Home 2009 August

The Biggest Magnificent Mobility/Inside-Out Blowout Sale of All Time

As many of you know, Bill Hartman, Mike Robertson, and I are very close to releasing a new product.  In fact, we spent the weekend going through edits on the footage and pulling together the tag-along manuals. This new product includes a lot of our newer perspectives on assessment and corrective exercise.  Many of the drills we outline actually piggyback on those we outlined with our previous DVDs, Magnificent Mobility and Inside-Out.  There is even a bit of overlap where we discuss how the "older" drills fit into our up-to-date progressions. So, while the MM and I/O DVDs might be a few years old, the good news is that the human body hasn't evolved dramatically since then - so these drills are still highly effective.  However, with new products, older products sometimes get forgotten - and that's why we figured we'd throw out this opportunity to grab up these two previous products at a big discount. Here's the deal... 30% off on Magnificent Mobility and Inside-Out from Monday, August 31 through Wednesday, September 2.  All you need to do is head over to the RobertsonTrainingSystems.com Products Page and add the item(s) to your cart.  At checkout, enter the coupon code "FALL09" (all caps, no quotation marks) and the discount will be applied. Don't miss this last chance to get two great products at a great discount!
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Random Friday Thoughts: 8/28/09

1. Just got this email from a satisfied customer of The Truth About Unstable Surface Training: "Just wanted to drop a quick note to say outstanding work on 'TAUST!'  It was truly comprehensive and head and shoulders above anything else written on the topic.  The evidence was very well presented and you did a bang-up job on analyzing the available data and making a very evenhanded thesis." Mike Howard Vancouver, British Columbia


2. Here is yet ANOTHER study supporting the huge role of Vitamin D.  Vitamin D is very important in processing cholesterol, and in the absence of it, more is stored in blood vessels. 3. I've been getting quite a few emails asking me when the new product from Bill, Mike, and I will be ready.  Well, I can tell you that we've spent the week reviewing footage and making some adjustments, so we are, in fact, getting close!  It will definitely be September; I can promise you that.  Keep an eye out for an announcement in this blog and my newsletter. 4. In last week's random thoughts, I mentioned that I'd been getting multiple daily invites to join a Facebook group about fat loss for the general population - and I'd ignored each one.  Well, I got five more invitations this week, bringing the total to 15 invites in 13 days.  This guy really doesn't take "NO" for an answer, huh?  Or, maybe I'm just a popular guy... 5. In case you missed this week's newsletter, check it out HERE.  There are several videos and a rotator cuff stregthening progression that I frequently use.  And, if you aren't subscribed already, you ought to be!  The sign-up for the free weekly newsletter can be found to the top right of this screen. 6. Thanks to everyone who voted in yesterday's poll.  I'm pretty sure our boy (or girl?) got the message that strength coaches don't wear capris...
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Thursday Poll: 8/27/09

Shorts or Man-Capris?  Cast your vote in the comments section below!


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Mobility Exercise of the Week: Lying Knee-to-Knee Stretch

For more mobility exercises, be sure to check out Assess and Correct: Breaking Barriers to Unlock Performance.

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Sparing The Shoulders

A Quick Tip for Sparing the Shoulders One thing we all know is that when returning someone from a shoulder problem, it's generally assumed that starting in an adducted position - meaning that the arms are at the side - is preferred over a more abducted position (where the arms are elevated) for external rotation variations.  The more adducted position minimizes the amount of impingement on the rotator cuff while still allowing us to challenge the posterior rotator cuff. As such, the side-lying external rotation is a great exercise for folks to use when trying to strengthen the rotator cuff without exacerbating their shoulder pain.  In fact, this exercise has actually shown the best EMG activity of the infraspinatus and teres minor of any exercise tested.

The head is always supported, and we generally start those entry-level folks with a towel or pad between the elbow and the side to prop the arm to about 30 degrees of abduction, which is actually less stressful on the shoulder than having the arm completely up against the side.

In addition to performing this exercise with a dumbbell or plate, you can use manual resistance to accommodate the strength curve, overload the eccentric component, and add a greater element of dynamic stabilization.

Obviously, though, we can't always just train people in the more adducted position; the rotator cuff also has to function as a dynamic stabilizer as we get more abducted - and eventually, overhead.  So, it's valuable to start doing some external rotation variations at 90 degrees of abduction.  And, this is where this week's tip comes in. Traditionally, folks will go directly to the frontal plane to position the humerus, and the rotation will occur in the sagittal plane.  I actually prefer to begin folks in the scapular plane when starting them in the more abducted position.  In the first video below, you'll see that the reps are done in the frontal plane.  In the second video, though, I reposition my body to so that the humerus is actually about 30 degrees forward of the frontal plane - which is the scapular plane.

The scapular plane is much less stressful on the shoulder, and it is a great "middle-of-the-road" between the adducted and traditional abducted external rotation variations you'll see.  For more information on the scapular plane, I'd highly recommend this article by Dr. Warren Hammer. Of course, all of this is a very "rotator-cuff-centric" mindset, and there are loads of other factors you need to consider when dealing with shoulder issues.  I discussed them in more detail in this previous newsletter. New Blog Content Things I Learned from Smart People: Installment 1 Random Friday Thoughts Things I Learned from Smart People: Installment 2 Have a great week! EC shoulder-performance-dvdcover Click here to purchase the most comprehensive shoulder resource available today: Optimal Shoulder Performance - From Rehabilitation to High Performance.

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Fun with Fan Mail

In a given month, this blog will get over 25,000 unique visitors.  So, as you can imagine, I get quite a bit of "fan mail."  I recently received this lovely note from a loyal Swedish reader of mine; it's posted almost exactly as it was received (including incorrect spelling, spacing, grammar, and content, but edited for cursing): "Eric is a fony , in his book he think bridging is OK so you actually fool yourself that you are lifting big but you just lift the weight 8".Real athletes lift the weight, in benchpress, with their backs FLAT . Take your skinny bragging as and go f**k yourself . I hope you get cancer." My response: Dear Fan, Thank you very much for your thoughtful note.  It means so much to me to hear from my readers, especially my particularly loyal Scandinavian following.  The Germans may love David Hasselhoff, but he's got nothing on my popularity with the Swedish. In response to your observation that the weight only travels 8" on each rep, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that some folks will only move it 7.5 inches because of larger upper bodies. Really, you make such a strong case for your position that I couldn't possibly come up with anything to refute your argument, so I'll only bow to your unrelenting knowledge and contribute to your argument. Certainly, lifting with a flat-back is the way to go.  While we've evolved over centuries to a posture that has our spine in a S-shaped curve, clearly bench pressing is an exception to the rule, as you so graciously observed.  I stand corrected. Your well-wishes for my continued success are greatly appreciated. Respectfully Yours, Eric Cressey Note from EC: this is a sarcastic response.  For more information on why a subtle arch on the bench is useful and safe for bench-pressing, check out this article from Craig Rasmussen.  I'd also add that flattening the back forces the thoracic spine to flatten as well, and this causes the scapulae to wing out: not what you want under a heavy load.

Oh, I still love you, Sweden.

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How to Progress back to Deadlifting after a Back Injury

Q: I'm finally recovered from my deadlifting injury, which was a strain of my right lumbar erector spinae.  I would like to start trying to deadlift again, but what's the best way to start? With rack pulls? Isolated lower back machines? Hyperextensions? Or, straight into deadlifts? A: The answer would be "E: None of the above."  Of course, it depends on the person, as always! First, you need to make sure that your body is ready to get back to deadlifting in any capacity. That's something I can't tell you without knowing more about your situation, but you should address it with a qualified professional before you get back to the activity that originally injured you. Second, in terms of maintaining a training effect while you're on the shelf, I generally stick purely with single-leg variations with recent back issues.  They allow us to gradually reintroduce compressive loading in a situation where the center of gravity is maintained within the base of support.  In other words, we minimize shear stress, and we make sure that the spine is in neutral, where it's in the best position to handle compression.  I usually start with body weight variations, then progress to variations loaded with dumbbells, and then move to a barbell reverse lunge with a front squat grip.  Depending on the person, we may also use glute-ham variations and sled pushing/pulling. Down the road, I prefer pull-throughs and trap bar deadlifts as early progressions, with sumo deadlifts and rack pulls following before any progression to conventional deadlifts from the floor.  This, of course, assumes that you have a body that's even capable of doing a deadlift correctly.  A lot of people have functional (poor ankle or hip mobility) or structural (long femurs or short arms) that make conventional deadlifting unsafe.  They may be better with other variations (as noted above) or no deadlifting at all. When the time is right, we generally start people off with speed deadlifts - emphasizing perfect technique - at 50-60% of estimated one-rep max. Of course, everyone is different - so you should get checked out and listen to your body. Recommended Reading: Lower Back Savers: Part 1 Lower Back Savers: Part 2 Lower Back Savers: Part 3
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Random Friday Thoughts: 8/21/09

1. Oops!

This is precisely why none of my friends dress up in giant socks.  If I am going to celebrate something, I want everyone with a 100% unobstructed view (none of this half-ass piggyback stuff).

2. This weekend pretty much wraps up the baseball season for all my high school guys.  It's interesting how coaches and athletes' level of excitement about baseball changes over the course of the season - and this is true of all levels.  When the season starts, the players are fired up, and the strength coaches are ready for some down-time after a ton of hard work in the off-season.  Mid-season, the coaches are always fired up and prepared to get the guys in because they can never get as much training in as they need, but the players are just trying to find a day's rest whenever they can.  By the end of the season, the players are tired of baseball and fired up to lift - and the strength coaches are fired up to start building some freaks after not having ideal training scenarios for the previous 6-7 months.

So, I guess you could say that mid-August kicks off the funnest time of the year for everyone.  And, I can honestly say that each year, I get more and more excited about the off-season.  Coming in to this off-season, we've got five high school guys (four of whom will be juniors this year) throwing over 90mph - and several more who are right on the cusp of it.  This is really exciting for me because it's proof in the pudding that if you get guys in a good training program at an early age, you can really expedite their development - and keep them healthy in the process.  We're going to have fun this winter!

3. Funny story: as I've mentioned before, I have a Facebook account, and loads of my readers are my internet "friends." A lot of these folks are in the fitness industry, and as you can imagine, I get loads of invites to join these people's groups - whether they're for bootcamps in Istanbul, online education programs, product sales, or training styles.  Initially, I was a nice guy and accepted all of the invitations - but over time, I wound up getting so many emails that my inbox was overflowing and I didn't have time to read anything, let alone the good stuff.  So, I started being more selective.

Unfortunately, some people don't get the point when I turn down their invitation.  Recently, these folks with a new fat loss program for general population folks invited me to join their group, and I declined.  Now, six days later, I've received NINE more invitations to join their group.  Is that what they call pressure selling?

This is like back in college when you sat down in a big lecture class only to discover that the guy next to you was eating potato chips, coughing non-stop, and taking cell phone calls in the middle of class - basically doing anything he could to make noise.  You move to another seat, and he follows you...NINE times.

Really, I'm just not interested, dude.  Does that make me a bad person?

4. This week, I started up a new book - and a big one at that.  My fiancee looked at me last night like I had two heads, and asked, "Are you reading a textbook?"

My response was, "Yeah, I guess I am."

It's pretty funny that back in undergrad, I hated reading textbooks - probably because they were forced on me (both in terms of content and deadlines).  Now, years later, I have blown through a chapter a night simply because I picked the book and I decided when I wanted to read it.  I guess it's true that experience yields perspective.

Oh, by the way, it's Clinical Application of Neuromuscular Techniques, Volume 1: The Upper Body, by Leon Chaitow and Judith Delany.  So far, it's fantastic.  Anyone who has ever questioned the benefits of foam rolling should be forced to read the first chapter, which outlines several benefits that are commonly overlooked (there is a lot more to this than just the "tissue quality" argument).  You have to consider the role of the autonomic nervous system and lymphatic system as well.


5. This book was actually recommended to me by Mike Reinold, who actually had a good blog whether or not curve balls are more dangerous than other pitchers for young throwers.  It's a great comprehensive look at the topic.

Speaking of Mike, he and I have been throwing around the idea of doing a shoulder-specific seminar - from rehab to high-performance - at my facility this winter at some point.  We'd only open it up to 30 people at the absolute most, so there would be a lot of hands-on learning and direct interaction.  If you'd be interested, please drop me an email at ec@ericcressey.com.

Have a great weekend!

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Atta’ Boy, Tim!

Here's a link to a great aritlce about Cressey Performance athlete and Blue Jays prospect Tim Collins, who just got the call-up to AA.  It's a great story you don't want to miss. Jays Prospect Collins a Surprising Strikeout Machine 99% athlete, 1% pitcher!

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Stuff You Should Read: 8/19/09

Here are a few old pieces of mine that would be worth checking out if you haven't read them already: Unstable Surface Training for Hockey Shoulder Mobility for Back Squatting Enjoy!
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  • Avoid the most common deadlifting mistakes
  • 9 - minute instructional video
  • 3 part follow up series