Today we're going to conclude our series on the "Knees Over Toes Guy." Should you listen to his advice? Does he even know what the heck he's talking about?? If you haven't read Part 1 of this series yet you should check that out first. But just as a quick recap, in Part 1 we went over KneesOverToesGuy's advice from the perspective of rehab, injury prevention, and longevity. He touts himself as a guy who knows how to create bulletproof, pain free knees so we analyzed his advice to see if those claims hold any water, and ultimately I think they do! I think his longevity advice is pretty damn solid overall. And if you want the full scoop there be sure to check out Part 1!
Aside from being a knee fixer, the KneesOverToesGuy also advertises himself as a guy who can help you take your overall athleticism: your speed, explosiveness, jumping ability, etc., to the next level. So in Part 2 today we're going to analyze his advice from the perspective of building power and explosiveness - developing the raw horsepower of the athlete. Is his advice actually any good for taking a good athlete and making them great? Will it take an elite athlete and make them world class? Does he actually provide you with the tools to develop your raw physical capacities and enhance your overall raw athleticism? Let's find out!
Part 2: Power and Explosiveness
Power and explosiveness - the raw horsepower of the athlete. I've discussed this concept and my theories on it in depth in my video titled Train Like An Athlete: What Does That Even Mean??? Where we thoroughly dissected and debunked Jeff Cavaliere of Athlean X DOT COMS motto and mantra of supposedly "training like an athlete." Hint: Jeff ain't it. And if you want to hear my full thoughts on this subject just click that video and give it a quick watch.
But to summarize, just so you know where I'm coming from when I write this article today, I come from the school that says that body control, hand eye coordination, kinesthetic awareness, etc. etc. - all that shit is in part nature, you're born with it, ya have it or ya don't. But it's also in part nurture. That is you can also affect these capacities to a fairly large degree...the major caveat there being that that development mostly occurs when you're young and your body is still developing.
So if you're a kid and you're reading this right now, close the browser and go play outside. Go develop those qualities and those capacities RIGHT NOW because the window to do that optimally will close soon and once it does you won't really be able to open it anymore.
The analogy I like to use here is that it's like learning a language. You do it when you're a child it just kind of happens automatically with very little conscious effort. And you can try to do it as an adult, and it may very well be possible, but GODDAMN, it is a lot harder, and a lot more tedious, and you never really end up at quite the same level of expertise as a "native" speaker would.
So, all that to say, a lot of athletic qualities, the things that we think of that make the best athletes the best athletes, who do the things that no one else can replicate develop primarily when we're younger - when we're adolescents and even as teenagers. BUT athletes can still improve as they get older, even into their 20's and 30's, so that can't be the only aspect at play here. And improving actually sporting skill notwithstanding, the primary mechanism to enhance athleticism in already developed athletes is to increase the horsepower of the athlete. Increase their RAW capacity. Build them a bigger engine to use and perform with. And we do this by building power and elasticity and reactive strength, those are probably the main components that dictate improvements in athletic explosiveness, agility, and overall movement capacity as we mature.
And since power is drawn from a well of strength, in order to develop power first we have to build strength. So basically, from strength to speed, is a bridge and you have to build it if you want to reach the other side, which is speed and explosiveness. There are 3 main facets to accomplishing this: first we build strength. Once that quality is developed we are able to then we segue it into "strength-speed," and once that quality is sufficiently developed we are able to then segue it speed-strength. We slowly build the bridge so that we can get to the other side. The most obvious example here would be something like this: first you squat to build leg strength, then you perform power cleans to turn that raw strength into strength-speed, then you perform jump squats and vertical jumps to turn that into power and speed-strength. Tada! Simple, right?
You have to build the bridge.
You crossed the bridge and now you're an explosive power demon! And obviously this is a very simplified explanation and there about a million other permutations and variations that can be used along the way, but this here is the general formula for improving raw athletic capacity.
So does KneesOverToesGuy follow this formula? Does he help you build the bridge? The simple is answer is, yes, he does. We see a large emphasis on strength exercises in his program: that would be the ATG split squat primarily for building leg strength, along with the Romanian deadlift for building hip extensor strength, the Nordic curl for building knee flexor strength, the calf raise and the tibialis raise for building lower strength, and the hip flexion exercise for building strength in the hip flexors.
So we see plenty of strength work for the lower body speed and power muscles in KneesOverToesGuy's program. Moving across the bridge he also incorporates loaded jumping drills to help build power and elasticity and reactivity. These are some of my personal favorite sorts of explosive drills!
And then moving further along the bridge, he obviously also plays basketball which is movement capacity training in and of itself - you are constantly accelerating, decelerating, cutting, bounding, and jumping. And he discusses some of these concepts in his YouTube videos and how these same qualities can be trained outside of a sporting environment as well. Now, obviously I can't speak to the specifics of his paid program because I don't have access to it, but the primary components for making these raw athletic improvements do seem to be present, and he seems to have a thorough understanding of not only how to progress within a certain movement and how to segue that movement into more difficult variations, but also how to appropriately bridge from one physical quality to another, which is ultimately, in my opinion, the absolute most important concept of all when it comes to developing and, slowly but surely, consistently improving raw athletic capacity in the long run.
So I can see from what I've watched of his work so far how a lot of people would potentially be seeing really good improvements using his program. Obviously whether it works for YOU or not is ultimately all going to be goal dependent, but specifically and most especially, where resolving knee pain and improving agility and the vertical jump are concerned, I can see how those facets would be greatly improved on his program. Some of the other facets of raw athleticism, sprinting speed and acceleration capacity, for example, I think would potentially be a bit more dubious, based on the information he's made publicly available, as to whether or not those aspects would actually see significant improvements as well. Those qualities don't seem to be addressed by him to quite the same degree or with quite the same emphasis as "jump style work" from what I've seen, though he does claim to have made significant improvements in his own sprinting speed. Which I will say is possible even without an emphasis on actual sprint training because of the incorporation of different plyometric exercises and posterior chain strengthening exercises, just for example.
Where I Disagree With KneesOverToesGuy
My only real point of contention with him is the way certain exercises seem to be prioritized and emphasized in his programming. I think that a decent portion of what he is emphasizing, at least in his YouTube videos (again I cannot speak to paid program because I do not own it), feels like majoring in the minors. The ATG split squat, for example, which is his baby, and then the tibialis raise, and the single leg RDL, I don't see these things as cornerstones of an athlete's program, personally, whereas he seems to. I think that their greatest value probably exists in terms of building resilience and durability - that longevity perspective we talked about last time. But that can be done from a secondary position in the program. And in terms of improving raw leg strength in the greatest and most optimal fashion possible, I have to say why not use a full range of motion bilateral squatting variation, like a front squat or high bar back squat instead of the ATG split squat as your primary squat variation?
To me, the ROI just isn't there for treating the split squat as a primary movement. It can be treated as ancillary work or even secondary work, but it shouldn't be viewed as the primary component of the training program in a novice or intermediate athlete. Now, an advanced or elite athlete is a different story. Once you've already built the requisite strength levels you can basically do whatever the hell you want. Personally, I haven't done a squat since July and I'm not losing any athletic capacity because of it. My legs might not be as strong this very minute as they were 6 months ago, but where running and jumping and power are concerned that's basically irrelevant at this point because my baseline level of raw leg strength, relative to my body weight, is so high past the necessary threshold to begin with that losing a tiny bit of leg strength doesn't matter and I'm better off allocating my training resources elsewhere.
But I built that strength with bilateral squatting variations, and you don't get to that stage by focusing on things like split squats. At least, you don't get there as fast as you could and I don't think you'll ever build legs as strong by focusing primarily on split squatting as you could build if you focused primarily on front squats or high bar squats, especially earlier on in your training career. There are other merits to it, and I discussed those in Part 1, so the exercise should not be dismissed, but raw strength capacity is not one of them.
For the tibialis raise, I think the primary value there lies in a rehab setting. Outside of that, I think it probably can have some minor to moderate value for an advanced athlete who is trying to squeeze out every ounce of progress they can, which KneesOverToesGuy is obviously an elite athlete himself so it makes perfect sense for him to be focusing on it, but I certainly don't think it's any sort of magic bullet and I don't think that beginners or intermediates really need to even worry about it just yet simply because there are bigger fish to fry first.
And then with the single leg RDL, the Romanian deadlift, it's kind of the same deal as with the split squat: I just don't see the value in placing a unilateral variant into a primary exercise category. Use the unilateral version as a secondary or ancillary component to your comprehensive program, but keep the bilateral version in as your big dog and you'll build more hip extensor strength in the long run. That just is what it is.
Lastly, as an addendum to that, I would also like to see him include some sort of glute focused posterior chain pattern in his program as well. He emphasizes the hamstrings a bit more than the glutes with the Romanian deadlift, the seated good morning, and Nordic leg curl in his program - all of which are hamstring dominant posterior chain movements. So I would also like to see a glute dominant posterior chain movement included as well, my personal favorite here being the hip thrust.
So really just a few minor disagreements in terms of what constitutes optimal exercise priority and emphasis, but overall I think the guy's methods are sound. In terms of rehab and longevity - building strong, durable, and resilient knees and ankles and even hips - I think the methods he's espousing are A1. Point blank. And then in terms of building up the horsepower of the athlete - increasing the size of the athlete's engine, building explosive power, and reactive strength, and movement capacity - I think that if you are able to sift past some of the noise and analyze the actual framework that he's espousing that you'll be able to use his methods with great success. I don't agree with everything he says here, but I think his overall theories and methods are sound and I think that he's providing plenty of golden tidbits for us to extract and use in our own training to make ourselves better, more resilient athletes and overall higher level performers. I've already started using several of his tips in my own training at this point.
Ultimately it's just important to extract things within the proper context. Nothing I've seen him say is outlandish, but some of his stuff can be pretty niche. Much of it won't be particularly useful for strength athletes or dudes who are just concerned with building massive strength and maximizing muscle hypertrophy. But a great deal of it can be incredibly useful for athletes or guys who are primarily interested in improving movement based performance or just becoming more well-rounded. Overall, I think he's one of the good guys in the industry and as far as "training like an athlete" goes, well, let's just say he's advocating that a WHOLE HELL OF A LOT MORE than the motherfucker who coined the phrase.
This one was by popular demand and it took a damn lot of research and a lot of time to watch all of his stuff and compile all of this information so if you requested this one or you just enjoyed reading it please remember to share it around! And if you really liked it then be sure to pick up one of my training programs! I've got programs for beginner trainees, intermediate trainees, advanced trainees, performance minded trainees, and dudes who want to maximize their jumping ability, running speed, and overall athleticism! So if you like this kind of information (like in today's article) you'll definitely like my training programs as well, and that support is what helps me to keep releasing free content like this so be sure to grab one!
This article in video format on YouTube channel!
I really hope you enjoyed this 2 part series. Keep training hard and I'll catch you guys next time!