Monday, 1 November 2010

Off Ice Training for Early Teenage Hockey Players

By Harry S Grove

My sessions with the junior teams (I am head strength and conditioning coach for an under 14's (ages 12-13) and under 16's (ages 14-15)) are broken down into different areas, covering different aspects of improving the players on ice ability. I have a one hour session with each team, every week. I will split these sessions up and will also split the players into groups for some of the exercises.

I always start of with a gentle heart rate raiser, with about 3-5 minutes of cardiovascular work like jogging. I will then go into specific warm up drills. I would start off with dynamic stretches like leg swings from side to side and front to back, helping increase hip mobility as well as hip flexor mobility drills. I would then move onto glute activation drills such as quadruped hip and knee extension, hip extension (keep knee bent) and hip abduction. I also add in side planks and supine planks for torso activation. This whole warm up will last 10 minutes.

I then move onto movement technique work. This will cover toe bounds with high knees, wall sprint drills and sprint drills, deceleration work, hops, jumps, lateral shuffles etc. This will then lead into the movement drills. Here we would up the tempo and do drills like lateral shuffles into sprints and agility drills like the 4 cone drill and various t-test drills. This section will last a maximum of 15 minutes.

I then go into more strength based exercises. Each session we choose 3-4 exercises like lunge variations, squats etc and will go over each exercise in the strength technique section. This is to help reinforce previous sessions. I break this down by getting them to do it individually first so I can correct technique. I will then split them into 2 groups and do the same while having them listen to teaching cues. After the technique work is done, I will move onto the strength drills and get them to perform in a circuit going from upper to lower body e.g. reverse lunge, press up, squat etc. This part of the session will last 20 minutes.

The last part of the main session will go through energy system training. Depending on the depth of the team, most on ice shifts last about 45 seconds with rest periods anywhere from 45 seconds to 90 seconds. The body mainly depends on the anaerobic glycolysis system. The body doesn't require oxygen, but it does produce lactic acid. This energy system last for around 1 minute, which is why we want to train this system off ice.

In the off ice sessions, we target the drill to be between 30 and 60 seconds. We might do 300 yard shuttle runs, body weight drills to sprints and various shuttle drills. I will split the players into 2-3 groups and go through the drills 1 group at a time, while the other rest and recover. This part of the session will last for 10 minutes.

I will spend the last 5-10 minutes (usually overrun), cooling down and going through stretches, especially for the hip and ankle region.

I also personal train some of the players on a one to one basis and I will incorporate soft tissue work during their warm up using foam rollers and various balls e.g. tennis.

Harry Grove BSc CSCS DipPT is a strength and conditioning coach and has help train athletes and individuals from a variety of backgrounds and ages for more than a decade. He is the co-founder of PT On-Demand Ltd! - an online training and exercise resource.

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Fitness Training For Rock Climbers

By Harry S Grove

Climbing, like any other sport, needs to have supplementary work performed outside of actual climbing time. I have come across not just climbers, but people from multiple sports where they think that just doing the activity will be enough. It is not until I have worked with them that they have found their sport easier and they can perform to higher level. Climbing is exactly the same.

Climbers need to have a high amount of muscular endurance, with the body being able to deal with the build up of lactic acid that the muscles will produce. There also needs to be a high amount of power as well a tremendous amount of strength, especially in the latissimus dorsi (back), forearms and hands. Having a high amount of stamina is a must as you can be climbing for hours at a time and is especially important as altitudes increase.

When I have worked with climbers, we have concentrated working on the back muscles, shoulders, forearm and hand muscles and the core muscles. I use a variety of exercises to help the above muscles and body functions. They include, but not limited to deadlifts, squat variations, pull up variations, rows, press variations and clean variations.

The deadlift is one of the best exercises you can, regardless of whether you climb or not. It works around 200 muscles in the body, not to mention the back, arms, legs, glutes and gripping muscles. I do this exercise two different ways. I get my climbers to do a heavy deadlift day, working up to 90-95% 1 rep max (RM) for 1-3 reps. I then get them doing dynamic work 3 days later, working on pulling quickly from the ground. I would get them working at about 55-60% 1 RM and doing 8 sets of 1 rep with about 30-45 seconds rest between sets. I would supplement this lift with exercises such as high pulls, cleans from the floor and hang cleans.

I will occasionally supplement heavy deadlifts with heavy front squats. Like deadlifts, squats are extremely tough on the body and work around the 200 muscle mark too. Front squats, especially with an Olympic grip, put a lot of strain on the mid-section and back muscles as the weight forces the body to keep back muscles tight, allowing the chest to stay up.

I do a lot of pull ups with my climbers. We do wide grip, neutral, palms back, towel pull ups, fat grip pull ups all with a full range of motion. I get my climbers to go from a dead hang on every rep. Again, I do very high weight pull ups for few reps, adding weight around the climbers waist (I had one guy pulling an extra 40kg for 5 reps) to no weight at all. On these days, I get them to pull as quickly as they can. For those powerful enough, jump pull ups and muscle ups will be prescribed. I do these for sets of 3-5 reps, really focusing on powering up.

Obviously there is a lot of forearm and grip work done. I vary the exercises from simple static holds to wrist flexion and extension. Some static holds I like to use are plate pinches (placing two 10kg plates together and pinching them together on the smooth sides), dumbbell holds and barbell holds. I might also make it a more conditioning exercise by doing farmers walks and make it even harder by adding my fat gripz to the bar. Hammer curls and reverse curls are also thrown in occasionally for forearm and biceps strength.

In my personal training sessions with my climbers, I get them to do press variations such as single and double arm dumbbell presses, push presses, Arnold presses and bench presses and press ups. This is to help strengthen the shoulder girdle muscles and shoulder muscles. I will also use dips to help with shoulder strength and triceps strength. I do these exercises for higher and lower reps and use a variety of weights.

For the climber, core muscles are very important. A favorite of mine is the Roman Chair Twist, where the climber lies back and then twists from side to side. This will engage the rectus abdominis, tranverse abdominis and internal and external obliques. Other core exercises are variations of the plank hold, ab wheel or barbell role outs, hand walk outs from the toes to nearly flat and back up, hanging knee raises and weighted Janda sit ups. I do these with a slightly higher rep range.

For conditioning, I will do short intense circuits as slightly longer interval training sessions. The circuits could be anything from a tabata circuit (20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest, repeat until 4 minutes is done) to one exercise done for 10 reps with a minutes rest and performed again (McPhee burpees are good for this). I will also do high intensity interval training (HIIT) working with high intervals from 30-60 seconds with rest periods of 1-2 minutes. I will get my climbers doing this for around 10 minutes to 20 minutes tops.

Stretching is must as it will help you become more flexible, but keep you flexible. I use a range of stretching techniques, including PNF stretching. Flexibility is extremely important in the lower body and I work on improving the range of motion in and around the hip joints.

Rock climbing should be treated like any other sport or physical activity, it requires a large amount of physical effort, strength and endurance. You can't beat rock climbing to become better at climbing, but training properly for it will help progress you quicker than if you did just that.

Harry Grove BSc CSCS DipPT has helped personal train athletes and individuals from a variety of backgrounds for more than a decade. He is the co-founder of PT On-Demand Ltd! - an online training and exercise resource.

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Nutritional Needs for Rock Climbing

By Harry S Grove

Rock climbing is a sport/recreation, which can last hours at a time. It requires extreme levels of muscular endurance, power, strength and good levels of stamina. A good strength and conditioning program can help improve these aspects, but the body needs the correct fuel to help the body perform these activities.

I am going to concentrate more on the pre-climbing, during climbing and post climbing nutrition. These make up a very important part of how the body will perform during the climbing period. I will also cover water and electrolyte consumption.

Pre-Climbing Nutrition

The purpose of this meal is provide fluid and energy to the climber during the activity. Pre nutrition will start around 3 hours before climbing. The pre-climbing meal should consist of a mix very low glycemic carbohydrates, such as oats, sweet potatoes, vegetables and fruits. A good source of protein is also added to this meal, such as lean meats and fish. This will supply the body with the fuel to get through the session. Water is also very important and studies indicate 0.5 liter 2 hours before the activity.

As rock climbing is an aerobic endurance event, you can maximize carbohydrate stores by eating something with about 30 minutes before the session. I recommend my climbers take in fruit and a source of protein that is light on the stomach, such as a whey protein shake. I also recommend my climber drink another 0.5 liter of water.

During Climbing Nutrition

During rock climbing, the main thing to consume is adequate fluid. The purpose of this is to keep the body hydrated and at peak performance. If the session lasts up to an hour, I would recommend water would be sufficient. Evidence suggests that there is no physiological benefit to consuming a drink with carbohydrates in during this time. Around 0.25 liter should be consumed every 15 minutes. Take in large amounts of water as this causes gastric emptying allowing the water to get into the system more rapidly.

If the session goes on longer than 1 hour, then I would suggest taking in a carbohydrate and electrolyte drink to help replenish these stores. A simple and effective drink, which is cheap is adding salt to orange juice. I recommend drinking this alongside water, drinking 0.125 liter of water and 0.125 liter carb/electrolyte drink every 15 minutes. As climbing is focuses on muscular strength, power and endurance, I also recommend having branched chain amino acids during climbing sessions and recommend adding these to your carb/electrolyte drink.

Post Climbing Nutrition

As soon as the session has finished, I recommend taking a mix of carbohydrates and proteins. A mix of whey protein and glucose (Hi glycemic) will help replenish the depleted carbohydrate stores, while at the same time, the insulin release caused by the intake of high glycemic carbohydrates will buffer the protein into the bodies muscle stores. I would try to get this in within the first 30 minutes of finishing the session. Water is also needed to help re-hydrate the body. A good indicator is to consume 0.5 liter for every pound of body weight lost.

1-2 hours after completing a climb, a substantial meal can be consumed, which can consist of carbohydrates, protein and fat. A good meal for this, which I consume myself and suggest to my climbers is sweet potato with tuna mayonnaise and salad. I would also drink another 0.5 liter of water with this meal too.

A good nutritional program is a fundamental part to make climbing a better experience and overall more fun as you will be able to find climbs get easier as your performance increases. Keep hydrated and get adequate nutrients into the body.

Harry Grove BSc CSCS DipPT has helped train athletes and individuals from a variety of backgrounds for more and a decade. He is the co-founder of PT On-Demand Ltd! an online training and exercise resource.

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Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Should we be eating like our great ancestors

I have written before that if you want to become healthier, lose body fat and get stronger we should follow a more natural diet. By this I mean, eating what could be hunted e.g. fish and animals or picked from the ground nuts, seeds, vegetables etc.

The Paleolithic ear went from 2.5 million to 20,000 years BC. The Paleo Diet is meant to work with our genetics to help us become fitter, stronger and healthier. The Paleo Diet is primarily made up of protein based foods, so anything that can be killed would make good eating. In modern times, the best place would be from grass fed animals and wild fish, rather than the factory farmed animals and fish.

The other part of the diet is made up from a mix of fats (saturated and mono and poly unsaturated fats). Today these sources would come from olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds and the different oils and also fish oil. There are carbs in the diet too. These would come from vegetables, fruits and then yams and sweet pototaoes (orange or purple).

The Palio Diet can be followed by anyone, but it does need some discipline. As you can see, foods such as bread, pasta and rices are off the menu and considering that the majority of people's diets are made up of these foods, it may be hard. It isn't a coincidence that people I know that eat a very natural close to the ground diet are leaner and healthier than their processed carb eating counterparts.

Clients that I have trained who have taken to eating like this, have seen incredible results too. I have had clients who have lost 3-4% body fat in a about 5 weeks. They have lost a lot more fat off the mid-section and feel healthier too, less sluggish during the day and sleep better.

The Paleo diet is not just good for getting rid of body fat it has also shown remarkable promise for metabolic derangement, neurological degeneration (including Parkinson's, Huntington's, and Alzheimer's diseases) and autoimmune disorders. There is clinical data on the reversal of osteoporosis and the related problem of sarcopenia (muscle wasting).

Robb Wolf who states
"The underpinning of all these diseases is inflammation resulting from a diet and lifestyle at odds with our Paleolithic genetics. The Paleolithic approach is like shotgun art: you blast all angles of the inflammation spectrum. From hyperinsulinemia to managing n-6/n-3 fatty acid, to decreasing intestinal permeability due to grains and legumes.

This allows the complex cellular signaling pathways to come back into a healthy and optimized state. This is good, whether you're trying to build muscle or avoid cancer."

I have been eating like this for more than a year now. I do have oats for breakfast, but all my other carbs come from fruits, vegetables and sweet potatoes. I consume about 9-13 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. I also drink plenty of water, about 4-5 liters a day. Don't get me wrong, I do slide off the band wagon and have my cheat days, but thats where it ends. I am only human :)

If you really want to become leaner, lose weight, healthier then I would recommend trying this way of eating out. Eat what mother nature has been providing us for the last 2.5 million+ years and I can pretty much guarantee you will feel and look better. It may be a chore, but it depends how much you want to achieve your figure/physique goals.

For more information on Robb Wolf and his new book The Paleo Solution you can click here

Thursday, 20 May 2010

What is YOUR goal

I find it hard to believe that most people who set off on an exercise routine don't really know where they want to go with it. At the start of the 2010 I sat down and wrote out my training related goals for the year. I then broke this down into 3, 6, 9 and 12 month goals.

My major goal is to be competing next year at the BDFPA British Championships in the 90kg category. I am taking this year off to get ready for it and to increase my strength. I know what I need to do to qualify for the championships, but I don't want to JUST qualify, I want to go there and make an impact.

The goals below were set at the start of the year. I have set out certain weights I want to be lifting at certain points throughout the year. I set goals for March. I failed to reach two of them so I had to reassess and I changed my goals slightly. This is what they look like:

End of March 2010:
Bench: 140kg - I failed and made 135kg
Squat: 180kg - I passed and made 185kg
Deadlift: 240kg - I failed and made 232.5kg

End of June 2010:
Bench: 145kg - New goal of 140kg
Squat: 190kg - Stayed the same
Deadlift: 250kg - New goal of 240kg

End of September 2010:
Bench: 150kg - New goal of 145kg
Squat: 195kg - Stayed the same
Deadlift: 260kg - New goal of 250kg

End of 2010
Bench: 155kg - New goal of 150kg
Squat: 200kg - Stayed the same
Deadlift: 270kg - New goal of 260kg

As you can see, I failed to make certain lifts. I didn't sulk or give up because I failed, I keep going and strive to get stronger. When I test at the end of June, I will reassess my goals again then.

My point is this, set goals for yourself, long term ones and then break that down into short term ones. If you fail to reach the goal, you can reassess as I have and see what you can do to keep moving you forward and reach your next short term goals. It maybe that you surpass your goals, well done, reassess and maybe make your next goal a more challenging.

You must have goals, it gives you something to focus on, something to keep you driving forward, if you don't, then you will lose focus and most probably give up. This doesn't have to relate to just your training and exercising goals either, we should have goals set out in our life too.

'Man is a goal seeking animal. His life only has meaning if he is reaching out and striving for his goals.'


Monday, 10 May 2010


As a trainer and being in the gym pretty much all the time I see one thing that lacks from a lot of peoples training programs. I see people lying around on the stretch mats, not doing a lot, wasting time chatting to a friend while they hop along on the x-trainer for an hour. So many people just don't seem to push themselves in the gym or during any exercise really.

I have had clients say to me, that if I wasn't with them, they would have stopped as they wouldn't push themselves that hard. So why is it that people don't push themselves to their full potential? Well thats for another blog. I am here to talk about intensity.

One of the services I do for people is to write training program for them. This is just one tool to achieving the goals you require. Have a good training program in place and you're on the right path. It is just that though, a tool in the box. If it is not used properly, it won't reap the rewards that it designed to do.

I wrote a leg program for a guy to do, it had 3 exercises in it. I gave it to him and he looked at me and said 'is that it'. I said go away and have a go at it. He duly went away and did the program and came back to me saying there was not enough exercises in it and that it was too easy. I said to him to book in a session with me and we'll go through it 'my way'.

The program involved Back Squats, Bulgarian Split Squats and Romanian Deadlifts. It involved squats in the rep ranges of 3-4 reps, split squats in the range of 6-8 and romanians in the range of 10-12. We did the session, well my client did, I looked on at him with a wry smile on my face as he grimaced and sweated through the weights session. I said he could do more exercises if he wanted, with him following that up saying 'its alright, I think I will give them a miss'.

My point is this, you can have the best program in the world, but if you are not willing to push yourself and up the intensity, it is complete bullshit. I know I talk between sets to training partners, but when it comes to lifting the weight or sprinting the hill, I will put 110% effort into it.

Cut the crap and get on and do it, if you're lying around, chatting to mates in the stretch area or have enough breath to muster more than a few words or any words at all on the x-trainer then you are wasting your time and in some instances, my time. Get in the gym, kick the shit out of your program and yourself and get out so you can start the repair process to a better you.


Saturday, 8 May 2010

Training logs

Quick note - Harry and I will be posting training logs up on this blog for people to have a look at and see what our training looks like.