A few years ago my friend, Dustin Roux, asked me to be a part of a strength round table for his site. Since then, he has opened up his own athlete performance gym in Pittsburgh, and I am one third of the way through PT school. Needless to say, we both have learned a lot since then, and developed new theories and methodologies. However, with a few exceptions, there are some good points from the interview, so I thought I would share. At that time in my career I didnt fully understand the importance of mobility, especially in regards to hockey players and poor hip mobility. Likewise, I am now much more of a proponent of single leg strength and stability, and the reciprocal neurological reflexs that our body is born with (think cross-extensor) . With that said, here is my portion of the interview. If you are in the Pittsburgh and serious about training, check out his gym, Roux Strength (rouxstrength.com). You can also view the entire interview at inlinehockeyperformance.com.
Roux: Guys, it’s great to have everyone on board for this. I think these roundtables will be a great resource for all the players and coaches reading our site. For our first question, I would like to know what you would do with your athletes if you could only use 5 exercises. Which 5 would you use, and why?
DeLorenzo: As far as my top 5 exercises (and I am speaking in regards to Ice/ Roller Hockey and in no particular order)
1) Front Squat- research shows that front squats place less compressive forces to the lumbar spine and knees when compared to back squats. I am by no means saying that I would never have anyone back squat, but I am partial to the front squat.
2) Deadlift Variations- I think it has been well documented how important posterior chain development is for athletics, so this doesn’t need much of an explanation. Likewise, since hockey is a quad-dominant sport, the addition of hip dominant exercises is of utmost importance when taking into consideration that the athlete needs to be balanced. Think asymmetries.
3) Horizontal Pull variations (Rows) – Even though I strongly believe the pull up and chin up are the pinnacle for upper body strength development, we are talking about what hockey players need. Therefore, rows not only help with the thickness of the back’s musculature, it has also been proven to improve posture and shoulder function (decreasing rotator cuff and impingement problems). These reasons, in my eyes, are important in a sport where you are already in a “hunched” position.
4) Core Stabilization Exercises (more details later in interview).
5) Unilateral (Single) Leg Exercises- If I had to pick just one I would go with the walking lunge, but all unilateral leg exercises can be beneficial. Unilateral movements are great for mobility of the hip, stability of the knee and single leg strength (among other things), which are obviously important in hockey.
Roux: Since I got about 10 emails regarding our Abs training guide…Your top 3 ab exercises, name ‘em..
DeLorenzo: Well, when it comes to abdominal training in athletics the first thing that comes to mind is the word “stability.” In functional anatomy, it is important to know that each muscle has two functions…
2. Stabilization or “Anti-Movement”.
Therefore, two of my next three exercises are geared towards anti-movements. Assuming the program includes Squats and Deadlifts (which are great anti-flexion movements), I would include an anti-extension movement, an anti-lateral flexion movement and an anti-rotation movement into my program. Some great anti-extension movements are plank variations, including the roll-out, the body saw, and the basic plank (and its variations). When it comes to anti-rotation movements I think the pallof press is near the top of the list, as well as cable chop and lift variations. Lastly, I am going to go with the reverse crunch or hanging leg raises. This is an ab exercise that reverses some of the effects of the continuous “rib cage to pelvis” movement that so many of us get when doing endless crunches (which once again does not help when we are already in a sport with a “hunched” posture, and a lot of shoulder injuries!).
Roux: Now, lastly.. I thought it would be a great way to wrap up all this awesome information with a “your choice” question. As a strength coach, imagine you have an athlete who has the perfect strength program on paper. What else would you emphasize to them?
DeLorenzo: This last question is very difficult because there are so many ways to answer. As much as I think soft-tissue work (to improve tissue quality) is important, I am going to go with nutrition. While at PennState, we had the opportunity to consult Dr. Kristine Clark. Dr. Clark is a top-notch sports nutritionist. She once told me that “what you do in the kitchen is as, if not more, important than what you do in the weight room.” This includes everyday nutrition, game day nutrition, pre/post workout nutrition, etc.
Roux: Thanks for your contribution, Luke.
DeLorenzo: My pleasure. Thanks.