Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Question on Program Rationale

Hear was a readers question with regards to the Na Fianna Senior Football Strength Program Phase 1

Robbie can you give us more info on this program - hate to sound like a broken record but the context around it is important.
Who are these athletes, what is goal of this phase, etc.


My reply:

Glad you asked.

The program is for a Gaelic Football team with little experience with a structured strength Program.

I must add that this is still not the same program for everyone. Some will not bench due to shoulder pathologies, and everyone will have different mobility as fillers due to whatever mobility and movement deficiencies need the most work, etc.

The overall goals for this phase are corrections of FMS patterns in the warm up, technique, and general work capacity.

Also the exercise selection in Phase 1 is to prepare the lads for the slightly more advanced variations of phase 2.


Phase 1: BB RDL - Phase 2 Convential Deadlift
Rational: The hardest part for beginners to learn in the deadlift is how to return the bar to the floor. BB RDL teaches this, as well as a proper hip hinge.

Phase 1: DB/KB Goblet Reverse Lunge - Phase 2: BB Reverse Lunge
Rational: DB/KB Goblet Reverse Lunge teaches proper body position for Phase 2 with the bar

Phase 1: DB/KB Goblet RFE SS - Phase 2: BB RFE SS
Rational: DB/KB Goblet RFE SS teaches proper body position for Phase 2 with the bar.

With beginners I like to use a accummulation, intensification periodization scheme.

4 weeks - higher volume/ slighter lower intensity
4 weeks - lower volume/ higher intensity

With more adavnced guys. I like a block style approach or a modified concurrent where one quality is emphasized and others are maintained. But most people I train just need to move better and get stronger.


Stay Strong,


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas to all readers of this blog,and also a happy christmas to all who have the same love and passion for the iron game. May you have a great day with your loved ones and a peaceful New Year.

Christmas wouldn't be christmas without some early morning strongman training!!

At 10 this morning myself, Tomas Brady, and Joey Boland went to the club to earn our christmas feeding!!

A: Farmer Walks - 5mins (non stop, you go, I go format between the 3 of us)
B: Prowler Sprints - 5mins (non stop, you go, I go format between the 3 of us)
C: Log Press: 30secs on/ 30secs off - 5mins
D: KB Swings: 30secs on/ 30secs off - 5mins
E: MB Slams: 30secs on/ 30secs off - 5mins

For Station C,D, and E, we would stay at one station each for the 5mins and then switch to another station for 5mins, and then the last one for 5mins. Working for 30secs/ and resting for 30secs.


Round 1:
C: Robbie - 30secs on/ 30secs off - 5mins
D: Brady - 30secs on/ 30secs off - 5mins
E: Joey - 30secs on/ 30secs off - 5mins

Round 2:
C: Joey - 30secs on/ 30secs off - 5mins
D: Robbie - 30secs on/ 30secs off - 5mins
E: Brady - 30secs on/ 30secs off - 5mins

Round 3:
You get the point!

Total session time: 30mins (5mins for warm up)

Fun Times........


Stay Strong,


Thursday, December 23, 2010

So You Want To Be a Strength & Conditioning Coach

Well Im here to offer some help.

1. Read:

Boring I know. But its so true. Books, Blogs (Free), Websites (most are free).

2. Read:

Yes its this important.

3. Listen:

Download everything you can find that is related to our field and listen to it. Podcasts are FREE

4. Watch:
DVDs, Webinars, etc.

5. Attend:

6. Get an internship:

For my Irish and UK friends I advise going to the US. MBSC, Cressey Performace, Athletes Performance, Train 4 the Game. This will give so much from a coaching and personal development standpont that the experience will be priceless.

7. Coach:

Coach!! You need to coach. Theory is one thing. Putting it into practice is another thing all together. Volunteer if you have too. But get your hours in. What started as a volunteer role for me ending up being the beginning of my business, when I got back from MBSC.

8. Don't be afraid to make mistakes:

Nothing will ever be perfect. Remember you wont know until you try.

9. First Learn all the Rules then break them (if you want:-)

By this I mean, you need to get to a stage where you have a decent understanding of basic concepts, theories, and ideas, to start to form YOUR OWN OPINION. Please DO NOT be afraid to think for yourself.

10. Interact:

Don't be afraid to connect with other coaches. Most are very willing to email you, or talk on skype. I have made some great friends, and mentors who help me to be a better coach everyday.

11. Seek out the best in the industry:

Make it your business to get to know the Mike Boyles, Eric Cresseys, Charlie Weingroffs, Patrick Wards of this world. If you want to be the best you need to learn from and get to know the best.

12. Repeat 1-4 everyday!

Stay Strong,


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Na Fianna Senior Football Strength Program Phase 1

The following is the Na Fianna Senior Football Strength and Conditioning Program Phase 1

Foam Roll
Stretch - (replaced by FMS Correction if needed)
Activation - (replaced by FMS Correction if needed)
Dynamic Warm Up (Linear Day 1, Multidirectional day 2)
Plyos(Linear Day 1, Multidirectional day 2)
Med Ball Throws

Day 1:

A1: Hang Clean technique (Using Glenn Plenday's teching style of the high hang clean. Very Effective)
A2: Mobility exercise which maybe needed by the individual (ie, t-spine, etc)

B1: BB RDL 3x5 (In Phase 1 I like to teach people to be able to lower the bar properly, and how to hip hinge)
B2: Incline DB Press - Neutral Grip 3x8
B3: Core: Plank Row 2x5
B4: Mobility

C1: DB Goblet Reverse Lunge 3x8 (Goblet teaches to chest chest up. Phase 2 will be with a bar)
C2: 3PT DB Row 3x8 (reforces hip hinge)
C3: Side Plank progression

D1: TRX Face Pulls 2x12
D2: Push Ups 2x12 (I like to always have a push up in the program)

Day 2:

A1: Hang Clean technique (Using Glenn Plenday's teching style of the high hang clean. Very Effective)
A2: Mobility exercise which maybe needed by the individual (ie, t-spine, etc)

B1: Chin Up 3x5
B2: DB/KB Goblet RFE Split Squat 3x8
B3: Core: Plank Progression
B4: Mobility

C1: Bench Press 3x5
C2: 1 Arm DB/KB SLDL 3x8
C3: Tall Kneeling Isometric Pallof Press

D1: TRX Rows - Neutral Grip 2x12
D2: 2 Leg Shoulder Elevated Hip Lifts 2x12

Stay Strong,

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dry Needling Course

Dr.Joe Donnelly, Me, and Chris Alejandro

Sorry for not be very productive on the blog. Things are busy at UP.

Last weekend (Dec 5-6), I completed my National Qualification in Trigger Point Dry Needling the course was held by the National Training Centre (NTC). I would highly recommend any Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT) and Dry Needling course by the NTC.

The course was run over two weekends. Our course instructors were John Sharkey, Chris Alejandro, and Dr. Joe Donnelly from Alanta in US. All were very helpful throughout the course.

Dr. Joe and I discussed about Gray Cooks work, and about him (Dr Joe) meeting and studing with Dr. Janda, and Karl Lewit. Joe also had a close relationship with David Simons, co-author of the myofascial pain and dysfucnction textbooks with Dr. Travell.

Overall a great 4 days of learning. I would like to thank the NTC for their excellent course standards, and also to my friends from the course who were great craic throughout the entire course!

Stay Strong,

Monday, December 6, 2010

Conditioning on Stationary Bikes: Pros and Cons

I often get the question from some of my GAA players, "what do you think of spin, or doing some conditioning on a bike?". Well I am about to give you my definitive answers here. Keep in mind I am talking about conditioning on stationary bikes for field and court athletes

1. Cycling is very anterior chain (quad) dominant: Most athletes are anterior chain dominant. By this I mean they overuse their quads, and underuse their glutes and the hamstrings (posterior chain). Conditioning on a bike feeds this imbalance even more.

2. No acceleration, deceleration, or change of direction (COD): In sports like hurling and football acceleration, deceleration and COD are very important aspects of the sport. Acceleration is all about being able to apply force into the ground. Deceleration is about having great eccentric control of your body, especially on one limb, while COD is also about eccentric control and then being able to rapaidly apply force back into the ground to change direction. Being on a stationary bike does nothing to improve these very important aspects. Someone can argue that I am talking about the speed, and agility portion of training, but even in the conditioning segment I would prefer a field/court athlete to be on their feet, having to deal with these forces as they fatigue. As we know injury risks are higher with fatigue!

3. Hip Flexors: Do we really need to shorten the hip flexors anymore than we already do with all the sitting we do nowadays? I think no.

4. Kyphotic Posture (Rounded Shoulders): Similar to the comment to the hip flexors above, do we really want to bring our spines into more poor posture. Don't we get enough as it is already. Ok you can make arguments for the airdyne, but I am making the argument against your typical stationary/spin bike.

5. Low transfer: The transfer of conditioning on a bike to improve your on-field conditioning is low. What we use to believe before was that if we can improve the strength & conditioning of our cardio-respiratory system by any means (running, cycling, etc) then our conditioning levels in all activities should improve. What we failed to realize though is that there also needs to be a cellular adaptation to the muscles also, as well as the cardio-respiratory system. This is why on a bike Lance Armstrong is the most conditioned human in the world, but in the New York City marathon he was why back at the end of the field. This is becacuse he has made the cellular adaptations (mitochondria, capillaries, myogoblin, hemogoblin) in the muscle tissues and blood when cycling, but not when he is on two feet running.

Ok now for the Pros

1. Injuries: Anybody coming back from some joint or lower extremity injury, the bike may have some role to play in the initial stages. In fact I have heard Dan Pfaff talk about how his has used bikes to still get some training effect for his sprinters with a broken bone in their foot or a lower extremity issue. This may seem to fly in the face of what I just stated above about transfer, but Pfaff is using a specialized bike that manages to get his athletes in positions similar to those that are encounter in sprinting. Also he states his volumes is a lot higher on the bikes due to there being no ground forces. Keep in mind also that Pfaff calls this a serious Plan B!

2. Variety: OK. I know you're like WTF. I am contradicting myself again. But you need to remember I am answering the average athlete who is not on a well designed strength & conditioning program, has shitty posture, and has poor acceleration, deceleration, and COD capabilities. But for a well trained athlete who is concurrently training all these qualities that I have mention, some conditioning on the bike will be a welcome change. This is why I think conditioning on the airdynes at MBSC is ok, as the athletes are working on their posterior chain, their hip mobility/flexibility, their acceleration, deceleration, COD, etc.

3. Recovery: Low impact, and requires little mental attention. For recovery it is a tool in the toolbox.

So there you have my opinions on conditioning for field/court athletes on a stationary bike. Hope you find it somewhat useful??

Stay Strong,