So where do we start?
Steve Cotter gets so much over enthusiastic praise from so many trainers and coaches writing blogs all over the world, it’d hardly be fair to do the same. But it’s hard not to.
Here at Wild Geese we pride ourselves on being no-nonsense, no frills, no BS. We walk the talk. we expect high standards from ourselves and those that train with us. We regularly get people coming in try out a few sessions and never come back because while we scale our training to the individuals, we never compromise on quality and never accept excuses. We’ve attended many seminars in martial arts, strength, fitness and other topics always with an open if slightly cynical mind, we want to learn, we want to be challenged and we want to be impressed. But with standards as high as ours, it takes a lot to impress us.
This was the third time I’ve hosted Steve at Wild Geese and I’ve invited him back for a fourth time. If that doesn’t show how high a regard I hold this man, then you’ll just have to attend his next workshop and make up your own mind.
The group that attended the weekend were a mixed bunch, some of my own guys, a couple of powerlifters, a couple of kettlebell instructors and one “fitness blogger”. Only one had previously attended a workshop from Steve, the inimitable Kieron Dolan of Dolan Fitness down in Tullamore, Offaly (you know the place where President Obama comes from……) Like myself, Kieron has high standards, he’s attended many workshops and seminars from the likes of Jim Wendler, Eric Cressey, Andy Bolton, James Fennely and myself, but he says he learned more from Steve Cotter than the others combined (with the exception of my workshops of course…..). he was the first to book onto Steve’s workshop and brought with him Alan, a member of his gym that was nick named “the Caveman” by non other than Jim Wendler. I knew he’d find the course challenging so kept a close eye on him throughout.
Day one kicked off with warm up procedures, various methods of improving mobility, movement patterns, raising core temperature and loosening the body. We went over agility drills including plyometrics, tumbling and animal moves. For a big powerlifter like Alan it was hard going but under Steves guidance and the group camaraderie, he made significant improvement and I think was surprised at his own performance. We then moved onto Steve’s signature move, the Single Leg Squat or Pistol. The way this was broken down into manageable stages, each developing a portion of the exercise was excellent. From personal experience I can tell you the biggest problem for most is lack of mobility. Steve took us through several drills to develop the necessary mobility for the Pistol squat and strength in the bottom position. By the end of this section each participant had significantly improved their ability, all that remains is practice.
During the day we had a couple of challenges, one a dead hang the other a jumping drill. The dead hang was three progressively longer sets with the purpose of developing the finger flexors and allowing the spine to decompress. The jumps were lateral hops over a hurdle set to knee height, as many as possible in one minute. Of course we had to do a second set, only this time, 1 minute per leg. That was fun.
After finishing off with stretching procedures we wrapped up the day. Everyone looked pretty wiped out, mentally and physically.
Day two was Kettlebell day. I knew this was going to be good, just from previous experience, but Steve has significantly stepped up his game both as a teacher and kettlebell athlete. His updated information was stunning. Over the 7 hour day we covered the Swing, Clean, Snatch, Jerk and Press, 4 lifts, but we could have spent longer on each. Steve has recently spent 9 days over in Russia training under the current top flight coaches and athletes in the world of Kettlebell lifting. as a result he came to us armed with the latest cutting edge developments in training and performance and also the knowledge of how to pass this on so that it’s useful to mere mortals like you and I. Details on the grip to use, flight of the bell, lockout positions, warm up, cool down and program design were all covered. For me the most important information came on the breathing patterns. Kettlebell lifting is really about repetitions, it’s about developing Strength – Power endurance and like all endurance events it requires proper breath control. When out running or cycling this is easy, but when you two dirty great lumps of iron swing round you, it gets a lot tougher. With the techniques we learned over the day each of us noticed a significant improvement in our ability to continue or even go faster. During a snatch session, with an improved snatch technique and the new breath pattern I wasn’t even puffing afterwards, usually the snatch leaves me on the floor!
I’d like to say everyone felt the same but with the guys hands blistering and tearing from the unfamiliar level of volume, it got tough, but I have to say, fair play to each of them, they dug deep and soldiered on.
Over all it was a great day with great company. Looking forward to comparing notes with the guys over the next while as well as planning on having Steve back again in the very near future.