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Edel’s Journey to GREATNESS at Peak fitness and Performance Centre Longford.

With Edel’s transformation at PFP going viral she has been inundated with messages of support from members and also messages from people outside of PFP looking for advice on what she eats to get lean along with what training she was doing to get the body she wanted.


Edel has kindly wrote for a mini blog for everyone at PFP

Any fitness or nutrition Questions for Edel or coaches then please leave them below in comments section.

Take it away Edel…….

I was stuck in a rut and had been needing to start something to get into shape for weeks. I needed to get back into a good space both mentally and physically. I’d tried many shortcuts to get results before and to be honest wanted a quick fix but they always put me back to square one, if not worse than when I started. I tried the usual classes around the area but started seeing PFP on Facebook and it kept getting my attention by the loud, no nonsense approach to getting in shape.

Like starting anything new in a strange environment its very hard for us ladies especially to join something new but I knew I had to take the plunge. Several negative thoughts went through my head like..

  1. I wouldn’t know anyone there
  2. Would I be fit enough to do these training sessions at PFP?
  3. I didn’t want to go alone

So my brain was giving me all these negative feelings and telling me not go and make a change for the good but I fought the brain and got in contact with James on the PFP Facebook page who urged me to come and try it out.

I never made it in that day and he contacted me a day later again to make sure I came in or he would drag me in kicking and screaming (win Free membership here)

When I walked into PFP I was greeted by the coach and several other members who where all really nice and supportive before the session even started which put me at ease right away. I was looking at them thinking ‘God I’m so unfit I’m going to die here’ but they all started the same as me and went through what I did which was encouraging to hear.

I was dreading it and very conscious that I would be way behind everyone in the class, but the coaches simplified the exercises for me which was very personal and supportive!!!

No one judged me, everyone was so supportive and really encouraged me. Class was tough but I got through it.

I remember leaving the first class and getting into the car thinking ‘God I should have came here sooner’ and it wasn’t anything like I expected it to be and I’m definitely coming back.

One major thing that stood out for me was the buzz and friendliness about the gym and the way other members interacted with each other and motivated each other.

I started off first going to 2 classes a week and that started to build up gradually to 3/4 classes per week and now I’m going to 6 classes a week (provided my body is able and I get adequate recovery between sessions)

As for my asthma I haven’t touched an inhaler in weeks!! ‪#‎winning

So I’m going to PFP for a about 5/6 weeks and had the gym buzz going and then coach James took me in for a chat about my eating habits/nutrition and to have a look at my diet to see where improvements could be made.

His main message to me was to make small changes each week for a number of weeks and after 12 weeks I will have made a radical change to my whole lifestyle in-terms of training, eating habits and lifestyle choices.

He showed me how to live the 80/20% rule which suited me perfectly as I like to go out at the weekends with friends and family for nice food and have a few beers so that was my 20% there. (win Free membership here)

My diet has been completely transformed from what it was over a year ago and a big lesson I can give is to not worry about the small things and think about the bigger picture and how you want to get there.

–1 bad meal doesn’t make you fat as 1 good meal doesn’t make you lean—

I know for a fact if I had of woke up and decided that I’m going to completely change my diet, lifestyle and start a fitness journey all the same day I would fail and probably still be trying to find quick fixes.

Hard work and consistency is key to all this and knowing and trusting the process you are on to get you there.


So my typical training day nutrition would look like this, it changes daily with different meals and intakes of carbs, protein and fats.

-5:50am Pre Workout Banana & Kinetica Pre fuel


-8:00am Post workout – Kinetica Strawberry sundae protein shake

-8:45am 3 eggs scrambled, 2 turkey rashers, Spinach & tomatoes all cooked on coconut oil.

Drink 2/3 cups of hot water with lemon (breakfast is always prepared night before as don’t have time for cooking in mornings)

-Morning Break: 3 heaped table spoons of fage Greek Yoghurt, mix into this is 3 crushed oat cakes and chopped fruit and nuts

-Lunch: 3 egg muffins (mixed veg and bacon)) 2 crackers with cottage cheese all on a bed of spinach, onions and tomatoes

-Snack: 2x slices Homemade chocolate protein oat bread & grapes/blueberries

-Dinner: Peri Peri Baked salmon with roast veg and rice

-Snack: peanut butter & oat cakes

Supplementation list

^fish oils

^protein powder

^Vitamin D3

^pre workout

All food is cooked with coconut oil! Limiting myself to 1 cup of coffee per day and instead I’m drinking hot water with lemon/herbal teas.

Tried the koyu Matcha green tea and love it and I’m always drinking water throughout the day.

(This is just a typical day and like I said it changes to day to day but I will always have it planned ahead and know where my next meal comes from)

I’ve attached some pictures of the foods I eat for people looking for new ideas.

So many people have been emailing, texting and calling me about the results I have achieved which is great and inspiring and I hope you can take something from this mini blog I decide to write.

edel blog

Id like to thank everyone at PFP and the support of all the coaches too. Keep up the good work everyone.

Enjoy the journey and love every minute of it.

Edel x

Ps you can follow Edel on Instagram where she is forever posting pics of food and the odd selfie

Contact us on 0861677045 for more details about joining. 



Acceleration – It’s not just the legs

When athletes think of acceleration they immediately think leg strength, but that is only a part of the Acceleration equation. Acceleration requires huge force production over a longer ground contact than at top speed, making maximal strength for bodyweight is critical. Stride frequency and stride length are slower and shorter in acceleration than at top speed. Upper body strength is also essential to great acceleration because improved arm strength and mechanics are more important to driving the athlete forward during the acceleration phase than at top speed.


Many athletes only think of acceleration in terms of running straight ahead for a short distance. In reality, acceleration can take place in any direction. In actual play, athletes accelerate forward, backward, sideways, and diagonally. Many think acceleration occurs only from a static start. On the contrary, acceleration can also take place from a moving start at any number of speeds. For instance, a player in motion may have to accelerate quickly or decelerate quickly on the field. Both of these are forms of acceleration, and both can be improved with proper training.

Here we are using forward acceleration from a static start as a common way to describe the muscles and biomechanics of the Acceleration.

There are a number of physical and technical characteristics that can lead to poor acceleration. The first and most important characteristic is relative body strength. How strong an athlete is for how much they weigh is directly proportional to how well they can accelerate. Since acceleration is an athlete overcoming their own inertia with the force they produce, the leaner (less body fat) and the stronger they are at that weight are predictors of how well they will accelerate.

To look at the situation generally, the major muscle difference between acceleration and top speed is that the quads are used more in acceleration, and the hamstrings and hip flexors are utilized more during top speed. The most important areas to strengthen for acceleration are the gluteal and quadriceps muscles, the calves and muscles of the upper body, especially the anterior deltoid. Maximal strength is important here because ground contact times are much longer during acceleration than at top speed. Since there is a greater amount of time to produce force, the more absolutely strong a muscle is, coupled with greater relative body strength, the better the acceleration. For acceleration training, more maximal weights can be used in exercises such as the squat, lunge walks, chin ups, pulls ups, calf raises, and step ups.

We know that acceleration has a longer ground contact, smaller stride length, less stride frequency, different technique and teaching cues and relies differently on the muscles of the body when compared to top speed. Since there are different muscle actions during acceleration and top speed, it is logical that there will be different cues used when teaching technique. For instance, for force production at foot contact, acceleration should be taught as a “pushing” motion.


For good acceleration, keep the center of gravity low and forward while trying to push out as long strides as possible. As a vast generalization, a forward body lean of 45 degrees is recommended. However, it is difficult for any athlete to learn to “lean forward”; genetically we’re programmed to keep our bodies from leaning forward and falling. (You fell, a large ferocious animal ate you – we learned!) Continuous practice of “falling starts” helps to overcome what we’re hard wired to not do, breaking those bad habits.

Falling start video

Driving arm action is also critical to proper acceleration. Your arms not only add power and speed but they are related to your legs and force propulsion. The faster your arms move, the faster your legs move.

When running, the elbow should generally be at a 90 degree angle, with the motion taking place in the shoulder, which drives the arms. The action is not at the elbow or the wrist, meaning that the 90 degree angle at the elbow joint remains constant throughout. Shoulders are forward facing in forward acceleration and face the direction you want to go in sideways acceleration. Hands are not clenched, but open with the palm facing inward and sideways. As your arm goes back your thumb should be parallel to where your back pocket would be, not much further (or you’re wasting energy and motion). The opposite arm should simultaneously be coming up so that you can see your thumb in front of your chin or nose. If the athlete can’t see the hand, the hand is in the wrong place; we don’t want the hand to cross midline – that misaligns the body.

The angle of your arm to your body (humerous to torso) is critical to the angle of the height of the knee on the opposite leg – and we want the knee to drive up. With your arms in the wrong position your hip will be out of position for maximum movement.



Common mistakes with Arm Action video:



Finally, the athlete should draw in breath right before the acceleration and hold it for the first few steps. This will allow for a Valsavla maneuver and a subsequent better opportunity for your nervous system to produce force.

Coach Dominic Casciato CSCS

Parisi Speed School Port Washington

Coach Dominic Casciato CSCS   Coach Dominic was NCAA Soccer All American, an Academic All American and a Strength and Conditioning All American as well as playing professional soccer in England. He has helped coach one of the most successful Men’s Soccer development programs in the United States and in late December 2013 his U16 team became the US Youth Soccer National League Champions and was the first team in tournament history to play 7 consecutive games without conceding a single goal. He is a Parisi Speed School Coach in Port Washington and a TFW Instructor.


We have some online coaching places coming up for anyone looking for a specific training program to maximise their performance.

Contact us @

Final instalment of our 3 part series of mental health issues in sport.

Part 1 we talked about Depression and Gambling 

Part 2 we talked about Anxiety and Player Burnout 

Injury :

Injury can be a very tricky time for any Player or Athlete as it can take away their sense of being, motivation and overall enjoyment in life and the same can be said for any role within sport. When a person in any walk of life loses or can`t do their daily career it can be a very hard mental battle as they basically can lose who they sight of who they are.

Clarke Carlisle who is chairman of the Professional Footballers Association and was once  a player with QPR and Leeds amongst other clubs explains that “People have this perception of elite athletes and sports people that they are these infallible beings. But although they may have a strength or a talent in a particular area, they are no more immune to mental health issues as they are to any other illness” . He was speaking about English Cricketer Jonathan Trott who has just recently been allowed to leave the English Cricket Camp in Australia to return home to his family due to stress and injury related reasons.

“There are common triggers in sport and injury is one of them. In 2001 I needed reconstructive knee surgery. I was told I might never play again and may have to walk with a stick. That led me to try to commit suicide” says Carlisle speaking to the

Jonathan Trott was allowed to leave the English Cricked Camp due to Stress related injury - Picture by

Jonathan Trott was allowed to leave the English Cricked Camp due to Stress related injury – Picture by

Wayne Rooney has indicated that being injured is one of the most frustrating things that can every happen to a Player or athlete. He said in his Book “My decade in the primer league – When I’m out injured I know I can’t train or help the lads prepare for the next match so, typically, I get grumpy, a bit like someone would when they have to give up smoking or coffee, I’d imagine”

I’m a fidgety patient. I get snappy. I go quiet. I don’t get fed up with the treatment or the physios and club doctors, I just want to get out there and play in the practice games like everyone else. The worst thing is that the rehab process messes around with my head. I feel left out at the club. I miss the banter and the crack in the dressing-room. As I’m not fit enough to play, I don’t even get to spend the night in the team hotel with the rest of the lads before the next game. I have to stay at home, then drive into the training ground the following morning for some more boring recovery work.

        “Wayne Rooney’s horrific leg gash, sustained against Fulham in August”

Players become a spare part when they’re seriously injured. They become forgotten men around the club.

When I’m injured I get wound up and nervy watching games. It’s like being a fan all over again, probably more nerve-wracking than actually playing. It’s so frustrating. I can’t influence the game at all. I’m helpless.

There’s nothing I can do to change the result and help my mates win.

I try to keep a happy face on when I’m around the other lads afterwards, but it’s hard.

The psychology battle during injury is key to getting through some hard and lonely spells during injury - Picture of Tommy Bowe after being injuried during the Lions Tour

The psychology battle during injury is key to getting through some hard and lonely spells during injury – Picture of Tommy Bowe after being injuried during the Lions Tour

Former Dublin football captain Paul Griffin who promotes positive mental health by discussing the role that mind management can have in enhancing performance and overcoming adversity, speaks about the important role positive thinking played as he suffered set backs in his playing career with serious injuries over a couple of seasons.

Paul’s Top Tips to stay positive through injury  via his work with

  • Try to always look ahead and plan a path forward through the process. Use achievable goals and small targets to help break this down and take it step by step.
  • Look at the other opportunities that are open to you and other areas you can give more time to. Keep thinking of what you can do tomorrow and see it as an advantage.
  • Use the supports that are all around you and in particular family and friends to help take your mind off things.

Former Dublin Captain Paul Griffin had numerous set backs with injury - Picture by

Former Dublin Captain Paul Griffin had numerous set backs with injury – Picture by

  • Try not to dwell on the past and what if’s. The past can’t be changed so you need to look ahead and to the chances that the future can provide for you.
  • In a sporting context remember your team mates. You still need to be there for them. It might not be the same role but if you can still offer something to help your team be a success give them that support.
  • Keep your language and thoughts positive as these affect your outlook and energy.Enjoy the challenge of it all and the test it provides for you. Overcoming challenges successfully can help to develop your character and strengthen your resolve.


According to new stats released by Xpro,the charity which was set up to help Ex-footballers from England and Ireland shows a crisis of mental health among footballers and especially Ex-footballers  who can suffer from alcohol dependency or suicidal thoughts when adjusting to life after the game

By some estimates as many as three in five former players will be declared bankrupted and to often blighted by bad financial advice. At least 150 ex-professionals  are currently in prison and more than 700 a year end up being pitched out of the sport in their 20`s after failing to win a new contract.

An example of the is Ex-Arsenal left back Kenny Sansom who recently just admitted sleeping on a park bench. The 54 year old who was capped 86 times by England and £1 million player in the 80`s when such a fee was huge said he was homeless and battling alcoholism until the FA stepped in and helped him out.

Ex-Arsenal player Kenny Sansom says “Having to much time on your side can be a bad thing for a Footballer who retires”

It is said sports stars die twice, the first time at retirement. If you are no longer a sporting superstar, then who are you?

A report by Peter Crutchley from  BBC Sport  indicates that “Someone who knows this struggle better than most is boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard. He vividly recalls the feeling he experienced at the moment of victory and how he found its allure too enticing to resist”

Sugar Ray Leonard said that “Nothing could satisfy me outside the ring,” he went on to say “There is nothing in life that can compare to becoming a world champion, having your hand raised in that moment of glory, with thousands, millions of people cheering you on.”

Leonard reflected on how his inability to separate the boxer from the man became all-consuming, forcing him to the depths of depression and leading him to make repeated comebacks.

“When I came back I felt safer in the ring. I could defeat those demons that possessed me outside the ring,” he recalls. “It was such a release when I trained for a fight because all of a sudden I’m totally clean, whether it was from cocaine, or alcohol, or depression. It gave me a sense of calm.”

Sugar Ray Leonard - Boxing

Sugar Ray Leonard talks to BBC Sport Radio about his “Battle with Retirement”

According to Bill Cole, a world-renowned peak performance coach based in California who has worked across dozens of different sports and seen many athletes struggle to come to terms with their retirement there are many factors that one must have and go through.

Sense Of Loss

Their is no meaning to their daily lives from one day to the next after living such a structured life where every minuted was accounted for.

Biological Factors 

“Athletes had regular doses of serotonin daily for many years, and suddenly, that has decreased or stopped outright. That is a huge upset to the chemistry of the body,” he says. “Even some retired athletes who continue to exercise fail to get the endorphin highs since they no longer compete.”

Tunnel Vision

Leading sportsmen and women have lived a regimented training routine for years, often since childhood.

Cole says an athlete’s “tunnel vision and regimented life” is part of the reason why top-level sportsmen and women struggle more with retirement than those in other walks of life.

Grieving Process

The factors behind an athlete’s retirement can be crucial as the fact that many are forced to end their careers for negative reasons, such as injury, diminution of ability and de-selection, adds to this feeling of loss.


Sports psychologist Dr Victor Thompson recognises the challenges of retirement: “Elite athletes such as Premier League footballers relish testing themselves by competing in front of thousands of people, either willing them to succeed or fail. This is the type of challenge and buzz that you don’t generally get in everyday life.”

Having plans in place for their retirement, along with having a strong support group around them, are important components for helping athletes make the transition.

Transion project by the Victorian institue of sport Australia  

Life after sport can be a time of great challenge for many athletes. Post the Beijing Olympics a number of Victorian Institute of Sport athletes with significant sporting experience decided to retire from their sport. The project  was aimed to glean the experience and wisdom from athletes who competed at the highest levels along with learning about their life management skills. The project recorded the interviews and stories of 5 athletes to share with the broader athlete cohort. Athletse included are Grant Hackett, Catherine Arlove, Don Elgin, Travis Brooks, and Rachel Imison.

The following Interview is from Catherine Arlove who is an Australian judoka who has also represented Australia in wrestling and competed at a national level in cycling. Arlove has won ten Gold medals at the Australian National Judo Championships

She competed in judo at the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympics.

This video of Catherine discusses the experience of transition from the athletes sporting life to the next phase. Initial thinking about retirement, accepting the decision, timing of the decision, associated feelings, thoughts and concerns; strategies employed, advice sought along with how athletes are filling the void left by their retirement from sport.

Thanks to John O`Neill of for the guest blog.

John can be contacted at regarding any matters about this blog if you need any advice or help regarding issues of Depression, Anxiety, Burnout, Injury, Gambling our Retirement in sport please get in touch and I will do my very best to get back to you as quickly as possible with productive information. I just really hope you enjoy the aspects and reasons behind such a site.

You can also send us an email if you wish to discuss anything.

GAA Online Strength and Conditioning Program 

Example of video from our library

Looking to get the strongest you have ever been, see a massive improvement in the following!!

  • Sprint Performance
  • Vertical Jump
  • Power Output
  • Speed
  • fitness
  • Speed Endurance
  • Max Strength
  • Add lean muscle while dropping unwanted body fat.
  • Strong Physique on the pitch

gaa program

Block 1 Strength/Hypertrophy Phase & Lean Muscle Gain

Block 2 Strength/Hypertrophy/Power Phase & Lean Muscle Gain or maintain and dropping unwanted body fat.


Don’t let another year and pre season pass you by without fully maximising your potential and seeing what you can really do.

The Strength and Conditioning programs for this GAA specific training block will cover everything from Foam Rolling, Static Stretching, Corrective Exercises, Dynamic Warmups, Strength Workouts, Power Workshops, Muscle Building Exercises, Conditioning exercises.

Don’t let another Pre Season go by without giving yourself every opportunity to hit the ground running in the first league fixtures. Program us designed to bring you from pre season right into in season.
NOTE* (programs can be altered for players who have longer pre season)

So what do you get for the full 8 weeks?

  •  2 Strength & Conditioning Programs
  • 2 Nutrition Programs that cover supplements
  • 2 Running Programs for speed endurance
  •  Video Library of all new exercises
  • Access to private training forum on FB
  • Special 20% Discount on all supplements
  • Special Discount Offer to our up and coming workshops
  • Free Download of our Speed, Power and Movement Skills Workshop we did with Duncan French which cost 50 Euro and its yours for FREE
  • Game Day Preparation
  • Recovery sessions post game day

Programs begins on 3rd March as we have only received our new recording equipment today and will take sometime to record every thing for training block.

Cost of program for the full 8 weeks is going for as little as 97 Euro (Early Bird) and its only available for the first 15 people then its going up to 127 Euro after.

If you have any questions about the training plan please email us at

Thanks Coach James


Injury Rehabilitation through Communication, Progression and Specificity

 For anyone who plays sports being injured is….. Well its crap, annoying, painful and most of all frustrating. I write this as I sit here slightly leaning to the left nursing my right hip and recovering from hip impingement surgery.  It takes time and hard work to get back to play, especially with environmental factors such as work and family, and that’s only for us amateurs. So how do the pros do it? With all the support staff and resources available to them, why can it sometimes take so long to return to play for these guys?… Oh and crutches just make you and everything you do awkward!

Leinster Rugby’s head of rehab Steve Smith, gave a presentation on Bridging the Gap and return to play to help explain why and how!

Communication between the athlete, Physio, S & C Team and the coach, who all have their part in the athletes return to play, is vital. Naturally, the player and coach want to know how long he will be out for whilst the physio and S&C team need to communicate to see if there is any conditioning work the athlete can do whilst injured, also the specific rehab work he may be doing needs to be monitored by both to make sure the injury is healing with no adverse effects.

A breakdown in communication here can lead to the player returning to play too soon and redoing the same injury and possibly to a greater extent.


A Physio, an Injured Athlete and a Demanding Coach walked into a bar…………………….

The Physio is what Steve described as the fulcrum of the situation; it is he or she who designs the rehab plan and treatment that must be undertaken by the injured athlete. The physio must continually monitor the athlete’s progress and decides when the next stage of the plan can be implemented. He deals with any setbacks such as a player not progressing at an expected rate by re assessing the exercises used or extending the amount of treatment time as needed, all this while acting as an amateur physiologist in order to keep an injured athlete motivated and in a positive state of mind.

The Athlete must understand the severity of the injury and why he has to spend so long rehabilitating. He also must know the specificity of the rehab (why he is doing what he is doing), particularly at the stage where everything appears to be fine and he is still not ready to return to play (managing expectations), he must trust the physio’s advice and stick to the plan in order to progress and has to understand the risk involved in further damaging himself by returning to play early.

The Coach is like the Athlete here in that he needs to know the severity of the injury and how long he can expect his player to be out for; this allows him to plan for the interim period without him. He also needs to understand that there may be setbacks and regressions and not to apply to much pressure on anyone including the injured party to return to play early. The coach also has to help with the athlete’s reintegration period, allowing him to be involved with the team in whatever role suitable at the different stages of rehabilitation.


3 stages of Rehabilitation

In the slides from the presentation you will see that there is a progressive chart changing from red to blue. It is marked Protective, Developmental and Sports Specific and monitors these areas across 2 planes, Neuromuscular (Gym work) and Movement (Field work). This is the tool used by Leinster Rugby to track and monitor an athlete’s rehabilitation.

The blue shows the players progress in the outlined area while the red shows what is yet to be achieved. Once the chart is fully blue the athlete is in “The Blue Zone” as described by Steve and is ready to return to play. Let’s look at this chart at 3 stages as the athlete progresses.


Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 20.37.22

At this stage you can see that the athlete has reached 90% of his baseline strength and has taken part fully in some speed mechanics and agility drills without any adverse effects and has therefore completed the Developmental phase on both planes. However we also see he has not fully completed any contact sessions, speed repeats or power training sessions, and is still in the sports specific phase of rehabilitation.

Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 20.39.19


Here we see that the athlete has completed or reached all requirements within the Sports Specific stage, and is now ready to train fully in both planes to assess if he can return to play.


The Blue Zone

Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 20.40.19

The chart is now completely blue denoting that the athlete has successfully trained fully twice in both planes with no problems and is now ready to return to play; the gap has been bridged………

What did you do to yourself and when to start?

The mechanism of injury is important in deciding the rehabilitation plan i.e. what exercises to prescribe etc. Steve showed us a clip of two players injuring hamstrings in totally different ways, one was simply a player sprinting with ball in hand and suddenly pulling up hopping on one leg., a familiar sight to most people involved in any field sport. The other was a player at the bottom of a ruck with his leg hyper extending along the ground due to the awkward way he hit the ground, that and the weight of two or three professional rugby players slamming down on top of him.

By analysing the footage of the injury actually happening they were able to assess whether the damage was in the belly of the muscle or the origin/insertion, this along with MRI, iso kinetic testing etc. allows the rehabilitation process to start off on the right note in that exercise selection and movement patterns can be more specific to the type of injury potentially reducing “the gap” between injury and play.

Steve told us that the time to start rehab was straight away, be it applying ice or stabilising the injured limb, the sooner the process can begin the better.


So, how do we summarise all this? Well, it’s quite simple, once the injury has been diagnosed, assessed and graded, a rehabilitation plan is drawn up around a time frame for the athlete who is constantly monitored and assessed throughout the 3 stage process, the coach is kept updated on the players current state, and once all physical targets have been achieved by the athlete without any problems, he simply returns to play. It’s all that easy (please read that last bit with a large dollop of sarcasm)

Leinster Rugby monitors and assesses everything they do in order to deliver fit rugby players to competition, from S&C programmes, athlete’s functional movement, diet and mood state, no stone goes unturned in any part of the rehabilitation process.

I hope this blog is of some use to you and that I’m not boring you to tears with my simplistic writing, (I’m new to this) as always if you were at the Elite Player Conference and feel I have left anything out please don’t hesitate to let me have it on the chin, and if you need or want to get in contact with me you can message me on the Facebook Group Elite Strength and Conditioning, just follow the link below.

Regards, Stan.

If you want to catch up on Part one of Eoins blog then click the following link

Thanks Eoin for your guest blog we really appreciate the time and effort you put into writhing it and its great for guys who couldn’t attend the Leinster conference.

Coach James


Leinster Rugby Elite Performance Conference

Part 1


Hi guys my name is Eoin Stanley and this blog is about the recent strength and conditioning conference from Leinster Rugby that took place at the end of October in the RDS Dublin 4.

Who am I, and why was I there? Based in Dublin and from Louth, I’m currently a student in Setanta College studying for a BA in S & C, I’ve been involved in the fitness/sports industry for the last 10 years, starting out with a NCEF level 1 qualification, also doing a level 2 in personal training, I have completed the IAWLA level 1 weightlifting and the IRFU CCC and I’m also a certified boxing coach.

I work with a number of senior/minor GAA and rugby teams and coach boxing conditioning classes for White Collar Boxing Ireland (cheap plugJ). Full time however I am a member of the Irish defence forces were I am also a physical training instructor. Enough about me….

I attended this conference as I thought it would be an invaluable source of knowledge for me and a great chance to get an insight into how an S & C team operate within a professional environment, I wasn’t disappointed.

The day started with the first lecture at 9:15am as stated on the itinerary, (these guys are strict on their times, as you’d expect) Brian Cullen of Dublin GAA fame and Leinster academy S&C coach MC’d the event and first up was Daniel Tobin the head of S & C, he spoke about the overall job of the S & C team which is to deliver fit and healthy players who are significantly conditioned to meet the demands of professional rugby,.

Programme planning and “bang for your buck”

Daniel spoke about maximising performance and plyometrics, about the type of training the players do and the different ways they are assessed and monitored to ensure what they are doing is working. From what I gathered every single rep, set, score, weight used etc… Is recorded and used to validate or improve the program, with each year’s results being compared to the previous in order for it to be continued or modified.

The counter movement jump is used as an indicator of power, with the players’ pre season score used as a base line; the score is measured on the RSI (reactive strength index). Daniel explained that the current trend in the squad is to perform a jump session of between 60 – 80 mixed jumps before a lifting session (compound training) and that this type of training along with monitoring the players RSI  and recognising how much volume is the optimal for performance is giving them the best results compared to say the 2009 season when complex training(i.e. heavy 3 rep squat followed immediately by box jumps) was widely used and actually led to scores lower than the players base line.

He also spoke about “Selective Priming” for certain players which is controlled by measuring there CMJ score pre match (morning or 90 mins before) if a player score was less than 90% baseline they found by having him perform a PAP’s session (post activation potentiating) which is in essence a “mini work out” they could get that player “primed” and ready to perform as opposed to being “flat” going into the game.

Two things however stuck in my mind,

  1. At club level where you as a coach may be very limited on time and or resources include jumps as part of the warm up, a lovely simple way of improving player performance without them even realising it.
  2. Box squats are the no.1 choice of squat within the squad, going back through all their data this exercise has given them the most bang for their buck, even for players who can perform a standard barbell squat perfectly they have gotten more from this reference strength, power, less injuries etc…

Please comment on your thoughts and opinions, and if you were at the conference and you see that I have left anything out please feel free to slate me………I mean add it in there J

Please read over the file “Leinster Rugby Final presentation” which I have posted on the Facebook group “Elite strength and conditioning”

Presentation slide for part 1.

Part 2 to follow along with relevant slides.

The Warm Up – What should I aim to do?

 So you’re an aspiring strength and conditioning coach and want to get some experience therefore you volunteer with your local sports team to help in anyway you can. The manager in turn agrees he/she will let you take the teams warm up for them. Now, having watched some strength & conditioning gurus online teach athletes to perform barbell curls while single leg squatting on a exercise ball you find this a bit of a let down and possibly a tad boring and easy to be honest…



 You couldn’t be any more further from the truth!

 In its simplest terms the aim of the warm up is to prepare the player/players mentally and physically for exercise or competition (Hoffman, 2002). A well-designed warm up should increase muscle temperature, core temperature, and blood flow and also prepare the body for the movement patterns and impacts directly associated with the activity that is about to occur.  With this in mind an effective warm up can elicit positive effects on performance attributes such as improvements in rate of force development and reaction time, and improvements in muscle strength and power. With such positive effects, an effective warm up could also be termed as performance preparation as it enables a player to perform at their maximal capacity in training or competition (Jeffrey’s, 2007). As sarcastically highlighted above the warm up is an aspect of training that is very easy to take for granted due to the nature of it been a component of each and every training unit and it may become quite tedious however lets take a look at what you can get out of a ‘just’ a warm up.


How do I feel about a warm up?


When coaching at an amateur level it is imperative for a conditioning coach to make the most of his/her ‘contact coaching’ time. As discussed at a recent workshop with classmates at Setanta College a well planned warm up can provide an ideal opportunity for a conditioning coach to include a range of stimuli that you may not have time elsewhere to coach within the teams training programme such as speed mechanic drills and specific plyometrics. I for one (and probably will again) have run into the issue of the team managers highlighting ‘you are taking too long with them speed mechanic drills, I need to get them for my hour and why are they standing around so long after each acceleration’ and so on. Something had to give.


A switched on coach will recognise that a warm up is an integral element to a training session as a method of performance preparation and also can contribute to the overall training effect. Your warm up should be thoroughly planned so that it merges into the actual workout therefore it is essential we plan and select activities that coincide both with the session, training cycle and overall training programme as there is a cumulative training effect from a warm up. Take the coach above who was given ‘only’ 20 minutes by the coach to warm up the team, however if he has 20 minutes three times per week this an hours ‘coaching’ in which he has direct control over, no questions asked – make this count. For younger athletes or even athletes with a low training age a warm up can be a workout in it self, likewise in-season a warm up can be tweaked to maintain work capacity of a team that has a long playing season without sufficient breaks between fixtures to allow for extra conditioning. These are just a few points I feel are often overlooked when looking at a warm up procedure and hopefully you can appreciate that the warm up deserves some attention in the whole process of athletic development.


For all sports the warm up needs to be constructed to address the physiological and biomechanical requirements of the sport as well as the technical requirements of soccer. Traditionally the warm up is subdivided into two elements, a general warm up and a specific warm up component. The general phase normally consists of light activities such as jogging where as the specific phase traditionally consists of stretching and sport specific movements (Baechle & Earle, 2000).


Static Stretch they said, be grand they said…


In the last 2 or 3 decades a debate has arisen in the world of S&C in relation to warm up components and none more so than the use of static stretching. Static stretching has been a central part of warm up routines, and is often justified as a mechanism of injury prevention and performance enhancement; however, research has shown little, if any, evidence that stretching pre participation prevents injury (Shrier, 2000). Likewise, research suggests that rather than enhance subsequent performance static stretching can actually negatively affect muscle performance (Knudson et al, 2000). While there is research that shows no effect on subsequent performance (Little & Williams, 2006) there is adequate evidence to question the use of static stretching in the warm up. This makes sense though right, there is no way static stretching alone will benefit your workout surely? So lets look at this from a slightly different perspective away from all the research and think about the real world. Growing up playing soccer jogging a few laps of the field and static stretching was the norm for Johnny Doe, he has been playing 25 years with no serious injuries, and a new coach comes to the club and has banned any static stretches prior to training. Instead he uses a new dynamic warm up method that the players haven’t used before. Johnny on the very first night of new training block has perceived to feel tightness in his hamstring and pulls out of the session. Was it was because he didn’t static stretch!? Doubtful…



 The big word above is perceived, some guys NEED to static stretch to keep their mind in check and heads right. I have come across this time and time again. As mentioned above research has examined and highlighted other stretching methods that may not reduce performance and also offer a more functional method of enhancing subsequent performance. Dynamic stretching is one method that does not seem to cause the same reduction in performance in comparison to static stretching (Fletcher & Jones, 2004). Within this study the authors also noted an increase in subsequent running performance after the dynamic stretching protocol. Furthermore, the active nature of dynamic stretching in comparison to static stretching is more functional. An effective dynamic stretch also requires activation of the muscle through the range of movement, which, according to Ian Jeffrey’s (2007), contributes to the neural activation requirements of an effective warm up. Therefore dynamic stretching has been suggested as a more suitable method of mobilisation during a warm up. Obviously makes more sense.


So is static stretching the devil? Personally I don’t think so, I tend to agree with S&C expert Mike Boyle on this topic as he states that the key may lie in performing static stretching prior to a more dynamic warm up to get the best of both worlds. This is similar to my own approach as a coach with the addidtion of self-myofascial reIease (SMR) techniques prior to stretching. I like to begin all training units with a SMR routine focusing on specific muscle groups throughout the body. During SMR, pressure is applied to a muscle using foam rollers, tennis balls, LAX balls etc causing activation of the Golgi Tendon Organ, which in turn signals muscle spindles to release and relax the muscle being worked on (Everard, 2012). I advocate this procedure for three important reasons –

  1. To normalise tissues that are tight
  2. To improve mobility and range of motion
  3. To improve quality of movement


This is followed up with static stretching (yes, static stretching) that aims to increase the length of the muscle while the dynamic stretches will apply this new length to the muscle in a more active manner.


 R.A.M.P Method


Hopefully, with more and more coaches now aware of scientific research in relation to training methods they may start using different warm ups with the overall training programme in mind, therefore it may be practical to classify the warm up into new phases other than general and specific as mentioned above. Ian Jeffrey’s, a strength and conditioning coach with the British Olympic Association published an article for the UK strength and conditioning association in 2007, which did just that and is fitting with the approach proposed by my recent educators Setanta College. Jeffrey’s (2007) devised a R.A.M.P system, this system identifies three key phases of an effective warm up; 1. Raise, 2. Activate & Mobilise and 3. Potentiate. The aim of the raise phase is to elevate the body’s temperature, heart rate, respiration rate etc via low intensity activities. It is common here to see soccer teams only jogging however having discussed with colleagues at a recent workshop it is evident that this phase can be used to replicate the sports movement skills also. The activation and mobilization phase key aims is to activate key muscle groups and mobilize key joints through the range of motion. This is the phase where a conditioning coach may introduce some bodyweight resistance exercises such as overhead squats, lunge series, etc followed by the dynamic stretches such knee hugs and A walks as discussed above. These dynamic stretches focus on sport specific movements through their full range of motion instead of individual muscles like you do in a static stretch to activate and mobilize muscles and joints respectively. The potentiation phase is where activities are performed in order to improve effectiveness of subsequent performance. In this phase activities will replicate the actual sport itself at a higher intensity. Burkett et al, (2005) has shown that including these high intensity dynamic exercises can facilitate subsequent performance, which is the essence of the potentiation phase. A coach may opt for speed and agility movements and some plyos here to increase the intensity to a point where the players are able to perform their training or match at their maximal capacity. By using this framework the conditioning coach can gradually increase the exercise intensity via dynamic stretches and finish with explosive tasks that replicate the activity and demands of the sport.


In conclusion, here is my approach to an effective warm up from a developmental, injury prevention and performance enhancement point of view –





So there you have it, my 2 cents on what I aim to do with a warm up, what is your aims??

Paul Fisher

National Diploma in Sports Science BSc honour degree in Sports & Exercise Science from University of Ulster Physical fitness and conditioning for sport from Setanta College

Current S & C coach to Donegal Minors and U 21s. 



 Baechle, T. R., & Earle, R. W. (2000). Essentials of strength and conditioning. Champaign: Human Kinetics.

 Boyle, M. (2010). Advances in functional training – training techniques for coaches, personal trainers and athltes. Chichester: Lotus Publishing.

 Burkett, L. N., Phillips, W. T., Ziuraitis, J. (2005). The best warm up for vertical jump in college age athletic men. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 19(3), pp673-676.

 Everard, E. (2012) Self Myofasical Release – Foam Rolling. Setanta College.

 Hoffman, J. (2002). Physiological Aspects of Sports Performance and Training. Champaign: Human Kinetics.

 Jeffreys, I. (2007). Warm up revisited – the ‘RAMP’ method of optimising performance preparation. UK Strength and Conditioning Association.

 Little, T., & Williams, A. G. (2006). Effects of differential stretching protocols during warm ups on high speed motor capacities in professional soccer players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 20 (1), pp 203-207.

 Shrier, I. (2000). Stretching before exercise: an evidence based approach. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 34(5), pp324-325.


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Getting to the “Core”

Core training has been a “buzz word” for some time- pilates was massive in the 90’s and early noughties , classes have sprung up in various gyms dedicated completely to “core” workouts, yet, there is still so much misunderstanding in the industry and among the general public.

Given the calibre of coaches that view this page, no doubt I am preaching to the choir. Several of you may well be more knowledgeable than me in the field strength and conditioning. However, we all bring our own unique experience to the table, and this rant is from my experience of what information is lacking in many coaches (and athletes), still, to this day.

As instructors and/or athletes, it is vital that we have a clear understanding of what core training is, in sport preparation, or just exercising for health. To many coaches, cranking out a few hundred reps of crunches or sit-ups is core training. And that’s it! However, if we are to truly prevent injury and elicit peak performance from ourselves, our athletes or students, then we must adopt a more scientific approach. So what is core training? Well, I believe everything we do in the gym, park, etc… can be core training. If we go back a few hundred years, there were no such things as specific core exercises, crunch machines, etc… The work that was done every day provided all the spine stability and trunk power necessary. Unfortunately, as we have progressed as a society, we have taken so much essential stuff out of our lives that we have needed to put replacements in, e.g. processed foods necessitate vitamin supplements. Let’s examine what we refer to by “The Core”:

Generally speaking, when we refer to the “core” we are referring to the group of muscles between the hips and shoulders, responsible for stabilising the spine and transmitting force from one end of the body to the other. The concept of stability is a key one, as is evidenced by the high incidence of back pain amongst the human population. The core muscles can be grouped according to function – tonic or phasic (also known as local or global).

Tonic muscles are involved in posture. They “brace” the body, i.e. stabilise the spine, and redistribute force that otherwise could be damaging, (that is, when they work properly.) The importance of this function cannot be underestimated. Consider shooting a cannon from dry land versus shooting one from a boat. The kick from the cannon on land is controlled much better as the force is absorbed by solid ground, as opposed to shooting one from a moving, less stable boat.

Phasic muscles are involved in the transmission of force from the upper body to the lower, and vice versa. The function is analogous to the transmission of a car. If the transmission is faulty, then even though there is power from the engine, the wheels may not be turning. These muscles are also involved in conducting the various movements possible by the hips, trunk and shoulders.

Any sport that requires power output is dependent on the athlete having enough core stability to transmit the force from the legs to the upper body. Take a boxer for example: the final power in a punch is largely dependent on how much force can be transmitted from the feet upward. If the boxer has a sloppy “core” then much of the potential power in the punch is lost.

Gray Cook (Functional Movement Systems) refers to the “soft core” and the “hard core” when discussing the tonic and phasic muscles. He explains that the “soft core” is only switched on to about 20% intensity, but is subconscious and stabilises the spine before the conscious thought of movement even occurs.

Let’s examine the layout:


The core can be considered a box or cylindrical area that is surrounded on all sides by the core muscles. In the front we have the rectus abdominus, transversus abdominus. At the back we have the erector spinae and multifidi. The internal and external obliques are at the sides. The diaphragm is above, and the pelvic floor at the base.

“Core training improves performance because “everything in your body is connected to everything else.” Any chain is only as strong as its weakest link – unfortunately, for many people, it happens to be certain core muscles. Proper core stability allows an athlete to accelerate, decelerate, change directions and quickly adjust to spontaneous loading changes. One thing is certain – core stability is essential regardless of your goals. Injury risk is decreased as a result of the stability created around the lumbar spine during extreme effort, as well as the resultant redistribution of stresses on the body.

Common Misconceptions

Just doing Crunches/Sit-ups at end of workout:

For many an athlete, core training is limited to some abdominal work at the end of the workout. This is at best holding oneself back and at worst creating an injury-risk situation. As coaches, we must constantly ask ourselves where our clients are coming from…. the car?… from work where he/she spent eight hours hunched over a computer…… school? We spend much of our lives in flexion, therefore more spinal flexion may not exactly be what is needed, but extension is often essential. or a balanced core training regime, it is necessary to ensure that the entire area is developed in a functional capacity. Also, just doing crunches or sit-ups serves to isolate the rectus abdominus. As the core muscles rarely work in isolation, it seems inadvisable to train muscles is isolation alone. Similarly it is not prudent to train e.g. two different muscles in isolation and then expect them to work together in a “real-world” situation.

“No joint or body part works in isolation. There is a constant cause effect relationship in movement between force production and force reduction. The kinetic chain is characterised by deceleration at one joint and acceleration at the next joint in the chain. Therefore it is important to train movements not muscles.” Gambetta & Gray

Abdominal hollowing:

Abdominal hollowing or drawing the navel towards the spine may not be very useful in performing extremely intense, exertive sporting movements. If you watch Olympic weightlifters – before a big lift they don’t draw in the navel and hollow the abdominal cavity. Instead they “brace.” Consider again the diagram of the core. When taking a deep breath the diaphragm moves downward. This increases pressure in the intra-abdominal cavity, as the downward pressure is resisted by the pelvic floor musculature. As the abdomen is tensed or “braced”, the pressure is pushed back into the spine providing a great amount of support for the spine.


Training in only one plane

Many core exercises, e.g. crunches, glute bridges, reverse crunches work only in the sagittal plane (forward/backward). However we live, perform, compete in a three dimensional world. Therefore, our training if is to be optimal, must also demonstrate three-dimensional properties. The other two planes are frontal (coronal) and transverse.


Core training should encompass exercises that involve truck flexion, extension, lateral flexion and rotation.

Balancing The Load.

One of the best ways to improve core stability is to introduce “offset loading” into a programme. This involves carrying a greater load in one arm than the other. For example, an athlete doing lunges while carrying 10Kg in one hand and 4kg in the other is demonstrating an offset of 6Kg. To avoid losing lateral balance, the obliques and QL’s experience greater activation to keep the trunk upright. Try doing a dumbbell bench press with only one dumbbell at a time, to see the core activation you experience to avoid rolling off the bench.

Thanks for the guest blog from Shane Fitzgibbon.

Check out Shanes’ website, he also has a great training book which we use a lot here. profile pic

In track and field we have a variety of events, which require a variety of unique attributes. All events require strength and all events require work capacity, but each event will have its own unique strength training and work capacity requirements.

Strength training, work capacity, skill training requirements, etc will differ from event to event, and therefore we need to train in accordance with the events unique biomechanical and metabolic (energy system) demands. The “specificity principle” needs to be adherred to here.

Athletes and coaches who do not understand these principles and training concepts will end up training their speed and power event athletes in the wrong way, thus negatively effecting ones performance potential.

Often what we’ll witness is an athlete training strength endurance, thinking they are training strength… or training speed endurance, and thinking they’re training speed.

How many of you have seeing or heard of 100m sprinters, sprint hurdles and jump event athletes performing fartleks, thirty minute runs and doing 600m breakdowns (600m+500m+400m+300m+200m+100m) on the track during the winter months as part of their “base”, “fitness” or “endurance” work? Now, some of this work can be utilised and beneficial for a quarter miler, and they’ll also have the appropriate mid-set for this type of work. Short sprinters are short wired, so it’s not just that they physically don’t need it, it’s just not suited to them in terms of their event requirements and their mindset.

ENDURANCE OR WORK CAPACITY? Many coaches have now replaced the term endurance with the term “work capacity”. What are the specific work capacity requirements of a sprinter, in relation to their training and competition?

It’s certainly not being able to run a good 600m time trial at 80% intensity. It’s not being able to run a steady paced 30 minute run. So what is it exactly?

Work capacity training for a sprinter is going to come down to being able to achieve a point were they can perform multiple high quality block starts and accelerations, so they can work on mastering their start (block exit) and their acceleration or drive phase mechanics.

The same work capacity concept would be applied to weight room and plyometric training activities. It would be better to get the athlete to a point were they can perform 8-10 sets of 1-3 reps (never 8-10 x 3 reps though) on power cleans using loads in the 85% plus range while displaying fast bar speed and acceleration than it would be to have them perform 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps. Not that high rep work should be done with Olympic lifts in the first place. 5 single reps of vertical jumps (5 sets of 1 rep with full rest) stressing maximal jumping height and explosiveness is going to be more advantageous than performing 2-3 sets of 4-6 reps of sub-maximal effort vertical jumps.

Increases in work capacity should be gradual and strategic. Do not start with 6 acceleration runs over 15-30m today and be at 12-16 acceleration runs over 15-30m in two weeks from now. Increasing work capacity is something we have to “work” on. It doesn’t happen over night, and if you try and force it to happen quickly, quality of work will suffer, which is not what we want.

Think of a tennis player. Their work capacity is being able to serve at 120mph plus in the 5th set after 3-4 hours of play, or to be able to quickly chase down a drop shot down deep into the match.

So work capacity for speed-power athletes could be defined as the ability to perform a greater volume of “high quality” work specific to their event, in order to hone event specific skills.


Work capacity and work tolerance are not the same thing, although they are somewhat inter-relatted. Work tolerance refers to the ability of an athlete or individual to tolerate specific modes of training, and the frequency of that training modaility they can handle. This comes down to individualisation (the athlete) and “TRAINING BALANCE” or balancing the individual training qualities.

For example… certain individuals won’t have good tolerance to speed endurance and or special endurance training. Our short event sprint athletes, sprint hurdlers and jump event athletes do not need much in the way of “speed endurance” training. Some will have better tolerance to this type of work than others.

For those who don’t naturally have great work tolerance here, the worse thing one could do is try and push them hard in this area, both in terms of individual session volume and the frequency of this type of work. If it’s not an area of training we need to build the athletes work capacity in, then the minimal dose will do. Pushing athletes in an area were they have low work tolerance can cause mechanical break down, unneccessary or excessive fatigue, slower recovery and possible injury.

I remember coach Dan Pfaff discussing speed endurance work with Bruny Surin, and how he could only give him 2 to 3 speed endurance runs, after which Bruny was spent and would break down if more speed endurance work was used. Bruny was a 60m and 100m specialist, who ended up with a career best of 9.84 seconds for the 100m. Luckily 2-3 speed endurance runs is ample for someone like Bruny. Seeking to improve his “work capacity” here would be pointless and potentially dangerous and would most likely have been counter-productive for him based on the type of athlete he was.

The role of the coach is to balance the various training qualities and prescribe the right dose of each training quality to each athlete. Think of training as medication, the athlete is the patient, the coach is the doctor, the training programme is the prescription and the various training qualities are different medications which can be prescribed. Some athletes will be able to handle greater dosages of certain training modalities.

Speed training qualities, strength training qualities, flexibility qualities, etc all need to be properly balanced. Pure speed work can not be trained every day without the athlete breaking down (like a patient becoming sick from medication over-dosing).

Likewise max effort strength training can not be trained every day without some negative consequence occurring. This is why it’s important to understand the various training qualities associated with each of the biomotor abilities.

Throughout the course of an athletics season (off-season and in-season) certain training methods and modalities are going to be more important than others. Too many athletes are developing or training certain qualities at the wrong time of the year. The most common one being speed endurance… Think of speed endurance as a “third-tier” medication, which athletes progress to using. First thir and second thier medication in the form of acceleration and max velocity speed training need to be pre-scribed first. This means one should…


It’s September time and people start back winter training. The sprinters, jumpers and hurdles start off with 600m breakdown sessions on the track and fartlek training? WHY???

Athletes must always stay in touch with the biomechanical and metabolic (energy system) demands of their event throughout the entire year, both in-season and out-of-season.

Having your sprinters, hurdlers and jumpers do this type of work will take them away from both the biomechanical and metabolic requirements of their event(s).

4x150m is NOT speed training!
6x100m is NOT speed training!

Now, it could be argued that such work is “speed like” training for a middle distance athlete. I’ll cringingly accept that, but the reality is that true speed training will come down to addressing that ATP energy system, and require all work to be performed with full recoveries and a high intensity of effort (95-100%).

For your speed-power athletes I would break speed training down into various speed training qualities.

1: Acceleration Development Training
(10m to 30m accalerations, various start positions)
(A small amount of resisted acceleration training)
(Contrast training – regular speed + resisted speed)

2: Maximum Velocity Speed Training
(Transition Runs, Fly Runs, Ins-N-Outs)
(A small amount of overspeed training)
(Contrast training – regular speed + overspeed)

3: Speed Endurance Training
(Short speed endurance – 60m-80m runs)
(Long speed endurance – 90-150m runs)
(Mixed speed endurance – 120m+90m+70m)

Special Endurance 1 (150m – 300m runs) and
Special Endurance 2 (300m – 600m runs) are more metabolic based training and reserved mainly for your quarter milers. A 200m athlete will do some work in relation to special endurance 1, and maybe a little towards the lower end of special endurance 2. If you have a 100m specialist, there is no need for them to do any form of special endurance training. Doing some isn’t a bad thing, it’s just not essential, and whether they should use it or not will come down to training priorities, strengths and weaknesses, etc.

So I suggest speed development always preceeds speed endurance training. Just as I would suggest that you focus on…


To me, “speed endurance” for speed-power athletes is something that should only be introduced late on in pre-season training and or in-season. The length of your preparation period prior to the start of the competition season, the athlete, the event, training frequency, etc will all determine programme design and training prioritization and periodization. I’ll use the “generic” preparation layout below just to show how I would allocate speed training qualities through the phases…

General prep I = ACC development
General prep II = ACC and possibly a sprinkling of Max Velocity
Specific prep I = ACC and Max Velocity
Special prep II = ACC, Max Velocity, Speed Endurance
Comp season = ACC, Max Velocity, Speed Endurance

ACC = Acceleration

In season speed endurance training would be performed as needed and meets would need to be factored in… i.e, if the athlete is running multiple rounds, back to back competitions and 200m races, then we factor that in as part of the athletes “speed endurance” training.


Should every athlete start speed work from day 1 of their training? No… this is something that has to be decided on an individual basis. Look at the athlete and were they are at in terms of their development, conditioning and health status. I myself am now 35 years of age and haven’t competed in athletics in 12 years. I’m now training to compete as a master athlete, and have been back training for a good few weeks, but am only about to start acceleration development work next week. I had, and still have, weight (fat and muscle weight) to lose, and some injury concerns which needed to be addressed. In my case had I tried to do acceleration of max velocity work from day 1, my plans to compete indoors would probably be over. My body wasn’t ready for speed related work at that point. If I was coming off an outdoor season and fully healthy (injury free) I may well have been doing acceleration development work from day 1. If you do start speed work with an athlete from day 1, it has to be acceleration development work. Prescribe acceleration work first, then increase the dosage of acceleration work, both in terms of session volume and frequency (no more than 2 days per week). Then after several weeks you can introduce a low dosage of max velocity speed work, and build this up over time. Never over dose an athlete with any of the speed training qualities, especially over-speed training and speed endurance work.


Now, just because I’m suggesting you train for acceleration development and max velocity speed, before you add in any speed endurance work, this doesn’t mean an athlete will do zero “endurance” or “fitness” type work on or off the track.

You can have athletes do tempo work, both extensive and intensive, on the track or grass infield, for various session volumes. The extensive work should have greater total session volumes and lower rep intensities (usually 70% or >), while the intensive tempo work will be performed using higher intensities in the 80-90% range, with less overall session volume and the run distances will be shorter. For IT (Intensive Tempo) pre-indoor season, I like to have the athletes perform the runs over a 75m distance (125% of the 60m race distance). This way we can aim to keep all the reps/runs in the SUB 10 SECOND range! With a slower athlete or female athlete, you might want to shorten the distance, so the athlete doesn’t exceed 10 seconds per rep/run, even when performing them at 80% pace/speed.

I personally like to progress from…

ET – Extensive Tempo, to…
IT – Intensive Tempo, to…
SE – Speed Endurance work.

This is a slow and gradual proccess over the course of a couple of months training and on into the competition season. Acceleration development and max velocity speed training will also be progressing in conjunction with these other training modalities.

When one starts performing IT (intensive tempo) sessions, it doesn’t neccessarily mean that ET (extensive tempo) is dropped completely or immediately. A session of ET may be performed after every 2-3 sessions of IT. Likewise, when SE (speed endurance) work starts, it doesn’t mean IT is immediately dropped. We’ll slowly phase in the SE work, and slowly phase out the IT.

Light “recovery” style tempo work, such as >70% speed 100m runs (roughly 15-17 second pace 100m runs) will be used throughout the training and competition season, when needed.

Non-track related conditioning and energy system work should also be utilised with your speed-power athletes. This is one way we can train to develop or enhance their non event specific “work capacity” and general fitness capabilities. General strength circuits, workout finishers, density training blocks, etc are all good tools to use here for this purpose.


For your speed-power athletes you’re looking at three or four main strength training modalities…

1: General Strength Training Exercises
(push ups, dips, chin ups, pull ups, body rows)

2: Static Type, Heavy Loaded Strength Exercises
(bench press, military press, squats, deadlifts)

3: Explosive Strength Training Exercises
(Olympic style lifts – cleans, snatches, jerks)
(Standing long jumps, Standing vertical jumps)

4: Elastic or Reactive Strength Training Exercises
(Depth jumps, hops, bounds, standing triple jump)


All of the above strength training qualities are important and should be utilised. Certain athletes will respond better to certain types of strength training over others. Certain qualities will be more important early on in an athletes development, or more important at certain times of the year. Far too many athletes stop doing strength work in season. All training qualities (speed qualities, strength qualities, etc) must be addressed throughout the entire season, both during your prep period and during the in-season competition period. No training quality is to be trained for weeks or months and then dropped/stopped. If it’s important and trainable, train it all year round and simply alter the prescription dosage based on the time of the year and your training priorities.

*** Endurance Athletes and Strength Training ***

Endurance athletes wouldn’t want to train for “strength” in the exact same manner as the speed-power athletes do… just as the speed-power athletes don’t want to train endurance or work capacity in the same way endurance athletes do!

However, enduarnce athletes can still benefit from a solidly designed strength training programme. One just needs to be careful, so that excessive doms does not occur and interferre with the athletes primary training sessions, impair overall recovery, and we also want to make sure there’s no unwanted or undesired muscle weight gained in the proccess.

Personally I’d prioritise general strength training, core training and a few carefully selected free weight exercises, using bilateral and unilateral movements for the upper and lower body. Always keeping in mind that strength work via the gym is supplementary to the rest of the athletes training, and not the other way around. Value the strength training programme, but remember why you are doing it.

Yours in speed, strength and power,

Ian Graham, Dublin, Ireland

Ian Graham


USA Track & Field Level II Coach 

(Sprints, Hurdles, Relays and Jumps) 

Youth Training: Why weights are your friend!

There has always been the common question posed to coaches and parents when should a child start weight training?
This has been debated quite a bit as some people believe a child shouldn’t weight train until their 18 when they are finished puberty (for the majority of kids puberty would of stopped).
Some people say due to their sport they are introduced to weight training (at whatever age) so they can compete at a higher level/improve their performance.
Others when they hit a certain age such as 14 or 16 I have heard before. Just because a child or individual becomes a certain age they can just automatically be able to lift weights is just silly.
This is part article/part rant as I can’t understand why more people take part in exercise to further increase their lives and live a better/easier life!!!!
Our bodies are excellent machines and are designed to become even better machines through physical activity. If a child does no weight training or physical activity.
The reason why we use weight training as it is an outside resistance to our bodies to work against. We use this resistance to increase our muscle mass and our strength, endurance or power. No matter what you are training for by doing some form of resistance training will reduce the chance of getting injured as it helps to improve our biomechanics.
1st Point:
Weight training doesn’t stunt growth period!
In fact it does the opposite:
– strengthens ligaments and tendons
– increases bone density
– reduces the chance of osteoporosis in later life
– increase muscle mass
– increase in strength gains
– improved muscle tone/definition
– improved balance
– improved coordination
– improved functional movements/biomechanics
– reduce chance of injury
– increased strength of posterior chain
I have done weight training since 13 and swam since I was 7. I grew taller than my Dad and the majority of my family. I have gone on to do well in a range of sports and in each sport what was present some form of resistance training being water, body weight or barbells.
It isnt just weight training that promotes physiological/psychological benefits but regular physical activity does the following:
– improved sleep patterns
– increase self confidence
– increased life expectancy
– reduced chance of CHD (coronary heart disease)
– increase metabolism
– reduce body fat percentage and increase in lean muscle mass
This is just to name a few of the health benefits of exercising so why wouldn’t we allow our children to exercise and to use the weights room?
Reasons why people are against kids using the weights room?
– Fear of injury well anyone who does sport or training there is always the risk of injury. The likelihood that you will injure yourself in the gym is smaller than playing any contact sport. You are more likely to injure yourself in a competition scenario as you are pushing yourself to your own physical limits. Whereas in the gym you are unlikely to reach that.
– Weight Training Stunts Growth as I have mentioned above in my case it does not. Take a look at the Chinese and Russians. Serious training being done at a young age  (think at primary school p6 and above) such as the Chinese and Russian weight lifters. Here is the successful Dimitri Klokov weight training in the sport of Olymlic Weight Lifting. Here is a video of him training when he was a kid
Then their are extreme examples:
Which I have mentioned such as the Russian and Chinese lifters. Take this one of a Chinese lifter aged 8 doing a 75kg clean and jerk. Excellent technique!
Another form of weight training is body weight training and this is done at a young age through the sport of gymnastics. Gymnastics is generally a younger age group of athletes especially for girls. This sport requires the athlete to have incredible balance, flexibility, mobility and strength to do such holds like the crucifix position or to swing from bars whilst somersaulting.
Swimming is body weight training but you are pulling against the water to move yourself. If you where to do one of the three (weights, gymnastics and swimming) pick swimming as it has great cardiovascular benefits, increases flexibility, increases strength and endurance. Can be tailored to a sprinter or a endurance athlete.
How to Combat this fear of Weight Training?
– Children should be educated on the fundamental movements such as squatting, dead lifting , pulling, pushing, jumping and running. All through primary school and continued/advanced upon in secondary school. This will set themselves up to have a good range of motion, good flexibility, reduced chance of injury,  decent levels of muscular strength and endurance.
To sum up makes the long term of living easier and more enjoyable. By exercising young they know the benefits of it and are more likely to continue to exercise throughout their life.
– Parents should also be told why their child needs to have good range of motion so their son/daughter can live until their old without having poor flexibility and not being able to move.
– More children should be doing physical activity. We live in a soft society we have fast foods, instantly stream films, cars to take us places. Little manual labour anymore. The less physical activity a child does through their childhood/puberty sets their bodies up for a difficult future as they haven’t been stressed to adapt and function they way they where meant to.
– Government needs to take action and primary schools/secondary schools/ fast food. Encourage healthier meals which aren’t boring and are good value for money. Tax fast foods and reduce the cost of sports supplements to encourage more people to get involved in to fitness.
It’s good to see some people have a brain and are educating children on training at a younger age. Meet Jay Farrant PT at ABS Gym in Dublin. he runs the Junior Athlete Development Dublin for children. The page is linked here
If you want your child to get a head start on not being injured and have his/her fitness levels increased give Jay and the team at ABS gym a shout.
For those up North see Ally Cooper Sports Conditioning Exercise and Nutrition. Ally is the S&C coach to the Coleraine Academical Institution Rugby Team. He knows the importance of good resistance training especially in youth athletes playing a contact sport.
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