Friday, 24 June 2011

Wild Physique Unleashed : My Journey Into Strength PT 4

“When hungry eat your rice, when tired sleep. Fools may laugh at me but wise men will know what I mean.” - Lao Tzu ( Tao Te Ching)

By Coach Cj Swaby

Before we begin, let me make one thing clear, I LOVE cake. I’m prone to a bit of cheesecake, Matt and Keris at Fitter London will be the first to testify that I can do some serious damage to a carrot cake or two. This said, correct nutrition is paramount, it can make the difference between crap performance and the top spot, or simply smashing your goals or falling painfully short of the target. When it comes to nutrition I am no monk, nor do I know it all, so while I was in the early phases of training and exploring the potential minefield of performance nutrition I was pretty chuffed when Darren Brown duly handed me a copy of The Paleo Diet, and Robb Wolf’s Paleo Solution. Having devoured these books, I went on to ravish another book, which initially appeared at the opposite end of the nutrition spectrum called, The PH Miracle by Dr Robert O Young. This brings us on to the topic of this week’s blog entry.

STEP 4: Eat What’s Right For You

The common premise of nutrition often revolves around the first law of thermodynamics and calorie intake, and goes something like this

• Eat more calories than you “burn off” and put on weight.
• “Burn” more calories than you eat and lose weight.

Another common nutritional premise revolves around protein and carbohydrates , the energy demand of the activity, and tissue repair. In a nutshell looks something like this

• The longer in duration the physical activity, and the greater the energy demand, the more carbohydrates are required in relation to proteins.

• The shorter the duration of the physical activity and the higher the intensity or desired muscle growth, the greater the protein requirements in relation to carbohydrates.

You will have heard some variations on this, but it’s fair to say mainstream nutrition is firmly entrenched in these two concepts. To me this is a very limited perspective, as my nutrition is based on the following premise.

My body consists of various systems working together to keep me functioning in tip top shape, and to THE BEST OF ITS ABILITY with WHAT ITS PROVIDED (also known as homeostasis). These systems include (but not limited to)

Cardiovascular System
Muscular Skeletal System
Endocrine System
Nervous System
Respiratory System

These players all have an important part in my team. They each have their individual role, but interact to win the game (great health and peak performance) and if they are not up to par, it has a knock on effect to each player in the team, and subsequently the likelihood of us winning (thriving versus illness and poor health). Nutrition is the key to making sure all the players on the pitch are match ready. The things that are important to me when considering nutrition are

• ANDI ( Aggregate Nutrient Density Index)

The ANDI relates to the QUALITY of the calories consumed. This means, does the food I consume support the demands of my body’s systems on a functional level, or adversely affect it? The ANDI scale ranges from 1 – 1000, it is evaluated by calculating the range of macornutrients and micronutrients, including vitamins, minerals, photochemicals and antioxidants within a given food. The higher the concentration of these elements in a food per calorie the higher the score (closer to 1000 the better). Do I stick to it religiously? Nope. But its useful in ensuring I’m getting the good stuff in. TIMING relates to the window of opportunity pre and post workout to take advantage of your body’s mechanisms, so that you can get optimal performance, adaptations and recovery. I’ll talk more about this later on, but first let’s look at the two diets I spoke about earlier, and then HOW they affected my training.

The PH Diet

This diet revolves around the premise that the cells of your body function optimally in within the correct PH state. If your body is in an acidic state, which can be affected by nutrition, you are headed for health problems. This however is a simplistic overview. I’m not a Nutritionist, Dietician or Functional Medicine practioner , and probably not best positioned to give you the full breakdown. So have a look at the presentation below by Laurent Bannock of Guru Performance.Com. Laurent is a very knowledgable , down to earth guy, he certainly knows his stuff. He has been extremely useful and helpful .

The Paleo Solution: An Overview

This diet is based on the diets of our Paleolithic ancestors, who were hunter gathers. A lot of modern disease such as diabetes, Cardiovascular disease etc are linked to nutrition. Our Paleolithic ancestors were not subjected to the myriad of diseases that we are, plus they enjoyed an active lifestyle, robust health (in most cases). They did not consume vast amounts of grains or junk food that we see commonly today. The Paleo diet is based on a few principles, which are outlined below, this overview is taken directly from the FAQ on Robb Wolf’s website.

The Paleo diet is simple yet remarkably effective for fat loss and halting or preventing a number of degenerative diseases. To reap the benefits of the most effective nutritional strategy known, one need simply build meals from the following:

• Lean proteins (ideally) grass fed meat, free range fowl and wild caught fish
• Seasonal fruits and vegetables
• Healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, and coconut oil

Again this is a simplistic overview, for further information read Rob Wolfs The Paleo Solution, or check out his website at

HOW Did This Affect My Training & Physique?

When I started my 5 x 5 strength training system I adopted the Paleo diet in conjunction. In a short space of time of about 3 months I managed to pack on about 4kg of solid muscle and about 15kg on my deadlift. You can see in the pictures the difference the diet combined with my training had made.

Before My Journey Into Strength

Approximately 4 Months In

The key thing was also my nutrient timing (I’ll explain more about that in a little bit). My protein source was from lean (and not so lean) meats such as venison (HUGE fan), free range chicken, organic grass fed beef, I would also consume salmon, tuna and Talapia. I eliminated dairy (but had the odd bit of cheese) and carbohydrates through grain sources. As with many newbies to the Paleo diet, I had misinterpreted the book, and initially went overboard with the protein intake, casing a net acid load, the negative effects are detailed in Laurent Bannocks presentation above ( more specifically minutes 5 – 9), I noticed after a while I became sluggish, energy levels plummeted and disrupted sleep patterns. Plus but not ensuring an adequate ratio of vegetables and fruits I was not getting the right combination of foods high on the ANDI list. Just as a side note I was not taking any Whey protein supplements at this time – only Hemp Protein.

It was about that time I came across The PH Miracle, while the book advocates less meat due to increased acidity and consequent side effects of excessive protein in the diet. However I delved deeper into the book, and re read the Paleo Solution, and noticed that the two books actually are saying similar things to a certain extent. Vegetables, fruits and good fats would form the bedrock of your diet, except with the Paleo diet you would eliminate grains and include a significantly greater RATIO of protein through lean meats, than currently recommended in the ACCEPTED FOOD PYRAMID. Not that you would exclusively eat protein at the expense of vegetables and healthy fats. I made the necessary adjustments and at any one time on my plate there was 35% - 40 % protein, 40% Carbohydrates through vegetable sources of ALL colours and variety, and 20% healthy fats. So now lets look at

WHAT is Nutrient Timing?

This is to do with WHEN you eat not just WHAT you eat as this will have a massive impact on performance and recovery. While on my journey, I came across an article in Functional Sports Nutrition (FSN) by Laurent Bannock on this very subject. Laurent describes it as

“The purpose is to support optimal performance during a training session, provide what the body needs for muscle growth, maximise glycogen replenishment after activity, and generally be a diet that promotes growth and repair 24 hours a day. Nutrient timing is based on significant research that supports variability in hormonal release throughout the day and in response to exercise.”
There are several distinct phases,

The Energy Phase

The Anabolic Phase

PHASE 3: The Growth Phase

I’m not going to go into detail about each phase here, you can contact Laurent Bannock directly and he will be able to send you the information, but Its a great read and useful guide. It helped me to structure my nutrition plan to support my training so that I was getting the results that I wanted. Combined with my tailor made “diet” informed by both the Paleo Diet and the PH Diet, I was now stacking the odds in my favour so that my team players (body’s systems) would be performing up to par and be in tip top shape. I now stick to this adopted nutrition protocol (plus throw in the odd bit of cake for good measure) and it seems to work for me.

HOW Can This Help You?

The Paleo Solution and The PH Miracle have solid scientific basis, the key thing is to be aware how you interpret the information. As with any nutritional model, do your research and modify your diet to see what fits YOU. Anymore than one training plan will yield results for everyone, no one diet is a miracle cure for all that ails you, or for giving you peak performance. Listen to your body, how you feel, what your training responses are like (hence keep a training log) then modify as appropriate, and do what is required in any given situation. While not specifically about nutrition I love the quote from the Tao Te Ching which opened this blog entry.

“When hungry eat your rice, when tired sleep. Fools may laugh at me but wise men will know what I mean.” - Lao Tzu ( Tao Te Ching)


To summarise, I like to keep things simple. I was shopping at wholefoods in Clapham Junction, London, the other day, picked up a leaflet and I thought that they managed to summarise some sound nutritional practices succinctly. Their “Four Pillars” of nutrition goes like this

• Eat Whole Foods (this might be a subliminal message - but hey!)
• Plant Strong (emphasis on plant base foods)
• Healthy Fats
• Nutrient Dense (quality of your calories – ANDI)

You can find out more about their nutritional principles at the wholefoods website. I hope you can now see HOW important nutrition is to training and WHERE you can make adjustments in your own diet for greater gains and robust health.

To find out more about the Paleo diet visit

Rob Wolff

To find out more about the Ph Diet check out The PH Miracle

If you want to know more about Functional Nutrition visit Laurent Bannock at Guru Performance ( the website is packed with useful information, I know he's got some great courses coming up to)

Want to know more about Functional Sports Nutrition? FSN Journal is a great read.

Yours in Strength

Coach Cj Swaby

Thursday, 23 June 2011



By Coach Sabina Skala

Last Saturday we had a special guest from Tel Aviv - Idan Vadrario. Idan is one of the first Kettlebell teachers in Israel. He owns a functional training space SNATCH, a place definitely worth checking if you are visiting Tel Aviv. It was a great pleasure to meet him!

The training was more focused on power and speed of the movement (hence longer rest), we used lighter kettlebells and aimed for maximum number of repetitions for each round. Weighted exercise was immediately followed by body weight drill.


3 rounds of

30 sec 2xKB snatch

30 sec push ups

2 mins active rest inbetween rounds (jogging)

3 rounds of

30 sec 2x KB Jerk

30 sec star jump (touch the floor and jump high)

2 mins active rest inbetween rounds

3 rounds of

30 sec of 2xKB clean

30 sec of burpees

Rest as above


Man maker ladder 10-8-6-4-2

Job done!


Friday, 17 June 2011

Wild Physique Unleashed : My Journey Into Strength PT 3

By Coach Cj Swaby

“What lies behind us and what lies before, us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Last entry I talked comprehensively about goal setting. More importantly setting the RIGHT goal for you, plus mapping out your strength training as part of your “process goals”. This week I want to strip down training to its raw basics. I believe in keeping it simple, and mastering some fundamental principles, which will guide you through the minefield of trash written about Strength training. So the next step in the process is about the practical aspect of my goal.

Step 3: Strength and HOW To Obtain It

You may know this, some of you may not. For those that do, I’d ask you to bear with me while I go through it (treat it as confirmation of your existing knowledge), for those who are not , you will be surprised by the simplicity. So the purpose of weight training is to induce a Specific Adaptation to and Imposed Demand, this is known and the S.A.I.D principle. Now the “Imposed Demand”, (i.e the training stimulus) will be dependent on the “Specific Adaptation”( i.e your training goal) that you wish to achieve. In this instance the adaptation I wished to occur was an increase in strength. You follow me? Now there is a vast spectrum of repetitions and sets to achieve any given aim, when it comes to resistance training. As a rule lift heavy with less reps and sets for strength, moderately heavy with more reps for muscle mass / strength and lighter weights for high reps for endurance (we'll be releasing an ebook later this year with more specific reps/ sets schemes).

I wanted to achieve was Strength, so I kept it in the lower repetition range, and worked with heavy weights, with sets no more than 15 in total. Simple right? Why? By strength I wanted to induce not only an adaptation in size of muscle fibers, but more a significant neural adaptation. More specifically how the motor units were recruited, and the their synchronicity, so that I could recruit muscles efficiently , plus strengthen tendons and ligaments. A motor unit is simply a muscle and the nerves that innervate (stimulate ) it. Exercise stimulates growth by stimulating your hormones, tearing down the muscle tissue and setting the stage for repair. How well you achieve a positive adaptation depends on your recovery. That is your rest and nutrition. Your nutrition provides the raw materials to replenish your muscles and your body’s systems. Rest provides the space for this repair to take place plus releasing important growth hormones (we’ll go more into rest and different strategies in later posts – but let’s keep it simple for now).

If I had chosen a weight where I could manage greater repetitions and sets (as outlined in the chart) I would have achieved a greater increase in muscle mass and not just the kind of freakish gains in strength I wanted to achieve. Now this is a very simplified version , but sufficient enough for you to understand how I went about things.

Adequate recovery between sets is also an important part of determining whether you have a strict strength adaptation or an increase in mass as well. Now for some men an increase in lean mass and absolute weight is a desired outcome, for those who are in a sport with a designated weight category, or women who wish to improve strength and not increase absolute weight ( i.e “bulk up”), the correct manipulation of the weight used, reps and sets scheme, recovery and your nutrition will play massively on the “adaptation” you will achieve

WHAT Did I do?

So the initially few months training was about experimenting to see which system my body responded to most. As mentioned in the previous blog entry I started off with 5 x 5 system (5 Reps X 5 sets), reducing the warm up sets so that after a cycle of a few weeks I was on 5 working sets of the initial weight. I then progressed on to 5 sets of singles, had a recovery week and started the process over again.

I was about 3 months into my training and I came across an article on Super Squats. I had read about Super Squats before, but had never read the book. My good friend, Jonathan Lewis of Industrial Strength London, and Balance Performance Physiotherapy said that he owned a copy. I collared him for it and he duly submitted it to me. I devoured the book in no time at all, eager to progress my training further. It’s a pretty easy read and a real simple concept. Here’s what it’s all about;

Super Squats:
WHAT They Are And HOW To Do Them

“Back to the squats. Load the bar to your normal ten-rep poundage, wrap a towel around it to give your upper back and shoulders a little padding, step under the bar, lift it off the squat racks, back up one step, force in two or three deep breathes, and knock off the first rep. Nothing fancy here, just a conventional deep knee bend, squatting down until the tops of your thighs are parallel to the floor and then coming back up. By the fifth rep, you should be fully warmed up, squatting smoothly, and the deep breathing should come naturally.

After the tenth rep, your body is done and your mind becomes the vehicle that either moves or stalls in the face of the challenge..”

- Randall J Strossen (Super Squats: 1989: 23)

HOW Did I get on ?

These are brutal. But I enjoyed the challenge. Why are they brutal? Because once the bar is on your shoulders and out of the rack you DON’T put it down. Rest is with the bar crushing down into you as you stand in the rack, veins bulging, gasping for air. There is an important safety aspect I want you to consider if you attempt Super Squats DO THEM IN THE POWER RACK. I have to say, the Power Rack saved me a couple of times when my legs cut out and gave way beneath me (much to the bewilderment of on lookers at South Bank Gym in Vauxhall).

The Super Squats book covers training theory and the IMPORTANCE of breathing to the exercise, which is often over looked (more about that too in future blog posts). Due to the demanding nature of Super Squats, Randall suggests that they form the staple part of your workout session with 2 – 3 other exercises. I played around to see what worked for me. My initial session consisted of Super Squats with 135kg, Bench Press 5 x 5 with 105kg and rowing intervals. When I used Super Squats in a session I would taper the other exrcises.

WHAT Did I Notice?

I gained nmassive increase in strength in a short space of time. However due severity of the demand, even with recovery sessions ,my capacity to walk (and function) was reduced for some days, and it would be well over a full week before I attempted a “leg workout”. I decided to cycle Super Squats every second week with a 2 – 4 day lay off training then back into it. This seemed to work a lot better for me, in terms of sustaining strength, and cardiovascular power. After I became more confident in manipulating Super Squats in my workout, I decided to modify it a bit. My logic was as follows,

“If you can do 20 Squats with your 10 rep max. Why not 10 squats with your 5 rep max?”

And so off I went. Let me tell you, it’s an exquisite experience. The first time I tried it I got to 5 reps and thought, “yeah, I’ve got this” then I tried to push out the sixth rep and almost got stuck in the bottom position. Spotters rushed around to assist me, doing that whole “grab you by your rib cage” nonsense (which personally I think has greater chance of injury to the lifter AND the spotter). I told them to step away from the bar and me. If I collapsed the cage would save me and the bar, and If I needed to, I could dump the bar off my shoulders and it would fall in the cage. I grinded out the sixth rep, and held the top position.

This is where regulating my breathing became even more important, to avoid dizziness and ensure I had the correct pressure within my trunk to support the bar. I took 3 deep breaths, tightened up, held my breath and dropped into the squat, as I hit the bottom I gave it everything I had and drove ferociously upwards exhaling as I did so (with the odd roar here and there). Seven reps down and three more to go, with 165kg on my back, I focused my mind, and repeated the process until I hit those 10 reps. I threw the bar back into the rack and gingerly walked away and sat down for a good five minutes or so to collect my physical and mental faculties.

Approximately a month later after starting the Super Squats, my ten rep max had gone up from 135kg to 160kg! My nutrition and recovery played a massive part in my ability to improve so drastically. While cycling super squats I noticed that my deadlift poundage was also shooting up. Not only that, I felt that my speed off the floor when starting the deadlift was considerably faster and more solid.

HOW This Can Help You

Explore. Again do your research. Usually the most effective RESULTS driven systems, are mind boggling simplistic in their nature. Then once you’ve research it, try it. Test it. Then don’t be afraid to modify it for your own means (based on sound training principles) and see how your body responds. That’s how I came up with the 10 Rep Breathing Squats – and it worked for me.

Tweak your training so that you get adequate recovery so that the adaptations to the imposed demands are the positive ones you want. The greatest thing you can do to help, t is forget training X amount of times per week, and think more in “Cycles” i.e Train 1 day on 2 days off. 2 days off. 1 day on, 4 days off etc” this is just an example, but what this does is that it changes your mind set so that you see the bigger picture and think about how each session relates to the next in terms of recovery and adaptations, without thinking “I have to train x times per week” then forcing when you may not have adequately recovered, or properly considered the effect that weeks training load will have on the following weeks adaptations. Just a thought. Plus take an extra days rest if you need to, if this means the difference between a mediocre session and a Sh*t hot performance in your workout. Listen to your body.

Next blog entry I will be exploring a massive component of training, recovery. More specifically I will be looking at nutrient timing.

Yours in strength

Coach Cj Swaby

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Wild Physique Unleashed : My Journey Into Strength PT 2

By Coach Cj Swaby

“Without Strength – and by strength I mean health, vitality, and a general sense of physical wellbeing – life is but a gloomy business”
– Eugen Sandow 1911

So last entry I spoke about what for me, was an essential first step along my journey into strength and that was

STEP 1: Do your research

If you missed that entry you can check it out HERE. This week, I want to go over how I established my own individual pathway for my journey into strength, plus how you can do the same. Then I will start delving into the practical aspects of training, that enabled me to successfully get quality gains DRUG FREE.

STEP 2: Goal Setting

So having done my research, and been inspired by the legendary strongmen of old, and current sensations, I decided to set myself a goal. But which goal to choose? And how to go about it? I decided to set myself an ultimate goal, then establish some “milestones” and “process goals.” I set myself a baseline challenge of being able to deadlift 2.5 times my own bodyweight. Then an ultimate goal of 3 times my bodyweight in the RAW (no suit and DRUG FREE). Now the thought of being able to so this awesome feet really inspired me, as it was a challenge that would push me out of my comfort, zone and few have achieved.

There is something you would have noticed about my goals. While they are BOTH SPECIFIC, neither one of them was specific in the absolute amount of weight to be lifted. This was deliberate. I knew that my weight would change due to my new type of training, and nutritional adjustments. Having actively competed for over 8 years in a sport that demanded me to be a certain weight, I was over weight watching. I knew the added dimension of continually watching my weight would suck my focus from where it needed to be, and kill my enjoyment out of attaining my goal. As long as I achieved the power-to-weight ratios I wanted ,with a bodyweight of less 95kg ( I fluctuated between 86kg – 89Kg on starting my journey) and still maintained what I considered respectable standards of cardiovascular power output, then I was happy.

My goals were specific to what I wanted to achieve. The take home message? make your goals specific to what YOU want (not just something you think you SHOULD be able to achieve or do. YOU’VE got to WANT it).

Having established my goal, I did what is probably unthinkable and flies in the face of conventional goal setting. I didn’t set a time frame to achieve my goal. I WORKED MY WAY BACKWARDS. Say what? Yep, that’s right. This is what I did. I visualised my self achieving my goal, allowed my emotional response to heighten so I could “Feel” myself achieving the 3 times my bodyweight. I asked myself these questions as I played the scene out in my mind

What did it feel like to achieve that lift?

How did the weight feel in my hands?

Where did I make the lift?

What did making this lift mean to me?

What was the crowd’s reaction to my success?

By the end of several days of 5 – 10 minutes of visualisation (often more than once a day) I knew with every part of my body that I have achieved that lift. No question about it. It’s done. So I didn’t set a time line as to WHEN I would achieve that. There was no need for me to worry about achieving it, as regardless of how long it took, or what I would have to do, it would be achieved. So I did something different instead. A future version of Cj Swaby had made that mammoth lift, what things would need to have been done and put in place? So I made a chart of “milestone” lifts and mapped them out, working my way backwards as follows

X 3 Times Bodyweight -----> x 2.7 Times Bodyweight --------->x 2.5 Times Bodyweight

To the milestones I added time frames or rather “guidelines” , so for example I knew that by May 30th 2011 I should be able to lift X amount, by July 30th 2011 X amount, September 30th 2011 X amount , and March 2011 X amount, provided that I stayed injury free. These I would use as my measuring sticks to make sure I was still on the right path in my journey into strength.

STEP 2.2 : Training

So now that I had established the WHAT, it was time to establish the HOW, which is an important part of “Process goals”. This is the practical application. In this instance it was my training. My first weight training kit was a York Barbell set from Argos in Balham, South London, that I bought with my pocket money when I was thirteen or fourteen years of age. For those of you that remember, It was the set with a dirty “gold” plastic coating and a concrete inner. The bars were metal, and the collars were thick plastic wedges that had a red suspect spin lock. It came with a small A-5 booklet, with some cool, hand drawn figure characters detailing the barbell course (I always felt cheated that the man in the picture was using circus barbells and dumbells and they didn’t look like my set). I didn’t have enough pocket money for a bench, so my dad’s heavy duty sound system speaker in the front room, flipped on its side, doubled up as my bench when he wasn’t around ( Please note: I do not recommend this practice, it resulted in many a ”close shave” training moments and considerable chastising).

This course formed the basis of my weight training as a teenager. Clean and Presses, Military Press, Bench Press, Squats, Deadlifts, Barbell Curls, Upright Rows, Bent Over Rows , sit ups and not much else. Now more then 18 years later reading Dinosaur Training by Brooks D Kubrik, it was great to have reinforced it was all about training the basics and lifting heavy. Compound movements, push, pull, squat, lung, throw in some rotation. Simple really. It seemed to fit in with my prior training knowledge from my youth to the present, and made sense to me. I decided to give it a shot. There would be some new addition to my training such as working with the power rack from the bottom position, assist work for grip, odd lifts I already used in my training, and loved. I would still maintain some “power Cardiovascular training” because it was important to me. So I had the ingredients for my training, the question was

HOW Do I structure my sessions?

With a solid training background already I decided to start with 5 x 5 system, as championed in Dinosaur training, before getting into singles. There are different ways to do the 5 x 5 system and most of them work. I decided to play with it and see what worked for me. On any given exercise I started off with 3 warm up sets (70%-80% 1RM) then 2 workings sets (90% + 1RM). When I could manage the working sets “comfortably” I would then increase to 3 working sets , and two warm up sets. I continued this process until I could manage 5 working sets of that same weight that was originally 90%+ 1RM. In the final set or two I used “cluster reps” which is where you take a short break between reps to recover, then knock out the rest of the reps in the set, I usually rested for no longer than 30 seconds if I did cluster reps. When I could manage 5x5 with that weight (90%+1RM) I would then test my 1RM (1 Rep Max) in that and various lifts in the following week and continue the 5 x 5 process. My rest periods between sets were 3 minutes dead (timed with a gym boss). I had 1 – 2 days rest between sessions. I cycled this process for 8 to 9 weeks, then took a recovery week. Each session was no more than 3 – 4 lifts, around 15 sets in total, followed by CV power. So for example a session might look like this;

Warm Up: Joint Mobility
Barbell Bench Press 5 reps x 5 sets
Trap Bar deadlift 5 reps x 5 sets
Weighted Pull up 2 reps x 5 sets (increasing weight each set)
CV Power
Rower : Level 7 250metres < 50 seconds x 10 sets. 1 minute recovery

Cool Down & Stretch

As you can see my sessions were simple, and intense. Remember it’s really not that complicated. There is a section in Dinosaur Training where Kubik addresses this;

“If strength training so simple, why do so many people fail to get results? .. Productive training seems too simple to work. So people ignore the productive systems and look for complex systems that don’t deliver.”

-Brooks Kubik (Dinosaur Training: 1996: 141)

After my initial introductory period I changed my training, to still keeping with 5 sets of 1 rep, but increasing the weight with each set. This was my introduction into singles. In this initial period of 2 – 3 months, with my nutrition changes and adequate recovery my weight went up 4 kg and my poundages shot up drastically. In my next blog entry I will post actual workouts so you can see for yourself, and discuss a bit more about the physiology and logic behind my programming and changes.

The Secret Ingredient

The secret ingredient is you. When I went to the gym, I took my headphones and Gym Boss. The Gym Boss was so that I didn’t cheat on my rest periods. The headphones were to block everyone else out. When I go to the gym, I’m there for one reason – to train. People would approach me at the gym, I would acknowledge them, and If they attempted to strike up a conversation I would politely inform them, “ I’m in the middle of a workout, come back and talk to me when I’m finished.” Some people were offended, others understood. Either way I was single minded in purpose as to why I was there, and what I wanted to achieve. This was all a part of creating the right environment for my goal to flourish.

“Muscles are not developed by muscular action alone. Physical exertion, however arduous and long continued ,will not make a man strong.......mechanical and desultory exertion will never materially increase a man’s strength. He must first learn the great secret which ought to be no secret at all. He must use his mind.”

- Eugen Sandow (Strength And How To Obtain it: 1911: 09)

How Can This Help You?

Goal setting is important. There are many methodologies for goal setting, the key thing is that it has to be pertinent to you, inspire you, it has to light you up like a rocket on Guy Fawkes night. Why? Because this is what is going to spur you on in tough times, the days when there are all the reasons in the world for you to quit, to give up when problems arise. It’s this original motivation that will keep you going.

Once you’ve established a goal, establishing a road map for getting you there is essential. These are “process goals”. For me, my process goals was simply the training. If I did the training (with adequate rest and recovery) I would achieve my goal. No one set scheme or rest period fits all. See where you are with your training. If you have been training a while with a 5 x 5 system, why not try 3 x 3 or work with doubles or singles. If you are new to strength training you will need to spend some time to build a solid foundation in weight training (12 – 16 weeks should do it) , learning the lifts, allowing your body to adjust, and seeing which training system yields results for you. Again this is part of your research. Read. Learn from others, seek out those further along the journey than you, ask how THEY
did it.

Also, LOG YOUR WORKOUTS. This way you can see quantifiably what works and what isn’t and make the necessary changes. I use the T.E.F.C.A.S formula, which I “borrowed” from Tony Buzan (of mind mapping fame).

T rial (preparation/ goal setting etc)
E vent (training)
F eedback (training log/ weight lifted/ body fat %/ injury/ weight etc)
A djust (self explanatory this one
S uccess! (simply repeat the process until you achieve your desired outcome).

If you want more detailed information on goal setting, or got a few more questions on using the 5x5 system, feel free to hit me up on facebook with your questions. In my next blog entry I will be looking a bit more at training systems I used and mapping it against my training. Exploring the exercise physiology behind it, and how up to a point strength is a physical trait, then after that it’s all about technique.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Exploding The Myth: Nutrition Uncovered

By Coach Cj Swaby

Last Sunday 29th May we had our Saturday seminar (although it was Sunday). I had contacted Laurent Bannock of Guru Performance to dissect common nutritional myths, and critique two common nutritional practices that seem to have swarmed across the globe like a plague of locusts. Functional Nutrition expert, Laurent Bannock duly complied and delivered thought provoking, evidence based seminars. We got a lot form the time with Laurent and highly recommend him.

If you missed the Seminar "Exploding The Myth: Nutrition Uncovered" fret not. Laurent Bannock kindly uploaded the lecture notes.

Exploding The Myth: Nutrition Uncovered

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By Coach Sabina Skala

Here is our Saturdays session - focus - Strength Endurance.

Warm up with bearcrawls, sprints, bunny hops etc


2x KB Jerk
2x KB Floor wiper (double count)
Burpee (push up optional)
2x KB Snatch

looks like 20 Jerks, 15 wipers, 10 burpees, 5 snatches, etc... until 5 jerks, 10 wipers, 15 burpees, 20 snatches

rest 4 mins then repeat the whole set again, this time starting with 5 jerks, 10 wipers, 15 burpees, 20 snatches etc...

100 reps per exercise in total.

Job done!


Thursday, 2 June 2011

Wild Physique Unleashed : My Journey Into Strength

By Coach Cj Swaby

“If I had six hours to chop down a tree , I would spend four hours preparing the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln

Quite a few people have been asking me about the massive gains that I have been continually been making in my weight training recently. I decided to share HOW i’ve managed to consistently go from strength to strength DRUG FREE with NO INJURY and manage to lift over 2.5 times my own body weight in the past 8 months of training in preparation for the Strength & Power Meet 2011.

It is amazingly simple. There are no real “secrets” just a process that has to be respected to make it work. This blog series aims to make your process a lot more efficient than mine, so that you can get solid results. I will detail everything from my workouts to nutrition, to seeking out appropriate help, my research, training tips and my peak mental performance strategies.

I was not a typical “strength athlete” my background is combat sports and endurance running . while I have been weight training for over 16 years and familiar with different systems, this was a whole new ball game. An education process was necessary, and it was important to immerse myself in this world to create the correct mindset, remain inspired and lay solid foundations for success. Today’s blog entry is about my first step in the process.

STEP 1: Do Your Research

After seeing Andy “Iron Mac” Mckenzie of Iron Mac Fitness blow away the competition in the 2010 Strength & Power Meet, I was inspired. I decided I wanted to do the same in the 2011 Strength & Power meet. I checked out the times and totals of the Strength & Power meet competitors and mapped out what I saw. What I noticed was that in Andy McKenzie’s weight category, Andy was always in the top three for every event, and was often first place in the majority of events. In my weight category I noticed that the top three contestants in each event was rarely the same . What did this tell me?

1) In my weight category there was a big discrepancy in the competitors training between their Strength training and Power training. Plus potentially the time spent on technical training for the “special events”

2) I only had to ensure that I was consistently in the top three for each event, and win some to get the overall first place.

3) I needed to identify where my training was sufficient and where it was lacking for me to be successful.

With this in the back of my mind, I continued my research. I had always been a fan of strongmen of old, such greats Eugen Sandow, George Hackenschmidt, and Arthur Saxon and others to name but a few. Men who managed incredible feats of strength,and power –to- weight ratio in the nineteen hundreds BEFORE the steroid epidemic distorted TRUE STRENGTH. The feats they achieved and their chiselled , statuesque physics were an awesome sight to behold. I had been lucky enough to glimpse some of their works. Already familiar with Mel C Siff’s Super Training, I digested works by Pat o Shea, Super Squats by Randall J Strossen, and past editions of the strength journal, Milo, and more.

As part of my research I checked out the “All Time Historical Men & Women’s Powerlifting Top 20 Rankings” The rankings below are in the 198lb (90kg) men’s division. They give the “Total” which is the competitors combined lifts of deadlift, squat and bench press, plus their individual lifts. Read it. Then read it again – AND TAKE IT IN!

In 2008, Shawn Frankl of the USA at a body weight of 197.7lb (89.9kg) ripped a total of 2460.00 lbs. For those of you that operate in old money that’s 1120.4 Kg. That was the heaviest 12 times body weight male total of all time as of 2008.

Sergiy Naleykin of the Ukraine weighing in at 198lbs (90Kg) pulled a total of 2460lbs (1025.5) giving him a 11.5 times body weight total. Impressive stuff. Further down the list the totals while not as great were still mind boggling.

I decided to see what the heaviest weight for the individual lifts were to give me a better perspective. I checked out the three individual lifts.

198lb Division: Squat

Top spot went to Sam Byrd of the USA. At meagre age of 26 years old, in August 2007, Sam popped 1050lbs (476.3 kg) out of the rack for a phenomenal squat of more than 5 times his own body weight (he weighed 198lbs / 90kg on the button). Sergiy Naleykin of the Ukraine came in second position with an outstanding 990lbs squat (449.1 kg) in 2008, weighing in at 89.5kg (196.9). This was 5.02 times his body weight.

198lb Division: Deadlift

So this is the lift that really caught my attention. I had seen Britain’s finest, Andy Bolton rip some impressive lifts the previous year at Body Power 2010. At the time of doing my research Andy was the first man to officially rip 1000lbs deadlift and held the record for the Deadlift, Bench and Squat Total. I wanted to see what kind numbers the guys of my size were lifting in 2008.

Ed Coan of the USA ripped 859.8 lbs (390kg) at a bodyweight of 89.7kg (197.34 ). The year was 1985, when Ed managed 4.35 times his body weight. The Russian, Andrey Belyaev, pulled a respectable 837.8lbs (380kg) weighing in at 89.35kg, the year was 2006.

198lb Division: Bench Press

Shawn Frankly held the honours for this one, with the heaviest quadruple times body weight lift of all time. In 2008, Shawn slipped his solid 198 lb frame under the bar, and benched 850 lbs (385kg) – 4.29 times his body weight! In the same year Jason Coker (185.2lbs / ) managed 805.0lbs (365.1 kg) to take second place with a lift 4.35 times his body weight.

(source: http:/ - List compiled by Michael Soong)

HOW This Helped Me

It gave me perspective. By doing research I understood WHAT was required and if I was prepared to actually DO IT, plus HOW I could improve my training and “weak” areas for the Strength & Power Meet, and other Power Lifting Competitions. It enabled me to see the “lay of the land” and see pitfalls or short cuts as I saw it. I began to understand what the human body was potentially capable of, and how that might affect my goal and what to aim for.

I was far off those kind of numbers, and they seemed daunting. But by reading the books and checking out the tables, I was beginning to learn about the colourful characters, and for a short time inhabit the kind of mind set of what it takes to achieve that level of strength. Plus it gave me a reference point to shoot for when it came to the lifts. It’s a tough feat to constantly measure yourself against world class athletes when you are not yet in the same league (but it keeps you humble). My reasoning was pretty simple, and summed up in this quote below ( I can’t remember who said it, so let me know if you do)

“If you would hit the mark you must aim a little above it. Every arrow that flies feels the attraction of the earth.”

It was about the same time my training partner James Bower, handed me a copy of Brooks D. Kubik’s Dinosaur Training, which was arguably the most useful, and influential strength training books I have read in recent years. Kubik distils strength training to its simplest, effective form, he covers performance strategies and maps out templates for training. If you only read one book, make it this one, and get yourself over to his website and sign up for the Dinosaur Training newsletter. It will keep you inspired and motivated throughout your training.

As a DRUG FREE athlete (who lifts RAW – no suit or belt) Dinosaur Training helped put into perspective what was possible by giving a formula to work out power-to-weight ratio’s for clean athletes. This was paramount in setting my goals and formulating a training schedule to achieve them, plus keep me focused.

HOW This Can Help You

Research it. Decide what interests you. Is it the deadlift? The bench press or the Olympic lifts? Kettlebell Sport? Whatever it is – DO YOUR RESEARCH . Find out what other people in your chosen field are doing. Use it as a measuring tool, then set your own standards. What do YOU want to achieve? what would be an amazing feat for you. Aim big. Collect stories, anecdotes and information that inspires you and gets you going. This is all an important part of getting your mind right and creating the correct environment for you to grow into your chosen goal.

In my next blog entry I will look at Step 2 in the process, Goal Setting and Training. Showing you examples of my initial training that packed on four kilo’s of solid muscle and had me consistently improve lifts week in, week out.

This weekend I will be sending out details of books, articles and websites that I used as part of my research in our newsletter. If you would like to receive this information, simply join our newsletter and you’ll receive a copy of this useful information.

Yours in Strength

Cj Swaby

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Sabina Training Blog June the 1st + some extras

Wednesday the 1st of June (Strength OHS & TGU) + Power Endurance (E)

Morning training session with Ash

Build up to heavy OHS - 50 kg


Sabina 5x1 @ 50kg

Ash 5x1 @ 50kg - Ash did great on OHS, very very proud of her!

Ash OHS - 50kg

Then 10 x 250m row, rest 1 min inbetween. Target - Ash all 250m under 1 min (all succeeded), Sabina all 250m under 56 sec, failed 3 good 7

Sabina results:

Time + s/m (strokes per minute)

1. 55.0 @ 31, 2. 54.8 @ 31, 3. 55.0 @ 31, 4. 55.3 @ 30, 5. 55.8 @ 30, 6. 55.9 @ 32, 7. 55.7 @ 30, 8. 56.9 @ 31, 9. 58.1 @ 30 , 10. 58.7 @ 31

then afternoon session Sabina, Paul and Ewan (heavy TGU)

Build up to heavy TGU - 30 kg

Then 5x1 per arm @ 30 kg

Ewan trying out TGUs with a Barbell for the 1st time and lifting 30kg :)

Finish off with 3 min plank

3 min plank - this is how you look like after a heavy TGU session

Job done :)

It was a good day - both OHS and TGU felt strong 50kg OHS was my 1RM, after today I am confident my 1RM increased, I will test it in 1 week time, the same applies to TGU's - 30kg was my PB so far, it needs to be tested, as I am sure it improved. It was great to train with the boys, we had fun :).

Now a bonus - WILL'S TRAINING SESSION (our Full Throttle session from last Saturday - courtesy of CJ Swaby - with an added twist). Will did put a great effort in.


4 rounds of

10 x double KB snatch and jerk + 8x 20 sec sprint 10 sec rest

Rest 90 sec inbetween rounds, 4 min intermission after 4th round


10 x double KB snatch and jerk + 8x 20 sec tyre flip 10 sec rest

Rest 90 sec

10 x double KB snatch and jerk + 8x 20 sec sprint 10 sec rest

Rest 90 sec

10 x double KB snatch and jerk + 8x 20 sec tyre flip 10 sec rest

Rest 90 sec

10 x double KB snatch and jerk + 8x 20 sec sprint 10 sec rest

Will flipping