Archive for March, 2009

Low Back Pain Part 4- The Best Exercise for Back Pain?

Posted in Core training, Injuries, Low Back Pain, Training Females on March 31, 2009 by mboyle1959

The Quadruped Hip Extension is a precursor to McGill’s Bird Dog and may be the best exercise to rehab a low back pain client. In the Quadruped Hip Extension the emphasis is only on the hip. The biggest key to ending back pain is learning to move the hip independent of the spine. The dowel provides the coach or trainer with a visual aid to view possible lumbar compensation. If the space under the dowel increases extension of the lumbar spine is being substituted for the hip. Good glute function may be our best defense against back pain. The Airex pad under the knee allows the working leg to sweep the floor, unimpeded by the rug or mat. Use 10 second holds beginning with three sets of three ten second holds and progressing to 6.I think the “Bird Dog” or Alternate Arm and Leg  is a more advanced progression and the Quadruped Hip Extension should be learned first.


This Week on and Off to DC!

Posted in Uncategorized on March 30, 2009 by mboyle1959

First off, Boston University Hockey is off to the Frozen Four in Washington, DC. Wish us luck.

Second, lots of great stuff on

This will be an interesting week on the site. There has been a great thread running on the Advanced Forum about using and teaching Olympic weightlifting. The discussion inspired me to begin the week with a reprint of an old article I wrote in 1999 for a magazine called Coaching Management. The article was titled More Power to You by the editorial staff but, was originally titled Teaching Olympic Lifts to Athletes. The article was meant to serve as a companion piece to my old Teaching Olympic Lifts to Athletes VHS tape. The article outlines a progression we have used for fifteen years to teach 1000’s of athletes to Olympic lift.

Next up will be two international articles. One of my goals for is to make the site truly an international site. With the inclusion of two cricket articles we take a big step in that direction. Although our US members may not coach cricket players, cricket is a huge international sport.

The Unique Challenge of Periodised Training for Professional Cricketersby Rob Ahmun and David Hinchliffe is the first of two, followed by Preventing Injuries in Professional Cricketers by Rob Ahmun.

I’m excited and hope that members from outside the US will continue to submit articles on sports that are not traditional in the US and help us to increase our international presence. Because one article is actually a reprint we will run four articles this week. The last article will be by Tom Oberhue called Power Clean- A Natural Progression. Tom did a great job and has lots of accompanying video.

Video of the Week is a video of a group of our female athletes doing a hang clean demo. This video has gotten a lot of play and a lot of criticism on YouTube. The video was done to show how strong our women were in 1998. It was not intended as a training video. All the women shown were simply asked to do 2-5 reps at 135. The first 3 women are Olympic ice hockey players Tricia Dunn-Luoma, AJ Mleczko, and Katie King. Next is then high school soccer player and current Louisville Asst. Strength Coach Mary Kate Jones. ( 135×5 as a high school senior). Last is Kristen McCormick, a former U Maine basketball player.

The criticism revolves around the “rock” action that the women use. I am a big believer in the concept of double knee bend and I would recommend you read up on Olympic lifting if you are unfamiliar with the term double knee bend.

As always don’t forget to check out the StrengthCoach Podcast  at  

Hope you enjoy the week.

Low Back Pain Part 3

Posted in Core training, Injuries, Low Back Pain, Training, Training Females on March 27, 2009 by mboyle1959

The exercises depicted in the video are common warm-ups that I would consider contraindicated

We constantly need to be reminded that the lumbar spine is a series of joints with limited range of motion. These joints should be trained for stability and attempts to increase mobility at the spine are short sighted. We should be training the hips and thoracic spine for mobility and the lumbar spine for stability. This is a quote from a reader who I recently encouraged to stop rotating the lumbar spine


I am a golfer who suffered from low back pain.  I was doing an enormous amount of “what I thought good” spinal twisting to increase my flexibility.  I did not make the connection that the twisting was doing more harm than good until I purchased Mike’s “Joint By Joint Warmup & Training”.  In the DVD set Mike gave his opinion about the twisting and while his view, according to him, might be controversial he just put it out there that the spinal twists created more mobility than the lumbar spine was designed for and consequently did more harm than good.  He opted for lumbar stability.  Mike and I exchanged a few emails about this and he asked that I record my level of pain at the beginning of changing my routine and reevaluate two weeks later.  Here are the results.  I noted the pain at the start as:  Standing – 5, Lying Down on back – 8 (tingly sensation), Getting up from a chair after sitting for a while – 8 (bent over until stiffness went away), Driving in car for a distance – 8 (bent over when getting out until stiffness went away), Golf especially short irons – 9 (had to wait for the spasm to calm down before I could swing).  I totally cut out any spinal twists and practiced lumbar stabilization as outlined by Mike.  Here are the results after two weeks.  Standing – 2, Lying down on back – 3, getting out of a chair – 4, driving – 4, golf – 0.  I did not change or add anything else since I wanted to eliminate any other possibility from factoring in.  I had been working my glutes very hard and I think they are a key component in a strong back but it was not until I stopped the spinal twists and started stabilizing the lumbar spine that I noticed any results.



 For a more detailed explanation check out Is Rotation Training Hurting Your Performance at . You can learn more about concepts like these from 
A Joint by Joint Approach to Warm-up and Training from .

I’ll Put the Water Back

Posted in Nutrition, Random Thoughts on March 25, 2009 by mboyle1959

I just had an unbelievable experience at the convenience store this morning. I was behind a man whose intent was to purchase a pack of cigarettes and a bottle of water. Cigarettes are almost eight dollars a pack in Massachusetts. When the man realized he did not have enough money he looked at the clerk and said “I’ll put the water back”.  The realization that a man would pay for something known to kill him and put back an item he could not live without staggered me. Makes you think doesn’t it.

Concussion Week on

Posted in Injuries, Media, Uncategorized, Youth Training on March 23, 2009 by mboyle1959

This week is concussion week on Some of you will initially have the same reaction I did to concussions. What’s the big deal? Part of the game? When our first author, Chris Nowinski, offered to do a concussion education presentation for my staff that was my reaction. I thought “I’ll be polite and sit through this”. I was shocked by my own ignorance. In Chris’s words “ if you substitute the word ‘traumatic brain injury’ for ‘concussion”, your thoughts change”. The second concussion presentation comes from Dr. Brian Reiger and was provided by member Greg Streblow. I won’t say you’ll enjoy these presentations, I will say that you’ll learn a ton.

Last up is Putting Your Team Together by Bruce Kelly. This has nothing to do with concussions but, is a great follow up to Bruce’s previous piece on Training Masters Athletes.

Video of the Week features the work of the Sports Legacy Institute.

The clip is from an HBO RealSports piece. Please watch the entire clip. The important part begins at about the 5 min mark. This is a disturbing piece. As always don’t forget to check out the StrengthCoach Podcast at

Hope you enjoy the week. Michael

ACL Prevention

Posted in Uncategorized on March 19, 2009 by mboyle1959

The key to ACL Prevention is adding hops to the prevention. Medial and Lateral Hops with a stable landing should be a required exercise in any ACL injury prevention program. 

Too many of the “canned” ACL prevention programs focus on jumps ( 2 legs) and neglect hops ( starting and landing on the same leg). For hops to truly be effective they must be done both medially ( toward the midline) and laterally ( away from the midline). The mechanism of injury is almost always a non-linear single leg landing or attempted deceleration. Hopping teaches the landing skills so vital in ACL prevention.

To learn more you can go to and check out my Plyometric Training DVD

Low Back Pain Prevention- Part 2

Posted in Core training, Low Back Pain, Random Thoughts, Training on March 18, 2009 by mboyle1959

I have to apologize as these clips have no audio. The key to this clip, much like yesterdays is seeing that lack of hip mobility in flexion can be as dangerous or more dangerous than lack of mobility in extension. McGill’s work actually shows flexion to be more dangerous to the disks. Lack of hip flexion can be due to weakness of the deep hip flexors or, to tightness of the extensors.

Both clips are from my Concepts in Core Training DVD available at 

Low Back Pain Prevention

Posted in Uncategorized on March 17, 2009 by mboyle1959

I’m going to post a few entries about low back pain in the next few weeks. I think the real key to preventing or rehabbing a low back pain sufferer has very little to do with the low back. I think the problem is most often in the hips. I always say “poor hip mobility undermines spine stability”. We know we want mobile hips and a stable spine. The video below was filmed intentionally to show how the spine can move to compensate for the hips not moving.

We could call this “poor glute function”, “poor glute activation” or use McGill’s term, gluteal amnesia. Whatever you choose to call it it’s a problem. If the glutes are not able to extend the hip the spine will move into extension. Excessive lumbar motion will cause back pain. It’s a vicious cycle that must be terminated in the hips, not at the back. Teach lumbar stability and glute function and, you are on your way to relieving lots of low back pain. For more info you can look at my Concepts in Core Training DVD or any of Stuart McGill’s products. All are available at 

This Week on

Posted in Uncategorized on March 16, 2009 by mboyle1959

Combine Week continues on First up is an article I’ve been working on titled Does It All Come Down to the First Ten Yards? This piece breaks down actual forty yard dash performance and explains how and why we train our Combine and Pro Day athletes the way we do.

Next up is The Introduction of Closed System Drills to Improve Initial Accelerative Sprint At Springfield College by Dan Liburd. This is another excellent piece being produced by members of my wonderful Boyle’s alumni group at Springfield College. I can’t tell you how proud I am of the work these kids do.

Last is a reprint of a piece that ties in nicely to the previous two. How to Use Sled Training to Dramatically Improve Speed and Acceleration is another reprint from the original site that many of you may not have read.

Video of the Week comes from Dan Liburd in conjunction with his article mentioned above. The video demos some of the progressions currently being used in the strength and conditioning program at Springfield College.

As always don’t forget to check out the StrengthCoach Podcast  at 

Hope you enjoy the week.


Nutrition for Kids

Posted in Nutrition, Random Thoughts, Youth Training on March 13, 2009 by mboyle1959

A few weeks ago I received an email from one of my former players. The purpose of her email was to ask if I was aware of any good nutrition books for kids. My first thought was to say that there was no such thing. My second thought was to recommend some “adult books”. No, not those adult books.

My friend was not looking for books on nutrition for a child to read but rather for books about nutrition for children. What I had to explain to her was that kids are really no different than adults when it comes to nutrition. The basics of nutrition don’t change much based on age. The big exception is that it is tough to get kids to eat quality protein. Kids eat for taste, even more so than adults, and will have limited palates.  Protein deficiency is even worse among young females. My wife and I actually use protein shakes with our kids, particularly in the morning to try to get protein into our kids.

Kids are bombarded with cereal ads and because they are so susceptible to advertising they think that cereal is a good breakfast. I read a quote that said the line “cereal can be part of a good breakfast” is one of the best advertising lines ever. The writer said the next line should say “if you eat a bunch of other very nutritious food with the cereal”. My favorite breakfast for the kids is a protein shake and fruit. It beats all the other breakfast crap.

Unfortunately, I don’t think there are any good “kids” nutrition books. The Zone and The South Beach Diet are both very good basic nutrition books. I love UltraPrevention and UltraMetabolism also. However, if you want to practice good nutrition with kids follow the same rules as with adults.