Home 2014 March (Page 2)

Exercise of the Week: Split-Stance High-to-Low Anti-Rotation Chop w/Rope

It's been a while since we shared a new "Exercise of the Week" video here at EricCressey.com, so I thought it'd be a good time to highlight one I was actually discussing with one of my staff members yesterday.

The split-stance high-to-low anti-rotation chop w/rope is one of my favorite "catch-all" core stability exercises.  While it primarily challenges rotary stability (the ability of the core to resist rotation), we also get some anti-extension benefit from it.  Because the cable is positioned higher up, we must use our anterior core to prevent the lower back from arching in the top position.  By adding a full exhale on each breath, you can increase the challenge to the anterior core even further - and, as Gray Cook would say, use breathing to "own the movement."  Check it out:

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Another important consideration that may be overlooked is the fact that rotational movements in sports include both low-to-high (tennis forehands/backhands) and high-to-low (overhand throwing, baseball hitting, tennis/volleyball serving) patterns, yet for some reason, we see a lot more low-to-high or purely horizontal patterns trained.  I love the idea of getting the arms up overhead more often, particularly in athletes who may lose upward rotation, or people who just sit at desks all day with their arms at their sides.

We'll usually work this in during the latter half of a strength training session, and do it for 2-4 sets of 6-10 reps. This video was actually taken from The High Performance Handbook video database, as this exercise was featured in the 16-week program.

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Enjoy!

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 3/10/14

I hope you all had a great weekend.  Before the Monday Blues can set in, here are some recommended strength and conditioning reads to get the week started off on the right foot.

Is Nutrient Timing Dead? - Not a week goes by the Dr. John Berardi and his team at Precision Nutrition don't kick out some awesome nutrition-related content. Former CP employee and current PN team member Brian St. Pierre (who authored The High Performance Handbook Nutrition Guide) took the lead on this great article.

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Reality: You Can't Run a Sub 5.0 Forty - This article is absolutely awesome because it highlights just how inflated most high school 40 times are. 

Elite Training Mentorship - In this month's ETM, I've got two new exercise demonstration videos, an article, and a webinar called "5 Important Upper Body Functional Anatomy Considerations." There's also some great content from Tyler English and Vaughn Bethell this month.

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Assessments You Might Be Overlooking: Installment 4

I always tell up-and-comers in the strength and conditioning field, "If you aren't assessing, you're just guessing."  It's not as simple as just doing a sit-and-reach test and having someone hop on the scale for you, though. This series is devoted to highlighting some of the most commonly overlooked components of the assessment process - and here are three more evaluations you might be missing:

1. Previous Athletic/Training Workload - If you're trying to help a client get to where they want to be, it's important to realize where they've been.  For example, someone who has a history of overworking themselves might respond really well to a lower volume program.  Or, an athlete looking to gain muscle mass who has never trained with much lifting volume might be well-served to add some "backoff" sets and additional assistance work.

This is an incredibly important discussion with our professional pitchers, too.  Starting pitchers who have a high workload (some in excess of 200 innings pitched in the previous 8-9 months) need to wait longer to start throwing than relief pitchers who may not have thrown more than 40 innings in a season.  The former group might not start an off-season throwing program until January 1, whereas the latter group might already have eight weeks of work in by that point.

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Discussions of building work capacity get a lot of love in the strength and conditioning field, but I think we often lose sight of the fact that sporting coaches are also looking to build work capacity in the context of the athletes' actual sports.  Now, these two things don't have to be mutually exclusive, but if everyone is always pushing high volume all the time, things can go downhill fast.

2. Quad and Adductor Length - Let's face it: a huge chunk of the population doesn't exercise enough, and even most of those who do exercise regularly don't pay attention to mobility needs. As a result, their entire exercise program takes place in a very small amplitude; they never get through significent joint ranges of motion. Two areas in which you see this probably rearing its ugly head the most are quad and adductor length. 

Your quads are maximally lengthened when your heel is on your butt.  How often do you see someone encounter this position in their daily lives?

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Adductors are stretched when the hips are abducted.  When was the last time you hit this pose in your daily activities - outside of a fall on the ice?

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If you want to do a quick and easy assessment of where you stand on these, try these two (borrowed from Assess and Correct):

Prone Knee Flexion: you should have at least 120 degrees of active knee flexion without the pelvis or lower back moving.

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Supine Abduction: you should have at least 45 degrees of abduction without lumbar or pelvis compensation, or any hip rotation.

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I generally just check these up on the training table when people get started up, but these should provide good do-it-yourself options for my readers who aren't fitness professionals.  Also, if you find that you come up short on these tests, get to work on the two stretches pictures at the start of this bulletpoint.

3. Taking the Shirt Off - This is a tricky one, as you obviously can't do it with female clients, and even when male clients, you have to be sensitize to the fact that it might not be something in which they'd like to partake.  That said, you'd be amazed at how many upper extremity dysfunctions can be obscured by a simple t-shirt.  As an example, this left-handed pitcher's medial elbow pain was diagnosed with ulnar neuritis, and he was prescribed anti-inflammatories for it and sent on his way without the doctor even having him take his shirt off to evaluate the shoulder and neck.

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Needless to say, he sits in heavy scapular depression on the left side, and it wouldn't be a "stretch" (pun intended) at all to suspect that his ulnar nerve symptoms would be originating further up the chain.  Take note on how the brachial plexus/ulnar nerve runs right under the clavicle as it courses down toward the elbow.

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Crank the scapula and clavicle down, and you can easily compress the nerve (and vascular structures) to wind up with thoracic outlet syndrome, a very common, but under-diagnosed condition in overhead throwing athletes.  The more forward-thinking upper extremity orthopedic surgeons are diagnosing this more and more frequently nowadays; elbow problems aren't always elbow problems!

The lesson is that you can see a lot when you take a shirt off.  If it's the right fit for your client/athlete, work it in.

I'll be back soon with more commonly overlooked assessments.  In the meantime, I want to give you a quick heads-up that to celebrate National Multiple Sclerosis Awareness week and help the cause, Mike Reinold and I have put both Functional Stability Training of the Core and Lower Body on sale for 25% off through tonight (Saturday) at midnight - with 25% of proceeds going to MS charities. Just use the coupon code msawareness to apply the discount at the following link: www.FunctionalStability.com.

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Functional Stability Training Sale to Benefit National MS Awareness Week

I just have a quick "heads-up" blog for you today, as Mike Reinold and I just put both Functional Stability Training of the Lower Body and Core on sale today for 25% off.  It's National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Awareness Week, so we'll be donating 25% of the proceeds to MS-related charities.

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Both products are available in both DVD and online-only formats. Don't miss this chance to get these resources at a great price - and help out an awesome cause in the process.  Just head to www.FunctionalStability.com, and enter the coupon code msawareness at checkout to get the discount applied.

Thanks for your support!

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Common Arm Care Mistakes: Installment 5

It's been over a month since I posted an update to this series, so with the baseball season underway, I thought I'd get back to it - and focus on something we see as an in-season problem:

Pitchers not being advocates for themselves with respect to playing other positions games on non-pitching days.

Absolutely nothing drives me crazier than when I hear about a player throwing 6-7 innings, and then being asked to come back and play shortstop or catcher in the next few days. In fact, it might be the very definition of insanity, as it defies a lot of what we know about recovery, fatigue management, and arm stress.

To be clear, pitchers absolutely do need to throw throughout the week to optimize performance and develop.  You can't just pitch, then sit around for six days and expect to get better or stay sharp.  However, I think we do need to approach what guys do on non-pitching days on a very individualized basis.

If we're talking about starters who are going to throw 60+ pitches at least once a week, they need to stick to playing DH, 1B, 3B, 2B, or OF in the 2-3 days after a start - and preferably throughout the entire week.  Sure, there will stil be the possibility for intense throws, but the volume is much lower, and they'll be able to get their legs under them better, as compared to off-balance throws from shortstop, or rushed throws from the catching position.

If we're talking about relievers who just get innings here and there, it's a totally different story.  If they're only throwing 15-20 pitches a few times a week, they can play anywhere they're needed.  The volume just isn't enough on the mound to make it a very valid concern. The only exception to the rule might be early in the season; if guys are really sore in the 24-48 hours after they pitch, they're probably better off somewhere other than shortstop or catcher.

Now, all this seems well and good - until you realize that just about every 12-year-old in the country says that he plays "pitcher and shortstop."  Seriously, I get excited when I hear a young kid who is a catcher, second baseman, or just an "all over" utility guy.

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So, as you can see, players don't just need to be counseled on this; they need to be counseled on this at a young age.

A big part of developing starting pitchers over the long haul is helping them to build work capacity, the ability to throw more innings.  This obviously gets a lot of attention in the professional ranks with young pitchers who are on strict innings limits.  However, it's equally important at the youth levels; you have to build work capacity gradually, especially in athletes who are skeletally immature. The problem with throwing them at shortstop or catcher is that it immediately puts you in a position where you underestimate how much wear and tear is on the pitcher's arm over the course of a season.

Looking for more in-depth baseball insights?  Check out one of our Cressey Performance Elite Baseball Mentorships; we'll have events in June, October, and December.

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Aspiring Fitness Professionals: You’re Already Coaching Inspirational Athletes

Today's guest post comes from Pete Dupuis, my business partner of seven years at Cressey Performance. In addition to serving as our business director, Pete oversees our internship program and has a great perspective on how many aspiring fitness professionals see themselves, and where they want to be.

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Now that your “busy season” is coming to an end, and all of your pro athletes have reported to spring training, do you guys basically throw it on autopilot and count the seconds until next September when the minor league season wraps up?

An intern applicant asked me this question earlier this week.  His mentality actually wasn’t all that far off from that of many other previous applicants. In fact, I ask every single candidate what his or her long-term career goal within the fitness industry is, and the response is almost universally inspired by this attitude. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that at least 90% of the responses I receive when asking the career goal question specifically mention working with either “elite” or “professional” athletes. 

I get it.  Professional athletes are living the dream.  Why would you want to coach soccer moms?  General fitness population is boring you to death.  The lawyer you train isn’t concerned with getting in to “beast mode” every time he hits the gym.  Seriously, I get it.

Before you go and make a career change to coach professional athletes, or abandon a successful personal training business at your local commercial gym, I have a question for you: have you made an effort to REALLY get to know the people surrounding you every time you go to work?  More specifically, do you realize the goldmine of networking opportunities you are letting pass by on a daily basis as you dream about prepping a D-1 athlete for the NFL combine?

I’m not here to tell you that you have to “pay your dues” before you can start setting the bar that high (although, you do).  I’m here to tell you that in some cases, the least interesting clients we have at Cressey Performance can be the professional ballplayers.  In short, the season is so long and draining that when the off-season rolls around, most of them really don’t want to talk about baseball – which is the stuff you may find “cool” and discussion-worthy. While their in-season periods are very much abnormal as compared to “typical” jobs, they’re normal people in the off-season.

So, what do I tell an intern applicant when he or she asks me what the best thing is about working with so many professional athletes? 

Sometimes I’ll tell them that we have one client who dresses up as Santa Clause and jumps out of an airplane with multiple other Santa impersonators every December to raise funds for charity. 

He also happens to own one of the most successful roofing companies in Massachusetts, as well as property in Costa Rica that he kindly offered to EC for his honeymoon trip in 2011.

I’ll occasionally tell them that we once prepared a client for the FBI entrance exam, and he demonstrated the art of subduing a suspect by taking Tony Gentilcore to the floor and handcuffing him in less than 4 seconds…in the middle of a crowded gym…while dressed in a Halloween costume…in between his sets of deadlifts.

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Maybe I’ll tell them that we have one former intern whose favorite part of his time with us was the hours he spent coaching and socializing with the 7th employee at Facebook. 

Sometimes I tell them to look across the gym where we have not one, but three engineers from Bose who like to soak up the unique training environment while they’re not at their office designing some of the best audio equipment the world has seen.

Most importantly, I tell them that they’re going to miss out on a truly amazing learning experience if they spend their time with us (or at any other gym) only concerning themselves with chasing the “elite” athletic population.  There are some amazing stories just waiting to be told right there on the training floor.  You’ll inevitably find yourself on the receiving end if you step out of your comfort zone and appreciate the fact that many of the “average” people you interact with have experienced some pretty amazing things.  The clients who show up for training sessions on a year-round basis, as opposed to during an off-season, are the ones with whom you have the chance to make a life-long impression.

There will be times in the future when you’ll need to consult the people around you as you encounter difficult decisions.  Some of your best career, life, and business advise is likely to come from the network of individuals you’ve worked hard to develop in this gym setting.  This type of insight is almost certainly NOT going to come from the guy who has spent the last six months riding buses around the country and surviving entirely on sunflower seeds and fast-food.  It is also unlikely to come from the ones who are accustomed to bypassing airport security to step on to their chartered flight to the next MLB stadium.

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Whenever it is that my CP days are behind me, I’m obviously going to look back fondly on seeing close friends make big-league debuts, or maybe even compete in the summer or winter Olympics.  What I’ll absolutely cherish, though, is the fact that a couple of casual Saturday morning conversations with one of our general fitness clients eventually led to an introduction to the girl who is now my wife.  It’s a good thing I didn’t pass on chatting with her so that I could spend more time watching the pro guys argue over who had next on the ping-pong table.

Looking for more fitness business insights?  Check out the Fitness Business Blueprint, a detailed "how-to" guide for those interested in starting up their own businesses in this industry.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 3/3/14

Happy March, everyone.  I just got back from a weekend in Nashville to watch the Vanderbilt/Stanford baseball series, so I'm playing a bit of catch-up as I get back to the office.  Vanderbilt swept the series, and our Cressey Performance guys actually picked up wins in the Friday and Sunday games.  Here they (Tyler Beede and Adam Ravenelle) are with their vertically challenged strength coach.

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Luckily, I've got some great content from you nonetheless:

Interview with Eric Cressey - Mike Robertson just posted this interview with me.  We talk about several things, but the foremost one is my work with baseball players, and what makes this a unique population.

CP Client Spotlight: Meet Kat! - This is a great feature we ran on one of our adult clients, Kat Mansfield.  She talks about the progress she's made, what Cressey Performance means to her, and how it integrates with her regular yoga practice and instruction. This is something we'll be doing more and more moving forward, as a lot of people don't realize how many clients we train from other walks of life besides just baseball! We see them in bootcamp, semi-private, and personal training formats.

Course Notes: Explain Pain - Zac Cupples wrote up a fantastic review of a David Butler seminar he attended. There are several "one-liners" in here that will resound with you over and over again.

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LEARN HOW TO DEADLIFT
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