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Updated: 16 hours 58 min ago

Don’t Limit Yourself

Thu, 07/11/2019 - 16:14

I’m in Australia at the moment, getting set to do 2 back to back weekend workshops with Tony Gentilcore. This marks the 7th country we’ve presented in:

  • Canada
  • United States
  • UK
  • Norway
  • Czech Republic
  • Slovenia
  • and now Australia

In Canada we’ve presented in 3 provinces. In the US we’ve presented in 8 states. This has given me the good fortune to travel in a way that subsidizes from the workshop costs, and gives me the chance to see parts of the world I’d only dreamed of previously.

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Slovenia is incredibly beautiful.

A post shared by Dean somerset (@dsomerset1) on Oct 19, 2018 at 6:35am PDT

There’s no logical reason why I should be able to do these kinds of things. I grew up in a small town with no stop lights, currently live in a winter wasteland far away from celebrities or television cameras, have a 5-head and a build that doesn’t lend to shirtless selfies. By all normative means, I shouldn’t be able to say I’m travelling the world talking about getting jacked and swole.

Yet here I am.

The main reason I’m able to do stuff like this is that I didn’t wait or ask for permission to start doing workshops, writing blog posts, or producing digital products. I just started, and consistently did more and more, while reaching a broader audience.

It’s not always been a linear improving process, there’s been some times where we’ve had to cancel workshops because we didn’t get enough people enrolled to make it financially viable. But we pressed on.

If you wait until you feel like you’re ready or “good enough” to try doing something outside of your usual, it’s never going to happen. Take massive action and see what happens. You might surprise yourself and wake up on the other side of the world with a room full of people wanting to hear what you have to say.

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Stuff to Check Out: Canada Day Edition

Fri, 06/28/2019 - 11:09

Long weekends should be every weekend. Am I right??



Even More Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint –

Sydney Australia July 13-14

Melbourne Australia July 20-21


Tony Gentilcore and I bring our workshop series Down Under for a pair of events. We’ll dig into shoulder and hip assessment, corrective options, coaching considerations, and programming like gangstas (well, not actually, but hopefully make you look cool in front of your clients).

Click HERE for more info and to register


Evolve Canadian Strength Symposium – Edmonton AB, September 14-15 at University of Alberta

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Join us with Dean Somerset at our Canadian Strength Symposium! Dean, specializes in exercise rehabilitation, and will be teaching how proper mobility training improves performance. You will also learn join structure differences with varying age populations and in addition, how to best apply this knowledge and best serve a wide range of clients. Click the link in our bio to register today! Sign up now and receive our EARLY BIRD pricing! ⠀ ⠀ #edmonton #yyc #yeggers #exploreedmonton #madeinyeg #yeglocal #yegbusiness #yegevents #canada #calgary #alberta #yeg #yegfit #yegfitness #yycfit #yycfitness #personaltrainer #yvr #trainer #sympoisum #evolve #evolvestrength #yyc #yegtrainer #yegphysio #nait #naitpft #uofa⠀

A post shared by Evolve Strength (@evolve_strength) on Jun 19, 2019 at 10:40am PDT

Featuring Bryan Krahn, Greg Nuckols, Lee Boyce, Leigh Peele, Marc Morris, Meghan Callaway, Hannah Gray, EJ Parris, Carolyn MacDonald and yours truly, this will become one of the premier fitness conferences in Canada, and you’ll want to be there for the first ever one here in Edmonton.


Click HERE for more info and to register


Scientific Applications of Mobility Training – Vienna Austria, October 19

Ever wanted to know to get the most scientifically-backed results for improving mobility? How do different mobility tools affect structural physiology to allow a new range of motion, and how can you assess and design a highly specific training program for your clients to improve their range of motion as much as possible? I dig deep into the research and bring out this gem of a workshop in beautiful Vienna, Austria. Space is very limited and filling up quick, so join me post-Oktoberfest for some learning.

Click HERE for more info and to register


Other Stuff


The Ultimate Landmine Program – Meghan Callaway

Meghan’s excellent resource is on sale until Sunday evening, plus if you want to pick up the combo pack of the Landmine Program AAAAAAAAAND her Ultimate Pullup Program, you can save on both at once. The sale ends Sunday at midnight, so pick up a copy now and save $30.

Click HERE for more info 

Stretching Doesn’t Work –

This was a throwback article I wrote a few years ago and got bumped recently. Maybe I should write a follow-up to it?

The Two Most Common Misconceptions of the FMS – Travis Pollen

The FMS is a standard assessment process a lot of trainers have involved in their education over the past 20 years. Travis asks some hard questions and points to the limitations of the current research to answer those questions in this article. Well done, dude.


Social Media Hijinx

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Save your money Study Go to bed early Eat your veggies and skip dessert Walk more Drink water Be nice to people Make your bed Wear your helmet when biking Wear a seatbelt in the car Use spotters in the gym If it hurts don’t do it Practice Read the instructions All the best advice we’d give anyone else. All so boring you want to light a clown on fire just to stay awake.

Getting the Biggest Benefits from Landmine Training

Tue, 06/25/2019 - 10:03

Todays post comes from Meghan Callaway, who just released her new resource, The Ultimate Landmine Program, the hotly anticipated follow up to her amazing resource The Ultimate Pullup Program. Check it out today until June 29th and save $30!


I’ve been a huge fan of landmine training for a long time, but over the past few years I’ve especially come to realize just how beneficial landmine training is. Landmine training is not just trendy. This style of training is a total game-changer! Landmine training provides a huge bang for your buck, produces similar results to many more technically demanding or higher risk exercises that are performed with a barbell or dumbbells, and is absolutely empowering!

In case you are unfamiliar with landmine exercises, they involve an angled barbell movement. One end of the barbell is in a fixed position on the ground (or in a landmine attachment), and the opposite end of the barbell is held by the trainee. While having a landmine attachment is great, it is not mandatory. The one prerequisite is that the barbell is stable and will not slip. You can rest the barbell against a secure surface like a wall, box/other object, in a corner, or on a no-slip surface.

Now I’m going to discuss some of the countless benefits that landmine training delivers. If you haven’t performed any landmine exercises yet, I highly recommend you do.


Landmine training is efficient, and provides a huge bang for your buck.

Landmine training is extremely efficient. You can often seamlessly transition from one exercise to the next, so you can get more done in less time. Who doesn’t want that?  

Here is an example. In this video I am performing a push/pull superset. As you can see, I transition from one exercise to the next in the blink of an eye.


Landmine training requires minimal equipment.


With landmine training, all you need is a barbell, and perhaps several weight plates. So you can perform killer workouts using very little equipment, and while taking up an extremely small amount of space. In the video above, you can see I’m using a minimal amount of equipment, and am taking up very little room.


Landmine training is very user friendly, and is extremely helpful for developing and advancing lifters.


Landmine exercises mimic many movements that are done with barbells and dumbbells, but are often easier to learn. This is largely due to the fixed position of the one end of the barbell, and the natural arc that the barbell travels. As a result, landmine exercises can often be performed by a greater number of trainees since they cater to a wider range of fitness levels and abilities.  


Here is a video of my client Sue performing landmine squats. She is 74 years young.



Landmine training targets most fundamental movements.


Landmine exercises can be extremely useful in helping trainees master most of the key fundamental movements (squatting, hinging, lunging, pushing, pulling). Due to the more stable and predictable nature of the bar-path, trainees are often able to use more resistance than they would during similar variations that involve a barbell or dumbbells. This can mean more progressive overload and better results!


This video showcases a variety of landmine exercises that cover many of the key fundamental movements.


Landmine training bridges the gap between may variations of the same movement.


Landmine exercises can be a great way to regress or progress movements, and can bridge the gap between many movements. Here is a great example using the squatting movement. While someone might not be ready to perform barbell squats, they have mastered goblet squats, and have reached the maximum amount of weight they are able to hold in the goblet position. This is often a barrier many trainees encounter. In essence, their upper body strength becomes the limiting factor, and restricts the amount of weight they are able to lift using their lower body.


Landmine squats can be a viable option as they often allow trainees to use significantly more weight than they’d otherwise be able to use during goblet squats. Also, if this is a goal of theirs, landmine squats can sometimes serve as a stepping stone to helping trainees progress to performing barbell squats.


Landmine exercises are not very intimidating, and they are fun to do!  


Let’s face it, not everyone has the desire to perform barbell lifts, and there is nothing wrong with this whatsoever. Many barbell lifts can be intimidating, and feeling pressured to perform them can lead many people to shy away from strength training.  As I discussed above, landmine exercises provide similar benefits to many of the barbell exercises, and are much less daunting to perform. Training should be fun and empowering, and should not bring you needless stress.


In this video I am doing a landmine workout with a friend. This is a skater squat variation, and is pretty badass!


Landmine training provides many great alternatives to overhead pressing movements.


Overhead pressing is a movement many trainees of all fitness levels and abilities struggle to execute, and for a wide array of reasons. The great news is that there are many different landmine pressing variations that provide similar benefits to overhead pressing, and other unsupported pressing movements. In some instances, performing landmine pressing movements can bridge the gap, and can help some trainees progress to eventually being able to execute overhead pressing or other unsupported pressing movements.



Landmine training provides similar benefits to many Olympic lifts.


Landmine “power” exercises can be a great tool for athletes, and often provide similar benefits to Olympic lifts, but are easier to learn, and are generally lower risk. As a result, because explosiveness is a key component in enhancing performance in many sports, and even in every-day life, many more people will be able to reap the benefits of power training.


Here are two of my clients performing landmine “power” exercises. Brendan is in his 30s and is a MMA fighter, and Sue is 74!



Landmine training can be helpful in injury recovery, or training around an injury.


Due to the more stable and predictable bar path, landmine exercises can be an extremely valuable tool to use during injury recovery. Depending on the nature and severity of the injury, you can possibly work around the injury and can perform similar movements you might not currently be able to do using a barbell or even dumbbells.


Losing your hard earned results due to an injury can be incredibly frustrating. I know as I’ve been there. In fact, I’m sure we all have. Landmine training can help prevent these frustrating losses from happening. In fact, you might even notice some “gainz.” To be clear, if you are dealing with any sort of injury or issue, make sure you get clearance from a qualified physician before you participate in any training program.  


From Tuesday, June 25th until June 29th at 11:59pm PST, you can take advantage of the special sale price and can get The Ultimate Landmine Program for only $67. After that the price will increase to $97.

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Hybrid Personal Trainer: Combining Online & In-Person Training for Revenue and Personal Fulfillment

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 13:08

Today’s guest post comes from Joel Ohman, founder & CEO of, the platform I’ve personally used for my online coaching program for a few years now. Online training has helped me develop consistent revenue that’s not geographically restricted, connected me to people around the world, and provided unique opportunities, so Joel is going to show how to maximize that business model in today’s post.


As a serial entrepreneur with a number of different startups that exist under my belt, I get asked for entrepreneurial advice on a regular basis.

More often than you may think, the conversation starts something like this: “So, I’ve got a great idea for a new business/app/website/a baby stroller scooter hybrid (real) / edible spray paint (also real) / a TV that only changes the channel when you do 10 squats (not real, but wait a minute…) and I’ve decided to quit my job and follow my dreams. I’m turning in my two-week notice tomorrow. Oh, I also have no savings, no experience or special expertise, a wife, seven kids, and oh, my wife’s pregnant again. What do you think?”

Umm, congratulations?

My advice to newly minted entrepreneurs and seasoned entrepreneurs, new personal trainers and experienced personal trainers, is the same.


Add Before You Subtract


Maybe you are a trainer who has years of experience training clients in-person and you’ve long kept an eye on success stories of other personal trainers doing online training and you’ve thought to yourself, hey, I could do that.


And, I believe you can. Dean is a prime example of that success, and our business model ( is predicated on helping trainers succeed, online and offline. But quitting your day job cold turkey to go start a new company may or may not be a foolhardy decision.

What if you could do both: in-person and online?


What if you could continue training clients in-person, don’t change a thing, but then ADD some online training options to what you offer?

Even if you ultimately want to phase out your in-person training—you certainly don’t need to—there are a number of amazing benefits to taking this “add before you subtract” hybrid trainer approach first.


  1. Reduced Risk – Maintaining your current source of income (in-person training) while trying something new (online training) allows you to de-risk your new venture. You can now afford to make mistakes, try new things that don’t work out exactly right, adjust, and then try again, all without having to give up if you don’t earn enough money to support yourself and your family within a short time period.

  2. Reduced Stress – You will make mistakes. Is it okay if I say that again? You will make mistakes when you first start doing personal training online. And that’s okay. Yes, learning from someone like Dean and others who have been successful, and using an automated and scalable software solution will go a long way to pointing you in the right direction; but at the end of the day, we all have to do our own work, make our own mistakes, and then keep going forward and improving our businesses. When you have your in-person training still around to support your online training trial-and-error, then you can now approach your online training business with creativity and excitement instead of fear and stress.

  3. Long-Term Focus – It’s funny sometimes how people talk about “online businesses” as if the word “online” means that you can throw out the normal principles of a successful business. “Get rich quick by selling workout plans online! No work required, just hop on Instagram and watch the money pour in without any work!” This short-term focus is, well, short-sighted and harmful to your business and your clients. Adding new online training options to your in-person training tends to give you a slow and steady approach to building your business that’s healthier than going all-in on a new channel (online sales) with which you are probably not yet the experienced.


Benefits to Online Training and In-Person Training



Sometimes it’s helpful to list off a bunch of the pros and cons to both in-person training and online training. Of course, everyone enjoys different things in their daily work routine, especially depending on how introverted/extroverted you are, and let’s face it, part of being successful involves doing things you don’t like sometimes (i.e. front squats, tax planning, apple cider vinegar), but part of being an entrepreneur means you can choose to optimize for your strengths.


In-Person Training – PROS


  1. Personal connection with clients, human contact, building relationships
  2. Physical activity, moving your body around in space, not being trapped at a desk
  3. Easy access to workout equipment, no excuse to not “go to the gym” and workout


In-Person Training – CONS


  1. Have to work early morning and late evenings, less time for family, slave to client’s schedules
  2. Limited number of people a trainer can work with at one time, income capped by time in the day, employee mentality of trading time for money
  3. Physically tiring, emotionally draining, having to serve as therapist/counselor even to clients you may not prefer to spend time with


Online Training – PROS


  1. Building a system that scales without requiring your ongoing personal time involvement at certain hours, can create your own schedule
  2. Unlimited income potential, can train anyone anywhere in the world, the only limiting factor is usually online marketing prowess and “hustle”
  3. Can sell for you 24/7, once built can be somewhat “passive” income, passes the “if I get hit by a bus will this still have value?” test


Online Training – CONS


  1. Can be hard to figure out online marketing, websites, SEO, social media, other technical challenges
  2. Must pay for professional workout delivery/fitness business software or else be prepared to spend a lot of time creating and emailing spreadsheets
  3. Might seem overwhelming to get started, must learn new business/marketing skills


Top Reasons Personal Trainers Fail at Online Training


Okay, so you are already a successful in-person trainer and you like the idea of adding online training to your client offerings and becoming a hybrid trainer, but if we’ve seen it once, we’ve seen it dozens and dozens of times.


Here are some common mistakes that personal trainers make when attempting to do online training that cause them to fail (and fail unnecessarily, I might add). Sure, you will make mistakes when you try something new, and it will take time for you to hone in on the online training approach that works best for you, but see if you can’t learn from some of these mentioned below and save yourself the trouble.


Reason #1 – Not Having Systems in Place


Do you know what sounds like the last thing you want to see after a hard day of in-person training? An email inbox full of requests for you to create more Excel sheets and PDF’s full of workout plans that you have to email your online training clients one-by-one.

Having proper systems in place that can automate away all of your busywork is going to be the difference between success and wanting to drop a medicine ball on your head to make the headaches go away.


  • Did you know that you can create online assessments that will automatically start your clients on your workout programming that they can follow via the web, PDF, or iOS/Android apps (all under your custom branding, of course)?
  • Did you know that you can create a sequence of 6-12 months of workout programming in advance and load it up into an online workout group that will then automatically time release those workout plans, unlocking a new plan each month for your online group members?


And those are just a couple of the automation systems and sequences that next level Hybrid Trainers like Dean are putting to work.


Okay, as the CEO of a fitness software company, of course, I’m going to say this, but sometimes software is not just an expense for your business, it’s an asset.

If software is saving time for you and your staff, saving you money, making life easier for your clients, and allowing you to grow and scale your business to reach more clients in more places than ever before, then that is an asset, not just an expense.  You wouldn’t be able to do that without the right software!


Reason #2 – Not Putting the Work In


This is also known as “giving up too soon because the first thing you try doesn’t make you an overnight success and doing new things is hard and, wait, this is starting to sound like all of those excuses you hate to hear from clients…”


If it’s of any encouragement to you, even very sophisticated online marketers crash and burn on more marketing campaigns than they do well on. Sometimes it takes trying out something new, failing, iterating, tweaking again, launching again, until finally, you’ve carved out a winning strategy. Now, to be clear, there are no winning “tricks” to online training, just like there are no winning “tricks” to do well at in-person training


But it does take time, and work, and a willingness to grow your recurring revenue client by client.


If you are willing to put the work in, then the economics of online training get pretty exciting though, particularly if you utilize a recurring revenue model (and you should). Check out this interactive online personal training income calculator to see what I mean.


Reason #3 – Forcing Their Online Training to Mimic Their In-Person Training


Some trainers get stuck on doing things a certain way, many of them are quite successful doing in-person training, and have been so for years and years, that when it comes to building a successful online training component of their business, it’s very difficult for that trainer to be open to exploring new ways of doing things.


Maybe it’s a trainer insisting on being able to meet clients personally for an in-person assessment prior to signing them up for an online training package.


“I would never just send them to an online assessment on my website. I could never just evaluate their squat form via video!” Well, that is a decision one can certainly make, but just know that your potential training market has just shrunk dramatically from worldwide to those who can drive to meet with you in person.


Maybe it’s a trainer who insists on doing custom programming for each and every client. That’s also a viable business decision to make, but just know that you will be eliminating a large slice of the market who can and will pay for group programming via an online workout group or semi-custom workout programming or some other cheaper option, but is unable or unwilling to pay for custom programming from you.


It’s important to note that there are likely people out there right now who like your programming, like your approach, maybe just like you, period, and would be willing to pay you for your programming, but until you can serve them in their preferred way for their preferred price then they will forever remain out in the market underserved.


There are many other in-person habits that can make for in-person success but can be a hangup to growing your online training business if you aren’t willing to try new things and new approaches.


Going Hybrid


If you want to diversify your revenue streams, build recurring revenue that doesn’t depend on your personal time, avoid feeling like all is lost when in-person clients cancel on you and be in more control of your schedule so you can spend it with family, friends, and doing activities you love and if you’re looking for reduced risk, reduced stress, and a renewed long term focus on your personal training business, then going hybrid might just be an option worth exploring for you.


Author Bio

Joel Ohman is a serial entrepreneur, author, and angel investor. He is the founder and CEO of and a number of tech startups. He lives in Tampa, FL with his wife Angela and their three kids. His writing companion, Caesar, a slightly overweight Bull Mastiff who loves to eat the tops off of strawberries. He lifts weights six days a week and does Krav Maga twice a week to try to ignore the fact he’s still just a washed up ex-college basketball player. You can connect with Joel at

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Stuff to Check Out: End of May Edition

Wed, 05/29/2019 - 12:54

So how’s the week treating you so far? Going on any good vacations in the next few weeks? Taking any time for you? That’s nice.

Well, I guess it’s good that I have a jam-packed Stuff post to keep you entertained until you get some sweet days off.



Even More Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint –

Sydney Australia July 13-14

Melbourne Australia July 20-21

Tony Gentilcore and I just finished a couple of workshops in Philadelphia and this past weekend in Edmonton, and are looking to go down under for a couple more.

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Big things happening. #Repost @tonygentilcore with @get_repost ・・・ Something’s going down today… . @dsomerset1 and I are filming (Even More) Complete Shoulder Hip Blueprint at @svptfitness in Edmonton. . Full room ready to learn about shoulders, hips, and random pop culture references. . Let’s goooooo

A post shared by Dean somerset (@dsomerset1) on May 25, 2019 at 9:49am PDT

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Squats and deadlifts pic ception

A post shared by Dean somerset (@dsomerset1) on May 26, 2019 at 12:04pm PDT

The early bird rate for the Australia workshops is still in effect for another 2 weeks, so register now to save $100 and get some sweet unadvertised free bonuses.

Click HERE for more info and to register


NSCA Alberta Provincial Clinic – Edmonton AB, June 8th at SVPT Athletics & Training

This one is only a little over a week away, featuring some awesome presenters like Ryan Vigneau, Patrick Szpak, Robert Linkul, Joel Jackson, Syl Lemelin, and Lee Brandon. Oh, and I’ll talk about something too.

Click HERE for more info and to register


Evolve Canadian Strength Symposium – Edmonton AB, September 14-15 at University of Alberta

Featuring Bryan Krahn, Greg Nuckols, Lee Boyce, Leigh Peele, Marc Morris, Meghan Callaway, Hannah Gray, EJ Parris, Carolyn MacDonald and yours truly, this will become one of the premier fitness conferences in Canada, and you’ll want to be there for the first ever one here in Edmonton.

Click HERE for more info and to register


Scientific Applications of Mobility Training – Vienna Austria, October 19

Ever wanted to know to get the most scientifically-backed results for improving mobility? How do different mobility tools affect structural physiology to allow a new range of motion, and how can you assess and design a highly specific training program for your clients to improve their range of motion as much as possible? I dig deep into the research and bring out this gem of a workshop in beautiful Vienna, Austria. Space is very limited and filling up quick, so join me post-Oktoberfest for some learning.

Click HERE for more info and to register


Other Stuff to Check Out

Dr. Lisa Lewis on the Fitness Devil Podcast

It’s not uncommon for fitness professionals to need some help improving their motivational techniques, understanding behavioural issues from themselves of their clients, and other big psychological workplace elements that can have a big impact on their ability to train and reach their clients. That’s why I’m happy Dr. Lisa is putting out more and more accessible content for fitness pros, and this podcast is a great example.

Side note: She’s also doing a 3-hour “pre-conference” at the Melbourne Even More Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint workshop, so if you’re around and want to hear her drop awesomeness in person, register for that sucker.


How to Get Clients While Working in a Commercial Gym – Tony Gentilcore

Yep. Pretty much every trainer SHOULD spend the first few years or more of their career working in a commercial gym. I’m a bit biased as I spent 13 years in one, but the growth you see from that and the structure can be something you take with you for the rest of your career.


Subscapularis 101 – Eric Cressey

Who knew you could dig deep into a single muscle of the rotator cuff for 6 minutes? Eric did. Check out this short and info-packed video.


How Sex, Strength, and Age Affect Strength Gains in Powerlifters – Greg Nuckols on

This was an incredibly thorough analysis on the breadth of literature available on age and gender related performance outcomes with competitive powerlifters.


Social Media Highlights

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Tight/stiff upper back and shoulders? You need this all up in your life. I showed this different way to get active thoracic extension this weekend in mine and @tonygentilcore’s “Even More Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint” and I think it instantly made half of the room an inch taller. Probably not, but that would be so cool if it did. This drill uses the band around the shoulders as feedback for shoulder protraction, but also as a feedback point for where you’re trying to get the extension. Often people will just drop into a big hinge at their TL junction, or the vertebral segment that joins your rib cage to your low back. Hinging here means no real thoracic extension happens, even if you get decent total extension.

12 Days Of Dead Bugs

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 19:21

Over the past 2 weeks I’ve been doing a mini series on Instagram covering the ins and outs of dead bugs. To give everyone access to it, I wanted to showcase the entire series here in today’s post. Enjoy!


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12 days of dead bugs.

How To Train Around Hip Pain for Hockey: Your Off-Season Survival Guide

Mon, 05/13/2019 - 07:05

With hockey players entering into off-season training, I wanted to showcase some ways to get jacked and swole while also avoiding some common issues hockey players wind up facing on a regular basis.

Today I have a guest post by NHL performance coach Kevin Neeld and co-author Travis Pollen. Kevin and Travis just released Speed Training for Hockey, a brand new book and series of age-specific off-season training programs for hockey players.


Speed Training for Hockey is ON SALE NOW through midnight on Sunday, May 26th for 38% off. For more information and to grab your copy, CLICK HERE.


Hip pain is exceedingly common in hockey players. Due to the repetitive nature of the skating motion, every player – even the “healthy” ones – flirts with some sort of overuse or under-recovery of their hip musculature over the course of a season.


This pain can correspond to a range of diagnoses, from adductor-related groin pain to osteitis pubis, sacroiliac joint dysfunction, and sports hernias (i.e. lower abdominal tears). The most common diagnosis of all, though, is femoroacetabular impingement (FAI).


FAI is a structural abnormality of the hip characterized by a bony overgrowth of either the head/neck of the thigh bone (“cam impingement”), hip socket (“pincer impingement”), or both (“mixed”). In fact, one study reported that by the time they reach their late teens, a whopping 9 out of every 10 hockey players have FAI (Philippon et al., 2013).


While not every athlete with FAI will be symptomatic, FAI tends to affect a player’s ability to flex their hip (i.e. bring their knee closer to the chest), causing end range of motion to be painful. While normal hip flexion range of motion is about 120°, it’s not uncommon for a hockey player to be limited to 90°. FAI can also limit range of motion in other directions, too (adduction in the frontal plane and internal rotation in the transverse plane).


These range of motion restrictions affect players both on and off the ice. Players with FAI struggle to assume an optimally deep skating position. They also tend to push up instead of out when they start to skate from a stop. In training, these athletes find it difficult to squat to parallel (let alone below).


There are a number of factors that influence the recommended course of action for dealing with FAI. These factors include the degree of bony overgrowth, severity and longevity of symptoms, and history of attempted treatment approaches. Depending on the severity of FAI, surgery may even be warranted.


No doubt, FAI is a physical limitation that we can’t directly change through training. After all, you can’t “un-grow” bone. But in many cases, a few simple workarounds can keep an athlete on the ice and making performance gains.


Training Around Femoroacetabular Impingement


Step 1. Be Aware & Minimize Damage


When it comes to training around FAI, the first step is awareness. Many coaches assume their athletes have full hip range of motion. They think that if an athlete is skating high or not squatting deep, then the athlete is either lazy or not strong enough. While those explanations certainly aren’t out of the question, given the data they’re not great assumptions – and the consequences can be costly. Forcing players with FAI to skate or squat lower can actually cause additional damage to their hip labrum.


One quick and dirty way to determine the amount of hip flexion range of motion an athlete has is the quadruped rock test. Have the athlete get into a quadruped or all-fours position with their hips over their knees, their shoulders over their wrists, and their backs flat. Instruct them to slowly rock their hips back towards their heels. Stop them as soon as their hips start to tuck under and their lower back rounds.


With this test, we want to note two things: (1) the athlete’s hip angle in the rock-back position and (2) any pain provocation. The hip angle here represents the individual’s available hip flexion range of motion. To minimize damage, athletes should avoid exceeding this hip angle whenever possible both on and off the ice.


We also want to ask the athlete if they have pain during the test. Pinching in the front of the hip is a tell-tale sign of FAI and/or labral issues. Obviously, it’s not within a coach or trainer’s scope of practice to diagnose anything, but knowing an athlete’s hip flexion end-range is important information to have from an exercise selection standpoint.


For this test, it’s especially important that the athlete sets up in a “neutral” spine position to start. Many players will gravitate toward a more extended starting position and will therefore start to “tuck” early as they rock back, which can lead to a false positive on the test.


One way to ballpark neutral is to find the midway point between the cow and cat yoga positions. Of course, if the athlete has more range of motion into extension (cow), the middle may not be a perfect indicator of neutral, but it puts you in the ballpark.

Step 2. Work Around Common Issues in Training


Once we know that an athlete has a limitation, we can start to develop workarounds in training. Again, we want to remove provocative positions and opt for exercise variations that honor the athlete’s non-compensatory, pain-free range of motion.


This process often means making the following substitutions for bilateral lower body exercises:



For each of these exercises, we’re looking for the hip range of motion through which the athlete can maintain a flat back. Just like in the quadruped rock, once an athlete exhausts their hip flexion range of motion, their hips and lower back will compensate by tucking under/rounding. Range of motion on these exercises (i.e. box height for squats and box jumps, pin/block height for deadlifts) should be adjusted to the individual.


In addition to bilateral movements, we can also emphasize unilateral (single-leg) exercises. Unilateral exercises are often better tolerated than bilateral ones, as they provide more “wiggle room” for the hip and spine in the frontal plane. A few go-to unilateral exercises for hockey players are step-ups, rear foot elevated split squats, and singe-leg “reverse deadlifts.”


To avoid deep hip flexion, we can use a low box for step-ups (12-18 inches).


For rear foot elevated split squats, we can aim for an upright torso position (as opposed to a forward lean), and we can stack a pad or two under the knee of the back leg.


For the single-leg reverse deadlift, instead of reaching straight behind you with the non-working foot (as you would in a traditional single-leg stiff-legged deadlift), reach for and tap the floor behind you with your back toes. This modification requires less hip flexion than its stiff-legged counterpart.


For athletes with more progressive or persistent limitations, sled pushing and dragging are great options for both speed and conditioning work. With the sled, the athlete is free to stand as tall as necessary to stay clear of their hip restrictions.


In terms of speed work, another consideration is the athlete’s starting position. Athletes with FAI should avoid 3-point, 4-point, and half-kneeling starts. Instead, they should prioritize 2-point (standing) starts. They can also modify the half-kneeling position by placing pads under their back knee (as with the rear foot elevated split squat). Once the athlete is in motion, we won’t emphasize knee drive as much as we normally would with asymptomatic athletes.


Bottom Line on Training Around Hip Pain


To reiterate, the first step in training around hip pain is to identify each individual’s unique, pain-free hip range of motion. In reality, given human anatomical variation, this is what we should be doing with every joint on every athlete. Hopefully, the days of coaching everyone into some arbitrary movement norm are a thing of the past.


From there, it’s about avoiding ranges of motion the athlete doesn’t have access to. We do this by selecting appropriate bilateral and unilateral strength and speed training variations. Finally – and above all else – we use pain as a guide to avoid doing anything that hurts.


Over time and with practice, these modifications will become automatic. Athletes will learn to move within the confines of their anatomical joint limitations without conscious thought. It’s important to note, however, that while we can do our best to avoid provocative positions in training, we can’t always do so in sport. Even though not all of the above modifications will transfer to the ice, we can at least minimize the damage we do in training.


Want to learn more about training for hockey around hip pain?


Speed Training for Hockey is both a brand-new book and series of age-specific off-season training programs for hockey players. It’s specifically designed to help hockey players reach their genetic speed potential – no matter their age, current skill level, or injury history.


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  • An extensive exercise video database demonstrating proper technique for every exercise and drill included in the program
  • A systematic 20-item performance testing battery, which enables you to identify individual strengths and weaknesses and track training progress over time
  • A user-friendly text that describes all of the factors that influence speed development, so you can understand exactly why the methods work


Every aspect of the training programs — from the dynamic warm-up, to the speed and power drills, strength training, conditioning, and cool-down — is tailored not only to maximize on-ice performance, but also maximize durability and minimize risk of injury. The training programs even specify systematic weekly progressions to improve speed every single session.

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About the Authors


Kevin Neeld is the Head Performance Coach for the Boston Bruins, where he oversees all aspects of designing and implementing the team’s performance training program, as well as monitoring the players’ performance, workload, and recovery. Prior to Boston, Kevin spent two years as an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the San Jose Sharks, and before that he was the director of a private sports performance facility in New Jersey for seven years, working with pro, college, junior, and elite level youth hockey players. He has also served as a strength and conditioning coach with the U.S. Women’s National Ice Hockey Team for the last five years.


Kevin is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and Licensed Massage Therapist holding a master’s degree in Kinesiology & Exercise Neuroscience from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a bachelor’s degree in Health Behavior Science & Fitness Management with a minor in Strength and Conditioning from the University of Delaware. He’s currently a doctoral candidate in Rocky Mountain University’s Human and Sport Performance program. Kevin lives in Newton, MA, with his wife Emily and son Cameron.


Travis Pollen is a PhD candidate in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at Drexel University. His research explores the relationships between core stability, movement screening, load monitoring, and injury risk assessment in athletes. In addition to his scholarly activities, he is an NPTI-certified personal trainer and fitness writer with a special interest in the intersection between rehabilitation and

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To Arch or Not To Arch? It’s a Complex Question

Thu, 05/09/2019 - 10:34

I work in a commercial facility that caters to a lot of powerlifters and olympic lifters. We have competition quality Eleiko equipment for both, so it stands to reason that if you want to compete, you’ll train at the gym that uses the equipment you’ll have to compete with.

One element that always raises an eyebrow from my non-powerlifting clients is when they see someone set up on a bench press with a very exaggerated spinal arch. Something like this.

These are obviously extreme examples, but it’s something to see anyway.

Now why would someone use this kind of an arch? Primarily to lift more weight for competition. The rules for most federations involve lowering the weight to touch the torso, keep the glutes in contact with the bench, and depending on the federation the feet may have to be flat on the floor. Anything that allows more weight to be lifted in this state is alright within the rules.

Is it hard on the back? Probably. Anything done to end range and with a fairly high amount of pressure is likely not sustainable, and there’s some evidence of spinous process bruising with hard end range extension like this, plus risk of disc delamination, lateral nerve compression, and maybe even facet joint fractures.

Then again, these are risks and not guarantees. All competitive athletics carry risks, and when you’re trying to push the limits of what your body can achieve, there’s some acceptance of these risks to accomplish your goals.

Not to as great of a degree as bench press, but deadlifting also requires some semblance of lumbar extension on set up, as does the squat when lowering into the hole, especially if the individual is lifting in gear like a squat suit. This position shortens levers acting against the hips and low back and makes it easier to lift bigger weights, but always at a cost.

There’s other sports and activities that put a big emphasis on spine extension. Dancers and gymasts pretty much live in a hard extension for most of their lives, and trainers were indoctrinated to train all of our office workers out of the upper cross syndrome and lower cross syndrome that comes with sitting in an office chair with triple extension patterns of the lower body and “back and down” for every shoulder movement imaginable. Of course, these global recommendations lacked any kind of individual context, and wound up swinging the pendulum way past the target.

Is it a good idea to coach a hard extension if the individual isn’t competing? I’d argue no, but then again the weight they can lift may be limited as a result. Plus the reason a dancer or gymnast may need that extension is for a lot of the movements they need to do, plus to present themselves to the audience or judges. The office worker could benefit from focus on extension, but to what extent?

It seems that the biggest schools of thought that push hard spine extension seem to focus on performance outcomes as outlined above. That being said, there’s a growing volume of work that promotes less extension and even slightly flexed postures for most exercise, and even in some powerlifting circles like Juggernaut Training.

A lot of schools of thought, ranging from Postural Restoration Institute to Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization and even into Pilates and various types of yoga discuss extension and flexion positions as “scissor and canister.” Essentially, if you’re in a scissor (hard extension) position, you’re diaphragm and pelvic floor can’t create pressure by pushing against each other, and the anterior abdominal wall has to buffer the majority of the intra abdominal pressure that’s needed to lift something. This is a major reason why inguinal and umbilical hernias in lifters is so problematic.

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Check your alignment In activities like powerlifting, coaching a hard spinal extension arch can be very beneficial for putting more weight on the bar, as well as for sports that require more hip extension like sprinting, etc. However, in many situations a hard extension position could be putting more pressure on your low back and pelvic floor than necessary. This scissor position puts your diaphragm and pelvic floor into non-parallel conditions, and when intra abdominal pressure increases like bracing to lift something, will cause a push forward into the abdominal wall and make the pelvic floor work a lot harder to keep from failing, especially if it’s in a weakened state like after injury or a pregnancy. In a canister position, the diaphragm and pelvic floor line up in a way that they can push against each other while also getting contributions from all the other core muscles to generate infra abdominal pressure. This is a very helpful position to teach bracing and stabilization strategies, as well as basic lifting mechanics for compound movements like a squat or deadlift. Essentially, the canister position allows for a sharing of the load between all core muscles, so to speak. They both easily lead into the Streetfighter position, which should be everyone’s ultimate goal anyway.

A post shared by Dean somerset (@dsomerset1) on May 28, 2018 at 11:50am PDT

A canister position lines up the diaphragm and pelvic floor more effectively, but also shortens the abdominal muscles (specifically rectus, obliques and transverse), which puts them into a stronger position to generate force and resist deforming during increased intra abdominal pressure development. No word yet on benefits of the street fighter position though.

In terms of generating power, there’s no doubt that the phasic and largely fast twitch glute muscles SHOULD be used as hip extensors over the tonic and slower twitch lumbar erector muscles, but in many situations people will substitute spine extension in favour of end range hip extension, driving them into that scissor position. Teaching a canister bracing position can be massively beneficial to getting actual hip extension, which can come in handy for things like a deadlift or squat lockout, a punch or row drill, or any kind of run or sprint drill. Plus it makes stretching out your notoriously tight hip flexors a breeze.

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As important as mobility work is, just running through it haphazardly like a fresh-faced foodie at their first farmers market is no way to get the job done. Take your time, stretch what you’re actually looking to stretch. Don’t try to join the circus with wild contortions just yet. Simmer in that stretch. Marinate in that mutha. Dissolve into that depth. Envelope into that end-range. Just pushing farther with low backs or necks or what have yous may make you feel like you’re getting somewhere, but it’s definitely not getting you on a one-way ticket to flavorful juicy hips, that’s for sure. #mobility #juicy #gucci #foodreferences #lunchtime

A post shared by Dean somerset (@dsomerset1) on Aug 24, 2018 at 9:07am PDT

So how do you get into a position where you could essentially say you’re in a canister set up versus a scissor position? The easiest way is to flex the ab muscles as tense as you would squeeze a hand in a firm handshake. On, but not crushingly so. Next, do the same with your glutes. If you can get your glutes to tense and the abs to hold, you’re essentially in canister. Now try to maintain that level of activation in various positions and under different loads, and you’re golden Pony Boy.

So when would it be good to get out of canister and drive into more of a scissor position? If you’re looking to maximize levers and lift more weight, like a competitive weight lifter, that would be a great time to push the positional stabilization. I’d offer that when you drive to one extreme, you should unload in the other, so mixing in some spine flexion bracing isometrics or holds would be a good idea.

For the average exerciser or general population client, getting a small arch on bench press would be ideal so they can position the shoulder blades appropriately on the bench and encourage some thoracic extension. Similarly on the deadlift and squat, but usually moving juuuuust past what their neutral positioning may be into extension. It’s tough to control hard extension positions at the best of the time, and I’m guessing Barry from accounting with the bad knee may not be well suited to max that range just yet.

So to re-cap: Should you hard arch? Well, if you’re a competitive lifter and you can tolerate the position, give it a go. Just unwind with some opposing positions and tension development drills. If you’re not competitive and the positions are useful for other stuff, train into it but also through a variety of other directions and patterns. Move the spine as much as comfortable, find ideal loading positions for your anatomy and amount of loading being moved, and train hard while having fun.

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Keeping Cool While The World Burns Around You

Mon, 05/06/2019 - 09:19

2 weekends ago I was in Philadelphia teaching Even More Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint with Tony Gentilcore (dates still coming up in Edmonton, Sydney and Melbourne Australia). At least I was supposed to be, but life had other plans for me that weekend.

You see, one of the unfortunate elements of travel by air is that you’re at the mercy of a lot of “stuff” that’s really out of your control. First, the Boeing 737 Max 8 planes, which had shown a tendency to want to fall out of the air, wound up being pulled from service for major airlines, meaning a shortage of planes overall and overbooking on the remaining flights to meet demand.

Second, once I was in Toronto waiting to transfer to my flight to Philly, weather issues started cropping up, making the potential of severe thunderstorms and even tornadoes a reality around Philly at about the time we were supposed to be flying and landing. This caused a 90 minute flight delay, then once we boarded the plane and taxied out on to the tarmack, we wound up sitting on the plane on the tarmack waiting to take off for 4 HOURS.

About 6 hours after my flight was supposed to take off, the pilot comes on and says they’ve been given the clear to take off in 20 minutes, but the flight crew shift was set to end in 30 minutes, meaning they had no way to complete the 70 minute flight in time to come in under their federally mandated maximum shift time, therefore the flight was going to be cancelled.

At this point I’m feeling kinda like Charlie Murphy.


It’s late on Friday night, and I’m supposed to be in Philly for Saturday morning to drop mad science on shoulders and hips for a group of awesome fitness professionals. Tony was flying in that night too, and he managed to outlast the delays, a flight crew switch, and make it so he’d be able to open the show without any issues, and I knew he could crush the content like no one’s business.

Because mine wasn’t the only flight cancelled, hitting up ticketing to discuss what my options were to make it to the City of Brotherly Love proceeded to be a less than lovely experience. For one, as it was later at night, there weren’t many people working, there was a lineup around the block of people needing info on flights, and the three agents wound up reducing down to 2 as one conveniently went on break for about an hour. I called customer support, stood in line, and waited to talk to a person on the phone for the next 50 minutes hearing stories of people travelling to Europe, the west coast, etc and who had their flights cancelled. It seems to be a thing that happens at Pearson as I’ve had 3 flights out of there cancelled in my lifetime.

So after explaining my situation to the agent on the phone, I was booked on a morning flight on Sunday.


The workshop was starting in 12 hours and I was stuck in Toronto.

The advice I was given was that the flight on Sunday was booked, but to show up on Saturday and hang out waiting for one of the other 7 daily flights to Philly to get ready to leave and try to get on as a standby.

Any guarantee this would work?


Any business class seat upgrades available? Why yes! For the low cost of $1900 I could have a seat on the last flight of the day on Saturday. Would they cover any part of that cost as a transfer from the cancelled flight? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! You’re funny for asking. Of course not.

So I used points to book a hotel room for one night and paid for another, then texted Tony to let him know he’s running solo for the entirety of Saturday and likely the first half of Sunday. Hopefully no one would be flipping tables and storming out for me not being there.

Now, not knowing the future, I showed up to the airport on Saturday and waited for the majority of the day going from one flight to the next to Philly looking to get on as a standby. All 7 were full with standbys ahead of me. Had I known this would be the case, I would have taken the 19 hour train from Toronto to Philly that had 4 stops along the way, or potentially found a rental car that would allow me to drive to the states and leave it there as I had return flights booked Monday morning. Rental companies love that stuff, right?

I even inquired into a private jet leasing company just to see what it would cost to get a 4 seater one way. The earliest they could do was May 1, which wouldn’t work. I never did get a quote. I’m kinda ticked I didn’t get even a price, even though I wouldn’t have been able to make it work financially, it would still be cool to know.

So there I was, stuck at the airport in Toronto with no way to get to Philadelphia, checking social media updates of the people who were tagging Tony being awesome and having serious FOMO about my own event.

Oh well.

I could be mad, but what would that do? If I were stressed, it would only affect me. Tony was there, shit happens, people seemed to be okay with it, and I was planning to get there as soon as I possibly could.

I could have yelled and screamed at the agents trying to help me get there sooner, but that wouldn’t have made a seat magically appear out of thin air. Also, was I more valued than anyone else trying to get on the same flight? Plus take a stressed out service provider and start screaming at them is a fast way to get hung up on.

Instead, I rolled with it as much as I could. When asking for help, I asked how their day was going, and more than once someone told me they were having a rough one with all the cancellations and challenges that were going on. I told them I appreciated the work they were doing to help me, as I’m sure theirs is a relatively thankless job most of the time. Even though it didn’t result in me getting on an earlier flight, just connecting with someone as a human is better than belittling anyone for my mild inconveniences.

I finally made it to the workshop on Sunday right before lunch, did the best I could with the time I had, connected with as many people as I could, and then Tony was out to fly home on the Sunday evening flight. I managed to get to the AirBnB for one night that Tony had the run of since Friday, and even had a chance to watch Game of Thrones.

Now one of the amazing things about travelling to the states is that America has SO MANY FLAVOURS OF EVERYTHING!! There was a little corner store next to WarHorse Barbell, which hosted the workshop, and they had about 50 different flavours of Ben & Jerrys ice cream. Stuff I’d never heard of or thought could possibly exist. I made a mental note that after the seminar I’d grab a snack before watching Game of Thrones.

Life had other plans.

When I went to get to the store after the workshop and a short dinner, it was closed. Apparently small mom and pop places close on Sunday evenings.

A look on Google maps showed no where in walking distance that could help satisfy a sweet tooth on a Sunday evening. Screw it. Uber Eats for a pint of ice cream would do the job. Don’t judge me. An $8 pint cost 23 and yes it was worth it and delicious as hell.

Of course, the flights home were smooth and uneventful, so I guess that’s something.

Now why did I just spend 1300 words telling you about my #travelwoes?

Because life has a way of getting in the way in any pursuit you may want to tackle, be it travel, working out, nutrition, or anything else.

Have you ever wanted to get to the gym on a regular basis but your boss throws stuff on your desk at 5 and says have it done by morning? Kids have a “forgotten” project due tomorrow that you need to help them with? 5 weddings or work functions involving massive travel and food disruptions? Car trouble or a home renovation needs attention asap? A sudden injury?

It happens.

You could get mad or stressed and rant and rave about it, but in the end that just beats you up and doesn’t change things. If you can find a way to make it happen, or even just to minimize damage or negative fallout from it, that’s always going to be all that you can do. It will either make for a good story, an experience you can learn from, or something that’s hopefully funny that you can look back at in a few years and have a chuckle.

When things are all breaking down around you, just try to treat those who are trying to help as well as you would hope to be treated if you were in their situation. I’ve worked more than a share of those front-line service jobs, so I know how hard it is, but in many situations they only see negativity. Who knows, maybe asking how someone’s day is going could be all it takes to get a sneaky upgrade, bump an old lady from a flight so you can have her seat, or anything that may be beneficial to you.

At the worst, it won’t make your life any worse.

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