...that I'm not even going to give them the honor of mentioning them in this week. I'll just say that Reggie Wayne and Greg Jennings are off my Christmas Card list.
To salvage some self-respect, I'll just post a testimonial from Chad Waterbury on my new e-book:
"Cressey's excellent book, The Truth About Unstable Surface Training, is a rock-solid journey from research to real-world applications. This is an essential product that will elevate your knowledge and performance. I learned a ton, and I bet you will, too."
Author and Neurophysiologist
Check out The Truth About Unstable Surface Training for yourself!
Q: I noticed that you include reverse crunches in Maximum Strength, but not standard crunches. Why is it acceptable to have lumbar flexion during a reverse crunch, but not during a standard crunch?
A: This is a great question - and there are a few components to my response.
First, we use reverse crunches in moderation and only in our athletes who are healthy and those who have extension-based back issues (i.e., more pain in standing than sitting, tight hip flexors, anterior pelvic tilt, dormant glutes). We wouldn't use it in folks who have or have had flexion-based back issues (generally, this equates to disc problems and more pain in sitting).
Second, keep in mind that this is unloaded lumbar flexion; we wouldn't add compression to the mix.
Third, and most specific to your question, reverse crunches target the posterior fibers of the external oblique more. Given the points of insertion of these fibers, you can address anterior pelvic tilt without affecting the position of the rib cage.
Regular crunches shorten the rectus abdominus. While this can help with addressing anterior pelvic tilt, you also have to realize that shortening the rectus abdominus will depress the rib cage and pull people into a more kyphotic position. This is not a good thing for shoulder, upper back, or neck health.
So, in a nutshell, if we are going to have any sort of lumbar flexion in our training, it has to be a) unloaded, b) in the right population, c) implemented in lower volumes, and d) offering us something that addresses another more pressing issue (e.g., anterior pelvic tilt).
Combat Core is an exhaustive resource on high-performance core training that I'd encourage you to check out as well.
1. This has been quite possibly the busiest week of my career, and it won't be slowing down over the next two weeks, as I'm heading to Baltimore, Miami, and Atlanta in three separate trips. We will persevere with this blog, though...
Factor in that I was up until the wee hours of the morning last night watching the Sox pull off without a doubt the greatest comeback I've ever seen in a single game in any sport, and sleep deprivation is becoming part of the equation...
2. Quite possibly the most awesome forum post directed to me ever:
I own your Magnificent Mobility DVD and Maximum Strength book. The content is revolutionary, at least to somebody like me, who's never had professional strength and conditioning training.
Each is presented in an easy to understand format, but dive into science enough to capture the technical audience as well. The pictures and demonstrations are very valuable to illustrate the key points in each exercise.
There is one thing missing, though. The guy modeling all the exercises could look a little tougher. He absolutely needs a fu manchu moustache.
That would perfect your programs. I know it's too late to revise the current products, but please promise me that in future products the model will be sporting some Goose Gossage handlebars.
He makes a good point. Once you're magnificently mobile and maximally strong, you might as well be dead-sexy...
3. A lot of people mistake a big butt for anterior pelvic tilt. When the butt sticks out (known as a "badonkadonk," if you ask Tony Gentilcore), it can give the illusion of anterior pelvic tilt when, in reality, these folks might be fine posture-wise. So, you have to look closely (but not too closely; they might slap you, pervert).
So, to recap: Big Butt = Good. Anterior Pelvic Tilt = Bad.
4. The Anti-Cressey Performance. Soooooo Lame.
5. In the upset of the week, in the "Stupidest Thing Ever Invented Bowl," the Smith Machine Deadlift narrowly defeated the Meat-Cleaver Colonoscopy.
6. In the past week, I've had three different people tell me that Cressey Performance needs to get with the program and offer mentorships with me. To be honest, it's something I've been pondering for the past month or so, and we're really thinking about putting something special together. If we did it, it would be tight-knit: no more than six attendees at a time. If you'd be interested in something like this, drop us an email at email@example.com and let us know.
7. Interesting little fact for the week: 85% of ACL reconstructive surgeries are performed by surgeons who do fewer than ten ACL surgeries per year. So, ask around before you let someone stick an arthroscope in your knee! Or, better yet, pick up a copy of Bulletproof Knees and avoid the ACL injury in the first place!
8. Speaking of healthy knees, check out last week's newsletter. I had some great knee-related content courtesy of Mike Robertson.
Lots to do. See you next week.
In my first Random Thoughts article, I mentioned how my approach to nutrition and strength and conditioning was much like that of George Carlin when it came to comedy: I really had no transitional material.
In honor of this great comedian's passing in mid-June, it seemed only fitting to toss out an equally random sequel.
Last week, I published a guest blogon the topic of intermittent fasting. Brad Pilon, Author of Eat Stop Eat, contacted me shortly thereafter with respect to the previous blog in question, and I encouraged him to pull together a submission of his own on the topic. I’m all for hearing all sides of every argument – and you can find Brad’s perspective below.
I am largely known as the fasting guy, but what many people don’t know is that when I went back to school in 2006, I went back to “destroy” fasting.
After seven years working in Research and Development for a sports supplement company, I was ready to go back to school to complete graduate studies in Nutritional Sciences. My plan was simple. I was going to spend a couple years studying all of the rules of nutrition, and then I was going to write my own nutrition book.
After working in sports supplements for years, I thought I had a pretty good handle on exactly what I would find, the tricky part was figuring out where to start. After some thought, it became apparent to me that the obvious place to start my journey was to examine exactly what happens to the body in the absence of food – when we are fasting. Then, from there, I could start to investigate what happens when you eat different types of food.
I was positive that the research would clearly show that after a couple of hours of not eating your metabolism would slow down. This isn’t what I found.
Instead, study after study kept showing convincing evidence that even fasting for as long as 72 hours did not slow down your metabolism. This research was so convincing that I had no choice but to switch my plan and study the metabolic effects of short term fasting as the focus of my graduate work.
So, I can completely understand why someone might be mislead to believe that fasting for a period of 12-72 hours could drastically suppressed their metabolism. After all, I thought this myself for a long period of time. However, once I became educated on the topic I realized that this belief is simply not supported by the available published research.
So let’s take a look at the effect that fasting has on our metabolisms.
When we say metabolism, or “thermogenesis,” we are really talking about the amount of calories we burn, typically in a 24-hour period. Obviously, from a weight loss perspective we want this to be as high as possible, and any evidence that would suggest a diet might lower our metabolisms is definitely not ideal.
It has been a long held belief that our bodies quickly adapt to short periods of low calorie intake by lowering of our metabolism, but what does the research say?
When I looked at the metabolic effects of short term fasting, I was shocked to find that even when a person does not eat for THREE DAYS, measures of metabolic rate either remain the same or actually increase during this short period of fasting. This has been found by a large group of papers, including those by Mansell in 1990, Klein in 1993, Carlson in 1994, Webber in 1994, Zauner in 2000, and most recently Gjedsted in 2007.
In fact, the available body of research on short-term fasting is remarkably consistent in this finding: for both men and women, fasting for a period of 12-72 hours does not decrease metabolic rate.
To examine this even further, we can take a closer look at the paper written by J. Webber and I.A. MacDonald, specifically because it has a large number of subjects, and it included both men and women.
In this trial, all the people were studied on three different occasions after a 12, 36, or 72-hour fast. The studies were conducted in random order, and there was a gap of at least seven days of normal eating between each fast. Metabolic rate was calculated from a continuous recording of oxygen and carbon dioxide consumption and production, using a ventilated canopy (indirect calorimetry), which is a pretty standard measure of metabolic rate in research studies.
The results of this trial showed that not only was there NOT a decrease in metabolic rate, but that there was actually a significant INCREASE in resting metabolic rate between 12 and 36 hours of fasting.
We’re talking about roughly 100 calories, so nothing to get overly excited about, and I’m even willing to ignore this increase and say that while it was statistically significant, it’s probably not “real-world” significant. That being said, even when we ignore the increase in metabolic rate, we have to admit that there was definitely NO DECREASE in metabolic rate.
So, in men and women who fast for as long as 72 hours long, there is NO decrease in metabolic rate.
Based on this evidence, we can say that the practice of intermittent fasting (where a person fasts for 24 hours) will not decrease metabolic rate.
There are other questions that need to be answered about the benefits of fasting, including how it affects fat burning, hormones like growth hormone, and muscle mass.
For more information on the metabolic effects of short term fasting in humans, you can check out my book, Eat Stop Eat.
My fantasy football team was beyond bad this week, scoring a whopping 73 points. I'm trading all of them away for a bag of beef jerky, a car wash, and Joseph Addai's soul (for getting injured after only two carries). Congrats to Brian on a good win - but moving on to something more uplifting: military men getting strong halfway across the world.
I just received this feedback from a US soldier deployed to Iraq:
“Eric, I finished you Maximum Strength Program, and wanted to give you my Packing and Moving Day numbers. My numbers aren't as good as I would like, though. I got sent to Kuwait for eleven days and was working 15 to 18 hours a day five days, with one day of rest before Moving Day. Here are the numbers:
Body Weight: 176lbs to 181lbs (+5lbs)
Broad Jump: 82” to 91” (+11”)
Box Squat: 385lbs to 440lbs (+55lbs)
Bench Press: 295lbs to 315lbs (+20lbs)
Deadlift: 335lbs to 375lbs (+40lbs)
Chin-up: BW+115lbs to BW +135lbs (+25lbs)*
"Thanks for the program I'm pleased with the results, but I probably could have done better if I were in Baghdad and not in Kuwait. I can't wait for your next book.
Thank YOU for what you're doing, Rob. Me writing a book pales in comparison to the efforts guys like you are putting in overseas.
I received this email from an online consulting client of mine last week. This gentlemen is a guy who came to me with some pretty significant back pain, and we’ve diligently worked to address those issues with great success while maintaining an overall training effect. However, this email really set me off:
“With the launch of your new unstable training surfaces e-book, I thought you might like to hear about an incident that happened yesterday a the gym.
“As I have said before, I train at a commercial gym. It isn’t an ideal situation, but I can keep my head down and get my work done. Like most large gyms, there are a stable of bad trainers dressed in matching uniforms.
“Yesterday, I was finishing up with the single-leg squat to a box. I had my headphones on and was working alone. One of the trainers went out of his way to try and give me a foam pad for the exercise during one of my sets. I just shook my head and continued without interruption.
“I know misinformation is rampart in the industry but I thought you might like the anecdote.
This scares me. Seriously.
In unstable training surfaces, we have an implement that has been scientifically proven only in the rehabilitation of ankle sprains. However, without consideration of whether it’s a safe and effective training approach for health individuals, it’s become ingrained in the training world today.
Here is an individual with some significant motor pattern alterations that are finally headed in the right direction from a correction standpoint, yet this trainer saw fit to recommend an unproven implement to someone he knew nothing about. This isn’t like showing someone how to use a treadmill. Ask Stuart McGill and he’ll tell you that stability balls aren’t ideal for early-stage back rehabilitation patients because they actually double spine load.
Many people might think that my intention in writing this recent e-book was to say that it was “foo-foo” garbage and vilify these initiatives. The reality is that this couldn’t be further from the truth. These implements DEFINITELY have a place in the training world.
We put a ton of time into our training intervention and research, so it would be really shortsighted and ignorant to just say “always use it” or “never use it.” I firmly believe that there are specific applications for UST in healthy athletes, but they must be used in the context of one’s training age, goals, and injury status.
So, as with almost anything in the fitness industry, the answer is “maybe” or “it depends.” If it was just “always” or “never,” I wouldn’t have had to write a book!
With that in mind, at risk of sounding over-confident, I really think that any trainer and strength coach reading this blog needs to pick up a copy of The Truth About Unstable Surface Training.
1. Busy day today, so we'll be short and sweet. I met my new nephew last night for the first time, and as would be expected with the Cressey last name, he's a stud. Based on grip strength, I would project him as a 2026 draft pick for the Red Sox. He also really likes to sleep, which is a trait I've also noticed in all our pro baseball guys. We don't have a lot of height in the family, so I'm thinking that lefty-specialist out of the bullpen will be the best route to go. He'll throw some wicked pisser cheddar (pronounced "wikkid pissah cheddah" here in Boston).
2. Click HERE for a great review from Leigh Peele of my new e-book, The Truth About Unstable Surface Training.
3. We've put in a lot of work (actually, Kevin's done most of the work) on the site this week, and our new format should be good to go within the next two weeks. This new set-up will put my personal website and blog in the same place.
4. I saw a 6-6, 323-pound athlete vertical jump 24 inches this week. For those who haven't experienced this first-hand, that's a big peak power output. He then devoured two undersized high school athletes in a single bite.
5. Who says you can't load a push-up?
At the top, on the first few reps, this is a percentage of my body weight plus 10 chains (150 pounds total).
6. I heard talk last weekend of a pretty cool "scapula shirt" that essentially bridges the gap between post-surgery "scap jackets" (help with posture) and Underarmour-type shirts. This could have a ton of merit for those who tend to fall into bad postures easily during the day. The product hasn't been released, but you can bet that I'm going to get my hands on one as soon as possible to test drive it.
7. Volume 1 of the Fitcast Insider is available in its entirety. I did an interview with Kevin Larrabee, and there's some great stuff in there. If you're an up-and-comer in the strength and conditioning or personal training fields, definitely check this out HERE.
8. I talk a lot about how much of a problem glenohumeral internal rotation deficit (GIRD) is in baseball players, but it's also a significant issue in the general population. As a rule of thumb, everyone should be able to get 65-70 degrees of shoulder internal rotation at a position of 90 degrees abduction without the scapula going into anterior tilt. For this reason, we test everyone on their backs with the scapula fixed. The numbers are lower, but it keeps people honest.
9. Let's go Sox!