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The Stoic Shoutout #2

The weekly Sunday post on what is worth checking out in regards books, podcasts and much more!

Book of the week

Podcast Episode of the week

Article of the week

Tweet of the week

Instagram of the week

Is social media a positive or negative influence?

Now, this post will open a can of worms, which can lead to many discussions, but ultimately the question boils down to ‘Are you using social media to your advantage to enhance your life’ or are you using to get away from life for a bit. Furthermore, before I go any further, I would like to say that I believe there is a place for social media in our personal and professional lives, but it is how you use it the tricky part.

An excellent book by Cal Newport called ‘Digital Minimalism’ has opened my eyes in regards to this topic. Cal pointed out that the average modern user spends around 2 hours per day on social media, and other related messaging services. This idea of zoning out and mindless swiping being the main culprit.

“Humans are not wired to be constantly wired” – Cal Newport

Cal recommends a digital declutter – a 30-day detox off social media (all optional technologies), and try to reconnect with other activities and behaviors which one would find satisfying and meaningful. After 30 days, he recommends gradually implementing some of these optional technologies back into your every day and determine if it brings you value.

You now may tell yourself – ‘I’m not on it that long, it is only a few minutes a day’ so I do not need to detox. These devices have been built to be addictive and time-consuming, so you may be on it longer than you think. Could you be doing something else with your valuable time?

 So, you really need to ask yourself are you really only on it for ‘a few minutes’ or longer.

More of your time = More money in their pocket 

The point is, social media is not the problem; it is how you use it.

Food for thought.

Till next time, Stay Stoic,


Want to read more from the blog?

Core training – Are we making it too complicated?

Core training or trunk training is utilized by all, from athletic individuals to general populations, but are we creating more work for ourselves when we program it?

Nevertheless, why do we program for the core in the first place?

The core has been outlined as the kinetic link between the upper and lower body, which coincides which the idea of it aiding in sporting performance (1). Performance enhancement is one side of the coin, with injury reduction being the other. Now before we go any further, the idea of ‘Injury Prevention’ is not plausible. As practitioners, we have to accept the fact that our athletes/clients may get injured at some stage. The key is to try to reduce such injuries, so they occur less and less often hence the word ‘injury reduction’.  The use of core training has been outlined as a method to address weakness in the trunk region, increasing core stability, thus reducing recurring lower back pain (LBP). So you could argue that the use of such modalities does enhance performance as it allows one to perform at their maximum, reducing the risk of injury.

Core training or trunk training is utilized by all, from athletic individuals to general populations, but are we creating more work for ourselves when we program it?

Number one, I am a firm believer in the isometric based training, which uses exercises such as the front plank and the Pallof press instead of exercises which require repetitive flexion such as the sit-up or crunch. Lots of academic work by Stuart McGill has outlined this, and I would recommend reading into his work on this area (2). The rationale of using such exercises is to promote stability in the area and not mobility (which occurs through repetitive flexion); therefore, it would be deemed wise to use isometric based exercises such as the deadbug or front plank. Mike Boyle, in his fantastic book Functional Training for Sports, outlined that core training is about motion prevention and not motion creation (3)

Now since we have covered which type of exercise to perform, we need to talk about where. Well, the core is from nipple to knee and all around, so it is essential you target all; therefore, you must focus on the front (anterior), side (lateral), and the back (posterior). With this in mind, one must ensure they are programming at least one of each in order to keep the core training balanced. Now let us get on to the programming side of things – the fun bit. In regards to programming, keep it simple stupid (KISS) – meaning start easy and gradually build up. We recommend the following training guidelines:

Exercise 1 – Deadbug (anterior)

Exercise 2 – Side plank (left and right – lateral)

Exercise 3 – Glute bridge (posterior)

Frequency (Twice per week)

Week 1 – 3 sets of 20sec

Week 2 – 3 sets of 30sec

Week 3 – 3 sets of 40sec

Week 4 – 3 sets of 20sec – change/increase exercise difficulty and repeat process.

I hope this was helpful and stay stoic,

Stoic Strength Coach.


  1. Willardson, J. (2014). Developing the Core: NSCA-National Strength & Conditioning Association.
  3. Boyle, M. (2016). New functional training for sports. Human Kinetics.

And so the journey begins…

Here I am, writing my first blog, never thought I would, but here we are! Might as well get through the formalities before getting onto the good stuff. I am an accredited strength and conditioning coach who has worked in the fitness/sporting sector for about 15 years. Coaching experience has ranged from my native sports of Gaelic football and hurling back home in Ireland, to elite-level strength and conditioning for track and field and football (soccer) in the UK. Having learned a lot on this coaching journey since coming to the UK, this leads us nicely onto the rationale for this blog.

Not only having a deep interest in strength and conditioning, but I have also developed an interest in areas such as minimalism and stoicism. These have greatly help me in my everyday work, and I wish to pass that onto you. So the objective of this blog is to talk about everything strength and conditioning from book reviews and academic journal articles, which may help with your work to talking about areas such as stoicism, meditation, and minimalism and how you can apply it to your life.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, I am still learning a lot of this and by no means an expert (glad I cleared that one up!). Therefore, many of the areas we talk about here are still quite new to me, so we will be learning together! I suppose let’s get on with the show, and enjoy the ride!

“Begin – to begin is half the work, let half still remain; again begin this, and thou wilt have finished” – Marcus Aurelius