Today’s Thursday Throwback touches on a concept that I think about a lot. Since I wrote this in 2010, I’ve worked closely with several medical and rehabilitation professionals, and it’s always interesting to view the situation through their eyes.

Strength coaches often scoff at doctor’s when they say things like “squatting is bad for your knees” or “deadlifting is bad for your back”, and I get it. These statements, applied blindly across the entire population, are dangerously inaccurate.

That said, many doctors and physical therapists only see people that are in pain. If enough people come in complaining of a knee injury that they aggravated during squatting, it’s understandable that they draw the conclusion that squatting is bad for your knees.

If you would have asked me 10 years ago if all squirrels were gray, I would have said yes. For the first 20+ years of my life, that was all I had seen. Then I went to grad school at UMass Amherst and saw one of these little guys running around.

Black Squirrel

Any my whole world changed

In contrast, the strength coach may see 1,000 people that squat and only 1 of them experiences some sort of knee discomfort. It’s a much different sample to draw conclusions from.

I think both ends of the rehab to training continuum have valuable information to offer the others, and it’s important to be open-minded to the other perspective. Ultimately, the goal is to provide the most appropriate care for the athlete, which requires open communication on all ends.

Just my two cents. Enjoy!

Doctors vs. Strength Coaches: A Difference in Perspective

Several weeks ago one of our hockey kids aggravated a lateral meniscus tear while playing knee hockey.

I can’t blame him, knee hockey is one of the most competitive sports in the world, and he and his teammates were playing after a big on-ice win. I remember one of my coaches telling our team that if we were half as intense about real hockey as we were knee-hockey, we’d never lose!

Anyway, he recently had it repaired, so it’s time for him to start rehabbing. I spoke with one of the doctors that assisted with his surgery and his physical therapist about what activities they thought he was ready for.

The initial response I got from his doctor was something along the lines of “I don’t want him doing anything for 6-8 weeks.”

My eyebrows furrowed a bit when I heard that. As you know, I’m a HUGE proponent of training AROUND (not through) injuries so athletes can continue to make progress and “feel like an athlete”.

Keeping in mind it was a unilateral lower body injury, I politely asked if he could do upper body work. She said, of course-that’d be fine.

I then asked if he could do single-leg exercises on his non-operative leg. Of course he could.

In my experience, many doctors aren’t in tune with the mentality that most athletes share.

A recommendation of “do nothing for 6 weeks” will be ignored by just about every motivated athlete.

Having said that, I don’t think doctors are stupid. I think they have an understanding of the physiological time course of healing and don’t trust many coaches to safely train around injuries.

Honestly, it’s hard to blame them. Go to any fitness facility and you’ll likely see a staff of “personal trainers” that appears to be actively pushing their clients towards injury, let alone knowing enough about functional anatomy to train around an existing injury.

I think that’s what makes people like Michael Boyle, Eric Cressey, Brijesh Patel, and Mike Robertson (just to name a few) so unique. They “get it”. They understand functional anatomy and the “athlete mentality” well enough to continue to train athletes through a wide range of injuries and have gained the trust of doctors and therapists around them.

The hockey player returned to Endeavor this week, and will be training with me twice a week for the foreseeable future.

Keep checking back in the next few weeks and I’ll let you know more about what kind of things we’re doing with him.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

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I’m breaking my usual Monday-Wednesday-Friday update routine because I wanted to let you know about something I’m really excited about. As you know, I’ve been a huge promoter of Body By Boyle Online since it was first launched several months ago.

Mike Boyle’s work has had a profound impact on my training philosophies and methodologies. I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to read his books, watch his DVDs, attend his seminars, and visit his facilities at BU and MBSC. He’s also been an incredible mentor, always making himself available to me if I have questions about anything from sports hernia referrals to running a private training facility. Moreover, I’ve learned and continue to learn a lot from his disciples (Sean Skahan, Mike Potenza, Darryl Nelson, Devan McConnell, Kim McCullough, and Jaime Rodriguez…to name a few).

In short, Boyle has had a remarkable impact on the hockey training and development industry as well as strength and conditioning as a whole. This is, in large part, a result of his dedication to continuing education. In fact, if there’s one thing that he taught me that I had to highlight as THE most important thing, it’s that I should never stop learning. In this way, I’ll always stay on top of my game, be aware of new information, and put my athletes in the best environment to succeed.

It is for that reason that I place so much value in Body By Boyle Online and why I know you’ll benefit so much from it as well. That brings us to today’s exciting announcement.

A couple weeks ago, I got an email from Boyle and Kevin Larrabee about them relaunching their site in a way that makes the content more easily accessible and costs less. Instead of having me try to describe all the changes to you, I thought it would be easier if I had Kevin (the other Kevin) come on and do a quick interview about it.

Enter Kevin:

Me: First off, congratulations to you and the rest of the Michael Boyle Strength and Conditioning staff for being ranked the #1 Gym in America. That’s quite an honor! As you know, I’ve been a huge supporter of BodyByBoyleOnline since you guys first launched it. Looking through the programs provides invaluable insight into Coach Boyle’s underlying philosophies and methodologies, and the constant content updates are outstanding. In fact, we use many of the presentations as continuing education for our staff during our weekly meetings. Can you talk a bit about what changes you’re making to the subscription options with this “re-launch” and what lead you to make these changes?

KL: Thank Kevin! We are bringing everything that has helped make MBSC the #1 Gym in America to BodyByBoyle Online. With the relaunch we had two major goals. First off we wanted to make the content as easy to assess as possible. For us, that meant duplicating all of our content for a website, and in doing so offering multiple qualities of the videos for those with fast or slow connections.

Second, we wanted to created a second membership level for those that might not want to do online training and just want the rich educational content that we have put together. To be honest over half of our members simply come to watch the staff meeting videos as well as the exclusive seminars that we film. For example we just filmed the 2011 MBSC Winter Seminar that featured Dan John as well as Mike. We understand that many people want to go to more seminars, but the time and cost of travel is just too high. So for those people, we now offer a standard version of BodyByBoyle Online at a reduced rate of $39.97/month (for now). Of course all of our current members will also be given access to the website as part of their Platinum membership ($59.97/month).

Me: Although the site is “Body By Boyle”, he’s not the only content contributor to the site. Can you provide some insight into some of the other guests you have add content?

KL: I think that is what makes BodyByBoyle Online so great and a pleasure to produce. We have had speakers come in to the facility to do private seminars for our staff. In the last couple months we have had Sue Falsone form Athlete’s Performance present and do a hands on about the thoracic spine, Nick Tumminello came in to talk rotary training, Chris Frankel did a lecture and hands on about suspension training, and always have guests stopping by, especially when the Perform Better Circuit is coming through town. This just goes to show you how much Mike values continuing education and how important it is for you to be one of the best in this field.

Me: I think one of the things that causes people to hesitate sign up for sites/services with monthly memberships is a fear that the information will stagnate. Can you talk about what plans you guys have for the site in the future and what members have to look forward to?

KL: Trust me when I say you have an ongoing stream of new content. We film our staff meetings each week, our guest speakers, F.A.Q. with Mike where he goes in depth on subjects and answers questions from the members, and we are even dipping into the vault with some classic Boyle videos. All you need to do is take a look at Mike’s shorts to see the videos are 15 years old or so. But the best part, is that the videos from the past are even more relevant now than they were then. One of the VHSs that Mike has converted to digital video is his olympic lift video where he goes through the various lifts. Guess what, we still use the same coaching steps as he did back then.

We have also made digital versions of Mike’s current DVD offerings such as the three DVD set he just produced and released a few months ago.

Me: Thanks Kevin. I appreciate you taking the time to be with us today. I look forward to seeing the content additions over the upcoming months!

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

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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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I’ve been on a huge continuing ed kick recently and have come across some great stuff I want to share with you.

New Study Finds 70 Percent of Able-Bodied Hockey Players have Abnormal Hip and Pelvis MRIs
This brief article was written in mid March so it isn’t “new” anymore, but it’s still worth the 2 minutes it’ll take you to read if you haven’t yet. For hockey players, this is huge. This study highlights the fact that a positive MRI finding (e.g. they find something wrong with you) doesn’t necessarily mean you need surgery. It’s just a piece of the puzzle. Almost identical information has come out regarding the shoulders of baseball pitchers. Forget the specificity of the joint (or population), the big take home here is a doctor telling you something came back as “wrong” doesn’t mean you should immediately sign up for surgery. Intelligent conservative treatment may be a more advantageous option!

Relationship Between the Kinetics and Kinematics of a Unilateral Horizontal Drop Jump to Sprint Performance

Turns out single-leg transitional power correlates to sprint performance. Could it be that single-leg training is important for athletes??

Counter-Intuitive Rehabilitation

Charlie Weingroff did an AWESOME interview for Super Human Radio that you can listen to for free at the link above. Charlie delves into a lot of the problems, or more politely “limitations” of most physical therapists and gives some great examples about how the body functions as a unit. Even if you aren’t a physical therapist, this is a great listen for every athlete and parent because it gives you an idea of what you should be looking for in a great physical therapist. Do your best to ignore the supplement promotions during the commercials.

Diaphragmatic Breathing Questions

Every time I visit Carson’s site, I learn something new. I’ve started incorporating breathing exercises and coaching cues into our programs at Endeavor a lot more over the last couple months, in large part because of what I’ve learned from Carson about the importance of proper breathing in athletic performance. Carson answers a handful of really well thought out questions in this post.

The Truth about the Trapezius

Nick Tumminello discusses some interesting research that questions our understanding of the role of the upper trapezius. Functional anatomy is probably my favorite area of study so this one really caught my attention.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

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What a week. Things have been really chaotic as I get ready to launch my new hockey training project and as our Tier I youth and Junior players return back to Endeavor for their off-season training.

I wanted to let you know about a special opportunity I just found out about. In January I mentioned that my friend Joe Heiler from was putting together a “Sports Rehab to Sports Performance Teleseminar”. If you missed that post, you can check out it here: Sports Rehab to Sports Performance

In a nutshell, Joe compiled an absurdly prestigious list of the top physical therapists, athletic trainers, and strength and conditioning coaches in the world and interrogated them for their best information.

Contributors included:

Gray Cook and Shirley Sahrmann
Robert Panariello
Stuart McGill (bonus interview with Chris Poirier from Perform Better)
Craig Liebenson and Clare Frank
Mike Reinold
Greg Rose
Mike Boyle
Gary Gray
Eric Cressey

The interviews were done so well that I actually emailed Joe afterward and (politely and respectfully) asked him what he was thinking giving them away for free. If you didn’t register for the teleseminar, you really missed out on an incredible opportunity to here some of the most brilliant people in human performance history speak.

Luckily, Joe has put together all of the presentations (including bonus presentations by Nick Tumminello and Charlie Weingroff) into one great package for a more than reasonable investment.

Click here for more information: Sports Rehab to Sports Performance

Let me take a second to say that this is NOT for everyone. I know a lot of the people that read my site are youth hockey players or coaches that have no interest in this aspect of things. If this includes you, then do NOT buy this. A lot of the science talk will be over your head and you won’t get a ton out of it.

If you ARE a physical therapist, athletic trainer, or strength and conditioning coach, this is definitely information you should hear. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever get this type of line up again, and you really can’t beat the price tag: $29.99. Think about the travel, food (for me this would probably exceed $100 itself…but I eat a lot), hotel and admission costs associated with attending a weekend seminar to get this SAME information. I still think Joe is crazy for giving this away at this price, but he’s really dedicated to making quality information easily accessible, and I have a ton of respect for that!

Click here for more information: Sports Rehab to Sports Performance

To your continued success,

Kevin Neeld

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