I'm a deadlift-aholic. I don't just want to pull; I want to pull every minute of every day for the rest of my life. I dream about grinding out heavy pulls where the bar seemingly bends in half, and I jump at the opportunity to do speed pulls so quickly that I nearly castrate myself with the bar. This passion has led me to a ranking in the Powerlifting USA Top 100 for my weight class, and the brink of a 1RM of 3.5 times my body weight.
Do I expect you to share my enthusiasm? No, although it would be nice if you'd at least get a little excited to humor me! I do, however, hope that you'll derive some benefit from my passion and the perspective it's enabled me to attain. Whether you're a powerlifter, bodybuilder or athlete, the deadlift and its variations should take a central role in your training.
The other day, I was speaking with one of the top collegiate strength and conditioning coaches in the US, and he said that even after 30+ years of coaching, he still thinks that the top two things he can teach his athletes are attitude and environment. I may be a guy who writes articles and books and pretty much lives and breaths training, but I still agree with him completely.
You see, at a point, knowledge works against you. The internet has helped us a lot with advice and sharing of information, but it’s also led to a generation of people who think and talk about training way too much relative to the amount of time they spend actually training!
To that end, if you’re a beginning or intermediate lifter, feel free to read everything in sight. However, leave the bookworm in you at home when you go to the gym. In place of the geek lifting weights, I want you to focus on two things:
1. Teach your body to move efficiently.
2. Apply that efficiency to improve performance. Simply try to be a little bit better in each training session. There is always something you can do to get better - even if you're injured or tired.
Don't get stuck in the curse of knowledge; it’s been said that a bad program executed with lots of attitude and effort will outperform a good program with a foo-foo training style anyday. Use the gym to let loose and take out some aggression. This is supposed to be fun, you know.
Sure, the Red Sox are World Series champs. And the Patriots are now 11-0. And the Celtics – at 12-1 – might very well be the best team in the NBA.
To be honest, though, for the first time in a while, they weren’t the highlight of my sports world. Rather, one of my childhood idols, Pete Sampras, helped solidify his already stellar place in tennis history by playing World #1 Roger Federer close for two exhibition matches – and then beating him 7-6, 6-4 in the finale of the three match series.
Did I mention that Sampras has been retired for five years? And, that Federer was 65-9 this year with eight titles, including three Grand Slams? This guy has been nothing short of completely dominate the ATP tour this year, and Sampras gave him more than a run for his money, as this video shows.
Believe it or not, in my youth, I was a lot more into tennis than I was lifting heavy stuff. I spent a lot of hours watching Sampras in Wimbledon and the U.S. Open while I was stringing rackets at the tennis club at which I worked. Were it not for a rotator cuff tear (which, fortunately, led me to this field of specialization), I might still be playing.
Nice job, Pete. Way to win one for us retired guys!
Tags: Sampras, Federer, Cressey, tennis, Red Sox, New England Patriots, Boston Celtics
Q: What advice do you have for sore knees? It might be from over use, squats, dead lifts, cardio, but I'm sure joggers run into this all the time. Do you cover it in you Mobility DVD?
A: "Knee issues" is a very broad topic. You can have dysfunction at the ankle, hip, or knee itself - and that's just the tip of the iceberg. We most commonly see issues at the ankle, hip, or both, though. It could be mobility deficits, soft tissue restrictions, capsular issues, or even congenital issues (femoral-acetabular impingement, for instance). Issues like you describe can simply be a result of imbalanced training programs, too. Most people tend to be very quad dominant and do a lot more squatting work than hip-dominant exercises.
With Magnificent Mobility, we've definitely had some excellent results in people with nagging knee issues. However, given that you have more of a "amorphous" issue, you'd be better off picking up a copy of Mike Robertson's Bulletproof Knees Manual. Mike goes into great depth on knee issues, their causes, and solutions - all while educating the reader in an easy-to-understand manner.
Earlier this year, I wrote an article called “Are You Doing Stupid Stuff in the Gym?” Several people took issue with the following statement:
“I've said it before and I'll say it again: any healthy male under the age of 50 can deadlift 400 within two years of proper training — and most can do it even faster than that.”
In that article, I also mentioned how my old college roommate, Pete Dupuis (now my business partner at Cressey Performance), had taken up lifting and seen remarkable gains. When Pete first started out last November 15, he lacked the flexibility to even pull from the floor safely. In his first session, he used 40kg (88 pounds) with a sumo stance just so that he could get down to the bar with a neutral spine.
Today, 364 days later, Pete pulled 400. That 364 days includes a 3-month hiatus from lifting when he was wrapping up his MBA.
The take-home lesson? Whether a big deadlift is a goal of yours or not, Pete’s deadlift tells us several things:
1. Cressey is always right.
2. Arguing on the internet will not make you stronger (Pete hasn’t spent a minute on a strength training forum in his life).
3. Work on technique, optimize range-of-motion, and create stability within that range of motion, and the strength is sure to follow.
4. Surround yourself with the right people, in the right environment, with the right programming, and you’ll do exceptional things.
5. If you want to be strong, train around people who are already strong.
Evolution is defined as "a process in which something passes by degrees to a more advanced or mature stage." Think back to prehistoric times and try to envision your ancestors. You probably have an image conjured up of a Neanderthal wearing a loincloth, grunting at females, killing his own food, and hunching over a fire to stay warm. His DNA endured century after century, guaranteeing that you're equally hardcore, right?
Then again, you wear boxer briefs, utter cheesy pickup lines at every woman you see, hunt for your food at the local Stop 'N Shop, and hunch over a computer all day. In other words, the only trait you share with this prehistoric badass is your pathetic S-shaped posture: rounded shoulders, forward head posture, exaggerated kyphosis, anterior pelvic tilt, excessive lordosis, internally rotated femurs, and externally rotated, flat feet.
Well, it's time to once and for all dissociate yourself from the Neanderthals by correcting these structural problems. We're here to help you do just that. This four-part series will outline the most common postural distortions and provide a comprehensive program to correct them.
Anyone who spends time on a cycle needs to prioritize frontal plane stability (lunge variations), length of the hip flexors and quads (pull-back butt-kicks), and glute activation (supine bridges). These are really just the tip of the iceberg, though. You would also want to work on thoracic extension ROM (check out the Inside-Out DVD/Manual).
Q: I was an online consulting client of yours for a few months this summer, and I was very happy with the results. It's definitely showing through where I wanted it to - playing basketball (I'm more explosive, no nagging pains, being able to play above the rim at 5'9"). I am familiar with your approach to training, and have utilized the outline layed out in your off-season manual, but now that my basketball league (it's an adult city league) has started I'm wondering what your approach to in-season training is. In the off-season I was lifting 4x/week with an upper/lower split, and now during the season I lift total body 2x/week. Do you do heavy max effort work in-season, e.g. singles over 90%, or is it more submaximal work for strength maintenance? How do you consolidate lifting so that you're fresh enough to make progress in the gym. but without interfering with games? If it helps, my basic layout is as follows:
If it helps, my basic layout is as follows:
Sunday PM: basketball game
Monday PM: soft-tissue work (foam roller/lacrosse ball) and extended mobility work
Tuesday PM: Lifting (with soft-tissue work and mobility warm-up):
1. Heavy squat/deadlift (3-5RM)
2. Unilateral (usually reverse lunges or bulgarian split squats)
3a. Pushups with blast straps
3b. High-rep band face pulls
4a. Posterior chain exercise (GHR or kettlebell swings)
4b. Side bridge
Wednesday PM: basketball game
Thursday PM: Lifting (with soft-tissue work and mobility warm-up):
1. Heavy chin-ups (3-5RM)
2. Unilateral (single-leg deadlifts or bowler squats)
3. Inverted rows
4. DB push press
5a. Light posterior chain exercise (swiss ball hip extension + leg curl or band good mornings)
5b. Pallof press or cable woodchop
Friday AM: Basketball Practice (skill work, no scrimmaging)
Saturday AM: soft-tissue work (foam roller/lacrosse ball) and extended mobility work
Any input or direction you could give me on in-season lifting is most appreciated
A: In-season, it’s important to keep the intensity up, just doing enough to maintain or slightly increase strength. It does NOT take much volume. Still, you have to listen to athletes; if they're beaten up, scale back a bit.
As far as consolidation is concerned, it depends on the sport in question, to be honest. With pitchers, for example, I like heavy lower body sessions within 24 hours after a start. With basketball (practice, at least), I love doing the heavy work pre-on-court stuff and then coming back to assistance work after the on-court work. Great stuff.
Try doing that before your basketball games - seriously. You could also move Thursday's session to post-basketball on Friday. I would actually look to get in a third session, if possible - just some upper body stuff here or there. My experience has been that in-season training is about frequency more than duration; it makes a big difference in terms of quality of work and acute endocrine benefits.
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