Q: Eric, I know you see a ton of baseball pitchers, so I wanted to ask you if there are particular flexibility restrictions you notice. I am guessing that because it is such a "lopsided" sport that imbalances tend to be magnified. Thanks.
A: Absolutely! The "money" flexibility issues we aim to address are:
-Throwing shoulder glenohumeral internal rotation deficit (GIRD)
-Lead leg hip internal rotation deficit (HIRD)
-Lead leg hip extension deficit
-Lead leg knee flexion deficit
-Trailing leg hip flexion deficit (tight hamstrings)
-Long head of triceps
-Throwing elbow extension deficit (secondary to length issues with brachialis and other elbow flexors)
Some of these are attacked with more dynamic flexibility, while others are addressed with 30s static stretching and/or prolonged holds. We're also always working on thoracic mobility and ankle mobility, although I look at these issues more as gross mobility deficits than specific muscles that are short.
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Q: I've just bought your book Maximum Strength. I think it is wonderful. I've seen noticeable changes in just 2 weeks on the program. The only problem I have stumbled on is my weak knees/hips. My knees get very sore when I do the squats and make a grinding noise when i bend them. I was wondering if there was any sort of stretching or warm up i could do along with the designated one that would strengthen them and help me gain the maximum lower body results.
A: Give this a shot for the knee:
1. Do reverse lunges instead of walking lunges in Phase 1.
2. Box squat on both days (easier on the knee) and wait until phase 2 to front squat. When you box squat, do it barefoot or in a shoe without heel-lift (Nike Fress and Converse All-Stars are good) - not in regular cross trainers.
3. Deadlifts, pull-throughs, rack pulls, etc. should be fine.
I think you will be okay with the knee, but if you feel any tweaks, skip that exercise, add a few sets to the next one.
The foam rolling and mobility stuff in the book should get it on track pretty quickly, but I'd still highly recommend Bulletproof Knees for you as a resource to use in conjunction with Maximum Strength. This would definitely be a useful investment for you, as there are a lot of drills that you can use to complement the MS program to keep training hard as you get healthy.
For more information about Maximum Strength, head HERE.
It's that day of the week again, folks. Here we go...
1. Last night, Dan Toledano hit a 405 bench - his first 400+ pound bench. Congratulations, Dan. If you keep this up, you might actually get around to kicking that Star Trek fetish and meeting a girl who has all her teeth and is interested in your for more than just your Jedi Gym training background:
2. Speaking of bench presses, I got a question the other day about whether I thought that wrist wraps interfere with forearm hypertrophy. I doubt it, if you'd just using them to bench and possibly squat. For me, the benefit completely outweighs the cost, as the diameter of my wrists is right about six inches (that's small, folks). So, for me, the wraps allow me to stay healthy for the long haul - even they don't offer too much in terms of poundage increases. You can find some great wrist wraps at APT.
3. If you want to laugh like crazy - and don't mind the occasional rattling off of obscenities, here's a great blog from Cressey Performance client, Michelle Elwell. I could just post a hyperlink, but I'm not going to lie: the title is worth typing out:
Michelle is awesome - definitely one of our favorite clients. Yes, it's because we're afraid to not like her, but that's not the point. Read, laugh, and if you're one of the a**holes to which she's referring, clean up your act, a**hole.
4. There is some awesome feedback on some tremendous results from a Maximum Strength follower HERE. You can pick up a copy through my website.
5. Here is a great read about how saturated fat isn’t all that bad – and how low-carb diets outperform low-fat diets (again!).
6. Great quote from Mike Boyle:
“Soft tissue work, whether for chronic muscle strains or for tendon issues, is like weight training. Treatment is actually a stimulus. In effect, what the therapist is doing is irritating the tissue to produce a chemical response. The chemicals produced are what begin the healing process. This why soft tissue work is often painful and can leave you feeling similar to a workout the next day. According to Dr. [Donnie] Strack, soft tissue mobilization (think massage) stimulates the formation of fibroblasts, which help take immature, and randomly aligned Type 3 collagen (found in tendinosis) and changes it back to a stronger, more parallel mature Type 1 collagen. In other words, massage changes the quality of the muscle fibers.”
For those of you who don’t know, Mike Boyle heads up what is definitely one of the best information sources on the ‘net for those interested in strength and conditioning and fitness. They have a 14-day trial offer in place for just $1 – so I’d definitely recommend checking out StrengthCoach.com. You really don't have anything to lose.
7. I got my act together and organized all my baseball content in one place. You can check it out HERE.
8. As a surprise birthday present for my girlfriend, today, I’m taking her horseback riding*. She rode a lot when she was younger, and hasn’t been since she was a teenager. I, on the other hand, have never been on a horse, so it’s safe to assume that when I get on that critter, I’m totally screwed. I doubt that powerlifters and horses get along, so send some good vibes my way – and put in a vote for me for boyfriend of the month.
*Honey, if you actually read my blog, you could stop asking me what the surprise is by now. Don’t worry, though; if I had to put up with me all the time, I probably wouldn’t read this blog, either.
Have a great weekend, folks.
Here's a "Guest Blog" of sorts from Personal Trainer Kaiser Serajuddin, who recently read Maximum Strength:
"Writing a testimonial for Maximum Strength is a great way to get your name on a blog read by thousands of people, but I wanted to give my views on the book to deliver the personal trainer’s point of view. I know a lot of other trainers besides me follow Eric’s work for principles and ideas to apply to our clients. And beyond that, I’m an athlete myself constantly looking to improve my performance. In both areas, I found this book valuable.
"What we have here is a no-nonsense plan to get straight-up results. Most people today are looking for the appearance of outstanding fitness and health without the reality; for ripped abs or bulging shoulders, and every book is written for this sometimes gullible audience. That’s traditional bodybuilding, which won’t necessarily work for everyone. Here we have a different point of view, where the iron is our measure of success. Incidentally, it’s probably a much more sound system to gaining mass than what most others are following.
"I have to count myself in the boat of disillusioned weightlifters. It’s something Eric talks about in the book, which describes me and I’m sure a lot of other people: guys endlessly yo-yoing between bulking and cutting, and ending up right back where they started. That’s why it’s time to implement a different plan.
"Talk about the right information at the right time! In the past few months I switched over to a lower volume powerlifting model, and have been achieving excellent results. Now, enter Maximum Strength to help me focus it. If you read that new-age stuff, this is the “law of attraction” at work. If you’re experiencing some of the same frustrations – for example, your strength, size, or performance hasn’t improved in a while – it’s probably time for you to open up to something new too.
"Like all of Eric’s writing, this book is based around sound science and principles proven to work in Eric’s practice, not just gym rhetoric. This is especially important from a trainer’s perspective. First off we have an ethical responsibility to deliver proven systems to achieve results with our clients; and for those of your clients to whom it applies, Maximum Strength is such a plan. A solid method to follow and tracking system with principles to back it up is important. You’ll get that here.
"Another thing to keep in mind for a trainer is a comprehensive approach. Beyond just strength, Eric keeps an eye on flexibility and joint health here. The description of soft-tissue work prior to exercise with the use of a foam roller is one area I found valuable. I already knew about the importance of pre-competitive soft-tissue preparation, but it took this book for it to sink in.
"It’s true that Maximum Strength isn’t as sexy as some of the other books out there. Eric chose not to hire a fitness model and instead demonstrated all the exercises himself. And he inexplicably decided to keep his shirt on, and didn’t tan, shave, or oil up for the photo shoot. We’ve all read all of those books. What you have here is a way to achieve measurable results, which is what I’m sure most people are going for.
"It’s also very readable, and not overly detailed. Knowing Eric’s work, there’s a lot of reasoning behind the progressions and choice of exercises he’s laid out, but he chose to save us all eye-strain and kept the plan simple.
"You’re not used to getting info of this quality in the general fitness section of the bookstore (maybe it was misplaced?). However, it’s an excellent book that, as an athlete, I’ll be using for performance; and, as a trainer, I’ll be using the principles and exercises with my clients. Thanks, Eric."
You can pick up Maximum Strength HERE.
Q: I've found your articles on T-Nation very informative, and enjoy the format you use to convey your message (with humor!).My specific interest is in the information you provide about your shoulder problems, as you've noticed in the subject line I recently had my shoulder scoped in February to repair a labral tear. I did the required PT, and then when that was finished they pretty much sent me out on my own and said only do internal and external rotations for delts/rotator cuff. Overhead pressing and upright rows will supposedly cause problems according to the therapist (but I question this).I've read in your articles that the shoulders get plenty of work from chest and back/lat exercises, and that external rotation variations may be adequate, with occasional presses and laterals. Can I do dumbbbell presses with palms facing in to reduce shoulder pain, as well as laterals for the middle/posterior heads without causing problems? I seem to be progressing fairly well with higher rep sets on my upper body, but want to make sure I do the correct things to set myself up for a lifetime of healthy lifting and stable shoulders.
A: If I am you, and I have a shoulder surgery, I can the overhead pressing for good. And, I think upright rows are quite possibly the single worst exercise for shoulder health. I wrote about this HERE - but the short version is that you don't want to go through abduction (especially above 90 degrees) with the humeral head maximally internally rotated.
Dumbbell bench pressing (not overhead pressing) is fine - and the lateral raises should be okay as long as you stay in the scapular plane. Check out my Shoulder Savers series at T-Nation for details on that front.
And, above all else, you need to buy the Inside-Out DVD.
It sounds like you are getting way too "rotator cuff-focused" and are ignoring a bunch of other factors that are incredibly important for shoulder health; these include thoracic spine range-of-motion and scapular stability (among other things). Shoulder health is about more than just getting stronger "all over;" it's about optimizing range-of-motion and muscular balance. It would definitely be a good investment - and much cheaper than another shoulder surgery!
1. Here’s a great article on the potential drawbacks of yoga. I’ve written about this before, but it’s nice to see someone else providing a "user’s perspective."
2. My girlfriend deadlifted 250 and benched 135 this week. She’s awesome and I’m the luckiest guy in the world.
3. I’ve written about it before, and I’m going to reiterate it again: Vitamin D supplementation is going to be the next big thing. The typical 400IU dosage doesn’t appear to be enough; there’s a solid benefit for most to up that to 1,000IU/day or slightly more. In some serious clinical deficiencies, they’ll go on some insane dosages.
4. The All-Star Break has just finished up, but I’m already as excited as a little kid on Christmas when I think about our crew of pro baseball guys for the upcoming off-season. We’re going to be kicking out studs for years to come. If you're a ballplayer (or other athlete, for that matter) with interest, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. Brian St. Pierre attempted to become the first person to ever get me to puke with training program with an insane pseudo-Strongman medley at the facility on Tuesday. It was to no avail, though; I only dry-heaved, so the perfect record is intact. Thanks for playing, Brian.
6. I really can’t stand the phrase "It is what it is." What the heck does that mean? "I’m too lazy to finish this sentence or come up with another useful thought."
7. Mike Robertson and Bill Hartman are offering a SWEET discount on their Inside-Out Product Line. As you probably know, as a "shoulder guy," I'm a huge fan of the drills in this DVD. Through 7/21, if you go HERE, add it to your cart, and enter the code IFAST in the discount code box at the right, you'll get 40% off the DVD and/or manual.