Aug 29


Its a rare treat to be able to catch up with some of our athletes from around the world.



We stopped in at Waco to see Sean Muir graduate and to take a new athlete on a tour of the facilities at Baylor University.


As impressive as it was on opening day back in 2014.

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We went to Indiana to see Zac at the University of Indiana for the first time.


We saw Blake play for the Colts in their opening preseason game and play the most number of snaps of the OL.


We headed to LA and Oakland to see good friend Max Aita’s gym and train there with Jackson.


And then we took in the Police and Fire World Games so that Ben could compete in the Push-Pull comp.

Good with 137.5kg on 2nd attempt. Missed a PR attempt of 142.5kg on 3rd. On to the DL. We will open at 245kg.

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May 11


So 1582, the Julian calendar makes way for the Gregorian calendar under Pope Gregory the 13th. It wasn’t until 1752 though that England and British Territories adopted it in 1752. If you ever see dates referred to as ‘Old Style (O.S.) or New Style (N.S.) then you know what that is in reference to, in 1752 the year started on January 1st instead of March 25th.

The history of the calendar, (and alternatives to the Gregorian calendar)  is extremely interesting and worth long investigation in its own right but it is mentioned here to stimulate thought towards why training programs follow a weekly format; it begs the question, why do we have weeks that are 7 days long?

Stimulus on the body for adaptation needs to take into account recovery time; planning and managing training load, how intense it is, how much volume, how frequently is largely an artefact of 7 day cycles of work and school. What is biologically ideal may have very little to do with the logistically realities of WHEN someone can train. With that in mind, you wil notice how many training programs are 3 or 4 days of training and involve 3-6 exercises that can be performed in 45-90min.



With the modern flexibility of human capital and labour, jobs that fit an irregular pattern may become more common.

What do you do when you are using a 3 day template that usually expects that you lift Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Saturday and rest on Tuesday, Thursday and either Friday or Sunday but your roster means you are on call for 24 hours periods for 3 days straight then take 5 days off? You still have to allow for recovery because that is what a 3 day program is likely going to require……. large groupings of training load that are spread across the week.

Programming in these circumstances is not difficult, it just means that you are going to be unsuccessful if you just try to squash the sessions in back to back then take longer breaks off. Obeying known programming phenomena need not follow 7 day micro-cycles within larger meso-cycles. It just requires some work, imagination and communication between coach and lifter.

Feb 23


“That’s the problem with being middle class, anyone who really cares will always leave you for those who need it more.” Mr Bergstrom to Lisa as he leaves on the train for Capitol City.

Specialized short term coaching support is a tease. Not only is is hard to find, when it CAN be sourced it is often in the form of highly priced weekend group training or expensive 1 on 1 sessions. For an athlete who will need to train for 10-20 hours per week, what is truly affordable? And for the coach, if you don’t have the coaching time with someone to actually do a good job because it costs the athlete too much, how do you advance them to the highest levels?


The coach’s check mark will be the 4th last step. A simple thing to watch that is in concert with many hours of fundamental development.

If you really want to advance a significant way from your current position, then it will take time. The economics of the situation will be that this long term development can only be done so in a structure that is affordable to the individual.

Daily adjustments to accommodate training loads, sickness, injury, performance deficits and missed attempts, technical cue reminders, environmental adjustments, psychological support; the role of a coach goes on and on. The daily adjustments I call ‘Coaching Triage’. A coach is constantly triaging amongst the greater overall plan.



‘Coaching Triage’ is a large part of the day at Shire Speed and Strength. There are 77 hours of available staffed coaching contact, and it is the consistent daily adjustments, performance cues and attention to detail which accumulate over time to long term advancement.

Members of the gym are constantly being supported during the staffed gym hours. Ahead of time they can secure 1 on 1 coaching attention when they think they are having a technical problem, injury or require programming adjust and planning. This will be best used in cases where they feel that the scenario is severe enough to require greater attention.

Members can find the Shire Speed and Strength Calendly log in and make appointments for specific coaching attention at a time of your choosing.

Mr Bergstrom should never have to leave for Capitol City and someone who needs his help more. People with the potential for significant development are all around; they need consistent conscientious coaching support at logistical feasible times and at a price that ALLOWS the help to assist a blooming of potential.

Feb 02


Long time Shire Speed and Strength athlete Blake Muir will be in Houston Monday morning Sydney Time as part of the Atlanta Falcons as they attempt to win their first ever Superbowl against the New England Patriots.

The Falcons beat the Green bay Packers in the NFC Championship game and enter the Superbowl with the #1 scoring offense in the NFL. Muir as part of the practice squad will have a chance to win a historic Superbowl 51 and with it the Vince Lombardi Trophy and coveted Superbowl ring.

Since Shire Speed and Strength first opened its doors Blake has been the most talented member, returning every year between college and professional training blocks to continue to improve his skills.

The event is a huge landmark for him personally and Shire Speed and Strength is proud of his achievements so far and what is yet to come.

Dec 30


It has been the most fatiguing year so far. Since 2009 when the gym opened, we have had a tendency to bite off the proverbial gullet full, and then chew like hell.

Whilst the early years were anxious, every gym being a year to year proposition at best in the beginning; we have bloomed into the pleasant conundrum of having to try to continue to offer the same level of service whilst taking on more members and more diverse sporting goals.

In 2016 we reached the NFL, we expanded our reach in college football programs, we had a weightlifting team and broke national records, we took on the total programming management of sprinters, boxers, powerlifters and football players.

The best broad jump of any OL this year entering the NFL.

Blake practices with the rest of the OL in Atlanta’s indoor facility. Courtesy of

We travelled and competed. Around the nation and internationally, we didn’t just turn up, we won.



We travel far and wide for our athletes. Tbilisi, Georgia.


We said goodbye; our good friend Jon Johnson passing away on a mountaineering trip in preparation for an accent of Everest.



We continued to host an every increasing number of fitness and healthcare professionals. 68 people, among them 8 physiotherapists, 26 Exercise Science students and graduates, plus 15 former members now with their own premises: Shire Speed and Strength continues to generously share skills and methodologies.

Foremost though, it is the little things day to day, which make consistent differences for members and visitors. Regular complimentary coaching access every single day as part of being a member has been the Shire Speed and Strength offering since day one.

In 2017 we will attempt to do even more. We’ll be in the US and New Zealand for sure, multiple states, we’ll continue to grow youth gridiron in Australia and provide players not just the pathway to get to where they want to go, but also the skills to do so. We’ll have quite a large weightlifting team and have more lifters compete in powerlifting.

We’ll keep our eye on developments of the effects of PED use on sport and how the influence the training environment.

And we’ll continue to call to task the high credential industry flagships who take advantage of pre-sorted athletes in order to appear ‘cutting edge’, but in reality lack fundamental coaching skills.



Nov 07


The following clips are a summary of the lifts for SSS lifter Jackson Roberts-Young competing at the 2016 Commonwealth Youth, Junior, Senior Championships in Penang, Malaysia. Jackson competed in the Junior 105kg class.


Central to the performance for Jackson was breaking the Junior 105kg Clean and jerk record previously held by 2 time Commonwealth Games representative Robert Galsworthy.  Standing at 176kg since 2008, its been long term goal for Jackson since he bettered the State record of 155kg in August 2015.

Such a pleasing result for an athlete who first competed in February 2015 to be able to claim a national record 20 months later and in the process improving that lift PR by 32kg.


It has to said however that some tapping of the brakes are necessary. As mentioned in the video clip Jackson is far from being a good snatcher. Although his reps improved in quality above 90% in the lead up it was a 1kg under his result from Junior Worlds albeit the starting weight was deliberately conservative to match the competition on the day. Missing the 2nd attempt was bad and there is really no excuse. Many Australian lifters will feel the same from the Commonwealth Championships, PR’s were hard to come by and not a lot of medals were won; weightlifting competitions can be very cruel, you are 1 second away from months of training being invalidated.

Further to the point of tapping the brakes on breaking a national record, where does it stack up all time?

Looking at the separate epochs of records in weightlifting (pre-1972 included the press), 1972-1992, 1993-1997 and 1998 to present, the Australian Junior records have been as follows……

As of 1992 the Junior 100kg records stood at Snatch 150, C&J 200 and total 245. The 110kg class was 160kg snatch, 197.5kg C&J and 353.5kg total.

As of 1997, the newly altered weight classes which would be altered again after just 5 years stood at 140, 170, 305kg for the 99kg class and 140, 177.5, 310kg for the 108kg class.

So in that context you can see where Jackson’s 177kg C&J stands. Although Galworthy’s 176kg mark stood since 2008, in comparison to what we saw from Harvey Goodman and his 200kg C&J record in the Junior 100kg class from 1986 though it isn’t particularly impressive.

In the table below, you can see how the records compare to the contemporary International standard.

Australia has fallen off the pace a little. From being 78.41% of the IWF mark in the 100kg class in 1992 and 79.43% of the superheavy record, Australia’s Junior male records are just 74.75% and 72%. The factors and explanation are beyond the scope of this article to discuss but they are plain to see.

A similar comparison of course is not possible of women’s records as 1987 was the first time that women’s lifting became an internationally competitive sport. For an immediate comparison and bright light Kiana Elliot’s current AWF records as a percentage stack ups closely with the best the current male Junior record at 81.6% (compared to Joel Wilson’s 69kg class records at 81.79%, however she has another year of Junior competition to go.

Oct 20




“….what did French land ever give us?”

“We invented Democracy, Existentialism and the Blow job”

“Those are 3 pretty good things…”

You could probably add to that list, Champagne, soft cheeses and Berets, but I don’t think many people want to take credit for wearing Berets.

Add to the list one more. The coining of a new term: ‘The Vichy Gym’



June 1940, an armistice is signed between Germany and France (which had just been over run by it),  which led to the establishment of a puppet, Nazi-aligned southern zone of the French mainland, plus an occupied Northern zone.

From that point, until 1944 when the Allies liberated France, the French government controlling the southern zone established the town of Vichy to the south of Paris as its capital. Former WW1 war-hero Marshal Phillipe Petain was the Chief of State, he and the central government’s acquiescence to the occupying Germany forces led to his eventual trial and prosecution for treason. Signing an armistice with Germany, and later with Italy, the Vichy France period was taken as an opportunity for French nationalism themes to gain traction. Since the establishment of the 4th Republic in 1870 the earlier 20th century bohemian culture and modernism centered particularly around Paris, was seen as not being truly French. Making the best of a bad situation so-to-speak, this German occupation allowed some in France to turn against their own.


The Vichy Gym has an armistice with PED users who compete in regulated competitions. They are going-along with their presence in the gym. Beyond just letting recreational PED users exercise their free choice whilst exercising in the gym, the Vichy Gym allows the competition PED user to run seminars and leverage social media coverage off of circus performance lifts of the visiting lifter; a lifter who claims competition results devoid of acknowledging their PED use and certainly no shame in its truths.

In the commercial sense, it is necessary for a gym to leverage off of high performance and appear to be a serious gym. Impressing credulous potential customers has always and will always be a way of any commercial venture to separate people from their money.

This page has discussed many times the challenges of balancing competition regulation, free choice of individuals and the role of government. That balance is often poorly struck and leaves ironic scenarios of budding competition lifters paying high premium on advice from lifters who have only known a culture of training totally ingrained with PED use in competition.

From the WADA code……

All Athletes are prohibited from associating with any such Athlete Support Personnel pursuant to Article 2.10 of the Code. However,

Athletes should be aware that they are also prohibited from associating with any Athlete or other Person

who is currently serving a period of ineligibility, and who has, while ineligible, acted as an Athlete Support Person.


It’s serious stuff. The rules are non-ambiguous; those competitors breaking the rules on doping are stealing from those who are not. Associating with is giving cover.


2016 Australian of the Year Lt General Retired David Morrison AO, famously used the expression,the standard you walk past is the standard you accept’, in regards to the treatment of women in the military.

Just as equality of women in the workplace and in society is the topic area that never really goes away, the presence of PED used in sport is always pregnant within every discussion about high-level training and competition.

Free choice and competition rules separate general life from sport. You may hot-up your car, but it may exclude you from certain motor-racing. Hotting-up your car in principle is considered a niche hobby practiced by mostly male enthusiasts. An ode to one of the 20th century’s greatest inventions. Perform that same act covertly as a part of competition and you are a cheat….. its not the modification, it’s the cheating. Conflating an ethic of libertarianism with the ethic of fair play in a sport with rules is no brave or heroic act.


The argument over whether practices SHOULD be illegal or not, the intrusion of government in people’s private lives, and application to the rules are different arguments and should be seen as such. The ‘Vichy gym‘ that turns a blind eye to cheating advances no cause except that of its own hypocrisy.

Sep 19


We have heard our Prime Minister use the term ‘broad church’ to describe the pluralism of his own party. One senses that this is a coping mechanism for how a politician has to put up with factions of a large party that may have significantly varying and troublesome views on controversial matters.

Shire Speed and Strength is also a broad church, one that encompasses quite a range of sporting pursuits. Some members are training quite generally, others have actual technical-tactical skills and competition that the gym works on.

This week in particular is a good example of the variety of training and competition which Shire Speed and Strength is involved in.

Ben Stanoff was victorious over the weekend in the Elite 75kg class of the NSW State Boxing titles.


Ben has been training at SSS since April and we have worked on both his general capacities as well as managed his training load calendar whilst he trains at Lion’s Den Academy gym.

Adrian Immarata is a Masters member of the SSS weightlifting team. With the 2017 World Masters games coming up next year in New Zealand, Adrian has been building from an off season of injury reform and coping with a new job and changed travel time. With the cancellation of a lifting competition in Sydney that he needed to gain a qualifying total, the decision was made to go interstate to safely make the total needed.


Only a conservative total was required but it was the travel and organization that obviously added to the stress of it all. 6 for 6 and a comfortable 212 total allows for progress towards the real goal, a 240 PR total next April.

In The Netherlands, SSS athlete Davina Strauss won the Women’s Beach Sprint Master’s gold. She also finished 7th in flags and 4th in the Open sprint. Her club Coledale sent an awesome team which included the men’s relay gold.








In Gridiron, Blake Muir is now with the Green Bay Packers practice squad as they start their 2016 campaign to win the NFC North. Nobody requires a reminder of the standard and level of play in the NFL. You can keep track of weekly progress at he and his brother Sean’s blog.



So as you can see, much is happening at SSS right now; SSS athletes may not always be competing but they’re always training. Whether it be direct skill development or programming support the church here is broad and inclusive.

Aug 24


Back in 2013 we posted about Mo Farah’s achievements in winning the 5,000m/10,000m double at the London Olympics.

The post served to bring to light the modern era of excellent middle distance runners and mentioned the exploits of Morceli, El Guerrrouj, Gebrselassie and Bekele.

Since then, Farah has gone on to win a second 5000/10000 double gold in Rio, leap-frogging Bekele’s bag of 3 Olympic Gold and a Silver. The point that was made in the article at the time, when Farah was fresh off his London games victories, was that his times overall compared to the generation of runners from 10-15 years previous were still slightly behind.



Bekele remains the 5,000m and 10,000m world record holder. Farah has not advanced his times since 2011, (before London), and holds only a few European and British records overall. Of course middle distance races are often tactical affairs but Farah does not have a top 10 time and Bekele has 7 races faster than Mo Farah’s best 10,000m time and 10 races better than his best 5,000m time.

There is no doubt that Farah is a tremendous racer, but in raw output we must remember the performance of Kenenisa Bekele whose times may stand for quite a while yet. If you didn’t see Farah run in Rio, watch the highlights below. And don’t forget to spare a thought to Finnish runner Lasse Viren, the only other athlete to complete the double-double 5,000/10,000m Olympic wins.


Jul 27


The greater history of sport in Australia in the early part of Federation in the 20th century revolved around Cricket, Horse Racing and Boxing. A game we traditionally loved, and 2 games we could gamble on.

A major contributing catalyst to boxing’s early 20th century success and popularity was a major sporting event held in 1908. The Jack Johnson vs Tommie Burns Heavyweight championship title fight held at an outdoor purpose built arena in Rushcutters Bay was the biggest sporting event to be held in Australia for many years. The story of Hugh D McIntosh’s entrepreneurial efforts to bring the event to Sydney can be read about here on the ‘Sydney Living Museum’ website.

If you ever pondered the origin of the phrase, ‘The Great White Hope’ then the racial undertones of this fight and the multiple story lines behind it are incredibly informative.

More recently, mainstream boxing has been in the shadow of the rise of MMA and the UFC. Whilst big events like Mayweather v Pacquiao still attract big pay-per-view audiences, those super fights are seldom.

A fight on the horizon, might just be a contest worth paying closer attention to.

Andre Ward is scheduled to fight Sergey Kovalev on November 19th.

Ward must defeat Alexander Brand on August 6th for the fight to go ahead as scheduled, but if it does occur, it will pit the 2 best light-heavyweights in the world; both undefeated, and 2 of the top 4 pound for pound boxers of today.

Ward was the 2004 light-heavyweight Olympic Champion, is undefeated in both amateur and professional bouts and has a 25-0 pro record. His ability to switch from orthodox to south-paw, his length, his long amateur career and his always-coming forward style make him an appealing fighter.

There is no guaranteed victory for Ward over Brand. Brand is 25-1 with 19 knockouts, but it is the prospect of the next fight that generates this article.

Kovalev, like Ward has a long amateur career.

From 1997-2008 he was 195-18 before turning pro. His pro record is 30-1-0, the single draw coming from an accidental head clash that stopped the fight.

Kovalev has killed a man in the ring. In 2011 his fight against Roman Simakov was a total mismatch that resulted in Simakov falling into a coma and not coming to. Kovalev is a powerful hitter. He defeated the great Bernard Hopkins in 2014 and currently holds the WBA, IBF and WPO championships.


What sort of a fight are we hoping for? Well the fight of the year so far this year was the Shawn Porter v Keith Thurman fight.

Boxing journalist and your writer’s brother was at the fight in New York last month and filmed the pst fight interviews which you can start watching here.

In Paul’s early assessment, he feels that Kovalev has the edge. As we get closer, and if Ward wins his last warm up vs Brand, then you heard it hear first that this is a fight on the horizon that is worth getting excited about.

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