The Conditioning of Champions

Nugent & The Dickinsons

The Conditioning of Champions

Tyneside and the North East of England on the whole, have always produced athletes of top quality. In recent years those champions have seen their skills honed even further by the increasing presence of professional strength and conditioning coaches. They are seen as being the elite training personnel who can bring that added expertise to an athletes’ regime.

But what is strength and conditioning and what role does such an individual provide?

It is seen as being the continuing development for elite athletic performance of both the physiological and physical attributes from within the individual. The coach, in this case Martin Nugent (Gateshead College Academy for Sport), provides the crossover between the applications of theory to the application of training. Within the strength and conditioning of an athlete a number of development attributes are looked at, and on a regular basis. They are now seen as being very much an integral part of athlete’s coaching team and work alongside the other coaches in making the athlete the best that they can be.

The athlete(s) are therefore tested in relation to the sport in which they compete as well as their individual needs. The role of the strength and conditioning coach is to therefore see them develop that of ‘The Complete Athlete’ through the continued enhancement of their physical and physiological attributes.  Examples of what the coach will look to enhance and work upon within the athlete includes that of Strength Development, Injury Prevention, Speed and Power, amongst other areas.

In the case of Martin Nugent, he has numerous roles in and around the sporting world. One of the primary positions sees him as being an integral part of the coaching staff, alongside that of Ronnie Rowe and Gary Barr, of the British Cruiserweight champion, Jon-Lewis Dickinson, and his younger brother, the Light-Heavyweight, Travis Dickinson. Both of whom are boxers and come from the Birtley Boxing Gym on the outskirts of Tyneside.

Working with and alongside the Dickinson’s has only come about in recent times but is something that has definitely benefitted all parties. When discussing his role within the Dickinson camp, Nugent said that “I have been working with Jon now for approx 18 months. I was asked by Ronnie Rowe who coaches Jon-Lewis and Travis Dickinson, which in my mind is a mark of a great coach.

“Over this time Jon has had three fights. When I took Jon on board I looked at how he moves, his posture etc and also asked both Jon and Ron what areas they want to improve on.

“I then set about improving Joint Stability so that we can then move onto power and speed development; I also worked on functional strength and core strength.”

Within that statement is something which several people in the sport have motioned that Jon-Lewis needs to work on, his power and speed attributes. Although it is an area they do work upon, it is not something which overly concerns, and rightly so considering the fighters in-ring record.

“To be fair Jon has both but we strive to carry on improving this as this is the way I work. He does have a biomechanical disadvantage due to being tall with long limbs but since I have been working with Jon he is now developing more power off the back foot, his jab has more venom and also his foot speed upper body movement is better, I never put a time scale on this we just keep working but I guarantee by the next fight you will see even more improvement as myself and Jon have plan and are extremely committed to his athletic development,” added Nugent.

“Jon was very open to new ideas and openly admitted to never training like this before, between myself and Ron we put together effective training camps that managed Jon well without “over training” which is a major issue in boxing .”

With those in mind Martin Nugent continued by discussing an example of a training camp which a champion of Jon-Lewis’ stature is put through.

“In the last camp we worked in 4 week blocks starting with; Functional (movement) strength/Injury prevention work; Strength – moving into Olympic lifting technique; Power Development; and that of Fight Specific Fitness- endurance.

“An example of a week towards the later stages of the camp in endurance I would look to get Jon as lactic as possible working in circuits for three minutes with one minute recoveries, with also flexibility and joint stability sessions followed by ice bath treatments to aid with muscle recovery.”

Not only in the pugilistic world does the talents of Martin Nugent’s strength and conditioning come in though. “I have worked with numerous athletes from different sports, at the moment I currently work in Football working with Academy players from all three North East top clubs, and I also provide S & C support for the new, Houghton Kepier Elite Football Academy with ex-Sunderland player and Middlesbrough Reserve team coach, Martin Scott and alongside the Gateshead College Academy,” Nugent imitated.

“I have also, within the last year, been made the Regional Strength Coach for the RFL (Rugby Football League) for which I work with talent identified, Rugby League players from around the region, and will be working with the England Development squads this year.

“On a weekly basis I also work within the sports of Golf, Cricket, and Judo and have just been asked to work with Talent ID, GB swimmers within the North East.”

With so many different sporting ventures open then it can surely be difficult to be able to differentiate between the potential needs of individual athletes. Comparing those roles though was broken down when Nugent said that “The biggest difference between each sport really comes down to the mentality of the athletes more than the technical side of my job, for example Rugby players and boxers/ judo tend to be the most disciplined when it comes to the gym.

“You have to adapt your approach so that each athlete buys into the idea of strength and conditioning as this can be different, you really have to find out what will motivate them.”

Recently it was mentioned that ‘Every athlete should always have areas of development otherwise they become complacent,’ to which Nugent provided greater insight into, saying that “if you ask any top athlete, past and present, and, if they are honest, they will tell you an area of their game they or always spend extra time working on, whether its technical or physical.

“To be a top athlete you need to commit every day to improving and getting closer to your overall goal each day, even if it is just an hour you could spare use that hour effectively. For example, if your flexibility is lacking then use that hour for that; or if you’re a golfer and you need to work on your short game, or even a boxer who needs to improve power. This is something I try to imbed in everyone I work with.

“It is said you need approx 20,000 hours training development to make it in sport.”

In addition to all this, Martin Nugent has delved into the realms of Exercise and Nutrition in Sport and with this he continued by saying that “I have worked in a personal training capacity but with a difference, as most PT’s are what I call Health & Fitness based I bring in athlete performance based training “come and train like an athlete.

“I also provide advanced Nutritional Testing to determine the nutritional ratios that will boost energy levels, improve sleep, sport performance and general wellbeing. This can help the body to gravitate towards the body’s natural weight and body fat percentage.”

Having also see his roles take him abroad to the USA (working in and around their developing Soccer environment) and in Spain (working with tri-athletes), Nugent is also employed, primarily, the Gateshead College Academy for Sport, where he is the head of S & C. With this Nugent concluded that “I organise and manage the strength & conditioning team and the athletic development program. We have a state of the art Strength Performance Gym/ Performance Laboratories/Contrast bathing and indoor training facility. We work very closely with The English Institute of Sport.

“We have up to 400 athletes from numerous sports. We also work with external teams and athletes and examples of this are; the RFL, Newcastle Eagles (Basketball), Gateshead FC, Newcastle Falcons (Rugby Union), Gateshead & Whickham Swimming Club, and England Judo.”

For further information please contact Martin directly, via email or visit the Gateshead Academy for Sport website

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About petermannwriter

Freelance (Sports/Music) Journalist

Posted on January 11, 2013, in Features, Fighting Chance and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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