Call To Action; PTs/Strength Coaches – We Want YOU!

Newsflash; Hot off the press, so hot in fact, you could cook your morning eggs on it – We are expanding our team down at S&P Gym, Stockport! We put the call out on Social Media a couple of weeks back for freelance PTs/Strength Coaches who were keen to grow their business from our Stockport site.

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So far we’ve had a great response! E-mails have been coming in from as far a field as Majorca, and we even received one from Thailand!! It’s truly awesome that so many budding coaches want to jump on board and seize this opportunity with both hands. If there had been a facility like this back when we started in the industry, perhaps things would have worked out differently. Luckilly for you guys there wasn’t!

This isn’t an ego stroke, however, Far from it in fact! We’re humbled greatly by the amount of interest we’ve had thus far, and we’re genuinely excited as little school kids to expand our horrizons and shift our business up a gear by offering initially 5 positions for freelance PT/Strength Coaches to train their clients through S&P Stockport.

If YOU are looking to grow your business and train your clients in a kick-ass environment with a load of other like-minded coaches and clients, then YOU will want to take action now and get in touch ASAP! You will have not only have access to a proper, no BS gym with all the free weights, racks and indoor turf including all the prowlers, sleds and farmers walk handles you will ever need!

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So you have been officially given notice now! The clock is ticking and we will soon be firming up our team.

Don’t be a procrastinator; we like DOERS at S&P!

Back in the day we opened our gym with very little cash, very few clients, at the peak of the recession and with many ney-sayers telling us we were crazy and that it COULDN’T BE DONE!


YOU and you alone can make the change. If you want to be your own boss and be in control of your cash-flow – then this opportunity is for YOU!

Hit us up: 

or leave us a note on our FB Page (don’t forget to like):

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Please feel free to ‘Like’, Share, RT and whatever else you feel the need to do! Don’t forget to include the Hashtag #SandPstrong !

We look forward to hearing from you!

Z and Sean




How To Improve Your Bench Press


I remember the days before I joined S&P, when I would head up the stairs in my local gym with my lifting gloves (don’t laugh) to embark on a bench press session. I would put 60kg straight onto the bar and then proceed to struggle with sets of 4 or 5 reps of half reps convincing myself that I was getting stronger by using lower rep ranges. Thankfully on one of these sessions, it was just me and a fellow lifter using the gym and after one of my sets on the bench, he approached me and began giving me tips on why my bench looked so bad and on why if anything, I was actually getting weaker with it! I was young and naïve, but this conversation nestled firmly in my head. I have a lot to thank this man for as he gave me the theoretical slap in the face I needed and I came to the conclusion that I needed to change.

18 months later and my PB so far on the bench is 105kg (new PB coming soon) and I’m the strongest and biggest I have ever been training in one of the best facilities in the UK with great people. So this is how I have come to writing this article with some of the tips I have utilised on how to instantly improve your bench press from the guy who has been at both ends of the spectrum.


Many people have different techniques of setting up for the bench press. I could spend a lot of time here talking about how I like to set up (check out the series with Dave Tate in the link above about bench pressing for some solid information), but I thought I would focus on one area and that’s tightness. Before I unrack the bar, I ensure that my feet are anchored into the floor to use leg drive during each rep, take a deep breath in to ensure that my torso is a tight as possible and grip the bar like I’m trying to strangle it into submission. The key is ensuring all these areas stay the same throughout the lift to ensure that you can exert as much speed onto the bar as possible. For example, when I am benching you can often see my legs slightly moving during the lift which indicates I’m not pressing my heels into the floor and producing enough leg drive.

“Squeeeeeeeze, squeeze that bar like your trying to snap that mutha fu$ka in two!” – CT Fletcher


I used to believe that by doing sets of low reps week in, week out with the heaviest weight I could handle would lead to the best gains. However, adopting this approach every session contributed to my shocking form and increased my injury risk rather than my ability to press more weight. People have to drop the ego that presents itself with the bench press and focus on utilising volume and progress accordingly. Currently, I’m working with percentages of between 50-85% of my predicted 1RM and look to be on course for a new PB in the coming weeks proving that the amount of weight on the bar isn’t everything!

“Treat your warm up like your max and your max like your warm up”

I really like the thought behind this quote! The first part of the quote relates to the lack of effort people seem to elicit during their warm up. When warming up for their working sets, it looks like they’re going through the motions with the lighter weights rather than trying to perfect their form and prepare the body for what’s to come. Then when it comes to working with the heavy weights, the amount of weight on the bar begins to play on the mind and too much respect is paid to the bar. I love the butterfly’s I get in my stomach before a big lift because it lets me know that shits about to get real and I need to give it my all. Fear has to be eradicated from the mind and you command the bar rather than the bar command you, I acknowledge this trick to Sean Keefe after I was guilty of not putting enough “oomph” onto the bar, imagine that the bar is causing harm to the dearest person in your life… got it? Now go destroy that bar and teach it a lesson!


To improve at anything in life, you need to use tools that are going to improve your weaknesses. Some people will know their weaknesses but brush them under the carpet as irrelevant, other people will acknowledge their weaknesses and put everything they have into improving them. With the bench you could have a muscle group such as the triceps, shoulders or lats letting you down in your attempt to progress, you could have a sticking point at the bottom of the lift or at the mid-point of the press. Whatever your weakness is, ensure you get after it and kick its ass. My biggest weakness is exerting as much speed onto the bar as possible, so I’ve worked with med ball throws, banded bench press, paused bench press and just thriving to get stronger.

I hope that I have provided you with something you can use to improve your bench press, if you already feel like you are doing all these things, good! Keep smashing your training and striving to improve, don’t let anyone put any limits on how far you can go, you’re the key to your future success.

Thanks for reading

Jake Hartley (Bsc)

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Welcome to the all new and improved S&P

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(still waiting on one more rack here)

Hey guys!

We’ve been very busy bees over the last few weeks! For those of you who are S&P members already, you will know what we’re talking about.

After significant reinvestment in S&P Stockport back in 2011, we decided once again that the time was right to ante-up and plough our efforts into staying ahead of the game and ensuring we are committed to delivering ass-kicking customer service and a product that beats the pants off the competition! As the old saying goes; “Often Imitated, Never Duplicated”. So we dug deep into our pockets and got stuck in working on our 4th big renovation project! ** We’re almost there now after a few weeks of hard graft. New toilets (and shower) coming very soon! **

S&P Stockport is a 5000 square ft gym situated in Meadow Mill (Just behind Tesco Extra off J27 of the M60), Stockport. We train a whole range of individuals from 10 years old – 60; from total gym beginners to elite level pro rugby, MMA and swimmers. The gym is packed full of functionally awesome equipment including: 5 power racks, speciality bars, dumbbells, Kettlebells, Airdyne Bikes and Prowlers, as well some sick gym toys like atlas stones, steel logs and sledgehammers.

We’re all about the ethos and training atmosphere at S&P, so you’re not just paying for coaching, programming and all the extra benefits of S&P Stockport, you’re joining a big family of like-minded people who all want to improve their lives through health and wellness. We can’t guarantee you results, but we CAN promise you that you’ll have the best chance ever at getting them if you commit to the programme and dedicate a little effort and time to the cause.

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So for those of you that want to take action now and join the S&P Revolution, it’s really easy and pain free; We still have limited spaces available on our ever popular ‘Semi-Private Group Programme’. All you have to do is drop us a message to: ‘‘, click the ‘FREE TRIAL’ link on our website: ‘‘ or ring the gym on 0161 4808368 and we’ll get right back to you!

** Please be aware that we do tend to fill up quickly around Christmas and New Year, so we would strongly advise you book your FREE TRIAL session ASAP to avoid disappointment.**

Check out our group training options below:

1 session per week (4 per month) = £90 per month (only £22.50 per session)

2 sessions per week (8 per month) = £120 per month (only £15 per session)

3 sessions per week (12 per month) = £150 per month (only £12.50 per session)

4 sessions per week (16 per month) = £160 per month (only £10 per session)

Prices include unlimited access to the gym during opening hours, ALL programming, coaching, mobility/rehab work plus any additional support you may require!

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Because we LOVE helping people kick ass we’ve decided to expand our membership options so that training in the coolest damn gym on the planet is a little more accessible than before! For a strictly limited number of people for whom our group sessions may be a tad over the monthly budget, these options might just be the thing you’ve been looking for to shake your training up. Check them out below:

‘Open Gym Membership’ for just £45 per month which includes unlimited access to the gym during opening hours (see below).

‘Off-peak Membership’ for just £30 per month which includes access to the gym during our quiet hours (see below).

‘Student Membership’ for just £35 per month which included unlimited access to the gym during opening hours for anyone in full time education holding a valid Student card (see below).

**Please note: We are only opening up these new membership options for a very limited amount of action takers, so hurry as once they’re gone, they’re GONE!**

For any S&P members wishing to bring in a training buddy for a session the price is just £10. Please enquire for suitable times/days etc.

Our Opening Hours:

Monday/Wednesday: 08:00 – 20:00

Tuesday/Thursday: 10:00 – 13:00 and 16:00-18:30

Friday: 08:00 – 14:00

Saturday: 08:00 – 14:00

Off Peak hours are between 10:00 – 16:00 during opening hours

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If YOU are ready to join the S&P revolution then we would love to hear from you. Strictly limited places on group training and on new memberships available. Don’t be a ‘Chump’, be a ‘Champ’! If you don’t want to be disappointed, take action NOW!

We look forward to welcoming you to the new look S&P Stockport very soon!

In Strength

Z and Sean


Follow us:


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#SandPStrong Jingle Bell Lift

Now the summer is over and the jumpers are back on its time to see what damage the summer diets have done and instead now focus on the winter bulk and big lifts. We will be hosting a raw powerlifting competition in December which for anyone who does not know includes the bench, squat and deadlift.


So what is involved?

Date 13th December

Bench Press – Best of 3 lifts. There will be a slight pause on the chest judged by a TeamSandP spotter/adjudicator

Squat – Best of 3 lifts. Depth will be called by a TeamSandP spotter/adjudicator

Deadlift – Best of 3 lifts. Full lockout (no hitching) which will be judged by a TeamSandP spotter/adjudicator

** Remember guys: This is supposed to be a fun event where the aim for some competitors may be to simply PR in one event! Let’s not ruin the magic by whining over whether you thought your depth was good or whether the pause was long enough. If it doesn’t get called, please respect that our adjudicators word is final.

Categories will be as follows:


Under 80kg, Under 90kg, Under 100kg and Over 100kg


Under 52.5kg, Under 60kg, Under 67.5kg and Over 75kg

There needs to be at least 5 people in each category otherwise categories will be merged together.

The BIGGEST TOTAL will win the class! The winner of each class will receive some MyProtein goodies. In addition the overall pound for pound best lifter will receive a cash prize of £200 for both female and male. (there needs to be at least 10 women involved for the money prize to stand)

You do not have to compete in all three lifts, however you will stand more chance of winning if you do. If you just want to take part in a couple of lifts then this is fine as you may just want to use this as a time to test the lifts and to see where you are at in your training.


The competition is completely RAW so this means no assistance through belts, straps, wraps or whatever. Why? well there are so many different brands these days, each giving a little extra so the easiest way to keep things level is if they are not allowed. Simple. Our well trained and able spotters will be on hand to keep you safe at all times!


Big lifts are pleasing to the eye but….

…looking at Tom Martin back in the day at a bodyweight of 82.5kg, now this is impressive!

If you would like to take part then the entry fee is £25, which includes a free #SandPStrong tee and a good day out lifting and chatting with like minded people. Spectators £5

Email with your name, weight and what size tee you would like.

All profits will be donated to the Christie’s Charity.

Look forward to seeing you all at S&P Gym, Stockport on December 13th.

NB Please share, like and RT this Blog with the Hashtag(s) #SandPstrong, #SandPapproved or #TeamSandP somewhere in the body of the message. Let’s make this a great, fun comp for Christmas and raise some cash for a great cause that is close to many of our hearts.

Thank you!


Guest Blog – Football and strength and conditioning relationship with injury and performance (Part Two) – How to improve a footballers physical performance

“If you ain’t pissed off for greatness then that means you’re ok with being mediocre, ain’t no man in here ok with being just basic!” – Ray Lewis

Before I start this article, I just wanted speak about a topic bugging me this week. My youngest brother has just started year 10 in secondary school and as one of his GCSE choices chose PE. This was until the teachers began telling the kids how hard the course was and that they didn’t think everybody would pass the course. What sort of bullshit approach is that towards children? They should be inspiring them to be the best possible version of themselves and give them all the potential help they can to smash that course and pick up the best grade possible, right? This brings me to a point that I will explain further later, don’t be afraid to take a different path to everyone else, people are cautious to being different from everyone else, do what makes you happy and ignore the naysayers! Anyways, on to the article….

Welcome to part two in my look at how footballers should approach their training programme. Part one ( looked at how often footballers pick up injury’s and why this could be happening, with Joules Wallis providing an insight into how a football team trains both pre-season and in-season. In this article I am going to highlight the key areas I believe footballers need to train in order to improve performance and reduce their risk of injury.

Football is becoming a more dynamic and athletic game, with this change requires the players to meet the demands, otherwise they will fall behind. A coach would want their players strong enough to be able to hold off opposing players, fast enough to be able to catch the speedy winger and dispossess him of the ball and mentally strong enough to deal with all ups and downs that occur during a season.


Footballers aim in the pre-season will be to improve alactic power, aerobic capacity and their strength. Then during the season, they will aim to keep the intensity high in their sessions, but reduce the volume in order to be fully prepared for their competitive matches.

So what do I believe to be the most important aspect for a footballer?


Initially, I was going to say strength, but the more I thought and read, the more my view began to change. Don’t get me wrong, strength is a massive area and one that is very often under looked in football and I will talk more about that shortly. However, after listening to a podcast with Barbell Shrugged and Zach Even-Esh, I believe this to be the key. As an athlete or a coach or even as a person, you have to have a mental toughness and desire to become better. Back to the point I made earlier and was spoken about more during the episode of Barbell Shrugged with Zach, we are programmed to taking the same path as everybody else, but what if you took the other path? The risk is a hell of a lot higher, sure, but your results could be great and you could make people think twice about the path their currently on. Be willing to change and not settle for 2nd best, because once you do, you give your competition the opportunity to overtake you.



Before you do anything with an athlete, make sure they can master bodyweight movements safely and correctly such as squats, lunges, crawls, press ups before they start using resistance.

Then focus on getting them stronger in the off season and maintaining that strength gain in season as best you can. Master the kings of the compound exercises (deadlift, squat and bench), strengthen the posterior chain (glute ham raise, sled drags, good mornings) and include a couple of accessory exercises to strengthen the hamstrings, glutes, quads and back muscles involved in the sport and mould them into a stronger, faster and more effective athlete. Get your athletes carrying objects such as kegs, sandbags, kettlebells for a set amount of time/distance to add a different aspect into their training and have them compete against each other to raise the atmosphere in the gym. I can hear some people saying “What, no machines? No curls?” If you’re serious about your performance, its time you moved to the serious work. Actions make the loudest noise!

Alactic power

There are around 150 – 250 brief intense actions performed by an individual player in the professional game (Bangsbo, Mohr and Krustrup, 2006). This highlights the need for alactic energy system to be trained and improved to cope with the demands of the sport.  In the gym, you would want your athletes utilising med ball exercises, jumps (vertical jumps, broad jumps etc), short sprints and prowler work focusing on the athlete being explosive as possible (If they don’t own a prowler, get them to use a small percentage of their wage to buy one!)

Watch Ronaldo’s alactic power in this sprint and it’s hard not to be impressed

Aerobic energy system

This is the main source powering a footballer during a 90 minute match as average and peak heart rates are around 85 to 98% of maximal values (Bangsbo, 1994).  The aerobic system will mostly be strengthened during training in the week and from the matches played, but if it’s a really week area in some individuals then get them working on some GPP (general physical preparedness) work in the gym to help such as

1A – Forward sled drag 30m

1B – Med ball slams x 10

1C – KB swings x 12

1D – Sandbag carry 30m

1D – Pullaparts x 20

For 5 rounds to build their GPP!

There is one final area that I would want more of and that is rest for the athletes to decrease the accumulation of fatigue, but the professional game has evolved massively and some teams can now play 3 times a week at a demanding intensity along with their training sessions. Unfortunately, it’s the managers who decide when their players get to rest and the other coaches can only hope that their words of wisdom have an effect on his judgement. I’ve heard of rugby teams tracking their players work rate during training sessions and when a player goes over a certain percentage, they are taken out of the training session to decrease their likelihood of picking up a unnecessary injury, hopefully football will utilise a similar method!


Jake Hartley, BSc

Do What You Want To Make You Happy


When it comes to lifestyle we all have a choice of what and how we want to make it happen. Although most people are just happy to follow in other peoples footsteps and shadows rather than create their own. This goes for many things in life outside of the gym but when it comes to inside the gym many of us fail to be happy with what they have or what they are training for.

I am saying this as many times I have heard people say they will do this and they will do that but never do, months and even years pass and they have not done what they wanted. Why dont you just aim to achieve the goal and then move on. Are they happy or are they still chasing that elusive goal?


Unless you fully commit to achieving what you want then will you ever be happy? (in the context of health and training). If you want to get lean then do everything you can to achieve this. So learn the food groups, learn what and when you should eat, get a meal plan and the main thing is to stick to it, not just for a week or two but month after month. If and when you achieve this goal, ask yourself is this making you happy, taking into consideration the sacrifices you may have had to make to get to this point?

I mean some people give up so much to achieve what they want and I respect this but for me the kids have it right here when they say YOLO, “you only live once”. So if what you want means giving up so much that in fact you become unhappy trying to chase becoming happy, is it worth it?

I guess this all comes back to why you are doing what you are doing. Why do you go to the gym? Why do you eat the foods you do? Why do you make the choices that you do? Decide what you want and then get after it, just because someone else is chasing a 140kg bench, this doesn’t mean you have to.


For me its simple, cliche as it might sound but I have a wife and two kids and my role is to protect them. So for me getting stronger is my priority, this may not directly protect them but in my head I believe it will and so I will continue to pursue my goal. I dont have an end goal in sight as long as in each training session I make myself better. So this cold be various things such as more weight to the bar, more reps on a weight, improved flexibility, improved cardiovascular work but most importantly for me is to improve my mental toughness through all of the above.

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(keeping this face in mind when training usually makes everything go to plan)

So thats why I do what I do and it makes me extremely happy day in day out, have a think about what yours is and whether it makes you happy chasing your goal?

Thanks for reading







Guest Blog by Jake Hartley – Football and strength and conditionings relationship with injury and performance

Part 1

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In recent seasons, I have been struggling with an ever worsening patellar tendinopathy in both knees and often leaves me in pain during and after playing football. Whilst trying to combat this problem in the gym, it has led to an increase interest in footballer’s injuries and how their training programmes could decrease their risk of injury and increase performance.

I believe one of the major areas to the occurrence of injuries to be the lack of skills being mastered by young athletes to help prepare for them for the physical demands of sport. I remember growing up, I would have football training three times a week and sometimes three games a week! That’s an incredible demand on a young body without ever being taught and mastering technique for sprinting, decelerating, landing etc. This should have been a time where I was utilising bodyweight exercises and building strength, mobility and flexibility from the ground up. I think this is a common problem even with most of today’s young athletes and is probably one of the significant reasons in why I suffer with the injury I do today.

“Ronaldo seems to be the athletic target for young footballers, but is he one of a kind?)

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Injury is a common occurrence in professional football, a FA (Football Association) audit examined 91 professional football clubs during 2 seasons found that the mean number of days a player was absent due to injury was 24.2 days and that 37% of these injuries were muscular strains (Hawkins, et al, 2001).

This theme seems to have continued to this present day as last season, Sergio Aguero of Manchester City picked up three separate muscular injuries throughout the season with each injury resulting in him being out for 32 days. Aguero was recently quoted by on his new training programme ahead of the new season, “I have to get in an hour and a half early and start off with strength exercises. Then, I work on stability in my hips and sides to strengthen the pelvic area in order to prevent any further injuries by the groin area of the sort that I’d been having.” Without knowing the contents of this programme, it’s hard to comment on the effects it may or may not have, but I think it’s a step forward in trying to combat the problem. It will be interesting to see if this programme helps keep Aguero on the pitch more and avoid injury in the coming season for Manchester City.

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Their neighbours, Manchester United, have also suffered recently with muscular injuries with Luke Shaw picking up a hamstring injury ruling him out for up to 4 weeks. Shaw came back from his post-season break after the World Cup a few weeks early, possibly in an attempt to impress his new manager. To most people, this will seem like a positive step from Shaw, but I would rather have seen him utilise his post-season break to the fullest for his body to recover from the demanding previous season. Interestingly, Raymond Verheijen, a fitness coach who most recently worked under Gary Speed with the Wales national team, believes the extra training Shaw was made to undertake to “improve his fitness” was too much too soon during pre-season (check his twitter timeline for more of his thoughts on this  This helps explain why footballers so often pick up muscular injuries at the highest level as their excessive schedules and demands of the modern game cause great stress to their bodies.

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You would think that elite level footballers would possess great levels of strength to reduce the risk of these injuries and at the same time help improve performance, but with the demanding nature of the modern game, most managers prefer to focus on improving the athlete’s aerobic energy system. A recent article by Mike Guadango on highlighted this theory as the “soccer” players he has come across have “dismal relative body strength”. He also brought up the fact that due to “soccer” players never really having an off-season it is difficult to achieve any beneficial recovery from the previous season and provide enough time to gain positive results in the gym.

After reading about the above, I wanted to collect the opinion of someone who has recently worked with a professional football team. Joules Wallis, a BSc Sports Science graduate, has recently worked with Manchester City women’s strength and conditioning programme. He believes that the non-contact soft-tissue injuries can be avoided and praised the training system in place at forward thinking MCWFC:

How important do you believe strength and conditioning (S&C) to be for football?

JW: As much as I love S&C, the success of a football team will primarily be influenced by the technical and tactical proficiency of its players and manager. However, I believe S+C can have a huge impact in terms of player longevity and consistency of performance. For example, if key players are hit with non-contact soft-tissue injuries that side-line them for key parts of the season, or goals are conceded in the last 10 minutes of a game because players aren’t able to close down and cover ground with the same intensity as in the first 10 minutes, then the physical preparation of the players could be improved. And that’s where S+C comes in.

curls(Not sure about this improving their performance but its a start)

What training programme did MCWFC undergo?

JW: Fortunately, due to the open-minded approach MCWFC and MCFC take towards S+C, the women’s team have a considerable amount of time in their schedule dedicated to S+C. Prior to each pitch session, they perform an extensive warm-up (starting in the gym, then moving out onto the pitch) which aside from increasing body temperature, blood flow helps improve glute activation, lower limb control and sprinting mechanics. Twice a week they perform strength/power sessions in the gym, based around lower body compound exercises such as squats and deadlifts. Conditioning and fitness sessions are often interspersed with technical sessions, and their scheduling is dependent on the match schedule. For a week where one game is played, there will be one specific conditioning session (separate from football training). If two games are played, there is no separate conditioning session.

What are the changes made to the training programme from pre-season to in-season?

JW: The priority in preseason is improving aerobic power and capacity and muscular strength and power. The priority for in-season is the maintenance of these characteristics and managing fatigue. Given that fatigue is not as big an issue during pre-season (no games of importance, and none at all to start with), intensity and volume can be relatively high depending on the phase of the training cycle. Players need to be kept as fresh as possible during the in-season, so while the intensity is kept high to prevent a drop in physical performance, volume is cut dramatically.

Are there any particular changes you would like to make to this training programme?

JW: None in particular! Having seen the effectiveness of the current strategy first hand I think the only things I would change would be small and matters of personal preference.

Thanks for reading Part 1, stay tuned for part 2 where we look into the detail of how a football player may incorporate Strength and Conditioning type work into their overall plan and season.

Jake Hartley

Strength Coach