Archive for the Training 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.

Conclusion

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”.

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Complete Core Questions

Posted in Core training, Low Back Pain, MBSC News, Training with tags , , on November 16, 2017 by mboyle1959

I’ve been getting some great questions from viewers of Complete Core and, figured the best way to answer was via a blog post.

1. Recently I was in a seminar by a good physiotherapist. She told us that we can’t make the little core muscles stronger (i.e. multifidus) like the big ones (i.e. rectus abdominis, oblique). But we can make them more skillfull, so they could know when to swicth on and off. That is what she called stability. And she said it is a great way to use unstabile surfaces like big balls. For example lie on a big ball with the stomach and raise the left leg and right arm. In the “What is the core” video you seemed to don’t like the use of balls. What is your opinion on this?
A- We don’t use the stability ball much any more. I think we can do the same quadruped type exercises without the ball and, the effect will be far more “real world”. I think if you look at the quadruped section you can see that core stability ( in my opinion) is being able to move the hips or shoulders without the spine compensating. I’m not sure if the addition of the stability ball helps.
2. I think I have a good book for you. When you mentioned swimming under the pool I thought you might want to read this.
Patrick McKeown – The Oxygen Advantage
This is a revolutionary book about nose breathing and CO2 tolerance. I use this on myself and clients and have big results. Better recovery (short and long term), health and mental fitness. I think you can use this with your athletes too.
A- I’ll check it out. I think we are going to see much more interest in how we breath over the next few years. That is why I spent so much time on it. I was completely wrong about breathing and readily admit it.
3. I know that sit-ups and crunches are bad for the spine, but I didn’t know that leg raises were bad. Are leg raises, L-sit holds and hollow body holds bad for our spine or do they just not help build a better core?
 So my question is am I hurting my people with these exercises or do these exercises not help them to achieve  better core mechanics?
A- I’ll answer 3 and 4 together below as they are related. 
4. Also I think you mentioned (57:50 in the video) that we would never do hanging leg raises in a functional way. But when you climb a rope while using your legs, I think you do the a hanging leg raise. You have a high grip, then you raise your legs as high as possible, hook the rope with your legs, you “squat up” with your legs and then re-grip again higher. Also it is true that when you rope a climb like this you don’t raise your extended legs just your flexed legs.
A- I am not a fan of leg raises. As I mentioned in the video I’m not a fan of long lever hip flexion. With the exception of punters in American football, divers and gymnasts, very few people will use long lever hip flexion. I have also found that those with longer legs can get back pain from hip flexor oriented leg work. I think if your athletes climb ropes, they might need that function?
5. I would like to ask if some of the exercises I have used before are healthy or not in your opinion:
Is the Twist holds rotation of the thoracic or the lumbar spine?:

A- Absolutely lumbar. I would never do this under any circumstances. Ask yourself, why you do it?
Same question as above about the Windshield wipers?

A- Another exercise I would put in “silly, waste of time category”. Again, ask yourself “why would I do that “? 
Kettlebell windmills (if the the flexion happens in the hips and not in the lateral flexion of the spine)?

A- I like Steve but, would never do these either. I like them even less with the slam. I guess my question in every case is ” why are you doing this” and ” what do you expect to accomplish”. I think as you view the examples in the program you’ll see that we really cover why, what and how.
Check out Complete Core and see what you think?

Questions from New Functional Training for Sports and FSC 6

Posted in Core training, Injuries, Low Back Pain, MBSC News, StrengthCoach.com Updates, Training on January 13, 2017 by mboyle1959

I got a few questions from someone who had bought New Functional Training for Sports

NewFTFS_Coverand Functional Strength Coach 6.0fsc6webimageso, I figured, why not make it into a blog post? So, here goes.

1. What is your opinion about RFESS jumps? Can they be used to develop power?

I love rear foot elevated split squat jumps as well as explosive step ups as power exercises. We do both

2. Why do you emphasize a 5 second holds in quadruped opposite extensions and other exercises?

We use five second holds to eliminate momentum and cheating. My old friend Al Visnick ( a PT) once said “if you want to develop stabilizers, you need to give them time to stabilize”.

3. Why you do not want your athletes and clients to hold plank for longer than 30 seconds?

In a word, because it’s boring. I just can’t see any reason to do it.

4. What number exercise ratios would you suggest between anti-rotation, anti-extension and anti-lateral flexion exercises? Are there any recommended stability levels?

Ideally I’d love to have 2 of each per week. In a four day program we can generally do that. In a two day we might get one anti-extension and one anti-lateral flexion.

 

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

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 Strengthcoach.com ? It’s the best choice for strength and conditioning information on the internet.

Do Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats Cause Back Pain?

Posted in Core training, Injuries, Low Back Pain, Strength Coach Podcast, StrengthCoach.com Updates, Training with tags on June 10, 2016 by mboyle1959

I just got back from speaking at the Perform Better Summit in Orlando.  Before my talks I took in Stuart McGill’s talk ( he is always one of my favorites and has greatly influenced me).

Recently Dr McGill has been vocal about Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats potentially causing back pain, particularly SI joint pain and as he calls it “pelvic ring” disruption.

We probably use the rear foot elevated split squat as much as anyone and, have not had any increase in SI joint pain or back pain in general. In fact, we switched to the split squat variations in response to back pain from heavy back and front squats. ( to finish reading, click here…)

 

The Accountability Problem in Youth Sports

Posted in Guest Authors, Training, Youth Training on May 6, 2016 by mboyle1959

This is another great piece from the people at Changing the Game Project.

I think as parents we can all have bad days at the field or the rink but this is a great reminder of how it should be.

The Accountability Problem in Youth Sports

“Thanks so much for your talk the other day,” wrote a coach from Calgary, Alberta to us recently. “It was so refreshing to hear that message, especially in light of the news I returned home to.”

“My friend spent the weekend coaching his son at a spring hockey tournament for 9 and 10 year olds,” he wrote. “He’s a pretty level headed guy and cares about the kids a lot, but the stories from the tournament were scary. He told me about three coaches getting kicked out for arguing with refs. He told me about a grandpa getting kicked out for arguing with refs. He told me about parents from his team asking other parents to please stop swearing at the kids from the stands. He told me about one kid cold-cocking another off a faceoff.”

The Accountability Problem in Youth Sports

 

Summer Training for Nine Year Olds

Posted in Hockey, MBSC News, Training, Youth Training with tags on April 28, 2016 by mboyle1959

I  wanted to re-post this again as we move into the summer. This was originally written a few years ago in response to a question for a former athlete.

With the new Facebook and Twitter feeds I think it will get a lot more views.

Q- I need to put together a summer plan for my 9 yr old hockey team. Obviously I don’t want to look like a crazy person, but it would be something that I think could be good for my own kids as well. Is it too young?

My first reaction was to say “are you crazy”? Instead, slightly tongue-in-cheek I developed the plan below.

Step 1- play another sport. Lacrosse is highly recommended as it has similar skills to hockey although baseball is fine. This does not mean another sport in addition to hockey. Summer is the off season.

Step 2- Cancel all hockey camp registrations except 1 week. Pick your favorite that has the largest number of your friends attending and go to that one. Ideally look for a camp that only has you on the ice once a day. No need to get blisters. You won’t get better in a week anyway.

Step 3- Cancel any summer hockey leagues you are scheduled for. The best players in the world never play summer hockey and, they never have. The only conceivable exception would be a weekly skill session lasting one hour. Another exception would be “play”. If ice is available and the kids can play, let them. Please remember play means NO COACHES or COACHING.

Step 4- Reread steps 1-3. Acknowledge that the key problem in youth sports is parents applying adult values to children’s activities.

Step 5- Go to the nearest bike shop. Get nice bikes for everyone in the family

Step 6- Ride the bikes, not in a race. For fun. Maybe put a few hockey cards in the spokes to make noise.

Step 7- Head to Walmart and buy fishing rods.

Step 8- Take the fishing rods to the nearest lake and fish.

Now that is an off-season plan for any nine year old.