Overhead Squatting Pancakes

So one thing that you end up doing a lot as a coach is giving cues. For anyone who does not know that simply means telling you something to help improve form like turn x limb out or straighten y. One thing that is, of course, true is that everyone responds to audio input differently but that’s a story for another day.


So now to explain that odd picture that is in this post. Now when we are talking about the pancakes we are not talking about the delicious food we are talking about the forward fold position as shown below.

GMB Head honcho Ryan Pancaking like a boss.

GMB Head honcho Ryan Pancaking like a boss.

When we initially start working on our pancake there is a tendency to simply try to bring your head as close to the floor as possible and round over as much as possible. This, however, will not do much to improve your pancake. This position is one where you need to rotate your hips rather than just bend forward.


So why the Overhead squat? Well, when you are in this pancake position you essentially want to recreate the feeling and alignment of an overhead squat. If you look at the overhead squat you will notice you push the hips back the stomach is pushed forward towards the floor and the arms reach up and overhead not forward.


So for any of our weightlifters or Crossfitters try out this cue and see if it helps you understand this position a bit better. You will also see many Olympic weightlifters who excel at this position like those in the video below. If you need help in developing your pancake or getting started on it feel free to drop me an email.

The road to recovery is not always straight

So I had hoped that today’s blog post would be one of good news instead it is a very mixed bag of emotions for me. For those who do not know, I broke my scaphoid a small horseshoe-shaped bone in the wrist almost 2 years ago now and have had a very long and slow recovery since. Any other bone in the wrist would be quick to recover but due to the nature of this one, it can be very complex. The injury occurred during sparring in BJJ. Below is a video of the technique used that did it.

Yesterday I had my final x-ray to examine the hand and final visit to my consultant. The hand has now fused about 50% but not fully. So it still may fuse or it might not. For such a small injury it has been one that has the potential to change the course of my life and the result of this is that might never box/do MMA or handstand again. For someone who had been doing these daily for years, this was a pretty big blow. Below is a picture of where the wrist is at now.

So what has this done for me? Well, a lot as I say it did change the course of my life. When I received the news of what had happened I was left with two choices. To wallow in depression and allow this injury to consume me or to figure out a way to train that would allow me to still work towards my goals and keep me moving. While many of my hobbies became of limits and much of the teaching techniques were out of bounds I had to do something. So that’s when I began to create a community and evolve my teaching. What I did was meet up with many other trainers of various disciplines and learn from them and link them to other like-minded people and to those people I deeply thank you. They know who they are and have kept me focused and sane. As for teaching when you are unable to use your hands while teaching a handstand then your understanding and ability to teach has to rapidly increase.

I have learned a lot from this process and while I still have a long way to go this has been a tough but valuable lesson. If you do receive a bad injury the one thing you need to realise is that this is not the end even if it means you can no longer do the things you truly love there will be options and you will need to figure out a way that will allow you to work towards those goals.

Now I luckily I can now return to some training but as a friend pointed out while I am not fully done this means that I cannot mess around with my rehab or skip steps in my training. Instead, I will have to carry out all of my wrist prep and conditioning with absolute consciousness and make sure every step of the process to do what my body needs not what I want to do. This is a huge thing with athletes when returning to training. Many jump back in head first to their pursuit. I understand this and need to be mindful. So over the following months, I will be spending a huge amount of time on wrist prep and conditioning my wrists to try regaining their use.

To everyone who has helped me on this road thank you while it has been a long winding road you have to just place one foot in front of the other and keep going.


Technique vs. Concepts

So I recently had an in-depth chat with a fellow coach about what makes a good coach and what makes a great coach. One thing we agreed on was that there are those who you go to and learn techniques but the great ones teach you concepts regardless of the discipline. They do this with the view to eventually making themselves obsolete.


Sounds like a pretty terrible business model right? Well if you are not a professional athlete who needs their skills constantly refined and are simply looking to reach a base level of fitness then why would you need to stay with the same trainer for 5+ years? Seriously though why?


So let’s look at two hypothetical trainers. Both teach you the pushup, trainer A shows you it and you do it. Trainer B shows you it and explains just one concept leverage. Now if we increase or decrease this then the exercise will become easier or harder and we can now scale it to whatever level we are at.


Trainer A will show us the technique and when we can do X number of pushups then they show us what the next step is. However, trainer B has already explained the concepts of how to do it so now we can likely figure it out ourselves using what we now know. The point I am getting at is those good trainers will break down complex things and give us the concepts in a form we can understand.  A simple example would be trying to show some form of new technology to an older relative who has never handled it. If you use technical jargon they will be lost and give up similar to how many people do in the gym. But if you give it to them in simple terms they can understand then they will be able to comprehend what to do.


Learning concepts gives us the tools to figure things out and to train ourselves. If you have a trainer who just shows you one exercise after another and counts to ten for you then you might be wasting your money. Find someone who will teach you the concepts that rule over all aspects of fitness and movement and eventually you will have the tools you need. This is true for any discipline you might do so keep it in mind and feel free to use this concept in future.

If you understand how to apply leverage to body weight training you can figure out many progressions easily

If you understand how to apply leverage to body weight training you can figure out many progressions easily

New Year, New You?

I often say that New Year’s Eve is one of my least favourite holidays and it’s for the same reason that I dislike New Year resolutions so much. People always say on New Year’s Eve “something will be going on, it will be great”. Of course, this leads to nobody planning anything and the usual holiday events of trying to get into crowded venues for overpriced entertainment.

The point I am getting at here is the big loud gestures but no actual planning. If resolutions work for you then fair play, get out and do them. But for most people, it does not work or it does in the short term and often it is due to these reasons. Someone says “I want to lose weight”. Well, how much? How will you do it? Why do you have excess weight to begin? By when? Or even why do you want to lose weight?

What you should do is ask yourself the right questions and decide I want to lose x amount of weight by x time and figure out what it will take for me to get there.

For myself, this seems obvious but I know for many people with their own training this is not and they lack the time to research this stuff as well as they need. That’s why trainers exist and any of them who don’t plan well in advance for their clients’ needs to be questioned. On that same point, anyone advertising detoxes or similar fads in the New Year should be steered clear of but that's a post in itself,

I recently was discussing a client’s training program with them and showed them the potential course of their training over the next two years. Now that might sound excessive and it’s not set in stone it is a guide. This client’s goals were mainly strength based which takes a lot of time and builds slowly over the course of months and years. I like to use the analogy of carrying a weight up a mountain. If you didn’t plan the route in advance you’re setting yourself up for some trouble.

The exact same thing can be said about resolutions if you are not setting up some form of a plan as to how you might actually achieve them then you’re likely wasting your own time. My goals in January for my training and life are exactly the same as they were in December. In short, failure to plan is planning for failure. If you want to improve yourself then go get it done but figure out how and then get out and do it. If you need help doing that then seek it out either in person or online.