Home 2009 April (Page 3)

Cressey’s Favorite Strength Exercises

We see everything at Cressey Performance. While just about 70% of our clients are baseball players, we also have everything from Olympic bobsledders and boxers, to pro hockey players and triathletes, to 69-year-old men who bang out pull-ups like nobody's business. Obviously, certain athletic populations have specific weaknesses that need to be addressed. Soccer and hockey players and powerlifters tend to have poor hip internal rotation. Basketball players don't have enough ankle mobility. Baseball pitchers need to pay more attention to scapular stability, posterior rotator cuff strength, and glenohumeral (shoulder) internal rotation range of motion. Continue Reading...
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Stuff You Should Read: 4/7/09

This week's recommended reading: LiftStrong - this compilation of writings from dozens of coaches and trainers is fantastic, and I was honored to contribute. Alwyn Cosgrove - a two-time cancer survivor - pulled this great resource together, and all proceeds benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  For a small price, you get over 800 pages of content on a CD, and help out a great cause.


Lay Back to Throw Gas - This one is fitting, in light of all the baseball that's finally being played this week. Lower Back Pain and the Fitness Professional
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The Core: Anti-Rotation

Q: I recently came across an article by Nick Tumminello on tests for dynamic abdominal strength, and the primary focus was sit-ups and reverse crunches.  Given your regard for training the core as an anti-rotator/resistor of lumbar hyperextension, do you have any thoughts on these testing protocols? A: First off, Nick is a brilliant guy with some awesome ideas.  For those who aren't familiar with him, check out his website, PerformanceU.net. Moving on to your question, it is interesting that you would ask about this, as Bill Hartman and I had a good email exchange last week where we were talking about just how "functional" most tests are.  And, more specifically, we were calling into question just how much particular assessments carry over to the real world of injury prevention and performance enhancement. A study from Stanton et al. in 2004 is a great example of the divide between testing proficiency and performance.  As I noted in my e-book, The Truth About Unstable Surface Training, researchers found that six weeks of stability ball training improved core stability in young athletes - as it was measured (in a manner consistent with the training itself).  In other words, this is like saying that bench press training will make you better at bench pressing.  Well, duh!  The more important question, though, is whether or not that bench press performance will carry over to athletic performance.


And, this is where the intervention in the Stanton et al. study fell short.  While their measure of "core stability" improved, it did not effect favorable changes in running economy or running posture, or modify EMG activity of the abdominal or erector spinae muscles.  In other words, it didn't carry over. A comparable result was seen in a study from Tse et al. in 2005.  After eight weeks of stability ball training in collegiate rowers, while "core stability" (as they tested it) improved, the experimental (core training) group showed no performance improvements over those who did ZERO core training during this time.  And, researcher tested several measures: "vertical jump, broad jump, shuttle run, 40-m sprint, overhead medicine ball throw, 2,000-m maximal rowing ergometer test." So, with respect to your question, I think the question is: do those sit-up and reverse crunch progressions matter for an athlete who spends his/her life in the standing position?  Wouldn't they have more predictive value with respect to performance in a mixed martial arts population that spends a significant amount of time in the supine position in competitive situations?  Interestingly, Nick has extensive experience with mixed martial artists, and that is probably why he's seen such strong predictive value from those tests. Additionally, these issues are worthy of consideration in an athletic population where fatigue is a big issue.  Does an assessment in a rested state necessarily carry over to a situation where movements may change under fatigue?  Bill wrote a great blog on this topic HERE. Food for thought; never take anything at face value.  As with almost everything you'll encounter in the world of fitness, the answer is "maybe" or "it depends."  You have to know how to assess and program accordingly. Maximum Strength Feedback I just got the following feedback on the Maximum Strength program from a trainer who recently completed it: "Body Weight 202--> 207 Bench 305--> 335 Broad Jump 99" --> 104" Back Squat 315 --> 355 Deadlift 335 --> 370 Chin Ups 202+60=262 --> 207+90 = 297 I had two big 'uh-huh' moments when going through this program. (You have been preaching these forever, but it did not truly hit me until the third phase of the program) 1) Improving my ankle and hip mobility was the key to improving my squat and deadlift numbers. 2) Increasing my pulling power was the key to improving my bench press. As a trainer, I had too much pride to ever follow anyone else's program.  I am glad I finally decided to check my ego and follow your program." Pick up your copy of Maximum Strength HERE. New Blog Content It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year Static Posture Assessment Mistakes: Part 2 Pitchers vs. Quarterbacks vs. Swimmers Random Friday Thoughts All the Best, EC
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It’s that time of year again…

Opening Day at Fenway today - which means that Journey will be out in full-effect.

Go Sox!

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Random Friday Thoughts: 4/3/09

Okay, while this is normally RANDOM Friday Thoughts, I think it's important that we get one thing clear up-front... While I may be covering several topics today, in reality, the only thing that warrants any discussion is the Final Four - because UCONN is going to go out and dominate this weekend (and Monday).  This includes the men's and women's basketball teams, cheerleaders, mascots, fans, and hot-dog vendors.


More of these on the way!

Anyway, let's get to this week's randomness (as if yesterday's wasn't awesome enough)

1. On Tuesday, there was a great guest post from Dan Lorenz on Mike Reinold's blog; it is definitely worth checking out: Low Back Pain and Hip Motion Correlation.  We've really worked in hip internal rotation aggressively over the past year or so, and it's been a huge help for our athletes.  I love this stretch, in particular:


Of course, hip internal rotation is just one component of a good hip mobility program.  Check out the Magnificent Mobility DVD for more details.


2.  I've been outspoken in the past about how I think that higher certification requirements - and possibly even mandated licensing - ought to be imposed in the personal training industry.  This article is a great example of why. 3. Can somebody tell me a) why in the world Michael Vick wants to give up a potential return to the NFL to become a construction worker, b) why any construction company would actually hire Michael Vick, and c) why this is even qualifies as news?  It seems like a lose-lose-lose situation, so I'll just drop it. 4. Here is a nice article about Cressey Performance athletes Matt Miller and Jason Roth, both of whom are playing baseball at Northeastern right now. 5. Apparently, age-related mental decline begins as early as age 27.  I turn 28 on May 20 - so I guess you could say that the good news is that this blog will get a lot more interesting once I'm senile (assuming I can even remember the log-in information). 6. I recently received this email before/after report from a happy Maximum Strength reader: "Eric, Thanks for the program.  When I first started lifting July '07, I had two long term goals - 400 lb deadlift by July '08 and 1,000 lb club (squat, deadlift, bench).  Well, here are my results from your program. Broad Jump: 87" to 94" Bench: 205 to 245 Squat: 215 to 265 Deadlift: 305 to 365 Chinups: None. Now 2. Just missed the 3rd. I am 6'4" and had never done one in my life. My weight went from 221 to 237.  I gained an inch in my arms, around the shoulders, and legs. In the end, I went from 725 lbs to 875 lbs; only 125 lbs to go. Thank you! Andy" Pick up your copy of Maximum Strength today! Have a great weekend!
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Turning on the Awesomeness with New CP Gear

(note: this post is sarcastic; don't take me too seriously) There comes a time in every man's life when he realizes that mediocre just isn't going to get it done.  He wakes up in the morning, sleep-walks through the day, and then comes home - only to fall asleep and do it all over again.  There just isn't something that makes him want to jump out of his seat and bust a move to the music of life!

(let it be known that this kid has an invitation to be a fully-covered Cressey Performance scholarship athlete) Not everybody has rhythm like this dude.  So, the rest of us have to look elsewhere to find the mojo that defines our destiny.  Think about some of the greatest television men of our generation... MacGyver could blow stuff up with just paperclips and a teaspoon of barbeque sauce.  Chicks dug him. George Constanza always found the best parking space available.  Always. Chicks dug him. If you really think about it, it comes down to skills.  As Napoleon Dynamite would say, "You know, like nunchaku skills, bow-hunting skills, computer-hacking skills.  Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills." Now, here's a life lesson that is going to be a harsh dose of reality for some of you.  There's a very good chance that you aren't good at anything.  Seriously, you might not have any skills period - and certainly hardly enough to distinguish you from the guy next to you. You're talking to an optimist, though, so I'm not going to dwell on what you do poorly.  Instead, I'm going to help you to look elsewhere to get ahead in the world.  And, that alternative is Cressey Performance's "Girls Will Want to Make Out with You" Majestic Fleece, which is now available for pre-order.


This is the same kind of fleece that your favorite major league baseball teams wear, and with it, you'll be able to pick up girls like you're a reliever throwing out pick-up lines from the bullpen.  In fact, recent clinical trials have found that wearing CP gear instantly increases one's awesomeness by 57%. These fleeces also protect against sunburns, and can be used as pillows, parachutes, and protective equipment for trapping furry woodland creatures.  These fleeces have changed the lives of countless individuals.  Brian St. Pierre is one such individual:

I couldn't have said it (or read it) better myself, Brian. Amen, brother. From now through next Wednesday only, you can pre-order one of these fleeces for just $54.99 plus shipping.  At checkout, let us know if you want a medium, large, or extra-large.

Click Here to Purchase Using Our 100% Secure Server!

PS - In case you're wondering, these fleeces won't shrink up in the wash - or at the awesome pool parties to which you'll be invited thanks to your newfound awesomeness.

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Static Posture Assessment Mistakes: Part 3

The positioning of the feet in a static posture assessment can tell you a lot, but simply looking without following up won't give you a definitive answer.  The most common postural distortion you'll see is an externally rotated foot position.


It's common to assume that this is simply a case of an athlete with hips that are stuck in external rotation.  And, in many cases, this is definitely the culprit.  For these athletes, a hearty dose of knee-to-knee stretches will do the trick (along with some stretches for the hip external rotators in a position of hip extension).


For other athletes, though, this foot position is simply a compensation, as athletes will turn the feet out to compensate for a lack of dorsiflexion (toe-to-shin) range-of-motion.  These athletes need to work hard to improve ankle mobility with a combination of lower-extremity soft tissue work and mobility drills.

For more information on postural assessment strategies, check out the Building the Efficient Athlete DVD set.


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  • Avoid the most common deadlifting mistakes
  • 9 - minute instructional video
  • 3 part follow up series