Lessons learnt from 2014 and a very belated UKSCA Conference 2014 Review!

Hi All,


like many of us busy coaches this time of year represents a time for reflection before we get back to it in January.  I was looking over some of my notes for 2014 and lessons learned and I totally forgot I hadn’t posted on the blog the notes from the UKSCA conference!!  So here it is!


If you’re a Strength & Conditioning coach then this is the must go to event.  I have only missed one since the inaugural conference in 2004!!  As ever there was an extensive line-up of International speakers with representation from UK, Australia and USA.  There was also a record turn out of over 500 delegates over the 3 day programme.   So I thought it would be appropriate to feedback a few of the key messages and applied methodologies presented at the workshops I attended or made notes on.


I have included below the thoughts of a friend and colleague of mine, Arran Peck, who fills us in on his key take home messages from Saturday’s speakers


Adam Beard

Head of Physical Performance (British & Irish Lions)

Physical Preparation of Elite Rugby Players

  • Improved performance normally exists where EVIDENCED BASED PRACTICE and PRACTICE BASED EVIDENCE meet
  • It is imperative to stand by your principles, underpinned by your experience, understanding and information available
  • Effective motor learning elicits far stronger and more effective transfer than mechanistic learning


Duncan French

Regional S&C Lead (English Institute of Sport)

Programming for & adaptation to Concurrent Training

  • Modulate the TIMING, ORDER, FREQUENCY, DURATION and INTENSITY of sessions to minimise likely inhibition of adaptation
  • Training for multiple qualities is ALWAYS going to increase total work load, the likelihood of system fatigue & reduce the rate or magnitude of gains
  • Every time you step in the gym, there’s an energetic cost but not always an adaptation


Craig Ransom

Lead Physiotherapist (Welsh Rugby Union)

Integrating Injury Prevention & Athlete Preparation

  • Research shows having your most effective players available more often & at key times increases likelihood of success…obviously!
  • Identify most frequently occurring injuries, target the ones that are preventable, understand the mechanisms, profile who is in greatest need & develop management strategies
  • Consider the COST : BENEFIT of ‘functional’ screening – consider workload, lifestyle, environmental and technical issues as more likely cause of injury


Nick Winkelman

Director of Education (EXOS performance)

The Art of Coaching Meets the Science of Motor Learning

  • Value of ‘Constraint based’ model of training – manipulate BODY, TASK and ENVIRONMENT to optimise development over time
  • The benefits of CONTEXTUAL INTERFERENCE – but variability needs to be related to ability!!!
  • Understand difference between IMPLICIT & EXPLICIT learning and that internal cueing often less effective than external cueing & sometimes less effective than no cueing at all!


APA Director Daz Drake comments on Day 1-


Adam Beard– I found this a great insight into use of monitoring to inform competitive readiness in Professional rugby.  They used GPS and morning monitoring diaries extensively.


GPS Match stats
Distance 7.5 km
Metres/min 80m
High speed running (HSR) 500m
>5.6m/s (20km/h)
Maximum velocity (m/s) 8.5


If a player was returning from injury they were able to use this to determine whether they were back to full fitness. Key thing- know your sport.  I remember Dave Hamilton presented on GB Women’s Hockey in 2012 and 148 m/m was the norm for Hockey.


Adam also talked about the importance of being able to repeat high quality efforts.  Hence greater use now of power endurance strongman circuits and speed endurance to top up the running volume.  But these must be performed explosively.


Duncan French–  this was a nice blend of theory and then application of concurrent training (strength with endurance training) with a case study of his programming for British Taekwondo.


Body transformation vs. Sports Performance


Duncan reminded us that it’s not about being a great generalist.  It’s about training specifically.  If you throw a lot of different training modalities together in a week or session (aka Crossfit) that will definitely be effective for stripping fat with the general population.  But the down side of concurrent training could be chronic fatigue and most importantly, a drop in rate of force development (RFD).


Research shows us that doing strength training doesn’t seem to impair aerobic performance but doing aerobic work does impair strength performance


Cycling seems to have less negative effects on strength levels than running


Whenever you can separate a strength/power session DAY from an aerobic day do so IF your goal is to OPTIMISE strength/power indicators


Repeated sprints (30-100m) 2-4 times per week improve aerobic/anaerobic performance without causing decrements in RFD if programmed effectively.


Dr Craig Ransom– questioned practically of the Functional Movement Screen (FMS).  Movements are slow and work the end range- is this representative of what happens in sport?  Even if the information is useful, can it be gathered and acted on quickly.  You will probably need to do another screening to determine why the movement is inefficient.


Solution- a targeted musculo skeletal screening which dials down on the key target areas that are associated with injuries in the sport.  Can also use Field based functional tests- for example, single leg elevated glute bridge for 25 reps.  This replicates demands of the stress placed on the hamstrings at mid stance of running cycle during high speed running- a major source of injury in rugby.



Nick Winkelman– this was a whistle-stop tour of coaching science,  stopping off at Dynamic Systems Theory (environment), constraint based learning (instruction) and internal and external cuing (feedback).


I always enjoy hearing from coaches who are interested in motor learning theory.  Some coaches just focus on Newton’s laws and production of force, using those methods which we know work best such as heavy weight training. While I believe this has to be a large underpinning principle that respects the principle of progressive overload, I also believe elite performance is all about error elimination and decision making under pressure.


Remember: errors must become unstable for efficiency to emerge


Introduce uncertainty in skills- it leads to learning


Introduce variability in skills- it gives the body system a chance to experience the pattern you want it to discover.


How to stop getting fat over Christmas!

Want to stay Lean over Christmas??


As you may know this time of year is when APA are busy helping some of our Professional Tennis players prepare in their pre-season.


ed corrie


But equally it’s also a time where even athletes have a lot of temptations as we approach the festive period with lots of family gatherings and parties.   So it’s important they keep on top of their nutrition.   If you are an athlete in training over the Christmas period, or are a normal person just looking to watch what you eat over Christmas then this post is for you.


Be Strategic with your Starches:


I’ve previously talked about the APA principles of nutrition HERE known as the 6 Pillars of Nutrition which are based on the work of Dr. Mike Rousell.


A big part of having success in maintaining lean mass is related to your strategic use of starches and so paying close attention to how much, what type and when you have carbohydrates will be key this Christmas.


So how much Carbohydrate does the Government recommend?

These guidelines are based on Recommended Daily Allowances for a typical Adult male, advised to consume 2000 calories per day.


 In caloric terms 270g of Carbohydrate equates to 1080 calories, or over 50% of your energy needs


Fat: 70 grams = 630 calories 
Protein: 50 grams = 200 calories 
Carbohydrates: 270 grams = 1080 calories
Fibre: 24 grams = 48 calories

Total: 1,958 calories 


For an athletic population on a Training Day the RDA might look a little different:


It has previously been recommended to consume around 5g/kilogram of body mass of Carbohydrates during periods of high volume training.


Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA) for average athletic male adult (80kg male) 3000 kcal

Fat: 70 grams = 630 calories 
Protein: 160 grams = 640 calories 
Carbohydrates: 400 grams = 1600 calories
Fibre: 24 grams = 48 calories

Total: 2,918 calories


What do the Experts say?


These days experts are discouraging such large intakes of carbohydrates for athletic populations, with a bit more emphasis on a more balanced intake of protein and carbohydrates.  Athletes might have up to 300g protein and 300g carbohydrate per day.


Dr. Mike Rousell has recommended to have around 60-80g (up to 100g in large athletes) per Starch meal on training days. These meals will take place at breakfast, during workout shake, and in two meals following the workout.  So you’re looking at recommendations of about 240g-400g on training days depending on size of athlete.


On non-training days he advises a starch meal at breakfast (60-80g) and five further non starch meals at all other times (20g) so around 180g per day on non-training days.


He also advises around 50g of protein per meal, eaten at each of the 6 meals in the day.


But don’t just count calories!!!!


If you use Apps like My Fitness Pal to count how many calories you eat but you don’t pay attention to what type or when you eat them you’re missing a big piece of the puzzle.  For a great blog on why ‘A Calorie is Not A Calorie’ click the link.  This blog talks about calorie counting but also when to have Carbohydrates.


What type of Carbohydrates are best?


There are two main types of Carbohydrates:


1. Whole grains (starches): also know as ‘complex carbohydrates:’


Include foods such as porridge oats, wheat based cereals, rice, pasta and potatoes and can be consumed when the demand for energy from the body is high.  They release their energy more slowly.


Whole grain

-A whole grain is a cereal grain that contains the germ, endosperm, and bran, in contrast to refined grains, which retain only the endosperm.(Wikipedia).  


Vegetables– are also a form of complex carbohydrates but can be eaten in abundance because they contain only around 26 calories/100g so should be eaten at lunch and dinner!


2. Simple carbohydrates: 


Simple carbohydrates are sugars. All simple carbohydrates are made of just one or two sugar molecules. They are the quickest source of energy, as they are very rapidly digested.  Think sports drinks, confectionery, cereal bars, and fruit.


Fruit– is technically a simple carbohydrate — but it also contains fibre, vitamins and antioxidants. The fibre in fruit helps slow the digestion of carbs, which is why your blood sugar doesn’t spike as much after eating fibre-filled fruit like it does when you gulp down a fizzy drink or a chocolate bar.


As you will see below you can eat all of the different types of carbohydrates but it’s about eating them at the right time!


When should you eat Carbohydrates?


Most experts now agree that nutrient timing places a big role in weight management.  It is generally agreed that the best time to eat carbohydrates is:


1.  Breakfast- complex (60-80g)  

2.  Snacks- simple (fruit)  

3.  Workout-simple (50g workout shake)  

4.  Post-workout Meal-simple (within 30 minutes) and complex (60-80g within 2 hours)  


Training days:


So on training days you will have complex carbohydrates at breakfast and in one or two meals following your workout.


Non-training days:


On non-training days you just have complex carbohydrates for breakfast!!

The rest of the day can be fruit for a snack and vegetables at lunch and dinner!!


Food Types Medium


The key take away message is to make sure you are strict with your intake of complex carbohydrates and simple sugars on non-training days!!!!!  It really is the key to stay lean over Christmas.  If you want to pig out a bit more on Carbohydrates then make sure you do some training before your Christmas dinner.


Want to lose body fat???




If you want to see how I did this when I lost 9% body fat check out the 3 month  Fat loss training programme HERE,  HERE and HERE


A big part of my own success in stripping body fat was related to my strategic use of starches.  This is a more extreme version of carbohydrate manipulation but the principles are the same.  The only difference here was I made a decision to remove complex carbohydrates completely on training days for the first two weeks.  This is not advised for athletes who need to complete high training volumes and high intensity exercise.    But it can be applied at specific times when fat loss reduction is required.


Good luck with your eating over Christmas!

Mind blowing Motivational videos

Well it’s Friday and to be honest I probably should be showing this video on a Monday (when we need a kick start to our week) but I thought you would like to see my latest favourite motivational video!


It can be very challenging to focus on all the things you have to do that day, while still leaving time in the day to dream about your big goals and keep one eye on the next big project to start or finish.  So this video is for you to remind you to keep pushing for what you want!


I don’t recommend to our athletes to go without sleep and food like it says in this video but nevertheless the message is powerful………..



And here’s my other favourite


So now you’re feeling motivated to reach for a goal that takes you outside your comfort zone the question is what are you going to do with your time?


Why not check out the latest APA Level 2 Certificate in Strength & Conditioning?  Click HERE  to get the Early Bird Discount which expires in 1 week!!!