I really enjoy learning things that make a big differences in my efforts. Sometimes it’s due to a conscience effort to make a particular change to the program. And other times you might do something different, not necessarily purposeful, but notice an improvement.

Along these lines I want to share with you a golden tip guaranteed to give you more strength in the weight room and ultimately make you a stronger player on the ice.

But before we get to the tip I need to set a bit of a foundation so this all makes sense.

The first thing I think we can all agree upon is that we get stronger by being able to resist and overcome more load on the weight room floor. This can happen as a result of a number of exercises such as squats, deadlifts, lunges and even isometric contractions where there is no change in the length of the tissue but there is a contraction none the less.

The second thing we need to understand is that we can move in three planes. The sagittal plane is forward-back, the frontal plane is side-side and the transverse plane is rotational. And while we can move in all three of these planes, motion is typically in one plane. For example a squat is primarily in the sagittal plane whereas a lateral shoulder raise would be in the frontal plane.

And the third thing is that although movement is primarily in one plane there is still some mobility and some stability in the other two planes.

Stuart McGill, PhD, a spinal biomechanist talks about ‘splitting the floor’ when performing a squatting movement. To understand this statement imagine standing on two different floor tiles, one under each foot. Now try and push the feet apart to separate the tiles.

The only thing is that the gym floor tiles don’t move no matter how hard you try. If the tiles in your gym move when you try this find another gym.

So as you are trying to ‘split the floor’ you develop an isometric contraction. The muscles on the sides of the legs, particularly at the hips and glutes, perform an isometric contraction as you try and push the floor tiles apart.

Another key point I didn’t mention above was that the body craves stability. When there is stability it feels confident to move through a wide range of motion and handle high levels of external load.

Think of it this way?

Have you ever put on a weightlifting belt, a powerlifting shirt or wrapped your knees to squat? (I’m not suggesting you run out and start doing all these things, just trying to make a point)

When you all of this extra support around your joints you feel more confident and capable to handle heavy load.

And with splitting the floor this is no different.

By giving your body more stability at a joint in one plane you allow more and better quality movement in that same joint in a different plane.

Give this drill a test the next time you squat and notice how much stronger, confident and stable you feel. Add to that the fact you’ll be putting yourself in a safer, more braced position and it seems like a no-brainer.


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