Wednesday, 31 August 2011

CJS Kettlebells Goes LIVE!

By Coach Cj Swaby

CJS Kettlebells,London is finally now live! The online Kettlebell palace will feature exclusive kettlebell exerices video clips, interviews and articles with leading international Kettlebell experts, details of Kettlebell training workshops, Kettlebell classes in London and in the UK. Plus a great selection of Kettlebell sets, books, and training DVDs.

Basically, CJS Kettlebells, will be to Kettlebells what Usain Bolt is to 100m sprinting (when he's not too busy making false starts that is). To kick start the blog the first lady of Kettlebells Svetlana Writtle has graced us with two exclusive kettlebell training clips, that demonstrate the Kettlebell exercises that keep her in fantastic shape.

Simply check out the new website cjskettlebells then click onto the blog to check it out, we've also got a great interview with the legendary Mike Mahler.

Big shout out to Emma Rose Watts of www.Bootcamp who posed for the photoshoot for the new promo poster. In the coming weeks CJS Kettlebells will be featuring Emma and finding out how she incorporates Kettlebell training into her boot camps and what she does to stay in jaw dropping shape.

Yours in Strength

Coach Cj Swaby

Monday, 15 August 2011

CJS Kettlebells UK Launch

By Coach Cj Swaby

Sunday 28th August
will see the launch of the brand new website CJS Kettlebells. London' s Kettlbell Mecca. The website will cover the best of the best in Kettlebell training. Whether you want to buy Iron Russian Kettlebells, download some DVD's on Kettlebell Training, book on a CJS Kettlebells Training Workshop, or attend a REPS Kettlebell Instructor Course, buy Steel competition Kettlebells - we've got it covered.

The new CJS Kettlebells website will feature the best of the UK Kettlebell Coaches, from Matt & Keris at Fitter London, Christian Villa & Mark Stroud of Brighton Kettlebells, Rannoch Donald of Simple Strength to the first lady of Russian Kettlebells, Svetlana Writtle - this new CJS Kettlebells website will cover the everything Kettlebell training related, to help add value to your training and improve your quality of health.

To help celebrate the launch, CJS Kettlebells will be giving FREE 90 minute Kettlebell Training seminars every month from 29th September for a limited time only. Details will be available from the 26th August.

Yours in Strength

Coach Cj Swaby

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Strength training for Combat Sports - Q&A with Joel Jamieson

By Sabina Skala

Last year I came across a book - "Ultimate MMA Conditioning" by Joel Jamieson. I read it several times and I still keep coming back to it every week. It does sound like a serious book crush, but I consider "Ultimate MMA Conditioning" to be one of the best books on the subject of conditioning for combat sports that is available on the market at the moment. I also spoke to Joel several times and he is definitely a coach I would seek information/ advice from on the subject of conditioning for combat athletes.

For those who are not familiar with Joel's work here is a short info:

Joel Jamieson trained over 30 of the biggest names in MMA, including Rich Franklin, Chris Leben, Spencer Fisher, Tim Boetsch, Demetrius Johnson, Hayato Sakurai, Matt Brown - just to name a few.

He formerly served as the Director of Strength & Conditioning for Pride FC and currently works in a similar capacity for Dream. Prior to his work in MMA and combat sports, he spent time training D-1 football players and worked in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks. He has trained countless teams and athletes from the NFL, MLS, NHL and NBA and Olympic competitors from 5 different sports.

His articles have been published in a variety of online and print magazines (also in UK versions - check out recent issues of Fighting Fit magazine) and journals. Joel is a frequent presenter at local and national training conferences.

Since I have started working with fighters I have been asked numerous questions (by trainers and fighters themselves) about strength training for combat. Everyone who works with me knows my view on the subject. I asked Joel to look at a few questions I came across, so here you can get the answers from one of the best coaches in the industry.

Sabina: There is no doubt that strength training is highly beneficial for combat athletes. The question is - how strong is strong enough? Some trainiers believe that once certain strength standards have been achieved, fighters should only maintain them and spend more time focusing on technique and/or game plan. Others believe that an athlete can never be strong enough. What is your view on it?

Joel: At the highest levels, there is always an inherent tradeoff between strength and power and the ability to maintain it. This is why you’ll never see a world class sprinter capable of running a marathon and vice versa. In combat sports, we’ve all seen examples of this as the strongest, most powerful fighters have often also been the ones with the worst conditioning.

The more muscle tissue an athlete has and the more force they are producing, the more energy is required to sustain it and this means that in combat sports, there definitely needs to be the right balance between strength, power, and endurance. At the end of the day, strength is only as good as a fighter’s ability to use it effectively throughout a fight, so the tradeoff between force production and endurance should always be kept in mind when it comes to training combat sport athletes.

As far as how much strength is enough versus how much is too much, it’s a very individual thing and it really comes down to the physiological capabilities of the athlete. Genetics probably play the biggest role in this regard. Everyone is different and must find the right balance of strength, power, and endurance based on their own limits of performance.

Sabina:Training camps are very popular with fighters. If you only have a chance to spend a few weeks (3-4) training a fighter before the competition, would you spend any time on strength development?

Joel: With only 3-4 weeks before a fight, strength work will be done only a maintenance level. You’re not going to be able to build a significant amount of strength in such a short period of time and the athlete needs to be spending the majority of their time training specifically for the fight. I’ll usually have guys do one strength session per week for 45-60 minutes or so when we’re 3-4 weeks out from a fight. More is not necessary and will likely take away from their more specific training.

Sabina: How many compound lifts would you use in a single strength session, and why?

It depends on the session, but anywhere from 2-4 compound lifts can be used in a single strength session. I tend to keep things simple from an exercise standpoint as far as general strength is concerned and there are only so many good general compound movements that effectively develop the CNS.

Sabina: Do you tend to work with 1RM or 5RM when training your combat athletes?

I work with a range of volumes and intensities so I don’t know that I have a tendency towards either one. I use anywhere from 1RM – 6RM for strength/explosive work depending on the situation and the athlete, both ends of the range have their place in the development of strength and power.

Sabina: What is your view on olympic lifts and their derivatives. Do you use them when training fighters?

Joel: I think there are advantages and disadvantages to using the Olympic lifts and if you have an opportunity to work with a fighter for the long-term, then they definitely have their place in the training program. The main disadvantages are that majority of the force generated through hip extension is vertical and this is quite different from the rotational/horizontal nature of a great deal of combat sports skills and also they are technical lifts that take quite a bit of time to learn to do properly.

I think their best application is for the wrestling/grappling components of combat sports where explosive hip extension is used in takedowns and if I’m working with an athlete over an extended period of time, I’ll typically incorporate some Olympic lifting into their program. As a whole, I think the Olympic lifts are good tools when used effectively, I see them simply as one of many different means that can be used to develop explosive power and strength.

Sabina: Thank you Joel and we are looking forward to your upcoming seminars in UK

Joel Jamieson will be visiting UK for a series of seminars/lectures. Check out his website for details

Tuesday, 2 August 2011


By Coach Sabina Skala

Should women strength train?

A few weeks ago one of the ladies I trained said “I don’t want to be strong”. She is a very attractive size 8 girl, she also happens to be pretty strong. I asked her, what she meant. She repeated that she didn’t want to be strong and she doesn’t like strength training. So That I could understand exactly what she meant, I kept asking more questions. The conclusion was, she didn’t want to strength train, as she didn’t feel feminine, was scared that shoe would become butch and muscular, plus she didn’t look pretty lifting heavy weights. At the same time she wanted a toned slender physique and take part in a competition that…. involved lifting heavy weights.

Doesn’t it sound ridiculous? It may, however this is what a lot of women who strength train are concerned about. Is the typical stereotype that women should be weak, fragile creatures, who cant handle anything other than push ups from their knees or biceps curls with 1kg dumbbells (preferably pink, as this looks very girly) valid in this day and age?

If I was asked a question – “do you want to be strong?”. I would say – YEAH! But at the same time I certainly want to look feminine and don’t want to resemble a “ladyman”. The trick is that usually when you hear that a woman is strong you don’t picture Lara Croft lookalike but rather some power-lifter type chick, who you are not really sure is a man or woman. So here just to prove how untrue this is, just look at the pics below.

This is Evelyn Stevenson. I have met the very gorgeous Eve – Who is UK powerlifting champion. She is a PROOF that stereotypes are often very WRONG!. Eve not only looks very sexy, she is a very strong girl! (1RM in training – back squat 130kg, bench 77.5kg, Deadlift 140kg).

So should women lift heavy…. let me quote Pavel Tsatsouline “ You better get on a first name basis with heavy deadlifts if you are after a hard butt”. And it is only 1 of many many reasons why strength training is so beneficial to women.

Lets look at all the goodness:

1. Strength training = strong ligaments, strong tendons and greater bone density. Weight training is a powerful tool against osteoporosis (disease characterised by porous bone and low bone mass). Those suffering from osteoporosis have an increased susceptibility to fractures of the wrists, hips and spine. According to the National ~Osteoporosis Foundation 28 million Americans suffer from this disease, 80 % of which are women! In fact, statistics show that one in two women over the age of 50 will suffer from and osteoporosis – related fracture during their lifetime. Therefore women, especially should seriously consider weight training as a type of insurance against becoming represented in these startling statistics. Stronger tendons, ligaments and muscles lead to stronger and stable joints decreasing the likelihood of injury. This enhances the quality of life and enables us to better perform our daily activities. This does not only apply to middle age or elderly women. Trust me I have seen teenagers who are less mobile, weaker and slower than my 74 year old client. This is a pretty scary picture and unfortunately very true in many cases

2. Aesthetics - Strength training increases your resting metabolic rate. Women who wish to permanently reduce body fat should treat the strength training as absolutely essential. Traditionally women rely on a low calorie diets, depleting the body from nutrients and as a result plummeting the metabolism and weakening the immune system. The common fear that strong means big and muscular doesn’t need to come true. First of all women are genetically incapable of building large muscles. We do not have nearly as much testosterone as men (approx 15-20 time less than men actually). The perception that women will bulk up when they begin a strength training program comes from the chemically-altered women on the covers of bodybuilding magazines. To get the look they need an “aid” that alters their hormonal profile and enables them to get more bulk and mass. Toning – so what most of women are after is the effect of muscle development (not in large amounts) and removing the fat surrounding the muscles. Muscle bulk comes from a high volume of work. Actually, the repetition range that most women would prefer to do (8–20 reps) promotes hypertrophy (muscle growth), providing the load is sufficient enough. Proper strength training does not necessarily promote size, as the primary stress is placed on the nervous system, not only the muscles. Therefore, strength will improve by a neurological effect while not increasing the size of the muscles..
If you look at the guidelines below for better understanding (data was taken from Gym Jones seminar manual - they have pulled it
from Michael Yessis book called "The Kinesiology of Exercise”).

***Please note that effects vary depending on age, existing fitness level, gender, the phase of the annual cycle, as well as the volume and intensity of the training. In general:
1-4 reps per set @ 2-4RM increase pure strength but do not increase muscle mass
4-9 reps per set @ 5-9RM increase strength together with muscle mass
10-15 reps per set increase muscular strength, muscular endurance and muscle mass
16-30 reps per set increase muscular endurance with little to no increase in muscle mass
31-50 reps per set or circuit increase muscular endurance with no effect on muscle mass
50-100 reps per set or circuit increase muscular endurance, cardio-respiratory endurance, and
there will be a possible loss of muscle mass (or fat) but absolutely no increase in strength

If you look at the highlighted part, it says that there is a way of training that increases your strength and does not increase the muscle mass as such. So, you can get stronger without getting bigger.
The chart below shows the number of repetitions and sets you should be aiming at when strength training.

Bulking up is not an overnight process. If you ever wake up in the morning looking huge after a day, week or even month of training, please let us know as we would love to know the magic training that caused it. Getting bigger is also calorie dependent. If you feel you are getting bigger, first be honest with yourself and check your diet and alcohol consumption. It may be not the muscles but the fat that surrounds them that is the issue. In most cases squats and deadlifts are not the problem – it is the Cosmopolitan cocktails or tequila shots on Friday evenings plus some chocolate brownies that make you fat/big.

If you’re a female athlete and training with heavy weights (or not), you still need to watch what you eat. If your diet is all over the place, do not blame training for putting on weight.

Summarising – if you still don’t see the benefits of lifting heavy weights, I don’t have more arguments to convince you. I know I will keep my strength sessions in my training for sure.