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Professional Development: Processes vs. Outcomes

I'm out in Long Beach, CA for my fifth annual trip to the New Balance Area Code Games.  Now in its 30th year, this event brings together the top 230 high school baseball players in the country. Friday night, I spoke as part of the opening ceremonies.

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I wanted to be succinct with my message, and with that in mind, I chose to emphasize the importance of differentiating between processes and outcomes. This is something I try to hammer home with all our in-person athletes at Cressey Sports Performance, but I feel it's an important differentiation for all players to make.  

An outcome is - for lack of a better term - a result. It's going 4-for-4 at the plate, getting selected for an all-star team, or getting an "A" on a final exam. It may also be negative: going 0-for-4, getting left off the team, or flunking that final exam. There is never growth in an outcome alone; it's just something that happens after all the work is done. Unfortunately, it's been my experience that far too many people - and particularly young athletes who have had considerable success at a young age - become very outcome-oriented. They devote too much time and energy to celebrating their successes instead of recognizing the processes that got them to that end (good or bad).

Conversely, a process constitutes all the habits and actions that lead to an outcome. It's the hours you spent in the cage fine-tuning your swing before those four at-bats. It's your efforts and attitude that predated that all-star selection decision. And, it's your study habits that culminated in your final exam preparedness (or lack thereof).

[bctt tweet="There is growth in every process, but not in ANY outcome."]

Not surprisingly, there's evidence to suggest that outcome-oriented parenting is an inferior approach to process-oriented parenting. You're far better off praising efforts than you are outcomes, because it's those efforts that remind your kid to bust his or her butt in everything the future holds. Your work ethic and demeanor from tee ball can sustain for decades to help you in your job as an accountant when tax season is upon you, but don't expect your 20-year-old trophies to help you out when the going gets tough in adulthood. 

Interestingly, though, this message actually has significant parallels to some conversations I had with respect to the fitness industry just last weekend, when I delivered a shoulder seminar to a room of 105 trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, and rehabilitation specialists in Chicago.

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At the conclusion of the event, I had several young trainers inquire about how I wound up where I am. In fact, one even asked, "What do I need to do to be you in ten years?" I always find these inquiries challenging to answer because I rarely reflect on success, and frankly don't consider myself successful because it's too early in my career (age 35) to determine that. Perhaps more significantly, though, I can't vividly describe where I plan to be in five (let alone ten) years. If I can't be sure of exactly where I'm headed, who am I to tell an up-and-coming fitness professional how he should get to where he thinks he wants to be a decade from now?

With that in mind, my answer is usually necessarily vague: 

[bctt tweet="Embrace processes, but let outcomes take care of themselves."]

The problem is that the fitness industry is unique in that none of these processes are clearly defined. In other words, there is no strict foundation upon which a large body of work in the field is entirely based. There aren't many industries like this.

For example, my wife is an optometrist, and she had four years of undergraduate education, followed by four years of optometry school (including clinical rotations), and then board exams before she could become a doctor. There was a set curriculum, and then measures to determine competency in the areas emphasized in that curriculum. And, even after that proficiency was established, Anna did an additional year of residency where she specialized in cornea and contact lens. You can't just declare yourself an optometrist one day and start a career - but individuals do that all the time in personal training because the barrier to entry is completely non-existent.

So, how do we take this lesson and apply it to our fitness professionals who really want to be great? I think the first step is to heavily emphasize a minimum standard of education: a foundation upon which a career can be built.

While the skill sets needed to be a successful NFL strength and conditioning coach are obviously different than what one would need to do cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation in a clinical exercise physiology setting, there are surely many commonalities across these domains (and everything in between). Here are a few things I think everyone in the fitness field needs to know to create a solid foundation:

1. Anatomy, Kinesiology, and Biomechanics - Structure dictates function, and you have to know what good movement (function) is before you can structure a program to create, preserve, or reestablish it.

2. Physiology - I'm not saying that you need to be able to recite the Krebs cycle by heart, but you should have a clear understanding of energy systems development, the endocrine response to exercise, how various disease states impact exercise, the role of various medications your clients may be taking and a host of other physiological considerations.

3. Coaching Approaches - I'll be blunt: I don't think that anyone should be allowed to train someone unless they've first completed internships under multiple other credentialed coaches. Massage therapists need to complete hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of hours before they can go out on their own, and I'd argue that a bad fitness professional can hurt people a lot faster than a bad massage therapist. Good coaches understand how to not only deliver effective coaching cues, but also do so in the most efficient manner possible. The only way to get to this point is to get out and coach individuals from all walks of life - and then fine-tune when things don't work the way you expected.

4. Interpersonal relations - I've always been surprised at how little formal training in psychology the aspiring fitness professional gets in the typical exercise science curriculum. And, honestly, I think that the psychology lessons taught in a classroom by a "typical" college PhD (and I don't mean that disparagingly at all) are likely a lot different than ones you might learn from successful personal trainers who've had clients for decades, or strength and conditioning coaches who've thrived in college weight rooms for generations. Motivation is a very complex topic. Multiple times in my career, I've had a client walk in and start the session with (paraphrased), "So, I'm getting a divorce." Maybe deciding between a reverse lunge and Bulgarian split squat just became a little secondary?

What These Meant for Me

As I look at these four foundational educational processes, I feel like I was really well prepared on both #1 and #2 when I entered the industry. Having a class in gross anatomy during my undergraduate experience was a game-changer, and I was also fortunate to have some excellent kinesiology, biomechanics, and exercise physiology professors that went above and beyond simple memorization challenges.

Early on, though, I struggled with my coaching approaches. I spoke too quickly, blurted out too many cues, and likely confused a lot of athletes. It wasn't until I got to watch some great coaches at the University of Connecticut do their thing that I learned to be more clear and concise, and make the complex seem simple for our athletes.

Interpersonal relations seemed to come more naturally to me, likely because I worked at a tennis club for eight summers while I was growing up; I was constantly interacting with members across multiple age groups. However, this has actually been my biggest area of study over the past 3-4 years (particularly because I now have employees), and I always have an audiobook in progress with respect to leadership, communication, motivation, and related areas.  

What These Mean for You

Everyone in the fitness field has unique preparation. Some folks are very good technical coaches, but not great communicators. Some trainers have a knack for making movements look good even if they don't know the exact anatomy governing that clean movement. Some professionals have delivered outstanding results even if they can't explain the underlying physiological changes that occurred. These successes (outcomes) don't mean that they shouldn't constantly be seeking out ways to improve (processes), so I'd encourage you to do a "self audit" to determine your biggest growth areas.

You can shore up a lot of these knowledge gaps with books, DVDs, and online mentorship programs, but I'm of the belief that the fastest way to learn will always be in-person, as you can pick up information on all four components and see how the fit together. Internships and mentorships are phenomenal in this regard; there is real-time application and feedback. Seminars are also be fantastic, particularly when you have both lecture and practical (hands-on) components.

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Speaking of seminars, we just announced the lineup for our 5th annual Cressey Sports Performance fall seminar in Massachusetts. It's September 25th, with an early-bird registration deadline of August 25. For more information, click here. Hope to see you there!

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Register Now for the 5th Annual Cressey Sports Performance Fall Seminar!

We're very excited to announce that on Sunday, September 25, we’ll be hosting our fifth annual fall seminar at Cressey Sports Performance. As was the case with our extremely popular fall event over the past four years, this event will showcase the great staff we're fortunate to have as part of our team. Also like last year, we want to make this an affordable event for everyone and create a great forum for industry professionals and fitness enthusiasts alike to interact, exchange ideas, and learn. 

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Here are the presentation topics:

Pete Dupuis -- Business Before Branding

All too often, business owners put the cart before the horse by focusing on branding before establishing a solid business foundation. Before you worry about creating the most memorable hashtag on Twitter, you need efficient systems, a sound team, and concrete training philosophies. Anyone can convince a client to hand over their money once, but a consistent and predictable service retains the lifetime value of a customer. In this presentation, Pete will take an in-depth look at the core values, systems and principles that helped to create the foundation of our success at Cressey Sports Performance.

Miguel Aragoncillo -- Enhancing Performance with Plyometrics

Are you using bounding, jumping, skipping or hopping in your exercise programs? From track and field to team sports, plyometrics can enhance your performance. Miguel will cover plyometric basics to address various aspects of speed and power development. Whether you're a trainer or want to improve your own performance, this presentation will cover coaching and programming based on your goals. This presentation includes a hands-on component to identify specific techniques when performing jump training.

Greg Robins -- Lessons in Savagery

Nothing can replace old fashioned hard work in the weight room, but a savage work ethic and intelligent programming don't have to be mutually exclusive. Greg will share several important lessons to get strong, build muscle and become a savage without sacrificing the fundamentals of quality physical preparation.

Chris Howard -- What Massage Can Do for Your Strength Training

Massage therapy is often used to treat pain in the strength and conditioning setting. However, after seven years as a strength coach and massage therapist, Chris has developed methods to integrate massage into training programs for improved performance in healthy individuals. In this presentation, Chris will share his lessons learned on how massage therapy can benefit professional athletes and weekend warriors alike.

Tony Bonvechio -- Reverse Engineering the Novice Powerlifter

The rising popularity of powerlifting has sparked a resurgence in heavy barbell training for people of all ages and experience levels. Tony will discuss how to handle a brand-new powerlifter, including considerations for fine-tuning their technique, writing their programs and preparing them for their first competition. This presentation will feature hands-on movement and technique assessments to highlight what truly matters when evaluating powerlifters.

Nancy Newell -- Tackling the Road to ACL Recovery

An estimated 80,000 anterior cruciate ligament tears occur annually in the United States. The majority of these injuries are suffered by 15- to 25-year-olds who want to get back on the field or court as fast as possible. Nancy will examine current research regarding graft selections, risk factors, and how the strength and conditioning coach can help athletes recover both mentally and physically.

Eric Cressey -- Forecasting Fitness

Fifteen years after entering the industry, Eric will make some projections on what the next 15 years will look like in the fields of health and human performance. He'll pay attention to the business, training, and clinical sides of the equation to help fitness professionals to position themselves correctly in the years ahead.

**Bonus 2:30PM Saturday Session**

George Kalantzis and Andrew Zomberg-- The Method Behind CSP Strength Camp Madness

Group training is rapidly overtaking one-on-one training as the most profitable fitness service. However, an effective group fitness system is often difficult to create and sustain. In this session, George and Andrew will take participants through an actual CSP strength camp. The training session will be accompanied by a brief presentation and handouts that dive into the components of programming, coaching and marketing strategies to drive new business and client retention within a group training model.

Location:

Cressey Sports Performance
577 Main St.
Suite 310
Hudson, MA 01749

Cost:

Regular Rate – Early Bird (before August 25) $129.99, Regular $149.99
Student Rate – Early Bird (before August 25) $99.99, Regular $129.99

The early bird registration deadline is August 25.

Date/Time:

Sunday, September 25, 2016
Registration 8:30AM
Seminar 9AM-5PM

**Bonus session Saturday, September 24 at 2:30pm.

Continuing Education

0.8 National Strength and Conditioning Association CEUs (eight contact hours)

Click Here to Sign-up (Regular)

or

Click Here to Sign-up (Students)

We’re really excited about this event, and would love to have you join us! However, space is limited and most seminars we’ve hosted in the past have sold out quickly, so don’t delay on signing up!

If you have additional questions, please direct them to cspmass@gmail.com. Looking forward to seeing you there!

PS - If you're looking for hotel information, The Extended Stay America in Marlborough, MA offers our clients a heavily discounted nightly rate of just under $65.00. Just mention "Cressey" during the booking process in order to secure the discount. Their booking phone number is 508-490-9911.

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5 Strategies for Training Hypermobile Clients

Several months ago, Laura Canteri contributed a great article on general guidelines for hypermobile individuals as they approach their training. Today, Cressey Sports Performance coach Ashley Crosby builds on this theme by introducing some specific strategies coaches can employ to help their loose-jointed clients feel and move better. Enjoy! -EC

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I’m hypermobile, and have worked with hypermobile athletes and general population clients for the majority of my career. Let me be the first to tell you: if you tell me to get into a certain position for a lift, I WILL get there. Sure, it won’t be right 9 times out of 10 and I’ll feel it in the wrong places, but I’ll get there, and unless you are REALLY good at what you do, it’s going to look passable, and I’m going to feed into my dysfunctional movement patterns. And every hypermobile client I’ve worked with has done this exact same thing.

This leads to my first strategy:

1. Always, always, always ask your hypermobile client or athlete where they feel an exercise.

Always. Whether it is their first time lifting or their eight billionth session, ask. It’s not just that hypermobile people can cheat to get into a position, it’s that they very frequently don’t even know how it’s SUPPOSED to feel. Ask them, and educate them.

2. Provide external feedback.

Whether it's using your hands to put them in a position, block them off, poke them in the muscle they should be feeling, or give them a target to reach for, giving them a physical cue makes a world of difference. I can tell an athlete performing a wall slide with lift-off to only lift their arms off the wall two inches, or to stop at their ears, but hypermobile people often want to keep going until they “feel” an exercise.

Use your hands to block them until they learn where to stop, while also telling them to stop at their ears. Using bands (such as when you put one around your knees before a trap bar deadlift to correct knee valgus) also provides a little gentle reminder.

One of my favorite examples of providing feedback is regressing a core exercise down to the floor. We happen to work with a number of hyperextended low backs, and having an athlete push both the low back AND their ribs into the ground while in a supine bent-knee position helps reinforce a good core position. It also makes it easier when I tell them to keep their ribs down in an exercise. It’s like building a library of kinetic context for them. “Oh, this is what she means. I know how that should feel now.” Next time they hear the cue, they have an appreciation for what I mean.

3. Find a way to help them get and then maintain tension.

One such cue I frequently use when coaching a squat is, “pretend you’re standing on a towel that’s all bunched up, and spread the towel apart with your feet. Feel your glutes turn on? Good. Keep spreading it apart the whole time.” This helps hypermobile athletes build and maintain tension in their lower bodies through the movement while also reinforcing where an exercise should be felt.

Need one for keeping the lats tight during a deadlift? I like this other one from Tony Gentilcore:

4. Programs pauses, eccentric work, and tempo work.

Why? These approaches teach hypermobile folks to truly OWN the movement, from top to bottom and everything in between. Too often, a hypermobile athlete will drop into and out of a movement without ever truly feeling it. Pauses and tempos slow them down, and again, helps them maintain tension throughout the movement.

5. Stop before you feel the stretch.

Cressey Sports Performance - Florida co-founder Shane Rye gets a shout-out for this one.

Hypermobility literally means that an athlete can go way beyond the normal end range of motion in a joint before they feel anything. The idea is to teach them to stop and get strong in the right positions. An example would be an individual forcing excessive movement through the ball-and-socket (glenohumeral) joint instead of moving through the upper back. "Normal" mobility folks can't get into nearly as much trouble as hypermobile clients.

And on that note as well, for the love of all things good in this world, stop stretching your hypermobile athletes. Don’t LET them stretch. Have them foam roll, do mobility work if needed, or get soft tissue work done, but stop stretching: the relief from the stretch reflex is temporary, and the “tight” feeling comes back worse as the muscles knot up to keep loose joints in place.

About the Author

Ashley Crosby (@AshleyECrosby) recently finished her MS at Bridgewater State before coming to Cressey Sports Performance, first as an intern and then as a coach. A CSCS and Pn1 certified coach, she runs the strength camps in the CSP-FL location. Previously, she was the social media director for the Cape Cod Baseball League. When she's not coaching or lifting, she's usually watching baseball. In addition to her work at CSP-FL, Ashley works with folks from all walks of life through her distance-based consulting. You can reach her at ashley.e.crosby@gmail.com.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 8/2/16

I'm a day late with this week's recommended reading in light of a weekend trip to Chicago to present a shoulder seminar and catch a game at Wrigley Field. 

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I'm back in town and fired up for a good week of content, starting with these good finds from around the 'net:

Building Bridges: Leveraging Your Employer to Enhance Your Personal Brand - This was an excellent guest post by Cressey Sports Performance coach Tony Bonvechio for my business partner Pete's blog. We strongly encourage our staff members to build their own personal brands under our roof, and this talks about the how and why.

EC on the Aggressive Strength Podcast - I joined Mike Mahler on his podcast, and we talked a lot about strength development and powerlifting, particularly with respect to the deadlift.

5 Steps to Building Better Athletes - I loved this piece from Mike Robertson. It's "necessarily general," but still wildly important for coaches to understand.

Top Tweet of the Week:

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Top Instagram Post of the Week:

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LEARN HOW TO DEADLIFT
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