Where are you at with these plank progressions? Here are 3 progressive options to use with instructional video, photos and tips on building the time under tension for each.

Planks (most often just the 4-point plank) are widely adopted for ‘training the core’ but the role of the trunk – imagine a cylinder from the glutes upto the ribs is really what we’re thinking about.

Helping the lumbar spine by resisting rotation, flexion, or extension when desired, it also needs to serve as powerhouse to the limbs in running and in all sports.
All of the planks are working ‘anti-extension’ in terms of the shape of the back.

Including these as part of your trunk robustness work, which is usefully done in the end stages of a workout, or as part of your warm up for ‘Activation’ where we fire up the neuro-muscular system, readying our brain-muscle motor unit connections.

8-point plank; Progression 1

8 point plank short instructional video

4-point planks and 8 point planks are often done badly, for example, the spine not in anatomically neutral, the shoulders not centrated, or random tension elsewhere with other shapes of the body out of whack!
There is something that the 8 point plank gives beyond the 4 point plank – greater feel and awareness for getting neutral pelvic tilt, a connection ‘ribs &hips’ by aiming to pull down through the ground forearms to knees. This engages the whole region around your lower abs.
You could increase time under tension here, to build up endurance of your core, while maintaining the quality of the shape needed.

E.g. you can hold the shape well for 40s.
Do this two – three times per week and try to add 10s /week.
When you get to two minutes, (perhaps with a mini break in the middle if you need) go to the next progression!

3-point plank; Progression 2

3 point plank short instructional video

Anti-rotation: The ability to resist the body twisting under changing demand; again useful in general life, and needed across most sports.
Ensure we can do everything well in the 8-point plank, from the high press position.
Adjust the width of the feet according to the demand you can tolerate- i.e.. Resist with minimal ‘drift’ of the ‘hips-level’ position.

E.g. you can do 1 minute of alternating 5s holds
Build up to 2 minutes, 5-10s holds

2-point plank; Progression 3

2 point plank short instructional video

As above, and now with more anterior chain (‘front’ of torso into front of hips) demand again to hold the shape and resist extension from neutral, and resisting rotation, we’re really into hard work which is used by athletes.
Maintaining and regaining scapular control each time we move an arm, and keeping the hip in neutral and as level as possible, we’re cross bracing and working diagonally shoulder to hip, again useful in all sorts of general life scenarios as well as most sports.

Starting off with 5-10s holds is reasonable, increasing to longer holds, and progressing the continuous work from 1min to 2mins.

Ofcourse this is not at all exclusive in covering planks, variations or core training, there is a lot more!
Any questions drop me a line, I’d love to hear where you’re at with these in the context of everything else you do and your needs. Happy to help further.
Let me know how you get on!


PS Check out my free 30day lower body strength-stability program,
or my online kettelbell training program with workout video

Adapt and survive – Brave new world, NDM Spring update (part two)

Firstly, I hope that you and family members of yours are well.

I believe that many of you out there will get a vast amount out of my 30-day Lower-body free strength-stability home program. I hope I’ve struck the balance of high detail/high progression value vs simplicity and ease of access. There is something in it for everyone – various challenge for all levels.

Who is it for?

-Those who need to offset the negatives of a sedentary lifestyle
-Those who can’t strength-train with the barbell at the moment
-Those who wish to increase their range of motion in squat and hinge patterns
-or to increase their proprioception
-Maintain lower body strength and athleticism
-It should potentially increase mobility and flexibility

There is a lot more guidance and instruction in the pdf file.

Please direct friends/colleagues to my website main page to subscribe to receive my 30-day Lower-body free strength-stability home program.
Here for the youtube exercise demonstration video playlist.

A lot changed day by day since writing my first Spring update blog just over 10 days ago. The phrase ‘Adapt and survive’ comes to mind which seems pretty cruel to say to myself! Even though it was on the cards, it is still a shock dealing with not only the gyms being shut but also offering 1-1 outdoors then also ceased to be an option.

I wish the NHS staff all the best, as they are heroes. I hope we overcome this crisis and I’ll look forward to when measures can be softened.
Ofcourse there are lot more important issues going on, but I am still coming to terms with that neither of my jobs can happen anything like normal for while i.e. The face to face coaching work which I love, and uncertain finances.


While most of us having to work our jobs from home, I’m excited to convert what I do into online offerings, working out from home with quality programs.

If I could have lent you my equipment I would have , but ran out of time to get it out of the gym.

With all the challenges people face I decided I wanted to offer something free of the highest quality I could put together, which you can take away and develop with. While I created this in Autumn ’19 it’s taken a lot longer than I first envisaged to put together and finish!

Live Kettlebell classes!

It’s been great hearing back from lots of my members already , I miss running my face to face work as much as you miss the training in person at my
I have been practicing at home and can’t wait now to roll out the first of my online live Kettlebell classes!
Please see Schedule.
There is some detail on my booking platforms – booking happens in mostly the normal way as before.


A link to this short easy survey about any equipment you have at home, and what online classes or training you might be interested in is on my Facebook , Twitter and Instagram pages. Also here.
Please do give you me your thoughts when you receive this survey as it will really help me with planning and how to offer my USPs online to likeminded people out there…all over the country now!
And any recommendations to your friends and colleagues – I would appreciate them now more than ever.

Sign up to my newsletter (main page) to receive your free copy of my lower-body strength-stability home program.

Best wishes from me for now through these challenging times, and I look forward to seeing you online very soon!


It’s been a busy, productive, challenging and exciting time. During Autumn 2019 I put together a 30-day Lower body mobility & strength-stability free program – I’m finishing it up and will get it out asap!

action photo from the ground and side
Demo photo single-leg Glut bridge, part of NDM Sports & Personal Training 30 day lower body mobility & stability-strength challenge

Rowing – Managing coaches, collaborating on projects and coaching pupils

Alongside what turned out to be my dream job, starting NDM in 2016, In October 2019 I started another dream job: Director of Rowing at a school program. I also have a strength & conditioning role to play, not just with my rowing squad and coaches, but whole-school wide as I assist the Head of S&C and sports science department with delivering new sessions across all of year9 in the performance gym.

In what has turned out to be a biblical winter, with flooding, wind, and now Covid-19, its been brilliant to still get vast development of the College Boat club and its pupils underway. My public group Kettlebell, personal training clients and Youth GB Fencers have all been going strong throughout. I feel grateful and lucky to have been able to build up to this point. The learning never stops – continually developing my programs with you – my clients, monitoring and ensuring your progress and development is always immensely motivating!

Girl Power!

With international women’s day last weekend, I want to celebrate some serious girl power that has been going on (…week in week out!)

A couple of photos here on twitter at the start line at Gloucester Head race (time trial) 5km.

Also here for some examples of athletic development work for Bristol Blades Fencers, Jade and Tabby, who compete for Great Britain at U17,U20 and U23 in the Foil discipline.

Coming up to two years ago The fencing club asked me if I would work with these two girls, as their fencing level obviously is extremely high, and they were starting to show imbalances and get niggles, due to the significant demand of the sport. The girls have greatly benefited from building greater foundations, building their underpinning physical capabilities and robustness , key in youth /long term athletic development. They are also now unrecognisable in the gym from when we started! – confident and competent to train independently.

A training camp -Easter 2019- at Millfield was a great opportunity for me to work with large groups of fencers, watch them train and in match practice, picking up more insight from the UK’s coaching scene, also learn of and utilise work that the EIS (English institute of Sport) did with GB fencing pre Rio 2016.
The girls have increased strength and power and progressed steadily through various exercises. We continue to build ‘Brilliant basics’. (as put by Graham Williams Head of S&C Millfield, as the focus principle of youth training).
It is a privilege that the club and these girls and their parents elect to train with me instead of other proposed options from outside.

group kettlebell training action
group kettlebell training action

NDM Kettlebell Training

See here for quick nugget of recent NDM group Kettlebell work.
We have now completed two blocks so far in 2020 – The first was ‘capacity’ rebuilding our aerobic engines and base fitness through a greater variety of exercises again, increasing the volume each week. The next was a strength emphasis block, with the Single Arm Strict Press as our emphasised exercise, where the opportunity is built in the progressive program, to lift a heavier kettlebell than before!
With 2kg incremental steps across all my many kettlebells, and a maximum of 10 people in the group, everyone has several they can use.

1-1 Strength & Conditioning work

See here on instagram for my recent work with personal training client, Sophie (and her first ever barbell cleans).
Sophie is a member of a well know gym chain but elects to train with me, an S&C specialist, which is rewarding and good positive feedback for me to know that I’m on the right track with the ‘why’, ‘what’ and then ‘how’ to develop my clients. Being able to slam medicine balls in multi directions, drop weights on the floor/platform, and space to safely do loaded jumps helps too…
The space at Berkeley fitness also provides that limitless feeling of being able to utilise any tool without waiting.
Olympic lifting is next for Sophie, and the dedicated platforms and racks at BGS Sports Centre are a comfortable space to use.

NDM Training online – The home kettlebell program

Check out my home kettlebell program. While I’ve had some stunning feedback from those who’ve hit it, perhaps I can do a better job of explaining its USPs to reach out to more people it could help?
All the info you need here really www.ndmtraining.online

image of kettlebell product
description of kettlebell home training program product

Upcoming could be a pretty good time to plan for some quality home training eh…
It’s never been easier to buy a kettlebell and have it delivered. (Often I have to buy a few heavier ones for my clients..!)
If you get stuck give me a shout… If you live in the Bristol area you could always rent or buy one off me.

image of kettlebell product
new kettlebells

A key feature about the training program and guide

One key point as to why you should buy this training product is that it is a guided progressive programme, accompanying the follow along training video. Rather than just use whatever free workout video you find around, use this to progress your levels of strength of endurance, session after session, week after week. I spent a lot of time using what I’d learnt from the masters out there, combined with my personal training and group work with hundreds of people over recent years, to create this, and it’s been so good to hear how much better people feel for doing this.

Also on my youtube site I have few demo videos, move by move.
silent demos with ‘how to’ captions

And teaching demos with audio:

I’ve gone on… But as I said at the top, I do have this free training program to give away. As soon as I have uploaded the edited clips for the 30-day Lower body mobility & strength-stability free program, and finished off the accompanying programme, I’ll post about it and you can have it!

Also, I’ve developed several athletic warm up protocols, general work applicable for most sports, this one filmed and photographed by 1-1 S&C client , pro windsurfer and friend, at The Wave, Bristol. (And we had lot of fun surfing it too ofcourse! Without the running down the beach etc you would normally have, warming up is even more important – This is a sure-fire way to ensure you are ready to jump in there.
Research shows that we reduce the risk of injury not by static stretching, but by activating the neuro-muscular system, stabilising, and increasing proprioception. This also improves performance.
Whatever your level of surfing, use it adapt it make it yours, it will help you.
I’ll get it posted asap!

Current Schedule and updates

My schedule continues as planned, and both gyms couldn’t be a safer place to come and train, with private or small groups and minimal time in proximity, alco gel at BGS entrance, clean bathrooms easily accessible. And ofcourse maintained hygiene around the equipment used. We’ll move to ‘shaka’s or thumbs ups instead of handshakes or fist bumps!

I was supposed to get away on holiday snowboarding in a week’s time, but that’s scuppered! Next year..!

Nick snowboarding
Nick snowboarding

Our College rowing training week the week after is also now off.
This coming week NDM work in person is off as scheduled due to one school race competition still on. Looking forward to the open air and river.

If you would like to subscribe for updates, do drop me a line through the chat bubble, or give me a call with any questions. Look forward to hearing from you.

Keep calm and carry kettlebells!

Best wishes,


carrying exercise with two kettlebells
High -low kettlebells carry

 “Bad back? There’s a back-pain epidemic – Most treatments make things worse – Here’s why and what you can do” (All of which I’ve happened to have been through myself). My comment on an article in New Scientist, all references where not otherwise stated to the author Helen Thomson who’s article presents important research and great actionable advice for us all.

The main article cover text reads:  “Bad back? There’s a back-pain epidemic - Most treatments make things worse – Here’s why and what you can do”
The Cover of ‘New Scientist’ August 31st.

Expertise already in action

 Luckily, for me and many others, there is a lot of expertise in the UK who are already very aware of all of this and the good and the best medical practice has already changed.

 For instance, my consultant was part of a leading group of researchers looking into potential harmful impact to do with chronic pain of seeing your MRI scan on of your back, as “once you start to look for abnormalities, you will find them”. Doctors are then more likely to prescribe painkillers, steroid injections or surgery. Most of us over our life develop minor issues in the spine.

 I’m aware of lots of people who’ve dramatically improved their lifestyles again from necessary interventions, but for the vast majority, the above may not help and may make things worse.

“People say they can tell you what is wrong from a scan. They can’t. It’s not possible”

 There is an interesting point made about evolution and variation in our vertebrae which I won’t go into here.
New Scientist website link below:

 There is also a lot in the article about lifestyle factors which now “cost the US $635 billion per year in medical bills and productivity”.

 “Backache can also be caused by accidents, sports injuries or a congenital disorder, but lifestyle factors such as obesity and smoking are the biggest problem as a society…being overweight places greater mechanical strain on the back and decreases mobility, a precursor to disc deterioration. Smoking probably increases risk due to the clogging of arteries and reduced blood supply to the spine.”

 “Most people fall under the category of ‘non-specific back pain’ which usually improves in a matter of days or weeks”

The graph title reads: Disability related to lower back pain has increased dramatically around the world in the past few decades.
A graph showing ‘Disability-adjusted life years’ with Age group.  
The biggest aspect I believe the article points to is the increase in hours seated and office work culture, along with obesity and smoking.

 Dr. McGill (I’ve read and apply things daily from his book) talks about there being no such thing as non-specific as there is always a mechanical reason. He explains superbly all the notions of back-hygiene.

Back pain Research and advice

 Pain is discussed in detail, specifically the signals and messages sent from the brain.

 “Not all pain is bad – It is key to our survival… But chronic pain serves no purpose and can seriously harm our health”

 Often there is no identifiable mechanical explanation.

 “It isn’t necessary to stimulate these cells to feel pain, nor is their activity always directly related to our experience of discomfort.”

 I’ll jump in here with some personal examples:

 I overcame a L4/5 nerve end compression due to a tiny disc fragment, the instance of which could have been an aggressive surfing wipeout in hyperextension, but was likely set up from an accumulation of ‘niggles’ in that area over time, from rowing competing nationally over 12 years total, surfing and my time Pro-Windsurfing (with not enough S&C at that time!!) On one day I’d warm-up and then get on the rowing machine, with an anticipation that I might not be in the best place that day and I’ll feel pain.

 On another day I’d do the same warm-up and rowing machine session and feel no pain, or very different things. Perhaps this is because even just warming up, I might be worried about the possible effects of not being able to do what I love due to back pain. Sometimes there has been the common psychological side of anticipating pain having overcome a significant injury – the site is healed but the movement pattern may not be back in full, natural, efficient.

  On the other hand, on another day when I only had the positive side to things in mind or had some great positive interactions, the same warm-up does its job and I feel ready and better and without pain.

 Perhaps the reasons why post-rehab, going windsurfing, surfing, snowboarding again, and also when I’m weightlifting or doing other focused gym or athletic work, these are challenging activities which I enjoy, I just get in the zone and focus on that, there is no space to worry about my back. This is the sort of thing my chiropractor, osteopath, physio, consultant, all wanted me to embrace. Their advice has been invaluable to me in dealing with my chronic back pain. Bit by I sorted the mental side of it.

In the gym with clients

 Working with clients in the gym post-rehab, to increase their robustness, mobility, basic strength & stability, finding the right level of challenge for them and building back up their physical literacy, it’s up there with the most satisfying things I could ever imagine doing, seeing someone’s confidence come back to move well again in every plane and lift load again and enjoy their sports or activities again.

You have to consider the whole body – it’s a complex system. A lot of the time the back pain is the result of other stuff going on elsewhere.

For more insight into my coaching work, background and client stories, check out

“All the circuits can be triggered or suppressed”

 Therefore, there are examples of studies of the effects of images, music or film altering brain activity, subduing or increasing pain.

Back pain – research and advice

 Other studies show that it matters that clinicians acknowledge our pain.

Buchbinder suggests ‘The best way to prevent long term disability from back pain is to ditch the drugs and promote wider international adoption of a mix of increasing physical activity plus mental retraining’.

 So, other top tips of my own and from the article include NOT taking bed rest – which has been the typical outdated advice.  “When young healthy male volunteers spent eight weeks in bed their lumbar multifidus muscles, which keep our lower vertebrae in place, had wasted and become inactive”. None of this, of course, is a surprise to an S&C coach.

  • Walking regularly
  •  Moving regularly
  •  Standing desk – don’t sit all day, which reduces mobility and can accumulate one setup of load in one position on discs.
  •  Ergonomic chairs “don’t work”.
  •  Pilates
  •  Standing still for some can be as hard as sitting still, so being able to vary positions is key.
  •  Loaded work keeps muscles, ligaments, and tendons strong, and keeps up bone density. There is no substitute for some loaded work, for everyone, ie. resistance training.

 “Nobody expects to get through life without a cold, and they don’t visit the doctor when they do”

 I guess with all of this, the trick must be understanding for works for you, but there are certainly some common themes and there is evidence that the above can help the majority of back pain.

That list seems straight-forward but chances are high that most of us dont do enough of some of these activities, and therefore doing more of that or better improves back pain!

If you deal with back pain drop me a line – i’d love to hear your thoughts about all this – what works for you and what challenges you face.

Charlie mid-season match play 2018

Charlie at Cotham Park Rugby Football Club.

He loves his sport, loves power and came in with a good awareness of his technical strengths and weakness in his game, which fed into what we felt he needed more of ahead of his upcoming season.
He wanted more power, more acceleration from a stand-still, and to be able to repeat these efforts throughout his match play. ‘Power endurance’

I have always admired the intent and commitment with which Rugby players have to apply.
We discussed aspects of his game; his own needs in relation to the demands of the sport, and increasing his capabilities in these areas:
In terms of Force production, including e.g. accelerating, driving, tackling,
and Force absorption including e.g. change of direction, resisting or taking a tackle,
and scrums and malls in both.

In short, we need both production and absorption of force qualities in abundance to reduce the chance of injury and maximise performance!

Charlie had an interest in the Olympic lifts.

He and came in with good all round levels of strength, more than enough with his Barbell Deadlift, Squat, good shoulder mobility, control and strength, good Hip and Thoracic mobility and lumbar stability.

Setting about learning the full C&J, rather than only derivates, seemed valid, especially with time out of competition season,

We found some areas where some bespoke targeted myofascial release and flexibility were helpful – he had an inkling he could do with more flexibility in places. Charlie learnt and employed these exercises and methods with good results as part of the training block.

Through learning the C&J, there were several ‘bonus’ areas where Charlie felt the results and was visibly stronger, which he knows can now feed into his game:

-Grip strength up – grappling opponents.
-Learning new movement patterns – a lot to process. So, using drills, developing stages, then trusting in the whole movement…as it has to happen quickly, without time to think through every stage!
-Fine tuning – thinking and feeling, where is the weight in relation to base of support, i.e.. front/mid/back of feet.

As well as increased power, what also comes with Olympic lifting is further confidence and precision, due to the high level of neural demand /movement mastery aspects.

I love the transfers this will bring Charlie going into pre-season and then competition season!
It was cool too, seeing Charlie’s (pleasant!) surprise as to the energy system demands! …High metabolic conditioning aspects…

I also wanted to make sure we gave Charlie at least a bit of time on accelerating in free-sprints, also getting some reactivity demand in, all the while aiming to make use of some PAP (Post activation potentiation) and allowing him to feel some transfer there and then.

Some training video snapshots on Instagram & Facebook…social media links at bottom of page…

Post-script: Some of my notes and reflections

  • Within the training, I programmed a bespoke RAMP warm up, including plyometric progressions
  • We tested out Charlies movement, and his main lifts,
  • Barbell complexing was utilised – such good work in so many ways including as extending warm up and preparation for loading up and progressing the lift.
  • We utilised several methods to increase power, including other loaded jumps, Kettlebell, barbell and hex bar jumps of various loading, and explored the differences,
  • As in match play having variety of motor patterns and ways to problem solve and to draw upon are useful!
  • He was no stranger to the sled push and lapped this up, aiming for a high % for him of high speed running.
  • It also gave me the opportunity to look at his leg and trunk mechanics and have a ponder.
  • The video clips also and importantly are my opportunity for reflective practice, ‘What was the aim, the focus, and on seeing the movement, what to get into, what to leave, which cue…when/why… was the outcome what I wanted… why/why not’
  • And the results by the session , by the week, were they good enough by my and Charlie’s standards etc. etc. And How did it inform my programming…
  • Towards the end of the block we evolved the session , going from power (with near full recovery) to power-endurance (decreasing the load he got to with his lift, and doing relatively extensive reps) including with explosive med ball throws.

…Awesome to see the levels of intent from Charlie – beneficial for his team not just himself! Brilliant to know he has stacks of ability to continue on with his development in his own training now over the rest of this summer.

Charlie’s testimonial

“ Nick was really flexible in his approach to training and we had a long discussion at the outset to discuss my aims. He’s knowledgeable, personable and very encouraging. In 6 weeks of weekly sessions, I was really pleased with the outcomes, starting as a complete novice in the Olympic lifts and saw quick progress in the clean and jerk. Recommended!”

Shout out to Thomas Stringwell and Gary Hutt for the initial Olympic weightlifting training and assessment, and Jez Birds for the training and mentorship…2017 was just the start!

For pre-season team training enquiries and bookings drop Nick a line.

Nick has tried and tested methods for team sport preparation in the BGS gym, which he can rent out exclusively for you and your team in which he will program, lead and direct your training for success.

I love this article from Jason Brown / Dr Rusin!

It’s well presented and communicated, its sits well with all the ethos of what I deliver and what my clients experience, in whatever resistance training setting.


My blog post commenting on this is for those curious about CrossFit, ‘functional training’, Olympic Lifting, Barbell & dumbbell work, those who may be training for health but also those training for performance.

There are many facets of the use of the kettlebell as another tool in which I see marked benefits and results which my clients see, do and feel!

The majority of my clients always laugh or question when I answer them with how I want to be training myself much better at the moment, that I can get a lot stronger/fitter/athletic, that in fact I am serious!

I rarely comment on CrossFit because I havent earnt the right- I haven’t put myself through a block of training – but this was a conscious decision! CrossFit has always interested me, but we know injury stats speak for themselves. (…So the last thing I wanted to embark on with my injury history) There are plenty of athletic movements I am still working upto myself!
Like anything, there is great coaching & programming practice and not so great practice out there.
It’s interesting observing from the outside how CrossFit is evolving and changing its approach.
I’m aware of the vast number of lives changed for the better, and the remarkable community about it.

Widening the foundations, ensuring enough mobility, stability and strength first, before power, before endurance, progressively building up an order of progressions of exercises first, this is nothing new, just quality training.

When I work with clients looking to increase power , including Olympic lifting, we’ll do it in a highly controlled way.
Whatever we’re doing quality always over quantity, and adequate rest.
If we ever go for strength-endurance or power-endurance, we still have to be sensible and put the weight down and stop the reps before we do a bad one, as past that point and doing a bad rep you’re just not being effective (never mind injury risk) It’s not worth it! Obviously save that risk for that one moment in your season/year/career in the actual sporting race/event if you need to?! We shouldn’t ever get hurt training in the gym!

I will teach someone the barbell snatch if they have ticked off several key boxes first that mean it’s safe for us to do it, and that they’ll get plenty out of it!
There’s no point setting about learning the snatch if there’s more to gain with simpler power exercises first!
The wider the foundations the higher the peak.
If we plateau…widen the foundations
The demands , rewards and adaptations promoted from the barbell snatch ofcourse can’t be replaced! Nor those respectively from the Clean & Jerk.

There are so many benefits to these exercises, so many training principles for safe effective progressive overload which my clients are well aware of and will find in common here!

Always at your own pace… I’m very much used to healthy in-house competition from coaching rowers and swimmers… In the resistance training setting, just focus on yourself! Compare notes of each other’s own progressions after the set!

I dont have many clients who I load-up in overhead squats,
but I do find lots of shoulder & thoracic spine mobility/stability benefits to working people in the overhead squat with a dowel (stick!) We will often incorporate these into warmups before kettlebell or Dumbbell where people are their overhead work, or before Circuits.

You know I love single-sided work…! Be it for working on imbalances or for athletic performance… For most sports you need to be good single sided.

I love how it’s this one…
And I love how the Burpee is the bonus! Come along to any of my sessions and ask my clients if I prescribe anyone burpees… 

If you want to learn or make sure you’re performing any of these exercises correctly, find your current strengths and weaknesses, or want some guidance with how to programme your training effectively, drop me a line, let’s book you in for a session!

Press ups!

Something I find I work with a lot with my clients in the 1-1 setting and the group setting is scapula control and ‘core’ control. Developing both is important to enable you to press effectively, in any direction.

Proper press ups are bloomin’ hard!

(I won’t reveal my small number of personal maximum reps anticipated here currently out of embarrassment for lack of my own training lately!)
To get the most out of a horizontal press, ie. Maximum function, maximum recruitment of the upper body and trunk, leading to maximal strength (think Force), and importantly to maintain healthy shoulders, the scapulae need to be retracted, the elbows should be close to the body, and the trunk region (think cylinder all around from the belly button), particularly abdominals, and transverse abdominals.

Breathe wide and deep and maintain control here to help co-ordinate all around the shoulders, arms and chest area for the pressing motion.

Being able to press with confidence is important in so many ways in daily life as well as in lots of sports, so do them with intent!

Amy, developing a 'good amount of reps' at a 'good height', at Berkeley Fitness Personal Training Studio, BS6
Amy, developing a ‘good amount of reps’ at a ‘good height’, at Berkeley Fitness Personal Training Studio, BS6

How to develop your press!

This is the other major facet I work with you on.
There is no point struggling with poor form, forcing things, giving maximal effort but getting poor results.
Over a period of time, starting with regressed versions/options, we eventually get you to a quality full press up.
There are many ways to do this, but the best way is to use a racked barbell.

Setting the height to challenge you and your form just enough, over many reps total, will then lead you to next session (eg. a few days later) to be able to lower the barbell height, (making it harder, ‘it’s physics’ :) and complete presses here, with fewer total reps until fatigue/loss of form…
Over subsequent sessions increase the number of reps at a given height, and then lower the barbell height again…
Repeat this process well and enough and consistently and guess what… YOU WILL eventually be able to attain a full press up off the floor!..

…For healthy shoulders and a functioning upper body you MUST balance out pressing with pulling!…

If you want to know more about any of this drop me a line!

If you think more detailed guide would be useful let me know and I’ll make one!

This is about the body’s subsequent adaptation to the stress that it is put under.

There is also the principle of reversibility, which could be thought of as ‘use it or lose it’.

Below I’ve selected four graphs which describe Super-compensation. I have chosen to use each one for a different reason, in this order, in an effort to help people understand and apply it to their weekly activity.

Whether you are someone who has a busy life balancing work, family and are keen to make best use of limited time for exercise, whether you enjoy a narrow or wide range of types of training, whether you are an amateur or pro athlete, this has relevance across all levels.

An interest in science is not essential; an interest in understanding what these graphs mean is really helpful. It should be possible to apply this straight away to best programme out simply what you train and when. How much you improve, maintain, or decline, can be explored using these graphs.

Graph 1. Generalised single supercompensation curve.

This first graph is the most generalised version here, NB it doesn’t show the full story…

What it does show well and simply is that when we train, we stress our body and so its performance decreases, during recovery our performance increases beyond where it started. After a new level is set, at this peak , performance will then decrease back to a baseline.

A simplified graph showing a supercompensation curve.

On the y-axis , ‘Endurance capacity’ this could be all sorts of other specific performance measures, or range of general fitness qualities.
On the x-axis, units of time along this curve are not specified… read on and we’ll come back to this in the 4th graph…

“Different physical qualities respond at different rates, so it is misleading to think that there’s one generalized supercompensation curve” (Gambetta)

Graph 2. Not too little or too much..!

Like the bear-loving porridge eating character we know, it’s an apt phrase! And ofcourse this region in between too much and too little is the gold we seek! How intense this is, and what load we undertake, that might swing us from one curve to another is specific to us as individuals.

To ensure supercompensation, the individual must be healthy. (See my post on Strength Matters’ 6 pillars… ) https://ndmcoaching.co.uk/2018/09/11/6-pillars-of-health-and-longevity-strength-matters-podcast-august-16th/

The training volume, intensity, and frequency must be appropriate for the particular individual. If training is too intense, the individual will struggle to get back to the baseline, and no supercompensation will occur.

A graph showing how recovery and supercompensation may be affected with ‘under’ or ‘overtraining’ per session.

For more in depth from one of the world leading S&C authorities, Vern Gambetta, have a read of this detailed yet concise article:

If training too intensely: E.g. DOMS for 4 days which makes us feel unable to do some activities or train as we might have done following a more sensible session! It’s better to leave something in the tank, hungry to be active or train with intent again the next day and the next day..

Too light: E.g. lighter than a similar session a week ago, or a missed day or two, and so there is less (or no) supercompensation and actually we can arrive back to a lower baseline than where we were compared to a previous point in time following some great training,

(Ofcourse if we skip exercise/miss it for a few days, this downward trend is what we get). Consistency of regular movement is key for long term health as well as performance.

Graph 3. Long term training effect

A graph showing long term training effect of timing sessions with supercompensation.

So, if we train appropriately, i.e. train again at the time around which we are in peak supercompensation, we can elevate our level above our baseline.

Many of my long-term clients can now see how this has happened successfully over time!

Graph 4. Timing of supercompensation

So this brings me on to the final and most detailed graph. This shows us the different timelines of these supercompensation curves in relation to different specific fitness qualities.

E.g. strength training: Peaking / supercompensation adaptions occur around 48-72 hours after training.

So when we think about Resistance training https://ndmcoaching.co.uk/2018/10/16/physical-mental-health-benefits-resistance-training/

Can we now see that it is important to do some resistance training twice / week? There are many different ways to train utilising resistance.

A graph showing various timing of supercompensation with quality trained.

How should you train?

There is plenty of evidence around of people making adaptations through strength training once/week, though there are many other factors involved, including what else what other activities are done in the week, and what type of training programme in relation to experience and current ‘baseline’ shall we say at the start of the programme.

This also shows why when I work with any of my clients for strength qualities, if I generally see them once or twice a week I will always work the whole body in both sessions, and in case they don’t get that opportunity elsewhere in their weekly activity.
If you only work one portion of the body once/week in a certain training method, you are really missing out when it comes to overall performance.

Take what you do currently, and picture what a realistic and best training week of yours should look like?

Choose the qualities you want to work on , set out in a timeline, to aim work them again at the peak of supercompensation.

You can’t do everything at once, but you can train more than one or even two qualities concurrently with skill! This is perfectly possible for you and I in a good routine of doing some form of daily exercise.

Want some help designing your own training calendar with all this in mind? 
Any questions or need some examples?

Drop me a line or ping me a message via my chat bubble! – I would look forward to hearing about what you do.


Why is it so much harder at the moment?

When I was in a rowing squad (2015 feels a long time ago now!…getting older!) it was easy – well the committing to the training consistently – the training itself was ofcourse very very hard.
When I was injured and rehabilitating (2013, 2016) commitment was easy – I had a prescribed block of exercises to do and progress with, I knew I had to do it and why. Motivation was easy.
When I undertook a block of personal training to also gain some CPD if you like, under an S&C coach this commitment was easy too.
In training during my S&C qualification my commitment that year was faultless.


The other perhaps obvious and additional answer is in another question  – well what am I training for?
I’m now strong and fit enough again to do my favourite free sports in my spare time.
I’m healthy and active, my body composition is fine.

So the personal motivation isn’t quite there, even though I know how good I’ll feel generally and what impact and difference this makes in my wellbeing from all the side benefits of consistent training.

Professionally, I’m already used to and comfortable training those far stronger fitter than me now which is great, but I can always get stronger, ( a lot stronger!) and work on both this and technical aspects of S&C.
I must practice what I preach in order to keep relating to the progressions of my clients; be they youth, adult, young, old, someone training for performance, someone for health.

Reasons can be excuses – I don’t have time- I have to put all my time into my business or my clients, or my work, or my relationships, or my house , or whatever it is.
If something is necessary we design the time in.

And am I happy staying still? or de-training? , Hell-no!

So what must the motivation be next?

I realise that I don’t just want more of it I need more of it!

Increasing the personal abilities then returns to actually being linked professionally to ‘knowing or experiencing what it takes’.

Can I become a world-class coach? And why is this linked?

This snatch test is a significant performance benchmark … The strange thing is, I think that I already believe that once I get it, it will have actually been all about the process of getting it that gives me the next level of confidence I need, and then perhaps striving for Strong First certification.

But training alone is damn hard! And I realise that the vast majority of my own Kettlebell training has been on my own!

Who wants to hold me accountable or join in some training?

I first pressed and then snatched a 24kg Kettlebell in late June 2018. This was huge for me, (as I came into S&C well any formal free weights training relatively late) and a year previously I never imagined I’d get to that point.

During July I realised that setting the goal of 100 Snatches in 5 minutes was achievable. (The error was I didn’t set by when, and then reverse engineer / plan backwards accordingly). I think I’d accepted Ah, I’ll be busy with x, y, z, it’s not my priority, I’ll just keep it ticking over and see what happens… Well if I don’t integrate this and get back on it now it might never happen!

Spurred on by new motivation I did well just on once/twice a week specific training and by November I’d hit 37 each side in 5 minutes, and a couple of weeks later 50 each side in 8 minutes.

I’ve certainly experienced some de-training effect , I don’t fancy hitting 24kg  50 snatches on each side tomorrow but I only need a small amount of dedicated time weekly to retrain back to where I was in November and then go on to this Snatch test!

At that point the limiting factor was the strength and power , I had the fitness,
time to get both back and then step it up!

I often find December & January challenging, to stay on top of consistent activity or training.
It’s almost mid-February now… its only  4 months til summer… psychologically it all gets less hard
with more daylight, milder temps…

We all have dips but can still continue to progress over the long term.
Time to strive for a higher personal peak than last summer!

This isn’t even about the snatch test, it’s about maintaining a great all round consistent week/month/year with varied training and sport activities!…to continually progress, up-skill, gain and use experience, gain further confidence.

I need to give reason for some people to hold me to account! Who’s in?!

I’ve had some great advice on stepping up to swinging the 32kg so I’m ‘looking forward’ to that this week.
The most rewarding feelings in sport or in training are bettering oneself in whichever form this takes, while enjoying the process – like learning anything new.
This year I also intend to take up something new, to be a beginner again, to remember what it is like to learn something from scratch.

Another intent of mine this year is to not just listen, but listen and seek to deeper understand, and get to a place where I can ask deeper questions more readily, to then act on this and serve people better and better.

I love aiming to instil in my clients and athletes that they are limitless.

I’ve just posted some little Kettlebell vids from the beach on my Instagram! I also pose some questions for you in that post!

There’s a couple of snatch vids on my you tube channel.
I will be working on these..!

Do check them out and get in touch! It would be cool to hear from you.