The "full can" exercise is a popular shoulder prehabilitation/rehabilitation exercise of which I'm not super fond for a number of reasons. That said, if folks are going to utilize it, I think it's important that they understand exactly how to perform the exercise and where they should feel it. Check out today's video to learn more:
Speaking of shoulder performance, I'm excited to announce that Optimal Shoulder Performance - Mike Reinold and my first collaborative product - is now available for the first time as a digital resource. To sweeten the deal, you can get 20% off by entering the coupon code 20OFF at www.ShoulderPerformance.com through the end of the day Sunday.
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It's been nine months since I last posted an update to this coaching cues series, so this post is long overdue! Here are three technique coaching cues you can put into action:
1. "Follow the arm with the eyes."
We'll often see individuals who try to do thoracic mobility drills like the side-lying windmill, but wind up turning them into potentially harmful stretches for the anterior shoulder. Basically, you'll see too much arm movement and not enough upper back movement. One way to increase movement of the upper back is to "drive" it with the eyes, which effectively keeps us in a more neutral neck position. Check out the demonstration video from The High Performance Handbook video library for more details:
2. "Build up tension through the hamstrings over the next five seconds."
I normally don't like internal focus cues, but this would be an exception. I generally use this cue specifically when we have a beginning lifter who is learning to deadlift, but it can also be incorporated with an intermediate lifter who struggles with early knee extension and the hips shooting up too early. Basically, it slows the lifter down, but still encourages him to apply force into the floor.
I'll have the individual set up the starting position, but not initiate the deadlift unless everything is perfect - from the feet up to the head. Then, I'll tell him to gradually build up tension in the hamstrings over the course of five seconds, with the bar slowly breaking the floor at the end of that period of time. It won't lead to great bar speed (something we ultimately want), but that's not of great concern when we're simply trying to optimize technique.
As an important add-on, make sure the athlete has already taken the slack out of the bar before you initiate the hamstrings cues:
3. "Where the arm goes, the shoulder blade goes" - and vice versa.
This is a coaching cue I recently heard physical therapist Eric Schoenberg use at one of our Elite Baseball Mentorships, and I loved it. It simplified something I'd been trying to create with kinesthetic coaching (actually putting an athlete's shoulder blade in the position I wanted).
There are a lot of folks out there still teaching clients and athletes to "lock down" the scapula during rowing exercises, or make the rowing motion segmented into "retract and THEN pull." The truth is that the upper extremity doesn't work like this in the real world; otherwise, we'd all move like robots. Healthy upper extremity action is about smooth, coordinated movements of the scapula on the rib cage (scapulothoracic joint) while the ball and socket (glenohumeral joint) maintain a good congruency, just like a sea lion balancing a ball on his nose.
If you move the ball (humerus) without moving the socket (sea lion) with it, the ball falls off (comes unstable). The same thing can happen if you move the socket without moving the ball. The question then becomes: what active or passive restraints have to pick up the slack for the excessive motion that takes place? It can be the biceps tendon, rotator cuff, labrum, or shoulder capsule.
If we teach people to move the shoulder blade and humerus independently of one another - and load that pattern - we're really just establishing a faulty movement strategy that can't be safely reproduced under higher velocities. You can learn a bit more in this video:
Hopefully you enjoyed these tips and will benefit from applying them in your strength training programs. If you have other exercises you'd like covered, please just let me know in the comments section below.
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Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better - This was obviously my biggest project of 2010. I actually began writing the strength and conditioning programs and filming the exercise demonstration videos in 2009, and put all the "guinea pigs" through the four-month program beginning in February. When they completed it as the start of the summer rolled around, I made some modifications based on their feedback and then got cracking on writing up all the tag along resources. Finally, in September, Show and Go was ready to roll. So, in effect, it took 10-11 months to take this product from start to finish - a lot of hard work, to say the least. My reward has been well worth it, though, as the feedback has been awesome. Thanks so much to everyone who has picked up a copy.
Optimal Shoulder Performance - This was a seminar that Mike Reinold and I filmed in November of 2009, and our goal was to create a resource that brought together concepts from both the shoulder rehabilitation and shoulder performance training fields to effectively bridge the gap for those looking to prevent and/or treat shoulder pain. In the process, I learned a lot from Mike, and I think that together, we brought rehabilitation specialists and fitness professionals closer to being on the same page.
Why President Obama Throws Like a Girl - A lot of people took this as a political commentary, but to be honest, it was really just me talking about the concept of retroversion as it applies to a throwing shoulder - with a little humor thrown in, of course!
The Skinny on Strasburg's Injury - I hate to make blog content out of someone else's misfortune, but it was a good opportunity to make some points that I think are very valid to the discussion of not only Stephen Strasburg's elbow injury, but a lot of the pitching injuries we see in youth baseball.
Surely, there are many more to list, but I don't want this to run too long! Have a safe and happy new year, and keep an eye out for the first content of 2011, which is coming very soon!
I made an effort to get more videos up on the site this year, as I know a lot of folks are visual learners and/or just enjoy being able to listen to a blog, as opposed to reading it. Here are some highlights from the past year:
The Absolute Speed to Absolute Strength Continuum - Regardless of your sport, there are valuable take-home messages. I just used throwing velocity in baseball pitchers as an example, as it's my frame of reference.
Should Pitchers Overhead Press? - This was an excerpt from Mike Reinold and my Optimal Shoulder Performance seminar (which became a popular DVD set for the year).
Shoulder Impingement vs. Rotator Cuff Tears - Speaking of Mike, here's a bit from the man himself from that seminar DVD set.
Thoracic and Glenohumeral Joint Mobility Drills - The folks at Men's Health tracked me down in the lobby at Perform Better in Providence and asked if I could take them through a few shoulder mobility drills we commonly use - and this was the result.
Cressey West - This kicks off the funny videos from the past year. A few pro baseball players that I program for in a distance-based format created this spoof video as a way of saying thank you.
Tank Nap - My puppy taking a nap in a provocative position. What's more cute?
Matt Blake Draft Tracker - CP's resident court jester and pitching instructor airs his frustrations on draft day.
1RM Cable Horizontal Abduction - More from the man, the myth, the legend.
You can find a lot more videos on my YouTube page HERE and the Cressey Performance YouTube page HERE.
A New Paradigm for Performance Testing - This two-part feature was actually an interview with Bioletic founder, Dr. Rick Cohen. In it, we discuss the importance of testing athletes for deficiencies and strategically correcting them. We've begun to use Bioletics more and more with our athletes, and I highly recommend their thorough and forward thinking services.
A New Paradigm for Performance Testing: Part 1A New Paradigm for Performance Testing: Part 2
I already have a few series planned for 2011, so keep an eye out for them! In the meantime, we have two more "Best of 2010" features in store before Friday at midnight.
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Here are a few recommended reads for the week:
Shoulder Pain vs. Neck Pain - This old post highlights a simple, but very accurate observation from Mark Comerford.
28 Synergistic Factors for Success - I wrote this article at T-Nation back in 2005, but it still holds water and will make you appreciate how many differen factors are impacting your progress.
Too Much Vitamin D? - This great Q&A from Brian St. Pierre addresses this new question that seems to be popping up quite a bit.
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Just a quick heads-up that Joe Heiler is running my interview from the Sports Rehab to Sports Performance Teleseminar Series tonight. For some information on the interview, head HERE.
Or, just head straight to the sign-up page. There are a few more interviews in store, so you'd still be able to catch them (and access the previous ones from this year's series).
This might come across as a completely random blog post, but in light of the time of year and the fact that I have five accountants in my family, I'm going to write it anyway.
If you are a trainer who does your own taxes, you are an idiot.
Yes, you're dumber than the guy doing handstand push-ups on the stability ball with Miley Cyrus blaring in the background. And, you're giving your money away and likely increasing your risk of being audited down the road.
People come to you to learn how to get fit, more athletic, and healthy. In your eyes, they'd be crazy to try to program or coach themselves. And, just walk into any commercial gym and from the exercises and techniques you'll see executed, and you'll want to pull out your hair. While accountants on the whole are generally very patient people, I'm sure they want to do the same when they hear about Average Joe sitting down for some quality team (read: three days) with Turbo Tax.
Imagine you're going to pay an accountant a few hundred dollars to do your taxes. That's a few extra training sessions added to your week - and you aren't giving up any time to figure out the tax code (which is constantly changing). You can read a book, have fun with your family, or do whatever else it is you enjoy.
Tony Gentilcore is one of my best friends and a business partner, so he won't mind me using him as an example. In the summer of 2007, I watched Tony slave over Turbo Tax for an entire weekend.He had a puzzled look on his face the entire time. When he was done (late Sunday night), I went over and asked him if he's deducted 7-8 different things that my accountant (my brother) taught me about that year. He had no idea what I was talking about.
Tony is a guy that buys books, attends seminars, has professional memberships (NSCA, PETA, and the Chuck 'E Cheese Pizza of the Month Club). None of these were deducted. So, by attempting to "save" some money and do it himself, Tony missed out on a bunch of key deductions and overreported net income. Say, for ease of calculation, that was $1,000 of expenses he didn't write off. That means he reported $1,000 more net income - and in a (arbitrarily assigned) tax bracket of 30%, he gave Uncle Sam a $300 bonus - which would have more than paid for the cost of an accountant and freed up Tony's weekend to listen to do the robot, drool all over his Nora Jones CD, and attack stability balls with scissors.
Now, here's an example of our business finances from our 2008 tax return that will really drive home the point. When we opened Cressey Performance in the summer of 2007, we had to put up $30,000 worth of renovations: walls, doors, carpeting, a ceiling for the offices, and painting, as we were subletting from another tenant and wanted to "separate" our space. It went from this...
These renovations were placed on a 15-year depreciation schedule - so we got a $2,000 deduction from net income in year 1 (very few people would know to do this on their tax returns without an accountant).
Business grew quickly, and we decided to move (also a deduction) three miles east in May of 2008, which was the end of the lease we were under. When we went, we had to demolish renovations to the old place (which was one of the funnest hours of my life, for the record) - but we also got to write off the remaining $28,000 from that depreciation schedule against our net income for 2008. None of us would have even remembered to do that - but our accountant absolutely, positively did. In the process, he saved us a ton of money that was rightfully ours and kept out balance sheet accurate - and it was no extra effort on our part. That move alone probably saved us enough taxes to cover his accounting fees for 6-7 years - or the cost of our turf and crash wall combined.
Another example on my personal finances was the recommendation I received to maximize my contributions to a SEP IRA to lessen my net taxable income at this point in my life when I don't have any quality deductions - kids, a spouse (yet), or a mortgage (yet). I'll be taxed on it down the road, but at least it's mine in the interim to grow it as I please (and I know there are different schools of thought on this, but you get the point).
Getting an accountant is an investment, not an expense. And, the more diversified I have become in my revenue streams - from CP, to products, to seminars - the more essential and valuable that investment has become.
You are an idiot if you are going it alone. And, we just found out that our taxes will be going up yet again, so your mistakes are going to be further magnified. I don't know why this happens so much in the fitness industry, but it absolutely does. Find a good accountant.
Have a comment or question? Post 'em below.
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I had a great weekend at a Postural Restoration Institute Myokinematic Dysfunction course, so it seems fitting that my first reading recommendation of the week would direct you to their website: Postural Restoration Institute. There are a lot of free articles that give you a good introduction to the PRI philosophy. I'd highly recommend checking out their courses, as I'm going to be going more. It was worth every penny.
Does a SLAP lesion affect shoulder muscle activity as measured by EMG activity during a rugby tackle? - This is a really interesting study that shows that in athletes with labral tears (SLAP lesions), the serratus anterior fires sooner - presumably as a compensation strategy to make up for the slower reaction time of the biceps.
It is just another example of how our body has a great system of checks and balances. When a passive structure is injured, the active restraints can pick up the slack.
For related reading, check out Active vs. Passive Restraints.
1. I thought I'd kick this post off with a little technique troubleshooting. Yesterday, one of the "guinea pigs" for my new project emailed this video to me and asked for some suggestions on bench press technique:
BP from Caleb Chiu on Vimeo.
My suggestions to him were as follows:
a. Your feet are antsy and jumping all over the place. Get them pulled up a bit more under you so that they can't move around. Then, focus on pushing them into the floor the entire set.
b. Get more air in your belly. Notice how the stomach sinks in? That's because you don't have any air in it!
c. Get a handoff. The #1 reason guys flair the elbows out is that they lose scapular stability - and you lose that the second you hand off to yourself.
2. I'm headed to a Postural Restoration Institute Myokinematic Restoration Seminar this weekend up in Portland, ME - while my fiancee and my mother work on stuff for the wedding. It is amazing what lengths guys will go to in order to escape wedding planning, huh?
Just kidding; I'm actually really excited about it. Neil Rampe of the Arizona Diamondbacks turned me on to the PRI stuff and it's really intrigued me from the get-go.
3. It's been a fun week around here with the start of the high school baseball season. I got over to help out with some warm-ups and movement training with the Lincoln-Sudbury guys during tryouts on Mon-Tue. In all, we saw 33 Lincoln-Sudbury high school baseball players - from freshman to seniors - this off-season, so it was pretty easy to pick up where we left off with them in the weight room. There was great energy, and lots of excitement about the new season.
4. Here's a great feature on Blue Jays prospect Tim Collins and his training at Cressey Performance.
5. I was interviewed last week for an article about pitch counts. It's now featured HERE.
"I was pretty excited when I received an e-mail from Eric and Mike saying that I was getting an advanced copy of their new Assess and Correct product. Mike and Eric have had a history of putting out top notch information and products and when I saw that Bill Hartman was also involved in this new product I knew that this was going to be even more special.
"Since I own a fitness facility, I'm always looking for cutting edge information that I can recommend to my trainers. After viewing the DVDs and reading through the manuals, my first thought was, 'Wow, a home run!'
"Finally, a product that I could wholeheartedly recommend to all of my trainers as an excellent go-to reference tool to enhance their abilities in assessing their clients needs; pinpointing their weakness &/or imbalances and then effectively addressing these findings to make sure their clients can achieve their goals safely."
Joe Dowdell, CSCS - Founder & Co-owner of Peak Performance, NYC
Click here to pick up a copy of Assess and Correct.
7. Last, but certainly not least, CP athlete Danny O'Connor aims to run his professional boxing record to 11-o tonight with a bout at Twin River Casino in Rhode Island. Good luck, Danny!