Home Posts tagged "Deadlift"

Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 3/23/17

Here's some recommended reading from around the strength and conditioning and nutrition worlds from the past week:

What to Do When You Don't Like Vegetables - I liked this article from Precision Nutrition because it touched on good long-term strategies more than just creative ways to "hide" veggies in what you normally eat. The infographic at the end is clutch.

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You Don't Need More Self Discipline. You Need Nuclear Mode - Have a bad habit you're trying to kick? Nate Green discusses nuclear mode, a strategy you might want to employ.

The 10 Dumbest Motivational Sayings - I contributed to this T-Nation roundtable discussion on hackneyed sayings that really need to go away.

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I think the popularity of this Tweet has more to do with the thought of steak than the actual message. #cspfamily

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Random Thoughts on Sports Performance Training: Installment 27

 I didn't get a chance to write a February installment of this series, so I'll do my best to over deliver with an extra few bulletpoints in this March edition.

1. Use video even if you don't think you need to use video.

A few weeks ago, I decided it was about time I learn how to use iMovie on my iPhone. What better way than to film pieces of my training session and put them all together?

Interestingly, beyond proving that I’d actually entered the 21st century from a technology standpoint, there was an added benefit: I identified some subtle technique issues that I could address. I didn’t like the inconsistent way I unracked the bar from set to set on squats, and I was slipping into more forward head posture than I would have liked on my TRX fallouts. These aren’t epic technical faults, but over time, they’d certainly detract from an optimal training effect. I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t videoed. And, this is coming from a guy who uses video regularly with his athletes.

On the whole, I think folks video TOO MUCH nowadays. A phone on the training floor is usually a distraction and interferes with the training process. However, used correctly, video can be a tremendous resource – and one I’ll be using more with my own training.

2. Think of assessments as descriptive, not predictive.

There is a ton of research out there on how to predict sports injuries. When it really boils down to it, though, we learn that:

a. the single best predictor of future injuries is a previous injury (duh)

b. predicting injuries is really, really hard

Why is predicting injuries so challenging? Very simply, injury risk is incredibly multifactorial. Injuries occur because of a remarkable interplay of systemic, biomechanical, and physiological factors – and they’re mixed in with pure happenstance: collisions, hit-by-pitches, poor weather conditions, and equipment malfunctions.

As such, it’s challenging to say that any single assessment will ever truly be a gold standard in predicting injuries. Accordingly, we should think of the assessment process as descriptive above all else. In other words, what we see when we first encounter an individual is their “default pattern:” how they’ll respond to a chaotic environment in the real world “fight-or-flight” scenarios.

For example, consider one of my favorite assessments, the overhead lunge walk:

When first challenged with an overhead lunge walk, many athletes dive into knee valgus, use a short stride, and slip into lumbar extension and forward head posture. Sure, we can clean a lot of these things up in a matter of less than 15 seconds, retest, and get a better outcome. That doesn’t fundamentally mean we’ve improved their movement quality or reduced their risk of injury, though. Effecting lasting changes takes time and lots of high-quality reps. However, the descriptive nature of the assessment guides our program design, which gives us a road map for these efforts.

3. Go unilateral to progress anterior core stability drills into rotary stability challenges.

When we categorize our core stability drills, we’ll break them down into the following designations:

a. anterior core (resisting extension of the lower back): rollouts, fallouts, etc.
b. rotary core (resisting rotation of the lower back): chops, lifts, etc.
c. lateral core (resisting lateral flexion – or side bending – of the lower back): 1-arm farmer’s walks, side bridges

With both rotary and lateral core “dominant” exercises, we can appreciate that the anterior core is also working to resist extension as we do a chop, lift, or farmer’s carry. In other words, we’re always controlling the sagittal plane above all else.

However, when we perform anterior core challenges – rollouts, fallouts, bodysaw drills, and basic prone planks/bridges – we really don’t get much of a challenge to rotary or lateral core stability. With four points of contact (two feet/knees and two arms/hands), the challenge outside the sagittal plane is minimal.

Fortunately, we can quickly and easily “bias” our anterior core work to get us additional challenges in the frontal and transverse planes by simply going to unilateral or asymmetrical set-ups. This is one (of many) scenarios where a TRX suspension trainer can be a game-changer. Here are two favorites: the 1-leg TRX fallout and TRX flutters:

 


4. Coaches need to train.

I don’t compete in powerlifting anymore. Life as a husband, dad, and owner of multiple businesses is hectic enough that competition was pushed out. And, my shoulder doesn’t love back squats these days.

Still, I lift a lot, get out and sprint, do interval training, and even mix in some rec softball and pick-up beach volleyball. This isn’t just because it’s hard-wired into my brain’s perception of a “normal day,” but also because I firmly believe that every training session allows me to evolve as a coach and have more empathy for our athletes.

Understanding how to modify your own training when you’re super busy at work or sick kids kept you up all night gives you an appreciation for how athletes feel when you ask them to get an in-season lift in after a weekend with four games.

Getting in a lift after a late cross-country flight makes you appreciate that it might be a better idea to score an extra few hours of sleep – rather than imposing more fatigue – in the middle of a road trip.

Putting yourself through 8-12 weeks of challenging training with a new program allows you to experiment with new principles to see if there are better methods for serving your athletes.

You don’t get these lessons if you don’t continue to train throughout your professional career. At age 25, I had no idea what our 35-year-old athletes felt like after training sessions. Now I understand it on a personal level – but more importantly, I’m keenly aware that our 45-year-old athletes probably have it even harder, so I need to ask a lot more questions and do a lot more listening in that demographic.

If you’re a strength and conditioning coach, the gym isn’t just where you work; it’s also where you experiment and learn. Don’t miss those opportunities to grow.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 3/14/17

We missed this regular feature last week, as I penned some extra original content in lieu of posting the regularly scheduled "redirects" around the 'net. Luckily, it allowed me to stockpile some stuff for this installment:

Conscious Coaching - Brett Bartholomew just released this excellent book for coaches, and it's already getting rave reviews. Add my name to the list of that list of impressed reviewers, as I'm halfway through and really enjoying it. I'd call this must-read material for any up-and-coming member of the fitness industry.

41FD7opTOFL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ 

The Resilient Performance Podcast with Bill Hartman - Bill is one of the brightest guys in the industry, and I learn something each time he speaks. Put him on a call with another super bright guy, Doug Kechijian, and you get an awesome podcast like this!

The 12 Best Ways to Build Shoulders - This roundtable was published this morning at T-Nation, and I was one of 12 contributors. You'll get a nice blend of contributions from bodybuilding and performance backgrounds.

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Random Thoughts on Long-Term Fitness Industry Success – Installment 6

It's time for the March installment of my thoughts on fitness career insights.

1. Four broad categories make your business successful.

I used to think that having a successful business in the fitness industry - or any industry, for that matter - was about two things: Lead Generation and Lead Conversion. Lead generation refers to how many people are inquiring about your gym, and lead conversion is how many of those people actually join your gym (or sign up to train with you). This is a very shortsighted view, though, as it doesn't take into account two super important systems components.

Retention is what ultimately differentiates the most successful gyms and trainers in the business, and it really doesn't fall under either of these categories. Retention is what magnifies your lead generation and conversion efforts over the course of a training career.

Efficiency is the other factor that you only understand once your business gets larger. Let's say you crush it on lead generation and lead conversion - and your retention is great - but you have a massive staff, insane utility expenses, an unreasonable lease, and are open 24 hours a day. You aren't very efficient, so the high expenses (and headaches) offset the gross revenue figures you're generating. Knowing how to "trim the fat" from an expenses standpoint is imperative to manage growth. Little things like switching to a new credit card processor or different payroll company can save you thousands without impacting your client experience at all.

If your business is struggling, take a look at those four factors and pick where you can improve the most - and the quickest. Pick the low-hanging fruit first.

2. There are four kinds of products/services.

I learned this all the way back in my undergraduate business education. You have new and old products/services, and new and old markets/customers.

SameNewProduct

I'll use Cressey Sports Performance as an example. We are well known for our work with baseball players.

When we get a new baseball player referral, it's the same product, old market scenario. We have all the systems in place for it. The line gets blurred a bit when the same product is rolled out to a new geographic area (i.e., nationwide vs. local), so you could argue that it "blends" with...

...Same product, new market: If we decided to take our baseball training principles and push them heavily to quarterbacks, swimmers, and tennis players, then it would be a same product, new market scenario.

When we first offered massage therapy, nutrition consultations, pitching instruction, and CSP clothing to our baseball players, that was a new product, old market scenario. 

If we decided to start producing a CSP branded javelin and pushing ourselves heavily to track and field throwing athletes, that would be a new product, new market scenario.

When you consider all these options, it becomes readily apparent that the two easiest ways to grow are using everything other than the new product, new market scenario.  It requires extensive resources and a huge leap of faith. It's far easier to sell an old or new service to an existing marketing than it is to acquire a brand new customer base completely. And, it's easier to sell your same service to and old or new market because you can fall back on your results and your reputation.

As with point #1 from above, it's easiest to pick the low-hanging fruit.

3. YOU are an appreciating asset that is tax-deductible.

With tax time at hand, here's an interesting observation: when you invest in yourself relative to your profession, it's usually tax deductible. Maybe it's a seminar you attend or DVD you purchase. It might be your fitness recertification fees, or what you spend on a CPR/first aid refresher. Perhaps it's some new equipment you purchase to use with clients, or the mileage you drive to observe a fellow professional in action so that you can learn. 

PB

You can't write off the Starbucks you drink, the new watch you got, or the fancy car in your driveway (well, unless it's a business vehicle, but that's a loaded topic). The point is that the government essentially incentivizes you to invest in yourself and your professional development, but it doesn't reward blowing money on "stuff" that doesn't make you better at what you do professionally or more likely to make money.

With that in mind, as the spring/summer seminar circuits start up, remember that the cost of attending a seminar - from registration fees to travel expenses - are deductible against your income. When you consider state and federal income taxes, most folks will actually get back upwards of 25-50% of what they pay for the seminar in question - and that doesn't even include the financial impact it could have on you if it helps you to become a more well rounded, marketable, and successful fitness professional. Invest in yourself and you'll never regret it.

We're hosting one such game-changing seminar at Cressey Sports Performance in Jupiter, FL on April 9. Brian St. Pierre, the Director of Performance Nutrition at Precision Nutrition, will be delivering a fantastic nutrition talk that was a big hit when he presented it at our Massachusetts facility last year. The early-bird registration deadline is fast approaching, and you can learn more about it HERE

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Making Sense of Exercise Contraindications

I've got a wonky shoulder. Actually, the term "wonky" probably doesn't do it justice. As of a MRI in 2014, here's what I've got:

"There is a high-grade partial thickness articular surface tear of the posterior fibers of the supraspinatus that measures 15 mm AP x 15 mm RL. The undersurface tendon fibers are delaminated and retracted 15
mm.

"There is a high-grade partial-thickness cartilage defect over the posterior medial aspect of the humeral head
(near the posterior-superior labrum) with cartilage flap formation that measures 8 mm SI x 5 mm AP."

That was about three years ago, and it may be worse now. The truth is that it started with internal impingement during my high school tennis career, and gradually progressed over the years. In comparing the 2014 MRI to one I'd had in 2003, you see that the damage has progressed (as expected), but the symptoms have actually gotten substantially better.

My (occasional) pain is your gain, though. You see, the symptoms (or lack thereof) can actually teach us a lot about how we view contraindicating exercises.

I can bench press as heavy as I want with zero issues. Pull-ups, rows, pullovers, overhead carries, landmine presses, Turkish get-ups are all completely asymptomatic. They're in my safe exercise repertoire.

And, as long as I don't go crazy with volume or intensity, I can throw a baseball just fine. I long-tossed out well over 200 feet with my pro guys consistently this offseason and it wasn't a problem.

Overhead pressing is weird for me, though. If I tried to push press 135 pounds, my shoulder would hate me for the next 6-8 weeks. Interestingly, though, if I keep the weight lighter, stick to dumbbells in the scapular plane, control the tempo, focus on perfect technique, and don't go crazy with volume, overhead pressing actually makes my shoulder feel better. I'll work it in as an assistance exercise every other month.

 

 

Thanks to a chronic partial thickness rotator cuff tear, overhead pressing is weird for me. If I tried to push press 135 pounds, my shoulder would hate me for the next 6-8 weeks. Interestingly, though, if I keep the weight lighter, stick to dumbbells in the scapular plane, control the tempo, focus on perfect technique, and don't go crazy with volume, overhead pressing actually makes my shoulder feel better. I'll work it in as an assistance exercise every other month. This reminds us that we shouldn't just contraindicate exercises, but rather specific SCENARIOS. You won't change a person's anatomy, but you can certainly change the training stimulus to accommodate that anatomy. Check out today's post at www.EricCressey.com/blog for more info. #cspfamily #rotatorcuff #overheadpress #shoulderpain #shoulderworkout

A post shared by Eric Cressey (@ericcressey) on

Interestingly, though, back squatting is what destroys my shoulder the most. This is consistent with an internal impingement diagnosis, but doesn't make a whole lot of sense when you consider that I can throw pain-free. Even if I just try to put a 45-pound barbell on my shoulders, it lights my shoulder up in a very bad way.

This weird collection of symptoms can actually teach us three really big lessons, though.

1. Everyone's symptoms and provocative patterns are completely different.  Two people might have a very similar medical diagnosis, but dramatically different safe exercise repertoires.

2. Too often, we contraindicate simply contraindicate exercises. In reality, we should be looking much broader, considering factors such as absolute loading, tempo, volume, and exercise technique.

[bctt tweet="We should contraindicate people from exercises, not exercises for people."]

3. An individual's "safe" exercise repertoire may evolve over time due to changes in movement quality, tissue quality, recovery capacity, and structural integrity. Our programming needs to evolve to accommodate those changes, too.

Certainly, some exercises are inherently bad and not worth the risk, but it's important to evaluate each individual and situation individually to make the determinations on all those "middle of the road" exercises that deliver great training effects and make strength and conditioning fun.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 3/3/17

Here are some good strength and conditioning reads for you to check out as you head into the weekend! 

The Sleep Sweet Spot for Avoiding Memory Problems - This is a quick read from Dr. Mike Roussell; he covers the ever important - but commonly overlooked - topic of sleep.

Random Thoughts on Speed, Strength, and Conditioning - Mike Robertson and I are a lot alike - especially when it comes to our love of "random thoughts" brain dumps. There are some gems in here from my brother from another mother.

Mike-Robertson-300x287

Why the Phrase, "I Need to Rest" is a Misleading Excuse - Frank Duffy outlines some important points about responsibly helping folks to avoid time off from training when they're injured.    

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 2/22/17

It's time for this week's list of recommended reading. Sorry it's a few days late, but hopefully it still helps to get you over hump day! As a friendly reminder, tomorrow is the last day to get 20% off on Jaeger Bands at this link using the coupon code CRESSEY.

A Shoe by the Athletes for the Athletes - This blog at Eastbay discusses the origins of the New Balance Minimus MX20v6 Cressey Trainer. Eastbay carried, but their inventory has pretty much been cleared out (only size 7 remains). New Balance does still have some odds and ends in terms of sizes remaining on their websites, and folks in Canada can get shoes at SportCheck.ca

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Back to McGill - I attended a great one-day course with Dr. Stuart McGill yesterday, and it reminded me to look back on an interview I did with him all the way back in 2006. Even as we look back 11 years, Stu is still tremendously ahead of his times as a research and clinician when it comes to preventing and correcting back pain. We're discussed doing another interview in the near future, and I'm super excited for it. In the meantime, check out this old gem; it's still "on point" and invaluable.

Grit - I'm about 3/4 of the way through this book from Angela Duckworth, and I've found it to be excellent. There are lessons that apply across all industries, but I see particular applications with respect to strength and conditioning, a field where hard work and determination really sets individuals apart on another level. Heck, we even put a reminder of this on the wall at both facilities!

Hard-Work-Beats-Talent-825x386-2

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 2/15/17

It's been an exciting and busy week, thanks to the launch of the new Minimus 20v6 Cressey Trainer coinciding with the last week of the Major League Baseball off-season.

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I'm happy to report that the shoes have sold really well - to the point that we're already sold out in several sizes. With that in mind, there are still some options for you to get them:

1. If you're looking for international shipping, Eastbay.com is your best bet. They should be making the shoe available on their site either today (Wednesday) or tomorrow.

2. If you're in the U.S. and your size is already sold out HERE at New Balance's website, Eastbay.com is also your best bet.

3. If you're in Canada and your size is already sold out HERE at New Balance's Canadian site, you can try SportChek.ca or Eastbay.com.

Now that all that is out of the way, let's get to this week's content!

Meet the First Performance Coach to Get His Own Signature Training Shoe - This article at Stack.com takes a look at the design process behind the new Minimus 20v6 Cressey Training sneaker.

As Spring Training Begins, Pitchers Enter Tommy John Danger Zone - Along with Alan Jaeger and Mike Reinold, I was interviewed for this USA Today article on the spike in injuries seen during spring training each year. 

Power Development for Powerlifters - This is an excellent post from Cressey Sports Performance coach Tony Bonvechio. I wish I'd had it back in the early 2000s to help my bar speed along, as it took me a few years to figure out that getting faster was a key to getting stronger for me.

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My New Favorite Training Sneakers

All the way back in 2011, I wrote up a detailed article about the New Balance Minimus, a shoe that had just been released and really caught my attention as the best option in a sea of minimalist sneakers that had flooded the market. That review - alongside my work with professional baseball players - actually led to a consulting deal with New Balance, and it's been a great partnership.

One of the biggest initiatives as part of that collaborative relationship was to find ways to continually improve the Minimus. Over the past six years, Cressey Sports Performance's staff and athletes have provided regular feedback to New Balance to fine-tune the designs - and early last year, they released Version 6, which has been extremely popular. And, last spring, I was psyched to learn that New Balance wanted to pair with us to release a Cressey Sports Performance themed Minimus, the Minimus 20v6 Cressey Trainer.

We've spent the last year fine-tuning the design, and we're excited to announce that it's now available for sale:

IMG_7256

This is a very limited edition shoe; only about 500 pairs were produced. With that in mind, if you'd like to pick up a pair, don't delay! You can check them out at the following links:

In the United States: http://www.newbalance.com/pd/minimus-20v6-cressey-trainer/UX20-V6.html#color=Alpha%20Red_with_White_and_Black&width=D

In Canada: http://www.newbalance.ca/en_ca/pd/minimus-20v6-cressey-trainer/UX20-V6.html#color=Alpha%20Red_with_White_and_Black&width=D

We hope you like them! Thanks for your continued support of Cressey Sports Performance! 

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Less Sickness For Better Results

Back in 2011, Posner et al. published a descriptive study called “Epidemiology of Major League Baseball Injuries”. The researchers reviewed all the injuries reported in MLB from 2002 to 2008 and classified them based on anatomical region. As expected, there was a lot of disabled list time attributed to injuries to shoulders, elbows, hamstrings, low backs, hands, and wrists – and a host of other maladies.

elbows

Interestingly, “illness” accounted for 1.1% of all “injuries.” No big deal, right? Players get the flu, food poisoning, and the occasional migraine, so this is actually surprisingly low.

Actually, it’s a very misleading number. You see, as the study authors point out in their “methods” section, “We utilized data only for those injuries that resulted in a player being placed on the disabled list.”

In other words, “illness” was only counted if it landed a player on the 15-day disabled list. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been sick enough to miss 15 days at work. Even when I got sick as a kid, I was usually back in school within two days because I got sick of watching the same episode of Sportscenter 18 times per day.

Before I digress too much, let me get to my point:

[bctt tweet="Illness is actually remarkably underreported in professional sports."]

Just because a guy is sick doesn’t mean he goes on the disabled list. As an example, take A’s pitcher Sonny Gray’s food poisoning incident in 2015, where he missed a start in the middle of the summer. In 2015, as one of the best pitchers in baseball, Gray was 14-7 with a 2.73 ERA. In the 31 starts he made, he put up a 3.7 WAR (wins above replacement) number, which equates to a WAR of 0.12 per start. According to Fangraphs, each WAR was worth $7.7 million in 2015 – so Gray’s food poisoning cost the team $924,000 – but definitely didn’t count against any disabled list time. Additionally, he was scratched from his opening day start in 2016 for the same reason – and it still wasn’t included in the man games lost total.

Moreover, just because a guy is sick doesn’t mean he even misses a game. I’ve heard plenty of stories of MLB guys praying to the porcelain gods between innings – and games where an entire team gets ravaged by the flu, but still has to go out and play.

What’s the take-home point? The individuals who manage to not get sick are the ones who make better progress over the long haul. Avoiding those 3-4 periods of sickness each year is on par with avoiding tweaking your lower back and missing a month in the gym.

[bctt tweet="The goal is consistency, and injury/sickness are big roadblocks to a consistent training effect."]

Here’s where I’ll toot my own horn a little bit. My wife and I have twin daughters who were born in November of 2014. I’ve only been sick once since they were born. And, this is with co-owning two gyms in two states on top of my normal writing, consulting, and speaking responsibilities, which includes travel at least once a month. Staying healthy while managing a life’s craziness has somehow become right in my wheelhouse. With that in mind, I think you can break down your ability to stay healthy into three big categories:

1. Sleep Quality

I came across this Tweet a few months ago, and it became one of my all-time favorites:

 

The one time I got sick was when I was really pushing my luck on sleep deprivation and trying to make up for it with extra caffeine consumption. Doing so always saps your immunity in the long run.

Interestingly, I’ve been rocking a Fitbit since back in May. And, while I don’t think it’s perfectly accurate, it does give a pretty accurate measure of when you go to bed and when you wake up. Since September 1, I’ve gone out of my way to make sure that my weekly average sleep duration is always at least seven hours per night.

It’s had a massive impact on how I’ve felt in the gym. Normally, my training is terrible in December and January when our busiest seasons in the gym are upon us. This year, I felt strong – and without any aches and pains. Sleep tracking - no matter how basic it may be - can have a dramatic impact on your immunity and, in turn, your performance.

2. Overall Stress

"Stress" means something different to everyone. As an example, I could work 18-hour days for weeks on end without feeling stressed, yet if you ask me to stand on the 4th floor of a building and look over the edge, my cortisol levels would be off the charts. I'm terrified of heights, but not long hours. Other folks are the exact opposite.

One thing we can all agree on, though, is that training is a big stressor - regardless of whether it's higher volume endurance training or higher intensity weight training. If you want to stay healthy, you have to fluctuating that training stress so that you remain in overload and overreach mode without slipping into true overtraining scenarios. I cover this in much more detail in my e-book, The Art of the Deload.

e042e-art_of_the_deload2

3. Nutritional practices.

A discussion of proper nutrition and supplementation habits to optimize immunity has been the topic of entire books, so I won't even attempt to do the topic justice in a matter of a few sentences (although this article from over a decade ago tested the waters in that regard: Invincible Immunity). 

I can speak to personal experience when I say that I feel the best when I hydrate sufficiently, get in enough total calories, and eat plenty of healthy fats and vegetables. I'm also a huge advocate of Athletic Greens, which I take religiously every single day. I use it instead of a multivitamin, and also like the fact that it includes some digestive enzymes and probiotics for gut health. 

superfood-cocktail-bac-brown

It's not rocket science, but that's because it doesn't have to be complex. Getting sick is about your ability to fend off stress to your system. Two of these factors - sleep quality and nutrition - are about warding off the stress. The third factor is about managing the amount of stress actually imposed to the system. Critically examine these three broad realms if you want to find ways to stay healthy! 

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