours is equivalent to roughly three hours a day, or 20 hours a week, of practice over 10 years... No one has yet found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery."

This is true even of people we think of as prodigies. Mozart, for example, famously started writing music at six. But, the psychologist Michael Howe writes in his book Genius Explained, by the standards of mature composers Mozart's early works are not outstanding. The earliest pieces were all probably written down by his father, and perhaps improved in the process. Many of Wolfgang's childhood compositions, such as the first seven of his concertos for piano and orchestra, are largely arrangements of works by other composers. Of those concertos that contain only music original to Mozart, the earliest that is now regarded as a masterwork (No9 K271) was not composed until he was 21: by that time Mozart had already been composing concertos for 10 years. To become a chess grandmaster also seems to take about 10 years. (Only the legendary Bobby Fischer got to that elite level in less than that time: it took him nine years.) And what's 10 years? Well, it's roughly how long it takes to put in 10,000 hours of hard practice.

Ten thousand hours is, of course, an enormous amount of time. It's all but impossible to reach that number, by the time you're a young adult, all by yourself. You have to have parents who are encouraging and supportive. You can't be poor, because if you have to hold down a part-time job on the side to help make ends meet, there won't be enough time left over in the day. In fact, most people can really only reach that number if they get into some kind of special programme - like a hockey all-star squad - or get some kind of extraordinary opportunity that gives them a chance to put in that kind of work.

So, back to Bill Joy. It's 1971 and he's 16. He's the maths wiz, the kind of student that schools like MIT, Caltech or the University of Waterloo attract by the hundreds. "When Bill was a little kid, he wanted to know everything about everything way before he should've even known he wanted to know," his father William says. "We answered him when we could. And when we couldn't, we would just give him a book." When he applied to college, Joy got a perfect score on the maths portion of the scholastic aptitude test. "It wasn't particularly hard," he says, matter-of-factly. "There was plenty of
time to check it twice." He could have gone in any number of directions. He could have done a PhD in biology. He could have gone to medical school. He could easily have had a "typical" college career: lots of schoolwork, football games, drunken fraternity parties, awkward encounters with girls, long discussions with roommates about the meaning of life. But he didn't, because he stumbled across that nondescript building on Beal Avenue. In the 70s, when Joy was learning about programming, computers were the size of rooms. A single machine - which might have less power and memory than your microwave - could cost upwards of a million dollars. Computers were hard to get access to, and renting time on them cost a fortune. This was the era when computer programs were created using cardboard "punch" cards. A complex program might include hundreds, if not thousands, of these cards, in tall stacks. Since computers could handle only one task at a time, the operator made an appointment for your program and, depending on how many other people were ahead of you in line, you might not get your cards back for several hours. And if you made even a single error in your program, then you had to take the cards back, track down the error and begin the whole process again. Under those circumstances, it was exceedingly difficult for anyone to become a programming expert. Certainly becoming an expert by your early 20s was all but impossible. "Programming with cards," one computer scientist from the era remembers, "did not teach you programming. It taught you patience and proofreading."

That's where the University of Michigan came in. It was one of the first universities in the world to abandon computer cards for the brand-new system called "time-haring". Computer scientists realised you could train a computer to handle hundreds of tasks at the same time. No more punch cards. You could build dozens of terminals, link them all to the mainframe by a telephone line, and have everyone programming - online - all at once. This was the opportunity that greeted Bill Joy when he arrived on the Ann Arbor campus in the autumn of 1971. "Do you know what the difference is between the computing cards and time-sharing?" Joy says. "It's the difference between playing chess by mail and speed chess." Programming wasn't an exercise in frustration any more. It was fun.

According to Joy, he spent a phenomenal amount of time at the computer centre. "It was open 24 hours. I would stay there all night, and just walk home in the morning. In an average week in those years I was spending more time in the computer centre than on my classes. All of us down there had this recurring nightmare of forgetting to show up for class at all, of not even realising we were enrolled."

Just look at the stream of opportunities that came Joy's way. Because he happened to go to a far-sighted school, he was able to practise on a time-sharing system, instead of punch cards; because the university was willing to spend the money to keep the computer centre open 24 hours, he could stay up all night; and because he was able to put in so many hours, by the time he was presented with the opportunity to rewrite Unix, he was up to the task. Bill Joy was brilliant. He wanted to learn - that was a big part of it - but before he could become an expert, someone had to give him the
opportunity to learn how to be expert.

"At Michigan, I was probably programming eight or 10 hours a day," he says. "By the time I was at Berkeley, I was doing it day and night..." He pauses for a moment, to do the maths in his head which, for him, doesn't take long. "It's five years," he says, finally. "So, so, maybe...10,000 hours? That's about right."

Is this a general rule of success? If you scratch below the surface of every great achiever, do you always find the equivalent of the Michigan Computer Centre or the hockey all-star team - some sort of special opportunity for practice? Let's test the idea with two examples: the Beatles, one of the most famous rock bands ever, and Bill
Gates, one of the world's richest men.

The Beatles - John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr - came to the US in February 1964, starting the so-called "British Invasion" of the American music scene. The interesting thing is how long they had already been playing together. Lennon and McCartney began in 1957. (Incidentally, the time that elapsed between their founding and their greatest artistic achievements - arguably Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and the White Album - is 10 years.) In 1960, while they were still a struggling school rock band, they were invited to play in Hamburg, Germany.

"Hamburg in those days did not have rock'n'roll music clubs. It had strip clubs," says Philip Norman, who wrote the Beatles' biography, Shout! "There was one particular club owner called Bruno, who was originally a fairground showman. He had the idea of bringing in rock groups to play in various clubs. They had this formula. It was a huge nonstop show, hour after hour, with a lot of people lurching in and the other lot lurching out. And the bands would play all the time to catch the passing traffic. In an American red-light district, they would call it nonstop striptease. "Many of the bands that played in Hamburg were from Liverpool," Norman continues. "It was an accident. Bruno went to London to look for bands. But he happened to meet a Liverpool entrepreneur in Soho, who was down in London by pure chance. And he arranged to send some bands over. That's how the connection was established. And eventually the Beatles made a connection not just with Bruno, but with other club owners as well. They kept going back, because they got a lot of alcohol and a lot of sex."

And what was so special about Hamburg? It wasn't that it paid well. (It didn't.) Or that the acoustics were fantastic. (They weren't.) Or that the audiences were savvy and appreciative. (They were anything but.) It was the sheer amount of time the band was forced to play. Here is John Lennon, in an interview after the Beatles disbanded, talking about the band's performances at a Hamburg strip club called the Indra: "We
got better and got more confidence. We couldn't help it with all the experience playing all night long. It was handy them being foreign. We had to try even harder, put our heart and soul into it, to get ourselves over. In Liverpool, we'd only ever done one-hour sessions, and we just used to do our best numbers, the same ones, at every one. In Hamburg we had to play for eight hours, so we really had to find a new way of playing."

The Beatles ended up travelling to Hamburg five times between 1960 and the end of 1962. On the first trip, they played 106 nights, of five or more hours a night. Their second trip they played 92 times. Their third trip they played 48 times, for a total of 172 hours on stage. The last two Hamburg stints, in November and December 1962, involved another 90 hours of performing. All told, they performed for 270 nights in just over a year and a half. By the time they had their first burst of success in 1964, they had performed live an estimated 1,200 times, which is extraordinary. Most bands today don't perform 1,200 times in their entire careers. The Hamburg crucible is what set the Beatles apart. "They were no good on stage when they went there and they were very good when they came back," Norman says. "They learned not only stamina, they had to learn an enormous amount of numbers - cover versions of everything you can think of, not just rock'n'roll, a bit of jazz, too. They weren't disciplined on stage at all before that. But when they came back they sounded like no one else. It was the making of them."

Let's now turn to the history of Bill Gates. His story is almost as well-known as the Beatles'. Brilliant young maths wiz discovers computer programming. Drops out of Harvard. Starts a little computer company called Microsoft with his friends. Through sheer brilliance, ambition and guts builds it into the giant of the software world.

Now let's dig a bit deeper. Gates' father was a wealthy lawyer in Seattle, and his mother was the daughter of a well-to-do banker. As a child Gates was precocious, and easily bored by his studies. So his parents took him out of public school, and at the beginning of seventh grade sent him to Lakeside, a private school that catered to Seattle's elite families. Midway through Gates' second year, the school started a computer club. "The Mothers' Club at school did a rummage sale every year, and there was always the question of what the money would go to," Gates remembers. "That year, they put $3,000 into buying a computer terminal down in this funny little room that we subsequently took control of. It was kind of an amazing thing."

Even more remarkable was the kind of computer Lakeside bought: it was an ASR-33 Teletype, a time-sharing terminal with a direct link to a mainframe computer in downtown Seattle. "The whole idea of time-sharing only got invented in 1965," Gates says. "Someone was pretty forward looking."

From that moment on, Gates lived in the computer room. He and a number of others began to teach themselves how to use this strange new device. The parents raised more money to buy time on the mainframe computer. The students spent it. As luck would have it, Monique Rona, one of the founders of C-Cubed - a company that leased computer time - had a son at Lakeside, a class ahead of Gates. Would the Lakeside computer club, Rona wondered, like to test out the company's software programs on the weekends in exchange for free programming time? Absolutely!

Before long, Gates and his friends latched on to another outfit called ISI, which agreed to let them have free computer time in exchange for working on a piece of software that could be used to automate company payrolls. In one seven-month period in 1971, Gates and his cohorts ran up 1,575 hours of computer time on the ISI mainframe, which averages out at eight hours a day, seven days a week.

"It was my obsession," Gates says of his early high school years. "I skipped athletics. I went up there at night. We were programming on weekends. It would be a rare week that we wouldn't get 20 or 30 hours in. There was a period where Paul Allen and I got in trouble for stealing a bunch of passwords and crashing the system. We got kicked out. I didn't get to use the computer the whole summer. This is when I was 15 and 16. Then I found out Paul had found a computer that was free at the University of Washington. They had these machines in the medical centre and the physics department. They were on a 24-hour schedule, but with this big slack period so between three and six in the morning they never scheduled anything." Gates laughed.
"That's why I'm always so generous to the University of Washington, because they let me steal so much computer time. I'd leave at night, after my bedtime. I could walk up to the university from my house. Or I'd take the bus." Years later, Gates' mother said, "We always wondered why it was so hard for him to get up in the morning."

Through one of the founders of ISI, Gates landed a secondment programming a computer system at the Bonneville Power station in southern Washington State. There, he spent the spring of his senior year writing code.

Those five years, from eighth grade to the end of high school, were Bill Gates' Hamburg, and by any measure he was presented with an even more extraordinary series of opportunities than Bill Joy. And virtually every one of those opportunities gave Gates extra time to practise. By the time he dropped out of Harvard, he'd been programming nonstop for seven consecutive years. He was way past 10,000 hours. How many teenagers had the kind of experience Gates had? "If there were 50 in the world, I'd be stunned," he says.

If you put together the stories of hockey players and the Beatles and Bill Joy and Bill Gates, I think we get a more complete picture of the path to success. Joy, Gates and the Beatles are all undeniably talented. Lennon and McCartney had a musical gift, of the sort that comes along once in a generation, and Joy, let us not forget, had a mind so quick that he could make up a complicated algorithm on the fly that left his professors in awe. A good part of that "talent", however, was something other than an innate aptitude for music or maths. It was desire. The Beatles were willing to play for eight hours straight, seven days a week. Joy was willing to stay up all night programming. In either case, most of us would have gone home to bed. In other words, a key part of what it means to be talented is being able to practise for hours and hours - to the point where it is really hard to know where "natural ability" stops and the simple willingness to work hard begins.

What is so striking about these success stories is that the outliers were the beneficiaries of some kind of unusual opportunity. Lucky breaks don't seem like the exception with software billionaires, rock bands and star athletes; they seem like the rule. Recently Forbes Magazine compiled a list of the 75 richest people in history. It includes queens and kings and pharaohs from centuries past, as well as contemporary billionaires such as Warren Buffet and Carlos Slim. However, an astonishing 14 on the list are Americans born within nine years of each other in the mid-19th century. In other words, almost 20% of the names come from a single generation - born between 1831 and 1840 in a single country. The list includes industrialists and financiers who are still household names today:
John Rockefeller, born in 1839 (the richest of the lot); Andrew Carnegie, 1835; Jay Gould, 1836; and JP Morgan, 1837.

What's going on here is obvious, if you think about it. In the 1860s and 1870s, the American economy went through perhaps the greatest transformation in its history. This was when the railways were built, and when Wall Street emerged. It was when industrial manufacturing started in earnest. It was when all the rules by which the traditional economy functioned were broken and remade. What that list says is that it was absolutely critical, if you were going to take advantage of those opportunities, to be in your 20s when that transformation was happening.

If you were born in the late 1840s, you missed it - you were too young to take advantage of that moment. If you were born in the 1820s, you were too old - your mindset was shaped by the old, pre-civil war ways. But there is a particular, narrow nine-year window that was just perfect. All of the 14 men and women on that list had vision and talent. But they also were given an extraordinary opportunity, in the same way that hockey players born in January, February and March were given an extraordinary opportunity.

Let's do the same kind of analysis for software tycoons such as Bill Joy and Bill Gates.

Veterans of Silicon Valley will tell you that the most important date in the history of the personal computer revolution was January 1975. That was when the magazine Popular Electronics ran a cover story on a machine called the Altair 8800. The Altair cost $397. It was a do-it-yourself contraption that you could assemble at home. The headline on the story read: Project Breakthrough! World's First Minicomputer Kit To
Rival Commercial Models. To readers of Popular Electronics, then the bible of the fledgling software and computer world, that headline was a revelation. Computers up to that point were the massive, expensive mainframes of the sort sitting in the white-tiled expanse of the Michigan computing centre. For years, every hacker and electronics wiz had dreamed of the day when a computer would come along that was small and inexpensive enough for an ordinary person to use and own. That day had finally arrived. If January 1975 was the dawn of the personal computer age, then who would be in the best position to take advantage of it? If you're a few years out of college in 1975, and if you have had any experience with programming at all, you would have already been hired by IBM or one of the other traditional, old-line computer firms of that era. You belonged to the old paradigm. You have just bought a house. You're married. A baby is on the way. You're in no position to give up a good job and pension for some pie-in-the-sky $397 computer kit. So let's also rule out all those born before, say, 1952.

At the same time, though, you don't want to be too young. You can't seize the moment if you're still in high school. So let's also rule out anyone born after, say, 1958. The perfect age to be in 1975, in other words, is young enough to see the coming revolution but not so old as to have missed it. You want to be 20 or 21, born in 1954 or 1955.

Let's start with Gates, the richest and most famous of all Silicon Valley tycoons. When was he born? Bill Gates: October 28 1955. The perfect birthdate. Gates is the hockey player born on January 1.

Gates's best friend at Lakeside was Paul Allen. He also hung out in the computer room with Gates, and shared those long evenings at ISI and C-Cubed. Allen went on to found Microsoft with Gates. Paul Allen: January 21 1953.

The third richest man at Microsoft is the one who has been running the company on a day-to-day basis since 2000 - one of the most respected executives in the software world, Steve Ballmer. Steve Ballmer: March 24 1956.

And let's not forget a man every bit as famous as Gates, Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple Computer. He wasn't from a rich family, like Gates, and he didn't go to Michigan, like Joy. But it doesn't take much investigation of his upbringing to realise that he had his Hamburg, too. He grew up in Mountain View California, just south of San Francisco, which is the absolute epicentre of Silicon Valley. His neighbourhood was filled with engineers from Hewlett-Packard, then, as now, one of the most important electronics firms in the world. As a teenager he prowled the flea markets of Mountain View, where electronics hobbyists and tinkerers sold spare parts. Jobs came of age breathing the air of the very business he would later dominate. He picked the brains of Hewlett-Packard engineers and once even called Bill Hewlett, one of the company's founders, to request parts. Jobs not only received the parts he wanted, he managed to wangle a summer job. He worked on an assembly line to build computers and was so fascinated that he tried to design his own... Steve Jobs was born on February 24 1955.

Another of the pioneers of the software revolution was Eric Schmidt. He ran Novell, one of Silicon Valley's most important software firms, and in 2001 became the chief executive officer of Google. He was born on April 27 1955.

I don't mean to suggest, of course, that every software tycoon in Silicon Valley was born in 1955. But there are very clearly patterns here, and what's striking is how little we seem to want to talk about them. We pretend that success is a matter of individual merit. That is not the whole story. These are stories about people who were given a special opportunity to work really hard and seized it, and who happened to come of age at a time when that extraordinary effort was rewarded by the rest of society. Their success was not of their own making. It was a product of the world in which they grew up. Their success, in other words, wasn't due to some mysterious
process known only to themselves. It had a logic, and if we can understand that logic, think of all the tantalising possibilities that opens up.

By the way, let's not forget Bill Joy. Had he been just a little bit older and had to face the drudgery of programming with computer cards, he says he would have studied science. Bill Joy the computer legend would have been Bill Joy the biologist. In fact, he was born on November 8 1954. And his three fellow founders of Sun Microsystems - one of the oldest and most important of Silicon Valley's software companies? Scott McNealy: born November 13 1954. Vinod Khosla: born January 28 1955. Andy Bechtolsheim: born June 1955. ·

(c) Malcolm Gladwell 2008.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Maybe it's just because it's after 1am but...

...I just thought this was brilliant. I know that it has absolutely nothing at all to do with sport or fitness or anything else for that matter but I thought some of you might think this was funny and I thought it especially so after the Tupac marathon we had on Friday.

I know I should be working...

A quick update on the lack of updates

Apologies for not being in a position to post anything of late for you all to waste your time reading. Normal service will resume shortly I promise.

I've had too much work to do of late and not enough time to do it...and I know you all believe me when I say that because people should know full well by now that there is nothing I like better than wasting my time updating my blog and generally annoying people on the interweb.

In the news this week:
1. I weighed in last Tuesday at 109.8kg...not that it's news but I forgot to put that in my diary at the time.
2. Haven't trained as well as I would have liked this week but that was unavoidable.
3. Everyone else has trained pretty well...next week things should be quieter work wise so I am planning on doing a bit of an update of where people are at.
4. ROK is still not dead or injured.

I should of got her to hold a newspaper while she was doing these.
5. The weekend presentation/coaching extravaganza is coming together quite well and as I said I will name a date and set it in concrete before Xmas.

I have to get back to work so more news on everything and anything in the not too distant future.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Very Mixed Session

This is the session that Barry did this morning:

See if you can follow along on the heart rate graph:
Bike - 5 mins.
Some lower body mobility work and some upper body stability work.
Rower - 3x4 mins with 1 min recovery between efforts...1091m, 1052m and 1033m.
Plate Shifting - 3 sets (4x5kg + 4x2.5kg over and back in each set)
10 min 40kg Barbell Complex - Deadlift, RDL, Clean, Front Squat, Push Press, Back Squat, Good Morning...behind the neck push press with the bar returning to the floor. As many complete sets as possible in 10 mins...he got 14 done.
Bike - 5x30/30 intervals at L5 and L10...easy spinning for 30 seconds at level 5 then out of the saddle and hard fast climbing for 30 seconds at over 100rpm. When he finished he stayed on the bike just spinning easily for 5 mins.
Cable Single Arm Press and Row - 1x12 each side at 40lbs, 3x12 each side at 50lbs.
1A Back Extensions - 3x12
1B Natural Reverse Hypers - 3x12
Then we sat around talking shit for ages at the end which you can see at the end of the graph.

...and by the way...the session was 'very mixed' for a reason...the title makes it sound like it wasn't meant to be that way.

Monday, December 15, 2008

MMA Training and Preparation

I went to my first MMA fight night on Friday. A number of the lads that I train with were fighting so I had a personal interest in the event. My mind was racing the whole night thinking about training and fighting...I can never watch any sport or competition without mentally masturbating with regard to training...that is regarding how I would make an athlete better, how I would optimise their individual strengths and minimise their weaknesses. I do this regardless of how much I know or don't know about the sport in question just like every other armchair critic and spectator does...and like everyone else...I do it from my own particular perspective.

As an aside...a lot of people make comments and or form opinions on coaches and trainers based on either how they look...as in do the look like they know about training and or how they performed in the past...as in were they successful...and like everything else...I've an opinion on this as well...it is true...you can't necessarily judge a book by its cover...but sometimes the cover does give you a pretty good idea. I know a lot of good coaches that I would have a lot of time for that look like crap...I also know a lot of coaches who look the business that don't know their aerobic from their anaerobic systems. I think I can say that I've been both of those...both looks wise and knowledge wise...when I first moved into coaching having been an athlete I did really well as a personal trainer based on the fact that I still 'looked' like I knew what I was doing...many years and many tonnes of food later...I certainly didn't 'look' like I knew what I was doing...unless you count looking like a international hot dog eating competitor but I certainly knew a lot more and had been a lot more successful as a coach than I was when I was starting out....but that is just an aside.

So back to MMA training and preparation. Like I said every coach views the sport in which they work through their own perspective...usually this comes down to viewing the sport through their own experience of training for it. I know there are coaches that haven't competed in the sports in which they work but on the whole these are still few and far between and definitely the exception to the rule. The problem with this is that anyone that has been coaching for any significant period of time or worked with a big enough number of athletes will be able to tell you that different athletes no matter how similar they appear can and will have very different responses to training. I have athletes that appear very similar who respond best to high volumes of training and others that respond best to lower volume higher intensity training...if I trained them the same way...obviously I wouldn't be getting the best results for both of them.

OK...so rule number 1...you have to have a plan...but you have to be ready to change it...and you need to know how, when and why you may need to change it.

So I want to look at the approach I'm taking to my own training and preparation and how I would and will approach the training of others...I'm talking purely about 'off mat' training here.

1. Assessment...if you don't know where you are starting from it makes it very difficult to plan where you need to be in the future. For me assessment usually consists of a few different aspects:
a) Functional Screening...this is a head to toe examination and documentation. I'm going to ask Barry if he minds me posting all his report here so you can see all the findings of his particular screening. I will go into more detail about it when I hear back from him.
b) Fitness Testing...I think I've gone into this in enough detail in the past as to the tests I do and why I do them.

While people are testing you are also making a visual examination of not only what they are doing but how they are doing it and what compensations if any they display to achieve their results.

2. Balance and Symmetry...the first thing I focus on is trying to 'tidy' athletes up as quickly as I can as effectively as I can without sacrificing too much training effect. This isn't always easy but it is certainly doable. Being able to do 50 push ups and 7 inverted rows...is not balanced...benching more than your body weight and not being able to do a pull up...is not balanced.

3. Strengths and Weaknesses...what sort of athlete are you or what kind of athlete are you working with...are you or they more 'power' or 'endurance' biased for instance.

4. What are the Performance Determining Factors (PDF) for the sport in which you are involved. Identifying the PDF's for MMA is difficult because of the blend of fighting styles and techniques involved...this is one of the great things about the sport as far as I am concerned...the path of a fight can go any number of ways and this presents challenges with regard training that are different than say training boxers or wrestlers or kickboxers for instance. A good MMA needs to be prepared for anything and everything. My personal view has always been to try to maximise an athletes strengths and minimise their weaknesses.

Note: I am actually heading off to training now but this is a post that I am going to come back to and expand on and flesh out in more detail as time passes. I just thought I would throw it up here now to see if anyone had any comments or observations.

Day 28-35

Had an easy week last week to allow a few niggles to clear up. This week is going to be a much heavier week training wise. I am going to do a lot more 'off mat' conditioning work this week.

I'll weigh in tonight at training and report back and let you know how my weight is going...like I said...I want to stay at or around 110kg until the new year. Just to give my body a bit of a chance to adjust. I'll drop from 110kg to 105kg in January and then stick at or around 105kg for 2 weeks. I then want to drop to 100kg in the 6 weeks to follow. So...my target is to be walking around at 100kg by the end of March. I think that would be pretty close to my 'optimal' fighting weight. We'll see how close I get to that target on the 1st of April.

Training Log
Bike - 25 min...average HR 145bpm.
Bike - 25 min...average HR 132bpm.

No MMA training tonight...I had a crash on my BICYCLE...I am highlighting the word bicycle because whenever I tell people I crashed my bike they think that I must be like Bruce Willis's character David Dunn in Unbreakable. Anyway...thankfully nothing is broken but my water bottle...I just lost a good bit of skin and a bit of a chunk out of my hip...it'll be fine though. Won't keep me from training tomorrow.

Bike - 24.30 min...average HR 150bpm.
Rower - Warm Up 4x500m with 1 min recovery.
Lower Body Mobility and Flexibility work.
Rower - 3x4min intervals with 1 min recovery...1159m, 1102m, 1108m.
Bike - 36 min...average 136bpm.
Bike - 24.45 min average HR 135bpm.
Bike - 34.15...average HR 140bpm.
MMA Training - 2.5hrs.
Bike - 21.30...average HR 135bpm.
Run - 4min42sec - average HR 160bpm.

Had a great days training today...the only issue was the fact that we focused on left leg kicks and training tonight so I was kicked in and on my right side all night which happened to be the side that I smashed up yesterday when I had my fall and slide on the tarmac off my bicycle...will have an easier day tomorrow and then a heavier day on Thursday.

Bike - 27 min...average HR 136bpm.
Bike - 17.30 min...average HR 123bpm.

Bike - 24 min...average HR 148bpm.
Bike - 23 min...average HR 116bpm.

Bike - 27 min...average HR 146bpm.
Warmed Up...did some hip mobility work.
Front Squats - 2 warm up sets of 8 reps with 50kg then 5 work sets of 5 reps at 90kg.
DB RDL's - 3 sets of 12 reps with 80kg.
Hi-Lo Woodchoppers - 3 sets of 12 reps on each side with 100lbs.
Trying to remember what I did here...I'll have to ask Damian as I forget.
Push Ups - 5 sets of my poor poor max with 2 mins between efforts.
Inverted Rows - 1 set of 15 reps and 4 sets of 10 reps.
Lo-Hi Woodchoppers - 3 sets of 12 reps on each side with 100lbs.
Bike - 20 min...average HR 132bpm.

Had an easy day today did a few rounds punching others and being punched.

Good session today...didn't take the details down as I went...it was really just a maintenance session comprising of a good warm up, some mobility work, then an ab/trunk circuit of about 6 exercises, some lat pulldowns and push ups, high rep RDL's, calf raises, cable bicep and tricep work then finished with some rowing intervals and stretching.

Really just keeping things ticking over with my own training while I'm busy with work at the moment. Things are quiet fight training wise over the Xmas/New Years break but I'm going to go to all the sessions that are on. Looking forward to getting back into a regular schedule in the New Year already.

What a week

One more fairly ridiculous work week to go and then things should ease up a bit.

Training Update
Had a good week last week training wise...in that it felt great because I was super fresh at every session I did. I think one of the key things regarding training and coaching is knowing when not to train and what not to do...it's as important as the 'when' and the 'what' of training.

Love Hate Relationship with my Job
One of the things that I love about my job is that I get to work with lots of different athletes from lots of different sports. I get to work with lots of individuals and teams and I get to experience all the different dynamics that go with individual sports as well as team sports. These are so different...teams are not just a collection of individuals...team sport has a very different dynamic to it. What am I rambling on about I hear you ask....well I just read this paragraph back to myself and I'm wondering that myself...what I was trying to get around to saying is that...it is good to work with lots of individuals and teams because you get many chances to share their joy in victory.

The flip side of that...is that some weekends I feel like crap because I have weekends where I feel all the losses...and they always hurt just as bad now as they did when I first started working.

If you've been involved in sport either as an individual or as part of a team...think about how bad you felt when you lost...then think how that would feel if you multiplied it by 3 or 4 teams and 15-20 individuals a weekend...that's the bit I hate.

Anyway...suffice to say...I had a weekend a bit on the crap side...with more losses than wins...I think I need a full time sports psychologist...for me that is...because I am such a bad loser.

2 Day Seminar
I have also been working on my '2 day seminar'...and it is coming together quite well. It is something that I've been thinking about for a long time and it is a bit of a coming together of all the presentations and seminars that I've given in the past and I think it is going to be truly unique...in the real sense of the word...rather than just in the usual 'marketing bullshit' sense of the word. I am going to set a date for it before Christmas and it will go ahead even if 1 person shows up...I'll hope for more...but I'll settle for 1.

The Blog this Week
I'm going to continue cleaning up my task list, to do list and the list of promises I made to people regarding info and posts that I said I would come back to that I haven't...so if you are very lucky you might even get something of interest out of me this week.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Someone...just one person has to start following my blog

I was annoyed and infuriated for a long time that I had 9 people following my blog. The reason this annoyed and infuriated me is because it is so unsymmetrical and it makes a mess of my whole blog. Then finally the 10th person started following it and symmetry and order came to my blog universe...now some bastard has decided to stop following my blog and order has gone and chaos has returned...I am very disturbed...or should I say...more disturbed.

That is all.

You should never take a break from training

I had a long day today...early starts and late finishes are no way to live. I am looking forward to mid January and in particular February when the workload should ease up a little.

Anyway enough moaning...had a visitor tonight who hasn't been in the gym for a while...immediate action was required...I hate fat people.

First step...set thermostat to appropriate temperature.

Then suit up and get working...

the do some more work...

and finish some more work...desperate times call for desperate measures.

Anyway...as bad as I felt by the end of the day...I bet I still felt better than Jonny who came in a preceded to drop 3kgs to make weight for his weigh in tomorrow morning...he can't even use water to brush his teeth tonight...in case he swallows some...he is only allowed to vacuum his teeth tonight.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ancient History...trying to clear my 'task' list


adrienl said...
hi will some impressive playing of the internets by yourself has lead me to ask some questions.
firstly when you use these blocks of strength conditioing what affect/s are you seeing over more traditional strength then cardio separate.
I just find it works better time wise. The intensity of the cardio work tends to be higher and the intensity of the strength work tends to be higher. This work is usually done in pairs and I think all the athletes that do this type of work will agree with that. You always tend to surprise yourself with regard to how hard you can push...I think that's a good thing with regard to what we are actually training for...sports performance.

I guess the big benefits are time and learning to work hard with resistance.
Second when you gave ian those blocks of hundred reps are they groove technique or for something else entirely?
Because it is hard...and people are competitive...and because I know that athletes will do it faster each time...at least over 3 or 4 consecutive sessions...it is also different...and that is good sometimes just for that reason.

lastly for this post when you say you like to try everything on yourself 1st how strict are you with this rule. It almost seems impossible that one could see all of the strength and conditioning worlds offers in one lifetime, so do you bend this rule or just look at specific conditions that you are most likely to encounter?
There is A LOT less variety than you think...outside of the truely stupid and ridiculous crap.


Hi will thanks again for replying and this new post has lead to a few questions.
First is there some way we can contribute to this blog beyond just asking questions, (i was thinking of providing ourselves as datapoints kind of like what kira mentioned in a comment this week).
Now on to the good stuff (hopefully)
About trying to balance athletes i realise and see the need to balance them out, but can you get to a point where they become too normalised and lose the adaptions that come from and are necessary to playing their sport.
No....that just never happens.

My line of thinking here is mainly for throwing sports and the right to left and internal to external dominance that you normally see.
I've a professional tennis player...no matter what I did in the gym...even if I did an hour a day...that isn't going to override the 5hrs a day he spends on court.

Staying with the shoulders when you programme the high volumes of inverted rows and pushups are these there for the athlets shoulder health as the main objective.

Also if an athletes shoulders are shocking what pressing pulling exercises do you generally put into ensure they stay strong but are still staying safe and fixing the problem.
I've had athletes with shoulder issues that haven't done any 'pressing' movements for months at a time. This is a case by case issue...there just aren't 'general' answers.

Last 2
So staying with this theme of health for athletes you generally program more front core work than low back work, what has lead you to this decision over the years of traing, ie costs and benefits of one versus the other. Or do you find that focusing of posterior leg strength takes care of this for you.
This is not the case...ask anyone I coach how much time they spend doing reverse hypers, back extensions, good mornings, deadlifts, squats and so on. I would generally say most athletes do more posterior than anterior trunk work...keeping in mind that I think generally we do a lot/more than most.

Lastly what band do you mostly use in the test that barry ian and the rest have performed.
A 'red' or light iron woody band.

Thanks again for repeating yourself i am sure we will get it sooner or later

Ian Mellis said...
What about mobility work pre strength work? Any specific rolling/ soft tissue drills that you favour/ if at all- jesus Will work for your money if your going to have an inner circle or an imaginary product you have to fix all shoulder problems with one template!
Nothing general...I do give individual athletes individual stuff to do...be that foam rolling, band work, static or dynamic stretching etc...on a needs be basis.


adrienl said...
quick question will
With regards to the 3rd video are we looking for his ability to correctly poistion his scapula when straigthening or just at the general way his muscles sit when straightening. I see the imbalance is the muscles but wonder what the test has over just looking at his back and saying "yep your are one mixed up mofo give me money"
thanks again
I was really just looking to see what his 'symmetry' was like and I wouldn't normally video this. He actually doesn't look as bad on video as he does in real life...symmetry wise that is...looks wise he definitely looks just as bad no matter how he is viewed.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

MMA and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

There is a great deal of synergy between MMA and riding a motorcycle. What got me thinking about this was a friend expressing their concern for me with regard to my involvement in MMA. Let me just put something's into perspective here...I spend most of my time travelling day in and day out riding this:

It weighs about the same as much as my max bench...as in...not very much...and puts out about 150hp at the back wheel through a patch of rubber not much bigger than a postage stamp. Compare this to your average car weighing nearly 2 tonnes and with even less power than my bike...and think about what it's like trying to control that car when it is wet and greasy on the road...let alone icy.

Then consider that in Ireland I spend most of my time riding in the wet and at this time of year that wet often turns to ice and you have a certain amount of this going on:

Which in fairness isn't that different to trying to hang onto or escape these:

I won't go on about it suffice to say that after riding my bike in Dublin...which has the worst drivers in general of any city in which I have ever lived or ridden in my entire life...in all different weather conditions which on the majority of occasions are generally the worst imaginable especially in the winter months...NOTHING about MMA scares me in the slightest...nothing about anything for that matter scares me in the slightest...my days riding here in Dublin are just a series of near death experiences strung together by periods of screaming expletives inside my helmet.

The synergies are many though...like the fact that I get the crap kicked, punched and strangled out of me for hours then thankfully get to jump on my bike and ride home in freezing temperatures which is just like having a 30 minute ice bath after training...very handy.

I've also noticed my helmet provides a very good indicator of the head injuries sustained in training. My helmet is an expensive one and if you are not a motorcyclist you might not know this but the helmet eventually conforms to your head and face after you have been wearing it for a few weeks and you've got through the period of riding around feeling like you have your head in a vice. I noticed riding home last night that my jaw wasn't sitting quite right in my helmet...which reminded me to thank Jonny for kneeing me right on the point of my jaw in during training last night.

In other news:
I am going to try to stay at 110kg for the next 2 weeks before losing another 5kg of fat in January. I actually noticed when I was having my skinfolds done the other day that the amount of fat I've dropped is noticeable with regard to the 'looseness' of my skin...to the extent that the person actually doing the skinfolds and the person observing both remarked upon it. I think I just need to give my epidermis a chance to adjust somewhat...I've dropped 7.2kg or 16lbs in a month. I don't have any real rush to drop the weight so if I can do it without making a mess of my body I figure I should. So I am going to weigh in each Monday for the rest of this month at or around 110kg.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Day 22-27

It is going to be an extremely busy working week this week so I'm not expecting to have much of a chance to add much to the blog. I will keep my training diary up to date but won't get a chance to do much else...just warning you so you can feel free to switch channels this week and waste your time reading something else online.

I did do a video fat log update this morning...the one posted below obviously. I'm taking a guess that I'll be weighing in somewhere around the 110kg mark tonight at training...another kilogram or two down this week again.

Day 22...I weighed in at 110.1kg tonight at training.

So Day 1...117.3kg...Day 8...113.7kg...Day 15...111.4kg and today...110.1kg. So all in all I am pretty happy with the rate of fat/weight loss.

Feeling great training wise. My strength hasn't dropped much if at all...subjectively speaking...haven't tested it but just going by feel weight training wise. My conditioning has improved massively though and I feel that in everything that I do from riding my bicycle to work to actual 'on mat' training. So all is going well so far.

Training Log
2.5hrs of MMA Training...had a relatively easy day...other than the MMA training.

2.5hrs of MMA Training.

I did some really light cardio and a bucket load of stretching, mobility and stability work...about 90 minutes worth in total.

1hr of MMA Training.

Rest Day.

1hr20mins of light work in the gym. A mixture of 1km rows and stretching and mobility work in 10 minute block...did 6 in total then 5 sets of 5 neutral grip pull ups and 10 MMA push ups. Followed by some heavy bicep and tricep work...because every session should include some gunz.

30min hard bike ride...just a good blow out.

Rest day today as well.

Enjoyed my easy week this week. Needed it to freshen up a little and to allow a few little niggles to clear up...which they have. Looking forward to throwing myself into a good heavy week in the week to come.

Friday, December 5, 2008

I got an email about 'The Bet'

You know the one...where a bunch of lads bet me I couldn't bench 180kg's. It took me all of 18 days to do it once I pulled my finger out and actually set about training for it...well this is where things stand a month later...you be the judge!

Brophy - €75 (Paid)
Nasher - €25 (Paid)
Jimmy - €50 (Paid)

Bushy - €100 (Unpaid)
Penguin - €75 (Unpaid)
Logi - €75 (Unpaid)
Killer - €25 (Unpaid)
Louis - €25 (Unpaid)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I Hate Muay Thai

...actually that is not true...what I actually hate is sparring...well...actually that's not true...what I hate is that fact that when you are sparring you are pulling your punches and kicks...and that just shits me. The thing is you are both supposed to be going at '60%' or whatever you're told...that never happens...one person is always at 60% and the other is at 62%. I always want to be the one at 98% while the other guy is at 60%...that would suit me fine. I really enjoyed training tonight we did a lot of high quality punching work...well it was supposed to be high quality...mine was crap quality...but the only way is up. I really need to do so much more work...on everything. I had a round with Aaron at the end of training and I was glad he was pulling his punches when he landed a right hand that if he had of really connected would of spun my head around like a top.

I am really looking forward to the new year when my work schedule is going to ease up a bit and I can devote more time to the technical side of MMA. I want to try to spend as much time 'on mat' as I can. You can do as much 'off mat' training as you like...nothing compares with actually 'competing' and 'training' in the sport you are involved in obviously.

Is it still torture if someone wants you to hurt them?

Barry's session today:

Bike - 5mins easy

Rower - 4x500m with 60 sec recovery between efforts...near on max effort.

1A Bent Over Barbell Rows
1B Barbell Push Press

He got 32 reps of each in 10 minutes with 40kg...and we also tweaked something in his neck/trap as well....we had to work a little frontier medicine to sort it out...we sorted it out.

Rower - 4x500m as above....was what was in his program...he did 1x500m wasn't comfortable with his neck so I got him onto a bike and had him do a 1min 30 sec effort on level 10....which made him realise the rower wasn't so bad after all and he did his last 2x500m on the rower.

2A Close Grip Bench Press
2B Close Grip Lat Pulldown

He got 49 reps of each in 10 minutes.

Rower - 4x500m with 60 second recovery between efforts giving whatever he had left....which wasn't much...but enough to keep all his times under 2minute 500's.

3A Bicep Curls
3B Hanging Leg Raises
3C Overhead Tricep Extensions
3D Standing Ab Pulldowns

He did 60 reps of each in 10 minutes...we used 30kg on the bi's, tri's and ab pull downs.

We finished with a max effort 500m on the rower.

When he's fit...he'll do 50 reps of each on the first block and 100 reps of each on the second and third blocks...so he's got a bit of work to do...have no doubt in my mind that he'll get there though.

He had a 2min 30sec transition between the cardio and strength blocks and vice versa as well.

This is what this session looked like...heart rate wise...I'm sure Barry will tell you what it felt like...near death experience wise.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Barry's first (lack of) Strength Session

Barry is going to be eased in...unlike what he did with me when he set the Kiddie Krippler on me on my first or second session.

His session looked like this:
Rower - 4x500m with 60 sec recovery between efforts. We did this at a really comfortable pace. Focused on lengthening his stroke and drawing right through the stroke...getting his shoulders down and his shoulder blades together.

We then did an upper body warm up...some open and closed horizontal band pull-a-parts, vertical band pull-a-parts along with band dislocates. A couple of sets of 8 reps of each...I think.

Then we did a circuit of chest supported scap rows, scap push ups, inverted shrugs and scap pull ups...again we did 2 or 3 sets of 8 reps.

1A Band Assisted Pull Ups - 10 sets of 5 reps.
1B Blast Strap Push Ups - 10 sets of 5 reps.

Barry doesn't know this yet...but he is never going to do a pull up again that doesn't involve his chest touching the bar. Hence the use of the band to enable this at the moment...we'll wean him of the band though in the months to come.

2A Ab Rollouts - 5 sets of 10 reps.

2B Natural Reverse Hypers - 5 sets of 10 reps.

Natural Glute Ham Raises - 8 sets of 5 reps

Lateral Woodchoppers - 3 sets of 8 each side.

So...that's 2 sessions down and only about 96 more till he fights again.

Monday, December 1, 2008

I hate Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

I hate it mainly because I am so crap at it. The whole idea of fighting for me is to be the one standing when the fight finishes.

We weren't really doing BJJ tonight but submission wrestling with these BJJ guys always leaves you wanting to knaw on the leg that these spaghetti armed and legged bastards have wrapped around your throat.

There is nothing worse than the feeling of picking up one of these guys and slamming them on the ground then finding yourself tapping 15 seconds later...thinking to myself...wasn't I winning this fight 15 seconds ago. I was wrestling with Olli tonight and I swear this guy could choke himself out with his own legs. It was like wrestling Mr. Fantastic from the Fantastic 4.

What I also hate is that I can get guys on the ground...I can get to full mount...then I basically sit there thinking...what the hell do I do now...I always just feel like letting them back up and throwing them on the ground again...I love that bit.

I also was pretty close to pulling off an awesome 'piledriver' this evening...Jonny can be thankful that my conscious got the better of me...just as I was thankful later on when he got me in a rear naked choke and decided not to chop my head off or squeeze so hard that it popped off like a champagne cork.

I am really enjoying training...and I am feeling SO MUCH better now fitness wise. The first week was all about just surviving...now at least I can not only get through the sessions but can actually try and do something in them...not that I have a clue what I am doing but I sure as hell look busy while I am doing whatever it is.

Day 15-21

Just quick lunchtime post to kick the week off.

Didn't get a chance to do my video fat log this morning as I had cold and angry clients to take care of down at Dun Laoghaire Harbour...it is well and truly winter now. So it was a near freezing start to the morning...then a pile of paperwork and other work to take care of...a small amount of annoying people on the internet...then out for a bit more work and back now for some chicken and to regroup for work this afternoon and MMA training tonight.

Training is going REALLY well and so is my nutrition. Training is actually going better than expected...I'm am getting through a tonne of quality work and feel great while I'm at it.

I am thinking of riding my bike when work and time permits to and from MMA training just to get some extra low intensity steady state cardiovascular work in. Ride over earlier so I have a chance to have a stretch and refuel before MMA training. It's a 40-45km round trip...done a few times a week it should whip a bit more fat off.

Nutrition wise...I am going to keep doing what I did last week. Keep the calories and the carbs low during the week and then eat 'normally' (for normally...read high calories and higher carbs) from Friday night till Sunday morning.

I weighed in yesterday at 109.9kg (and I have a witness) so I am expecting to be around 110-112kg this evening at training...which I am sure all the guys I'm training with on the mat will be glad to hear.

I'm not going to do a fat log video every week...mainly because it'll pretty much look exactly the same and because the internet can only cope with so much fat.

I weighed in at 111.4kg tonight at training. That is down from 117.3kg on day 1 and 113.7kg last week. So pretty much steady as she goes and pretty much bang on what I had planned. I will do a fat log vid next week because if things go as planned I should be under 110kg and hopefully we'll be able to see some visible differences.

Food Log
I'm not going to keep a food log because I am pretty much sticking to the same pattern as I said above. Today for example I had a few of legs of chicken during the day and that was it. I had some EvoPro before I left training tonight. Now that I am back I'm having some mince beef (bolognese sauce), cheese, and a potato (after 4.5hrs training...I deserve a carb or 20). That's it...I'll stick to that sort of pattern through the week and then bang a bit more into me between Friday night and Sunday morning.

Training Log
24.8km/55 minute ride to training...average heart rate 151 bpm.
2.5 hrs MMA Training.
25.2km/55 minute ride home from training...average heart rate 141 bpm.

2.5 hrs MMA Training.

Bike - 5 mins

Rower - 5x500m with 60 second recovery between efforts...flat out...I found out that my max heart rate isn't 180bpm as I thought...I didn't find out painlessly either.

10 min work block of Barbell Rows and Push Presses with 60kg...I did 50 reps of each.

Rower - 5x500m with 60 second recovery between efforts.

10 min work block of Bench Press and Lat Pulldowns with 60kgs...I did 80 reps of each.

Rower - 5x500m with 60 second recovery between efforts.

10 min work block of Bicep Curls and Overhead Tricep Extensions with 30kgs...I did 90 reps of each.

Bike - 30 minutes

5 sets of 15 Heavy Standing Ab Pulldowns

Did I mention that all the rowing work was done 'max effort' and that I only took 2.5 minutes to get between rower and work block...except for the after the first rower effort after which I took 5 minutes...I am feeling so much better every session.

25km/55 minute ride to training...average heart rate 142 bpm.
1 hr MMA Training.
25km/52 minute ride home from training...average heart rate 138 bpm.

48 minute ride to work...average heart rate 135bpm.
41 minute ride home from work...average heart rate 122bpm.

41 minute ride to work......average heart rate 141bpm.
Lower Body Mobility Work
*Over & Unders
*Deep Elevated Splits Squats
Upper Body Mobility Work
*Scap Pull Ups
*Scap Push Ups

1A Neutral Grip Pull Ups - 5x5
1B Elevated Push Ups - 5x15

2A Natural Glute Ham Raises - 5x5
2B Alternating Hanging Leg Raises (to bar) - 5x8

3A Single Arm Cable Rows - 5x10
3B Single Arm DB Press - 5x10

4A Trap Bar Shrugs - 3x10
4B Ezy Bar Bicep Curls - 3x10
4C Close Grip Bench - 3x10

40 minute ride home from work......average heart rate 135bpm.

37 minute ride to work...average heart rate 149bpm. Rode harder today rather than just pedalling along. Legs were quite fatigued.

60 minute circuit/conditioning session. Took it easy today. Didn't push to hard. More to loosen out and had a good stretch at the end. Feeling good.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Around the world (or in this case gym) in 80 days (or in this case..50 exercises).

I didn't get a chance to do the 'Bench Press' related stuff this weekend but I WILL do it early this week.

We did a recovery circuit session in the gym today...it was basically a 'gym tour'.

It went like this:
Upper Body Horizontal or Vertical Pressing - Push Ups, Incline DB Press, Flat DB Press, Floor Press, Bench Press, Flat DB Flyes, Incline DB Flyes, Shoulder Presses, Lateral Raises...etc etc.

Trunk Work - Sit Ups and all variations there of, Bridging, Ab Pull Downs, Back Extensions, Natural Reverse Hypers.

Legs - Back Squats, Front Squats, KB Squats, Leg Press, Plate Squats, Deadlift variations, Lunge variations.

Upper Body Horizontal or Vertical Pulling - Lat Pull Down variations, Pull Up variations, Chin Up variations, DB Rows, Bent Over Rows, Upright Rows...etc etc.

...and more Trunk Work.

The way we did it today was in 45 second work periods with a 15 second change over. We did 10 minutes of work...had a 2 minute work break and we did 5 blocks in total.

So to give you an example 1 work block may have looked like this:
1. Bench Press
2. Sit Ups
3. Leg Press
4. Barbell Rows
5. Natural Reverse Hypers
6. KB Shoulder Press
7. Hanging Leg Raises
8. KB Squats
9. Lat Pulldowns
10. Back Extensions

Then we took a 2 minute water break and then did a whole different block of exercises.

The circuit worked looked like this...5 blocks of 10 minutes with 2 min water breaks.

Nasher was having some problems with ball security so we did 3 sets of 30 seconds of the following with 2minutes recovery between sets.

He really didn't want me to take that medball off him.

Kira's Session

kira said...
Okay, so my training partner and I just did the workout ... here's how the main parts went (I had to change a few exercises again so both of us could do it)...

1 set of 10 x 8 sprawl jumps (it was difficult, but I thought that was more from the fact I hadn't done the exercise before)
How much rest did you take between sets?

What I look for here is really high quality anaerobic work. Don't sacrifice quality just for the sake of getting through it.

deadlift 80kg ... 44 reps
olympic ring pullups ... 22 reps
pushups ... 88 reps
This looks like a good strength block.

2 set of 10 x 8 sprawljump (dry reached after 8th set).
Same question as above...how much rest between block of work and how much rest between sets?

24kg kettlebell press ... 20 reps/side
25kg sandbag squat ... 40 reps
rope inverted rows ... 20 reps
This looks good as well.

3 set of 10 x 8 sprawl jump reps (difficult ... but I finally got the hang of the movement).

Same questions as above. If anything though I think this would of worked better the other way around. 3 sets first, then 2 sets and finish with just 1 set.

Few questions ...

I know the sprawl jump is physically tiring, but would it be useful to substitute it for something more sports specific for me (no sprawling in muay thai)?
Absolutely...do tuck jumps instead.

I could definitely put more intensity into a movement I'm good at (like round kicks or punch combos)

I found that the deadlift in the first block and the kettlebell press in the second block were the hardest exercises ... the other exercises (at that rep range) were easy) ... is that right? Or am I really weak in these two lifts?
Ideally what you want is to try and find a rep range with each exercise that makes them all equally as difficult relatively speaking.

Anyway ...

I really liked the workout and so did my training partner ...

thanks for that ... we'll tinker with it a bit (we love to tinker) and see if we can make it even more fun ;)
Sounds good to me.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

You know I don't like to preach

I had a few conversations today that go me thinking...I know...you're surprised and shocked.

1. I was told by another coach that they liked the blog but wondered why I don't actually say anything in it...they miss the point entirely. So let me say this yet another time. There are tonnes of places where you can get much better coaching theory than in this blog. There are tonnes of places where you can get much better coaching practice than in this blog. There are tonnes and tonnes of research journals and on and on I could go. This blog is just 'sanpshots' of my coaching...it isn't a narrative. I don't want to talk about the theory and I certainly don't want to lecture anyone or try to convince them that I have all the answers...I don't...even when I do lecture or present all I really try to do is to show people the way I am trying to solve particular coaching issues or problems.

So...if you are waiting for me to lay some coaching secretz on you...then you're an idiot.

2. I was asked to by a young and aspiring coach about my thoughts regarding their plans for the implementation of a strength training program for the particular sport with which they are involved. I was trying to protect their identity but to discuss this I need to mention the sport...the sport is handball...so those of you that know...will know who I am talking about...the rest of you...don't worry.

This is the variation of handball if you were wondering.

Anyway what they were talking about was a weights routine for this sport...they were talking about including lots of internal and external rotation work, doing weights work to simulate serving and striking the ball etc etc. Anyway....so I'm not going to say that they are wrong...I just don't think it is the way to go for the following reasons.
a) I think simulation is a massive mistake. This is where coaches and trainers try to simulate what happens on the field, court or track in the gym...I think this is really dumb and it gives you the worst of both worlds as far as results are concerned.

b) Coaches and trainers spend way too much time trying to make gym training way too specific way too early for way too many athletes...I think this is really dumb as well.

3. Another aspiring coach was asking me about Barry's training...about the bench testing and how big a part benching will play in his ongoing program. This was another nudge to get me to do what I've been thinking of for a little while and that's to do a piece on bench pressing...the reason being in no particular order...this question about Barry, Lyle's newsletter bit on bench technique, an internet know it all who himself has or had absolutely rubbish bench technique, some guy who at one stage I was open to because even though I didn't know him personally others I did know seemed to think he was good...everything I've by him however...including this little piece by him on bench pressing was pretty much total crap. So it's been bench, bench, bench lately...so I'm going to rabbit on about it a little myself...completely in contravention of the very first point I made in this post....what can I say...I'm an enigma.

4. Barry's training and my training...I was asked about this as well today...you do realise that what I will have Barry doing what I am doing has absolutely bugger all to do with MMA or fighting. I'm too fat and too unfit...while Barry is too weak and too out of whack...that's it...fix what is right in front of you first.