Last week, I had three separate pitchers ask me what I thought about swimming between starts. My answer was pretty straightforward: I am not a fan at all.
There are several reasons for my contention with this as a useful modality.
Like pitchers, swimmers have some of the most dysfunctional shoulders in the entire sporting world; they have glaring scapular instability, big internal rotation deficits, and insufficient dynamic stability.
Sound familiar? These are the exact same things we work to address too keep our pitchers healthy.
For me, cross-training is about getting athletes out of pattern overload - not finding a similar means of reinforcing imbalances. Telling a pitcher to go swim is like encouraging a distance runner with a bum Achilles tendon to go jump rope instead. It's an epic fail waiting to happen.
When it really comes down to it, I’d rather have guys actually throwing if they are going to develop imbalances. Pattern overload might as well give you improved motor control and technical precision if it's going to increase your susceptibility to injury!
Speaking of specificity, the energy systems demands of swimming (longer distances, usually) don't reflect what we see in pitching (short bursts of intense exertion). So, the arguments are in many ways similar to my contention with distance running for pitchers.
And, more anecdotally, while incredible athletes in the pool, most of the swimmers I have encountered have been far less than athletic on solid ground, presumably because the majority of their training takes place in the water, where stability demands are markedly different. I'd much rather see supplemental baseball training take place with closed-chain motion on solid ground - just like it does in pitching.
Finally, I'd like to see pitchers lift more - because they simply don't do enough of it during the season. With limited time between outings, it's important to get in the most important stuff first - and I just don't see swimming as "important" when compared to flexibility training, soft tissue work, the throwing program, and strength training.
I'm sticking to my guns here. I'd much rather see pitchers doing what I outlined HERE between starts, as it keeps them strong, gets them moving in ways that don't further ingrain imbalances, and avoids conflicting with the metabolic demands on pitching.
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I have to admit: when I first saw this subject line for an email, my mind was a bit in the gutter!
However, as it turns out, it was an awesome review of the Maximum Strength program from a female exercise enthusiast who had undertaken the program from start to finish. Check out what she had to say:
"My name is Alison Minton, I'm a 25 year old 'recreational' lifter. I was given your book, Maximum Strength, about 5 months ago by a friend at my gym (who happens to be one of your guniea pigs for your next project). I just finished the program today and I wanted to share my thoughts with you. A little background: former avid runner, sidelined by unsuccessful bilateral fasciotomies for compartment syndrome in my lower legs 3 years ago, which lead me to really hit the weights. My workout routines were getting pretty stale in the last year or so and I was getting frustrated and bored from circuit after circuit of moderately heaving lifting. I had exhausted everything I knew from years of reading about fitness/running/lifting and realized every female fitness magazine I received was going straight to the trash. I begged my friend at the gym for help and he gave me your book for guidance. I've since read your and Tony Gentilcore's blogs religiously!
"I know you have gotten tons of very well deserved feedback by satisfied guys who have read the book/complete the program. I wanted to write to you because when I was thinking about starting it, I searched high and low for any information about women doing the program, and I found very minimal material in the way of feedback, tips or special considerations (if there even are any). Even after that, I figured, what the heck, if some random guy at the gym can do this, then so can I! So, I had my friend help me with packing day and the rest is history! I absolutely loved the program, stuck to it like glue and got some decent results:
Broad Jump: 72 inches --> 78 inches
Bench Press: 100 lbs --> 115 lbs
3 RM Chin Up: BW + 7.5 lbs --> BW+17.5 lbs
Deadlift: 175 lbs--> 190 lbs
Box Squat: 130 lbs --> 135 lbs
"I would loved to see the DL and squat go up a little more, but I did do a bit more cardio than prescribed (in the form of sprints and technique workouts, mostly) and wonder if that hindered me a bit. My body composition also changed significantly for the better and my before and after pics totally rocked.
"Just wanted to tell you that as a female 'lifter' I loved your program and the ideas/concepts that come out of the CP team blogs. I would LOVE to see a little more encouragement to all the ladies out there! It didn't intimidate me to find minimal feedback regarding women attempting Maximum Strength, but some women need a little more persuasion to get over the apprehension of starting a program in a book geared towards men.
"Definitely looking forwards to your next book/program! Thanks again!"
Though a somewhat "normal" day at the gym, yesterday marked Cressey Performance's three-year anniversary.
While my business partner's blog post yesterday did an excellent job of doling out "thank yous" to a lot of the important people who have been so involved in our success - from clients to parents, coaches, interns, and significant others - I wanted to add my own two cents on the matter today. More than anything, I really wanted to highlight a sentence that illustrates what makes me the most proud about where CP has been, where it is, and where it's going.
We've done this for the right reasons, and we've done it the right way.
I read a business development blog post by Chris McCombs the other day where he wrote something that really hit home for me. When he was talking about how he decides to accept or reject a new project/opportunity, here is one of his guidelines:
"Only Take on Projects That Are In Line With My Current Values and Fulfill Me Beyond Just The Money - A project must fulfill me in some way BESIDE just money...too many people spend their life JUST chasing a buck; to me, that's no way to live. For me, the money must be there, but it should fulfill me personally, be fun, help a lot of people, and build and be in line with my current brand and brand equity."
Back in 2007, I had a tough decision to make. My online consulting business had really taken off, and the Maximum Strength book deal was in the works. My other products - Magnificent Mobility, The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual, and Building the Efficient Athlete - were selling well and getting great reviews, and I'd just had a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. This website was growing exponentially in popularity, and I had just wrapped up my first year on the Perform Better tour - so lots of doors were opening for me on the seminar front to present all over the world - and I could have stayed home and just written all day, every day.
I was getting really crunched for time, as I was already training clients 8-13 hours per day, seven days per week, as my in-person clientele had rapidly grown. My phone rang off the hook for about three weeks after Lincoln-Sudbury won a baseball state championship after I'd trained several of their guys, and one of my athletes was named state player of the year. And, after being featured on the front page of the Boston Globe with a nipple so hard I could cut diamonds, I was in demand as a t-shirt model (okay, not really - but it made for an awesome blog post, The School of Hard Nipples).
I was exhausted and stressed - but absolutely, positively, "living the dream" that I'd always wanted.
To make matters a bit more interesting, I had just started dating a great girl (now my fiancee) who I really had a good feeling was "the one" after about three months. The work days, however, were insanely long and I was worried that I'd screw up a good thing by not spending enough time with her.
Every business development coach out there would have seen a "simple" answer to all my problems: stop training people in person. Just write, consult, make DVDs, and give seminars. It would have cut my hours by 80% and still allowed me to earn a pretty good living - and enjoy plenty of free time. There was a huge problem with that, though; as Chris wrote, it wouldn't "fulfill me personally, be fun, help a lot of people, and build and be in line with my current brand and brand equity." I like doing evaluations, writing programs, coaching, sweating, training with my guys, cranking up the music, helping people get to where they want to be, collaborating with and learning from other professionals, and watching my athletes compete - whether it's at some high school field or at Fenway Park. Giving that up wasn't an option; I guess I'd have just been a crappy business coaching client, as I would have been stubborn as an ass on giving that up.
Fortunately for me, Pete Dupuis, my roommate from my freshman year of college, had just finished his MBA and was in the midst of a job search. And, during that MBA, he'd started to train with me and packed on a ton of strength and muscle mass - making him realize and truly appreciate the value in what I was doing (especially since he was and is a goalie in a very competitive soccer league). Pete had also met and become friends with a ton of my clients - and taken a genuine interest in my baseball focus, as a lifelong Red Sox fan. Almost daily, Pete would encourage me to do my own thing and let him handle all the business stuff for me.
Simultaneously, Tony Gentilcore was ready for a change of scenery on the work front. Having been Tony's roommate and training partner for almost two years at that point, I knew he was a genuinely great guy, that he'd read everything on my bookshelf, and that he could coach his butt off and "walk the walk." He, too, had met a lot of my clients - so there was continuity from the get-go.
So, on July 13, 2007, Cressey Performance was born. Here is what we started with.
Boatloads of renovations and equipment additions later, it wound up looking like this.
Of course, we outgrew and demolished this space after about nine months and moved three miles east to a facility twice the size. And, we've continued to grow right up to this day; June was our busiest month ever, and July should be busier. We've got regular weekly clients who come from four states (MA, NH, CT, RI), and in the baseball off-season, I have college and pro guys who come from the likes of OH, AZ, CA, SC, NC, GA, FL, and VA. And, we had 33 applicants for this summer's internships.
To be very candid, though, I don't consider myself a very good "businessman." No offense to Pete or Tony, either, but I don't think they even come close to the textbook definition of the word, either. We just try to be good dudes. "We've done this for the right reasons, and we've done it the right way."
We don't allocate a certain percentage of our monthly revenues to advertising. In fact, we haven't spent a single penny on advertising - unless you count charitable donations to causes that are of significance to us.
We don't search high and low for new revenue streams to push on our clients. In fact, if I get one more MonaVie sales pitch, I'm going to suplex whoever delivered it right off our loading dock. Rather, we bust our butts to set clients up for success in any way possible - and trust that those efforts will lead to referrals and "allegiance" to Cressey Performance. We ask what they want from us and modify our plans accordingly. It's what led to us bringing in manual therapy, a pitching cage, and, of course, pitching coach/court jester Matt Blake's timeless antics.
Along those same lines, we don't measure our success based on revenue numbers; we measure it based on client results. In three years of seeing LOADS of baseball players non-stop, we've only had three arm surgeries: one shoulder and two elbow. All three were athletes who came to us with existing injuries, and in each case, we kept them afloat as long as we could and trained them through their entire rehabilitation. I don't want to toot our own horn, but this is a remarkable statistic in a population where over 57% of pitchers suffer some form of shoulder injury during each competitive season - and that doesn't even include elbows! And, our statistics don't even count literally dozens of players who have come to us after a doctor has told them they needed surgery, but we've helped them avoid these procedures. The college scholarships, draft picks, state titles, individual honors, and personal bests in the gym are all fantastic, but I'm most proud of saying that we've dedicated ourselves to keeping athletes healthy so that they can enjoy the sports they love.
The same goes for our non-competitive athlete clients. The fat loss and strength gains they experience are awesome and quantifiable, but beyond that (and more qualitatively), I love knowing that they're training pain-free and are going to be able to enjoy exercise and reap the benefits of training for a long time.
We don't penny-pinch during our slowest times of the month (late March through mid-May - the high school baseball season). We see it as an opportunity to do more staff continuing education, renovate the facilities, and get out to watch a lot of baseball and support our athletes. And, we adjust our hours to open up on Sundays and stay later on weeknights during the baseball season to make it easier for athletes to get in-season training in whenever they can. If a pitcher wants to come in and get his arm stretched out before or after an outing, he stops by and we do it for him - but don't charge him a penny for it. It's about setting people up for success.
We don't try to just "factory line" as many clients through our facility as possible with everyone on the same program. You might walk into CP and see 20 different clients on 20 different programs - because a 16-year old pitcher with crazy congenital laxity is going to have a markedly different set of needs than a 16-year-old linebacker with shoulder mobility so bad that he needs help putting a jacket on. One program on one dry erase board for hundreds of athletes isn't training; it's babysitting.
Taking this a step further, we don't boot clients out after a certain amount of time. Clients take as long as needed to complete the day's program. And, when they're done (or before they even begin), loads of our clients spend time hanging out in the office just shooting the breeze and enjoying the environment. As an example, Toronto Blue Jays Organizational Pitcher of the Year Tim Collins spends a minimum of five hours a day at CP all off-season.
Tim has sold girl scout cookies for the daughter of one of our clients, and he's been our back-up front desk guy when Pete is out of town. Yesterday, he was back to visit on his all-star break - and he said hello to every client he saw - and remembered them by name. If you're a 15-year-old up-and-coming baseball pitcher, how cool is it to get that kind of greeting when you walk into the office? Well, at CP, kids get that greeting from 10-15 pro guys all the time. And, if they're lucky, they might even get to throw on a bobsled helmet and join these pro guys in a rave to Miley Cyrus, apparently.
At least once a week, I get an email from an up-and-coming coach asking for advice about starting a facility. When I get these emails, I now think about how Rachel Cosgrove recently mentioned that more than 80% of fitness coaches leave the industry within the first year. In most cases, this happens because these people never should have entered the fitness industry in the first place - because their intentions (money) were all wrong. They usually leave under the assumption that they could never make a living training people, but in reality, these folks are going to have a hard time making a living in any occupation that requires genuinely caring about what you do and the people with whom you work, and being willing to hang your hat on the results you produce.
As such, the first advice, in a general sense, is obvious: do it for the right reasons, and do it the right way. Sure, making a living is essential, but only open a facility because it would fulfill you "personally, be fun, help a lot of people, and build and be in line" with who you are and what your values are - which together constitute your "brand." Making the move to start up this business was one of the most daunting decisions I have ever had to make, and all the efforts toward actually getting the business started were equally challenging. However, in the end, it has been more rewarding both personally and professionally than I could have ever possibly imagined.
Thank you very much to all of you - clients/customers, parents, EricCressey.com readers, seminar attendees, and professional colleagues - for all your support over the past three years. We couldn't have done it without you - and look forward to many more years of doing things for the right reasons and in the right way.
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Today, we're fortunate to have an interview with Chad Waterbury.EC: Chad, thanks for agreeing to this interview for the site. It's hard to believe that EricCressey.com has been "live" since 2006, and this is the first time we've gotten you on-board for a feature. Most of my readers are probably familiar with you already, but what have you been up to lately?
CW: First off, I want to say that it's a pleasure to be here. You offer top-notch information to a wide variety of clients and that's why I'm happy to do this interview. This is one of the few websites that I read on a regular basis.
Over the last few years, since moving to Los Angeles, I've gotten back to training more people one-on-one. In this town, it's all about fat loss. People want to get lean and ripped, like, yesterday. In LA, immediate gratification isn't fast enough. So I've spent time really honing my training and nutrition parameters to help people burn fat in record time.
I've also been working with a lot of professional fighters. There's no greater challenge than developing a fighter because he needs to build elite levels of strength, endurance, and mobility at the same time. The cool part is that my work with fighters - and the parameters I use for burning fat - actually coalesce. Why? It's simple: the quickest way to get a leaner, stronger body is to train more like an athlete - especially a fighter. So my challenge was to create a system to get non-athletes to experience the same results that my athletes, such as Ralek Gracie, get when training with me personally.
EC: Gracie's rocking your "Body of FIRE" logo on his banner at the beginning of this clip; let's talk about that. You've got a new fat loss e-book out (Body of F.I.R.E.). Besides the obvious fact that a lot of people are...well...fat, what inspired you to write it?
CW: Honestly, I was getting tired of hearing outrageous claims from trainers who've never transformed anyone. This industry is replete with self-proclaimed experts. Now, I'm certainly not against the idea of making money off your information, but when the sales pitch is exaggerated to the point of hysteria it becomes a little too much to stomach. It's funny because people often associate me with methods that are solely intended to build size and strength. In reality, I have more experience with training people for fat loss than anything else.
So I took it upon myself to create a system that will transform people faster than they ever thought possible. That's why I created my new Body of F.I.R.E. program. In my experience, nothing transforms a person quicker than an effectively designed Full-body, Intense, Resistance Exercise program - hence the acronym.
However, I didn't want to make a program that was only for advanced athletes, so I took a lot of time tweaking the parameters so anyone can get incredible results on the program.
EC: Along those same lines, where are most people falling short on the fat loss front? Why isn't the status quo getting the job done?
CW: This is easy to answer. The first reason why people don't lose fat, and keep it off, is because they don't know how to eat to stimulate their metabolism. Most diets shut down fat burning and make people feel miserable.
The second reason is due to their training program. It's imperative to stimulate as many muscle fibers as possible with full-body workouts while keeping the rest periods to a minimum in order to generate a large cardiovascular response.
The third component is with their progression plan, or lack thereof. The only way to make your body lose fat week after week is to make it to do work without burning out your nervous system. Building athleticism is a key to making this work.
Finally, tissue health is probably the most underrated and unappreciated aspect of body transformation. There are simple steps you can take to keep your joints healthy, and this is essential to sticking with a program. There are a lot of crazy programs out there that quickly impose an insane amount of stress on the joints. If you get injured, your fat loss endeavor immediately comes to a screeching halt.
EC: Let's talk about the program itself. What's unique about it that sets it apart from other fat loss methods that may fall short?
CW: Quickly transforming your body starts with the right diet. You'll never lose fat unless your nutrition program focuses on foods that are high in nutrients but low in calories. It's all about food quality. You can eat an entire bag of potato chips because they contain no real nutrients. Therefore, your brain never gets the memo that your body is satisfied. However, you'd never be able to finish the same amount of calories from, say, blueberries or broccoli because your brain quickly gets the signal that your body is getting the nutrients it needs to support your metabolism. Bottom line: the only way to see your abs is to get your diet in order first.
The second component is with your training program. As I mentioned, it's essential to train in a way that induces the largest metabolic cost that exercise can create. Tabata's research taught us that we need to think less about the metabolic changes that are occurring during a workout and focus more on what's happening after you leave the gym. An hour jog only burns calories while you're doing it, plus it's very hard on your hips, knees, and ankles. High intensity cardio, on the other hand, will stimulate your metabolism to keep burning calories long after you stop training - if you know how to do it right. Instead of running on a treadmill, focus on full-body circuits such as split jacks, jumping jacks, and burpees that are performed for multiple rounds with minimal rest.
With regard to weight training, it's important to do three things. First, for every other workout, lift loads that are heavy enough to recruit all of your muscle fibers. Most people lose size and strength on a fat loss plan because they focus on light, high-rep weight training exercises that are performed to failure. This is a travesty because it's not optimal for maximum muscle fiber recruitment. Focus on weights that are between a 6-12 repetition maximum, and accelerate all of your lifts. This ensures that you're recruiting all of your muscle fibers with every rep. As the saying goes: if you don't use it, you lose it. A full-body circuit comprised of an upper body push, an upper body pull, a lower body exercise, and a core exercise is outstanding for creating a huge metabolic cost when the rest periods are kept to a minimum.
From there, I have my clients perform "cardio strength" exercises. These are exercises that don't require as much load as a strength circuit, but they can still recruit all of your muscle fibers when performed correctly. For example, I like to pair up the kettlebell swing with a push-up for descending reps. You'll start with, say, 13 reps of the swing and then you'll drop to the floor and knock out 13 push-ups. Then you'll jump back to your feet and do 12 swings followed by 12 push-ups. Next it's 11 swings followed by 11 push-ups. You'll continue with this sequence until you reach one rep for each exercise. When you perform each exercise at top speed, and when you keep rest to a minimum, it's awesome for burning fat while boosting athleticism.
The third essential component of body transformation comes from an effective progression plan. Many people stop getting results on a fat loss program after a few weeks because their parameters are stagnant. You must force your body to do more work over time. You don't need to keep adding weight to your lifts. Instead, focus on adding a rep or set, or increase your work interval, or shorten your rest periods by five seconds with each workout. This ensures that your metabolism is constantly being challenged. In my new program, I use a combination of these progression methods in each phase.
EC: The thing I noticed right away is the dedicated focus to staying healthy with good soft tissue work and a focus on mobility and athletic movement. It seems like a lot of fat loss programs out there are all about just making people move a ton to tire them out and burn calories - but there is rarely (if ever) a focus on the quality of movement. Inevitably, exercise technique goes down the crapper and many folks wind up injured (in addition to being raging a**holes from caloric deprivation). Can you speak a bit to how you attacked this aspect of the program?
CW: You're right, Eric, getting the most out of your workouts comes from quality of movement. And getting the most out of your movements comes from having healthy joints that are in balance. Just like high quality foods are essential to boosting your metabolism, so are the exercises. I spent a lot of time developing the exercise guide in this resource by including big, high-resolution pictures along with many tips and technique guidelines to ensure that everyone is doing each exercise perfectly.
Furthermore, each workout starts with a few mobility exercises. Most people are stiffest in their ankles, hips, T-spine, and shoulders so it's important to mobilize those areas before you start training. The good news is that it doesn't take long - just a few minutes when you know what to do. And each workout ends with a few, key stretches for the same areas. This is great insurance to keep you on track. A program is only as good as the corrective exercises it contains to keep you from throwing your joints out of whack.
EC: Let's talk nutrition. What can readers expect on that front in Body of Fire?
CW: The nutrition program is as effective as it is user-friendly. The first step, as I mentioned, comes from replacing low-quality foods in your current eating plan with nutrient-dense, low-calories foods. The second step is to control insulin and add in certain, key nutrients that research has shown to have the greatest impact on increasing your metabolism. You must eat frequently, every 3-4 hours, and most people know that. But what might surprise people is that front loading your calories, where breakfast is your highest calorie meal and dinner is the lowest, is a simple way to supercharge your metabolism and burn fat. The third component comes from your workout nutrition. If you take branched-chain amino acids in the right amounts, before and after training, along with a specific post-workout feeding you'll accelerate fat burning, recovery, and performance.
The nutrition plan, when paired with the workouts I outline in the program, produce incredible results. My client, Jon, lost over 40 pounds of fat on the program. Since he's an athlete, he couldn't afford to lose any size and strength. As you can see from the before and after pictures, he created what many guys might consider to be the ultimate body. I'll concede that he shaved, tanned, and lost his shoes, but I think the rest speaks for itself.
EC: Not too shabby at all! Thanks a lot for taking the time to answer my questions, Chad. Where can readers find out more about the new product?
CW: Just head over to BodyofFire.com and check it out while the introductory price is still in effect. This program is unlike anything I've written about in any of my books or articles. I've never spent as much time on a project as I have on the this system. No stone has been left unturned.
Here's this week's list of recommended reading from the EricCressey.com archives:
The Proactive Patient - This is still, in my eyes, one of the best articles I've ever written.
The 315 Deadlift Fiasco - This article, on the other hand, pissed a few people off. There were good lessons to be learned, though.
Why I Don't Like the 5x5 Workout - While the classic 5x5 set and rep scheme certainly has its place in some strength training programs, it definitely has its limitations.
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At Cressey Performance, we regularly have visitors in town for One-Time Consultations. Ronell Smith came to us in December of 2009 and was kind enough to share the following feedback regarding his experience.
"The term genius is thrown around far too loosely in every field. But to say that Eric Cressey and Tony Gentilcore are geniuses of the strength training and performance enhancement game is an understatement. I'm proof that their programming and philosophy are magical.
"Before discovering Eric and CP, I was a 30-something desk jockey whose main concern was being lean while developing bigger arms and a solid chest. High reps and medium weights, however, were getting me nowhere. But after spending an entire weekend reading Eric's articles on tmuscle.com, I saw the light with his philosophy: Get strong first, and all of my other goals will fall into place.
"It made perfect sense. I knew then that Eric was the guy I wanted to design my program.
"The two days I spent at CP forever opened my eyes. I learned to stop working out and start training, realized what true intensity meant, and the staff helped me shore up (more like overhaul) the technique on all of my major lifts.
"I arrived at CP a 6'5", 204-pound weakling with a ton of structural issues; I left knowledgeable and confident that I could reach my goals, thanks in part to Eric's "focus on what people can do, not what they can't do" approach.
"In the few short months since that initial visit, I've been blown away by the progress that Eric's programming has provided. My deadlift and squat are up over 100 pounds, my max-rep pull-ups have gone from zero to eight and my bench is up 33 percent. (See? Magic!)
"Most important, however, my posture is no longer Neanderthalish, I'm stronger, faster and leaner than I've ever been, and trainers ask me who designs my workout. Not to mention, I feel healthier overall and have the added mobility and stability as proof.
"Before CP, I've never considered being an online client. But these guys are prompt in answering my questions-and there are many - consistent in providing feedback, including positive reinforcement, and are incredibly easy to work with and fun.
"I've spent hundreds of hours reading various coaches' training philosophies and programming - and have even tried several well-known programs over the last year - but none gave me the results that Eric's has provided.
"When friends ask how happy I am with my 'personal trainer,' I say two things: (a) What Eric and Tony do is more "life changing" than training and (b) CP is the only facility on earth that I would trust to create my programming."
Orlando, FLClick here for more information on one-time consultations at Cressey Performance.
2 Lessons on Success - Taken from Youth Sports Training
Most professional trainers - whether they are fitness gurus or sports performance experts - may not ever take the time to realize that much of what we hold true and dear in our pursuits of enhancing both the health and ability of young athletes, also translates to the world of business and life as well.
Perhaps this lack of "connecting-the-dots" between the two is more than just something that has been overlooked - it's because the values on which we pride our work with young athletes is far too limited in scope to be accurate.
Let me explain that.
Our industry holds strong to the notion that short-term, "work 'em hard" training situations that involve high intensity on everything and a slow, methodical infusion of skill on nothing, is what best serves young clients in their need to get better (faster, stronger etc) now.
But how often does this gun-slinging approach to life or business prove successful? And can we take lessons from that as it relates to developing young athletes?
How many times do we become handicapped by vein, unplanned and quick attempts to overhaul our businesses or restructure our lives in short periods of time?
Think about it. How many New Year's Eve goals for the impending year have you set (be them business or life alterations) only to find yourself exactly where you were in November come March?
Here's another one for you.
Have you ever crammed for a test or exam?
You know what I mean... Stayed up virtually all night to study for an 8am exam in a subject that you barely even did any homework for during the course of the semester?
Yes, you can put your hands down now - we've all done it!
I'd be willing to bet that you often got great grades using this "the night before" method of studying. Perhaps several "A" report cards were based on study habits just like this? I'll be honest: this is pretty much how I got through college - and I graduated with top honors!
My point is that the end doesn't always justify the means.
You can get an "A" report card by doing solid and consistent work over the semester, or you can get an "A" by following "the night before" method of studying. The end result is the same, but the fallout post-exam is much different. I'll go into details a little later.
Having said all that, I wanted to show you how success in life or business can be obtained by following two basic, but critical components of long-term athlete development training protocol.
Lesson #1The Process Outweighs the Outcome
In our fortune cookie society, we have become very connected to quick-witted quotes from famous people of yesteryear and soothsaying advice from those we hold collectively as esteemed.
But very often, if you're prepared to dig a little deeper, you'll find that the one sentence quote or word of wisdom lacks a true definition unless you take the entire thought into perspective.
Lincoln, Churchill, Keller and even Yoda are amazing examples of wonderful souls who have graced us with single-serving remarks that we take as profound and words to live by. But in every case, the context of what they meant and why they said it dramatically changes when we read their entire biographies or journals and not just the most famous lines they penned.
I say that because we are all familiar with such wonderful metaphorical phrases, poems and song lyrics as:
"Life's a journey, not a destination."
"You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb."
"The journey is the reward."
"Slow and steady wins the race."
But, and let me be frank here: how often do you actually take this advice?
Are you content with developing a 3-, 4- or 5-year plan and able to remain focused on it as the hours, days and months of the path labor on?
Do you even know how to create such a long-term plan?
Again, I point to the fact that we all know and can recite, verbatim, what the prognosticators of success tell us, but without context of what they meant or how to do it, does any of it really amount to anything in our lives?
Enter the world of Youth Sports Training.
"6-weeks to a 6-inch vertical jump increase"
"Faster 40 in 4 weeks"
"Increase bench and squat in 1 month"
We've all broadcast training programs like this.
And if we haven't advertised using these sorts of words, we've most certainly implied the like by selling parents and sports coaches on training programs that are short-term in nature.
Now, although your "Super-Secret-System" for training is top-notch, world-class and unlike anything anyone has ever seen before (and naturally the reason why so many of your young athletes show test/re-test improvements), let me share with you the reality that we must face, but may be missing:
The Human Organism is Designed to Adapt.
Bubble-bursting as this may be, the human body has been created to adapt to the stimulus its presented. In short, you ask a body to jump, it becomes better at jumping.
Same is true for squatting, running, bench pressing or throwing stuff.
Yes, eventually you reach a critical mass and the improvements or gains begin to tail off until a more specific and technically-sound stimulus is presented, but with young athletes (due to their age) everything works.
Everything; Olympic Lifting, Power Lifting, Cross-Fit, Circuit-Training, Plyometrics...
It all works in varying degrees. That's the very nature of being young.
Kids get better as a matter of applied demand and therefore there is no such thing as "we test every six weeks to make sure the program is working" because it's going to work. There is no rocket science to that.
Thus, the need for a long-term approach that doesn't just pretend to preach the virtues of, but actually embraces the notion of "The Journey is More Important than the Outcome."
It's not so much where your business or life is now; it's where you want it to be.
And nothing of merit ever happens in a day or overnight.
Same holds true for developing young athletes. Think long-term and where they need to be in time and what it's going to take to get them there - you may be very surprised how much you take the foot off the gas pedal when keeping this context in mind.
Lesson #2Principles First... Values Second
You can get an "A" by studying the night before, or you can get an "A" by diligently tending to your work all semester.
The fact that the outcome is the same seems to imply that the path doesn't matter.
But what about when the exam is over?
Study the night before and I guarantee that every piece of information you crammed into your head will be gone inside of 60 minutes post-exam.
Study consistently over the semester, and your retention of the material will remain with your forever.
And that is a sizeable difference.
In academics, business or life, we can always scrape by. Do as little as possible in a rushed or last-minute type way and still get to the destination or obtain what we want. But buyer beware - there is a shelve life on such practices.
In school, fail to do the work properly and you will never have gained the knowledge. There will be no foundation on which to grow or entertain further study in this area or subject matter.
In life or business, if you fail to take your time, learn the lessons and gain the knowledge, you will be forever condemned to either repeat the same mistakes or retard the grow of your company or soul.
Let's full-circle that back to Youth Sports Training, shall we?
Academics = Cram for a test - get an "A"
Training = Cram as many Plyometrics into a 6-week cycle as you can - improve a vertical jump
Academics = But there is no retention of the information and therefore no knowledge gained or ability to progress in that subject.
Training = But there has been limited technical instruction or tertiary development, so no foundation on which to build.
And before you suggest that in a 6-week training cycle you DO in fact teach technique, let me leave you with this thought:
Could you really teach everything that was necessary in order to competently pass Grade 2 in only 6 weeks study?
Young athletes are organisms that are governed by the principles of human growth and development. We didn't write the laws, nor do we have any ability to alter them.
But they do exist, and any training program designed for young athletes absolutely must keep the principles of the organisms natural development is strong priority over any values (numbers) we want to obtain. Infractions on this will lead to injury and/or limited long-term gain.
Success in business and life really is easy.
Create a plan and diligently follow it. Don't look for short-cuts or try to outsmart the natural ebb and flow of reality. Stick to your guns and understand that slow, methodical and daily effort towards your vision is the only path that has ever proven successful.
Now, look at the last training program you wrote for a young athlete.
Keep the paragraph above in mind, close your eyes, and start again.....
Brian Grasso is the Founder and CEO of the International Youth Conditioning Association. For more information, visit www.IYCA.org.
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I've got a quick and easy favor to ask of you.
Cressey Performance client and Boston Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis is a finalist (one of five) for the last All-Star spot on the American League roster - and it's decided by fan voting. Granted, I'm biased, but his numbers blow those of the other four candidates out of the water. Youk's a contender for the AL MVP award each year, and he's currently on track for career highs in runs, hits, walks, homeruns, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS - all while playing Gold Glove caliber defense to help keep a team riddled with injuries on track.
Numbers aside, on a personal note, Kevin's become a great friend, and several of our conversations about baseball development and hitting approaches have directed inspired some of the content on this blog. He's also a huge presence in the Boston area via all the money his charity raises for some awesome causes in the community.
So, with that said - whether it's because his numbers warrant it or his contributions warrant it (or both) - I'd ask that you take a second to vote for him (as many times as you want, actually): 2010 All-Star Game Final Vote.
Voting ends Thursday at 4pm EST. Thanks for your help - and here's that link again:
I've seen a few acromioclavicular (AC) joint impingement cases at our facility in the last couple of weeks and thought it'd be good to do a quick blog to talk about how different they are from "regular" (external) shoulder impingement cases. And, it is a very important differentiation to make.
I've already written at length about AC joint issues in Getting Geeky with AC Joint Injuries: Part 1 and Part 2. And, I kicked out a two-part series called The Truth About Shoulder Impingement; here are Part 1 and Part 2.
While I talk a lot about the symptoms for both, several provocative tests for these issues, and training modifications to avoid exacerbating pain under these conditions, there was one important "differential assessment that I missed." Mike Reinold actually taught me it as we were planning the Optimal Shoulder Performance DVD set.
Just paying close attention to (and asking about) where folks have their pain during overhead motion can tell you quite a bit. In an external impingement - where we're talking about the rotator cuff tendons and bursa rubbing up against the undersurface of the acromion - you'll usually get pain as folks approach 90 degrees of abduction (arm directly out to the side). That pain will persist as they go further overhead, and in my experience, start to die off as they get to the top.
Conversely, for those with AC joint impingement - what is essentially bone rubbing up against bone - you see a "painful arc" only at the last portion of abduction:
You can usually confirm your suspicions on this front with direct palpation of the AC joint and checking to see if folks have pain when reaching across the chest.
Much of the training modifications will be the same for these two conditions, but there are also going to be several key things that should be managed completely differently. For instance, front squatting someone with an AC joint issue would not be a good idea due to the direct pressure of the bar on the AC joint; it would, however, be just fine for most cases of external shoulder impingement. In another example, some serious AC joint issues are exacerbated even by just doing the end-range of a rowing motion (to much shoulder extension/horizontal abduction) - whereas even folks with full-blown rotator cuff tears can generally do rows pain-free.
In continuing with last week's trend of "reincarnating" good stuff from the EricCressey.com archives, here is some old, but once-again-new flavor for you.
Who Needs Percentages? - This blog discusses why I don't think that using a ton of percentages in your training is a good idea - even if it does have its place here and there.
The Art of the Deload - In the percentages blog, I referenced my e-book, The Art of the Deload. As I think about it, this resource really flew under the radar. Not to toot my own horn, but I think that at just $12.99, it's a tremendous value that just about everyone would be wise to read. Effectively, it gives you the information you need to modify programs to fit your needs based on a number of factors (age, training history, etc.).