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Knees, Upper Backs, Strength and Wolverine…….

Today I’ve a few things on my mind. As per normal, my little grey cells are banging on overtime and I’m struggling to tame them into a single coherent article.

So I’ll not bother.

Instead we’re going to talk about:

  1. The Knee

  2. The Upper Back

  3. How Strength Makes Problems Go Away

  4. Wolverine.

So lets begin:

1 – The Knee.

The knee is blamed for a lot of problems, but unfairly so. On it’s own it’s a complicated beast, essentially working as a hinge but also allowing for a limited amount of rotation. In a fully functioning human being, the knee will last for a lifetime or more, so why do so many have so many issues with it?

Here’s a clue:

Stand up, let your trousers hang naturally. Now, pinch some fabric and give it a twist, do it anywhere from the hip or thigh area. What happens below? Do you see creases forming around the knee? Do you see deformities in the cloth from the pinched area all the way to the floor? Well that’s a very close analogy to what happens in the muscles and more importantly the fascia of the body. If you have tightness forming in your calves, your quads or your hip flexors, I’ll place a bet that if you aren’t feeling knee issues yet, then you will soon. I’ve discussed this topic at length in the past and will do so again I’m sure, but for now here’s one i wrote in response to some of our BJJ guys going on about sore knees.

Now THIS one comes from Mike Robertson, he’s much smarter than me, so read it.

2 – The Upper Back.

Would you like to still be standing tall in your twilight years? What about having the shoulder stability to throw a knockout punch? How about the explosive rotational power to take an opponents balance or twist out of a tackle?

Well to tick off all the above, you need a powerful upper back. You need to train this with a dynamic pulling action. There are many upper back drills, any rowing variation will work,as will pull ups. But non are truly dynamic. Enter the High Pull.

Better yet, the Half Kneeling High Pull.

Why half kneeling? Well, it takes out a lot of the hip action forcing the upper body to do more of the work. The half kneeling position is great for balancing the hips and stabilising the core. The drill is unilateral and trains the diagonal pulling action of the core, something that is often neglected as people obsess over their anterior core. Imagine taking that “oblique crunch” that is so popular and working the exact opposite movement. Explosively. With weight.

Here it is: [youtube]

3 – How Strength Makes Problems Go Away

Getting stronger can fix the vast majority of your aches and pains. It’s the reason Wild Geese Martial Arts founder Paul Cox, with his 50year old arthritic hip and screwed up shoulder can still do this: [youtube] Not only that but regularly rolls with the BJJ guys. How is this possible when he’s on the waiting list for a hip replacement?


Strength from deadlifts, squats, kettlebell swings, jerks and figure 8’s. Strong muscles, those that are trained holistically in a balanced method keep the body moving smoothly, they take some of the stress away from the joints, they ensure an aligned structure. In other words, strength rules. If you think you’re too old to strength train, have a look here: [youtube]

4 – Wolverine

I have a finisher I like to use with my guys, it’s a countdown set of Kettlebell Swings and Bodyweight Squats. We start with Swings for say 35 reps, then do 5 bodyweight or hindu squats. The swings go down by 5 reps each set, while the squats go up by 5 reps each set. This continues until the numbers are reversed. Needless to say, speed is a factor, get it done with minimal rest.

Usually I write it up as follows: Beginners: 25/5 Intermediate: 30/5 Advanced: 35/5 Batman: 50/5

Then some smart arse pipes up asking  “whats the next level after Batman?” Well, there’s only one superhero harder than Batman, only one with more attitude and that’s Wolverine.

So the Wolverine level Swing / Squat countdown is with extra attitude. Use Double Kettlebell swings and Jump Squats, minimal acceptable level for Wolverine is 35/5. I did it swinging a pair of 32’s outside the legs, and it sucked. What will you do?

Thats all for today.

Will see you after the weekend



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