The Truth About Pain

Biomechemical model of pain


For the last few hundred years, we have thought about pain in the same way.

The biomechanical model of pain sees us and our bodies as essentially mechanical in nature – muscles/ropes and joints/levers. Stimulus travels to the brain, the brain accepts the information and returns a nerve signal to the area = sensation. We put our hand on a hot plate, it hurts and we learn from the experience – don’t touch hotplates.

The biomechanical model holds up pretty well for injuries while they are healing. However, it fails to explain pain that persists after the injury has healed. It also fails to explain injuries without pain – like when we notice a bruise and can’t remember getting it.

Pain is instructive. We learn from it. Hotplate = caution. People who canʼt feel pain die sooner than those that can.

Pain is also contextual. When we are tired, hungry, cold and sad a stubbed toe REALLY hurts. When we are slept, fed, warm and happy, the same stubbed toe is less of an issue.

Our bodies are really good at repairing themselves. Last time you cut yourself, how long did it take to heal? 2-3 weeks? Broke your arm falling out of a tree? 6-8 weeks in plaster, then a bone as good as new.  An Achilles tendon torn off the bone is back on the playing deck and almost as good as new in 12-18 months. So a microscopic bulge in the ligaments surrounding our spine healed in a matter of weeks

Why do we experience persistent pain if the body has had time to repair itself?  Is it because the injury persists or is it a richer tapestry than that?

It is widely accepted that a disc bulge (an injury to the tissues around and within the spine similar to a tendon strain or minor muscle tear) in the lower back equals pain.

However, 68% of adults in their 40ʼs with no back pain have disc bulges when put through an MRI. That’s 70/100 adults in their 40ʼs with NO pain have back injuries.


The MRI – Magnetic Resonance Imaging machine – is really, really good at picking up details inside our bodies. Namely cancer and degenerative abnormalities such as disc protrusions (bulges). As the numbers above show us, however (70/100 pain-free adults have disc bulges) MRI machines are really crap at predicting pain.

So an MRI that proves a disc bulge but does not predict that the person will be in pain – because 70/100 pain-free adults in their 40ʼs DO have disc bulges.

Better indicators of chronic pain than a disc bulge are:
• Sleep. If you donʼt get enough or itʼs broken sleep you are more likely to be in persistent pain than if you have a disc bulge.
• Stress. If you feel stressed about work/money/home etc you are more likely to have persistent pain than if you have a disc bulge.
• Exercise. If you do you are more likely to be pain-free and/or recover faster. If you donʼt you won’t.
• Belief. If you believe your back pain will pass, it most likely will. If you believe you are your back pain is with you for good, it most likely is.

This illustration shows the Bio-psychosocial model of pain. Increasingly supported by compelling scientific evidence it shows persistent pain as a result of a more complex web of variables than a simple A+B=C.

Bio-psychosocial model of pain
Bio-psychosocial model of pain

It explains why the way we are feeling about ourselves, our lives, our jobs our partners and our kids all have an impact on the severity and duration of persistent pain.

None of this is meant to suggest that pain is not real or that it’s all in our headʼ.  Pain is very real. As anyone whoʼs been in pain knows, itʼs hard to ignore it when itʼs there and we tend to forget to do the things we know help when it is upon us. What we are learning about pain is that itʼs affected very powerfully by many more factors than the injury site.

Solving our persistent pain is more complex than simply getting an operation to remove a bulging disc (that we now know has no bearing on 95% of all lower back pain, AND that people with no pain still have disc bulges). It doesnʼt necessarily work to just go and see your osteopath or physiotherapist and get a back adjustment. There needs to be a shift in our exercise, in our sleep and in what we believe about our bodies and our pain.

We are robust.

Pain is temporary.

Exercise is the best medicine and guards us against pain.

Good quality sleep is not a luxury but a human need.

Exercise = better sleep = less pain and a healthy strong body.

If this sounds too good to be true, check out these videos.

If you want to enjoy the freedom of movement, shake off persistent pain and build a body that bounces back try our ‘money back guaranteeʼ first session with one of the White Dog Studio trainers.

What to eat?


I have spent a lot of time talking “best practice” when it comes to eating. There have been plenty of heated (though happy) discussions with fellow therapists about “diets” and how to eat. It’s mostly always argued that it’s best to be “general”. And to follow the already widely available food pyramid and healthy eating guidelines offered by the Health Department. For fear of upsetting the boat, alienating people, creating “food fear” or asking “too much” of clients, or of a genuine belief that the healthy eating guidelines are correct (they’re not), the vast majority of nutritionists still offer eating templates that include dairy, grains and starchy carbohydrates in large daily servings.

I don’t agree with this and so I don’t do it. Instead, please read on for a summary of what we at White Dog Studio profess to be the best and most wholesome way to eat for overall good health. There are disclaimers here, as always, because health isn’t black and white and everyone has different dietary needs and requirements so eating well requires you to be responsible, take time to listen to your body, exert control and intuition and feel your way through a health regime that should involve the following:

Eat plenty of leafy green and brightly coloured vegetables, every day. Choose grass fed, hormone and antibiotic free meats and eat some with most meals, about a palm sized piece of protein will do nicely. Add a thumb-ful of fat and if you like about half a cup of starchy vegetables, such as white or sweet potato. Here and there snack on a piece of fruit or a small handful of nuts and seeds. Enjoy some fermented foods such as sauerkraut. Avoid grains, starchy carbohydrates, dairy (unless fermented and well tolerated), legumes and sugar.

There are some people who can tolerate carbohydrates better than others and can eat more starch. The only way you will know is by cutting processed and carbohydrate based foods out of your diet and eating real, whole foods and nothing else for 30 days and then slowly, one by one, introducing them back in to gauge your reactions (such as gut aches, constipation, headaches, afternoon energy dips, blood sugar crashes, cravings, that feeling of just needing “something” after your dinner etc).

This is not to say you can’t eat these foods ever again – a suggestion is not a gun to your head. But when you eat well most of the time and bring balance to your blood sugar, hormones and digestive system, you find that the foods you so often crave now are actually not that good when you do come to “treat” yourself. As you go on, you’ll choose them less and less, your reactions to them will become more averse and you will crave the right foods and be thankful for them.

In a nutshell, I offer you these sentiments because all the good research shows it’s the best way to eat to heal your gut  and avoid or manage autoimmune conditions, depression, anxiety, metabolic syndromes, hormone dysregulation, weight problems and behavioural disorders in children (and adults) such as Autism, Aspergers, ADHD/ADD. And because over the past decade my experience has been the same time and time again, if you heal the gut with the right foods, you heal the body and mind as well.

If at first you feel like this is too hard, make the change gradually. Aim to eat one whole foods meal once a day for four weeks, then add the second for a month then add the third. The hardest one is breakfast, so I suggest doing that one FIRST!

In the next blog post I will introduce the concept of counting macro nutrients for weight loss and body sculpting, which can be done in two ways. Firstly, using flexible dieting (which does not fit within the principles of White Dog’s food philosophies but has a place in the fitness industry and maybe your life which is totally fine by us) and secondly, by using a whole foods approach but still counting macros for best results in the gym. Stay tuned!

Why Do We Do So Many Standing Poses in Our Yoga Classes?

“We stand on our legs throughout our waking state; thus, the foundation for movement and action are the legs. The legs have to be trained to make them firm and steady. Without a firm foundation, a building cannot stand. Similarly, without the firm foundation of strong legs and feet, the brain, which is the seat of intelligence, cannot be held in correct alignment with the spine. Hence the standing poses are introduced first.”

– Yoga a Gem for Women. Geeta Iyengar


Legs, legs, and more legs!!

Most of us would love to have a great set of pins, you know the ones I am talking about… muscular, lean and that look absolutely awesome in whatever we choose to wear.

Genetics has a bit to do with what you end up with however working your legs, both upper and lower will get you the best legs you can possibly hope for. That is to say, use them and you will improve them!

Looks aside, and on a more serious note, are you aware that working out your legs can boost your overall health?

Weak legs lead to the overuse and often injury of the upper body and spine and many people with lower back pain present in class with an obvious weakness in the legs.

Yes, when the legs are weak we can still walk and get around however movement is often accompanied by pain and discomfort.


Little stats about legs…

Based on the health information collected from my students over the past 2 years, as many as 85% come to yoga complaining of regular pain in the legs, hips, back and shoulders…

Our legs and core muscles provide both strength and support for our body. They are large muscles and respond better to fewer repetitions and higher weights. So if you are looking to strengthen your legs use weight. Learning to bear your own bodies weight in various standing position is a great place to start.


Get to know your feet and legs.

All students are asked when they enrol if they have been doing any form of exercise or training prior to joining the yoga classes.

The vast majority of people respond by saying they use walking as their one and only form of exercise.

At least they are moving, right?

Walking is a good way to work the muscles in the legs, possibly reduce body fat and improve circulation however you started walking when we were still in nappies, and from my own physical explorations and observations as a teacher, most people do not stand or walk very well at all.

People tend to stand and walk the same way they sit.

If you are a person who tend to collapse over your paperwork, or get swallowed by your couch at night, the chances are you will take the same postural patterns along with you for your walks.

Stand tall.
Walk tall, smoothly and quietly.  
Keep your head up and look outwards.
The head should lead the spine upward while the knees, not the feet need to lead the legs forward.
Try to transfer your weight smoothly from one leg to the next.

Have a look at the soles and heels of your shoes.
What is the pattern of wear that you can see?
Where is the weight?

“My feet is my only carriage”- Bob Marley

Get to know your legs and feet ‘Technique and Application’ classes with Jo – Wednesday 7:45pm and Saturday 9:30am.

Love Your Gut


As my first blog post for White Dog Studio I figured I should start out with my passion – gut health. Being the start of a New Year, when loosely based resolutions to lose weight and exercise don’t take long to fly out the window, I’d like to focus in on the concept of listening to your body and providing it the recipe it needs to best function. And then simply enjoying the weight loss that often follows. Because what if I told you that poor digestion was a barrier to weight loss? Did you know that? Would it be worth it to address your symptoms of poor digestion if you knew one of the many outcomes would be a few pesky kilos gone?

The vast majority of the population suffer with some sort of digestive disturbances, ranging from general reflux and heartburn to flatulence and bloating, with a smaller but still significant percentage experiencing constipation, diarrhoea, cramping and stomach pains, headaches, nausea, vomiting and feelings of fullness. Perhaps some of you have attempted to cut out gluten for a couple of weeks, to find the alternatives to your normal fare dry, crumbly, over sugared, gross. Others have put it all in the too hard basket and simply avoid certain social settings where noisy farting is inappropriate. Most often, you tell yourself that it’s just ‘normal’. To be fair, it likely does feel normal as you’ve been feeling bloated after meals for so long now it’s all you know. After all, it takes not being bloated and uncomfortable to know what it feels like to be bloated and uncomfortable.

Below are a few simple suggestions to treating your digestive system with the love and kindness it deserves.

  1. Manage your stress.

    This will always be the most important one.

    Stress doesn’t just wreak havoc on your mind; it WILL mess with your digestion! Read all about The Gut/Brain Axis is a hot topic as scientists understand more and more that the mind and body are intricately connected, indeed it is now commonly referred to as “the second brain”. Take the time to work out a plan best suited to you – 15 minutes a day of breathing exercises, moving your body, taking the time to enjoy your favourite past times, counselling, can all help. Only you have the power to decide to deal with stress better.

  2. Hydrate.

    From the moment you get up! Start the day with a large glass of warm water. Should you feel so inspired, squeeze some lemon juice into it or add ½ a tsp of himalayan salt. Read why here.

  3. Chew your food. 

    The first step to digestion begins in your mouth with saliva which contains amylase, an enzyme that helps break down starches. Chewing mechanically breaks down your food and also sends a signal to your stomach that food is on its way. 

  4. Eat REAL foods.

    Focus on whole, fresh foods, such as meat, eggs, fats, vegetables, fruits and nuts. Avoid processed foods andfast-foods, which are typically high in refined salt, sugar, and processed oils. Limit grains, sugar and all refined carbohydrates.

  5. Eat fermented and cultured foods.

    Fermented foods are high in “good bacteria” and eating them will help you to regenerate your gut flora naturally. It has been shown that eating cultured food is more successful in repopulating beneficial gut flora than taking store bought probiotics. The greater the variety of fermented and cultured foods you can include in your diet, the better. Try eating sauerkraut,  kefir, coconut yoghurt and kombucha. If you have a severe gut disorder, start slowly. Allow time for your internal environment to change and for your digestive system to become healthier and stronger. White Dog will soon be holding its first Gut Healing Workshop so you can learn how to make these foods yourself!

  6. Be good to your liver.

    Drink lots of water, eat raw beetroot, carrots and leafy greens. Chew bitter greens before eating, such as rocket, which is easily grown in the garden to stimulate digestive juices. Drink dandelion and milk thistle tea. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.

Laura x

Practice is essential

When you step onto the mat in front of your teachers, whether it be for Yoga, Pilates or HIT, what you, as a student should work to cultivate, accept and recognize is the value in how you can take in the teachings that are being offered to you, and put them into your practice right then and there.

What was that instruction you were given in class??

As students of a subject, any subject, we should expect to practice.

Practice means looking, listening, choosing, applying the effort, and doing those actions that bring a steady experience through a more stable body, greater oxygenation of the cells and contentment with our own individual efforts.

Like any new language, whether it be Music, French, or Physical movement, the basics of comprehension, technique and application help establish the foundations of your understanding. The basics create, support and instil the confidence that is required for your individual progression.

Attune your ears to listen and receive and above all practice to feel.

Just turning up to class and performing is not enough, whether you are the teacher or the student. Practice is essential to understand your own body, mind and breath through the subject as it comes to you.

‘As a yoga teacher, I regularly observe students either limiting the freedom of their bodies movements because of fear, lack of understanding and/or pain, or attempting to break the bodies limits by using willpower and force inan incorrect manner. It is in my opinion that when the body is unprepared, both these approaches are fundamentally wrong.’

Come to classes to learn a method to progress that is step by step.

Learn the basic and never underestimate the value in learning them over and over again.

Your teachers have learnt to teach you step by step.

So let go and trust them.

Try not to let your desires get in the way of a respectful truth.

Maybe your right thigh is dull and does not respond to the instructions!

In the process of learning, work to understand and let go of the attachments, fears, aversions and false identities that influence your understanding. Come to the session with an open mind and an eagerness to change.

Why pay to stand before a teacher and then choose not to listen?

Come and be intense and determined?

Accept the teaching in whatever way it comes to you and enjoy the mental space that surrendering to a process invites.

Progress is not checked by your list of injury nor is it checked by your abilities to stand on your head for 20 minutes or lift 150Kg.

You all know the body a little, you have read about itand studied its systems at some stage in your life atschool. This study of your anatomy and physiology gave you an objective knowledge of the body. What about your experience of your body, of being in your body, with your body? There are so many ways to measure progress, sensitize and educate physical movement and dare I say, to experience our very existence.

Check in with your motivations and look at the body, and get to know it well for it is the ONLY body that you will be given for this life journey.

Come to your classes ready to hear the teachings being delivered to you. Be disciplined in your approach and respectful of your own body and the teacher’s ability to ‘See’ you.

Be prepared to learn from the beginning, trust and value what experience has to offer you.

Watch who you become when you are challenged and deal with that!

Pilates or Yoga – Which one is right for me?


They are simple, effective and to the point.

They will give you greater control of your body, a strong, supple core and will make you feel frickin awesome.

Drawing on the principles that make Joseph Pilates’ original repertoire so effective, Pilates classes are vigorous, physically demanding and highly, highly addictive.

The Pilates repertoire was designed to make your body strong, agile and ready for anything. It has no philosophical or meditative aspects.  Classes are presented in term size blocks that we call courses. They run in line with school terms and in levels 1 and 2.

Week 1 and 2 are always a refresher of the basics and introduce new students to the way the classes work.  Level 1 is not necessarily easier than level 2.  Level 1 focuses on the basics and builds strength, endurance and flexibility.  Level 2 classes are available by invitation
from level 1. They include training towards handstands, backbends and gymnastic ring work.

Classes are taught in a carefully designed, ‘layered’ format so that whether you’re a beginner or a gymnast there is challenge available to you.

If you enjoyed your class or want to know what to expect you can follow along to a basic warm up here:

If you would like to try level 2 before level 1, we’ll assume you are currently physically active. We request that next time you’re in the gym or on the mat you go through our pilates heat map. Count your capabilities and decide for yourself. It’s a great little document that will be with you forever. You’ll never be without a workout designed just for you!


Because we could all do with a little more day to day inner peace. No?

Yoga is about a lot of things, but first and foremost it is about looking after ourselves, those around us and the world around us for mutual benefit.  Yoga translates roughly from the sanskrit “yog” as ‘yoking’ or tying together.

The practise of yoga aims to tie together our body, our mind and the other bit… soul, atman, consciousness… the bit that science can’t explain. A bit like water, milk and coffee combine to make a perfect latte.

Yoga helps you do this through movement and breathing – asana and pranayama.  Whereas Pilates classes train you towards outcomes – push you to achieve new things with your body – Yoga, in essence , oesn’t care what you can do with your body.

In the Yoga we use our bodies to observe our response to challenge, to find a more peaceful relationship with ourselves and the world around us, and to be observant (some might say mindful) of the way we react to challenges.

That might make it sound like it’s all about challenge. It’s not. 

If you still have questions about which class is right for you, call in to the studio and have a chat to one of the instructors.

FREE Strength Training workouts for Christmas/NY break

The question keeps being asked: how can I maintain my strength base until next term?

The workout below focuses on two moves and two moves only:

– The Turkish Get Up

– Swing

Hang on a second, where are the squats, deadlifts, push ups amongst others? Don’t these two exercises really cross those barriers and help me maintain my gains?

First of all Yes! Secondly… they’ll give you a whole lot more for free 🙂

As some of you may now, Pavel Tsatsouline was the man responsible for popularising the kettlebell in America starting in the late 1990s. He had a long time relationship with the DragonDoorb but a few years ago broke away from DragonDoor and the RK (Russian Kettlebell Certification) and started a new organisation, StrongFirst. His most recent book is titled “Simple and Sinister” and it details his new version of Program Minimum, the updated version of the programming he described in the classic “Enter the Kettlebell” book.

Throughout the StrongFirst community, there are thousands of people globally who repeat this workout daily to keep fit and strong, from Navy Seals Special Forces to mere mortals like you and I. Personally speaking, if I have to choose one work out to complete most days to get me bang for my buck, it would be Program Minimum.

Equipment Required – Two Kettlebells ($100 second hand or from Aldi, ebay or other discount provider). Don’t worry about getting anything fancy, just get something that does the job. An old dumbbell works, although not as ideal as the main weight isn’t positioned over the wrist (more on each side) but we work with what we have. If you do choose to buy a couple of kettlebells then remember, these are legacy items, they will outlive you so as far as I see, your purchase will be a worthy investment.

Starting weights – the creator recommended 16kg for an “average strength” man and 8kg for a woman. If you can go heavier that’s great.

Workout frequency – from 1-4x per week

Warmup – 10 minutes of wall squats (bodyweight squats facing a wall), “pump” stretches (a combo downward dog/hip flexor stretch), and “halos” (kettlebell passes around the head to warm up the shoulder). Nothing fancy, the actual program is minimal impact and should warm you up by design.

Swing workout – 12 minutes, sets of swings with “active rest” between sets (such as jogging, pushups, pull ups, planks, etc). The number of reps and sets is not specified and is left to the individual.

Getup workout – 5 minutes of continuous getups, alternating sides, no rest. Don’t count reps (yeah right).

The progression is kind of nebulous. Eventually you graduate to the RKC “Rite of Passage” which incorporates snatches, clean & press, and complex rep schemes like ladders and randomisation that I have been coaching in the HIT sessions but for now, it’s just increase the intensity through time spent on the exercises.

What the above represents is a HARD continuous 30 minute workout. Our warm up strives for a perfect squat pattern, the kettlebell swing section works our deadlift movement and our Get Up practice will build raw strength, keep mobility high and hit endurance it a high level of mental focus.

For those that are looking at the above workout thinking it looks easy, if you are like the thousands of StrongFirst devotees who can increase the intensity of the workout themselves while maintaining quality reps, the above an be devastatingly effective. That being said, the concept underpinning PM is lift/swing what you feel. Feeling tired, lack of sleep and energy? Muscles sore? Swings less, add in more rest time. Feeling fresh and full of zing? Overclock the eccentric part of the swing, move faster, rest less, lift heavier BUT keep quality form throughout.

HIT Team: Get ready for end of term benchmarking!

For those of you that have been to the HIT sessions from the beginning you’ll know that I favour kettlebells. There are a few reasons why I them as my main training tool:

Full-body conditioning. The body learns to work as one synergistic unit linked strongly together.

Big results in less time. Kettlebell training involves multiple muscle groups and energy systems at once.

Increased resistance to injury: strengthening the posterior chain of muscle, stabilises shoulders, spine and hips.

The ability to work aerobically and anaerobically simultaneously. More bang for your buck.

Improved mobility and range of motion

Enhanced performance in athletics and everyday functioning.

Major calorie burning and EPOC (exercise post oxygen consumption). Contributes to increased metabolic rate, assisting fat loss/maintenance.

My teaching, research, and training over the last 5 years has produced a reductionist training program, culminating in my choosing to focus on the “vital few” movements. I have a similar approach to Strength Training, and have written about this in previous blogs. 

At the end of this term, and every term we’re going to offer you the ability to benchmark yourself against the first of 5 Levels of Kettlebell proficiency that I’ve developed in that time. 

Here’s what Level 1 looks like…..

1) 500 kettlebell swings. Time limit: 45mins. 16kg KB for females,  24kg KB for males

Your 500 swings is made up of the following, repeated 5 times:

50 swings + 3 pull ups, 6 push ups,  9 air squats

25 swings + 3 pull ups, 6 push ups,  9 air squats

15 swings + 3 pull ups, 6 push ups,  9 air squats

10 swings + 3 pull ups, 6 push ups,  9 air squats

2) Modified “Enter the Kettlebell”.  Time limit: 45 mins. 16kg KB for females,  24kg KB for males

5 x Clean, squat and press L+R  plus 5 pull ups

4 x Clean, squat and press L+R  plus 4 pull ups

3 x Clean, squat and press L+R  plus 3 pull ups

2 x Clean, squat and press L+R  plus 2 pull ups

1 x Clean, squat and press L+R  plus 1 pull up

Repeat 5 cycles of the above.

For some,  the completion of the above will represent three months hard practice, for others it may take a year. As long as you train consistently, manage your own rest breaks as required (as opposed to keeping doing reps with ill looking form) and keep mentally sharp, the length of the journey becomes irrelevant. The results come from turning up and training hard.

We can extract certain components such as technique, endurance, certain movements, mobility, mental focus etc but in all honestly, just do it. Everything you need for a strong body and good fitness is in the above: Vertical pull, vertical push, ballistic hinge, squat, bodyweight work, endurance, strength. You name it, it’s there.

So for the remainder of term one we will continue to practice the basics as that’s where 90% of our gains are going to be made!




How to make progress in Strength Training

Calling all strength participants! Please read below for an overview on the key concepts that are underpinning this first term of strength.


It’s been fair to say we have a “keep it simple” approach with a focus on Systematic Overload applied to these movements:


• One large posterior chain movement (the deadlift is the right answer)

• One large lower body push (the squat is the right answer)

• One upper body push (bench press or military press)

• One upper body pull (pull-ups, rows)

• A simple full-body explosive move (kettlebell swings or snatches)

• And something for what I call an “anterior chain” move (an abdominal exercise). I think the ab wheel is king here, but you can also do some other movements best suited for lower reps.


Most of the above fit in our idea that we’re lifting for health not pure vanity. If we choose to  focus on the traditional gym muscles, the pecs and biceps, you WILL see it in the mirror but the really important muscles are the ones you see “when you are walking away.” The traps, the spinal erectors, the glutes, the hams and the calves usually don’t get a lot of media attention. They are the unsung heroes and are some of the primary muscles we aim to make stronger.


That being said, there is nothing wrong with wanting to look good naked! With this in mind, the holy grail to achieve this is the pow-wow combo of fat loss and muscle gain. As long as we have step one in the bag (dump sugar and sleep more), it then step two is about starting a strength training program and applying the following concept:  


“Systematic, consistent loading, as fast as your recovery will allow”.

….That’s the order of the day for Term One of Strength.


Let’s look at that in more detail:


Session one, we learn to deadlift. We were happy to get 20kg lifted with average form. Big high fives all round. Plenty of pats on the back, now let’s get down to business.


The following sessions in term one are spent tightening up technique and at the same time increasing the loads. We are currently on this road and continuing systematic, consistent loading with the result of making big increases in our weights lifted.


At a certain point, enough adaptation has occurred that even 2.5kg per week will seem impossible, so that is the point when complex systems like periodization are required. This will happen quicker than in a young male who is packing in the calories as we recognise that our demographic is different and weight gain just isn’t a priority. It is hoped that the last couple of weeks, people will start to plateau naturally. So, the point being to the above is, where do you think we would be if we started out on some complicated structured program?” I’ve said before when asked about goals for term one that there are no goals. If you really had to squeeze me, it’d be turn up, train hard, rest easy. They aren’t S.M.A.R.T goals but fit my aim of keeping it simple in this initial introductory period.  


Volume: We are also increasing the reps from week five onwards in a systematic and consistent fashion so we create volume and density in our sessions at the same time as increase intensity via loads. This moves us through to a hypertrophy rep range by the end of the term and completes a full cycle as this is the rep range we were training in on the first session. Long reps for increasing lean muscle mass. Good grip strength and mental fortitude.


So, by now, everyone is getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. We’re pushing the weight and the reps up each week (when it’s getting easier) and by the end of the term we’re in a position to bring the rep range down and estimate one rep max (1RMs).


Term Two for those who return will see some periodization, sitting deep in the guts of strength training repping 3-5 reps now that we have built up a foundation level of conditioning and dialled in our good technique. This is the point where we aim to set goals based on our 1RMs set above, using assistance exercises, increased intensity and good form to us there safely and in a timely fashion.


Please feel free to ask any questions in class about any of the above and a huge well done to all those who have been training consistently since since the start of Oct.

What’s in the programming of an HIT session?

White Dog HIT sessions can be summed up as: “I want results, I want to work fast and let my body experience physical stress but still in a controlled and methodological manner”.

I use kettlebells in HIT sessions a lot! They are easy to coach, can be punishing IF you choose the right weight and are very versatile in that you can swing, push, press, squat them as well as a number of other uses.

I use 3 main concepts when writing the HIT programming for the term and the following will give you an insight in how I lay the foundations:

Complexes – Chains – Ladders


A kettlebell COMPLEX is a series of exercises performed in a sequence with the same weight and without rest. All reps of an exercise are performed BEFORE moving on to the next exercise. Example:

Double kettlebell swing x 10

Double kettlebell snatch x 10

Double kettlebell squat x 10

Double kettlebell push press x 10

Rinse, repeat until thoroughly exhausted. The above workout would be performed multiple times with adequate rest periods after each set.

A kettlebell CHAIN is a series of exercises performed sequentially, but the difference is that you perform only one rep of each exercise in the sequence before starting the sequence over again. Each time the sequence of exercises is performed, it counts as one rep. Example:


Offset squat

Drop lunge+press

Offset squat

Change arm, cycle and repeat for 10 reps total (5 each arm)

Typically, we’d be pushing the above cycle for a set period of time, say 8 minutes trying to achieve as many reps as possible with impeccable form. This is what I call an AMTAP. As Much Technique As Possible and is the antithesis to the infamous AMRAP workouts that are so pervasive in the HIT community at present. R=reps.

A kettlebell LADDER is used with an exercise and you add a rep for each rung of the ladder. Clean and press example: You do 1 rep with the left and then switch hands and do one with the right. That would be the first rung of the ladder. Then do 2 with the left and then 2 with the right = rung 2. You can do 5+ rung ladders and multiple ladders

The best example of a ladder is Rite of Passage workout that I am a big fan of. Just google.  A simple push/pull workout that can be completed up to 3 times a week and can be toned down or jacked up depending on skill and energy levels that day. It’s a combination of two moves, a Clean & Press and chin ups. Two moves performed in ladders with compressed rest intervals. Simple, brutal and effective. ROP is the definitive staple of my sessions delivery in HIT as it’s been around a long time and has a whole community devoted to it and offering modifications and progressions where needed.

For those of you already doing HIT I hope that helps you to understand what you’re doing in class. For anyone not signed up, it might help you make the decision to give HIT a go. My sessions aren’t the usual metafit, bootcamp-esque workouts completed to the beat of the drum or the voice of the drill sergeant. If I had to sum up the White Dog HIT sessions in 10 words… “Body conditioning through intense strength based movements, requiring mental fortitude”.