The last couple times I’ve talked to my friend Nick Tumminello on the phone, he’s mentioned that most writers are talking mostly about things like core training or corrective exercise and that the art and science of program design seems to be somewhat lost in these discussions.

To his point, the intensity and volume of the exercises is equally as important as the exercise itself and the manner in which these parameters are varied determines adaptation or stagnation. As a simple example, if a beginner does Reverse Lunges for 3 sets of 6 on each side with 20 lb dumbbells, they’ll get stronger up a point where that becomes easy and then they’ll plateau. Despite performing a great exercise, they’ll eventually stop building muscle, improving strength, and/or augmenting work capacity.

It’s somewhat commonly accepted that it’s necessary to rotate exercises every so often so your body doesn’t plateau. I think a more accurate recommendation for this “necessary variation” is that the loading parameters for any given exercise needs to be regularly adjusted so the body doesn’t plateau. With the exception of highly trained lifters (~ 5+ years of consistent training), most people can continue to make gains with the same exercises by altering only the loading parameters and may be hindered by excessive variation in exercise selection.

Loading can be altered through:

  • # of sets per exercise
  • # of repetitions per set
  • Load used for the exercise
  • Length of rest periods

The term periodization, at its core, simply means variation. There are endless periodization models that coaches follow with varying levels of enthusiasm. A common argument is whether a linear periodization model is sufficient for most athletes. In a linear model, a phase (typically 4 weeks) is geared toward a single quality. For example, the focus of one 4-week phase may be hypertrophy, in which case the recommendation would be do perform 3 sets of 8-12 reps for the main exercises. A subsequent phase would be geared toward another quality, such as muscular strength. Within these phases, load can be increased as the sets become easier for the athlete. The foundational idea of linear periodization is that the body cannot make improvements in multiple qualities at once, so each phase should focus solely on one quality. In general, this model is extremely effective for beginners.

In theoretical contrast, an undulating periodization model alters the loading parameters on a more frequent basis within a training phase. This isn’t to say that a training phase can’t have a major focus (e.g. maximum strength), but the idea here is that no quality should be neglected in any phase. In general, this model is more effective than linear periodization for more advanced lifters. Of interest, undulating models appear to be equally as effective as linear models in beginners (Buford et al, 2007).

Instead of getting into a theoretical discussion on which model is “the best”, the loudest determinant of successful programming is a succesfull outcome. In other words, if the goal is strength, are the athletes getting stronger? If yes, then the program probably works.

At Endeavor, we use an undulating periodization model for all of our athletes. My rationale for this was simple: Because we work with advanced lifters that will need to follow an undulating model to get results, and because novice lifters get equivocal results following an undulating vs. linear model, it makes designing and implementing programs easier to follow a unitary undulating model.

There are countless ways to implement this model, but we generally follow a 4-week approach as follows:

Week 1: Introduction (Accustomization)
Week 2: Increased Volume (Hypertrophy)
Week 3: Decreased Volume; Increased Intensity (Maximum Strength)
Week 4: Deload (Recovery/Adaptation)

The set and rep schemes within this frame can be shifted to give a training phase a higher hypertrophy or maximum strength approach. With this approach, we’ve been able to get athletes very strong, very quickly. Creating a continuous, effective adaptation stimulus is highly dependent upon a strategic manipulation of sets, reps, and intensity. This is one of the reasons I’m so impressed with Eric Cressey’s Show and Go Program. Our entire staff has been on it for the last 6 weeks and we’ve all been hitting personal records in various lifts. In short, it works. Eric is offering $30 off the entire system until midnight tonight. If you act quickly you can get Eric’s program at a substantial discount and start getting bigger and stronger, immediately! Click the image below to get started today.


Buford, T., Rossi, S., Smith, D., & Warren, A. (2007). A comparison of periodization models during nine weeks with equated volume and intensity for strength. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 21(4), 1245-1250.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

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Last week I presented a special offer for you. If you pick a copy of Maria Mountain’s Rapid Response Goalie Training Program, I’ll throw in FREE copies of:

  • My Ultimate Hockey Development Coaching Program
  • My Breakaway Hockey Speed eBook and all the videos
  • Kim McCullough’s Mental Performance Training Package

In case you missed the post, you can check it out here for more details: Rapid Response Goalie Training

On Friday, I wrapped up a lift that included a Front Squat PR:

and had an opportunity to talk to Maria on the phone for a bit to catch up with her about her experience at Stuart McGill’s 16-hour weekend seminar and about her new Rapid Response Goalie Training Program.

Take 20 minutes to listen to the interview by either clicking the play button on the player below or downloading the raw MP3 file. Amongst other things, we talk about:

  1. A few of the big take homes from the McGill seminar and how they’ve changed aspects of Maria’s training
  2. Common training mistakes that goalies are making
  3. What the Rapid Response Goalie Training Program is all about, including if it’s for you and what makes it different from previous programs of hers

Hockey Training Interview with Maria Mountain

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

Please enter your first name and email below to sign up for my FREE Athletic Development and Hockey Training Newsletter!

Check out what you missed this week at Hockey Strength and Conditioning!

Article: More Support for Unilateral Training from Michael Boyle

This article provided real-world evidence from a collegiate strength and conditioning coach of what happens when you switch from a program primarily revolving around bilateral lifts to one primarily revolving around unilateral lifts. There are valid arguments for both the bilateral and unilateral activists, but I think certain evidence can’t be denied AND that people shouldn’t be so emotionally attached to squats. A while back I received a very curt email from a reader stating, “If you don’t believe in squats, I don’t believe in you.” Squats are JUST an exercise! Can you imagine someone saying “If you don’t believe in half-kneeling belly press isoholds with perturbations, I don’t believe in you”? Both are great exercises, I’m sure I completely understand why people get so offended at the thought of replacing squats as a major lift with something else. Nonetheless, whether you’re pro-squat, anti-squat or somewhere in between, if you’re reading this it means you’re pro-learning and new information is always valuable in that regard.

Article: Developing a Yearly Strength Training Program for Ice Hockey from Dan Boothby

Dan is the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the hockey programs at Northeastern University (NCAA D1). He’s also the genius behind the Boston Hockey Summit (the best hockey-related sports medicine event in the world). This article provides invaluable insight into Dan’s philosophies and training methodologies. I think this is one of the better articles we’ve run to date, simply because it provides such an extensive amount of information, including exactly what assessments/tests they use at NU, why they use them, and what they’re looking for in all of them. Great read from a brilliant coach.

Lastly, there are a couple good discussions on the forums, including one on hip impingement. I think this is a topic that needs to continue to receive a lot of attention. The question that started the discussion is one that anyone working with hockey players will face at one time and the responses have been great so far.

Click the link below for more information about Hockey Strength and Conditioning! I look forward to speaking with you on the inside!

To your continued success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. Remember that you have a special opportunity to get my Ultimate Hockey Development Coaching Program for free! Check out this post for details: Rapid Response Goalie Training

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Ahhh, Thanksgiving is near. In addition to being a time to pursue morbid obesity, Thanksgiving is also a time to think of all the things we have to be thankful for…and to go shopping for great deals. In reference to the latter, I have something special for you. Read on…

Tomorrow, I will eat you.

I recently had an opportunity to read through Maria Mountain’s new Rapid Response Goalie Training program. I was planning on doing a tele-interview with Maria for today, but I’ve been sick for the last week and didn’t have much of a voice. Hopefully I can steal some time from her over the next few days and get something up on Monday.

Hockey training for goalies can mean a lot of different things to different people. Unfortunately, most of the goalie training I see is complete garbage. It over emphasizes unstable surface and flexibility training and completely overlooks strength and power training.

Great flexibility…but I bet she’s a terrible goalie (and a definite surgery candidate!)

Maria’s program is a breath of fresh air. From a training perspective, Maria really “gets it”. She understands the requirements of the goaltending position and is an expert in preparing players for these demands. She recognizes the need for strength and power training for goalies, and seamlessly integrates these things into a comprehensive development program. The power of Maria’s program comes from it’s ease of use. She put together a 78-page manual outlining exactly why and how (and how not!) goalies should be training, and walks you step by step through her goalie training system. Rapid Response Goalie Training also comes with a ready-to-use goalie training program, including videos of all the exercises that can be loaded onto iphones (for the technologically savvy) and forms for you to document progress along the way. And because no training program is complete without nutrition recommendations, she even included an easy-to-understand 26-page nutrition report as a bonus.

In short, Maria’s Rapid Response Goalie Training program is clear, comprehensive, and effective. It’s the perfect solution for goalies that don’t have access to a ton of equipment or a strength and conditioning coach. As an added incentive for the goalies (as well as goalie parents and coaches that train goalies), and because I know you like free stuff, if you buy Maria’s program before next Friday (December 3rd), I’ll send you a download link for my entire Ultimate Hockey Development Coaching Program for free.  This includes two great bonuses: Breakaway Hockey Speed and Kim McCullough’s Mental Performance Package.

To take advantage of this limited time offer, click the image or go to the link below. After you order your copy of Rapid Response Goalie Training, come back to this page and click here to send me an email to let me know you’ve ordered it so I can get your additional bonuses to you right away.

Rapid Response Goalie Training

For those of you that I don’t get emails from by tomorrow, I hope you and your families have a great Thanksgiving!

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

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As the hockey season progresses, it’s normal for players to notice that their hips feel tighter than they did at the beginning of the season. A great way to combat this is by using the post-practice/game stretching routine I outlined here: Stretching for Hockey

Assuming you (or your players) have been diligently following this stretching routine, these may be a bit “stale” for you. It always helps to have a few options, to keep from getting bored with doing the same monotonous routine. The three stretches below are great for keeping the hips loose during the season.

Lateral Kneeling Quadruped Rock (Forward)

Set up with 1 foot out to the side with your hips shifted to the inside of the bent leg (in this case the right). Keeping a neutral spine, rock your hips forward until you feel a stretch in the front of your hip. Hold for 30s then switch sides.

Lateral Kneeling Quadruped Rock (Backward)

Set up with 1 foot out to the side with your hips shifted to the inside of the bent leg (in this case the right). Keeping a neutral spine, rock your hips backward until you feel a stretch to the inside part of your straight thigh (left hamstrings/adductors) Hold for 30s then switch sides.

Prone Lateral Rock Glute Stretch

Set up on all fours with one knee (right knee) crossed over the opposite leg and placed next to that ankle (left ankle).

Shift your hips laterally to the side of the more flexed hip (left), until you feel a stretch in the outside part of that hip (left). Hold for 30s then switch sides.

Perform these stretches a few times per week to help keep your hips loose in-season. If you have questions about the purpose of these stretches or don’t understand how to perform them, feel free to drop me a line in the comment section below.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. In case you missed the post on Friday, Michael Boyle is posting his three most popular presentations (ACL Reduction, Training the Overweight Client, and Hips and Hernias) for FREE at BodyByBoyleOnline. If you aren’t a member yet, now’s your chance to get some extra cool stuff at a very reasonable cost.

Please enter your first name and email below to sign up for my FREE Athletic Development and Hockey Training Newsletter!