A Tale of Two Extremes

The weekend just gone has been just awesome.

Myself and fellow Wild Geese had the opportunity to attend two fantastic workshops. Both jam packed with great information that can help take our performances to the next level, but also both polar opposites to each other.

On the Saturday, we hosted a Yoga Workshop and then on Sunday we travelled out of town to attend a Power Lifting workshop.
They couldn’t be more different.

In the Yoga session, we learned about Somatic exercises. I recently read Thomas Hanna’s book on the subject of Somatics and found it fascinating, his views on the body and how it works make a lot of sense. Much of Hanna’s work is centred around regaining control of the nervous system, using gentle almost lazy exercises to release habitual tension in the body and allow it to move freely. I highly recommend you get a copy of the book and have read, especially if you’re a coach. However Hanna is not a coach, he’s a therapist, so while he provides an illustrated section on his exercises, it is very hard to follow. Having an instructor teach you these drills takes no time at all, getting them from Hanna’s book is nightmare!

However, the lazy nature of Somatic movement belies it’s effectiveness, within a few minutes my tight back had completely loosened out and the hips felt free.
From the Somatics we were taken through some more traditional Yoga poses, emphasising spinal alignment and mobility and hip opening drills. It never fails to amuse me when a group of hairy arsed martial artists and Iron athletes, myself included, are humbled and humiliated by a few “simple” poses.
But by the end of the workshop I felt loose and mobile. When I say loose I don’t mean floppy, like a ragdoll, more in the way that a cat is loose and effortless in it’s movement, ye can generate massive amounts of power when it wants to.

Then came Sunday, and a trip down to a friends gym in Tullamore, Co. Offaly. Dolan Fitness, run by Kieran Dolan, is an excellent strength gym, he’s got power cages, a lifting platform, stacks or bars and a whole heap of plates. It’s a gym for getting strong in, the perfect venue then for workshop with the worlds strongest power lifter.
Andy Bolton from Leeds in England was over to demonstrate, teach and discuss the power lifts, the Bench Press, the Squat and Andy’s signature lift, the Deadlift.

If you’ve trained with me, or read this blog regularly, or even just been around the Wild Geese studio in Dublin, you’ll know that we are big fans of the deadlift. Having the opportunity to learn more about this lift, possibly the ultimate lift in strength training, from the 1st man to ever Deadlift over 1000lb in history is an opportunity not to be missed.
Andy is a giant of a man, but he’s also an absolute gentleman. He stepped onto the platform and with very little fanfare just got on with setting up a bar. He invited lads to join him as he warmed up, he was actually going to do a Deadlift training session there and then. What better way to learn than to see how the master actually trains.

The whole time he answered questions, corrected lads form (by Andy’s 3rd warm up set, the bar was too heavy for any of us to continue), explained how and why he did certain things the way he did, but never said his way was the only way. Often he’d say that each person ahs to find out for themselves what works, he can only really show what works for himself.

And work it does. On his arm he has tattooed (forgive me if I get this wrong, I’, writing from memory) the words “A day in history, 1003lb deadlift, x/x/06”. That’s the day he became the strongest man ever to walk the earth. 1003lb is 455kg. He’s gone even heavier since and done 1008lb (457kg). He’s also 1 of only 5 men in the world to have squatted over 1200lb (545kg) with a best of 1213lb (550.5kg)

His secret, is no secret at all. It’s common sense and consistent, patient hard work. He never maxes out in the gym and always records his workouts. If it aint written down, he says, how do you know it works?

Please go over to www.andyboltonstrength.net and have a read over some of his site, this is man is the real deal and as humble as they come.

So that was my weekend, two extremes, but both extremely useful.

As I often write, a martial artist has to be a well rounded athlete, we can’t afford to specialise in one particular are of training. Watching Andy move it is clear that while he is vastly strong, his mobility and cardio are somewhat below par, he wouldn’t last the first round in a fight (unless he grabbed hold of you in the first few seconds, in which case, he’s capable of tearing you in half!). Whereas Anne, our Yoga coach can barely squat her own bodyweight but can move like a dream.

Both these people are specialists in their area, Andy doesn’t need to move like a gymnast and Anne has little use for an enormous back. As a fighter, we need a bit of both. Two much either way and we loose our edge, we have to balance everything, to be strong enough to dominate an opponent, to be mobile enough to move quickly and fluidly and to be fit enough to go the distance if we must.

As a conditioning coach I specialise in getting guys to last the distance, I’ve an excellent working knowledge of strength and mobility, but from this weekend my knowledge has increased. I can now look to apply training elements from the Powerlifter and from the Yogi into both my own and to my athletes training programs. This way we can create even better athletes

, more fearsome fighters and more well rounded, efficient human beings.




One thought on “A Tale of Two Extremes

  1. Pingback: Countdown to Cotter « Wild Geese Fitness Training

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