Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 12.08.48This pyramid is a model for developing athletes from their adolescent years into adulthood. The aim is to build a foundation of general training and layer specific training on top.

The purpose of this foundation is to decrease risk of injury later in the athlete career and “this phase may last two to four years depending on the athletes age and abilities”. Many styles of exercise don’t give this time to build a foundation; they might give 4, 6 or 12 weeks at most. 

There could be many reasons for this short time to build a foundation, as most people in the western population will experience lower back pain I believe taking a longer-term approach would be more beneficial. For people who don’t exercise I believe there are some basics they would benefit from.

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 12.09.02This pyramid is what I believe fits into the Multilateral Development/General Training. It could be described as the pyramid within the pyramid. It offers people a model to build a solid foundation that will reduce risk of injury in the future. It also offers a means of progression from people who have experienced lower back pain.

There are certain specific things to do if you have experienced lower back pain before you begin with this model of training and I’ll outline these in a later blog. This may not be music to your ears as I’m asking you to change how you exercise, in my experience I have found that people who take a step back from “intense exercise” will benefit in the long term and allow them to do “intense exercise” as they get older. From my observations the people who have yet to build this foundation tend to get more injuries as they get older and end up doing lower intensity exercises and wanting to build a foundation.

2 Underlying basic principles to begin overcoming lower back pain whether you exercise or not:

  1. Build a foundation
  2. Take your time

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 15.21.51If I were to say to many of the general public and trainers; name exercises that work your legs, shoulders chest or back muscles? Most people would be able to give me list of exercises. On the other hand; if I ask the same people what’s the optimal position of the shoulder when your arm is above 90°? The normal response is "I don’t know".

This highlight to me, the health and fitness industry knows exercise better than the body. We are able to show people exercises but don’t always know the right position of limb or torso within that exercise. To give you an example of what that might translate into within a gym or during an exercise, I ask you to…

  1. Raise your arm over your head so your arms points up, hold it there and look at the position, then lower it back down.
  2. Raise you arm overhead so you your arms point up and your shoulder and scapula are in their optimal position. You are now probably guessing as to this position.

I want this to highlight that we are able to complete a task but mechanically we might be in inefficient and sub-optimal positions. As Gray Cook describes in his book Movement “Other times ligaments tear without outside trauma… Fatigue can play a role, but poor movement patterns also contribute to many ligament failures”.

For the shoulder to be in an optimal position when over 90° it should also externally rotate at the same time. “In order to move through 90° to 180°, there must be external rotation in the joint”. This is now going to sound a little technical… he continues… “The shoulder girdle must protract, or abduct, elevate and upwardly rotate with clavicular rotation posteriorly to maintain the glenoid fossa in the optimal position”. From The Biomechanical Basis of Human Movement: By Joseph Hamill & Kathleen M Knutzen.

Put simply this means you want to get to know your body and how it moves so it can enhance your exercise rather than hinder it. The same goes for other joints within the body including the lower back. This idea of known exercise better than the body goes some way to explaining the straw that broke the camels back and in order to reduce our risk or injury we should learn to move better.

There are many different factors that can make lower back pain worse and many that can make it better. Having a better understanding of what they are will go a long way to having better core stability and overcoming lower back pain.

In my previous blog/video I mentioned some of the factors;

  1. Mobile hip joints
  2. Mobile shoulder joints
  3. Stiffened core

Motor control

I also touched on moving better, this is how you use your more mobile joints and stiffened core. Your motor control is how well your brain and spine talk to your muscles and tell them to contract and relax. If they are slightly of time the your core will become more unstable and you'll increase your chances of lower back pain.

Core Stability

When your muscle are turned on and off at the right time you get core stability. Your muscles aren't 100% on all the time they are constantly switching themselves on and off depending on the posture you are in. As you change position and posture the right muscles need to work.

Tight hips and shoulders

Which is the chicken and egg could be debated forever but we have to start somewhere. having tight hips and shoulder can interfere with how well your brain and spine can communicate with the muscles for your core. If they can communicate very well the right muscles won't always turn on at the right time. By creating more mobile hips and shoulders your brain and spine resets how it turns on and off muscles.

Core stability and overcoming lower back pain

This is how core stability and overcoming lower back pain work together. Creating an environment that allows your brain and spine to communicate better with your muscles helps them turn and off at the right time for the posture you're in.


On a regular basis I work with people who want to get a strong lower back that can cope with the demands of everyday life and overcome pain. The answer to this doesn't always lie in the exercises or workouts you do but more in how you do the exercises and workout you do. With that said there are exercises that are better than others and I will discuss those. Before we get onto them we first need to come to a better understanding of how our body works.

1. Our body can heal itself

When it comes to build a stronger lower back the first element to understand; our body can heal itself we just need to create the environment for that to happen.

2. Understand your bodies anatomy

By having a better understanding about your bodies anatomy it will begin to reveal to you how it's set up and how wants to work.

3. Understand your injury

As you study your injury and how it could have come about you will begin to know the postures, movements and exercises that aren't that good for your body. As you begin to remove/do less of these postures, movement and exercises it will go a long way to creating a stronger lower back.

4. Know your body better

If you don't know where you are you'll never get to where you want to go. If you are planning a car journey you need to know; where you are, where you want to go and finally a route to get you from A to B. There are many different things that can make your back worse and if you don't know what they are you'll find it hard to make your back better.

5. Do exercise that aligns with your anatomy

Many people believe that exercise is complicated, in fact it can be quite simple. By putting three previous elements together it will reveal to you the exercises that are best for you.

Welcome to this blog and thank you for taking the time to read it through.

I teach health and fitness most days of the year and somehow most of the time we get on to the subject of CrossFit workouts. Before I go any further I want to state that the overall conditioning that CrossFit promotes; I am a fan of, what I think needs work is how their workouts are taught.

What do I mean? I've taken the time read the CrossFit level 1 manual and other literature that surround it and from what I see in the manuals and text it shows correct technique and well explained exercises.

However when I walk into a CrossFit gym I don't see what is being taught in those same manuals. CrossFit workouts are notoriously high intensity and most people taking part in them aren't ready for that level of effort. What people need is greater foundation of overall stability of the torso and limbs, this comes by going back to "Fitness Primary School".

At Fitness Primary School they want to develop better motor control, which is "the process by which humans and animals use their brain/cognition to activate and coordinate the muscles and limbs involved in the performance of a motor skill." This is in a nutshell how to develop better exercise technique. It comes by putting together two elements of training;

  1. Torso stiffness
  2. Joint mobility

These two elements need to be worked on at the same time, one without the other make them less effective. In the three videos below I briefly talk you through a research paper that looks at creating torso stiffness and it's long term benefits on performance.

CrossFit workouts are tough and the people taking part in them need to be as resilient as they can be, otherwise injury risk increases. It is therefore my recommendation that all CrossFit workouts include these exercises in one form or another.

Next month I'll share how to develop better joint mobility

Lower back pain is a condition that effect many people and there are different type that can effect you in different ways. The lower back is the area above your hips and below your ribs, it has many muscles, bones and joints (I liken it to a junction). If these bones, joints and muscles are not balanced well you can experience pain but that doesn't mean pain = problem.

Pain means your body has had enough!! The problem occurred way before the pain. You can say lower back pain is the straw that broke the camels back, if you what the video I'll explain this in more detail. It can also happen in different ways, which will give you a different type of lower back pain. The 3 common types of lower back pain I come across are:

  1. Back spasms
  2. Bulging discs
  3. Herniated discs

These 3 types of lower back pain are different from each other but can have a similar process that causes them, "the straw that broke the camels back". In order to reverse this you have to start using your lower back correctly and the rest of your body. I aim to teach this is my 12-week programmes for back spasms and disc herniation, you can download them by clicking on the links. They're easy to follow, no equipment and all the exercise and stretches are supported by instructional videos and booklets.

Using exercise and stretching you can change the health of your back, they allow your joints and muscles to be supple and more freely moving. As you work through the programmes you'll start to notice aches and pains becoming less and less, which shows you're muscles and joints are starting to respond to the exercise and stretches.

A real life example might be when you sit at your desk or in your car for a long time. Doing this normally gives you lower back pain but as you follow the exercises and stretches it will reduce because your joints and muscles are more supple.

Lumbar lordosis is something that effect many people but isn't always understood. Your spine should have a natural s-curve, the inward curve of the lower back and neck are called lordotic curves. When these curves become excessive you get the condition we know as lordosis. There are many different parts of the body involved from bones and joints to muscles. The area of the body lordosis affects is the lower back but it can also have a knock on effect to the upper back as well.

How does lumbar lordosis effect your upper back?

One of the highest priorities of the body is to remain upright and this is controlled by your internal spirit level. If you spine goes into lumbar lordosis your brain will pick this up and can round your bock to compensate. This isn't the only compensation, it might also effect your legs.

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 10.54.38How does lumbar lordosis effect your legs?

Lumbar lordosis is a condition that affects the spine and one area of the body that's closely related is the pelvis. With lumbar lordosis it is very common to see a pelvis that's tilted forward. If this happens it will change the position of your hip ballad socket joint making your knees point inward and locking them at the same time.

This can give you illusion of tight hamstrings that need stretching. What really needs to happen is; stretching of the hip flexor muscles that will allow the pelvis to return to a more neutral position and release the tension on  the hamstrings.

All of the right exercises and stretches are in my how to correct lordosis 12-week programme. You can click here to download it, you don't need any equipment and all the stretches and exercise are detailed in video's and booklets. It's really easy to follow and gives you a solid foundation to correcting lordosis.

Achilles tendonitis is a condition affecting the tendon that connects the muscles of the lower leg to the heel bone. It's one of the thinker tendons in the body because it deals with a lot of force. When you're running, every time your foot strikes the floor it has to deal with forces that are 3 times your body weight. In order to deal with this increase in force the achilles tendon needs to be healthy and strong.

There are a few different ways achilles tendonitis can manifest but in essence it's the straw that broke the camels back. It's been found that around an achilles rupture there are many micro-traumas (small injuries) and it get to a critical point and a full rupture occurs. Achilles tendonitis isn't this extreme but it is showing that there is weakness in this area of the body.

3 simple ways you can begin to overcome achilles tendonitis


When you rest you repair, giving your body the chance to do this is something people find very hard. If you are getting stressed about the exercise that you can't do this is also counter-productive. Give your body and mind time out and allow it to recover itself.


Tendons don't get a great blood supply and tis means they take longer to recover than muscles. In order to encourage a greater blood supply to allow it heal faster gently massage the tendon and the tissues around it. It may seem painful to begin with because of the inflammation but overtime the pain will subside.

Better movement

Finally move the ankle joint, because there is pain people are afraid to move the ankle joint but movement is an essential part of the healing process. I don't recommend high impact exercises like jumping and bounding or high amounts of running. Exercises that encourage balance and put small amounts of stress all around the tendon are more useful.

Runners knee is a condition where you experience pain at the knee but the cause can come from somewhere else in the body.

Thigh & Hips

It can involve all 4 quad muscles and the muscles of the outside of the hip. If the muscles of the quads are not balanced it can influence how well the patella track over the knee joint. The hip muscles get involved because they are joined to the patella via the IT band, which can also pull on the patella.

Ankle & Feet

If you have high arches your feet aren't able to absorb the forces very well when your foot hits the floor. The muscles of your feet and possibly ankles have become stiff and pull your arches up. If you feet over pronate it means the opposite is happening and they are lax, causing your feet to not absorb shock very well. Over pronating feet can also pull your knee out of align meant with your foot and hip causing the muscles around the knee to pull on it.

What can you do?

This might be sounding like there's no way out of getting runners knee but it's not black and white. Injuries like runners knee can come and go, it all depends how you manage your your body. There is a healthy knee (white area), a grey area where niggly injuries show up and then there is full blow in injuries like ligament ruptures (black area).

You can move between these areas on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, how far you move into the grey area will determine how easily you can overcome injuries.

If you want experience less pain from runners knee there are few things you can do. It might mean changing your regime a bit but it will be worthwhile in the long run.

  1. Improve the alignment of your ankle, knee and hip as you run
  2. Balance the muscles of you legs, hips and ankles
  3. Adapt your running style to forefoot running style
  4. Spend more time stretching

These are simple steps you follow that will help balance how much you run and how well you run. These together will help reduce pain in your knee.

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12. May 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Blog

These best strength exercises for cyclists have been chosen because I believe they deliver the whole package. More muscle activation, single strength and supported by a strong core and upper body. There are many components that cyclist should develop and out and out strength is one of the least.

Muscular endurance, which is low weight high reps is always a big focus for cyclist when they use weight training because of the nature of their event. This will develop the same response as being on the bike; the ability to tolerate fatigue and work harder for longer. Muscular strength on the other hand is high weight, low reps, doing this might seem counter intuitive but it can be very beneficial.

When you do high weight, low rep strength training you activate more of the muscle and when you go back on the bike, you have more of the muscle working and therefore use your muscle endurance to greater effect. With that said I wouldn't recommend jumping straight into heavy strength training, there are a few things to think about first.

You should progress towards strength, if you've only ever done higher rep training it would be a good idea to gradually lower the reps and increase the weight of your exercises. This will allow the muscle to get used to the higher weight and reduce your risk of injury.

Make your joints supply, most cyclists will normally have tight hips and this tightness will be diminishing your endurance and strength. Stretching should be a big part of your training regime and if you want to develop your power to weight ratio supply more flexible hips will play their part.

Finally these best 5 strength exercises for cyclist need to be done with perfect technique, which will be helped with more supple/flexible joints. I haven't talked about the technique in these videos but if you go to my Free Members Area you can find all the exercises explained.

No1: Best strength exercises for cyclists

No2: Best strength exercises for cyclists

No3: Best strength exercises for cyclists

No4: Best strength exercises for cyclists

No5: Best strength exercises for cyclists

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