Strength and condition like a Brownlee

by Tim Jarrett

Leeds is fast-becoming the Triathlon capital of the world thanks to the legacy being created by the Brownlee Brothers and an exciting new batch of Triathletes coming through the ranks.

In recent years, Strength and Conditioning has become well-used as a supplementary form of training to help Triathletes become robust and able to tolerate the high amounts of long distance training they do.

It has been particularly well-practised with the young athletes at Leeds Triathlon Club who are trying to accelerate their body’s capacity to train like the Brownlee Brothers – a proven training system that has clearly yielded great success.

The Brownlee training system will only produce results for those who are robust enough to adopt it without breaking down under its shear demands.

So, here are 5 exercises which will help you bring your body closer to that of a Brownlee…

1. Single-Leg Glute Bridges

Many of the injuries triathletes develop are caused by high amounts of repetitive movements and can be fast-tracked by improper or unbalanced body mechanics. The Single-Leg Glute Bridge is an excellent low-level exercise that is useful for developing good hip mechanics whilst also developing capacity (endurance) in the muscles around the hip (Glutes). It can also be done as a double-leg variation, however, the single-leg variation challenges the three-dimensional stability of the hip joint and as a result, really brings in the muscles on the sides of the hip (Glute Medius). This is an excellent warm-up exercise that requires no equipment. Perform 3 sets of 10 reps on each leg.

Start position

Start position for glute bridge

Finish position

Finish position glute bridge


2. Pogo Jumps.

This exercise targets the muscles and tendons around the ankle consisting of the Achilles Tendon and Gastrocnemius (Calf). The aim is to perform quick, plyometric style jumps with very little yield (bend) at the knees, hips or ankles (See correct vs incorrect below). Performing jumps in this style helps to overload the elastic properties of the Achilles tendon which in turn helps improve running economy.

Tipaim to spend as little time on the floor as possible.

Perform 3 sets of 10 reps.

Correct landing position

Good landing for pogo jump

Incorrect landing position 

bad landing for pogo jump


3. Hop Cross

It is well-known that long-distance athletes can be at a heightened risk of stress fractures due to high volumes of repetitive movement they undertake. The aim of this exercise is to up-regulate the activity of Osteoblasts – a cell which stimulates the substance of bone and as a result helps protect triathletes from stress fractures in the lower limb and foot. Running itself provides a stimulus for Osteoblast activity, however, this exercise adds more by providing multi-directional forces to the lower limbs that further increase Osteoblast activity. To perform, jump sideways a small distance and rebound quickly back to your original position ‘catching’ on the same leg (See below).

TipYou can mix it up by jumping in different directions.

Perform 3 sets of 5 jumps on each leg.

 Start position

Start hop


Rebound hop

Catch position


4. Back Squats

This is a staple of most Strength and Conditioning programmes and for good reason. A correctly loaded back squat offers many benefits to numerous muscles of the body and also extends to positively influencing the hormonal profile of an athlete. Because the bar is loaded on the shoulders, it applies tension to almost every part of the body but especially targets the knee extensors (quads) which are key for performance on the bike. It builds multiple athletic qualities such as strength, robustness and under the right nutritional circumstances, muscle size. To perform correctly, start with your feet shoulder width apart and toes facing out. Sink down so that your hamstrings meet your calves getting your knees wide and out of the way (See below). Perform 3 sets of 5-8 reps.

Start position

Start squat position

Bottom position

Bottom squat position


5. Press-Ups

The benefits of doing correctly performed press-up are far-reaching and offer plenty towards being able to swim fast.

To swim at a high speed you must be able to generate a high power output from the muscles of your arms and shoulders – precisely what is demanded from press-ups. That being said, a press-up should not just be considered an exercise for the arms and shoulders, but also of the core. Done properly, you must keep your trunk rigid and prevent your lower back from arching (See correct vs incorrect below). It is the perfect exercise to practise an ideal ‘streamlined’ body position that helps you to reduce the ‘drag factor’ when trying to swim.

Correct position

Correct form for press up

Incorrect position

Incorrect press up form



Welcome to the Leeds Sport blog

by Patrick Craig

Welcome to our new blog!

A lot of people perhaps don’t realise how much we offer through Leeds Sport. It’s far more than just the BUCS Wednesdays that people normally associate with university sport. We look after social leagues and Get Out, Get Active programmes, events such as Varsity, Christie, Alumni and the Sports Colours ball, then there’s your strength & conditioning training and physiotherapy, not to mention the leadership and volunteer opportunities including our incredible Gryphons Abroad programme which heads all the way to South Africa. And that’s just the beginning.

To make all of this happen, we’ve got an impressive staff team across both the University and the Students Union, who as a result are full of useful advice, skills, and interesting anecdotes. On top of that, we have more tips on sport and physical activity than Mo Farrar has run miles!

So how can we best share this wealth of knowledge with you all? Leeds Sport blogs is how. Each month (or there about’s) we’ll be bringing you a new blog, so sit back and enjoy the read.


PS. Make sure you follow Leeds Sport via our social media channels or sign up to our monthly newsletter (we won’t bombard you!) to keep up to date with everything we do.

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Triathlon take home the team double

After taking three of six available individual medals and two gold team medals at the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Standard Distance Triathlon, the University of Leeds has retained its title as number one institution in the BUCS Triathlon rankings for the third year running.

A record number of students competed at this years Championships in Southport, with a large number of students from the Leeds Triathlon Centre taking part.

In the women’s race, Sarah Hodgson claimed the silver medal as the first finisher from the University of Leeds, behind Elle Twentyman from Bath. Sarah improved on her BUCS Sprint bronze medal she won back in 2014. An impressive four University of Leeds athletes finished in the top 7, with Rachael Hawker narrowly missing out on a podium position coming in 4th. Emma Pickering came in at 6th position closely followed by Natasha Sinha in 7th leaving the women’s team gold medal in absolutely no doubt.

womens BUCS triathlon winners

The University of Leeds Men’s Team included two individual medal placings with Sports Scholars Alistair Rogers and Jack Willis achieving 2nd and 3rd place respectively. After returning from injury just a couple of months ago, final year student Alastair produced the fastest swim and cycle time for the whole field, but was overtaken in the run by University of Stirling student George Goodwin. Ed Beecher came in at 10th place securing the top spot in the team competition for the University of Leeds.

mens BUCS triathlon winners


Head of Sport Suzanne Glavin said:

It’s fantastic to see the continuing success of our Triathlon teams here at the university. Our partnership with the Leeds Triathlon Centre is clearly paying off, allowing our students access to some of the best coaching in the country at some incredible training facilities here on university campus. Congratulations to all athletes who took part!

Despite a slow start in the BUCS Duathlon placing sixth overall, the University of Leeds have dominated the BUCS Sprint and Standard to run away as the number one institute for Triathlon, leading closest competitor Bath by 43 points.


Scholar Voted RFL University Player of the Year

Rugby pitch Sports Park Weetwood

Sports Scholar, James Woodburn-Hall, has been voted as the Rugby Football League’s (RFL) University Player of the Year. The Cec Thompson award is presented to the player who has performed outstandingly on the field throughout the University Rugby League season. 

James Woodburn-Hall is in his final year at the University of Leeds studying Sports Science and Physiology. Having played at Super League level for London Broncos prior to joining the University, James has been a key player for the student team since his arrival. The team has since gained promotion in to the BUCS Premier A division, the top league in the country.

Alongside completing his studies, he’s also played regularly for Halifax RLFC who play in the Championship. On top of this, James has just been selected to play for the English Students team and will be heading to compete in the Student World Cup in the Student World Cup over in Australia in July.

Performance Sport Manager David Bond said:

James approaches his training and academic studies with commitment and professionalism and is a shining example of a model student-athlete at the University of Leeds. He’s an athlete who is achieving highly both on the pitch and in the classroom, and this award comes as no surprise particularly following his nomination for the ‘Athlete of the Year’ at this years Sports Colours Awards. Congratulations James, thoroughly deserved!

The award was presented to James as part of the RFL’s magic weekend at St James Park, Newcastle, on Saturday 20th May. A huge congratulations to James for this fantastic achievement.

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Sports Colours Awards 2017

On Wednesday 3rd May, players, coaches, students and staff from Leeds Sport celebrated a fantastic year of sporting achievements. The Sports Colours Awards dinner was a fabulous evening, just one of many nights that made up the over arching celebrate week, which culminates with Friday nights grand finale; The Riley’s.

The evening was opened by host Activities officer Taiwo Ogunyinka alongside Sports, Dance, & Martial Arts Reps Ruan, Lauren, and Sam. This lead us in to the first awards of the evening, Club Colours, presented by the reps and Full Colours, by Sports Coordinator and BUCS guru, Rob Fairley. These are awarded to individuals who have gone above and beyond for their society or who have consistently performed highly for their team. This year there were a phenomenal 101 Club Colours awarded showing the fantastic commitment of Leeds Sport club members. There were also a huge 40 Full Colours awarded highlighting the talent of the athletes here at the University.

After a wonderful meal provided by the University of Leeds refectory, attendees were treated to a sensational performance by Dancesport to open the second half of the evening. The performance set a fantastic tone to the evening and showcased the talent among our dancers here at Leeds. The Sports Colours Awards evening also allowed Leeds Sport to celebrate its strength and depth of Sport Scholars whom it supports throughout their time at University.

Following these celebrations, we awarded this years White Rose and Gryphon Award winners who again have excelled either through commitment to their club or their performing excellence respectively. This years White Rose winners were:

  • Olivia Carter (Squash)
  • James Nicholson (Hiking)
  • Ayesha Lee (Cricket)
  • Shona Macloud (Football)
  • Frances Robbs de la Hoye (Rugby)
  • Will Carter (Ultimate Frisbee)
  • Grace Galbraith (Dancesport)
  • Tom Harding (Rugby Union)
  • Jack Bullock (Football)
  • Natasha Shafquat (Hockey)
  • Luke Bowen (Snowriders)
  • Ciaran Lennon (Ice hockey)
  • Nigel Sibanda (Volleyball)

And our Gryphon Award winners, were:

  • Rachel Newborough (Football)
  • Rosie Blout (Cycling)
  • Robert White (Ultimate Frisbee)
  • Fionnuala Crosbie (Netball)
  • Ciara Crosbie (Netball)
  • Savvas Hadjigeorgiou (Hockey)
  • Felix Titherley (American Football)
  • Josh Blower (Lacrosse)
  • Sarah Donnelly (Kick boxing and Krav Maga)

This lead in to our top 9 awards for the evening beginning with 2 new awards; Social League Team of the Year which was awarded to Law Netball, and the newly introduced this year Gryphon Leadership Award, awarded to Hannah Clarke for her outstanding contribution to the Netball Umpire Academy. The next two rewarded our coaches for their hard work to get the teams to where they are. This years Sue Jacklin Club Coach of the Year went to Hockey’s Chris Golding who coached 3 of the hockey clubs teams this past year. Our Mike Brook Performance Coach of the Year went to Women’s Cricket head coach Rick Holland who has gone above and beyond his role in the past 12 months to deliver an excellent coaching experience to the Women’s Cricket Club and the newly formed Women’s MCCU side.

Netballers posing for photo with award and presenter Emma
Hannah Clarke accepting award from Andy

Most Improved Athlete of the Year was awarded to Rowing’s James Boak who since starting rowing from scratch in 2016, was selected for the Club’s new group of ‘Performance Scullers’. In November James entered the National BUCS Indoor Rowing Series, where he placed Silver in the whole of Great Britain, an achievement which no one from Leeds has done on recent records. He has continued to break other Club records, posting the best 30 minute time on the rowing machine to date. He is driven and always gives his all. He is now setting his goals towards the water.

James & Jess posing for a photo with trophy

The Chris Hatton Most Improved Team of the Year went to the American Football who’s team went undefeated and become the BUCS 2A North conference champions, scoring an average of 35 points a game as the number 1 ranked offense in the country. The team also made it to the BUCS Northern Conference Cup finals.

This year’s Roberts Athlete of the year award went to Triathlon’s Sam Dickinson, one of the Universities Sports Scholars. Sam claimed 1st place in the Time Trial Qualifier at the 2016 Kitzbuhel ETU Triathlon Junior European Cup, and 1st in the main Triathlon event. He also took 1st in the 2016 Holten ETU Triathlon Junior European Cup, and 8th in the 2016 ITU World Triatlon Grand Final Cozumel. Sam also achieved Gold in the BUCS Sprint Triathlon 2016 beating Gordon Benson, GB triathlete and Leeds Alumni in the process. He’s definitely one to watch for the future.

Sam Dickinson posing with trophy

Rugby League were the winners of this years Team of the Year, who’s award has now been renamed in memory of James Burke who tragically passed away in April this year. Rugby League are one of the few teams at Leeds that currently compete in the BUCS Premier division. This year they finished an impressive 3rd behind Leeds Beckett and Northumbria, their best league finish in over 10 years. They reached the BUCS Championship semi-finals narrowly missing out on the finals to league winners Northumbria. The team were also victorious in a new event this year, the Yorkshire Varsity, which took place at the Headingley Stadium against a side made up of the best students from across Yorkshire Universities.

Rugby League team posing for a photo with trophy

The Chief Executive of Leeds University Union, Aidan Grills took to the stage to present the final and most hotly anticipated award of the evening, Club of the Year. For the second year running, Women’s Hockey, were announced winners of this award having sent in an impressive nomination excelling in all criteria for the award. The 24 strong club committee efficiently manages 8 teams and uses its strength in numbers to boast as a leading society for charity fundraising. They have created their own website and have been heavily involved with getting involved in the community with their annual ‘Quicksticks’ tournament. Not only that but they have continued to develop relationships with alumni and aid player personal development opportunities with their ‘Hockey Works’ scheme. Congratulations ladies on a well deserved award!

Womens hockey club on stage collecting winners trophy

Gryphons Take Gold at BUCS Regatta

Boat House

On the 29th of April, the University of Leeds Boat Club headed to the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham for the annual British Universities and Colleges (BUCS) Regatta. The Gryphons were out in full force turning out 14 boats across all 4 of their squads.

To prepare for the weekend, the senior squads headed over to Lake Vyrnwy in Wales over the Easter break for a training camp, whilst the others continued their grueling training regime. The hard work and training paid off in particular in the Novice Women’s Single Sculls for Tara, who claimed 1st place and a BUCS gold medal!

Tara from UOLBC with gold medal

Results of all finals can be seen below:

Saturday 29th

Mens Intermediate Lightweight 1x, C Final – 4th

Mens Intermediate 8+, C Final – 5th

Womens Beginner 1x, A Final – Gold

Mens Beginner 4x, A Final – 4th


Sunday 30th

Womens Beginner 4+, D Final – 1st

Mens Intermediate 2x (a), C Final – 6th

Mens Intermediate 2x (b) , E Final – 5th

Mens Beginner 8+, C Final – 5th

Mens Intermediate 4+, E Final – 1st


Monday 1st

Womens Intermediate 4+, D Final – 1st

Womens BUCS 8+, E Final – 1st

Womens Intermediate 2x, C Final – 2nd

Mens Beginner 1x (a), A Final – 6th

Mens Beginner 1x (b), B Final – 5th