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Randomised workouts and the defeats will come Chris



Chris hold onto those days where you are still beating your son, by the sounds of it, it won’t be for much longer. Then it will be role reversal, he will be letting you win the odd point here and there to keep you interested and thinking you have a chance in the game.

With all this hand eye coordination going on I hope you have put a team in for the staff rounder’s event next Wednesday? (slight plug for the event)

Well as it’s the end of term, at Sussexsport we like to treat it a little like the end of school when planning classes, you know when you can wear anything you want in on the last day of term. So this week we have been looking at making classes a bit more randomised.

I am not sure where the idea came from but to make classes randomised the idea brought me back to a book I read a few years ago called ‘The Dice Man’. This book is about a psychologist who decided to live his life by the role of a die. Ok, it is not totally randomised as he has to make the six choices for which the die decides. This can make life exciting and  change your behaviour towards certain things as you will make some general choices for the way you ‘normally’ live but also you will write down some ‘risks’ that you want to try but may not do if you make the decision.

So coming back to making things randomised, like everyone I want to be able to compete against Usain Bolt, run a marathon under 3 hours, get a clean and jerk over 100kg, be a combative midfield player running from box to box. But alas, being great at all of these at the same time is impossible. So how can I make training fun, varied and surprising, well, through the role of a die.

In order for this to happen you have a workout randomiser, used by Dan John ( Roll the die once to select your exercise. Roll the die again to select your session.


Roll One

Roll Two

1.  Treadmill

1.   Tabata (Work 20s : Rest 10s x 8)

2.  Cross Trainer

2.   20 minutes continuous @ 705% max heart rate

3.  Rower

3.   Work 40s : Rest 20s

4.  Bike

4.   6 x 400m sprits

5.  Stepper

5.   4 x 4 @ 90% max heart rate

6.  Arm Bike

6.  10 x 100m sprints


If you are more interested in strength workouts then why not use this version adapted from the Dan John randomised workout

Roll One:    Lift of the Day

Roll Two:    The Program

Roll Three:  The Finisher


Roll One: Lift of the Day

  1. Press
  2. Squat
  3. Pull Ups
  4. Clean
  5. Deadlift
  6. Clean and Jerk


Roll Two: The Program

  1. 8 repetitions then sprint
  2. 5-3-2 (first set 5 reps, second set 3 reps, third set 2 reps
  3. 3-3-2-1-1-1-1-1
  4. 20s of lifting, 10 seconds of rest x 8
  5. 3 sets of 8 with one minute rest between sets, select two exercises for this
  6. Fifty-Five reps, anyhow you like, sets of singles,10’s, 5’s so long as you total 55 repetitions

Roll Three: The Finisher

  1. Sled pulls sprints
  2. Sled pushes
  3. Farmers Walks
  4. Rope Waves
  5. Med Slams
  6. Burpeees


Why not give it a go. It could decide your lunch time team options. So and so wants to play badminton; so and so wants to play table tennis; so and so wants to go for a walk to Stanmner park. Get the office die out and let it decide for you.

  1. Badminton
  2. Table Tennis
  3. Walk
  4. etc
  5. etc
  6. etc

Functional Training



Michael Boyle in the book ‘Functional Training for Sports’ simplifies the buzz word functional training as purposeful training. Functional training is not sports specific training in a gym environment. Mimicking sporting activities is very hard to do and although you might think mimicking a movement with a weight is useful, it will all depend on whether your mechanics for that movement change i.e. performing a different movement in a different plane because the weight is too heavy.  Functional training looks at what should be an effective way to train. Why are you training? (What’s your goal?) This will ultimately lead to different methods of training and various exercises and techniques. Now you have your goal, what ‘purposeful training’ are you doing to help you achieve this goal?

For example, people who want to run faster, lifting weights will help, but they need to be the right exercises to get the most from your time in the gym. By increasing your leg strength you increase the force which you can push through the floor, intern increasing your speed. Next what exercise do you need to do? The leg press? Is this purposeful training? Do you run sitting down? As previously mentioned running involves exerting a force through the ground, would a squat be better? How about a reverse lunge? Although the majority of sports do not require you to lift a resistance, lifting weights should be an important aspect of any gym programme. Simply getting stronger, utilising the correct exercises, helps improve athletic performance and reduces the chances of injury as ligaments, tendons and muscles become stronger.

Planning your training is one of the most important aspects of any training plan. Most instructors will tell you that resistance machines are great bits of kit for those rehabilitating, isolating muscle groups (body building) and for exercise variation. Moving away from machines to free weight exercises will have a far greater benefit to you, your daily living and achieving your goal.


Free weights help to increase your body awareness through proprioception which is the body’s feedback system on our position and movement. Free weights require a greater control and muscle recruitment. With resistance machines the load is stabilised by the machine. When does this happen in daily life or a sporting activity? Ok, it may happen after one too many drinks and you are propped up either side by a friend. Otherwise when you pick up your shopping, child, playing a sport or even walking, when are your muscles ‘forced’ to work in one plane?

Training for different sports can utilise the same exercises in a training environment, as the movement is functional, ‘purposeful’ in that it is sports general (Boyle). For example, box jumps can be utilised for football, rugby, volleyball and basketball players to work on leg power. In any programme you are likely to find 4-5 major lifts which are utilised by all, then you will have your additional exercises which are more sports focused. When looking at sports they all have similar movement patterns just performed over various distances and speed, for example all sports involve sprints, decelerating, jumps, turns, lateral movements and even hitting.  

For your training to be functional you need to break your sport down and perform a needs analysis:

-          How many sprints?

-          How long is each sprint?

-          Is your sport aerobic? Anaerobic?

-          Power? Strength? Endurance? Power-endurance?

-          Lateral movements?

-          Injury analysis. What are the common areas that are injured in the sport (injury prevention training)?

Your functional (purposeful training; sport purpose) should look to mimic sports demands of your goal/sport.  Long gone are the days of running long miles to increase your fitness for football, hockey, netball and rugby. Look at the sports, they are all stop, start, involving various paces of fast runs and sprints over various distances, deceleration and turning. Your training should look to reproduce this element where possible.  

Tekkers, Technique



Technique is the most important aspect when performing any exercise. Technique is important for two major reasons, to prevent injuries and to recruit more muscle fibres. I will cover several of the reasons here why we may not be performing a technically good lift.

Resistance / Weight

A lot of the time having a resistance that is heavier than we can lift or even trying to attempt an exercise we are not yet ready for, meaning we do not complete a lift through its full range of movement. The best lifts to demonstrate this with are the three big lifts:


Pull Ups

Bench Press

Squats – when performing a technically sound squat thighs should be parallel to the floor (hips in line with or below the knees), chest up, and head in line with the spine.

Bad technique

The issue with the weight being too heavy is that we do not drop down far enough, because the weight is too heavy. This means we do not have the strength to complete the full range of movement (down and up). Instead we perform a ¾ or even ½ squat. Why is this an issue? We will not be recruiting the whole muscle to perform the exercise. Performing the full range of movement will recruit more muscle fibres, meaning a greater change in muscle size, meaning greater gains.

Ok, so we may have the appropriate weight on for a squat and our technique still has issues. We need to break it down and pinpoint the reason why we are not reaching the full range of movement. Three potential reasons could be:

-       Shoulders / Chest. This leads to internal rotation of the shoulder when we are squatting. We need to stretch the pectoralis minor, major and latissimus dorsi. This causes us to cave in at the top of the movement. Best described in this video here.

-       Hips / Glutes. The hip mobility will prevent full range of movement being achieved, meaning we tend to bow rather than squat. Stretching the hip flexors and practicing the squat technique, pushing the hips back, head up, chest up without any weight. The glutes may also need strengthening to prevent a person’s knees from turning in or shifting your weight to one side as you push back up to the start.

Another issue with the hips is that we may not initiate the movement with the hip. The hips should move back first (known as the hip hinge) before the knees become involved in the movement.

-       Ankle mobility. We may think that the ankles do not play a role when squatting but they assist in the rage of movement we can achieve.  Mobility exercises may need to be performed. To find out if your ankles are the reason for poor squatting technique, perform an overhead squat with a dowel, monitor your depth. Now, raise the heels slightly on a weight plate. Perform an overhead squat again. Any difference in depth? Did one feel easier than the other?

Feet flat floor -

Heels elevated -


Pull Ups / Chin Ups

-       Biggest technique error with these is depth/range of movement. People do not lower the arms to full extension.


Bench Press.

-       Again the weight and range of motion are the top errors when performing this exercise. We again put more weight on the bar than we can handle and only lower it half way before pushing it back up. The full range of movement should be performed, lowering the weight down the chest. This is where the next technical error occurs, lower the resistance to the chest, where a logo sits on our t-shits, not to the bottom of the neck. Your elbows should be out to the side at a 45 degree angle between parallel to the shoulder and right down by your side. The elbow should be in line with the logo, with your wrists and elbows aligned (wrists directly above the elbows).

Lowering the weight to the bottom of the neck can lead to shoulder injuries, and again we will not be hitting the correct muscle fibres for the lift.

Remember in any lift it is time under tension that helps the muscle grow, not the weight. Performing 8 slow controlled repetitions (3 seconds lowering, 0 second pause and then 2 second lifting, with 70kg (which should take 40s) is far better than lifting 80kg for 8 repetitions in 20s with poor technique. 

Commit To Get Fit - What Next?



Well another successful Commit to Get Fit draws to an end. It has been great reading the blogs and reading how everyone has been challenging themselves through personal goals throughout the month – from trying new classes to giving up treats.  So now the month is up what is the next step?

Well I would like to sit here and tell you to take out a membership…good promotion…but that is not what the month has been about. It has been about YOU making those small changes and…hopefully…feeling better for those changes. Which comes back to the Sussexsport Philosophy of Fitness / Sport / Wellbeing.

So what is the next step? Where do you go from here?

-  Set goals. The month of May should not be the only month you set goals. Look to set yourself a target of 1, maximum 2 goals for the next month - more goals means more changes and it is less likely we will achieve them. Make the goals achievable but challenging. Achieve these goals for 3-4 weeks (making a habit) then set another goal or two.

- Follow up the activities YOU liked and enjoyed. Look for local clubs/classes near where you live for trampolining, fencing, Zumba etc

-  Read around the subjects and areas of interest to you. Maybe sign up to a basic nutrition course on-line to increase your knowledge. What cardiovascular activities are the best to help achieve your goals. What reps and sets should I do for my goal of….?

-  If performing cardiovascular training look to push yourself to your own limit. Work at an intensity and pace that is suitable for you. See my previous blog for Heart Rate training zones

-       Look to progress through the Sussexsport Philosophy exercises progression list ( ) so you end up performing the best exercises for both fat loss and muscle gain – squats, deadlifts, bench press, pull ups. As I read the other day – looking to lose fat: squat and eat less or looking to increase muscle size: squat and eat more - healthy choices. Some technique points can be found on a blog from last year

- Find a ‘support buddy’ that shares similar or the same goals to you. They will help keep you on track and motivated as you will have a responsibility to someone else as opposed to just yourself.  

- Not sure what to do at lunch time? use the power of the ‘Di’. List the things available to you, roll the Di and whatever the number decides is what you do.

  1. Badminton
  2. Spin
  3. Walk around the boundary run
  4. Run around the boundary run
  5. Grab a healthy lunch and eat away from my desk
  6. Keep sitting at my desk and working through (for those that cannot get away from the desk this gives you a little choice to stay where you are)

I do hope that you continue to make those small changes that can have a big impact on the way we feel during the day and how we relate with our colleagues, friends and family. See you all on the 20th June.