Category Archives: Training

Tips for Training Through the Winter

As we all know, training in the winter months is hard. Typically its cold, wet and just miserable out most of the time. The gym just does not look as appealing as sitting in front of a warm fire does! We’ve all been there!But here are my top tips for battling through the horrible weather and getting you back on track with your goals! 

SMART Goals

I’m sure you have all heard of the acronym SMART before now. But if you haven’t it stands for the following:

Specific

Specific goals are vital to success with your journey. There’s absolutely no point in just going to your coach and saying “I want to lose weight”. or “I want to squat more weight”. Why not be more specific than that? let the person know how much you want to lose or how much you want to squat. The more specific you can make the goal, the better the chance you have of staying focused on that goal. 

Measurable

Is this goal measurable? Can it be completed within a time frame? Again, give yourself a timeframe or some sort of measure to achieve this goal by. 

Agreed upon / Achievable

Does this goal sound achievable for you? If needed, have you and your coach agreed the goal at hand and both believe its achievable?  There is no point in saying you plan to break the squat world record in 6 weeks time if you can’t even squat with no weight perfectly! 

Relevant

It’s important to set goals for yourself and not for others.  Remember why you started this journey and not why others have their own journey. If your friend has a goal of losing 10kg does not mean you need the same goal. Focus on yourself and yourself only. 

“Real change will come when you focus on yourself.”

Ritu GhatoureyTime

Put a end date on your goal. Give yourself a realistic timeframe for this.

SMART Goals have been around for a pretty long time now. There is nothing new or fancy about them But they do work. 

Sit down and have a think for yourself about a goal you have. Put it through the SMART process and reflect on it. If you are doubting yourself, don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend or even your trainer about this goal. They will be more than happy to help you stay on track! 

Another way that can help you staying active is by achieving your daily step goals! If you are a relatively inactive person, start small. Aim for a daily step goal of 5,000 per day and build from there. Don’t beat yourself up if you do not achieve this target everyday as some days you might go over it, some days you might not. Look at your weekly average of steps.

These are just a few of the tips I use during the cold and miserable winter months to help me stay on track!

Hitting the Writing Wall

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down here to write a blog. As something I planned on doing more regularly I have not gotten off to a great start! I have hit a kind of wall as to what to write about on here, and I still don’t really know what content to put up or what not to put up. For something I planned on doing for myself I have quickly fallen into the trap of overthinking about what to write to look sh*t hot on here. Instead I should just be focusing on what I myself want to write about. After all this is a personal blog!  I’ve began to look at some great writers in this area to gain some inspiration and I have to say there’s some great content out there. If you look at the likes of Stuart McMillan, Bret Bartholomew, ALTIS, Dan John… You will not be disappointed. The stuff these guys write it’s just outstanding! Anyway enough rambling about my shortcomings of being more frequent on here! I’ll work on that..

Random Ramblings

Athletic Development

When it comes to athlete development there is no perfect way to programme design. Yes there will be similarities but its hard to give a one size fits all programme to a group of athletes and expect the same result from each and every one on that programme.

This is something that really struck home with me over the last few months. Especially from coaching the fantastic Rebel Wheelers Multi-Sports Group. A lot of the kids here have the same disability but by god are they all unique in their own way with what they need.  Athletes are individuals and they should be coached that way. Well no scratch that. Every single person you meet is an individual and each and every one of them should be coached that way. You cannot take a one size fits all approach to fitness. It may work in the short run, but long term it will not workout.

If you’d like to see a better insight into the work we do with this group at ACLAÍ have a look at the video below:

Ladder Sets

I have been playing around with these for awhile now after reading Dan Johns post about them a while back. They are a great way to up the volume of your sets without adding more sets in.  They are best utilised on alternate exercises to keep the tension on the resting limb while the other one goes to work.

Give this a try for your self and see!

Alternate Dumbbell Bench Press

Set 1:

2 – 3 – 5 -10 on both Limbs

Straight Arm Front Plank

Set 2 :

New weight

2 – 3 – 5 – 10

Straight Arm Front Plank

Set 3:

New  / Same Weight

2 – 3 – 5 – 10

Straight Arm Front Plank

Oh and it is best advised to leave our ego at home when your are trying this. They are a lot tougher than they look.


YOU’RE A FAILURE. SAYS WHO? SAYS YOU?

“As a coach there are two ways I can deal with results. I can tell you that you got 7 out of 20 or I can tell you that you got 7 right. If you get 8 right the following week that’s an improvement on your previous self. That should been classed as success. Unfortunately we want to rank people, particularly kids, to label them, put them in boxes. The challenge is that we potentially destroy them by constantly grading them against a higher figure.” 

I went to a talk in Setanta College a few years back where Dr. Dave Alred was speaking and it was an absolute pleasure to listen too. In the above article he speaks about how we shouldn’t be so quick to brand ourselves as failures. How that people think just because they are not where they think they should be or what they want to achieve that they are a failure, but they do not look at the margins needed to get to where they want to be. how these margins go out the window once you consider yourself a failure.

5 Things to Cut Out if you Want to be Successful

  • Give up multi-tasking

Most of the time spent switching between tasks is time wasted. Focus on the task at hand and then move onto the next one.  (Side note: I feel this is where I fell short on when it came to my blogs, I was trying to do them in between college work and it just didn’t work)

  • Give Up the Unhealthy Lifestyle

Take care of your body, try and get some form of exercise in everyday. think of those 10,000 steps! After all, the body is the only place you 100% have to live in!

If you want to be successful it starts with a healthy body, as the saying goes. “healthy body equals a healthy mind” 

  1. Quality Sleep
  2. Healthy Diet
  3. Physical Activity

Your body will thank you in the long run!

  •  Give Up Believing In The “Magic Bullet.”

“Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better”

— Émile Coué

  • Give Up Your Need To Be Liked

“You can be the juiciest, ripest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be people who hate peaches.”

— Dita Von Teese

This is something I have definitely taken on recently. I have noticed that I may not be everyones cup of tea or whatever but I’m ok with that now. I think this works both ways too, as you grow older and become wiser you are going to change, nobody stays the same throughout life.

  • Give Up Wasting Time
“The trouble is, you think you have time”
— Jack Kornfield 
Procrastination is an awful thing. To counteract this I’ve recently began setting out to-do lists for the day ahead. Especially on my days off as I will tend to just be a sloth on those days and do as little as possible if I do not have a plan.
More of these here

Podcast of the Week

Glutes, glutes, and more glutes w/ Bret Contreras “The Glute Guy” — 297

https://daily.barbellshrugged.com/contreras/

To say I’m not fond of a hip thrust myself would be an understatement! So it would be rude not to give the man himself a mention…

Podcast: Rebel Matters with Ainle Ó Cairealláin

Check out a podcast I did with friend and mentor Ainle Ó Cairealláin from Rebel Matters a few weeks back. I talk about how I dealt with my disability growing up, recovering from broken bones and my international wheelchair rugby career.

http://rebel.libsyn.com/ep-8-alan-dineen-on-overcoming-disability-getting-over-setbacks-and-professional-development

The Hang

Are you struggling with your grip strength in the deadlift or other grip exercises? Performing a hang can improve your grip strength and cause a great stretch in your latissimus dorsi while also improving your shoulder mobility. This exercise is such an easy one to add into your routine, it takes little time to set up and its a good way to recover in-between sets. All you need is a a chin up bar or a set of rings to complete the hang.

There are a variety of hangs to complete but I would start off with the Passive Hang.

Once you can complete this for over a minute without your grip going, then try a more advanced hang.

The other hanging exercises I would attempt are an Active Hang and Active Hang Reps. These two exercises work on scapula movement which is an added bonus!

 

 

Tips to Stay on Track With Your Fitness Journey

Setting new goals in your health and fitness journey is a exciting process. It keeps you motivated and it makes sure you have something to work towards. A reward so to speak. New Years Resolutions are usually a time where you will see a lot of people set goals to improve ones self image or to run a marathon etc. Setting these expectations are good for yourself but you need to set smaller goals to help you stay on track in the short term.

Set a Long-Term goal and smaller goals

Goal setting is key to staying on track and achieving your goals. Ideally you should set maybe 3 long term goals. (Over the space of 6-12 months). This might be to lose a certain amount of weight, run a marathon, cycle Malin to Mizen. These are just a few off the top of my head! But they should be the end goal.

These goals should be something that excites you. This way you will be motivated a lot more to achieve this goal. Make sure that these goals are realistic. I would also give myself a time frame to achieve this goal by.

Don’t Restrict Yourself

Restricting yourself too hard when it comes to nutrition and eating is a recipe for disaster. Unless you have a goal of competing in a bodybuilding competition then there is absolutely no need to restrict yourself to boiled chicken, rice and kale. Fad diets work in the short run but they are not sustainable. Nutrition is an easy thing made to look difficult by companies so that you will buy their “Weight Loss” products… It’s pretty simple. Eat like an adult. 

Find a Workout Partner/Group

If you have trouble working out alone then having a workout buddy is a good way to help keep you motivated. Share your goals with one another, workout together all of these things will help you stay on track with your goals.

If your goal is more running / outdoor activity based, there are plenty of running/ cycling/ walking groups out there that are always welcoming new members who want to take up running to keep fit and healthy.

Work with a Coach

Working with a coach is another good way to kickstart your journey. This is vital if you are new to going to the gym and lifting weights. A good coach will work with you with your goals in mind. They will show you how to complete the exercises correctly with good form and make sure that you will progress in a linear fashion.

Enjoy the Process

The most important thing is that you completely enjoy the process. There is absolutely no point in doing something if it feels more like a chore than anything else! As I’ve said already, pick goals that excite and motivate you. Get up, get moving and enjoy life!

How I Improved my Core Strength

Over the last couple of months I’ve seen massive improvements in my core strength. It has something that I lacked strength and control in for years due to my lack of using it.

Since I began training in ACLAÍ I’ve been introduced into the wonderful world of Gymnastic Strength Training (GST). There is a massive focus on core strength in this program and I’ve taken bits that are within my ranges and applied them into my own training.

Since then, my core strength has come on leaps and bounds. I still have a long way to go but for now this is what I am currently doing.

  • Straight Arm Front Plank

  • Hollow Body Hold

  • Back Bodyline Drill

  • Bird Dog
  • Pallof Hold

  • L-Sits

I will program these exercises in with my main lifts at least twice a week. With a hold of 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Building up my core strength has massive vast differences in every other area of my training and sports performance.

The Kettlebell Swing

If there was one movement out there that burns fat, opens up and loosens the hips and that will give you that perky bum you’ve always dreamed of, it is the Kettlebell Swing (KBS).

If done correctly the swing is key to fat loss and building your glutes and hamstrings. It definitely provides the best bang for your buck. Done correctly is the key point here, usually the KBS is taught so horrifically that they should hand out business cards for a back specialist after every class.

It is a simple move in theory but can be difficult to learn.

Kettlebell Swings are the top of the pyramid when it comes to hinge movements, they are the most under appreciated movement in the gym, sport and even life!

So how do we complete The Swing?

Here’s a little video demonstrations the Swing in action.

So the key coaching points here:

  • Make sure your back is nice and flat at the top of the movement, arching back is wrong and dangerous for your back
  • Hinge at the hips so that the Kettlebell lowers, then thrust forward gaining all the power from your glutes and your hamstrings. The Swing is an explosive movement not a passive one!
  • Let the Kettlebell drag you down, at the bottom of the movement should have the Kettlebell between your legs, below the bottom. The arms should be locked and the hips behind your centre line of the body, the knees slightly bent with a neutral spine.
  • This position is impossible to achieve if you fall down with the Kettlebell instead of letting it drag you down.
  • The height of the Kettlebell completely depends on the explosiveness of your hips. Ideally it should reach parallel to the ground but not higher. Again, this all depends on how explosive the hips are.

A key thing to remember here is that the Kettlebell Swing is in fact a hinge movement and not a squat.

If you as a coach hear the saying “Oh Kettlebell Swings hurt my back” must realise  that there is a form issue here, Kettlebell Swings do not hurt your back.  More often than not the issue is that the knees are bent too much.

Hinging at the hips means maximal hip movement, minimal knee movement.

Squatting means maximal hip movement and maximal knee movement.

The hip hinge and the KBS are a good as it gets for human performance. If there is one thing that you learn to do correctly, let it be the hinge pattern.

A good target to reach for is 75-200 swings a workout. I know this seems a lot but if you break it down you realise its not that much. The KBS can be used as a warm up, condition work and a strength work.

You can break this up numerous ways such as : 25 X 3, 15 X 5, etc.