Spartan ready, Aussie style.

Well it’s getting close to the Spartan race again for here in Victoria so suit up, grab your gear and head out to the bush! It’s time to run and get dirty!

For those few fitness enthusiasts who are wondering what a Spartan race is and why you should do it? Well its simple. It’s there to be conquered and for this old man, a mental, strength and conditioning litmus test to go by. That’s all really, oh and you get a t-shirt (can’t miss the ever important event t-shirt can we?) a rather cool looking medal that you receive as a participant and in true Aussie fashion, a Beer. Please don’t confuse this medal with a winner’s medal.  It is simply a verification of an event you participated in and survived unscathed. Still it’s a rather cool piece to collect and shows off the accomplishment in completing this rather challenging event.  For others, it’s an important keepsake to remind then how awesome they were, or something to talk up.

Spartan is a race over several challenging obstacles through muddy water, shrubs, hills, in tackling obstacles where you are required to lift heavy awkward items, lift them onto shoulders, run up and down a hill, swim across a small dam, drag a 5kg+ cement block attached to a rope, and finally climb a rope to ring the bell at the top. Phew! (and don’t forget to pose for the photo) You might even see a Kettlebell here and there!

If that’s not enough you are made to perform 30 burpees if you fail or decline the invitation to negotiate any obstacles. And believe me the burpee debt will be paid.

The training for an obstacle course is quite simple yet effective if done well. Not to be confused with easy. First of all find out what type of movements, lifts and challenges are required and get started. The first one clearly is Running.  Make no mistake, this is first and foremost a running event and you need to run. The obstacles are just there to give you a rest in between your sprint bursts (a poor attempt of humor by me) until you reach your next one. So if you are too busy bench pressing instead of running, stop now and run. One element of conditioning to possess is the constant ability to carry your own bodyweight over the many obstacles, the humble chin up /pull up and its variations comes to mind. Never underestimate the ability to pull yourself up! You will need it on this day my friend.  You also need to perform in lifting heavy items from the ground and with one memorable obstacle load them onto your shoulders (you are no longer at the Gym so, no one will pass them to you) and carry it for distance up and back down a rather steep looking hill. The exercises here that replicate some of these movements would be Deadlifting for the 55kg dead ball that you will find or the wimpy smaller one if you chose, Heavy shouldering with the sandbag for the carry and for us at Claudefit, a familiar dose of Kettlebell Military presses for overhead strength and shoulder stability. be aware the shoulders cop a regular beating during the day.

Another likely obstacle you will need to take on is the ever challenging rope climb, in preparation get a thick rope (Now) and find out the best way you feel getting up and back down without injury (its only required once) find a person who knows the technique and drill it often, Just a reminder that you will most likely encounter the rope climb exhausted along with wet, cold and slippery hands, be prepared. Don’t say I didn’t warn you – drop and give me 30 burpees if you fail.

Is it like tough mudder? NO. The difference is that with Spartan you are actually racing for time as the top end guys who do this seriously compete for placing that qualifies them onto more challenging races against other like minded Spartans, to ultimately find out who the best one is. Incidentally this event is growing in popularity and its getting serious within its own community. AROO is the catch-cry!  With tough mudder is it’s a different event in that the promoting of teamwork is highly regarded and you are not racing the clock, you are simply negotiating the obstacles as a solo entrant or within a team structure with the view of completing the course and opting out of certain obstacles is an option. With Spartan you don’t get such benefits.

A major difference, between TM and Spartan is the pace. With TM and given the possibility that you have trained for it you could comfortably be able to set your running tempo over a 20klm course in negotiating the 20 or so obstacles. Unfortunately with the Spartan race running flat chat through the Australian bush for say 7, 14 or 21klms depending on the race type is expected.  Due to the undulating terrain that you have to race through in reaching the obstacles, I’m certain your heart rate will be up, along with other competitors attempting to share the space on improving  their own time.

Being prepared allows you to be focused. Being focused prevents injuries. So you either tackle the challenge, give up and do 30 burpee’s, or simply get out of the way, the young folk are coming through. Previously we older ones paced ourselves well and managed not to get run over by the younger fitter and stronger young guns running past. We are smart and have nothing to prove……yeah right.

For us at Claudefit who are tacking the Spartan race we simply factor in what’s required for the event and incorporate it into our clients particular goals. We all run when time permits, lift weights and practice the rope on a regular basis. So getting focuses on just the Spartan race is not our main objective, It’s just something we do to test us in a challenging environment and trial our overall conditioning as a consequence of the training we simply do.

General physical preparation for whatever life throws at us. In this case the Spartan race.

As they say Aroo. Now drop and give me 30.


Its fun run season

As the Melbourne fun run season is well on the way, the Claudefit/Nikfitness guys and gals are well and truly exited or as the young folk say “pumped” It’s the one time during their personal workouts that I encourage my clients to push the pace and get that PT. (personal best) after all it’s a professional event that is timed and you get to wear a race bib (number) and somewhat feel part of it. Basically you get to do it on a flat road with no traffic. Truly a runners dream.

Along with the rest of the participant that sometimes number 35,000 it is the perfect stage to showcase you fitness and do it for a worthy cause. Plus it’s a lot of fun to have. This Season will be or second weve decided to have some targeted runs to both measure our progress and just for the pure enjoyment of it. The enjoyment being getting up at 5:30am on a Sunday to make it down to the event , get ready and run anything from 4klms to 22klms depending on the event. Chuck in Mud and obstacles if you include tough Mudder and Spartan race.

In addition to the Mothers day classic coming up we have the Spartan Race (think mud and obstacles here) Stadium Stomp (running up and down the MCG stairs) Run Melbourne and our last team event, Melbourne marathon. Might even give the Eureka Tower a crack also !

In regards to the Mothers day run this weekend here’s what my respected peer Nikki had to say.

The Mothers’ Day Classic is on this Sunday! Running around the TAN track in the city. Either the 4kms or 8kms course – And the dreaded “Anderson Street Hill” (to do twice if you’re doing the 8kms!)

Look it’s not so bad the Hill, it rises about 30m in 400m, It’s a moderate beast but with fresh legs (the first lap) it’s quite doable! And I was like what the fuss is about, this hill isn’t so bad.  Second lap around and 5kms already run, I found the going tough, even with my tunes pumping in my ear willing me to the top there was no way my legs were going to be running the whole way up.  It was my only walk of last year’s 8km race, my hips were burning , but I ran the rest out! Till we meet again Hill!

It’s a special run the Mother’s Day Classic, the Run for Breast Cancer research and one close to my heart, as it is a lot of people. The day starts before dawn, you’re at the track as the sun is rising.  There is a sea of pink everywhere and you see many tribute cards worn as a dedication to a loved one’s memory.  It’s an emotional morning with a minute silence before the runners commence. It’s a run I’m very proud to be a part of and I’ll continue to keep running for this cause as long as my legs will let me!

With my team alongside me, we begin the run together and we make sure we all finish (as we do every run).  There is a lot of support for this run it’s getting bigger every year with a lot of celebrity support too.  Hello Michelle Bridges! And I’m very much looking forward to Round 2 with Anderson Street!

If you’re interested in joining a Fun Run please let me know we can help train you for it too.

See you at the start line!

Passing the RKC. It’s about the weekend.

If you are one of the many who have taken the path of working towards the RKC you will soon realise that it’s more than the one item that typically becomes the mental barrier in getting your RKC. This means the whole weekend and not only the often dreaded snatch test, as the title spells it out my intention is simple. Provide you with solid advice to incorporate into you own programming and get you to pass the “weekend”.  Time now to throw my hat in and assist you with what I consider a realistic plan and mental approach in what’s required to obtain membership into the RKC community, which incidentally is one of the standards of all things kettlebell related among  other  strength and conditioning education.

As a current RKC11 with a couple of decades in “lifting weights” I can certainly point you in the right direction in getting your RKC. If you choose to do your own thing, good luck.

In planning towards the weekend it basically starts the moment you put the money down and commit, that is the first step. Like most things, thinking about it won’t motivate you until you invest the fee towards your professional development. It’s amazing how motivated one gets when payment is made compared to just thinking about it. The fee for the RKC depending on when you pay is not the cheapest workshop you pay for, but its all so worth it for the ones who achieve it. The next step in my opinions for some is to arrange a few sessions with an RKC instructor that will help you out with technique and just as importantly place you in a position to receive some vital information that will help you with your goal.  Remember, they have been there and done it so take notice. No one passes it with luck. Last time I checked it was roughly 30% failure rate on average, how?  A lack of preparation I guess.

Be warned as you need to be prepared, well conditioned, and teachable to pass.

You need to be aware of the standards required to get through the 3 days. You need to be ready. And I mean not just being strong, but physically and mentally capable of performing the required lifts as required with good form and (GPP) conditioning in dealing with the volumes of work dished out by the team of instructors who are there to get you by. This is not a walk up workshop where you are rubber stamped and given your piece of paper at the end.  It is also not a beat down either. Be ready to learn as the proud and very capable team of instructors on the day are there to offer expertise, help out and get you to pass all components. The RKC will not simply give you the certification. It has to be earned.

Your next move is to find out how long you have and work backwards. The term periodization comes to mind. (a fancy word for planning). Often people think that the snatch test is the be all, end all of the weekend and if they pass the snatch test they are done, well sort off. (You still have 2 days and 7hrs to deal with) You also have various workouts during the day and the final graduate workout. This was quite challenging as we experienced during the first ever Australian RKC. It was dealt to us outside in the scotching Aussie heat! –  A memorable experience.

The plan….yes my plan.

The template I used was simple. The way I like to keep things. It consisted of roughly 6 month of planning (lucky me) and was broken down to training in block of 5-6 weeks with the first phase logically being base building. I got stronger first (no pun intended) and then took it from there. I worked on simple 5×3 to 5×5 blocks on getting my Barbell Deadlift, Squats, Overhead Press strong and worked on increasing my chin ups with a simple 5×5 method and was able to knock off roughly 50 (10×5) reps on any given workout. Having previously done the recommended HKC , The Goblet squat, Turkish Get Up and swings were included in building my strength platform and blended in nicely with programming.

I also managed to get myself down to Read Performance Training and under Andrew Reads tuition participated in their RKC preparation workshop. It made sense to me to do the workshops as Andrew was the one hosting the RKC. Who better to refine the movement and throw a few tips your way? Once I got an idea of what to do and brushed up on my technique, off I went and started to build up my necessary base strength and conditioning to better deal with the volumes required.

After a few months of getting the basics down, my next block(s) I would introduce double kettlebell work and build up my “Kettlebell strength”. The RKC was tested with the single bell so I took the approach of getting as strong as I could with the doubles. If you don’t have doubles available using the single is fine. Please note during my preparation I was 90kgs in bodyweight and fortunately for me as operator of Claudefit Personal training had the preparation time and equipment freely available.

A sample workout on a “feeling good day” would now be;

  • Double presses(2x24kg) 5×5
  • Double squats(2x24kg) 5×5
  • Double cleans (2x24kg) 5×5
  • Double swings (2x24kg) 5×5
  • TGU with the 24 about 5 per session.
  • Goblet squat used a warm up when required
  • Heavy single one arm swings. ( 100 per session with single hand 10/10 x 5)

The simplicity of the Snatch test preparation that worked for me, here it is.

Single Kettlebell swings with a 32kg twice a week working towards a 10/10 x 5. (for me this was my heavy one) basically I build up my grip strength and endurance in just using the heavy swings as conditioning. Occasionally when I felt strong I would work up to 100 one arm swings in one set following a 10/10 x 5 with the 24kgs. I just build it up to a point of being able to do repeated sets of 10 swings on each side at will with never doing more that 100 per session. Twice a week was enough.  During my testing days along with a friend who was the time keeper, using the 24kg I would adopt a 10/10 x 3 stop (re-chalked my hands) and finished off with 10/10 x 2 equalling 100 reps.

The overhead positioning of the TGU and kettlebell press with a heavy bell ensured the top component of the snatch was covered. The body of the movement comes from the hip drive. All in all I only tested the snatch test 5 times once a week in leading up to the weekend.  At my age( then 45) I managed to get it done on 4min and 5sec which is not required. You have 5 minutes. Experience suggests you use the time wisely. Let’s be clear. For me the conditioning was there but not the technique as master RKC Andrew Read dutifully advised me after he saw my YouTube clip offering. So I went back to the drawing board, fixed my technique and let the conditioning look after me on the day of testing.  Glad I put my ego aside and took the advice. The test is about passing. “Make it pretty not fast” Andrew would say.

It worked for me during both RKC1 & RKC11

The Reality.

1)      Being injured does not help at all, as unfortunately one of my fellow strength coaches found out over the weekend. It was only due to his his sheer mental fortitude, plain stubbornness and overall never give up attitude that he persisted over the weekend, however this still wasn’t enough to pass the set criteria. He did however meet the requirements and got his RKC once he was injury free and his body allowed him to test.  I’m sure he would have preferred to get it done on the day. It was still not gifted to him.

2)      On passing the snatch test you need to cover all the 100 reps in 5 minutes with an efficient technique without dropping the bell and only placing the bell down to rest.  I have been in the unfortunate position in witnessing one of our own team members fail his test and if my memory serves me well it was on 98 or 99. He did not get passed.

3)       I myself completed the test well within the time limit, passed all the others tests over the weekend and was still required to submit a video later on to show “proper technique” on the snatch. It was borderline, but not to standard on the day. It took me a 3 minute video 2-3 weeks later on to finally get my cert.  A lesson learned.

(For further details on the testing criteria refer to the information easily found on the Dragondoor website where you registered for RKC)

As most of you leading up to the RKC have your HKC, you simply build on this already established base of knowledge, strength and movements to your program. Believe me it all adds up in getting you the conditioning up to successfully pass the weekend.

Take action now and look forward on hearing about your inclusion into the RKC community.

Stay active and move old fella

If you’re a busy man that simply wants to regain your lost energy and build up a bit of fitness and strength or wishes to maintain these elements you are just like me!  As a father of two past my mid 40′s I understand the daily demands of work and family life taking up most if not all your time. While other active types are still playing their chosen sport, signing up for obstacle races, fun runs and triathlons I’m happy in still being an active older bloke that enjoys lifting weights, playing with Kettlebells, food , running and most importantly, enjoy active fun with my kids.

Given that most of the fitness market is catered towards the fairer sex with an abundance of group fitness options, like booty camps, hips and thigh classes, suggestive advertising on what you should look like, watching the morbidly obese get smashed and ridiculed on TV and the local commercial gyms female dominated group class it’s no wonder this is not your first choice in maintaining or regaining your fitness and strength.

Some of us stubborn types are still hanging around weight rooms, commercial gyms, and even now joining CF boxes and PT studios of all sorts. As a bloke we all like to think we can still handle the intense stuff!

Yeah, Yeah, I know YOU still can!

Obviously our own thoughts on what intensity and strength will be different to others and as we age sadly changes from what it used to be. It’s funny that will all my experience and supposed maturity. I still have that sense to lift heavy and push the pace, even now with running I reckon I can knock off the Olympic world record in the 10klm or am the faster’s alpha male at Spartan race! “Just give me more time please”

This is where my old head takes over and says “hold on there champ” you are no longer the young man you were.  Really? What went wrong?  I’m a man and don’t want to wear Lycra and do group classes dammit!

It’s important that for some of us not fighting it we recognize we are no longer bullet proof and while some of us even carry old wounds hopefully have realized we don’t recover like we used to. So if it hurts when you do an overhead extension (lifting your arms up above you head) or are unable to fold at the hips (say to pick something up ) without buckling in. and can’t see your toes, my good man I got news for you. You need to move, and move well. Even worse when these basic movements diminish they might even prevent you from earning an income.

I don’t know about you but it’s not what I look forward to heading into my later 40’s

Once you start to move and get the patterning correct you can still take action in achieving the following goals. Just like you car, if you don’t look after it. You are not going anywhere! If you are still interested in, Losing the gut, (For some) to be stronger and in better shape at 40 than we were at 20, Minimize the time needed to get in shape so that you can spend more time having fun with family and doing other stuff you enjoy, have the physical and mental resilience that will allow you to better deal with whatever life throws at you Or simply to be the coolest dad in the park by simply participating in play and not just watch from the outer. – TAKE ACTION NOW!

Whether it be running, swimming, cycling , Weightlifting , Powerlifting, Kettlebells, bodyweight or even boxing it’s important to recognize that movement of the body should be a priority with all disciplines. With the basic progression of movements I found in Primal Move and PCC syllabus I first found the movements/positions challenging. However with most things you just need to practice and eventually you will find your grove. I’m feeling a lot better with my overall patterns and still manage to keep on lifting weights.

Now pain free.

The whole change to a greater emphasis of movement in my training and my knowledge in martial arts compliments my bodyweight trainings quite well. As a personal trainer and Strength and Conditioning coach who’s been lifting weights for around 26 years now I’m always looking for ways to execute movements that eventually assist me with helping others move better and ultimately feel better about themselves.

The goals is simple At our age, train towards a more complete package of physical strength, fitness with better movement.

Or simply ageing older and stronger!

Strength Training for Boxers

Strength Training for Boxers

The purpose of this Article is to demonstrate that a Maximum strength bias program can easily fit into a boxer’s current training regime in allowing the developments of a more conditioned and resilient boxer/fighter without the negative view of putting on too much bulk.

The article will relate it to the specific strength elements that a boxer needs in order to be an efficient and properly prepared athlete. In addition it will touch on elements of speed, flexibility and energy system adaptation to athletes conditioning. Its view is to demonstrate with sample programs and recommendations that having a strong base of maximum strength to build from not only benefits boxers at all levels put has a positive influence on other sports.

It also ties in the other elements required in the overall development of a fighters conditioning without interfering with the old school way of thinking that only boxing specific training in this day and age is sufficient for a boxer to be successful. A sample strength bias program that is flexible in application is included to support authors view.

In the past many old school Boxing trainers have frowned upon the use of free weight in the preparation of their boxers, taking the view that too much weight training would inhibit the movement of the boxer by making them less flexible and rigid. In addition the perception was that their boxer would get muscle bound rendering them “too bulky” and unable to move freely in executing their skills. This old way of thinking is now somewhat coming to a close with now a more educated field of experienced strength/boxing coaches who are taking a more rounded approach in periodising their athlete’s combat training in a more comprehensive way. Boxers and their coaches can now give themselves a better chance in fully maximising the potential and skill set in a more organised effective way as they now cover in their training several of the strength traits that a fighter needs in their preparation for a bout.

Strength is a quality that is necessary for boxers; it is made up of strength of body, strength of mind or resilient strength. To varying degrees all are trainable. (2)The proper training for boxers should emphasises neural training and myofibril hypertrophy which does not cause significant gains in muscle mass.  (Boxers are not bodybuilders; therefore should not train like bodybuilders) In addition weight training that involves full range movements has been shown to promote and increase flexibility. However boxers should not get too carried away with being flexible as boxing does not require a great deal of flexibility. Boxing does require adequate flexibility but excessive flexibility is detrimental to force production.

Boxer’s today train with weights much more that they have in the past, as a result they have become stronger and quicker that they ever were in past history of the sport. An undisciplined and poorly designed weight program will not help boxers when in the ring.  Getting it wrong with weight training can have a negative effect of making the fighters slower and stiff. The following are strength skills that a boxer needs to excel in this uncompromising and demanding sport.

  • Required Strength element in boxing; (1)
  • Maximum strength
  • Explosive strength/Power endurance,
  • Reactive power,
  • Muscular endurance of medium duration and
  • Muscular endurance of long duration.

Maximal strength

Maximal strength training normally requires the highest force that can be performed by the neuromuscular system during a contraction. When designing their boxers overall program, a coach should work on building solid base of Maximal Strength, then develop the other traits on top of this foundation. “Maximal strength drives so many other physical qualities – it gives speed and power, it gives efficiency and through that mechanism aids recovery between rounds. How much strength is needed in boxing? Enough to be at least as strong as, if not stronger than your opponent”.(4)For example a fighter in a given weight class would be able to bench press or squat at least his own bodyweight would be quite a solid base of strength, anything else over 1-1/2 body weight bench or twice bodyweight squat would likely get to a point where the strength reaches a point of diminishing returns. Maximum strength will aid with structuring a specific strength program in complimenting the boxer, and not just randomly working out with weights. In boxing and other combat sports the more resilient the body becomes, the better the body can cope. It’s primarily this reason why it’s essential to have an adequate strength base in support of your chosen sport. In our case Boxing.

The development of maximum strength is probably the single most important variable in most sports. The ability to increase maximum strength depends on the diameter of the cross sectional area of the muscles involved, the capacity to recruit fast twitch muscle fibres, and the ability to synchronise or simultaneously call into action all the primary muscles that are involved in the movement (3) Maximum Strength is the heaviest load an athlete can lift in one attempt and is normally expressed as 100% of maximum. (1RM) it’s generally a good idea for an athlete/coach to keep a track of 1RM for the major movements in prescribing more accurate maximum strength programs.

To understand the relevance of maximal strength training, it is important to first understand how the body functions then able to relate it back to the direct benefits of possessing a solid base of maximum strength. Firstly muscle fibres are grouped together within a motor unit. A motor unit contains hundreds of muscle fibres and one nerve that deliver a signal to the muscle fibres. All of the muscle fibres contained within the motor unit are of the same type. Either fast twitch or slow twitch. When the signal is passed for the motor unit to contract, all of the fibres within that motor unit will contract. So if you are only moving around a lighter weight and not a max weight, you will most likely only be recruiting a minimum amount of the fast twitch fibres and not building strength. It is only during a maximum lift effort that a greater portion of fast twitch motor units are recruited. It is this reason that maximum lifting is regarded as a superior method of improving inter and intra muscular coordination.

The following quote from Supertraining explains it in the following manner: “Strength is not primarily a function of muscle size, but one of the appropriate muscles powerfully contracted by effective nervous stimulation.” (5) In targeting the nervous system you will gain strength. This can be effectively done without weight gain. The example of Olympic weightlifting could be used to confirm this process. Similar to boxers, they compete within several weight classes suggesting a strong emphasis in an increase of pure strength been the key, not weight or bulk.

As previously mentioned the following strength related traits relevant to a boxer should be developed on top of the base of maximum strength in creating a more well rounded and conditioned athlete.

The development of power endurance (P-E) and explosive strength are an essential requirement in the arsenal of a boxer, the ability to continuously generate the power output round after round is reliant on the endurance engine of a properly prepared boxer. To be successful the boxer has to train endurance as well as power as they will be required to perform the striking action anywhere from 50 – 150 times per round on average with the sole intention of hitting an opponent with impact. Just having power is not enough for a boxer. The continued ability to generate punching output during an intense round is required given the very nature of the sport. When training for power development, the boxer/athlete must target the fast twitch muscle fibres. If the exercise does not stimulate a fast twitch motor unit, the muscle fibres contained within the unit will not adapt to the training (critical for a boxer). Essentially, if the motor unit is not recruited, no response occurs. So the old saying of training like you fight holds true when we discuss power endurance in combat sports.

Explosive strength is a critical strength quality for any competing boxer. Explosive strength is defined as the ability to express significant tension in minimal time. Vladimir Zatsiorsky, highly regarded strength and conditioning consultant for the Soviet Union Olympic teams, has mentioned that:”The ability to produce maximal forces in minimal time is called explosive strength. Strong people do not necessarily possess explosive strength.” (7)  This is where an athlete has to build on their strength base and convert to power, not simply continue to get stronger. Clearly, the development of one strength quality (MS) does not guarantee the development of another (ES). Explosive Movements/exercises recruiting the fast Twitch fibres would consist of examples such as Power Cleans, Dumbell Snatches, Dumbell Power Jumps. This type of training will also increase speed and power explosiveness.

Reactive power is best explained as the ability of the athlete to jump immediately following a landing. (1) In the case of boxing it’s the ability to continually move around the ring under duress constantly utilising both footwork and head movement in either defensive or attacking manoeuvres. This attribute needs to be worked on as part of the skill segment of training and it’s a strength component of the boxer’s skill-set they cannot do without. The ability to move fast and efficiently (flow) in the ring during a fight/bout that is supported by a properly planned strength and conditioning program would allow a boxer to remain out of range when required and be in ready state to execute their own game plan. Without reactive power movements the boxer increases the opportunities of their opponent in striking them causing a potentially knock out or loss on points.

Power endurance of medium/longer duration is basically the endurance required to maintain the intensity over a time period of two to five minutes long. This is of benefit when preparing for amateur boxing rounds that are two minutes in duration, with each bout consisting of three rounds. For the professional ranks a longer power endurance (of long duration) should be developed as these rounds are three minutes in duration but can last up to twelve rounds during a professional fight. A clear difference in the conditioning and skill set is evident within professional and amateur boxing.

Speed work and Flexibility

In addition speed strength is also very important for fighters. Unfortunately, many athletes train improperly, hence sacrifice this strength quality. World-renowned sport scientist Yuri Verkhoshansky and colleagues established that: “Excessive maximum strength training can impair speed-strength and technical skill in boxers.” (6) This is where the strength coach should take into account how strong the boxer is required to be, otherwise the boxer will reach a point of diminishing returns in their strength program. This training time would be best used up with boxing specific conditioning.

A common myth related to strength training deals with flexibility and range of motion. Many trainers believe that free weights will compromise flexibility. This is completely untrue. Taking the example of an Olympic weightlifter you would accept that these are some of the most powerful and strongest athletes in the world. Yet they are able to also execute the lifts with a high level of flexibility.  The two competitive lifts (clean and jerk and snatch) along with the various supplementary exercises demand both flexibility and power. It is worth noting that most weightlifters spend a great deal of time stretching and working on their flexibility. If athletes that do a great deal of heavy weight training do not do much flexibility work they will get stiff and have poor flexibility.

Energy system utilised in boxing.

The primary energy pathway utilised in boxing is the glycolyctic pathway which is part of the anaerobic system. The dominant energy systems are made up of 10% alactic,40% lactic acid and 50% aerobic.(1) Boxing is not a predominately aerobic sport. There is no need to run 8 klm’s every day. Done on occasion this would be fine. In general running 3 to 5 klm’s 3-4 times per week is recommended. Sprinting is more beneficial for athletes involved in boxing. Sprinting at a moderate or low intensities can be performed 2 days per week. While sprinting at high intensities is performed once per week. For example the 400metre distance at a perceived exertion of 85% + could be run to tax the anaerobic system by a well conditioned boxer , alternatively a series of shorter distances of 40-100 metres sprint’s in explosive short bursts and a perceived exertion of 90%+ would challenge most well conditioned athlete/boxers. A series of 3-5 repeats would be plenty with a rest period of 30seconds to one minute rest or even allow the time they take to lightly jog back and then repeat effort. Ideally a coach will keep a record of times run in order to benchmark performance and monitor their athlete. It’s a matter for the coach to determine what element they will be focusing on the day without disrupting the main program of boxing time.

In summary a basic strength training program should be used to build a solid foundation, giving you muscle density and strength gains. The workouts should consist of compound movements for each muscle group. “Compound exercises such as Military press, Bench Presses, Squats, Power cleans, chin ups and Deadlifts”(4). These major movements exercises will develop strength, along with helping to increase overall structural balance throughout the body. The matter of food comes into play requiring calories been monitored so that the physical size being gained is quality muscle and not additional weight made up of body fat. A strength workout two to three times per week will keep you fresh for specific boxing work with the number of reps per set never exceeding the three to five range in keeping with strength protocols. Rest periods of approximately five minutes between sets with the Intensity kept above 80% of your one rep max. Body Exercises and Core Training such as Pullups, Pushups, Hindu Squats, Box Runs and Medicine Ball drills to name a few. A properly selected set of exercises will preserve the Boxer’s body for its operational/functional purposes.

A strength program should be designed to improve the performance of the boxer. A properly implemented strength program should not drain a fighter of their hard gained energy reserves and rendering then too fatigued when training. Objectives such as skill, tactical, strategic work and conditioning should not be negatively affected. Similarly a boxer’s strength workout should not leave the boxer sore for days like in bodybuilding programs as they will be unable to properly function through the following drills involved in sparring, use of heavy bag and trainer held focus pad sessions as required. A balanced approach with the emphasis on complimenting the fighter’s skill and conditioning should be the focus on the strength program.

Recommended strength program for boxers of Medium to high level of condition.

This is a sample (strength bias) weekly training for a boxer that is quite adaptable and can be

Altered depending on status of athlete/boxer.

Strength work should be performed before boxing training.


Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Med intensity Med – high intensity Medium intensity – long training duration Light aerobic workout , light shadow , circutr work partner work High intensity Sparring night Light Recovery for the fighters and REST
75-85% 80+ 75-85% 50- 75% 80 -100% 75-85% Stretch
  1 Minute recovery between rounds Light sparring for multiple rounds with 1 minute rest 1 minute recovery between rounds 1 minute + recovery 1 minute for 3-5 rounds short sharp and high intensity “game time approach” 1 minute recovery between rounds  1 Minute recovery between rounds

Day 1 and 2 are to be included with strength block with possibly the 3rd day as optional based on the judgement of the coach keeping in mind overall workload.

Day 1








Military press




chin ups


10x 5


Day 2




Bench press




Power cleans




kettlebell jerks




Day 3 Optional based on current levels of Strength and conditioning of boxer
Exercise Sets Reps Load 
Kettlebell swing 5 5×20 swings Light
Kettlebell TGU 5 1x medium KB light
Kettlebell snatch 5 5x 10 each side Light

(1)  Bompar, T., Carerra, M., Periodisation training for sports,2nd Edition , Human kinetics,Champaign, IL. 2005.

(2)   Enamait, R Strength training for fighters.  Available at: . Accesses Sept, 2012.

(3)   Howard J,D., Ritchie, M,R., Gater, D,A., and Enoka, R,M. Determining factors of strength: Physiological foundations. National strength and conditioning journal, 7(6):16-21. 1985.

(4)   Read, A Fuzzy Strength. Available at:

Accessed Nov, 2012.

(5)   Siff, M.C. Supertraining, 6th Edition. Supertraining Institute. Denver, CO. 2003.

(6)   Verkhoshansky, Y.V. Fundamentals of Special Strength-Training in Sport. Sportivny Press, Livonia, MI. (Original work published in 1977, Moscow, Russia: Fizkultura i Spovt). 1986.

(7)   Zatsiorsky, V.M., Kraemer W,J., Science and Practice of Strength Training. Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL. 2006.

Tough Mudder report

A day out in the mud

Well Tough Mudder now has been conquered with all team members managing to make it through without any major mishaps and achieving a major goal that a few months ago was in their opinion something that “others did”. Now sitting comfortably ,dry, exhausted, a little sore and nursing some minor scratches, I’m finally taking the time out and reflecting on a challenging yet rewarding day out in the mud.

It started pre dawn with the team bus departing from Claudefit right on time for the hour and a half drive to Phillip Island. As you would expect the groups feeling initially was quite nerve racking for the newbie’s sharing the sharing in the anticipation with the seasoned participants on what was to come.

Sometimes having “been there done that” is not a good thing as you know what you are about to partake. With Tough Mudder it’s a fair chance that you’ll be thinking about the past obstacles that previously challenged you and the scary new ones that have yet to be experienced.

Start line

Once we got there and collected our event bibs. It wasn’t long before we were front and centre ready to roll out on the next wave. This is where the MC pumps you up during the countdown, the nerves are setting in and it finally time to focus. 5,4,3,2,1 Boom! were off.

The harders part during Tough Mudder is the Running component, lots of it! After all it is a running event along with the obstacles thrown in for good measure. They are frightening, quite challenging for some and a cakewalk for others (which are all optional) You don’t have to do them. It’s alright to give it a miss and allow those who can give it a try. After all we all have our strength and weaknesses as I clearly demonstrated by not even reaching an obstacle called the leap of faith and landed in water!

if you decide to opt out the waiting time is an opportunity to give the legs a rest from running, get your breath back and be ready to march on towards the next challenge once the team has all completed the obstacle.

Team work

The team covered the terrain at a reasonable pace which meant we didn’t leave anyone behind, It’s what we do. With the awesome and giving support from previous Tough Mudder participants my role as a team leader on the day was pretty straight forward.

  • Ensure that all participants stayed together
  • Keep an eye out for individuals who needed help
  • Encouraging my clients to take park and enjoy
  • Being aware of what was required within the group dynamics
  • Not placing then in any situation for potential injuries to occur.
  • Not eat the mud. The stuff gets everywhere.

Adrenalin and fatigue don’t mix ,we play it safe at Claudefit.

A job well done

Overall the team did an exceptional job in keeping an eye out for each other while individually tackling the obstacles and helping each other out when the need arose. I mean how do you scale a 12 foot wall alone without getting a boost? How do you manage to jump off a 5+ meter ledge into the water? (Think Momba birdman rally here for those who can remember) how would you get up on top of Everest after running 19klms? (giant ramp) without a helping hand waiting for you on top?

Well you have a team that supports you that’s how. The new members consisted of individual just like you. Take for example Kimberley and Justin who each have sought my services as a trainer one with one on one Personal Training and the other joining our ladies semi-private group. Both have their own goal and continually put in the time and effort to make the changes required. My wife who prefers to do Mini triathlons, Caroline that clearly turned up prepared, Jackie who can knock off a run at the drop of a hat, and Shai who in the past “only lifts heavy stuff for cardio” who decided to give Tough mudder a crack and on the day.

All did what was required to rough it out and give it a crack!

Once at the finish line it was all about the celebrations, photos, hugs, handshakes and thanking your new mates who witnessed your great achievement in getting the job done.

Well done to all the new Mudder’s support crew and repeat offenders.

Next stop, Pizza shop!

Tough Mudder is all about the headband

Time for Tough Mudder

Given the recent interest in all things obstacle racing by the general public and the abundance of choices promoting these events I thought it might be good to educate some on what these things are all about. I’ll use Tough mudder.

You have to like to run (20klm) on dirt, mud, gravel, pavement and trott along paddocks. You have to like getting mud everywhere. And I do mean everywhere. If you are the type of person that likes to jump of moderate heights into a dam, slide down a makeshift water slide, get “mildly”electrocuted, trounce over knee deep mud, enjoy and ice bath, swim in cold water and even crawl underground for a few dark metres you should be ok and will survive. 

At the end of the line In Tough mudders case , we are welcomed with a complimentary beer which to me was unusual to drink straight after running 20klm. Not to be too anti social and really wanting to drink anything that did not have mud in it turned out to be quite a treat.

On completion your effort are rewarded with a once size fits all orange head band along with a finishers T-shirt. ( plus that beer ) You then look like everybody else around. Filthy, exhausted, jubilant, proud, somewhat energised, ready to tackle the world knowing you have smashed  the challenge and possibly conquered some fears, All while proudly showing off your new kit!

I really treasure my “silly little headband” It is after all my badge of honour.

Preparing for an Obstacle Event

Our preparation began by getting the required physical strength to ensure we would all have a better chance of  finishing injury free. Let me put it this way. Lack of preparation will show up on the day. period. Like any endeavour this will ring true. The better the preparation the better you will be both mentally and physically ready to not only run the 20klms plus 18 obstacles, but to actually complete the event well. That is after all our plan.

Our team will be tackling this event for the third time and having been through the initial “first scary one” we know what lies ahead, what it takes and now how to prepared for it better. We have a team of around 10 plus our support crew/cheers squad tagging along for the ride. For the tough mudder crew in addition to their own particular training requirements our basic programming over time has been lots of bodyweight movements, regular running and all the basic compound lifts ( pulls, press, push and squat) utilising both barbells and Kettlebells for variety.  A solid serving of hard style kettlebell swings was always a regular treat.

The Cardio component in particular with the ladies group has been complimented with Boxing training. ( A great cardio full body workout) Overall the group is well prepared and physically ready to tackle the coming challenges.

With a basic preparation of running along with a solid strength base anyone should be able to complete the course without much trouble. A properly followed program readies you for the event, allows you to recover quicker and reduces the risk of injuries. If you are one of many and turn up unprepared with only a bare minimum of preparation, (and believe me I’ve seen plenty examples out there) You might somehow find a way through and eventually make it. However I don’t like your chances of pulling up well the next couple days or even worse, get an injury that could have been prevented if you just prepared. 

Our groups newbie’s naturally are a little nervous but with all our events they will be taken care of by the more experienced among us during the day by our more experieved runners allowing us all to finish together as a team should.

Turn up and get results.

Intro to Claudefit

Hello and welcome to the first publication of my blog on Fitness,Strength, life, banter, promoting myself silly and whatever happens to jump into my old head. I’ll try not to go astray and do my best to keep to the subject matter. Well i’ll try.

I was born in 1967 so you are dealing with a grown up most of the time, sometime behave like a 12 year old, really I do, just ask any of my colleagues or clients. I keep things simple which allows me to get results and be understood by people who dont speak “gym”. Why complicate something for the sake of impressing great people who are after results, a solid workout. Not a workshop.

My my own training background (from 1988) goes back to the good old days where I would just turn up work on my chest and arms and decide what to do next? And had to work other parts like squats for legs because it was the smart thing to do and drink protein shakes that tasted awful.

Ah, the simple life. Turned up and did the work and got results.

I just wanted to get big, lean and look good. I was young , ok. In actual fact I was more interested in looking better than my mates for bragging rights as the ladies didn’t give me attention as a gymhead. After approximately 6 years of Bodybuilding type training I decided that I needed something else that wasn’t going to break me as all those heavy lifts over the years had done. I now started to walk around with pain and wanted see start feeling better from all the work id put in , not just sore.  I was now looking at changing up my training  to take me onto my future years healther and moving a little better.

Add a little bit of that “Cardio” stuff other people do on the television all the time in stupid outfits.

learning new skills

This is where I took up traditional karate, learned to move, and slowly over the years worked my way up the ranks,got some great skills and met some awesome people.

All by turning up, listening, training hard and making an effort to learn what was on offer. Others would also include shutting up.

Basically I was the fellow who was always there chipping away, (over the colder months) not fast, strong or gifted. Just happy to be there, in fact by doing so I got to be respected by my peers and as a consequence was given some extra attention by my new friends which went along like this “we are sparring on Saturday, be there!” Ouch.

In later years due to home location and work commitments I followed the same process when I joined an Amatuer Boxing club. Once again I turned up, got fitter, a lot leaner, and got to learn a little about the sweet science that is boxing. Are you following the pattern here?

As an unexpected bonus my coach who knew I was a personal trainer invited me to participate in an upcoming coaching course and thought it would be a good idea to participate and get formally accredited. Absolutley! As a result I’m registered with Boxing Australia as a Boxing coach.

Professional trainer

It was only when I began my professional career in Personal training and now running my own business that I realised that with a disciplined approach learned from traditional karate and boxing from all the years of training did for me. It actually taught me how to be a better person/trainer that now operating as Claudefit. how? By listening, caring and knowing how to help others. I thought my skills and sense of humor were enough.

Fast forward to now and how does it affects my approach on training you?By listening to your needs and ensuring that we prepare the body and mind to meet those goals.

Whether you are looking at losing weight, getting stronger, fitter or becoming more resilient for your chosen sport. I’m the trainer that gets the job done. no gimmicks.

I look forward in catching up with you soon.

Commit to your fitness program. Turn up and reap the benefits and reward of achieving your goals.

Book A Session Today!