Archive for the Random Thoughts Category

A Reaction to “Dirty Little Secrets of the Single Leg Training Craze”

Posted in Injuries, Low Back Pain, MBSC News, Random Thoughts, Training, Training Females with tags , , , on March 7, 2018 by mboyle1959

If you haven’t read this article, Dirty Secrets of the Single Leg Training Craze, don’t bother to continue. I can promise that the things I’m about to say won’t make much sense.

First off, let’s try to set the parameters of the discussion. No real strength coach, me included, is telling anyone to do only single leg exercises all the time. Therefore the premise of the entire article changes. There really are no “dirty secrets”.

What I have said and written is that for higher level athletes, we have found unilateral knee dominant movements to be not only safer but more effective. We continue to do bilateral power exercises ( Olympic lifts and variations) as well as both unilateral and bilateral plyometrics. In addition, with healthy athletes we continue to use Trap Bar or Hex Bar Deadlifts.

So the reality is that there really is no single leg craze, only a steady progression of good empirical thought reinforced by what we now understand about functional anatomy.

No Agenda

With that clarified, lets dig into the article a bit. Carl declares himself to be a man without an agenda yet the article reeks of agenda. Nothing generates Likes and views like telling a bunch of people what they want to hear. The man who thinks he is right loves affirmation.

In fact, opinionated pieces that profess to be not opinionated are perfect for the “see I was right all along crowd”.  Readers think “this guy (who has declared that he doesn’t have an opinion) agrees with my opinion”.

The good part about Carl’s article is that it won’t change the minds of those of us who really understand the issue and see through the smoke, mirrors, topic changes and deliberate confusion. What an article like this will do is reaffirm for the dinosaurs that they have a few more years until extinction.

Much like a 3 Card Monte wizard, Carl plays quickly, mixing facts and opinions and never clearly distinguishing when switching to one from another. He seems to express opinions as facts with no mention of opinion.

The Gloves are Off

Lets try to deal with some of the “unbiased” statements, one at a time.

Carl begins with the dichotomy of “the gloves being off” as he prepares to offer “ a fair and balanced overview”. This is paragraphs one and two. Either the gloves are off ( fight analogy) or, the article is going to be fair and balanced? Can you take the gloves off and write a fair and balanced article?

Clearly, at least from my perspective the article is neither fair, nor balanced?

The next five to six paragraphs discuss agendas, smoke screens and product sales? Very fair and balanced. As you follow the first few agenda-less, unbiased, paragraphs, you are given the impression that people like me gave up on bilateral squats because we have an agenda. We hide behind smoke screens in order to sell products?

My Agenda?

My only agenda is attempting to help teams win and to have healthy athletes. In the interest of full disclosure, I sell information products but, trust me, they do not represent a majority of my income. Also, I do not sell equipment. I do work for an equipment company ( I’m a speaker for Perform Better) but, I have not ever been involved in equipment sales as a profession.

Hands-on session at the Perform Better Summit in Munich

Game Changer

Carl goes on to say  “so far nothing has surfaced in any training facility that screams that moving toward split squatting is a game changer.” I would beg to differ? It is a game changer in my facility. Back pain has nearly disappeared, vertical jumps have climbed, and most importantly championships have been won at the collegiate, professional and Olympic level.

Ask Devan McConnell at UMass Lowell if he thinks single leg work has been a game changer. Ask Cameron Josse at DeFranco’s. In fact, ask any coach who has really committed to single work if it has been a game changer.

Gurus and Outcomes

Carl goes on to state that “most proponents of single leg training are the functional training gurus who use the visual appearance of exercises as their hallmarks to success rather than the outcomes of entire training systems”. As the author of New Functional Training for Sports, I might think that this is an un-opinionated and unbiased reference to me?

If in fact it is, I can again say that we are not relying on the visual appearances of the exercises but instead on the results of the exercises, both in what they are doing and, what they are not doing. Teams are winning and athletes are healthy. That is not appearance. We don’t appear to be healthy and, we don’t appear to be winning. We are healthy and we are winning. I have the stats to establish both.

Overused and Oversimplified

Next Carl states that  “saying that “because we run one foot at a time” is the most overused and oversimplified argument as to why an exercise is a superior or better option.”. Sorry, overused, maybe yes, oversimplified, yes, entirely accurate , yes. This is the science of functional anatomy? The musculature behaves differently in unilateral stance. The entire patterns are different. This is akin to telling the track coach, that bounding and hopping are overused and oversimplified?  Why not just do lots of double leg jumps and then go do the event?

A Path to Overuse

The next opinion is “doesn’t adding more exercises that load one leg cut a path to overuse syndromes and pattern overload the same gurus warn us about?” The answer to that would be yes if the gurus were saying that unilateral exercises decreased loading on the hips or knees? However, those I know that espouse unilateral training do so to avoid back issues? So, the agendas and smoke screens seem to emanate from the author vs the subjects?

Bilateral Deficit

Carl then moves into some really confusing talk about bilateral deficit. The reality is that the bilateral deficit exists and, that it explains what we see in unilateral exercises. We can use heavier loads because the body is neurologically wired to work unilaterally, not bilaterally.

I’ve already written about Bilateral Deficit here.  Unilateral Training and the Bilateral Deficit


Back Squat and Split Squats

In this section Carl goes on again to restate that switching to unilateral knee dominant training has not proven to be effective. Valle states ( for the second time) “so far nothing has surfaced in any training facility that screams that moving toward split squatting is a game changer. I’ve previously cited the study on academy rugby athletes that compared squats to split squats where the data showed similar results, not dramatically different results.”

Again Carl ignores those of us that have seen split squatting as a game changer. But, most importantly, Carl ignores the reason that we switched. The motivation to move toward unilateral knee dominant work was not the performance benefit as much as the injury prevention benefits.

The rugby study cited actually supports my/ our position as the study showed that unilateral training and bilateral training had equal benefit.

Injury Risk

What Carl neglects to mention are quotes like this from none other than Frans Bosch ( a big unilateral proponent) .

Bosch states’ “ not only is the value of deep squats questionable, but so is the claim that double leg squats are particularly suitable for improving strength in the legs. Strength in the back muscles may be the limiting factor, rather than strength in the legs, and so double leg squats may in fact be a maximal strength exercise for the back muscles”

This is very much in line with my “transducer” argument. I stated a few years ago that the back was a bad transducer.  The back is not an effective vehicle to get force from two legs to a bar held on the back. That is just reality. The back becomes the limiting factor in squatting. That is not opinion, that is fact. You can watch 100’s of failed squats and you will rarely see the legs give out while the torso remains solid and erect. I have competed in powerlifting and have watched literally thousands ( probably millions) of squats and failure occurs the vast majority of the time via a rapid lumbar flexion.


This article seems to be a deliberate attempt to pander to the bilateral audience? All I could think of as I read this was the Henry Ford quote “ if I had listened to everyone else I would have invented a faster horse”.


Karaoke vs Carioca?

Posted in MBSC News, Random Thoughts, Training, Youth Training on January 12, 2017 by mboyle1959

If I see this again, I’m going to scream.

I got an athletes warm-up that had them doing karaoke. Now, karaoke is fun but, it’s not a warm-up.

This is karaoke , really bad Tina Turner, but karaoke.

This is carioca, a lateral movement drill that is appropriate for warm-up

Please, stop confusing the two. It makes me crazy.

PS- if you want your questions answered every day, why not check out ? It’s the best choice for strength and conditioning information on the internet.

Maybe Texting is a Blessing in Disguise?

Posted in MBSC News, Media, Random Thoughts on June 16, 2016 by mboyle1959

Give this a read?

Latest Radio Frequency Study Adds Credibility to Concerns About Cell Phone Hazards

Coaching Must Reads

Posted in Fat Loss, Guest Authors, MBSC News, Random Thoughts, Strength Coach Podcast, Updates, Uncategorized with tags on April 1, 2016 by mboyle1959

Doug Pearson, one of our MBSC Thrive licensees, asked me to come up with an updated book list. I sat in front of my book shelf and wrote down titles to share. Here they are, with links for easy ordering.

Start with Why– Simon Senek – maybe my favorite of the last year and the motivation behind my new Functional Strength Coach 6 DVD’s


Talk Like Ted– Carmine Gallo, another big influence that really got me thinking about effective presentations.


You Win in the Locker Room First- Jon Gordon and Mike Smith – I just finished this and have already begun to buy copies as gifts. A must read for every coach as Mike Smith open’s up about what failed in Atlanta ( not many coaches are that candid).


Extreme Ownership- Jocko Willink and Leif Babin – a great read on leadership in business that I’ve already reviewed here.


Slight Edge– Jeff Olsen – my favorite personal development book of the last year.


Legacy– James Kerr – my favorite book ever on team building and culture creation.


David and Goliath– Malcolm Gladwell, another Gladwell classic


Five Dysfunctions of a Team- Patrick Lencioni , another tremendous team building book. This is a must read for every manager and every staff.


Creating Magic- Lee Cockrell – one of my favorites of the last few years. I found myself repeating Cockrell’s quote “what if the way we always did was wrong” quite a bit.



The One Thing- Gary Keller – read this one and then really think about the message. It might change more than one thing.


One Word That Will Change Your Life- Jon Gordon and Jimmy Page – I can tell you that reading this made me a better husband and a better father, two things that are more important than being a better coach.


Training Soccer Champions- Anson Dorrance and Tim Nash – this is one of my absolute favorite coaching books and the best I have ever read specifically about coaching female athletes. I have purchased and gifted at least 15 of these for friends that coach females.



Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs – Carmine Gallo – a great book about a true genius ( maybe not the best guy but, a genius nonetheless)


Why We Get Fat- Gary Taubes – this book will really make you think. I probably also should add End of Overeating to this list

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Goals- Brian Tracey – this is an all time favorite. Whenever I meet anyone looking for career advice the first thing I say is “have you read Goals”?


Today Matters- John Maxwell – one of many Maxwell classics



The Dangers of Junk Food

Posted in Fat Loss, Guest Authors, MBSC News, Media, Nutrition, Random Thoughts, Youth Training with tags on March 28, 2016 by mboyle1959

A great Mercola article that no one can argue with.

The Dangers of Junk Food

Does It Hurt?

Posted in Injuries, Low Back Pain, MBSC News, Random Thoughts, Strength Coach Podcast, Updates, Training with tags on March 25, 2016 by mboyle1959

I can’t tell you how many times I say the same thing. People ask “should I do ____?”

I always answer Does It Hurt?

This might be my favorite article I’ve ever written.

Does It Hurt?


Agility Ladder, Speed Ladder, Warm-up Ladder

Posted in MBSC News, Random Thoughts, Seminars, Strength Coach Podcast, Updates, Training, Training Females, Youth Training with tags , , on December 30, 2015 by mboyle1959

I’m not sure what prompts people to write the things that they do but, periodically the old “ladders are useless” post pops up on Facebook or Twitter. I need to be honest, if you think getting good at ladder drills makes you quicker or more agile, you are probably wrong. However, if you think ladders are useless and a waste of time, you are definitely wrong. Ladders are great for kids as they can help improve coordination and brain-muscle connections. For higher level athletes they are simply a great tool for multi-planar warm-up.

Take a second and read this article I wrote for my site a few years ago:

A couple of threads on the forum got me thinking about the question of foot speed and athletes. I can’t tell you how often I hear a parent or a coach ask, “How can I improve my son’s/daughter’s/ athlete’s foot speed or agility?” It seems everyone always wants the shortcut and the quick fix. The better question might be “Do you think you can improve foot speed?” or maybe even the larger question, “Does foot speed even matter?”

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