As you’ve been hearing a lot recently, this is an exceptionally busy time of year for us at Endeavor. Over the last week, we (finally!) moved into our new facility and are still piecing together everything. I’ve been posting pictures of the process on twitter, so if you’re interested in following along give me a follow here: Follow Kevin. This is a huge move for us and I’m very excited about our new facility. Among other benefits, we’re going to have a separate room for manual therapy, and have plans to add an infrared sauna and cold tub in the near future. We also have plans to expand our staff to include a few professionals with unique skill sets, and have intentions of integrating different technologies to provide a more thorough and comprehensive service to our athletes. The vision I’ve had of privatizing a professional sports setting is starting to take shape. It’s an exciting time.

Still a work in progress, but our new facility is coming along!

Last week I wrote an article on heart rate variability and what I think may be the most user-friendly and easily applicable tool for athletes and fitness enthusiasts to track their HRV. If you missed it, you can check it out here: BioforceHRV

An underlying theme of that article was the importance of finding balance between stress and recovery. Another more subtle message lies in the fact that technology is now advancing to a point to allow end-users (you and I) to monitor fairly complex processes. Very much related to these two points, I wanted to tell you a little bit about a new tool that I’ve been using for the last few weeks called the Zeo Sleep Manager.

Zeo Sleep Manager

As you likely know, sleep is incredibly important. It provides time for recovery and regeneration, and is associated with, among other things, a cascade of related hormonal and physiological changes. As with all things training related, there is a quantity and quality component. Most athletes need a minimum of 8-9 hours of sleep per night. Younger athletes may need more. In general, as folks age they don’t need as much time to sleep. Although, as the amount of stress in our lives (incidental or planned) increases, we need more rest to recovery from it, so our sleep needs are likely to fluctuate throughout the year. In most situations, it’s best to err on the side of getting too much sleep.

Another important concept, aside from simply getting sufficient sleep, is to go to bed and wake up within an hour of the same time every night (including weekends). This is an area where most athletes miss the target horribly, and consistently. While I think the average athlete is familiar with the idea of a circadian rhythm, I don’t think most appreciate what physiological processes are governing and influenced by this rhythm, and therefore how important it is to at least attempt to regulate it. As I alluded to last week, EVERYTHING is a stress to your body. In other words, everything that you do or don’t do (any change to homeostasis) causes some stimulus for adaptation, positive or negative. In this case, having varying sleep patterns, can impair recovery, tip your hormonal balance unfavorably, and create an undesirable stress to your immune system. Not exactly the ideal environment for peak performance!

As I mentioned above, it’s not just sleep QUANTITY that matters; sleep QUALITY is equally as important. While the amount of time we sleep is easily measured, sleep quality poses more of a challenge. At least it used to. A couple weeks ago I picked up a Zeo Sleep Manager and have been using it nightly ever since. If you’ve never heard of “Zeo”, it’s essentially a headband that monitors brain activity to assess what stage of the sleep cycle you’re in. The headband transmits the data via a bluetooth connection to your phone (they offer other units that aren’t phone-based too if you don’t have a “smart” phone). When you wake up in the morning, you can instantly see a read-out with:

  1. Total Sleep
  2. Time in REM Sleep
  3. Time in Deep Sleep
  4. Time in Light Sleep
  5. Times Woken
  6. Amount of Time Woken

Zeo then uses this information to calculate a score, and tracks all of this for you over time. This, in itself, was worth the price of admission (not to mention…chicks dig guys that sleep in headbands). The neat thing is that the Zeo app includes a boatload of tips on how to improve all of the above components. Depending on what you may be lacking, they have specific recommendations on different strategies you can try to make your sleep more optimal. For example, if you don’t get enough “Deep Sleep”, Zeo provides 12 different areas to help you improve that, one of which is “Shielding Sounds”. When you click on that option, it provides you with four easily implementable strategies to cut down on extraneous noises, explains why this is important, and then follows up with four additional ideas in case the first four didn’t take.

Zeo Sleep Manager Analytics
The REALLY cool thing, is that Zeo also comes with a website interface that allows you to journal your activities (in as much detail as you want) and track how they affect your sleep quality. This information is incredibly valuable because it allows athletes to monitor how their behaviors influence their recovery. As a few examples:

  1. How does practice/game time affect sleep?
  2. How does your post practice/game meal affect sleep?
  3. How do the quantities and times you consume stimulants or alcohol affect sleep?

In many cases, subtle behavior changes can have a significant impact on sleep quality, but most people aren’t aware of the connections.

And finally, Zeo’s site also includes a FREE 7-stage coaching program, which is a cool way to help jumpstart improving your sleep quality.

Zeo Coaching Program

As you can tell, I’m pretty excited about this. I’m constantly searching for ways to help improve the training adaptation process and for ways to help athletes get an edge (and people enjoy their lives more in general), and I think this is a huge one. Athletes spend so much time, money, and energy on the stressors (practice, games, training, supplements, etc.) and essentially ignore the factors that facilitate a positive adaptation response from these stressors. Sleep is one of the biggest ones, and is a great place to start!

Click here for more information on Zeo: Zeo Sleep Manager

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. Two of the best and most cost-effective tools to monitor your body’s capacity to handle stress and recover: BioforceHRVZeo Sleep Manager

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Heart rate tracking and heart rate variability (HRV) have received increasing levels of attention from the strength and conditioning community over the last several years. A little less than a year ago, after watching a video of a presentation Joel Jamieson gave on energy system development, I started digging deeper into the research on heart rate variability and its various applications. What I started to find was there were several lines of fascinating research in validating HRV measurements, determining what different measurements meant physiologically, and what this information may mean for the athlete.

As a preface, I am FAR from an expert in this area. I had an exceptionally superficial introduction to these concepts in an exercise physiology class as an undergrad, and a familiarity with the benefits of variability from a neurological standpoint from my graduate studies in exercise neuroscience, but for all intents and purposes, this is new stuff for me. I’ve been fortunate to have guys like Mike Potenza, Patrick Ward, Dave Tenney, Joel, Mike T Nelson and his friend James Heathers (who I know as a researcher from Australia) to help me connect the dots. That said, I defer to these folks on this subject matter and encourage you to look into their work if you’re interested in more information. That said, I want to outline some of the basics of HRV and my interpretations of the immediate application of these concepts.

Understanding Heart Rate Variability
Heart rate variability is essentially a measure of the time between successive R-R intervals in the QRS waves of an electrocardiogram (ECG).


The various components of an ECG output…this is what you see next to the hospital beds that make the beeping noise.

While my understanding is that the “P-Q-R-S-T” denotation is somewhat arbitrary, each of these points and their associated influence on the waveform have physiological relevance. The “QRS-complex” represents ventricular depolarization, which essentially signifies the time at which the right and left ventricles contract and eject deoxygenated blood to the lungs and oxygenated blood to the rest of the body, respectively.

The variability in time between successive R-R intervals was initially recognized as an important measure due to associations between lower variability and various cardiavascular diseases/events. To be overly simplistic, within this frame more variability was indicative of a “healthier” more resilient cardiovascular system, whereas less variability indicated a greater degree of risk. One example of the potential benefits of having greater variability lies in the respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA). Put simply, RSA describes a phenomenon where under certain circumstances, an individual’s heart rate will increase during inhalation and slow during exhalation. The rationale is that the expedited blood flow during inhalation provides an opportunity for increased oxygen delivery to the depleted blood. The more variable heart beat, in this example, provides an opportunity for more efficient oxygenation, although there is some debate as to the power of this relationship as RSA tends to disappear during times of higher intensity activity, when it would seemingly be most important to maximize oxygenation of depleted blood.

Since this initial body of work linking low HRV with cardiovascular insufficiencies, HRV has been associated with a number of other ailments, including glucose regulation, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function, and inflammation. HRV has also been dissected to a much greater degree such that HRV is now being measured in both the time and frequency domains, with various measures within each. Interestingly, researchers have attempted to use the frequency domain measures to differentiate physiological associations.

  1. Ultra-Low Frequency Band: <= 0.003 Hz (~10 cycles per hour)
  2. Very Low Frequency Band: 0.003-0.04 Hz (~2 cycles per minute)
  3. Low Frequency Band: 0.04-0.15 Hz (~5 cycles per minute)
  4. High Frequency Band: 0.15-0.40 Hz

Digging into some of the notes I took from a 2009 paper by JF Thayer titled “Heart Rate Variability: A Neurovisceral Integration Model”:

  1. ULF has a strong relationship with mortality and morbidity, and seems to lie in the functionality of the patient. ULF is related to a range of physical activity participation, not differences in autonomic control per se.
  2. VLF is linked to fluctuations in the renin-angiotensin system and to thermoregulation.
  3. LF changes are associated with baroreflex-mediated blood pressure change. Recalling the equation: Mean Arterial Pressure = Cardiac Output (HR x SV) x Total Peripheral Resistance, the major determinant of long-term changes in BP is blood volume, but the major determinant of short-term changes in BP is the ANS via the baroreflex. The most rapidly modulated component of blood pressure is HR, due to its vagal control, which therefore affects cardiac output.
  4. HF represents respiratory-modulated HR variations and represents an almost identical association with RSA.

An alternative, more simplistic interpretation of HRV data is that higher HRV measures (or measures of higher HRV frequencies depending on whether these are being analyzed using time or frequency domains) are associated with activity of the parasympathetic nervous system and lower HRV measures are associated with activity of the sympathetic nervous system.

As a quick recap, the nervous system is broken down into two primary categories: the central nervous system (CNS), which consists of the brain and spinal cord, and the peripheral system (PNS), which consists of the cranial and spinal nerves. The PNS can be further divided into two branches known as the somatic nervous system (SNS) and autonomic nervous system (ANS). For our purposes today, we’ll highlight the function of the ANS, which serves to regulate our viscera and glands. Importantly, almost all of the activity of the ANS resides outside the realm of conscious thought, meaning these processes are largely self-regulated. The ANS can further be dividing into the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches. In an attempt to avoid making the overly complex even more indigestible, I’ll describe these systems with terminology that most are familiar with:

  1. Sympathetic: Fight or flight
  2. Parasympathetic: Rest and digest

These two branches are constantly in flux to provide the appropriate environment for our bodies to be successful during times of stress and to recuperate appropriately. In general, stress (which can come from ANYTHING, real or interpreted) causes a shift toward a more sympathetic state, which in many cases is the desirable response. Problems tend to develop, however, when an individual loses the flexibility in the balance of these two systems and excessively taxes one or the other. My understanding is that the most common example of this, and probably the most relevant to you, is that overtraining causes an undesirable shift toward a more sympathetic state, which, over time, will increasingly limit the individual’s ability to further adapt. This shift, as I alluded to, can be caused by a myriad of factors well-beyond programmed training stressors. Things like sleep, environmental toxins, dietary intake, alcohol consumption, occupational and relationship stresses all need to be consider. I believe that significant changes in these areas (even if for the better in some cases) can also be interpreted by the body as a form of “stress”.

This idea is highlighted by Hans Selye’s General Adaptation Syndrome Model, which is founded in the idea that the body has both specific and general responses to stressors and that the general response is common to all stressors (although it may vary in amplitude).

An illustration of Selye’s 3-stage GAS model.

The introduction of a stressor causes an alarm reaction, followed by a stage of resistance, and finally one of exhaustion. It’s important that we monitor for the impact of stressors, from training and non-training sources alike, to ensure optimal adaptation. Heart rate variability provides an opportunity to do just that.

While the preceding discussion is fascinating, there seem to be more muddy than clear waters in the HRV research. While it may be too early to pin down precise physiological explanations for specific HRV measurements AND provide information on appropriate changes to restore optimal function, a huge value in monitoring HRV can be found in simply looking at time domain measures and monitoring for shifts toward higher or lower levels as an indication of the balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. This is, following the longest introduction in recorded history, the value in Joel Jamieson’s new BioforceHRV system.

Click here for more information >> BioforceHRV
Joel has devised a simple tool for your smart phone that allows you to quickly assess your HRV. Unlike other systems that only acquire information over the time course of a minute, Joel’s records for 2.5 minutes, which allows for adequate sampling of the various influences on HRV (see frequency analysis discussion above). BioforceHRV also waits for your system to stabilize before it starts recording. This is important, as any change in body position is followed by a variable time of transient change in heart rate, blood pressure, etc. Sampling during this time period would provide meaningless information, but it would be difficult to know when it’s safe to move forward, if Bioforce didn’t handle this automatically. Finally, one of the best features of the system is that it tracks your measurements over time and gives you a green, yellow/auburn, or red light, indicating your current ability to further adapt to additional stressors, or, in other words, your ability to get after it in the gym.

I truly believe that HRV assessment is the future of making training optimally specific to the individual; Joel’s new system is a simple, convenient, and affordable option to tap into that potential immediately. The book that accompanies the device will provide you with the information you need to interpret your own results, so you don’t need to be an HRV expert to use the system. Check out this link for more information: BioforceHRV and please post any questions or comments you may have below!

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. The future of strength and conditioning and sports performance? Check out this link for more information! BiofroceHRV

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At the end of last week I got an email from Cal Dietz, the Strength and Conditioning Coach of the University of Minnesota Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey Teams (among other sports), with several sample programs that fit within his “Triphasic Training” paradigm. I met Cal in person for the first time at the BSMPG seminar a couple years back. Aside from Cal being a great guy, I enjoy talking shop with him because he has a significantly different approach to how he tackles training program design for his athletes. I’ve learned a great deal from hearing him speak and from the conversations he and I have shared about some of his methods and the rationale for them.

Among other things, Cal taught me that it’s okay to eat raw red meat for breakfast (don’t try this at home)

When he fired over the email with a number of sample programs for an advanced level hockey player, I thought it would be a great idea to share these with you (with this permission of course). As a reminder, it’s generally not appropriate to take a program off the internet and start using it yourself without any context. Instead of taking it for face value and diving in, I’d encourage you to break down the program and see if you can infer Cal’s rationale for structuring things the way he did. In my opinion, once you understand another coach’s rationale and philosophy, it’s infinitely easier to understand how their methods fit into your paradigm appropriately.

Programming for an Advanced Hockey Athlete, 6 week Triphasic Training protocol

All Names Underlined in Blue are hyperlinked in to PDF the names on PDF’s are hyperlinked to video’s.

Click here to learn how to read sheets

In Block one of training The focus is Eccentric strength/withstanding force and Tissue remodeling with the heavy loaded eccentric training for two weeks to cause actin and myosin damage so the immune system cleans it out and then it gets rebuilt stronger.

Block 1 – 2 Weeks  Possible Leg Programs

The leg training for the first two weeks, Block 1 Eccentric Above 80 Triphasic Training Back Squat  is those athletes whose spine and physical fitness levels are acceptable to perform squatting 3 days a week. 95 percent of my athletes fall into this category. the second possible program during this Block is for this athletes that can’t due Spinal loading for any reason, Block 1 Eccentric Above 80 Triphasic Training Single Leg Strength. The third, possible is a little load single leg work, non of my athlete completed this because of the focus of remolding. Block 1 Eccentric below 80 Triphasic Training Single Legs Speed

Block 1 Eccentric above 80 percent, the eccentric focus, is a very intense nature,

Block 1 Eccentric Above 80 Triphasic Training Back Squat

The heavy Squats with 6 second eccentrics have to help


Block 1 Eccentric Above 80 Triphasic Training Single Leg Strength


Block 1 Eccentric below 80 Triphasic Training Single Legs Speed


Block 1 Eccentric Above 80 Triphasic Training upper

Block 2 – 2 weeks

Block 2 Isometric Above 80 Back Squat


Block 2 Isometric Above 80 Single leg Squat


Block 2 Isometric Above 80 Upper Body

Block 3 – 2 Weeks

Block 3 concentric Above 80 Back Squat Heavy


Block 3 concentric Above 80 Single Leg Work


Block 3 concentric below 80 Single Leg Work


Block 3 concentric Above 80 upper body


Block 3 concentric below 80 upper body –

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

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I hope you’ve had a great week. It’s been a bit of a change of pace here as our nights have slowed down because a lot of our kids are away at camps or vacations. The downtime has been great to dive a little deeper into some of the manual therapy work I’ve been learning over the last few weeks. Never a dull moment!

I have a few exciting posts coming up in the next couple of weeks so stay tuned for those. This past week was also a bit of change as I featured primarily the work of other people. It was probably a welcomed changed if you’ve been reading my ramblings for the last several months! Check out what you’ve been missing in the world of Hockey Strength and Conditioning.

  1. Hockey Training Stuff You Should Read
  2. Early Development and Peak Performance

We’ve also added some new content at our Hockey Strength and Conditioning membership site.

Darryl Nelson added a video of an exercise he uses with his players that have an upper body injury that prevents them from doing cleans. I really like the concept here, and it will likely be something I use in the future. I may tweak the performance of it slightly more so it’s more of a traditional clean movement (e.g. bar/weight path), but tough to say without really having tried it.

Click here to watch the video >> 1-Arm Cleans

I added a new article on the visual system based on information I’ve primarily learned from Pete Friesen with the Hurricanes and the book “See to Play” from Dr. Michael Peters, who is an optometrist that works with the Hurricanes (among other teams). I’m excited that Dr. Peters has agreed to do an interview for us in the near future as his book was PACKED with really valuable, interesting information that I think will benefit all of you. In the meantime, this article introduces a few concepts of how the complexities of the visual system can affect performance and recommends a couple great resources to find more information.

Click here to read the article >> Looking Deeper Into the Visual System

Speaking of Coach Friesen, we also added a notice about the 2012 Friesen PhysioFitness Summit. I had a great time at this a few years back and took a lot of notes. Unfortunately, the majority of my continuing education and travel schedule is booked for the rest of the year so I won’t be able to make it, but I highly recommend you make the attempt if you’re a fitness or rehab professional.

Click here for more information >> Friesen PhysioFitness Summit

Also, you can check out the recap article I wrote about a few of the major topics I learned at the one I attended!

Click here to read >> Friesen Physio-Fitness Summit Recap

We have a few good forum discussions going that are worth checking out as well. When you log in, make sure you check out:

  1. Programming Questions
  2. Conditioning
  3. Psoas Specific Work
  4. Volume Control

Sean Skahan, Darryl Nelson, and Mike Potenza have provided a ton of great feedback to the members that have asked questions and I’ve learned quite a bit from both our members and the exchange with Sean, Darryl and Mike.

That’s a wrap for today. As always, if you aren’t a member yet, I encourage you to try out Hockey Strength and Conditioning for a week. It’ll only cost $1, and if it’s not the best buck you’ve ever spent, I’ll personally refund you!

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

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One of the most vast and influential misconceptions in the area of athletic development is the idea that kids that develop early (perform above the level of their peers) will inevitably reach a higher level of performance than their peers in the end. The feeling is that if they are this good now, and continue to develop at the same rate, they’ll be exponentially better in the future. It’s the “develop at the same rate” assumption that is inherently flawed.

Developing early means very little for peak development. In fact, it can often hamper an athlete’s long-term potential for physical (e.g. bigger/faster players don’t need to work on skills as much because they can find/create open ice with their size and speed) and psychological reasons (e.g. athletes don’t develop a sense of needing to outwork the competition because they’re already ahead of the curve). I touched on this quite a bit in a previous article: A Letter to Parents of Undersized Hockey Players

I came across another article on this topic from Dr. Kwame Brown from “Move Theory” that I wanted to share with you. Take a few minutes to read the article, and then read Dr. Brown’s story on his “Meet Kwame” page.

Check out the article here >>

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

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