Archive for October, 2010

The Power of Hip Strength

Posted in Z.S. Basketball Training, Z.S. Tennis, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2010 by zenithstrength

In my coaching experience the number one factor in determining athletic prowess is power output or force production. The athlete who can produce higher amounts of force into the ground is going to accelerate and hit top speed much quicker than the weaker less explosive counterpart. Since acceleration is essentially the “name of the game” when it comes to success on the playing field why is it that most strength programs fail to integrate or acknowledge hip strength into the training programs?

I was guilty of making those same mistakes. I avoided many heavy hip extension exercises apart from forward sled drags, squats and deadlifts. I’m not sure why I did that but you learn from mistakes and eventually design a better program and continue on the path to becoming a better coach.

There are several technical factors that go in to improving acceleration but for the sake of this article we will focus on hip strength.

Let’s get into a little anatomy to better understand the function of the glutes mainly glute max and what can potentially happen if the glutes aren’t doing their job.

Glute max is the primary hip extensor.

Together with the hamstrings they drive the leg into extension during acceleration and work with the hamstrings to maintain top speed while sprinting.

Glute medius is involved with hip ab-duction which is bringing your leg out to the side.

However, the glute medius is also a pelvic stabilizer and helps with hip alignment and the alignment of your femur.

For example, if your knee comes in chances are you are internally rotated at the femur and hip and your glute medius isn’t doing its job as a stabilizer. Now think about how often you spend time on one foot while running, jumping, playing your sport. If the glute medius isn’t functioning or is “shut off” you are at risk for a whole slew of potential issues including knee tendinosis and low back issues as well.

The bottom line is that glute strength is important for many reasons including hip extension strength for increased acceleration strength and stabilization of the pelvis.

Below are my favorite exercises to work on increasing glute strength for improved power output as well as improving stabilization of the hip and knee.

1. The weighted bridge and hip thrust are two of my favorite exercises for glute max activation and strength. I learned about these exercises from Bret Contreras. The hip thrust is a great progression from the traditional bw bridge from the floor. It is basically a full range version of the bridge. Once you can rep out at least 1 set of 50 bridges you are ready to add weight to the exercise.

2. The one legged bridge or Cook hip lift. Once you have got the hang of two-legged bridges it’s time to challenge single leg hip stability and strength.

The Cook hip lift accomplishes both by activating glute max but also the hip stabilizers to keep the pelvis level at the point of hip extension. You can also add a tennis ball in the crease of you hip so you can get isometric hip flexion work on the opposite leg while working on hip extension, which is basically what happens while running.

You can then progress to single leg hip thrusts which essentially a full range version of the Cook hip lift.

3. Monster or X band walks.

These are great for strengthening the glute medius and will help with hip and knees stability for lateral movements and also knee issues as well.

Add these exercises in your strength program and you should see an improvement with your vertical jump and acceleration speed.

Speed Training for Young Athletes

Posted in Guest posts, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2010 by zenithstrength

Today’s post is a guest post from Eric Cressey of Cressey performance located in Boston. His take on speed and quickness training for young athletes was dead on and I had to share it.

Check it out here.

Cressey brings up some great points in his post about preparing athletes i.e. improving mobility, stability and strength before performing tons of agility and deceleration drills. Due to the high amount of forces on the joints during sprinting which can be up to 4 -6 times body weight, the body must have adequate strength to be able to decelerate and absorb the forces without injury to the knee-joint.

Check out his video as he discusses the absolute speed to absolute strength continuum and explains that you must build a solid strength foundation and build upon that to create a faster/quicker athlete.

Building stronger, faster, quicker athletes takes time and involves a progression of building stability and strength. Some kids may be more ready than others to begin different movement drills, but adding these drills to a young athlete who isn’t prepared for it is an injury waiting to happen.

In Strength,



Tuesday Training at the Facility

Posted in Xtreme Tennis Conditioning, Z.S. Tennis, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2010 by zenithstrength

Here’s a glimpse of the workout from Tuesday the 28th of September working with the tennis players from Eagle Fustar full-time program.

We have top players training including, Eric Johnson who is ranked in the top 30 Nationally in the boys 18’s, Jelena Pandzic just got to the finals of a WTA pro event several weeks ago.

In the video we are working single leg  and hip stability with the RDL’s. We have started to incorporate the slideboard for lateral mobility and strength. In this case, we use the band around the knees to force the  hip to stabilize the front leg while sliding into a lateral lunge and also strengthening the abductors and adductors of the sliding leg.

We also have the athletes work on shoulder stability with the push up plus strengthening the serratus anterior to stabilize the shoulder blades.

We finish off with heavy prowler pushes to work on improving acceleration strength and teaching the athletes to drive into the ground with big strides.

We will be posting more training videos coming up soon.

In Strength,