Category Archives: Medicine Ball Training, Performance Training, Sports performance, Personal Trainer, Personal Training

The Right To Progress by Rob Cook

When dealing with exercise or program progression for your athletes or clients, I believe there should be a sound, uniformed level of mastery of fundamental basics and exercise foundations before the ‘reward

’ of progression is applied.

Sometimes it’s easy for us as trainers and coaches to get caught up with a new ‘fad’ training concept or piece of equipment, and to feel the pressure to keep up with the crowd. A positive bi-product of this is creative design – the new kit or concept enables you to explore and understand new possibilities and ideas, which ultimately leads to the industry furthering itself. On a whole, this is a very good thing. However, the negative sides to this, as I see it, are:

1. The over-complication of exercises by trainers who’s creativity gets the best of them (Note: Creativity is a good thing, but only when applied correctly!); and

2. The progression of clients and athletes who still haven’t achieved technical competence of an exercise’s fundamental technique.


“Let them adapt before moving on.” –Kelvin Giles

If we progress a client or athlete who is yet to gain technical competence in a certain area of their training, they will carry this deficiency of skillset through their development and into an area where there is going to be an increase in load, speed, volume and power output. When these aspects of an exercise are increased without a sound, competent foundation to work with, the result for your client or athlete can be injury, plateau and restriction in strength development. This could then ultimately also have a psychological impact on an athlete’s mindset or a client’s motivation which can potentially result in a lack of faith in themselves, and you or your methods.

The right path through an exercise progression begins with your client or athlete having mastered the foundations of an exercise before moving on to adding load, increasing speed, increasing volume, etc. By taking this approach of ‘Earning the right to Progress’, you are ensuring the best possible long-term development of your client or athlete, and by increasing their body awareness you in-turn increase their ability to improve.



1) Movement Dynamics Athletic Development – An Introduction to Athletic Development. –Kelvin B. Giles MA, CertEd


Coaching the Model Client

I greet my client for an evening session, in this instance it’s a movement session, but very quickly I can sense and see that all is not well…

“I’m absolutely shattered, I tell you what, the last thing I need is a tiring session tonigh

t.” his bag hitting the floor with a sort of angry resignation.

Now if you’ve been a trainer or a coach for any appreciable length of time, these situations aren’t uncommon and can, if you’re not “on your game,” catch you unawares and be disconcerting, at worst, triggering perhaps a defensive or unwelcoming response from you.

I chose to immediately frame the session by saying “we’ll find the right balance tonight, you’ll leave feeling better, tell me more if you’d like.”  We have a history of sit-down coaching sessions regarding his resilience and performance at work, so this was agreed to and he began.

As he spoke, I listened, aiming to create in my own mind a solid working landscape of what he was talking about.  After some time it became apparent to me that he was very focussed on facts and events about what sounded like an incredibly difficult schedule and situation.  The more detail he went into, the more our heads felt like they were going to explode!  I saw and felt him live out, literally, the embodiment of his stress.

Very often we can get so subsumed and overwhelmed by our clients’ stories that we, like them, lose perspective and objectivity.  Detail can bombard our senses and quickly we can feel like we have to provide an answer or a solution.  In these instances models can provide a creative and helpful “frame” by which we can start to interpret what is occurring.

In “The Case for Coaching” (Jarvis, Lane, Fillery-Travis, 2006, p. 13) there is some strong empirical evidence that coaching can deliver “tangible benefits to both individuals and organisations” and is “an effective way to promote learning in organisations.”  Over 75% of managers and practitioners stated coaching to be an “effective to very effective” interaction.  (CIPD Chartered Institute for Learning Development.  Survey. 2005)

The effectiveness of our, or indeed any coaching, of course, comes down to the coach and as an evidence-based approach to coaching grows, we can see when, where, why and how coaching becomes necessary and powerful to help craft change, and indeed where it is harmful or unwarranted.

So, my client spoke and a model that I like to use sprang to mind.  This is an organic process that I have learnt to trust and the model that came to my aid was this one, called “Domains of Competence.”  This model is from the work of Habermas and is found and described in the excellent book “Coaching:  Evoking Excellence in Others.  (Flaherty, 2005, p. 84)

 “Domains of Competence” (Flaherty, p.84)

Ken Wilber takes this model and expands on it in “Integral Life Practice” (Wilber, Patten, Leonard, Morelli, 2008, p.28) an excellent resource for any trainer bridging the ‘exercise’ to ‘personal’ gap with their clients.

If we look at the three levels here, it becomes apparent where my client was focussed in his account of his situation.  He was reporting entirely from the “it” domain – facts and events weighed heavily on his mind, waking him at night, creating stress responses with each bombardment of potential worse-case scenarios.  It became evident that he was largely unsupported in the “we” domain and due to his existential aloneness, not therefore, engaging with the “I” domain, or how to “self-manage.”

Using the model in this way allowed me to do two things.  The first was offer some support, bridge the “we” domain and start, via listening and being present with him, to offer a “container” or a space to share experience.  The second key point is; as he relaxes, I help him become aware of the change in his state and the physiological differences as he becomes more embodied and grounded, thus highlighting the “I” domain for him.  This became a key practice for him, namely to “notice” when he became very identified with facts and events, forgetting literally, his breathing and his physicality.

In “The Psychology of Executive Coaching” (Second Edition, Peltier, 2010, p.165) there is an excellent section on “The Existential Stance” the first core concept given is “individuality and context.”  This points out that; “things are fixed” yet “there is no fixed person.”  My client was stuck in undeniable “things”, a very tough period in a very tough climate, yet due to a lesser engagement with “we” and “I” domains he had lost two vital resources, namely self and other support.  Bringing the concepts to light through a discreet use of a model gave his situation and him some needed context and reference points to work with and create new perspectives.  He felt able to really relate to the concept of “self management” particularly and I, as his coach, was now able to share this frame with him and provide “self management tools,” namely body awareness techniques and reframing ideas.

To summarise the take-away message from this article I’ll refer to “The Skilled Helper” (Sixth Edition, Egan, 1998, inside cover)

Egan outlines a brilliant model with three distinct phases to it, which I feel can be applied very simply or with sufficient training, very extensively.  I’ll refer to the first stage here because it’s simple and can be a “meta-model” for the application of other models.


The Skilled Helper Model

Stage One:

“Current Scenario”

This is a really beautiful and simple flow chart.  Listen to the story, intently, with all your senses.  Get a “feel” for where your client is metaphorically and literally with their story.  Start to internally ask yourself  “what am I hearing?” and also “what is missing in this story?”  “What is it that we are not seeing clearly enough or at all?”  In this instance my “Domains of Competence” model allowed us to see where the focus was too dominant and therefore see what unused and underdeveloped resources where in fact available, granting us “leverage.”  Two further stages go into how to create plans for action in this process.

Alfred Korzybski, the “father of semantics” remarked famously “the map is not the territory,” and he was right.  Models aren’t our reality they simply give us a filter through which we may understand our experience.  If we hold them lightly and let them inform our situation they can be immensely powerful.  I know I’m far happier with a map heading into a city centre than without one!



Jarvis, Lane, Fillery-Travis, 2006, p. 13. “The Case for Coaching” The Chartered Institute of Personal Development

Flaherty, 2005, p. 84. “Coaching:  Evoking Excellence in Others.”  Elsevier Butterworth Heinemann

Wilber, Patten, Leonard, Morelli, 2008, p.28. “Integral Life Practice” Integral Books, Shambala Productions

Peltier, 2010, p.165) “The Psychology of Executive Coaching” Second Edition, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group

Sixth Edition, Egan, 1998, inside cover. “The Skilled Helper” Sixth Edition, Brooks/Cole Publishing Company


Make Your Body Your Gym! by Rob Cook

Something that is forever being thrown up as a barrier and reason for not moving and exercising is the excuse of not having enough time. As a trainer this is something that I hear quite often but can combat quite easily to get clients out of their se

dentary lifestyles. If you’re a reader of Fitness News you will have seen

the ‘Alive in 5’ articles that are there and these challenges will give you an amazing all round workout in no time at all…….about 5 minutes actually 😉 So to add on to that I wanted to talk about calisthenics, or body weight exercises, so that no matter where you are, how much or how little time you have, you’ll never be ‘gym-less’ again!

I’m sure you’ve all heard of and have done some bodyweight moves before – things like burpee’s or mountain climbers – but have maybe ignored the potential benefit of these and other calisthenic exercises. Some of the hardest and most challenging workouts I have ever done have been using nothing more than what I was born with (i.e. my body) and a little space in my hotel room. Plus, as a bonus, I haven’t spent a dime and have also avoided potential overload injuries….But that’s a little off the subject and another article all on its own, so lets get back to the topic at hand…


Your Body Is Your Gym

To put it as simply as possible, calisthenics are where you use you’re own bodyweight as resistance. This may sound boring and limited if it’s not something you’re very familiar with but you couldn’t be further from the truth. Once you begin to play with the speed, angles, body positioning, explosiveness, progression/regression and exercise combinations, you have an unlimited arsenal of moves that will not only keep you fit and strong but will also challenge the pants off you! To go through and list off all of, or even some of, the potential exercise possibilities would take a collective group of people a long time and they would almost always certainly continue to come up with more and more. So to give you a taste of the endless possibilities let’s use one exercise everyone knows – the push up – and show you how it can be tweaked to produce numerous variations.


Push-Up Variations

A Standard Push-Up: This is done by placing your hands on the ground approximately shoulders width apart while being prone with your toes on the ground. You then lower yourself and push back up….easy right?








Beginner Push-Up: If a standard push-up’s too difficult, either perform the exercise on your knees instead of your toes, or place your hands on an elevated surface, e.g. a table, a chair, or a step (and gradually use lower and lower surfaces until you can do a ouch up with your hands on the floor).





Advanced Push-Up Variations: If the standard push-up’s too easy, try:

(i) Single Leg Push-Ups: raising one leg in the air;


(ii) Feet-Elevated Push-Ups: place both feet off the ground onto a higher surface.



Can you see where I’m going with this? Now lets play with your hand positions….



Wide-Hands Push-Ups: Place your hands wider then shoulder width.






Close-Hands Push-Ups: Place your hands close together, directly underneath your chest.





Rotated-Hands Push-Ups: Turn one hand out and the other hand in.





Staggered-Hands Push-Ups: Place one hand further in front and the other one further behind.





Single-Arm Push-Ups: Try taking one arm out the equation all together – and tell me that’s not effective and challenging enough! (although like the standard push up, this can be made easier by placing the one hand your pushing with on an elevated surface)





Next we can begin to play with the speed and force at which you perform each press:


Plyometric Push-Ups: Starting in the standard push-up position, lower yourself to the ground and push up with enough force to drive you’re hands off the ground. Once you’re able to perform these and want more of a challenge try shifting your hand positions with each explosive push, moving them forward/back, wide/narrow, hands turned in/out, or even onto and off of a raised object.





As you can see, one simple exercise can become many. Imagine the endless possibilities! You can find an enormous amount of calisthenic exercises on the internet to quench your workout thirst but for a more structured, effective workout for your own personal goals seek out and find a reputable PT London to help guide you in the right direction.

With the right bodyweight exercises and their numerous variations, no matter where you are or what you have at your disposal you will never be gym-less again!

Now go get creative!


Inspire Your Personal Training Clients to Tackle Challenges One Step at a Time

Wilma Rudolph was born in 1940 to a poverty stricken family in

Clarksville, Tennessee. At a birth weight of 4½ pounds, her doctors didn’t expect her to survive through the night.

She did survive — barely — yet her fight for survival was just beginning. A sickly child, Wilma battled near-fatal bouts of scarlet fever and double pneumonia by the time she was just five years old. Just as it seemed the worst was behind her and she would get to enjoy a normal healthy childhood, at age seven her legs became progressively weaker and eventually deformed. Eventually she lost the function of her left leg.

Wilma was told she would never walk again. Her doctors advised her and her mother that the most reasonable course of action was to accept Wilma’s diagnosis as a cripple as soon as possible because polio was incurable at that time, and therefore unconquerable.

As luck would have it, her mother was not a reasonable woman. She either could not or would not grasp the finality of that diagnosis. She forced Wilma to once again fight an arduous battle; a battle more fierce and enduring than she ever could have imagined. Wilma began a physiotherapy regimen that lasted up to four hours per day, week after week, month after month, year after year without pause.

The process was exhausting and painful. Results came slowly, when they came at all, and Wilma was often discouraged. But her mother didn’t give up on her; she pushed her little girl harder and farther. Wilma reluctantly resolved to push on.

Her life changed one day in church when she decided she walk unaided down the aisle. Her attempt was crude and clumsy, but she walked. From that day forth she never had to depend on vision her mother held for her. She could see it for herself.

Her determination was unshakable. Wilma Rudolph was so encouraged by her unwieldy attempt at walking that she kept at it until little by little, step by step she got better…not by much, but by just enough to keep her motivated one step after another.

Her encouragement grew to the point where she allowed herself to be influenced by a coach at her school to join the track and field team. In her first race she came in last place.

That within itself is an inspiring finish not only to that race but to the story, but it doesn’t even come close to ending there.

In 1960, Wilma Rudolph made history by becoming the first American woman to win three Olympic gold medals in within the same Olympic Games. She is remembered as one of the fastest runners in history.

Wilma never started off with Olympic aspirations, she merely wanted to take a single step and then another.

The lesson for us all is when the challenges our personal training clients face seem insurmountable, it’s not a matter of going the distance, but simply one small step beyond where they are to where they wish to be.


Training For Sport – Part 2a – Exercise Selection

The bell just sounded and we are off with the second instalment of my blog… How far am I going to run today? Well I’m aiming to cover the art of exercise selection or at least appropriate selection for sports by the time I run out of breath…

If we look back at my 3 key points I left you with:

  • What it is you want to achieve/improve
  • How you intend to measure improvements
  • How much time can you give to this

I would like to start by focusing on the first of the points, what is it we are trying to improve? If you haven’t already started writing your plan down, you may want to start now… Just a thought…

I shall start with a simple example… Lets say you’re a prop (if you don’t play rugby, that’s one of the two really fat guys) and you want to improve your strength when lifting a jumper in a lineout. I don’t want to get overly technical here, I want this blog to appeal to regular people as much as for trainers, we can debate the more technical items at another time.

So I’d say start by thinking about what the move you’re looking to improve in the following way:

  • What does it look like?
  • Does that vary?
  • What does it feel like?
  • How is it loaded?

A few examples of lineout lifting

Let’s start with the first question, what does it look like? Well it looks like a step (or steps) into a squat to a press with the weight moving from chest height to above head in a shoulder pressing type motion. So that’s going to be my exercise, a step into a squat where as I rise from the crouched position, I shoulder press.

Now does that vary? What I mean by that is if you’re lifting someone, are your feet always going to be in the same position? The chances are no. So why not vary the foot positions of the exercise so that you ensure that you are strong no matter where you are? So vary the exercise with different feet positions and take a wide, narrow, normal, right foot forward, left foot forward stance.

What does it feel like? Is it fast or slow? Heavy or light? The fact is you get what you train for and so if you train slow, you’ll be slow. In this case the move is explosive and heavy so your exercise needs to replicate that otherwise you’re going shoot yourself in the foot. This said, I wouldn’t hurtle out of the blocks straight into explosive and heavy lifting tomorrow, you should build up to this, especially in terms of weight.

Finally how is it loaded? Or more importantly, what in terms of weighted object would replicate the lifting of a grown man the best? Is it a barbell or a medicine ball or a dumbbell etc? I’m going to say for the sake of argument 2 dumbells, you could probably find a better loading vehicle but not everyone will have access to 50kg powerbags!

If everything has gone to plan, we should now have an exercise to improve our lineout lifting, either that or we now have a very confused reader! I’m hoping you have followed this… If not, don’t worry, I will post a video for this tomorrow and talk about how we add some meat to the bones of our workout and also a few other exercises for you to have a look at. Then I’ll do the same for golf, football and anything else you want me to look at…

Si Tate


Training For Sport – Part 1 – Introduction

I’ll tell you straight away that this is going to be an incomplete read, I’ll be finishing this post as the week goes on… What can I say? Time is tight and I’m pretty lousy when it comes to writing long articles so I prefer to do it in a set of

sprints, rather than a long slow jog.

In this ‘interval blog’ I’d like to help those of you trying to incorporate some sports specific exercises into your gym training. I often have people asking me about the best exercises for sports such as rugby, football or golf (this incidentally is not a sport but I’m going to address it anyway) and so instead of answering you all individually, I thought I’d do it right here and save myself the masses of copying and pasting…

Ok so first up, before you lift a weight, squat jump or shake a corestick you need to have a clear idea of:

  • What it is you want to achieve/improve
  • How you intend to measure improvements
  • How much time can you give to this

If you have these, the rest is simple or at least a lot more simple! If you don’t have this information, you are going to struggle to:

  • Select appropriate exercises
  • Determine success/failure
  • Plan the training schedule

So let’s say you play football and you’re a winger and you’re looking to run faster, first up you need to determine what exactly this means. Are we talking about acceleration? Or do you mean top speed? Is this in a straight line or multiple directions?

Once you know this, the next part becomes simple enough… How do you measure that? If you’re looking to improve acceleration over a short distance across multiple directions for example, set up a series of cones across short distances in a number of directions. This will enable you to test the attributes that you are looking to improve and therefore in a month you will be able to re-test and to see whether or not your training has worked.

The final part is then to workout how much time you can dedicate to training towards your goal and get it in the diary… oh and be realistic… Don’t bullsh*t yourself!

Here ends my writing for today, I have a client in 5, but I leave you with the age old adage “Failure to prepare is preparing to fail” and I’ll be back tomorrow with Part 2…

Si Tate


FASTER personal training showing how it is done!

The elite level of personal trainer for FASTER, are thorough and get great results quickly.

In this video you get to see the FASTER guys working a client who plays professional football, through all of the assessments, solutions and the

n take away techniques he will need in order to carry on playing at a high level.

Notice the intent to keep the movements true to the players needs and then the solutions get applied as close to the movement the client asks for, as possible. The range of techniques move from Functional Therapy, Fascial Manipulation, Tool assisted massage and Functional Performance training, all used to help the client become better at movement. For a footballer, that means better performance and more injury free games, to a regular every day client, it means efficient, quality movement that burn more calories and allows you to train harder…


Personal Training Pullovers

Spice up your traditional pullover workout, by adding in some additional movements.

Swimmers use dry land training to improve their swim times, distance runners use strength training to improve endurance and finishing pace and

so it seems strange that in any kind of lifting programme, we tend to stay with the same exercise to improve performance.

Todays exercise video shows how many variables you can add to your regular pullover. These exercises are mainly used in the higher rep range, and work well to engage your abdominals, while engaging your pecs, at end range. The great thing about this exercise is that as well as improving your heavy, perfect technique pullovers, it also improves your posture.

Enjoy adding some of these movements in to your workouts and feel free to share your results…

Click to see John Hardy’s profile…


Personal Training Tools

All Personal Trainers need to have the ability to adapt to the equipment available

This is a video of our FASTER Trainers in Baker Street taking changes in the floor, and using this change to produce quality exercises. We pri

de ourselves on our ability to build a diverse range of exercises, and here is just another video to prove this

It is worth noting that we take you through range training to co-ordination and even vibration training. Using the CoreTex, Stretch Cage, Reebok Core Board, Reebok Hurdles, Reebok Lateral Hurdles and the Bosu as well as many other ground influencers to make this a unique combination of exercises, designed to challenge our clients bodies in many ways. It is important to notice that Andy is pushing himself a lot at the end, just to show what too much time in a gym alone can force you to learn!

Andy Driscoll’s Personal Training Page


Personal Training Rugby

Here is a great video from one of our Personal Trainers, Si Tate.

This is a superb work out, with repetition suggestions, where the workout would be fine for a regular fitness person, as well as a more Rugby specific training session.L’entrainement Turbulence – French Turbulence Training

Why don’t you have a go at all these exercises and then let us know what you think about the workout. This was filmed in a FASTER studio, and all the exercises match our style of training, which is multi direction, multi speed, multi height and importantly replicate the motions that will be required in competitive Rugby. Additionally, Si has added a component of endurance, to make things even closer to the real game.

If you like the look of this work out, then you should click on this to get to see Si Tates profile.