Over the last few years I’ve been fortunate to have had opportunities to attend a couple courses from the Prague School of Rehabilitation on “DNS” or Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization. If you’re not familiar, DNS uses developmental kinesiology (how the motor cortex of babies develops and how this is expressed in the development of their movement patterns) as a model for viewing human movement. While much of the application of these principles, in my opinion, is better relegated for rehabilitation purposes (and often with special populations), there are many key concepts that are important in the strength and conditioning/athletic development process.  Charlie Weingroff has done an outstanding job in describing how many DNS concepts apply to the S&C professionals in his DVDs Training = Rehab, Rehab = Training. You can check out a couple previous posts reviewing the DVDs here:

  1. Training = Rehab, Rehab = Training
  2. Training = Rehab, Rehab = Training Grand Finale

Charlie Weingroff: Training=Rehab Rehab=Training

Among the many applicable concepts, DNS breaks down patterns into ipsilateral/turning or contralateral/crawling distinctions, which can essentially be used as buckets to describe every movement, and discusses muscle roles as being “phasic” (think movement) or “tonic” (think support or postural), depending on the task at hand. Utilizing these concepts, I modified a couple common exercises and developed a highly integrated core exercise. As a quick disclaimer, it’s possible (read: likely) that someone else has already done this exercise, so I’m in no way taking credit for its “invention”, but it was a new idea for me!

Eric Tangradi performing the Short Side Plank w/ Kettlebell Screwdriver

There is a lot going on with this exercise, but a few of the highlights:

  1. Utilizes a modified mid-position from the ipsilateral turning position described by DNS (and demonstrated by every healthy baby)
  2. Tonic scap stability work through the bottom shoulder and phasic scap/rotator cuff work through the top shoulder
  3. Lateral hip and core (e.g. lateral subsystem as described by Thomas Myers, among others) work on the bottom side
  4. A component of thoracic rotation, which can often become restricted and performance-limiting in hockey players

Turning Baby

Give that baby a kettlebell

This exercise can also be performed with the top knee off the ground, which would add a greater element of external rotation at that hip, but potentially limit the thoracic rotation component. In Ultimate Hockey Training, I provide exercise progressions and lateral substitutions for a number of different subsections of “core training”, including Lateral Hip, Lateral Core, Scap Musculature, and the Rotator Cuff. I like this exercise because it integrates all of these aspects of core training into one exercise, which can save time, but ultimately is a more functional option.

If you’re ready to progress on from traditional side planks and ready for a challenge, give this one a shot. As always, if you have any questions feel free to post them below!

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. If you like this exercise, I posted two of my other new favorite core exercises over at Hockey Strength and Conditioning to accompany the dozens of innovative exercise videos that have already been posted there! Not to mention all the articles, programs, and hockey-specific forum threads!

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Emily and I just got back from an awesome road trip out west, where we spent Canada Day in Vancouver, drove down to Seattle, out to Cannon Beach, and then over to Portland. I left my laptop charger at home, which was a blessing in disguise! It was great to get away for 8 days and recharge a bit.

Right before we left, I wrote a post digging into the “Bilateral Deficit” idea a bit, and explaining some of the discrepancies we see between unilateral and bilateral lifts and how they may or may not be explained through a neural lens. This has a lot of application into how we design programs on a daily basis, so if you missed it be sure to check it out here: Understanding the Bilateral Deficit

One of the training goals a lot of players have for their off-season training is to improve their explosive power and speed. I hear words like “quicker first step” a lot. As I’ve mentioned in the past, there is A LOT of considerations in how to improve an on-ice ability such as acceleration, speed, or shooting power. From an off-ice perspective, understanding the underlying energy systems and physical qualities (e.g. strength, mobility, stability, etc.) that enable a player to develop or express a certain skill is important. We’re at a point in our off-season programs where many players have completed a couple of phases of strength work and are transitioning more into power training at various points on the high load/low velocity (think heavy hang cleans) to low load/high velocity spectrum (think med ball throws).

One method that can be effective in maintaining or continuing to improve maximum strength while also developing power is known as “contrast” training, where a heavy strength exercise is paired with a movement-specific power exercise. There are several examples of this, including:

  1. Squat -> Vertical Jump
  2. Deadlift -> Broad Jump
  3. Bench Press -> Explosive Push-Up or Med Ball Chest Pass
  4. Chin-Up -> Overhead Med Ball Slam

I talked about this concept in more detail in a previous post: Post-Activation Potentiation

Another application of this concept is known as “French Contrast Training”, which is a method I first learned about from University of Minnesota Strength & Conditioning Coach Cal Dietz. With this method, you pair 4 exercises, all performed continuously, followed by a 3-5 minute break. The exercises should be performed in this order:

  1. Compound Exercise: 1-3 reps at 80-90% load
  2. Plyometric: 3-5 reps
  3. Weighted Explosive Exercise: 3-5 reps
  4. Accelerated/Unloaded Plyometric: 4-6 reps

We’re currently using a few variations of this method in some of our players’ programs:

Lower Body French Contrast Circuit

  1. DB Reverse Lunge (Day 1), DB RFE Split Squat (Day 2): 2-3/side
  2. Lateral Bound (Continuous): 3/side
  3. Vertimax Jump (Continuous): 5x
  4. Unloaded Squat Jump: 5x

A video from a couple Summers ago of hometown hero Johnny Gaudreau doing Unloaded Squat Jumps

Apparently this exercise also gives you silky mitts!

And just for the USA Hockey fans out there…

Upper Body French Contrast Circuit

  1. Bench Press: 2-3
  2. Explosive Push-Up: 5x
  3. DB Push Press: 5x
  4. Unloaded Explosive Push-Up: 5x

Unloaded Explosive Push-Ups being demonstrated by future Maine Black Bear Andrew Tegeler

This is only one piece of the power development puzzle, but the players that have started this type of training have enjoyed the focus on being explosive and the variety in exercise selection. While I would never recommend doing something stupid in the interest of appeasing your clientele, finding effective exercises/methods that the athletes also enjoy is ideal. In this case, the unloaded exercises are a blast for the players, and they also help improve power and contraction velocity, all good stuff if the goal is to improve quickness, speed, shooting power, etc.

In a couple days, I’m going to post a video of one of my new favorite integrative core exercises, so be sure to check back soon!

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. The Ultimate Hockey Training Database will be updated soon with even MORE videos. If you’re interested in getting access to over 800+ videos of hockey training exercises, check out Ultimate Hockey Training for more information on becoming an Insider.

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