The Valslide Skate Position Circle and 2-Way Skater are two exercises we’ll integrate into our prep work or pair with main exercises to help reinforce low position stability of the stance leg.

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In both variations, we’re looking to keep the hip, knee and toes in a straight line throughout the movement.

In the Valslide Skate Position Circle, the emphasis is on locking out the long leg, and keeping the hips stable as the leg “sweeps” around to the back position and then back through to the start.

In the 2-Way Skater, the goal is to reach as far laterally and as far under, finishing through the toes in both, while keeping the hips facing forward.

Typically performed for 2-3 sets of 6 reps each.

Feel free to post any comments/questions below. If you found this helpful, please share/re-post it so others can benefit.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. If you’re interested in year-round comprehensive hockey-specific training programs for players at different ages, check out Ultimate Hockey Transformation.

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Any bilateral lower body exercise can be manipulated to create a single-leg variation. In other words, back squats, front squats, deadlifts, and stiff-legged deadlifts all have a single-leg counterpart. I like some of these single-leg exercises more than others.

In the case of a single-leg deadlift, I’ve experimented with a few different variations (e.g. barbell loaded, no toe touch, w/ toe touch). I’ve found that loading the exercise with a barbell doesn’t allow the athlete to shift the load posteriorly in a manner that allows them to load their hips. Similarly, with the “no toe touch” variation, athletes tend to perform a movement that more closely resembles a squat than a deadlift. Check out the video below:

Dumbbell 1-Leg Reverse Deadlift

A few execution pointers:

  • Shift your hips back as you reach for the floor with your foot
  • Keep your shoulders back and chest up
  • Let the weights pass closely by both sides of your front leg knee
  • Think of pulling through your front leg to return to the top
  • Keep your chin tucked throughout the movement

This exercise can also be performed with a single dumbbell in the hand of the back leg side. This variation creates an increased emphasis on the diagonal connection between the hip and opposite shoulder.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

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Over the weekend I had an opportunity to attend the Friesen Physio-Fitness Summit in Raleigh, NC. The summit was awesome; Pete Friesen (going on his 14th year as the Hurricanes Strength and Conditioning Coach) put together a fantastic line-up of speakers, including many of members of his sports medicine network. I’m in the process of putting together a write-up on the Summit for Hockey Strength and Conditioning now; there was a lot of great information was process. I was flattered that Pete said he reads all my emails (he must be the one!), and am really thankful that he invited me down.

Death of the Squat
One of the presenters at the Summit brought up Coach Boyle’s “Death of the Squat” idea. I really think Boyle’s words have been misheard, misinterpreted, and misunderstood to the point of completely bastardizing his point. As a disclaimer, if you know me at all you know that I’m heavily influenced by Boyle’s philosophies and teachings. In fact, his mentorship is largely responsible for where I am today as a coach. As such, I do feel an allegiance toward defending his ideas. With that said, that’s not why I’m writing this. Whether I agree with Boyle’s point about single-leg training (I do) isn’t as important here as making sure people understand what he’s actually saying about the benefits of single-leg vs. double-leg training.

First, he never said squats were dead. The “Death of the Squat” was coined by Pat Beith, who was responsible for marketing Functional Strength Coach 3. Frankly, it was a great way to use a controversial topic to stimulate interest in the product (a win for Pat). Unfortunately, many people took the attention grabber an umbrella statement about training. Boyle mentions that, at some point, the limiting factor in squatting becomes spinal stability, not lower body/hip strength. He doesn’t say that squatting isn’t a good lower body exercise; he doesn’t say it’s a back exercise.

An area of the body being a limiting factor doesn’t imply that it is weak either; it simply means that is the point of failure. If you consider the anatomy of the spine and supporting musculature, it shouldn’t be surprising that the legs can power up more weight than the spine can handle. In anticipation of this argument, it’s unreasonable to use elite level powerlifters (even if we look past the drug use and equipment use) as an argument against Boyle’s point about spinal stability. There are exceptions to every rule. Boyle isn’t basing his argument on a few minor exceptions, he’s basing it on his observations on thousands of athletes across the last 3 decades.

Take Home Message
This message can be interpreted in a couple different ways, but I look at it like this. Squatting is a great exercise to develop lower body/hip strength initially. When strength improves to a point where spinal stability becomes the limiting factor, the risk/reward ratio of the exercise is tipped unfavorably. At this point, it doesn’t make sense to push the limits of spinal stability in the interest of potentially adding some lower body strength, especially since there is a better alternative: single-leg training.

Single-leg training offers the benefit of being able to continuously overload the lower body, while minimizing the stress to the spine. The other primary benefit of single-leg training is that it capitalizes on the pre-existing neural pathways that drive athletic movement. I wrote about this in detail in my article Rethinking Bilateral Training, which I encourage you to check out if you haven’t yet.

We don’t do a lot of squatting at Endeavor because I think our single-leg exercises are more effective at improving strength. They also minimize injury risk. We mostly mix it in with our off-season athletes that will need to be able to squat well for testing purposes when they return to their teams. I apologize for the rant. I’m disappointed when I see smart people arguing against points that Boyle never made. Hopefully this clears up some of the confusion.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. Eric Cressey put up another great video post with answers to some common training questions and a few heart-touching stories. Check it out here: Show and Go FAQ

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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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Hopefully you’ve taken a chance to check out the review I did of Mike Robertson’s new manual/DVD The Single-Leg Solution. I asked Mike if he’d go into some detail for you about some of the differential benefits between single- and double-leg exercises. Check out what he had to say:

Now that I’m officially pegged as the “single-leg guy” (right there with Mike Boyle, anyway) I figured this would be a great opportunity to highlight the single biggest benefit of bilateral lifts, or two-leg, lifts.

To be blunt: Squats, deadlifts, power cleans and the like are your best option if you’re looking to get bigger, stronger, and more powerful.

Can you improve strength, power or mass while training exclusively on one leg?  To some extent, sure.

But you’re not going to see the same kind of changes without some big, compound lifts in your programming.  It really comes down to two key factors:  Base of support, and the amount of stability you have.

Let’s examine both.

When we’re talking strength, powerlifters know how to maximize their results.  Want to know why you see very few powerlifters squat with a narrow stance?

Simple – because a narrow stance minimizes their base of support.

With a wider base of support, you’re more stable.  When you’re more stable, you recruit more prime movers.

But I’ll get back to that.  Let’s take this in the opposite direction.

Hopefully we can all agree that you could lift more/heavier weights from a split-stance position (like a lunge or split-squat), than you could a single-leg squat.  Why is this?

Again, it’s due to your base of support.  Even in a split-stance, you still have a better “base” than you do in a true single-leg stance.

The narrower you go with your stance, or when you take one leg off the ground, you take stabilizer function through the roof.

And this is one of the truest benefits of single-leg/split-stance training – you force all those little guys, your stabilizers, to do the work.

The problem, herein, is this – the more you call upon and recruit your stabilizers, the less you recruit your big prime movers!

To some degree, there’s an inverse relationship between stabilizer activity and prime mover activity.  The more stabilizer function your body needs to stay upright (and off your face!), the less worried your body is about recruiting the big muscle group to move big weights.

The other key ingredient to strength is stability.  Stability is the name-of-the-game when we’re talking about developing big, strong prime movers.

Think about leg pressing for a second.  I’m not saying this is a viable option for many of you out there, but think about the benefits of the leg press for a second.

Your back is stabilized by a pad.

Both feet are on the press.

The movement is purely sagittal plane – up and down.

At the end of the day, maximal stability plus a very basic movement pattern lets us use very heavy weights.  And with very heavy weights come big, strong legs!

But my intent is to argue for the inclusion of leg pressing in your workouts.  If you’ve read anything from me before, you know I pretty much despise the leg press and machine training as a whole.

Instead, my goal is to illustrate a point:

Bilateral lifts, due to their improved base of support and increased stability, are superior to single-leg lifts with regards to developing strength and power.

They aren’t the only way to skin that proverbial cat, but if your goal is to develop strong and powerful athletes, please don’t forget about the big lifts you may have thrown out of your toolbox.

Mike Robertson is a strength coach and personal trainer from Indianapolis, Indiana.  With a focus on not only injury prevention but performance enhancement, Mike has made a name for himself as one of the foremost authorities in strength and conditioning. Mike Robertson has helped clients and athlete from all walks of life achieve their strength, physique and performance related goals. Mike received his Masters Degree in Sports Biomechanics from the world-renowned Human Performance Lab at Ball State University. Mike is the president of Robertson Training Systems, and the co-owner of Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training which was recently named one of America’s Top Ten Gyms.

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