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The High-Heels Addiction

Written on June 30, 2008 at 9:42 am, by Eric Cressey

In preparing my presentation for yesterday’s seminar (the focus was female training), I used Google images to dig up a picture of a high-heeled shoe for my powerpoint. In doing so, I came across a 20-step guide to learn how to walk in high heels.

Does anyone find it a bit scary that you can beat alcoholism in 12 steps, but it takes 20 to learn how to do something that will grossly warp your feet, ankles, knees, hips, and lower back?

Random Friday Thoughts: 6/27/08

Written on June 27, 2008 at 9:56 am, by Eric Cressey

1. Congratulations to Cressey Performance athlete Ryan Wood on throwing a perfect game for Sudbury Legion on Wednesday night.

2. For those of you with injuries who still plan to go out and get tanked this weekend, give this study a read. In particular, pay attention to the section that says, “The development of alcoholic muscle disease, which affects both cardiac and skeletal muscle, leads to increased morbidity and mortality in patients who abuse alcohol. The disease pathology includes myocyte degeneration, loss of striations, and myofilament dissolution, which is consistent with alterations in structural and myofibrillar proteins.”

Now, it has been too long since I took muscle physiology in my graduate school days, but I’m guessing that getting hammered tonight isn’t going to help your knee to feel better…

3. Rumor has it that Robertson and Cressey are brainstorming for a new project. And yes, you know it is Friday because I am referring to myself in the third person.

4. A lot of people are resorting to using video newsletters because they feel that they can interact with the reader better. To be honest, I’m typing this blog post in an old t-shirt with a serious case of bed-head – and as much as I like all of you, my living room isn’t all that exciting to view. If I decided to go the video route, I’d have to shower, get all decked out, and hang some nice paintings – but I’d rather just spend that time working on content. Hopefully, you aren’t too disappointed.

5. I’m speaking at Fenway for the Jimmy Fund’s Fantasy Day tomorrow. This is an awesome cause and they could definitely use your donations.

6. If you’ve got an extreme pronator or supinator, you can modify your ankle mobilizations accordingly. If they pronate, elevate the medial (inside) aspect of the foot with a five-pound plate to drive more supination. If they supinate, elevate the lateral aspect to drive more pronation.

7. The other day, I remarked that writing a marathon training program for an oft-injured runner is like being a drug dealer giving an addict her fix. To that, a great manual therapist with whom we work replied, “Eric, you’re only a drug dealer if you’re dealing drugs illegally. Be her pharmacist; she’s her own primary care physician with this one: much less accountability.”

8. Raspberry-Mint is the single worst flavor of chewing gum in history. I hope somebody got fired for thinking it up and having the idiocy for actually opting to market it.

9. I just realized that it’s been a long time since I gave Mel Siff a mention in my newsletter. Considering he might be the brightest guy in the history of exercise science, that’s unacceptable. So, if you’re an up-and-comer and want a great foundation, read Supertraining…and read it yesterday.

10. Here’s an interesting read about an NFL lineman who decided to powerlift in the off-season. Big guys need to be strong – but they also need to move well. Hopefully, he’s doing plenty of mobility work on the side and staying athletic. You can be strong and move like crap.

Have a great weekend!


Feedback on Maximum Strength

Written on June 26, 2008 at 8:58 pm, by Eric Cressey

“Hi Eric, I just wanted to let you know that your new strength manual is amazing. I am doing the program with two other guys. Before the program, one of them could not even back squat because his shoulders would be in too much pain holding the bar. After two weeks of foam rolling and the mobility work, he was amazed to see that he could back squat with zero pain. Also, I had shoulder pain from benching before starting the workout, and ever since then the pain is gone and we are all improving quite nicely on all our lifts. Just wanted to thank your for the great book. I recommend it to everyone; the dynamic warm-up alone is worth the price. THANKS!”

Daniel Pfohl
West Seneca, NY

To find out for yourself, check out Maximum Strength.

Simple Asymmetry & Balance Fixes

Written on June 25, 2008 at 8:31 pm, by Eric Cressey

In a 2007 study, Ellenbecker et al. compared hip internal and external rotation range-of-motion in elite baseball pitchers and elite tennis players. They noted the following:

An analysis of the number of subjects in each group with a bilateral difference in hip rotation greater than 10 degrees identified 17% of the professional baseball pitchers with internal rotation differences and 42% with external rotation differences. Differences in the elite male tennis players occurred in only 15% of the players for internal rotation and 9% in external rotation. Female subjects had differences in 8% and 12% of the players for internal and external rotation, respectively.

So, in other words, baseball pitchers were more likely to be asymmetrical than tennis players. While they both serve/pitch with one arm and push off the same-side leg. Tennis players, move a lot more in various directions. And, just as importantly, they hit backhands – so the asymmetries you see at the shoulder are less pronounced as well.

Who would have thought: moving more and doing the opposite of what you normally do is a good way to stay healthy? Yes, I’m being sarcastic. Regardless of your sport, you need to get out of your comfort zone more often if you want to stay healthy.

To learn more about the common asymmetries affecting overhead athletes and how to manage them, definitely check out the Optimal Shoulder Performance DVD set.


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Eccentric Exercise and Mobility

Written on June 24, 2008 at 8:44 am, by Eric Cressey

One of the things that we are constantly working to address with our baseball guys is the loss of range-of-motion following an extended period of throwing (i.e., a pitching appearance). There’s some good research out there showing that the marked eccentric stress on the elbow flexors (biceps, etc) and glenohumeral external rotators (posterior rotator cuff) can lead to an acute (and potentially chronic) loss of elbow extension and humeral internal rotation range-of-motion. Pitching with a loss of ROM over the course of a competitive season is a recipe for disaster – both in terms of velocity reductions and risk of injury.

Interestingly, previous research has shown that post-exercise ROM is reduced more with eccentric muscle actions than concentric muscle actions. Since virtually every resistance training sessions comprise some form of eccentric exercise, post-training stretching for the involved musculature is really valuable. And, if you’re doing a lot of eccentrics in that training sessions, it’s even more important.

A lot of athletes get bored really quickly with static stretching, so one thing I’ve done a bit (especially with kids who really need to work on their mobility) is to simply repeat our dynamic flexibility warm-ups – but integrate a bit longer of a hold on each rep.

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used by Cressey Performance Pitchers after they Throw!


Add 300 Pounds to Your Deadlift

Written on June 19, 2008 at 10:30 am, by Eric Cressey

Q: What BASIC methodology did you use to get your deadlift up over 600? Did you deadlift heavy, do similar exercises like pulls from different heights, or use different exercises like good mornings and rows?

A: I have used a lot of different ones – and things changed as I got stronger and stronger.

Early on, like everyone, my deadlift went up no matter what I did. I actually laugh at some of the silly stuff that I used to get my pull up to the 300-350 range. I was training six days a week, doing sets of 20, 5×5 workouts, lots of leg curls, you name it. Not the brightest stuff in the world, but when you’re untrained, it all works.

Pushing things to 400 took a lot more dedicated work in lower rep ranges (3-5) – and without a bunch of goofy accessory work. This got me to a 430-ish deadlift by the time I got to graduate school in the fall of 2003.

In that first year of grad school, I played around with a ton of stuff – everything from clusters to wave-loading (which I don’t think did anything) to straight sets, to 8×3 type-stuff. I hit 484 in the gym around March of 2004, and in my first meet (June 2004), I pulled 510 on a fourth attempt at a body weight of 163. So, I guess you could say that in my first dedicated nine months of powerlifting, I put about 80 pounds on my deadlift. I flat-out blew the “conventional” strength-training induced gains from previous years out of the water at a time when progress was supposed to be slowing.

It was about this time that my buddy Steve turned me on more to the Westside school of thought – and I also made some great friends at the meets I did. The summer of 2004 – when I was on campus in Storrs just working with athletes, reading a ton, and training – was a great summer for information exchange and trial and error. Over the 2004-05 school year, I really started hitting max effort days and dynamic effort days. In July of 2005, I pulled 567.5 at a body weight of 161. So, there’s another 57.5 pounds in a year.

After graduate school, I started training at South Side Gym in Stratford, CT alongside some great lifters. Every session was a mix of crazy efforts and information exchange in an awesome environment. It’s when I really started pulling more frequently: twice a week, in most case. It was without a doubt the best training year of my life, and I detailed some of the training ideas I implemented in an article called Frequent Pulling for Faster Progress. Speed deadlifts made a huge difference for me not only because my bar speed off the floor increased, but also because they allowed me to practice technique without always pulling heavy and, in the process, breaking down. By the time I left South Side at the end of July 2006 (moved to Boston), I had hit a 628 deadlift. Now, I’ve pulled 650 (although it isn’t really the main focus anymore).

I really never did much good morning work until I was already pulling mid-to-high 400s. For me, the good morning wasn’t nearly as effective as deadlifting or squatting; I guess specificity holds true again, as I got really good at good mornings. That said, it likely has to do with my body type, as I’m a long-limbed, short-torso guy who already is very strong in the lower back relative to the legs. Guys who have more squat/bench-friendly builds (short limbs, long torsos) generally respond really well to good mornings.

I am a huge believer that lots of rows not only kept my shoulder healthy, but helped my deadlift along. Chest-supported rows seemed to have the best carryover, in my experience.

Yes, I have done my fair share of rack pulls. I don’t think that they directly help the deadlift as much as people seem to think, but they are a fantastic way to make lifters comfortable with heavy weights. Here’s a photo from back in 2005 of a 705×5 rack pull from just above the knees. It’s certainly not for the beginners in the crowd, but pushing the envelope is necessary sometimes for getting to the next level. I wouldn’t recommend this for the overwhelming majority of lifters and weekend warriors – so don’t be stupid and try it at home.

They’re also great for building up the upper back – particularly when performed with a snatch grip.

A lot of these experiences shaped the way that I wrote up the program in my new book, Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better. Effectively, I touch a bit on everything that took me from 350 to 650 over the course of the four phases in the program.

EC on the Fitness Buff Show

Written on June 17, 2008 at 9:14 pm, by Eric Cressey

Hey Gang,

Last Friday, I was a guest on Pete Williams’ “Fitness Buff Show.” You can listen to the interview HERE.

We went into quite a bit of detail on the rhyme and reasons for my new Maximum Strength program.

First Person: Cressey

Written on June 17, 2008 at 2:45 pm, by Eric Cressey

When TC asked me to outline a recent training program, he was probably expecting to get something powerlifting-oriented, as that’s probably the style of training people associate with my name around these parts.

Truth be told, I’m at a bit of a crossroads in my training career. I still consider myself an athlete first, meaning that lifting (while competitive in itself) has always been a means of becoming more athletic or displaying the athleticism I have.

To take it a step further, I work almost exclusively with athletes, particularly baseball guys. This past off-season at Cressey Performance, we saw 96 baseball players from 32 high schools, 16 colleges, and 8 MLB organizations.

As such, it’s really important for me to not only look like an athlete (and not like a blocky, immobile powerlifter), but also be able to lift, jump, and sprint alongside these guys. Hell, I even caught bullpens for four of the pros!

Continue Reading…

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Maximum Strength Feedback from the Medical Community

Written on June 16, 2008 at 9:41 pm, by Eric Cressey

Eric Cressey is a go-getter par excellence and his book Maximum Strength falls nothing short of the standard he has set for the industry. Throughout the text, Cressey details all of the necessary ingredients to getting stronger, improving mobility, enhancing stability, optimizing muscle balance, and improving body composition. He has been there and done it, and gives us his vast knowledge in both a motivational and enjoyable tone. I found myself enthusiastically turning page after page. If one is looking for a big bang for their buck – and getting the most out of their training time and effort – Cressey’s Maximum Strength is the source!

Josh Renkens, DC, CSCS
Nashville, TN

For more information, check out Maximum Strength.

Random Friday Thoughts

Written on June 13, 2008 at 9:20 am, by Eric Cressey

Hey Gang,

No transitional material this week; I’m a little scatterbrained.

1. Jeremy Frisch and company are running a great event for charity in Acton, MA on June 21. For more information, head HERE. Even if you can’t make it, these charities could really use a donation.

2. Maximum Strength isn’t just for men!

Maximum Strength is the book where brain meets brawn in an all-inclusive guide to getting strong and in shape. Eric manages to take the sissy out of salad and add the steak. It’s a must have for busy lifters who need to make the most of their time while still getting optimum results.”

-Juliet Deane CSCS, RKC, USAW

Check it out for yourself HERE.

3. Assess, don’t assume. Still, if you’re in the strength and conditioning field and dealing with teams, it’s important to understand trends in the sports with which you work so that you can program to avoid the most common injuries.

4. On a related note, yesterday, in the time it took me to write an email, we had a kid come in with a cast up to his upper arm for a wrist injury from diving, and another guy tell me that he’s having hip surgery in July for a chronic problem. This just goes to show you that if you work with athletes – no matter how young – you need to understand injuries.

5. I’m heading to my first optometrist appointment in WAY too long this morning – and I’m kind of hoping that they find something wrong with me to justify me wearing an eye patch. At the very least, it’ll scare some of our athletes into lifting heavy stuff. I’m working on my pirate accent right now.

6. Stretching the anterior capsule in baseball players is just a bad idea.

7. There are a lot of blog readers who might not realize that I also have a newsletter that goes into far more depth on various topics each week. If you aren’t already subscribed, don’t miss out! You can sign up with the subscription set-up to the right of this screen.

8. Cadaver grafts for ACL reconstructions seem to work well if you’re older and have no aspirations of really doing anything too athletic – especially change-of-direction and jumping. If you’re younger, though, the chance of re-rupture is a lot higher, in my experience. The patellar tendon graft is pretty nice simply because the limitations of the graft site work hand-in-hand with the limitations of the ACL from a rehabilitations standpoint.

9. Great win for the Celtics last night. Waaahooooo.

10. If you want to look at the hip and knee in a non-traditional, outside-the-box way, I highly recommend Gray Cook and Brett Jones’ Secrets of the Hip and Knee DVD. It’s fantastic.

Have a great weekend!

New Balance

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