August Challenge - No Holds Barred


Test to see how strong you are with these static holds. Bruce Lee used to train with isometric (static) contractions, and we all know how much of a weapon he was. Unleash your mental and physical strength with these 3 holds:

  • Ring Dead-Hang (an alternative to this is hang under the bar in a ring row position)
  • Wall Sit
  • Plank

Your goal is to perform each exercise for the maximum amount of time you can manage, and then move on to the next one. You are allowed up to 1 mins rest in between holds (this allows for your transition time). All 3 holds must be completed in one go to be counted on the Challenge Wall.

Back Squat or Front Squat?

Back squat or front squat: Which one is best for you? One is not merely better than the other, they target different areas, and the one you choose depends on your goals, flexibility, and posture. However, the one thing they do share is the ability to target every major muscle group in the body when performed effectively.

First we need to establish the difference between the two.

Back squat:

Traditionally the bar is place on the top of the shoulder blades. It focuses more on the gluteals and lumbar spine by forcing you to sit your hips back.

Front Squat:

Bar is placed upon the front of the shoulders and held in a position called a 'front rack'. Depending on the strength and mobility of your upper back, shoulder girdle and wrists, this can be be a challenging position for many to get into. It is very demanding on a position/posture we call thoracic extension. The front squat emphasises the quadriceps and upper back musculature while challenging core stabilisation.

Generally speaking the back squat is a much easier exercise to perform than the front squat.

So what if I can't do a front squat with a bar?

I would first start by performing body weight squat with your arms extended out in front. This will get you into a position of thoracic extension and active your core without any external loading. Once you start to improve you can begin to load your body by an exercise called a 'goblet squat'. This is performed by holding a weight in front of your chest making sure not to drop your chest and lose form at the bottom of the squat. Other key areas to focus on would be to address areas of muscle imbalances of the upper back and shoulder girdle, wrist flexibility, and core strength.

Talk with your coach about how you can implement these exercises into your routine.

Follow the link below for further detailed reading.


Running Bare

Much debate and research continues on the pros and cons of shod versus barefoot. Let’s take a peek at some of the research out there, especially on the issues of safety, running economy, running speed, and oxygen consumption (VO2).

A recent study by Hanson, et al. reported that running shod requires greater rates of oxygen consumption than running barefoot. Compared to running barefoot, they reported 2.0 % greater VO2 for running shod on a treadmill. This difference was not statistically significant on its own, which is overall consistent with the literature.

Only two of seven studies that have compared barefoot and shod running on treadmills have found a statistically significant difference in VO2. An original aspect of the Hanson study was they also compared shod and barefoot running over-ground. VO2 for shod running was 5.7 % greater than barefoot running. 5.7 % is the greatest difference in VO2 ever reported for barefoot versus shod running.

A study by Squadrone and Gallozzi discovered these facts:

-Ground contact time (in seconds) during barefoot running was significantly shorter than shod running (0.245 vs. 0.255).

-Stride length (in meters) was significantly lower when barefoot running (2.19 vs. 2.34).

-Stride frequency (in strides/minute) was significantly higher while barefoot (91.2 vs. 86.0). As a consequence, step time was significantly lower as compared to shod.

Another Study compared shod versus barefoot running using 35 subjects who performed two bouts of 4 minutes at 3.33 meters per second on a treadmill dynamometer. Barefoot showed these results as compared to shod:

  • Lower contact and flight time
  • Lower passive peak force
  • Higher braking and pushing impulses
  • Higher pre-activation of calf muscles

It was concluded that when performed on a sufficient number of steps, barefoot running leads to a reduction of impact peak in order to reduce the high mechanical stress occurring during repetitive steps. This neural-mechanical adaptation could also enhance the storage and restitution of elastic energy in the ankle extensors.

Lieberman, et al. found that consistent barefoot endurance runners often land on the forefoot (forefoot strike) before bringing the heel down, but they sometimes land with a flat foot (mid-foot strike) or, even less, on the heel (rear-foot strike). On the other hand, consistent shod runners use a rear-foot strike landing, which is augmented by the cushioned heel of modern running shoes.

Researchers at the University of Newcastle found there is no scientific evidence to support claims that specially designed running shoes help prevent injuries. They found there was no published research that showed 1) running shoes controlled how much the foot rolled in, and 2) elevated cushioned heels helped prevent injuries. In fact, some shoes are specially designed to make a person land on the heel, which is unnatural, and may impair balance and makes one prone to ankle strains, so acute injuries are also relevant.

Potential Benefits of Barefoot Running:1

  • May strengthen the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the foot and allow one to develop a more natural gait.
  • By removing the heel lift in most shoes, it will help stretch and strengthen the Achilles tendon and calf muscle which may reduce injuries, such as calf strains or Achilles tendinitis.
  • Runners will learn to land on the forefoot rather then the heel. The heel strike during running was developed due to the excessive padding of running shoes, but research shows this isn't the most effective natural running stride. Landing on the heel causes unnecessary braking on every stride. The most efficient runners land on the mid-foot and keep their strides smooth and fluid. Landing on the forefoot also allows your arches to act as natural shock absorbers.
  • It may improve balance and proprioception. Going barefoot activates the smaller muscles in the feet, ankles, legs, and hips that are responsible for better balance and coordination.
  • Running barefoot helps one improve balance, but it also helps them stay grounded and connected with your environment. A person can learn to spread their toes and expand the foot while it becomes a more solid and connected base that supports all movements.

Potential Negatives of Barefoot Running:

  • Going barefoot or wearing a minimal shoe can be quite a shock to the foot and require a slow adaptation phase. But that isn't the only concern about a shoeless workout.
  • If you have no existing issues and no pain, do you really need to change anything?
  • Running shod offers more protection from ground debris such as glass, nails, rocks, and thorns. Shoes also offer insulation in cold weather and protect the feet from frostbite in ice and snow.
  • Because most runners are not used to going barefoot, unshod or a minimalist shoe will be a shock to the feet and thus muscles will initially feel overworked. In some people, this could lead to injuries such as Achilles tendonitis or calf strain when the conventional heel lift is removed from the shoes.
  • The plantar surface (bottom) of the feet is normally soft and tender in most people. Eschewing a stiff-soled shoe may initially cause plantar pain - or in those more fragile - increase the risk of plantar fasciitis.
  • It is inevitable that almost everyone who switches to barefoot or a minimal shoe or starts going shoeless will find themselves dealing with blisters for the first few weeks until calluses are formed.

Concluding Comments:

Run unshod or shod? The jury is still out. If you choose to go barefoot – or don the funky toe shoes - start slow and be careful. If you want to go with high-tech running shoes, seek a professional for the proper fit.

Let's Get Competitive: July Challenge


This month let's create some friendly competition.

There will be two categories being contested for: Top member pair, top coach and member pair. There might even be a prize up for grabs...

As a team you have to complete a 600m row (300m each). Though here is the catch, each team member must first complete eight room runs prior to their row, and then eight after. Time starts when person one starts running, and finishes when person two finishes running. 

  • Set the rower to a 600m countdown.
  • When person one completes their eight room runs to finish, person two can start their first eight.

Let's get into it!!