5 things I learnt in 2015

1.Kneeling to standing variations are fantastic ‘bang for your buck’ exercises.

Developing a movement pattern is one thing that often requires a few things to be isolated and worked on separately in order to deal with mobility and stability and restrictions. However, once this imbalances are dealt with and the pattern is appropriate this approach is not the most efficient method to maintain good movement.

Some of my favourite exercises to maintain mobility, stability and good movement in the whole body are goblet hold kneeling to standing, overhead kneeling to standing (you can even add hip flexion, as shown in the video below, rotation or both to these movements) and the turkish get-up.

Depending on the variation you employ these exercises challenge t-spine extension whilst being required to maintain core and pelvic positioning. There is an anti extension/anti-lateral flexion component for the core, assuming one is ‘packing’ the shoulder correctly in the overhead variations this is a fantastic way to work scapular stability, there is also a significant hip stability (and mobility for that matter) component compounded with a fairly challenging single-leg strength component as well.

2. Sometime it’s better to dominate simple movements rather than progress to more complex exercises.

I’m a big believer that basic, staple exercises, performed well, can benefit individuals of all experience levels. Indeed a recent study by Dr Stuart McGill compared the results of basic isometric core exercises and more dynamic exercises.

All training groups saw improvements in both their fixed core strength and range of motion, and also in their response to more reactive stress to the spine. The isometric groups in both the naïve and savvy groups saw bigger improvements than the dynamic training groups. While isometric exercises may seem very rudimentary and “beginner,” they can still prove beneficial to more advanced athletes and lifters, especially in terms of ease of set-up, relative risk to the individual doing them, and – most importantly – in quantitative outcomes, such as those measured in McGill’s research. 

The message: A basic staple exercise, performed well, can benefit individuals of all experience level.


One of my favourite examples of this is the deadlift. A lot of people pull conventional style or get attracted to deficit, snatch grip or even landmine rotational deadlift to press. These are fine exercises no doubt but you need a good basis of movement quality to complete them well and therefore use enough load to get a training effect out of them. Most people should focus on the simplified trap bar or block deadlift (seen above) variations that don’t have the mobility demands and therefore allow greater load to be used in a safer manner

3. Spinal stabilisation may have gone too far.

Over the last decade we’ve come along way with regard to spinal stabilisation. Hopefully you’ve stopped doing sit-ups in favour of exercises such as dead-bugs, planks and Pallof presses that stabilise the spine and develop the ability of the core musculature to transfer force.

This is great, healthier backs and reduced flexion-based injuries all round!

So what’s the problem?

Well, as I suggested in my 6 key physical attributes of elite golfers article for TPI, we need some ability to flex and extend our spines (through pelvic tilt) in the golf swing, and indeed in everyday life. For some, we’ve driven ourselves into extension and locked our spines so rigid in a desire to stabilise that we’re driving dysfunction throughout the entire kinetic chain as a result.

While we don’t want to load spinal flexion (especially at end range), we need to maintain the ability to naturally flex and extend our spines.

4. Good programming isn’t actually that complicated, but it is effective.

This piggy backs on point two to certain extent and provides a wider lesson I’ve learnt this year:

“As simple as possible; but not any simpler” Albert Einstein

Oftentimes as trainers I think we can get caught up in using the latest ‘cool’ exercise or periodisation scheme or even worse trying to justify what our place by showing how clever we are, this often leads to programs that are great looking on paper, use all the latest research and methods but at the expense of ease of use and effectiveness.

Full credit has to go to Coach Dos of… for pointing me in this direction with his ideas on using movement menus in programming

Most would agree that we need to develop mobility, stability, strength, and power in a variety of planes of movement. With that in mind our workouts need to include:

  • Explosive exercise
  • Squat pattern
  • Hinge
  • Upper body push
  • Upper body pull
  • Rotational movement
  • Single-leg movements

And probably not much else! Once we have this list all we need to do is select the most appropriate exercise for the individual in each category. As time goes by we simply alter workout load and intensity depending on the chosen periodisation strategy and time of year in relation to the season. That really all you need for a time efficient and effective golf fitness program.

5. Soft skills are in importance in online training too.

There is science and art to strength coaching. Sure science can tell us the most effective sets and rep schemes, periodisation, etc but motivating the athlete, determining when to push and when to back off, and selecting the best exercise for that particular athlete, their needs and their goals is where a bit of the art to coaching lies.

Since rolling out and majorly scaling up my Online Coaching platform this year the way I coach, screen and assess online has changed dramatically. Really having to consider appropriate exercise selection in programming and screening, gathering data on progress and recovery, providing support and accountability via e-mail and apps, etc, in the context of not actually being present with the client. This means the difference between just giving someone a program to follow on there own and actually providing a fully customised experience, with all the accountability and support necessary to ensure progress is still good even without that in-person contact. Incidentally (shamless plug alert!), you can click here to enquire about our online coaching services here.


A huge thank you to everybody who has read and supported this blog over the last year, thank you also to everybody involved in this amazing industry who has helped, supported or passed on their knowledge to me over the past year.


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