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What is Functional Training?

March 15, 2017

Functional Means Something has a Purpose

Functional Training just not just mean sport specific. Functional training originates from sports therapy. Exercises used in rehab were the same exercises used to prevent injuries. They were also the same exercises used in the athletic environment and they are similar to movements we perform every day.

The aim of strength and conditioning is to get you fitter, faster, stronger and healthier. Whether that being to prevent or recover from injury or for a sporting environment. It’s training that teaches you to cope with every day life with some little changes depending on the sport you play.



Functional Training works

Sports Performers

How many sports are played sitting down?
Not many other than rowing, etc

How many sports have stability provided?

None…. stability is provided by the athlete. This is why machine based training is not functional. The load gets stabilised by the machine and not the athlete

How many sport skills are performed in isolation?

Zero…. Sporting and Functional Training involves multi joint exercises and movements. Multi joint movements are specific for sport. Isolation Exercises have a place in body building but not Functional training for sports.


Gym wrexham mma fitness weight loss

Train Movements not Muscles

Three point extension

Why Functional Training?

It makes sense. Functional Training is growing and machine based work is on the decline. Now you can buy foam rollers and Kettle-bells from Tesco. Gyms now have Astro Turf in and lifting platforms rather than weighted machines and running machines.

At certain times muscles groups that require stability may need to be isolated:
– deep abdominals
– core, muscles and joints around the hips
– scapular stabilisers

These get isolated to improve their function. This is where mobility comes into play. Programmes should involve multi joint exercises performed standing, but attention should be paid towards mobility and and the key stability groups.

Training is tool to improve your vehicle in more ways than just Strength and looks. Number one goal of strength and conditioning is injury prevention.


Single Leg Exercises

October 10, 2016

Muscles around the hips, core,lower spine and legs are a base for many strength and conditioning programmes. Hip mobility, strength and control is vital in maximising performance and preventing injury.


Why Single Leg Exercises?

Single Leg exercises are excellent for reducing injury, improving control and the balance of an athlete.

In sports, running, training and life we perform a lot of movements on one leg and don’t aways train movements on one leg? A lot of athletes we work with we make sure single leg exercises are in their programme. There is less load on the spine doing these exercises, more awareness of control over the knee and they improve balance, growth and functional development. We engage the core for these movements to balance and it helps develop strength and control around the hips. A great tool for injury prevention and developing athletic performance.

Here are some of our recommended Exercises. Don’t Train these without learning the correct technique. Speak to one of our team for details on the exercises.


Balance Single Leg

Simple, balance on one leg with your knee in line with your hip. This will help work your stability. To make it harder have your training partner throw you a tennis ball or close your eyes.



Can be used with kettle-bells, dumbbells or a barbell. A great exercise to start your single leg training which involves the core for balance and control. Start with your bodyweight then work up to weights in your hands before putting a bar on your back.


Bulgarian Split Squat

If you have been to one of our circuits you know what a Bulgarian split squat is. Yes its tough but the benefits are huge. By having your foot on a box or a bench it helps to give you that extra stability while your lead leg does all the work. Drop that back knee and don’t let that lead knee go past your toes.


Pistol Squat

One of the toughest exercises to perform. A full squat using only one leg. Form, technique, control and stability are all needed to perform this exercises as well as the mobility in the hip, knee and ankle.

Single Leg Romanian Deadlift

This exercises require control of your midline to keep the back straight and requires excellent balance and control. This exercise is involved in our movement warm-up sequence and can also be done with a kettlebell. The weight is away from your body so really emphasises core strength to control the movement.

Sport Specific/Plyometrics Movements

As discussed in the introduction a lot of movements are performed on one leg especially in sports. Therefore making our training specific is important. Remember we also want to ask WHY? Why are we performing certain movements.

The Prowler: Actually a single leg exercise where the other leg is used for stability. Great for developing speed and power especially if you have not mastered your squat technique. (see our prowler blog for more details)

Single Leg Hops/bounds: Great for balance and control. Can be used as a plyometric and also makes you think about controlling the landing ready for your next movement. The landing in sports can be where a lot of injuries occur so this exercise helps. Great to be done in front of the mirror.


Skaters: Another exercise used in a lot of our circuits. Working the lateral motion with a single leg. So unlike hops we train the upwards motion, bounds we train the distance and skaters we train the side to side motion.

Sled Drag: This can be performed going forwards and backwards. Again important for sports where we are forced to run backwards at times.

August 22, 2016

DOMS- The Devil- Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness can happen the morning or two after your intense workout. Sometime you can feel great after a workout for 12 sometimes 24 hours after and then BOOM it hits you. It is important after we train we put in the correct steps to reduce muscle soreness and help us recover. 


Post Training Nutrition 

Carbohydrates and sugars are essential to get into the system after a workout so we can top up on what we have just lost in the session. You can make your own pre training shake brought with you ready for as soon as you finish your workout. This can contain, fruits, vegetables and plant protein mixed with water, lemon and pink salt. Lemon helps the body recover from an acidic state, and pink salt will help replace the salt lost during training and keep all the nutrients from the sugars and vegetables. Pink salt, citrus fruits, vegetables will help replace the electrolytes you have lost during the session. 

Then within 60 minutes you can eat a high carbohydrate meal (good carbs, = rice,potato, vegetables, quinoa, buckwheat). This is not an excuse to eat pizza and chocolate. 

Good Warm-up

A good warm-up. Dynamic stretches to warm up and slow static stretches to cool down. When you cool down from an intense workout their is already muscle breakdown so try not to stretch over a 5 or 6 out of ten.Stretching if done correctly can be a workout in itself so shouldn’t be too intense straight after a high intensity workout and can even be done as a separate session. 

Cold Bath/Shower

Studies have shown taking a cold bath or shower can help reduce inflammation and breakdown of the muscles. Again reducing the amount of time that you take to recover.

Active Recovery/Massage

Having DOMS wont recover by sitting watching TV. Active recovery such as walking, stretching, light movements and technique work are great for getting blood to the muscles to speed up recovery. Also a deep tissue massage does the same thing.


Sleep is where we repair our body, immune system and mind. A good nights sleep will help us repair the damaged muscle tissue and with correct nutrition we will repair stronger. 


Its not complicated to recover properly from a workout. Prepare, eat right, do the right things when it comes to recovery. Most of the tools to recover from training are the same as leading a healthy life




April 26, 2016

The Deadlift- If performed with correct technique is a superb tool for so many reasons. If done with correct mechanics it will have huge rewards. The movement and technique has to be more important than the weight you move. If done in-correctly it will lead to injury. When executed correctly will actually reduce the chances of injury. The deadlift will also cross over into other training lifts such as the squat, cleans and snatches from the floor. 


Source –

Full Functional Movement

The deadlift is one of the few that hits all major core muscle groups and is functional to every day living. Picking things up, jumping, squatting are movements that we perform in every day life and the deadlift can strengthen all of these. It can be the base of your training programme. It is also great for athletes that need strength and explosion.

Improves the Posterior Chain and Posture

Posture and mobility are big areas in which people are struggling at the moment because of their lifestyle. The deadlift movement targets the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. The technique forces you to use correct posture and strengthen the lower back giving you a better position of the lower spine. 

Improves Grip Strength

Grip is a big part of strength training that many people neglect. No straps just use your forearms and fingers to keep hold of that bar. We recommend only using straps if they are a part of your sport. If not improve that grip strength! 

Don’t jump into this Exercise without being coached in this lift. Make sure your technique is perfect. Low weight, high reps first before jumping into big heavy lifts. We also recommend dropping the bar from the top until the movement is mastered. 

Some Exercises to master before the Deadlift: These will help progress you into the barbell deadlift

Kettle-bell Deadlift

Sumo Deadlift

sumo deads

source –

Tips to prepare you for a better work-out

August 4, 2015

Prepare to Succeed

Fuelling your body at all times is vital. If you are coming straight to the gym from work it is important you have the right energy stores for a productive workout. Here are 5 simple tips that can help improve the quality of a workout you get.

“by failing to prepare you are preparing to fail” Benjamin Franklin

Keep Food in Your Vehicle;

Keep some nuts, seeds and dried fruit in your vehicle that you can keep topping up your energy stores with. Stay away from that hunger feeling and have them available and easy to access on your way to the gym.

Cook extra for the next day: When preparing your tea cook enough for tomorrow that you can take to work with you. This will help reduce the amount of times you cook and also stop you going for the easy option in work or before the gym.

Prepare your gym bag the night before: Do not be in a rush in the morning. The morning can help set you up for a successful day. Enjoy it, do not rush it. Wake up, prepare for work in ample time and have a healthy breakfast to start you off the right way. Preparing your gym bag the night before will free up more time in the morning for you giving you less chance of forgetting something.

Extra Training Clothes: My car boot is full of equipment and old spare training clothes just in case of an emergency and I need extra clothing equipment. I can not count the amount of times people have turned up forgetting their shorts or a t-shirt for training.

Prepare your mind on the journey: Rushing to the gym and straight into a workout is not best practice. Use your time on the journey down to help concentrate and focus on the session ahead. Plan your goals that you wish to get from today’s training and prepare your mind mentally for what is ahead. This means from the moment you start you are ready and focussed to improve.

WOrkout tips

Why Chuck a Kettle-bell around?

July 6, 2015

The funny shaped weight with a handle. One of the most effective training tools out there. Looks like a cannonball with a handle on. Kettle-bells originated in Russia and have many great benefits. They can be used for anything from full functional body exercises to a simple isolated bicep curl. In my opinion kettle-bells are so beneficial because they can improve so many aspects of your strength and conditioning gaining a functional full body workout.

Full body conditioning and controlled movement patterns
The kettle-bell is a fantastic tool to use for functional movement patterns and co-ordination. The constant change in gravity from the weight allows you to train to be in total control of your body. The fundamental movement patterns you can use with a kettle-bell will help you from everyday activities to complicated sporting techniques. You learn to use your body as a whole using many muscle groups and joints.

Functional full-body benefits
Kettle-bells are a tool that can be used to improve everything. The exercises that can be performed with a kettle-bell can attack and strengthen every muscle. Unlike a weighted machine that isolates certain muscles kettle-bells make you use many different muscle groups. You have to engage your core in nearly every movement helping to develop lower back strength, the abdominals, and all other major muscle groups. Exercises with the kettle-bell will help improve your posture, making every day movements easier and develop functional strength as you train the body to function as a whole. The use of the full body movements also helps your co-ordination.

Power and Muscular Endurance
Kettle-bells allow you to perform movements quickly. They increase your power output by helping you perform these movements at speed over a long period of time. Also studies have shown kettle-bell training to be great for improving muscular endurance. You have to remain strong when you have expanded a lot of energy and be able to maintain your strength at a level of fatigue if working in high rep volumes.

Improves functional body mass
They can be used for losing weight as studies have shown them to burn 20 calories per minute. They also help you build muscle, increase power output and sports performance. High intensity and rep range with the kettle-bell can help you increase strength without getting big which is something women and sport athletes desire to achieve.

Improves Aerobic and Anaerobic System
They are fantastic for high intensity interval training as they can really help your heart rate hit its maximum. The high intensity helps attack calories from fat stores and improves your resting metabolic rate. Studies have also been shown that using kettle-bells improve your cardio vascular fitness training muscles involved in the breathing process. Kettle-bells are a tool that targets the aerobic and anaerobic system simultaneously.

Improves Mobility and helps prevent Injury
Because kettle-bells can be used in a wide range of movements they help strengthen the tendons and ligaments which improve the joints making you less susceptible to injury. The big three are involved in kettle-bell training. These are mobility, stability and strength, Rather than just strengthening the muscles without the joints it does both. So it is great for balance. You don’t want to have strong muscles but weak joints and poor flexibility just as you do not want to have weak muscles but great flexibility. Balance is key and kettle-bells can help with this. The techniques help teach correct posture of the spine enforcing correct movement patterns teaching you correct ways for the body to function in other aspects of life and training. As they work your full range of movement they help develop strength in these areas around the muscles, joints and ligaments as well as improving your flexibility and mobility. Kettle-bells are low impact containing ballistic movements which does not force pressure through your joints.

Beginner to Advanced Techniques
I have a lot of fun using the kettle-bell with all ranges of abilities. The level of techniques can range from beginner movements to really complex and advanced techniques. They are not a high tech piece of equipment but they have high quality results. The many simple techniques that are used are effective and easy for people to pick up. You can master four basic techniques that will benefit you such as swings, cleans, press and snatch. These are functional and strong lifts.

It’s Fun
The range of kettle-bell exercises you can do always keeps it fun. There are so many techniques, lifts, ranges of times and intensities you work to which always keep’s it fun and adaptable to your schedule. Literally if you have 15 minutes to work out a kettle-bell is all you need for a full body, fun and intense workout.

The proof is there to how beneficial and effective Kettle-bells are. They are great for any level and can improve so many aspects of training. Everyone should try an involve Kettle-bells into their training programme. Make sure you are capable of performing the techniques especially if working at a high intensity where you need correct technique under fatigue.


Correct Sleeping Temperature

May 7, 2015

Adjust your temperature to get the most out of your sleep and help you recover for the next day. Sleep is important aspect of life. Constantly when I am dealing with athletes I ask them to record their sleep times. Some are surprised by this. Sleep is vital in reaching your peak.

Sleep improves brain function:
Muscle growth and recovery
Weight Loss
Reduces stress
Memory function
Helps our body replenish from stress and activities

“Getting enough sleep is crucial for athletic performance”

Says David Geier, MD, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist in Charleston, SC. Studies show that good sleep can improve speed, accuracy, and reaction time in athletes.
If we train harder, and workout more we need more energy and more food for that day. Sleep is the same. If we are training and putting more demands on our body we therefore need more sleep.

“Sleep is the best meditation”

Dalai Lama

Sleep is vital in making our mind and body reach its peak.
It contributes to weight gain and weight loss and optimal mind and body performance. Something I have always had conversations about with the people I work with is sleeping temperatures. A lot of people are misled on this concept. This blog will look into Sleeping temperatures a little more to help give you that better more effective night’s sleep. It has also shown to help you fall asleep quicker than warmer temperatures.
When temperatures are too hot or too cold when we are trying to sleep our bodies struggle to control our internal thermostat.
This can keep you awake longer and restless for a long amount of time. Once we are in a restless stage our minds can start to wonder and this situation is bad for a good night’s sleep. If your body does not reach a comfortable sleeping temperature this factor will affect the amount of deep sleep you get which is important for tissue repair, memory consolidation also stress and fatigue levels. Our body needs rest and sleep is a vital part of its rest.
Scientific studies have shown that controlling the thermostat can make a difference in your health and the quality of your night’s sleep.
A cool temperature is the ideal for sleeping. Dr. Chris Winter suggests that between 60-67 degrees are perfect sleeping conditions. Anything above this or below this can affect the quality of sleep you obtain. There are many health benefits to this and changing your sleeping temperatures can help. Studies on Pub Med published in Diabetes have shown that lowering temperatures before you sleep will lower the risk of certain metabolic diseases.
This study conducted an experiment over four months with two groups of people. One group slept at 75 Fahrenheit the other at 66. They compared the blood sugar/insulin levels of all test subjects. The cooler groups insulin levels improved and the metabolic effects showed that they burned more calories and were at a less risk of diabetes and other metabolic diseases.
Think you are caveman/women. You need to sleep in a cave which is cool, quiet and dark.

Sleep is a big part of your health and performance.

How Long Should you Rest Between Sets?

March 10, 2015

Measuring Your Rest Time

Making sure you have a specific rest time in between sets, is vital in order to reach your performance goals.
Guessing your rest time will not help you maximise your workout and objectives. The rep range you are working and intensity is just as important as your rest time in between sets. Research has proven rest periods play an important part in physical adaptations. Do not be the person to do a set, talk, check your phone and do your next set. Be specific and use time in between sets to prepare for your next set.


Types of rest range
Different types of training dictate your rest and rep range. If you are in a hypertrophy phase (muscle building) generally your rest time will be between 45-90 seconds rest.

Some basic principles to follow are the lower rep range the more rest you need because you are aiming to lift heavier.

Rest time between 0-60 seconds is a good rest range for Muscular Endurance and circuit type training work.

45-90 seconds is normally the range for hypertrophy phases.

2-3 minutes- Strength training

3-5 minutes- Strength and Power.


General rule of thumb
So generally the fewer reps you do the longer you have to rest between sets. The more reps you have the less time you get to rest in between sets as a general principle. Exercises including big muscle groups and compound movements (Squats, deadlifts) generally need more rest than a strict bicep curl involving a small muscle. So somebody training for hypertrophy should be at completely different rest periods than someone training for power.

Research shows athletes wanting to build strength and power have far greater results from longer rest allowing them to recover more in between sets.

Make sure you are accurate and specific with your rest periods to maximise results. It is just as important as your rep ranges and is something that too many people neglect.


Aaron Aby

BSc Sports Coaching

Professional Mixed martial-artist



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  • 5:00 pm - MMA for kids
  • 6:00 pm - MMA for Beginners
  • 7:00 pm - Inspire Circuit
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