Brijesh Patel, my friend and colleague from Quinnipiac University, spoke at the Boston Hockey Summit about training program design for ice hockey players. During his talk he went through several yoga-based isometric circuits that can be incorporated into off-ice training warm-ups. Everyone, including myself, that I’ve seen do these circuits has the same reaction: They feel loose AND strong. The circuits are well-designed to improve range of motion around the hips and thoracic spine (spine around your upper back…this is a good thing), and activate the hip abductors/external rotators and muscles around the posterior shoulder (muscles on the outside of the hip that don’t get the training attention they deserve).

I started using two of these circuits with all of my athletes. In both of these circuits, each position is held for 10 seconds.

3-Way Squat Circuit
1) Deep squat while pushing your knees out with your elbows to stretch out the muscles on the inside of your thigh
2) Maintain the deep squat, but move your hands behind your head, interlock your fingers, and pull your elbows back together. It’s important to keep your back flat (don’t let it round forward) and actively pull your knees outward using the muscles on the outside of your hip.
3) Maintain the deep squat while extending your arms straight overhead and continuing to pull your knees out.

3-Way Split Squat Circuit
1) Split squat position with arms extended straight overhead. Focus on squeezing your butt on the back leg and pulling down into the floor through the ball of your foot on the front leg.
2) Maintain the position while performing a triceps stretch on the arm on the side of your back leg and leaning toward the side of your front leg.
3) Maintain the position while twisting toward the front leg and reaching back with the arm on the side of your front leg and following this hand with your eyes.

As I type these descriptions, I’m realizing how simple these are when you see them, but how confusing it is to try to explain it. If you’re simple-minded like I am and have no idea what any of those descriptions mean, your best bet is to head over to and watch the videos that Brijesh put together for them. I’m confident you’ll be able to wrap your mind around them as soon as you see them.

When you get to, look for Brijesh Patel’s Deep Squat Series, and Warrior 1 Series.

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I love video.  I’d rather watch a movie then read a book. I’d rather watch an exercise video than read a description and I’d rather watch a presentation than listen to it.  Video is already beginning to dominate the athletic development industry as coaches see its value in teaching exercises.  

  1. Brijesh Patel took it up a notch when he built the exercise database at Holy Cross’s website so that athletes could have access to the countless exercise videos there.  I’ve spent hours watching all the variations he and Jeff Oliver have come up with over the years.  Since then, Brijesh has helped develop, a revolutionary website with the industry’s best providing exercise videos, teaching demonstrations, etc.  If you haven’t checked it out yet, go now.  It’s arguably the internet’s best strength and conditioning teaching tool. 
  2. Nothing breeds success like hard work.  Nothing, except maybe hard work paired with motivational speeches…and spandex.  If every athlete had the die-hard mentality of a rower, sports would be a lot more entertaining and more young athletes realize their true potential.  A video to bring this randomness together:
  3. This exercise makes me feel good, every time.
  4. This doesn’t, but it’s great for breaking up tension in the glutes and hip external rotators (typically tight in hockey players).
  5. Yoga has some validity in sports performance training.  While I don’t look at yoga as training in itself (it will not make you significantly stronger; it will not help you lose weight; and it will not give you long lean muscles), certain yoga routines can improve function range of motion about the hips and shoulders.  More on this to come in future posts.
  6. 100 rep time tests are brutal.  Due to snow, my gym was closed on Wednesday, so I had to do a make-shift workout.  100 chin-ups as fast as possible.  Followed by 100 push-ups as fast as possible.  These are the types of workouts everyone should try once (assuming it won’t cripple you permanently).  My 100 rep chin-up time was 18 mins 20 secs; my 100 rep push-up time was 6 mins 13 secs.  If you try this, feel free to post your results below.

That’s it for today.  Tomorrow I leave for a road trip to coach a couple games against the University of Rhode Island so you may not hear from me until next week.  

Keep working hard.

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