Home 2008 March

EC’s Best Work?

I’ve written about everything from shoulder problems, to lifting heavy stuff, to nutritional strategies on the road – but in my eyes, nothing compares to my cutting-edge nipple training.

The School of Hard Nipples

Incidentally, the inspiration for this piece – Steph Holland-Brodney – is running the marathon again this year. As with last year, she’s raising money for a great cause in the Boston Medical Center – and I’m sure they’d appreciate a donation HERE to support their fantastic efforts.

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Unstable Surface Training

<a href=" http://www.1shoppingcart.com/SecureCart/SecureCart.aspx?mid=6545977C-1033-45E0-8380-6BCD6C3B34C8&amp;pid=46c021ce79d07b1c9a2dd571bc10ffbd"><img class="alignleft size-medium wp-image-1200" title="cressey-flat-salespage" src="http://ecressey.wpenginepowered.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/cressey-flat-salespage-232x300.jpg" alt="" width="232" height="300" /></a><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Tahoma;">Unstable surface training has taken the world of fitness and strength and conditioning by storm.<span> </span>Everywhere you go, you’ll find wobble boards, foam pads, full and half-dome stability balls, and inflatable rubber discs dictating the way people exercise.</span> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Tahoma;"> </span> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Tahoma;">Want to know the <strong><em>truth</em></strong>, in a nutshell?<span> </span>There has been very little research done to validate or refute the use of these implements in healthy, trained populations.<span> </span>Trainers, coaches, therapists, and ordinary weekend warriors have essentially been flying blind when they use these implements. </span> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Tahoma;"> </span> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Tahoma;">That is, <strong>until now!</strong></span> <span style="font-family: Tahoma;"> </span> <em><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Tahoma;">The Truth About Unstable Surface Training</span></em><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Tahoma;"> is the culmination of more than three years of intensive study, research, experimentation, and analysis on my part – combined with my “in the trenches” observations as a competitive athlete myself.<span> </span>Effectively, with this resource, I’ve outlined and then translated the research to the real-world so that fitness professionals and exercisers can understand how to effectively integrate (or omit) unstable surface training in their programs.</span> <h2 style="text-align: center;"><strong><a href=" http://www.1shoppingcart.com/SecureCart/SecureCart.aspx?mid=6545977C-1033-45E0-8380-6BCD6C3B34C8&amp;pid=46c021ce79d07b1c9a2dd571bc10ffbd">Click Here to BUY IT NOW</a></strong></h2>
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Listen to Bill Hartman FREE Tonight!

Bill Hartman is one of the brightest guys I’ve ever met – let alone those in the fitness industry. I literally learn something new every time I talk with him – and he’s one of the guys I go to when something stumps me. Tonight, you can listen to a free interview with Bill where he will cover:

1. Common problems in the physical therapist world and provide direction on how to solve them and find a good therapist.

2. Everything you need to know about keeping your shoulders healthy, optimize strength and treat common should injuries. 3. How important is corrective exercise in building more muscle? 4. Some quick tests that you can use to see what you may need to address from a corrective standpoint? 5. Even though a lot of corrective exercises tend to be a bit "whimpy" in the muscle building department, how do you make corrections and still build muscle?

All you need to do to get access to this interview is sign up for Vince DelMonte’s (free) Ultimate Muscle Advantage Teleseminar Series. Don’t miss out!

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Who Needs Training Percentages?

Q: Eric - I bought your e-book on deloading. Thanks for it! I'm 57 and compete in WABDL. I'm going to do the high-medium-very high-low programming set-up you outlined prior to the 8 week precontest cycle you mention. What percentages do you use in those eight weeks? My next meet is June 14th, so including this week, I'm 12 weeks out. Thanks! A: I rarely use percentages. Think about it this way... If you test your squat and it's 500 at the beginning of a 16-week cycle, and then put 50 pounds on it over the course of that period, the percentages based on that 500 number aren't very accurate by the time week 11, 12, 13, etc. roll around, are they? The secret is to build tests into your training program. Within the high, medium, very high, low set-up, it's best to test them right at the end of the medium and low phases. Or, if you're a more experienced lifter, you can rotate exercises on a weekly basis - and test maxes on lifts almost weekly as long as they're changing. So, an 8-week set-up for bringing up a back squat using this approach might look like: Week 1, High: Front Box Squat, work up to a heavy single, then 5 singles over 90% of that 1RM Week 2: Medium: Trap Bar Deadlift, 1RM, then two singles over 90% of that 1RM Week 3, Very High: Back Squat, 5 sets of 3 Week 4, Low: Sumo Deadlifts, 3x3 easy Week 5, High: Box Squat, 1RM, then 5 more singles over 90% of that 1RM Week 6, Medium: Front Squat, 4x4 Week 7, Very High: Back Squats, 1RM, then 8 more singles over 90% of that 1RM Week 8, Low: 3x5 nice and light back squats (maintain familiarity) Week 9: Retest Back Squat 1RM as part of Week 1 of next phase Week 0: 1RM Back Squat Test
The Art of the Deload
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Training in Extreme Positions

Q: Regarding your latest article, though this is good info, I think rounded back training is useful – especially when it comes to the ground combat sports. Sometimes you find yourself in very odd positions and you need to know your body and how it will function in those cases when you have to exert extreme force in a bad position.

A: I have to respectfully disagree.

By that same line of reasoning, boxers get hit in the head all the time in matches. Getting punched in the face in training to prepare for that isn't going to help them much long-term, though.

The problem is that you're comparing an unloaded lumbar flexion event with a lumbar flexion event that includes marked compressive forces - a recipe for disaster (especially if rotation is involved). For more information, check out this previous newsletter.

Eric Cressey
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Rugby Recovery

I am currently in the midst of my rugby season and have a few questions for you. My training schedule breaks down as follows. We play a match every saturday morning (80 intense minutes), train for 1 hour-1.5 hours Tuesday evening, Wednesday evening AND Thursday evening. These training sessions can be pretty tough.

I would like to continue resistance training but am finding it very difficult to recover from the training sessions alone. I feel stiff, sore and rundown by thursday and am often not 100% for the match. I fear throwing in weights to the mix will exacerbate the situation. Do you have any tips for recovery and how would you implement resistance training into this schedule? Cheers in advance EC, your book is awesome!

It's all about selecting the appropriate volume and exercises.

In terms of volume, you need to keep volume down and frequency up in the 2-3 sessions per week range. Sessions shouldn't last more than 30-40 minutes. Get in, keep your strength up with a few heavy sets, then do just enough prehab work to keep you healthy.

In terms of exercise selection, don't rotate exercises too frequently in-season. Stick to familiar ones to minimize soreness.

Eric Cressey
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Lifting at a Young Age

Thanks for your great articles and for the guidance you provide here. I'm planning to buy your Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual and had asked a question over on EricCressey.com and Omri asked me to post it here: I have enjoyed lifting for the past 30 years and now my 11 and 12-year-old nephews are training with me in the weight room. They are making tremendous gains in strength and are very enthusiastic about our workouts. Family members are appreciative of the time I spend helping them and can see the results, but they are also expressing concerns because of their young age. The boys are in early and mid-puberty and are both tall for their age (5'7"). They have a great-uncle who is 6'10", so they will possibly be pretty big. They're growing very fast right now. Their family has a history of knee problems on both sides of the family. Also three generations of hernia weaknesses on one side of the family. The older boy has very flat feet, but they seem to still enjoy running and sports (tennis and volleyball). Are there any lifts that we should be avoiding at this stage? Any dangers of bone damage, hernias, etc? I realize that you would have to send them to a Dr. for a physical in order to give a certain answer, and standard disclaimers apply, but considering that they both seem to be perfectly healthy and doing very well, it doesn't seem like the program is doing anything but good at this point. I have helped them see what proper form looks like and they are both adamant about form (and they tell ME when I'm not using proper form!). Would appreciate any insight, especially things I need to watch out for which could be doing more harm than good. Thanks again. Your goal should be to expose them to a wide variety of movements and set them up for success. Keep it interesting and FUN. Avoid maximal loading, obviously, but do work to incorporate quantifiable progressive overload for the kids; it'll keep them motivated. Start with plenty of body weight drills; get them stable at the lumbar spine, shoulders, and knees, and mobile at the ankles, hips, and thoracic spine. That'll set them up for success long-term. Getting them barefoot more often is great. The weight-training will actually help tremendously in avoiding that "clumsy" stage that occurs when guys grow a lot in a short amount of time. Avery Faigenbaum from The College of New Jersey has some good writing on this subject, and Brian Grasso (IYCA.org) is the king of training young athletes. GREAT reading material. Good luck! Eric Cressey
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5 Common Technique Mistakes

This article might scare you a bit, but hopefully it'll wise you up, too. The sad fact is, most of us couldn't do a proper lift if our life depended on it. Keep on lifting improperly, though, and you're an accident waiting to happen. Continue Reading...
Sign up for our FREE Newsletter today and and receive this deadlift technique video!
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Enhance your Pressing Days

Hey Eric. I just wanted to see if I could get some quick suggestions from you. I have been powerlifting for a little over a year now and absolutely love the sport. I had been training hard since 2001, but eventually training just to train lost its luster. So I turned to the strength sports. I compete raw in the 181 class and typically weigh 175-178 at any given time. My Squat and deadlift have made steady progress over the past year...I have primarily been using the basic westside template the entire time. Right now I am squatting around 425-435 and deadlifting consistently in the low 500s. My bench press is where I have absolutely made no progress at all...I have actually regressed. In my meet this past weekend I only managed 275 and struggled with 286 as if it were 350. The most I have ever done in competition is 290. I have followed your writing as well as many of the coaches on T-Nation and elitefts. I have read stuff from Bill Hartman about determining whether or not you are elastic dominant or muscle dominant. Right now I think I may need some more muscular based work...going from that dead stop after the pause in competition is very difficult for me...my sticking point seems to be basically right on my chest. If you could throw some suggestions my way on things I can do on my pressing days to improve things I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks for all that you contribute and keep up the good work! A few thoughts on this front: First, it would definitely be to your advantage to get your body weight up a bit during the off-season; bench and squat gains tend to come along quicker when you are less cognizant of weight and more in tune with eating what it takes to support performance. When the time is right, gradually take the weight off and work to maintain the strength you've built. Second, work on strengthening your upper back and really emphasize both speed and heavy work off the chest with a pause. Good luck! Eric Cressey
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Why I’m an Idiot…

In about eight hours, I'll be hopping on a plane to head to Ireland for a week. In my infinite wisdom, though, I'm going to complete a lower-body training session before I head to the airport - probably not the brightest thing to do when you've got a overnight plane ride ahead of you.

On the bright side, my girlfriend whipped up a batch of Apple-Cinnamon Bars from JB's new Gourmet Nutrition Cookbook Version 2.0, so I'll have something delicious to keep my mind off of the ridiculous soreness I'm going to be experiencing - and it'll keep the diet clean while we're across the pond. (Don't worry; I've got some blog content "in the well," so we'll keep updating in my absence.)
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