Jul 212010

In the next post, of our “What To do If Your Glutes Are Weak” series, I want to cover our glute activation exercises and progressions.

After we have foam rolled and stretched the hip flexors, we will then activate the glutes.  It is important to note that although I broke this down into a 3-part series, the time it takes to complete all 3 steps takes about 5-10 minutes.  It is not that long of time considering that during the rest of the day, most athletes and clients are doing activities that can make the dysfunction worse.

Hopefully now since the hip flexors are lengthened, we can now get some quality contraction out of the glutes.  The first exercise we go to is the Double Leg Glute Bridge.  Here we are asking our athletes to squeeze their glutes together to create the action of hip extension.  Some of the coaching cues that we use here include getting our athletes to brace their core which would prevent lumbar extension and driving their heels into the ground.  We will do 10 reps of :03 hold.

Double Leg Glute Bridge

Another exercise that we will do during this phase is the Quadruped Bent Knee Hip Extension.  While in a quadruped position, we are trying to get our athletes to use their glute on one leg to great hip extension.  We don’t want any lumbar extension- just hip extension.  We start with 5 reps on each leg with a :03 hold.

Quadruped Alternating Leg Bent Knee Hip Extension

Ultimately, we always continue to progress to more advanced versions of each exercise for our Glute Activation progressions.  For example, we will progress from the Double Leg Glute Bridge to Cook Hip Lift, to Hands Free Single Leg Hip Extension.  For the Quadruped progressions, we progress to Straight Leg Hip Extension, to Opposite Arm/Leg Extensions, to Resisted Opposite Arm/Leg Extension.  The opportunities to progress and make these more difficult are endless.

It is important to note that these are for activation exercises only.  These are not exercises we would use within a strength training session.  Those exercises would include squatting variations and dead lifting variations to help us strengthen our entire posterior chain including the glutes.  I am a believer that if the glutes aren’t turned on, then the other muscles in the posterior chain will take over and compensate for the weak glute(s).  Thanks for reading!

Also, check out the Interviews page which include some interviews that I have done in audio format and a new recent article that was in the Orange County Register.

Jul 122010

Hey Everyone,
Hope you are doing well and having a great summer. We have been
busy adding a ton of content every week and we wanted to make
sure you are caught up with all of it.

Newest Videos:

Slide Board Progressions- Darryl Nelson:

Three Stage Hip Flexion Progression- Michael Boyle

Soft Tissue Work: Posterior Adductor Magnus- Kevin Neeld

Incorporating The Crossover Step In Speed Training For Hockey-
Sean Skahan

Also, we have posted Matt Nichol’s presentation “Energy Systems
Development for Ice Hockey” from “Second Annual Boston Hockey
Summit and Basketball Symposium”.
Check it out at:

If you want to get the Summit on DVD, including Sean Skahan’s
presentation, go to

Latest Articles:
Managing the End of a Hockey Season- Mike Potenza

Getting Your Athletes On Board Your Bus- Sean Skahan

Why Not Play on the Best Team?- Mike Boyle

Latest Programs:

Upper Body Injury Program- Sean Skahan

Off-Season Conditioning- Mike Potenza

Thanks again to all of you who have been participating on the
Coaches Forum. There have been some great discussions:

Hockey Speed vs. Foot Speed

Question about the DB Complex video

Slide Board Length Variations

If you have any questions, let us know.

Michael, Sean, Mike and Kevin

Jul 082010

The next thing that we do in our “What to do with inhibited glutes” series is our stretching protocol.  This would be done right after foam rolling. Since the hip flexors are antagonistic to the glute max, we will continue to try and lengthen and relax these muscles.

If you have a partner to stretch you, or if you are the trainer/strength and conditioning coach, and your client needs to stretch their hip flexors, the modified Thomas Position is where to start.  In our situation, if we are stretching before a training session or a practice, we will do the Active Isolated Method of stretching.  If an athlete requests it, we will manually stretch them out on a table.  We will also use the self-static stretch variation as well before and after practices and/or during workouts.  During the AIS method, we are cueing our athlete to think about contracting the glute as we try to lengthen the hip flexors a little more each rep.

Thomas Position Hip Flexor A.I.S.

Thomas Position Hip Flexor + Rectus Femoris A.I.S.

Sometimes we will incorporate prone hip flexor stretching.  I’ve found this one helpful for athletes who may have some back pain in conjunction with inhibited glutes.  Like the modified Thomas Position stretch, we are cueing our athlete to contract the glute on the top of the movement.

Prone Hip Flexor + Rectus Femoris

Apr 112010

There are several strength and conditioning coaches and trainers who prescribe isolated glute max muscle “activation” and/or strengthening work.  These are exercises such as glute bridges, 1-leg glute bridges, quadruped hip extensions, and others where the emphasis is on the quality of the muscle contraction.  There are also several coaches and trainers who think that activation exercises are a waste of time and think that this concept is just a fad.  What I have found is that they may think that if their athletes are doing exercises such as squats, lunges, single leg squats, split squats, etc, then they are strengthening their glutes and the activation exercises are unnecessary.  I am one who does prescribe glute activation exercises.  We will do glute max isolation exercises on a daily basis with our players.

First, I think it is imperative to note that my job is to help keep the best players in the lineup on a nightly basis.  I understand that injuries such as fractures, concussions, and lacerations are beyond my control.  However, I am on the cautious side when it comes to soft tissue injuries.  We will do everything that we possibly can to help prevent injuries from happening- even with healthy athletes.

I was first introduced to the Prone Hip Extension Test by Al Vermeil at a seminar we hosted at Boston College back in 2001.  A few years later, I was able to attend a course on the Janda Method.  That’s when I learned how to administer the test properly.  This test has helped us identify athletes who don’t use their Gluteus Max’s when completing hip extension movement.  In a proper sequence of muscle activation, the hamstrings would fire first, glute max second, opposite side lumbar extensors third, same side lumber extensors fourth, opposite thoracolumbar extensors fifth, and same side thoracolumbar extensors sixth.  Several times, the gluteus maximus may not turn on at all.  Sometimes, we will see a difference in right vs. left side function.  In my opinion; this is a recipe for disaster.  Players who are continually going out and performing in their sport with this kind of pattern have a good chance of getting hurt.  Lower backs, hip flexors, and groins, can be affected by this.  Think about it, a player who can’t fire his glute max in order to help produce a significant amount of hip extension is going to find a way to do it without them.  Hamstrings, and lower back are the likely candidates.  These muscles may over work and strain.  I would also be worried about the athletes who are doing squats, lunges, single leg squats, and split squats, with this weakness too.  They are figuring out a way to do those exercises without their glute max.

Apr 092010

We added some great content this week on HockeyStrengthandConditioning.com.:

–     “Shopping For the Right “Dryland” Training Program” from Mike Potenza.

As the summer gets closer, parents and young hockey players will hear about many camps and programs available for off-ice training.  Shopping for the right “Dryland” training program can be made easier by asking a few questions.  Coach Potenza lists what questions to ask and why to ask them.

–     Answering to a forum post, Jaime Rodriguez shows sled variations at Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning for the Video of the Week.

–     Sean Skahan breaks down 4 phases of “In-Season Core” work.

Also, the Coaches Forum is jumping.  Lots of great discussion already, including “Testing Hockey Players”.  Find out the answers to:

  1. What are the best tests to use in the beginning of the season for college and pro hockey players to determine anaerobic capacity, power, and strength.


  1. Does anybody have their players perform the test multiple times during the season and post season to compare the strength and conditioning to the pre-season?


Hope you all are enjoying the site.  Any questions let us know. 

Michael, Sean, Mike, and Kevin.

Apr 052010

Eric Cressey and Michael Reinold have released a 4 DVD set of a seminar that they did back in November.  These are 2 smart guys who have the ability to apply their knowledge to some of the best players in baseball.  In my coaching situation, bridging the gap between athletes looking to get healthy and athletes looking to stay healthy is what it’s all about.  Check it out – Optimal Shoulder Performance

Apr 012010

1-      HockeyStrengthandConditioning.com is up and running.  If you train hockey players, you have to check it out.  We will start posting content on a weekly basis real soon.  I am really excited about it as there are several strength and conditioning coaches and athletic trainers from all levels including the NHL, AHL, major junior, and others. 

2-      I got a pair of Vibram Five Fingers a few weeks ago.  Honestly, I wish I got them sooner.  I’ve been training with them and have been on a few walks with them.  I believe they have helped me with some neurological symptoms that I have had in my left foot.  Surgery for a bulging disk back in 1999, and another surgery that I had to remove a non-cancerous mass in my spinal cord at the cervical level, has given me trouble with sensation.  I really believe that the Vibrams have helped wake up some proprioceptors and muscles that may have been shut down in my foot.  I am actually able to move my pinky toe by itself.  Something I haven’t been able to do for a long time. 

3-      Another thought on my training, I really love Jim Wendler’s 5-3-1 program.  I continue to make gains in strength on this program as I keep going up on my Military Press and Bench Press.  My “Actual Max” has gone from 155 to 190 in the Military Press while my Bench has gone from 225 to 265.  (I do not squat or deadlift, see #2 above).  Not bad results.  Something I may look into with my junior hockey players this summer.  What I really like about it is the simplicity of it.  It is a basic program that is really easy to plan out.

Mar 202010

First, I want to say thank you to all of you who read the blog. I’ve recently heard from some friends who are readers. It’s great to know that you enjoy the information.
Continuing education is an important aspect of improving in any profession. As I mentioned on the blog before, I believe it’s important to always be learning new information as it is changing often. I really like the quote by Pat Riley, “If you’re not getting better, you are getting worse”.
During the season, for continuing education, I will spend most of my time conversing with and visiting other coaches as well as checking out some of the sites and blogs on the internet. During the off-season, I try to get to as many live seminars that I possibly can. Here is a list of the seminars that I plan on attending this off-season:

May 22nd- 23rd, 2010
The 2nd Annual Boston Hockey Summit and Basketball Symposium.  I am fortunate to be a speaker at this event. 

June 4th- June 6th, 2010
Perform Better Functional Training 3-Day Summit

July 9th- July 11th, 2010
Northeast Seminars – Current Concepts in Trunk and Lower Extremity Examination, Integration and Training

Mar 112010

I want to tell you about an incredible new site that I am part of that you absolutely need to check out of if you train hockey players.  It’s called http://www.HockeyStrengthandConditioning.com.

I have partnered with legendary Boston University Hockey Strength Coach Michael Boyle, Mike Potenza (San Jose Sharks), and Kevin Neeld (Endeavor Hockey) and assembled “The Greatest Collection of Hockey Strength and Conditioning Coaches on the Planet!”

Our advisory board is a Who’s Who of Hockey Strength and Conditioning including Chris Pietrzak-Wegner (Minnesota Wild), Jim Reeves (Mind to Muscle), Brijesh Patel (Quinnipiac), Cal Dietz (Univ. of Minnesota), Chris Boyko (UMass), Maria Mountain (Revolution Sport Conditioning), Tim Yuhas (Yuhas Performance), Matt Nichol (former Toronto Maple Leafs), and Kim McCullough (Total Female Hockey).

There are a ton of articles on the site already with topics ranging from Strength and Conditioning, Programming, Youth Training, Injuries, Female Training and Coaching.   There are webinars, audio interviews and videos up as well, all about hockey!

Each week, we will be adding videos, articles and programs to the library and with this group, you know the Coaches Forum will be jumping.  Each month, there will be webinars and audio interviews added as well.

Right now until March 31, we have an incredible offer: Only 1 dollar for 30 days, then $9.95 a month after that.  I don’t know how long the $9.95 a month is going to last, so you should jump on this opportunity.   It’s only a buck, and you have until March 31.”