Home Posts tagged "Deadlift"

Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 10/25/16

Before we get to the recommended content for the week, can we talk about how awesome it is to have a Cubs/Indians World Series match-up?!?! With four Cressey Sports Performance (CSP) guys in this series, you can bet that I won't miss a single pitch. I'm flying out today for Game 1 in Cleveland, but before I do, here's some strength and conditioning reading to hold you over for a few days!

Long-Term Success: What You Can Learn from Corey Kluber - With CSP athlete Corey starting Game 1 of the World Series, it seemed like a good time to reincarnate this article I wrote for Gabe Kapler's website back in 2014. Yesterday's article (here) on MLB.com reaffirmed my thoughts even more.


Why Nutrition Science is So Confusing - Dr. John Berardi has a knack for making the complex seem simple, and in this infographic, he discusses why things have gotten so complicated on the nutrition front in the first place.

How to Write Better Youth Warm-ups - At our Massachusetts facility, Nancy Newell heads up the CSP Foundations program, which is geared toward 7-12 year-old athletes. They have an absolute blast and it has a lot to do with Nancy's contagious energy and fun programming.

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Random Thoughts on Sports Performance Training – Installment 23

It's time for the October edition of this sports performance training series. I've been doing a lot of early off-season evaluations for pro guys, so a lot of conversations and assessments on that front are at the top of my mind.

1. Communication can be good and bad.

One of the biggest complaints I hear from professional athletes about their "employing" organizations is that the communication isn't good. They get mixed messages from different coaches and don't know where they stand on a variety of things. More than any of the amenities they could request, they really just want everyone to be on the same page and for the plan of attack to be related to them - and with frequent updates.

Interestingly, though, in the gym, athletes (especially more advanced athletes) usually want you to communicate less. They need clear, concise coaching cues so that you don't overwhelm them or kill the training environment with "nit-picking." Too much communication can actually be just as problematic as too little.

If you look at the typical training session for one of our athletes, I think you'd find that 80% of all the words spoken occur during the arrival, warm-up, and post-training cooldown periods. During the training session, it's time to get after it. Those 20% of words are implemented tactfully.

2. Many athletes don't have "clean" hip extension - and your exercise selection should reflect that.

Around this time last year, I posted this video of an MLB pitcher who was just starting up with us:

After seeing quite a few guys who look like this, it's really made me reconsider whether going directly to a Bulgarian split squat (rear-foot-elevated split squat) in these guys is a good bet in the early stages of the offseason. This exercise requires a lot of not only hip extension range of motion, but also the core stability to make sure that ROM is actually used (the concept of relative stiffness in action). This is something we touched on on in Mike Reinold and my recent release, Functional Stability Training: Optimizing Movement

With all this in mind, I've been using more regular split squats - which require less hip extension range-of-motion - in the first month of the offseason for even some of our advanced guys as they work to reestablish cleaner lumbopelvic movement strategies in the early off-season. That said, regular split squats can be a little harder on the trailing leg toes than the rear-foot-elevated version, so individualization (as always) is super important.

3. Sometimes, efficient transfer of force - and not joint-specific coaching - delivers the good positions for which you're looking.

I've often written about how we have both specific and general assessments in our training arsenal, but it's actually somewhat of a continuum. Specific assessments would be more along the lines of classic joint range-of-motion measurements. Shoulder abduction or flexion would be slightly more general, as these screens involve multiple joints. Finally, an overhead squat, overhead lunge walk, or push-up would all be very general screens that look at multiple joints and help to evaluate how well an athlete transfers forces.

Interestingly, though, very often, we see coaches and rehabilitation specialists who only have specific correctives even though they utilize a load of general assessments. The goal should be to ultimately get athletes to the point that efficient movement on general tasks delivers the positions you're hoping to safely achieve. As an example, we will use wall slide variations as part of our warm-ups to teach athletes how to get upward rotation of the scapula. A progression would be landmine press variations; usually in half-kneeling or standing:

Eventually, though, athletes are ready to "sync" these movements up in a scenario where transfer of force from the lower body up through the core and to the arm allows that upward rotation to happen.

In short, a good reminder is:

[bctt tweet="As is the case with your assessments, your correctives should range from specific to general."]

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 10/17/16

I hope everyone had a great weekend. I made my second Massachusetts-to-Florida drive over the weekend. I was going crazy not being able to watch playoff baseball, but I did manage to crush some audiobooks and podcasts along the way.

EC on the Jim Laird Show - I really enjoyed being interviewed in Jim's podcast, and feel like we covered a lot of great stuff.

ADHD Nation - I listened to this audiobook on my ride from MA to FL over the weekend, and it was eye-opening, to say that least. One statistic that really blew my mind: there are over 10,000 2-3 year-olds in the U.S. who are on some kind of ADHD medication.


The Absolute Worst Fitness Trend - This is a T-Nation compilation to which I contributed. There are some really good observations here.

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Not too shabby. #elitebaseball #cspfamily

A photo posted by Cressey Sports Performance (@cresseysportsperformance) on

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Strength Strategies – Installment 3

I figured it'd be a good time to add another installment to this series, as today is the last day of the sale on Greg Robins and my resource, The Specialization Success Guide. Through midnight tonight (Sunday), you can save 40% by entering the coupon code ROBINS at checkout HERE.

SSG (1)

Here are six strategies to help you in your strength pursuits:

1. Be a beltless badass.

My wife has a very good deadlift for someone who's never competed in powerlifting; she's pulled close to 300 pounds, which is about 2.5 times her body weight. What's most impressive to me, though, is that even when she gets up to 95-100% of her best deadlift, her form never breaks down. This has a lot to do with consistent coaching early on, and the right pace to progressions over the ten years I've known her.

That said, I also think that it has a ton to do with never wearing a lifting belt. Seriously, she has never put on one. Likewise, I have athletes who have been with us for close to a decade who have never worn one, either. I'm a big believer:

[bctt tweet="Optimal long-term technique and strength success is built on a beltless foundation."]

Interesting, on this point, I reached out to Cressey Sports Performance coach Tony Bonvechio, who coaches our women's powerlifting team. He said that most of his novice lifters will gain about 20% on their squat and deadlifts by wearing a belt.

Conversely, Tony himself gets about 9%, and I'm slightly less than that (6-7%). I reached out to some very accomplished lifters, and after crunching the numbers between raw and belted PRs, none of them were over 10% difference.

To this end, I think a big training goal should be to reduce the "Belt Deficit." Training beltless is a great way to make sure that "ugly strength" doesn't outpace technique in beginning lifters, and it can also be a hugely helpful training initiative for more advanced lifters who may have become too reliant on this implement.

2. Don't be afraid to gain some weight.

Make no mistake about it; you can improve strength without gaining weight. It can, however, be like trying to demolish a 30-story building with an ice pick instead of dynamite. 

I've had some success as lightweight (165-181-pound class) lifter, but this can be misleading because there have been multiple times in my lifting career when I've pushed calories to make strength gains come faster. In the fall of 2003, for instance, I went from 158 up to 191, and then cut back to a leaner 165. In the summer of 2006, I got up to 202, then back down to the mid 180s. These weight jumps made me much more comfortable supporting heavy weights in the squat and bench press, as a little body weight goes a long way on these lifts.


3. Learn to evaluate progress in different ways.

Traditionally, powerlifters have only cared about evaluating progress with the "Big 3" lifts. Unfortunately, those aren't going to improve in every single training session. To some degree, the Westside system of powerlifting works around this by rotating "Max Effort" exercises - but even with rotating exercises, it's still an approach that relies on testing maximal strength on a very regular basis. Occasionally, it'll lead to disappointments even over the course of very successful training cycles.

For this reason, we always encourage individuals to find different ways to monitor progress. Tracking bar speed can be great, whether you have technology to actually do it, or you're just subjectively rating how fast you're lifting. A lower rating of perceived exertion (RPE) at a given weight would also indicate progress.

Volume based measures are also useful. Hitting a few more reps with the same weight during your assistance work is invaluable; those reps add up over the course of a longer training cycle. Also, making a training session more dense (more work in the same or less amount of time) can yield great outcomes.

Looking for more strength strategies or - better yet - programs to take the guesswork out of things for you? Check out The Specialization Success Guide, a resource for those specifically focused on improving the squat, bench press, and deadlift. Through the end of the day today, you can enter the coupon code ROBINS to save 40% off the normal price.

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The “Power Couple” Sale

This weekend is going to be a fun one for the Cressey Sports Performance family, as long-time staff member Greg Robins marries his wonderful fiancée, Taryn. When you combine Greg's 685-pound deadlift with Taryn's 320-pound deadlift, you quickly realize that a 1,000-pound combined pull makes them the very definition of a "power couple."


Greg was also my co-creator The Specialization Success Guide, so it seemed like a perfect week to have a Power Couple Sale (because weddings are all about cheesy hashtags and taglines). This 100% digital product is a great resource for those looking to specifically improve the squat, bench press, or deadlift. Just enter the coupon code ROBINS (all CAPS) to receive a 40% discount at checkout at the following link:


SSG (1)

This sale ends Sunday, October 16 at midnight. Again, that coupon code is ROBINS. Congratulations, Greg and Taryn!

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 9/10/16

It's been a hectic week in South Florida with Hurricane Matthew preparations on top of the baseball off-season, but we lucked out as the storm moved past us in Jupiter before coming ashore further North. Hopefully all our readers in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas are safe and sound! 

That said, here's a little content to get the week going:

Elevation Training Masks: An Analysis - I've been meaning to write a similar post up for a long time, but suffice it to say that I never got around to it. Luckily, Doug Kechijian made it happen and did a great job. Elevation masks are a waste of time and money - and have potentially negative side effects.

Gym Owner Musings: Installment 2 - My business partner, Pete Dupuis, discusses a few of the lessons we've learned in running Cressey Sports Performance for the past 9+ years. I think point #3 on early-stage "learning by doing."

The Ideal Business Podcast with John Berardi - Dr. John Berardi was been a great friend and mentor to me, and he shares some awesome business development wisdom in this podcast with Pat Rigsby. I thought the portion of the interview where he talks about the importance of saying "No" was particularly intriguing (and an area in which I need to improve!). 

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Culture, Social Facilitation, and Strength and Conditioning Success

Last week, in the midst of a great conversation with a college pitching coach who is a good friend of mine, he said something to the effect of, "You guys do a great job of creating a culture where guys want to work hard to get better."

Culture. That word seems to pop up in almost every discussion I have, whether it's on the training or business aspect of things in the strength and conditioning field. And, it seems to pop up a ton of time at this time of year with playoff baseball, the NFL and NCAA football regular seasons, and NBA pre-season all in swing. 

[bctt tweet="There's no recipe for an ideal culture, but if yours is poor, you'll probably have terrible results."]

Everyone talks about how Joe Maddon drives a clubhouse culture where guys have fun and play relaxed - and the Cubs have won 100 games. The New York Times celebrated his "Zaniness" earlier this year in a detailed article.

Meanwhile, Bill Belichick drives a culture of preparation, accountability to the team, and personal responsibility ("Do your job."). The Patriots have won four Super Bowls during his tenure, and he's 3-1 in the 2016-17 season without Tom Brady under center. I'd highly recommended you read this fantastic collection of quotes from his players and coaching peers.

Source: Keith Allison

From the outside, Maddon and Belichick couldn't be more different, yet they have both had tremendous outcomes. Each culture is unique and successful for different reasons. As my business partner, Pete Dupuis, has written, there is no single recipe for a great culture - and it actually might have subtle changes depending on time of day. Our gym culture is very different when our adult strength camps are running at 5:30AM, as compared to a crew of professional baseball players getting after it at noon. If you look the Wikipedia entry on culture, they cite anthropologist E.B. Tylor as defining it as "that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society." In other words, there are plenty of different ways one can tinker with it to suit their liking - whether this tinkering actually improves the culture or not.

With that said, I do think we can look at commonalities of success. And, there are three things that I think every successful culture shares:

1. Good People

As has been often said in the fitness world and beyond, "They don't care what you know until they know that you care." This is why some corporate and athletic cultures improve dramatically just by getting "bad apples" out of the mix. I call it "addition by subtraction" - and it's one reason why we look really heavily at "fit" on the personality front before bringing someone into Cressey Sports Performance family as a staff member or intern.


On this front, here's an outstanding article on this front: Why Investments in the Right People - Not Analytics or Scouting - is Key to the Texas Rangers' Success. Very simply, people deliver the systems, and your perfect programming and pristine facility won't matter if you don't have great coaches using them.

I think Josh McDaniels (Offensive Coordinator with the Patriots) is an awesome example. From the outside, he seems like the complete opposite of Belichick. McDaniels is a younger, high-energy, super emotional guy. However, maybe it just works so well because Belichick understand how to complement his skill set and personality - and they both work well together because of a common vision of continuous improvement. This leads us to...

2. Dedication to Continuous Improvement

As I look around the country at the most successful strength and conditioning facilities, companies in other industries, and sports teams, the thing that stands out to me the most is innovation. Whether it's Apple always trying to improve on its product offering, Amazon taking convenience to a whole new level, Joe Maddon employing never-before-seen defensive shift approaches, or the Patriots finding creative ways to use their personnel, the best are always finding ways to differentiate themselves from the competition.

Regardless of your industry, it's really easy to get comfortable and stop innovating, or to drift away from the practices that made you successful in the first place. The best cultures preserve the good while always finding ways to bring up their weaknesses. 

3. Targeted Approaches to Social Facilitation

Referencing Wikipedia again, social facilitation "is the tendency for people to perform differently when in the presence of others than when alone. Compared to their performance when alone, when in the presence of others, they tend to perform better on simple or well-rehearsed tasks and worse on complex or new ones."

"Facilitation" is a bit of a misnomer, though, as it implies that performance gets easier or better in front of crowds. For this reason, social facilitation is often referred to as the "audience effect" instead.

In a strength and conditioning culture, social facilitation can be wildly important and helpful. It's the loud music and energetic training partners you want around when you're trying to set a personal record. It may also be the driven individuals around which you want your impressionable teenage son training in order to foster habits that will lead to long-term success in sports and life.


It can be easily problematic, though, too. Putting a rehabbing athlete in a high energy environment can force him to skip steps in his return-to-play progressions. Likewise, some individuals who are new to exercise may be intimidated in these environments. Having lots of eyes on an athlete who is learning a new skill may put too much pressure on this situation for optimal learning to occur. Finally, social facilitation tells us why a 350-pound offensive lineman probably isn't going to be sold on a 120-pound female training him, and why a 14-year-old female gymnast isn't going to be too keen on a 300-pound monster with a 500-pound bench press training her.

For this reason, the best coaches, leaders, and business owners understand how to specifically target social facilitation to drive athletic and business success. 

Culture vs. Systems

A few years ago, a strength and conditioning coach from another facility came to observe at our Massachusetts location, and she remarked to me, "I love your business model!" Apparently, at the facility at which she worked, it was a "one program on the dry erase board" model where coaches would wind up coaching large volumes of athletes through the same exercises all day. She liked the fact that our coaches had a lot of autonomy; they interacted with a wide variety of clients and coached dozens of unique programs each day.

What she might not have realized is that our business model would fail miserably with the wrong people. If I had incompetent coaches who weren't able to work across multiple populations or able to think on their feet, they'd really struggle. And, if they weren't dedicated to continuing education and always delivering the best quality product, we'd be forced to use more "mundane" programming. She actually really liked the Cressey Sports Performance training and coaching cultures; the business model is just structured to allow them to shine through.

[bctt tweet="Systems are important, but it's your culture that determines whether those systems actually work."]

In the aforementioned article's title, Bill Belichick is referred to as the "Greatest Enigma in Sports." I don't think there is anything puzzling about his success, though - especially after reading this article. He's an immensely driven person who is wilding committed to avoiding complacency, and he surrounds himself with people who are like him in this regard - but complement his personality in other ways. Then, he uses social facilitation to foster an environment of continuous improvement and accountability to the team. That's one approach to a great recipe for a winning culture over multiple decades.

However, what flies in the NFL might fail miserably in MLB, the collegiate realm, or the private sector of strength and conditioning. The trick is for you to find the right mix that works for you in establishing the right culture in your world. 

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 10/3/16

I just finished the 23-hour drive down to Jupiter, Florida from Massachusetts, the Patriots lost yesterday, and I got crushed in Fantasy Football. In other words, you could say that it was a rough weekend - but I certainly won't. Why? Playoff baseball is kicking off this week, so things are looking awesome!  How awesome is this time of year? Speaking of awesome, here's some great reading from around the web from the past week:

Having an Approach to Having an Approach - In case you missed it, here's a guest post I wrote up for my business partner, Pete Dupuis.  First impressions really matter, and these are some strategies to make the most of them.

The Like Switch - I listened to this audiobook on my ride down to FL, and found it pretty interest. Dr. Jack Schafer is a retired FBI agent, and he discussed a lot of tactics he used in everything from befriending spies, to interrogating suspects, to reading people. As a coach, it made me realize that we can enhance our coaching and rapport-building efforts with some non-verbal adjustments. And, as a speaker, it gave me some ideas on how to "read" audiences. I'd definitely recommend it regardless of your line of work.


The Physical Preparation Podcast with Chris Chase - I covered this on my drive as well; Mike Robertson interviewed Atlanta Hawks Athletic Performance Coach Chris Chase, and it was outstanding. This is a really good listen on both the off-season and in-season training side of things.

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Random Thoughts on Long-Term Fitness Industry Success – Installment 4

It's time for another installment of this popular series. In no particular order, here are some thoughts on building a career in the fitness "biz." 

1. Stay away from political discussion in a business context. 

I've briefly written about this in the past, but it warrants reiteration here with the election fast approaching.

[bctt tweet="There is little to gain by talking politics on social media, but there is a lot to lose."]

I'll give you an example. A good friend of mine in the fitness industry posted some pretty strong politic opinions on his personal page the other day. I won't mention which side of the fence he's on, but suffice it to say that it stirred the pot enough to warrant a somewhat contentious - but mild relative to the typical - political exchange in the comments section. As I type this, he's typed out 635 words between his initial post and the replies thereafter.

In the process, I guarantee that he's persuaded absolutely nobody to change their mind, and he's irritated at least a few of his friends, clients, and potential clients. Moreover, had he dedicated those 635 words to an educational blog post, exercise tutorial, he'd have added value to the industry and, in the process, likely added to his clientele.

It's easy to track how many clients you've gained, but it's impossible to quantify how many potential clients you've lost by putting your foot in your mouth.

2. Never underestimate the value of a hand-written note.

This is something I used to do really well, but foolishly got away from for a bit. I'm now doing it more than ever. Along these lines, I saw this Tweet from baseball writer Jerry Crasnick the other day and thought it was awesome:  

Vin Scully is an absolute legend - arguably the most famous sports broadcaster in history - and I'm sure that notes like this were just some of many things that made him so well liked by all in the game of baseball. So, grab a pen and note card and fire off a few messages; it's a lot more productive than arguing about politics on social media!

3. Trainers need to think about retirement savings.

I made this point at this past weekend's Cressey Sports Performance Fall Seminar. Here are three thoughts that are seemingly unrelated, but very important for fitness professionals to understand:

a. A majority of Americans are not on track with their retirement savings. While I can't verify the exact numbers, I recently heard that only 59% of Baby Boomers have any retirement savings, and that only 10% of Americans as a whole are on track with their retirement savings. It's virtually certain that we won't get back all that we are paying in on the Social Security front.

b. Outside of college and professional strength and conditioning positions, very few fitness professionals I know have 401(k) matching programs at their places of employment. And, very few of those who work for themselves are setting up simplified employee pensions (SEP IRAs).

c. It's a lot harder for trainers to prolong a career and delay retirement because standing on gym floors for long hours into your late 60s and 70s really doesn't feel very good.

Shorter careers + less structured retirement planning options = less-than-stellar retirement savings. To my fitness professional friends, even if it's just a few bucks a month, please, please, please start saving. If you understand the power of compound interest, you can skip one meal "out" each month to make it happen.

(Note to my talking-politics-on-Facebook friend: this article just exceeded 635 words. See how much value I've delivered in about twenty minutes of typing?).

4. Have a presence.

In his recent release, Invisible Influence, Jonah Berger writes, "The more people see something, the more they like it. Familiarity leads to liking."


To some degree, this is a spin on the law of repeated exposures. Folks may need to see your marketing message many times before they realize that your product/service is the right fit for them. However, I think that the most valuable marketing message is in-person interactions.

Looking back, I'm convinced that the single-most important contributor to our success in our early days was how much I got out to watch high school baseball games (which I really enjoy doing anyway). In doing so, I a) supported the players, b) saw up-close what we needed to work on, and c) met parents.

Remember that people aren't just buying the product or service you're selling; they're buying you and buying into your corporate culture. Especially with training young athletes, parents want to know they're putting their kids in an unconditionally supportive environment - much like they do when they seek out a day care for their toddlers. To the parents out there, have you ever noticed how most people have no problem leaving their kids with grandparents, aunts/uncles, and older siblings, yet every potential babysitter has to go through a thorough "vetting" process? The babysitter isn't familiar; family is. 

[bctt tweet="Your goal in the fitness industry is to become family, not just a contractor."]

5. Be really good at some things, good enough at other things, and always know enough to refer out.

Wil Fleming is a good friend of mine and very accomplished Olympic lifter. He also runs a successful sports performance facility in Indiana. Over the years, Wil has actually referred a few of his most accomplished baseball athletes to Cressey Sports Performance because he felt that our specialization could help take them to the next level.

Likewise, I'm heavily focused on the baseball population, but would be ill-equipped to support a competitive Olympic lifter who is trying to compete at a high level. Sure, we can coach up technique in beginners and the everyday athletes we train, but a guy like Wil is far more equipped to work with someone who is making a career of Olympic lifting. I've referred several of these kind of athletes out over the years.

It's important to have a baseline knowledge of a lot of facets of the health and human performance industries, and once you have this foundation, you might find that you've got a particular area of expertise that you can really pursue as a "niche."  Both Wil and I have a "niche," and we both have solid foundations - but we also realize that there are always other experts out there who can complement our offering and help deliver a better product to our athletes.

Speaking of Wil, he just launched his Certified Weightlifting Performance Coach course this week. I'm 75% of the way through it thus far and it's excellent. If you're looking for a resource to help you in coaching the Olympic lifts, I'd definitely recommend it, especially at the introductory $100 off discount that's available through this weekend. Click here to learn more.   

weightlifting image

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Random Thoughts on Sports Performance Training – Installment 22

It's time for the September installment of this series. With the baseball season wrapping up for many minor league and high school players - plus the start of post-season play nearly upon us - I've got a lot of new thoughts rattling around my brain.

1. There's no such thing as "catching the injury bug." 

This is a term that gets thrown around a lot in professional sports. Certainly, there is a significant amount of happenstance in professional sports. Quarterbacks get sacked from the blind side and injure acromioclavicular joints (get well soon, Jimmy G!!!). Hitters get hit by pitches, and outfielders run into walls. Not all injuries are preventable, but not everything we assume to be "happenstance" is unpreventable, either. Additionally, there's something to be said about finding ways to shorten the down time on the disabled list when players are hurt. This recent article in Hardball Times does a good job of highlighting this observation: Doing What it Takes to Keep Players Healthy.

With respect to preventing injuries, most of the focus goes on training and rehabilitation initiatives. Is there a good strength and conditioning program? Are there good manual therapists on hand? Does the organization prioritize high quality nutrition? Are recovery options plentiful? The list goes on and on.


There are, however, many overlooked factors that are outside the control of the sports medicine staffs in these organizations. For instance, if a front office creates a roster of players who a) are older and b) have more extensive injury histories, it's going to be a lot harder to keep that team on the field. Additionally, how bullpens are managed factors into injury risk heavily. Some relief pitchers get absolutely abused between game appearances and scenarios where they warm up and don't go into the game. I once had a MLB lefty specialist say that he threw more in two months in the big leagues than he did in 100+ innings as a college starer. 

The point is that while some injuries are, in fact, happenstance, the majority are highly preventable - particularly if as many different factors as possible are taken into consideration. The injury bug excuse just doesn't hold water.

2. There are varying levels of "strong enough."

In the strength training world, you'll often hear debates on the question, "how strong is strong enough for athletes?" Truth be told, it's not a simple question to answer.

First and foremost, you get what you train. So, I might just squat and deadlift all the time, but never build an appreciable level of single-leg strength. So, if my sport requires a ton of single-leg strength, I'm really not strong at all in a specific sense. That said, no competitive powerlifter is going to be able to hand his hat on a good Bulgarian split squat number; he's got to squat and deadlift heavy to be successful.

Taking this a step further, though, we have to consider what we're trying to strong enough to do? Is it strong enough to safely perform sprint work and plyos in training, as would be the case after a few months in post-op ACL rehabilitation scenario? Or, is it strong enough to be able to safely participate in athletics, as an athlete would be later in the rehabilitation timeline?

Does an athlete just need to be strong enough to need to even consider this continuum? Or, does he need to be strong enough to make good use of strength-speed and speed-strength training initiatives?

Is the athlete strong enough to not have to worry about training limit strength (the far left of this continuum) as much? Not many athletes ever get to this point because it takes a ton of hard work, consistency, and even a genetic predisposition to being strong to get there. However, I've seen several in my career, and we needed to spend a lot more time training absolute speed and speed-strength.

Above all else, I'd say that in the athletic world, the "strong enough" classification refers to a coach's refusal to push an athlete further due to the potential for injury. For example, there is no doubt in my mind that one of our pro outfielders could unquestionably train to attain a 600-pound raw squat in a matter of 3-4 months. The risk of pushing toward this goal just isn't worth the risk; he has other athletic qualities to which we can devote his training time and recovery capacity - and without the risk. If he could only squat 185 pounds, though, it would be an entirely different story.

3. If applied incorrectly, cross-training can beat athletes up as much as it can help them.

I'm all for young athletes playing as many sports as possible. A rich proprioceptive environment creates an awesome foundation for future athletic development in more specific endeavors. Likewise, later on, once an athlete has specialized, there is definitely a time of year for cross training - but it definitely has to be applied correctly. What am I getting at?

[bctt tweet="The lower the movement variability in one's sport, the less bold the cross-training can be."]

To put this in context, imagine a soccer midfielder or football defensive back. Both these athletes have a ton of movement variability in their sport participation; there is a lot of change-of-direction, full-tilt sprinting, backpedaling, jumping, and a host of additional sport-specific skills. Asking one of these athletes to go out and play ultimate frisbee or beach volleyball for a change of pace isn't going to dramatically increase their injury risk.

Conversely, take the typical pro golfer or baseball pitcher into this same challenge, and it's going to be a pretty stressful event with a much higher likelihood of injury. It's not to say these athletes are soft or "delicate;" it's just that the majority of their athletic calendars take place with more specificity, and there is less movement variability to their sports challenges. With both the golf swing and pitching delivery, you want to consistently repeat your mechanics.


Invariably, during interleague play in Major League Baseball, we see an American League pitcher who gets injured running the bases or swinging at the plate. Specificity of training matters, and it takes a considerable volume of specificity to build a tolerance to competing at a high level.

This isn't just specific to amplitude of movement (range of motion). Rather, the direction and magnitude of forces need to be considered. As an example, elite swimmers have a high pain tolerance from the insane volumes they do in the pool, but get them into an ultimate frisbee game, and you're going to see some awkward movements because they aren't accustomed to ground reaction forces and moving in the frontal and transverse planes.

Just keep it in mind as you plan your cross-training activities. Just because you see NFL players dominating a game of "Tag" doesn't mean that your 51-year-old master's division swimming star is going to do as well with it.

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