Aug 252010

In the July 2010, volume 24, number 7 issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, there is a great study- Relationship Between Body Composition, Leg Strength, Anaerobic Power, and On-Ice Skating Performance in Division I Men’s Hockey Athletes.  I actually try to read these journals whenever they are delivered to the house.  Usually, I will scan the table of contents for studies that really spark my interest.  Obviously, any studies that are related to hockey, I am going to read.

This study was done to look at relationships between specific lab tests and skating performance.  The subjects were 21 Miami of Ohio University Hockey players.  They were measured for body composition, force production in the quadriceps and hamstrings (isokinetic), and anaerobic power through a 30-second Wingate test.   On-Ice skating was measured during 6 timed 89 meter sprints where the fastest sprint and the average times were used in the analysis. 

The results said that that %fat was “moderately” correlated to average skating times, while a greater %fat was related to slower skating speed.  The average on-ice times also correlated to peak power per kilogram body mass Wingate scores.  Basically, the study was able to say that “Laboratory testing of select variables can predict skating performance in hockey athletes.” 

A couple of things that I really like about this study are that it does re-enforce some tests that I use/would use for hockey players.  I think that hockey players should be as lean as possible.  Honestly, I really haven’t seen too many pro players with body fat levels above 10% (taken with the Skyndex calipers).  The Wingate test, although it is brutally hard, has always been a favorite of mine. 

I actually remember meeting with Eric Cressey a few years ago and he asked me what tests, in my opinion, correlate with hockey speed and performance and my answer was body composition and Wingate scores. 

Should strength and conditioning programs for hockey include trying to be as lean as possible and improve leg power?  I certainly think so.

Aug 132010

In this post, I want to show you how we will actually strengthen our glutes after we have ensured that they are turned on and ready to go.  In our situation, when hockey players get into the routine of playing and/or practicing every day, the hip flexors can become short and tight.  It is imperative that the glutes and hip extensors are doing their jobs as effectively as possible on the opposite side of the hips to help allow the hip flexors to relax.

After our activation phase in our workouts, we will utilize exercises in our workouts that strengthen the glutes in conjunction with other muscles to produce hip extension and hip external rotation.

We will use many different exercises and patterns within our strength program that will ensure the glutes are used.  These are just some examples that we use all throughout the year:

Kettle Bell Slideboard Split Squat- This is a great exercise that is frequently used in-season.   The glute on the front leg gets a lot of work on the ascent back up to the starting position.

Kettle Bell 1-Leg S.L.D.L.- This is an exercise that we use for single leg hip-hinging and hip extension patterns.

Slideboard Leg Curl- This is one of our favorite hip extension plus knee flexion pattern.  This is a great way to strengthen the hamstrings while getting good glute contraction to keep the hips extended.

Bench Hip Lift- This is a new variation that we have been incorporating into our program for the last year or so.  We have recently been experimenting with loading this movement more and more.  Although we have done this as an “activation” exercise on the stability ball in the past, I have recently been re-introduced to this by Bret Contreras.  We will continue to look for ways to progress in this exercise by adding load and/or going to single leg variations.

Aug 102010

On Friday, August 6th, I made it up to Long Beach for the Perform Better Summit.  Yes, this is the second summit I attended this summer.  Honestly, I really can’t get enough of learning from the people at these events or meeting up with friends who I don’t get to see that much.  With the season coming up, continuing my education during the summer months is a priority.  At these seminars, I think it is important to not only pay attention and take notes, but more importantly to bring the information home with you and take action with applying the information that you learned.

I actually went to this one because Stuart McGill wasn’t in Providence and I didn’t get to see Gray Cook there.  Both speakers didn’t disappoint.  I like to list all of the key points that I took away because I feel that I can learn more by typing about it.  Here is a brief summary of what I got from each speaker who I was lucky enough to see:

Stuart McGill- Dr. McGill was one of the main reasons why I went to this summit.  What I really enjoy and respect about Stuart is that he is doing his research on real-world athletic populations.  I also like that it isn’t uncommon to see him in other talks at the summit.  This shows me that he has the beginners mind and is just as interested in what others are saying as people in his lectures are of him.  Here are some of the key points that I took away:

–       The spine needs to bend, but is limited in the number of bends

–       Sparing the spine through training will lead to a higher tolerance of training

–       Tolerance is the load tissue can take before it can get damaged, find training load just under tolerance

–       Rectus abdominis is designed to be “spring-like” with elastic storage

–       According to Stuart, from practical observations of high school football teams doing power cleans, only 30% of athletes he saw were able to do correctly.  (I totally agree with him as I have seen some ugly forms of power cleans early on in my career)

–       “We work with motions, postures, and loads.  Motions, postures, and loads cause injury.  Motions, postures, and loads prevent injuries.”

–       “Can’t have a stable back with stable hips.”

–       “Can’t mix up getting rid of pain and increasing performance.”

–       Stuart hates squatting with a stability ball between the legs.  This immediately inhibits the glutes.  (From my earlier posts, you can see that I agree with Stuart on this as well).

–       Exercise ideas- “Stir the pot”, and suitcase carries for Q.L.

–       “Spare the back!”

Brian Grasso- I’ve never seen Brian speak before and he didn’t disappoint.  This wasn’t your usual training or scientific based lecture.  This was about personal success and self-improvement.  Brian’s talk was inspirational and motivational to me as he mostly spoke about himself and what he has done so far in his career and life.  He wasn’t bragging, he was just stating the facts.  I walked away impressed with Brian as a person.  You can find out more about Brian at

–       Be more regimented.  Know exactly how your day will go.

–       Assess when you are at your best.

–       “The more skills you have- the more potential you have.”

–       Goal setting- The whole pie syndrome- complete small, bite size tasks to achieve your goal

–       The Kaizen principle- small incremental changes lead to great change over time

–       Have high expectations for yourself

Gray Cook- I think Gray is an excellent presenter and one of the smartest guys I’ve ever listened to.  I really believe that the movement screen (FMS) is a good tool.  I know that there are some people out there with negative views on the FMS, but I really think it is something that can give us as strength and conditioning coaches- (especially those in the team environment) valuable information.  I am the type of strength and conditioning coach who looks at things from a perspective of trying to maintain the health of our players.  By the way, if you haven’t picked up his new book  Movement: Functional Movement Systems: Screening, Assessment, Corrective Strategies, you should- I am currently reading it right now.

What I really enjoy hearing about is what people are doing with the FMS from a practical standpoint.   For example, some strength and conditioning coaches in the NFL have done extensive work with the FMS.  Jon Torine from the Colts and Jeff Fish from the Falcons use the FMS and corrective exercises with their teams.  Both of them have participated in studies which validate the FMS and correctives as a system that can help their teams.  If a strength and conditioning coach can use the FMS with success with their team, then why wouldn’t I try it with the team that I work with?  To me, it makes no sense to not use it.  Is it the main aspect of our program? – No.  However, it only takes 5-10 minutes to go through a screen and it may show a player and me some potential problems.  Here are some main points that I took away from Gray’s talk:

–       Movement is a behavior

–       Injuries occur when physical capacity exceeds movement

–       Stiffness isn’t stability

–       Biomarkers for injury risk-

  • Previous injury
  • Asymmetry
  • Motor Control
  • BMI
  • Stupidity

–       Possible to be pain free, but dysfunctional

–       FMS intervention study- Falcons- FMS scores increased

  • 7 week off-season program
  • Based on FMS individual scores
  • Movement prep+corrective exercises added
  • Movement prep examples- stick work, isolated stretching
  • Worked on worse movement pattern

–       Score of 14- breakpoint for injury

–       2’s with no asymmetries- good

–       Best way to strengthen the core- remove deficiencies

–       Dynamic Stability Training- KB Swing, Indian club swinging, Chop and Lifts with Med ball

There you have it.  I stayed for a day and a half as I had to make it back to Orange County to train with a client on Saturday morning.  Although I wish I got to stay longer, I feel that the information that I got from both summits in Providence and Long Beach was enough to keep my head spinning with new ideas and concepts for a long time.

Aug 022010

I would like to introduce you to a new site that was started by my good friend, and Strength and Conditioning Coach, Robert Dos Remedios. I actually first met Coach Dos a few years back at a Perform Better conference after I read his Power Training book by Men’s Health (which is fantastic by the way). He is a coach and a person that I really admire and respect because he is a guy who is coaching every day. His passion and enthusiasm for helping his athletes at the College of the Canyons is unbelievable. is a really great resource as it contains a ton of content including articles, exercise videos, “in the kitchen” videos, WOW (workouts of the week), a discussion forum, and Snatches and Beer interviews which I was lucky to be a part of in one of the episodes. You can check it out at