Make Each Day Count


Last year I posted about a number of recovery strategies, which can be found here.

Earlier this week we talked about a Weekly Recovery Plan. We now move onto strategies that should be included each day. Whether you are training hard or not, these strategies should be employed to recover from daily life, work, stressful situations or simply to help you feel more productive each day.

The Daily Recovery Plan requires you to hit at least 50 points each day while extra points will provide added benefits.

There is no special equipment or facilities required yet you do need to be mindful of setting/reaching daily targets in many of them.

Enjoy Great Sleep

I’m often asked about pre-workout and what’s best for giving you a ‘push’ before training but ideally you wouldn’t require anything if you got enough sleep. The emphasis should also be on quality sleep. Lying in bed, scrolling through Facebook or Instagram does not count as quality sleep and staring at the blue screen will detract from the quality of sleep you do get.


Laying in bed staring at your phone is taking away from your best possible sleep and the next day’s productivity


Setting a routine that helps you wind down from the day is key to making the most of your sleep. Putting the phone on flight mode, setting work aside in advance of bedtime, avoiding caffeine in the evening are all helpful in establishing a routine. I personally enjoy ZMA tablets about half an hour before bed and I know many more who sip a cup of chamomile tea or do some light stretching to help wind down.

It’s most important to establish a routine that suits you and helps maximise your own sleep.

Quality Nutrition

I won’t go into too much detail here, as there have been countless articles and books written on how best to approach eating for performance, recovery and health. I have posted in the past about getting the right amount of calories here and macronutrients here that will go a long way in helping recovery. If you wish to go into further detail then contact me via email for an in-depth consultation.

Finding simple recipes that you enjoy preparing and eating will help get the nutrients you require while still having a healthy and positive relationship with food.

Click on the link for examples of Piri-Piri & Lime Chicken and Beef Chilli.


Plan some “YOU” Time

Training is usually spent doing what a coach or manager tells you. Work is often the same whether instruction comes from a boss or clients. It is very important that we spend some time with ourselves doing things we enjoy. This will be very specific to the individual but 10-20 minutes a day of book-reading, listening to music, watching Netflix or walking the dog provides a great chance to relax and be in control of our own thoughts and actions. Spending quality time with yourself will also benefit the quality of sleep you receive later that day.


Enjoy yourself in a way the way you prefer most!


Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

I often see people in shock when they get sick or injured, yet when we take a look backwards, many subtle signs are noticed:

  • Feeling a bit tired or low on energy for a few days beforehand.
  • Pains in the knee, lower back, shoulder or generally achey muscles.
  • Weight is slightly reduced and finding it hard to eat as much.
  • Feeling irritable or a little sadder than usual.

These are all signs that your body is not adapting to the stresses placed upon it due to changes in routine. These changes can be a combination of many things such as harder training, reduced sleep, harsher weather conditions, extra work responsibilities or stressful personal relationships.


It can be a vicious circle of mental tiredness, physical fatigue and stress. Try to cut down on a little of each and it could have a large impact across the board.


I usually recommend that people monitor each point of wellbeing by rating it out of 10.

For example, if you are generally an 8-9 across the board then suddenly mood and energy levels drop to 5/6 then you are highly at risk of picking up an injury or becoming ill. This is a strong sign that you need to spend extra time recovering from whatever is causing you stress before it’s too late and you have to deal with a pulled hamstring or head-cold.


Kitman Labs are an Irish company based in San Francisco. Used by many top professional teams around the world to monitor athletes wellness and readiness to train/perform.


Whether increased sporting performance is your goal or you simply want to feel better in your general day-to-day life, I highly recommend this monitoring plan.

Feel free to share it with teammates, athletes, coaches or friends to help them perform better in whatever they are trying to achieve.

Any questions find me at


One Week to Recover


Last year I posted about a number of recovery strategies, which can be found here.

Since then I have spoken with coaches that are more experienced than I am about the most practical ways of implementing recovery (particularly Martin Kennedy).

The first big change I have made is to split recovery into 2 separate sections;

Weekly & Daily Recovery.

This article concentrates on Weekly Recovery. Later in the week, I will post about Daily Recovery.

Weekly Recovery strategies should total at least 100 points each week. See the above infographic for examples of different strategies.

The second change is how to approach each strategy. Many people take recovery to the extreme and it starts to become a stress on their lives. This completely defeats the purpose and often prevents them from gaining the full benefit of training.

Ideally, we should try to include each type of strategy as part of normal life or use it to spend quality time with people who are important to us. Recovery of the mind can be as important as recovery for the body when training hard and preparing for a big game/event.


Enjoy A Massage

Sports MassageThis is not possible for everyone as access to a physio can be difficult or expensive. It will provide many benefits but should not be relied upon too often.

Self-massage with a foam roller or tennis ball will help many people. This can be done as part of a group session with teammates at the beginning/end of training.

It can also be done at home while watching Netflix or a match while in front of the fire.

Try to build foam rolling in around your own lifestyle so it doesn’t feel like a burden.


Light Aerobic Work

Some light activity after a tough game or heavy session will help recovery through increased blood flow.

This is an excellent opportunity to spend time walking your dog, playing with children or listening to music.

With many people spending their working days inside, any chance to get more fresh air and Vitamin D should be used.



Enjoy A Stretch

Improving your mobility is going to reduce the risk of injuries and help performance in general. If done correctly it can also be a great chance to relax and unwind.

There are many yoga sessions available on YouTube such as here that can be done in the comfort of your own home.

There are also many variations of Yoga/Pilates classes available across the country. Attending these with teammates/friends is an excellent way to enjoy the benefits of both mobility and quality time with friends.

A short Yoga video for 20 minutes before bed can also lead to a more peaceful and relaxed sleep.


Compression Clothes
Pre-Season training is tough. Heavy sessions, mucky pitches and cold weather. Recovery in warmer conditions is always more enjoyable than colder conditions. Wearing compression clothes after training holds in heat and keeps blood flow elevated. Pulling on a pair of leggings after a tough running session or an Under Armour top after upper body weights helps speed up recovery and have you ready for the next session. Wearing leggings to bed after an evening session also provides benefits although you need to be careful not to overheat.


Enjoy Hydrotherapy

All Blacks Pool RecoveryWater is one of the quickest ways to recover. The key is finding which type of water-immersion suits you best. Some swear by ice baths while they petrify others. The stress caused by fearing an ice bath has such a negative effect that there are little to no recovery benefits. Poor swimmers are often fearful of swimming pools and so will gain very little effects from this type of session while others find it very beneficial.

Epsom Salt baths are a sworn by method for many yet others may find it incredibly boring.

Finding what you enjoy and suits your lifestyle best is most important.

Ice baths can help bond teams together while going to the pool with friends or relaxing in the bath with music or a book will provide many recovery benefits.

Mo in Ice Bath

Check how much each strategy is worth and try to accumulate 100 points each week. Remember to include extra points if you are training particularly hard.

Try not to spend all your time focusing on recovery then forget to actually do the hard training. Don’t be that guy!

Piri-Piri & Lime Chicken




2 Tablespoons of Piri-Piri Sauce (Lidl)

Teaspoon of Oregano

Teaspoon of Garlic

Tablespoon of Honey

Juice from 1 full Lime


6 Chicken Fillets

300g of Basmati Rice

400g of Frozen Stir Fry Vegetables



  1. Mix ingredients for marinade in a large bowl.
  2. Butterfly the chicken fillets – Video Tutorial Here
  3. Place in marinade for 20-30 minutes
  4. Place under the grill until each side is golden brown
  5. Boil Rice – You’ve got this!
  6. Stir fry mixed veg
  7. Divide into 6 lunchboxes


Macro Breakdown per portion


Protein –                     30

Carbohydrate –          43

Fat –                            3


Calories –                    366

Weightlifting & Field Sport

Weightlifters are like a different species. Big shoulders, big asses, super strong and lightning fast. What a shame those traits wouldn’t benefit any other sport… Oh Wait!

Increased speed and strength would improve, not just any sport, but every single activity you do in life.

Increased jump height for soccer? Stronger shoulders for tackling in rugby? More leg power for jumping, running and throwing in athletics? I’m actually finding it hard to make a case against the inclusion of weightlifting.

So much of field sports revolve around speed and strength. Weightlifting is the ultimate method to develop this.

In terms of injury prevention, (Those Pesky Hamstrings) there is no better means of developing a super strong posterior chain than strengthening your pulls.

Catching the clean at the bottom of a front squat will create rock solid landing mechanics to reduce ACL injuries.

Overhead squats are the most common exercise used in injury screening and assessing functional movement so being able to overhead squat close to your body weight is possibly the greatest feat of functional strength out there.

The flexibility and stability required to sit in a deep squat with arms overhead will prevent so many hip and shoulder injuries that physiotherapists will wonder where all their business is going?

An often-overlooked aspect of rugby is the need to absorb force when tackling or being tackled. Some of the most gifted athletes are turned away from rugby once a heavy tackle drains the air from their lungs. Catching a body weight clean and absorbing the weight is the perfect means of preparing a rugby player for more impacts on the field.

There are so many physical benefits but the real impact of weightlifting is to your mental performance and confidence. Is there more of a badass feeling than standing up from the bottom of a clean with heavy weight? Holding your body weight overhead after a split jerk? It’s like lifting and holding another person up. Squatting is like the perfect analogy for life in that a heavy weight pushes you down to the ground but you stand back up in complete control of the situation.

So what next?

Look up weightlifting clubs in your local area. It shouldn’t be too hard as they’re popping up all over the country. Check out some reviews and see which one suits you best then get prepared to put in your best off-season ever!



Bulk Cook – Beef Chilli



900g of Lean Steak Mince

300g of Frozen Veg

260g of Basmati Rice

400g Can of Chopped Tomatoes

420g Can of Kidney Beans

Chilli Seasoning Packet


Step 1:

Place all of the mince into a heated pan. Cook until all is brown.


Step 2:

Pour seasoning packet on mince and stir in (feel free to add garlic, extra chilli or whatever at this stage).


Step 3:

Add veg and stir in.


Step 4:

Add full can of chopped tomatoes on top and stir in.


Step 5:

Add kidney beans.


Step 6:

Allow to heat for 3-4 more minutes.


Step 7:

Boil rice. Doesn’t take a Rocket Scientist!!!


Step 8:

Divide into lunchboxes.


Nutrient Details:


Calories – 562

Protein – 60g

Carbohydrate – 48g

Fat – 12g

Resolutions & Goal Setting Be SMART About It

resolutions-goal-settingWe’re a week into the New Year and how many of us are already finding it hard to stay on track with resolutions? I know a lot of people wait until they’re a week in to start acting on the resolutions and I’m writing this to help everyone stick to what they set out.

Unfortunately, I have no magic tricks to help you stick to the exact resolution you decided upon but I am going to outline a few steps backwards that will help you reset resolutions and make them a lot easier to maintain.

The first step is in outlining what your resolution is. Common ones we often hear are to “Lose Weight”, “Tone Up”, Get Fitter”, Eat Healthier”, “Study More”, etc., All of these are very difficult to define and measure. This brings us onto the SMART principle. This is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic & Timely.


Specific & Measurable – These often go hand-in-hand as being specific often makes it measurable. Have a definite goal that you can say whether you reached it or not. “I want to lose 5kg”, “I will eat healthy 80% of the time”, ‘I want to lift 100kg in the bench press”, “I want to run 5km in under 22 minutes” etc,. The options are endless once they can be measured in some way and are specific to what you want.


Achievable & Realistic – Your goals must be something that you can achieve and are realistic for your self. If someone has no history of physical activity and is quite overweight then hoping to run a mile in under 5 minutes is neither achievable or realistic. To complete a 5k in a combination of running and walking would be a much more realistic and achievable goal. The reality of your goals will be very much affected by your current and past behaviours. If you currently exercise once a week and want to start exercising 5 times a week it may be too big a jump and unrealistic for you. If you want to achieve 500 points in your Leaving Cert and are currently studying all ordinary level subjects then it is not achievable based on your current behaviour.


Timely – Having a time limit to achieve your goal will help keep you on track towards it. If I said I wanted to run a 5k it could be anytime in the rest of my life. If I said I wanted to run a 5k by Easter then I have a specific time to complete my task and something to work towards.


There are numerous examples of SMART goals for every aspect of life but the real key to achieving them is to break them down into smaller, behavior-o


riented goals. To complete a 5k by Easter is an outcome goal. We must take a few steps backwards and break this into a number of smaller behaviour goals. Primarily you and the actions you take affect behaviour goals. Not only will this allow us to feel we have achieved something when we complete the 5k but it also helps us to reach many smaller accomplishments along they way to increase motivation.couch-to-5k


Some of the steps I recommend for the 5k are:

  • Download a Couch to 5k app on your phone.
  • Look up some 5k ‘Fun-Runs’ in your local area (Timely).
  • Set aside two separate 1-hour blocks a week that will allow you time to go walking/running.
  • Tell some close friends/family about your goal and see if some of them would also like to participate or will simply help you stay on track.
  • Write down a set distance/time that you will be able to run for at the end of each week (Mini-Goals/Achievements).


Putting your phone on flight mode leads to much deeper sleep and more productivity in everything you do.


What happens if you don’t complete one of the weekly goals? Don’t worry! It’s not the end of the world. Many things you can’t control can get in the way such as family crises, illness or busy times at work. These are entirely out of your control and there is no point worrying about them. The most important thing is to get back on track and not fall completely off the wagon because of one bad session or week. One bad week over the course of 52 is a very small percentage.


Other examples of behaviour goals are:

  • I will pack my gym gear and leave it in the car before bed so I can go to the gym straight after work/school tomorrow.
  • I will plan a grocery shop so I have foods to prepare healthy meals for the next week.
  • I will batch cook two different recipes and freeze them so I have healthy meals prepared for dinner and lunch.
  • I will research Jim Wendler’s 531 so that I can increase my strength.
  • I will go to training early and work on my weaker side/foot for 10 minutes.
  • I will sign up for after-school study so I can ensure my homework is done every day and will help leave time for extra revision.
  • I will join an online fitness group to help keep me accountable to my exercise goals.
  • I will set an alarm on my phone to remind myself to switch to flight mode an hour before I plan to go to sleep.




Preparing meals in advance make it much easier to stay on track with healthy eating.


These are just a few samples of behaviour goals that will help you reach your outcomes. Feel free to adapt these to your own needs.


There are a few different ways to help keep you on track. I previously mentioned telling family or joining a group to stay accountable. To take this a step further you can team up with one or two other people with different skills and traits to yourself. If you are very creative but a little disorganised then teaming up a training partner who is good at time keeping and organisation will compliment your skills very well. You can add variety to workouts or training sessions while they can plan times for them to go ahead.


Other people may make faster progress than you at the start but don’t worry about that. There are a number of reasons why progress may be slower for some but the key is to remain consistent. The person who sprints off the start line at a marathon may never even see the finish line while another runner could easily finish high up the placings by taking a slow and steady approach.


Celebrate reaching each behaviour goal with a small reward. It can be anything that’s important to you but often works best when it’s related to the goal such as buying a new pair of runners after completing your first 5k.


Different approaches and behaviours will work for everyone. They key is to remain consistent with your behaviours and if you find something that works, keep doing it!



If you would like any further guidance on your fitness or nutrition goals then contact me at


Those Pesky Hamstrings!

How many great sporting careers have been held back, or even cut short, by hamstring injuries? Each season we tend to see the same players struggle with their hamstrings as we enter the main competitive phase of the year. This can hold back their performance in games or prevent them from playing altogether.

hamstring-injuryMany players who struggle with hamstring injuries feel they were born with this “condition” and are simply unlucky. Recent research has shown however that both hamstring and cruciate ligament injuries that came from non-contact incidents are very preventable through proper strength training. This training needs to be planned correctly and adapted for each individual.

Below I have outlined a basic step-by-step approach to help improve someone’s “dodgy” hamstrings and also reduce the chances of them occurring in the future.


Step 1 – Loosen the surrounding muscles.

Foam-rolling all muscles connected to the hip area have a big impact on mobility and paid reduction

The hamstring muscles often come under a lot of pressure when the surrounding muscles tighten. This can be for a variety of reasons but releasing the quads, abs, glutes, adductors, calves and lower back will take a lot of pressure off the hamstrings.

Foam-rolling combined with stretching will provide a release to the quads and calves.

A tennis ball may be required for the glutes and hip flexors.

A larger and softer ball (such as a 1st touch sliotar) is very effective for releasing the abdominal muscles. Lying, facedown, on the ball for 5 deep breaths provides great release to the abdominals.

A smaller ball is usually required to release the glutes

Following a rolling and stretching routine for 10-15 minutes a day will release a lot of pressure from the hamstrings and help the hips move more freely.


Step 2 – Activate the Glutes!

Stretching and rolling is only treating the symptoms but doing very little to prevent them what’s causing it.

Constant sitting and driving has allowed our glutes to become extremely inactive and ‘switch off’. Our hamstrings and lower back take up on a lot of the workload from our underactive glutes.

Activating or ‘firing’ the glutes at the beginning of an exercise routine will help them take on more of the workload.

Strengthening the glutes will also help them to function better and greatly improve performance.

Some basic activation exercises are:

Kneeling Squats


Hip Bridges

Mini Band Squats

You can also find a simple activation routine here.


You can begin to include some glute strengthening exercises once you feel them activated during normal daily activities.

Some of the best exercises to strengthen the glutes are:

Barbell Hip-Ups

Bulgarian Squat

Single Leg Bridge


Step 3 – Strengthen the Hamstrings

Hamstring is made up of 3 muscles, Semimembranosus, Semitendinosis and Biceps Femoris.

So many coaches and athletes focus on improving the flexibility of hamstrings yet completely neglect strengthening them. No matter how often you stretch a muscle, if it is weak and over-trained, it will tighten up.

Improving hamstring strength is key to reducing the chances of injury while also increasing sprinting speed.

The hamstring is comprised of three major muscles. They serve to flex (bend) the knee and extend (straighten) the hip. Neglecting either of these movements will lead to a weakness somewhere in the muscle and greater risk of injury.

Here is a simple strengthening programme that can be completed on it’s own or added into an overall plan. It is divided into 3 separate days. One day with a focus on hips, one day with a focus on knees and one that focuses on standing work.

These exercises can be completed during gym sessions or on field. It is recommended that you leave these toward the end of the session if done on field.


Hamstring Development Template
Day 1 – Hip Based Day 2 – Knee Based Day 3 – Standing
Phase 1
Kneeling Hip Hinge

Week 1 – 2 sets of 6

Week 2 – 2 sets of 8

Week 3 – 3 sets of 6

Week 4 – 2 sets of 7

TRX Curls

Week 1 – 2 sets of 6

Week 2 – 2 sets of 8

Week 3 – 3 sets of 6

Week 4 – 2 sets of 7

Band Good Mornings

Week 1 – 3 sets of 8

Week 2 – 3 sets of 8

Week 3 – 3 sets of 8

Week 4 – 2 sets of 8

Phase 2
Kneeling Hip Hinge w Pulse

Week 1 – 2 sets of 6

Week 2 – 2 sets of 8

Week 3 – 3 sets of 6

Week 4 – 2 sets of 7

Alternating TRX Curls

Week 1 – 2 sets of 6

Week 2 – 2 sets of 8

Week 3 – 3 sets of 6

Week 4 – 2 sets of 7

Dumbell RDLs

Week 1 – 3 sets of 10

Week 2 – 3 sets of 10

Week 3 – 3 sets of 10

Week 4 – 2 sets of 8

Phase 3
Razor Curls

Week 1 – 2 sets of 6

Week 2 – 2 sets of 8

Week 3 – 3 sets of 6

Week 4 – 2 sets of 7

Single Leg TRX Curl

Week 1 – 2 sets of 6

Week 2 – 2 sets of 8

Week 3 – 3 sets of 6

Week 4 – 2 sets of 7

Split Good Mornings

Week 1 – 3 sets of 8

Week 2 – 3 sets of 8

Week 3 – 3 sets of 8

Week 4 – 2 sets of 8

Phase 4
Nordic Curls

Week 1 – 2 sets of 6

Week 2 – 2 sets of 8

Week 3 – 3 sets of 6

Week 4 – 2 sets of 7

Single Leg TRX Curl

Week 1 – 3 sets of 6

Week 2 – 3 sets of 8

Week 3 – 3 sets of 10

Week 4 – 2 sets of 8

Single Leg RDLs

Week 1 – 3 sets of 8

Week 2 – 3 sets of 8

Week 3 – 3 sets of 8

Week 4 – 2 sets of 8


Videos of each exercise can be found by clicking on the name.

I did Nordic Curls assisted by a band as I have super long Femurs and will probably never have the hamstring strength to complete one. Assistance with a band is perfectly ok at this stage. Shorter people may be able to complete some by the end of this programme.

Ensure you begin at the start and do not jump directly into the more difficult exercises.

Feel free to add extra sets and reps, as these are only suggestions.

Ensure there is a gradual progression from week to week and no major jumps or drops in overall volume.

If you find it difficult to recover from any of the phases then return to Phase 1 and build your way back up again.

I would suggest completing it in this order:

Phase 1

Phase 2

Phase 1

Phase 2

Phase 3

Phase 2

Phase 3

Phase 4

This allows everyone to develop a level of mastery before progressing onto the more difficult exercises.


Overall Management

Tip 1:

The overall training load of an athlete must be monitored. A sharp increase in time spent training or the intensity of training will lead to physical breakdown. Hamstrings and groins are often the first to go when someone reaches a level of training they are not used to in a short period of time.


Tip 2:

Ensure de-loads and proper progression of exercises. You will notice in the above programme that week 4 includes less exercise than the previous weeks. This allows the body an extra week to recover and come back fresher while maintaining strength. These do not always have to be done in 4-week blocks. Ideally you would include these the week before an important match/event to ensure freshness.


Tip 3:

Include ‘Top-End’ speed work in training 1-2 times per week. If the body is not used to reaching top speed regularly then it may not be able to cope when it reaches top speed in a game. It is at top speed that hamstrings usually come under the most pressure so adapting to this state is very important.

My go-to speed drills are ‘Flying 20s’, ‘Flying 30s’, 40m sprint and resisted sprints.


Feel free to add these exercises into your own routine.

If you would like a full programme to accompany your hamstring development that will improve overall speed, strength, power and fitness then email me at


Any questions about the programme or anything else fitness related can also be directed to the above email.


Mind them Hammers!!