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The Best of 2011: Videos

In continuing with our "Best of 2011" theme to wrap up the year, today, I've got the top EricCressey.com videos of the year. The Cressey Performance Elite Baseball Development Video - This was something that we needed to do simply to outline how we approach off-season development for our baseball clients, but it ended up being a lot of fun to be a part of, as a lot of the staff and athletes took a genuine interest in how it'd turn out. A special thanks goes out to Matt and Jamie at Lasting Memories Videotaping for making it happen.

Tyler Beede Draft Reaction - This was a fun night not just because of the obvious excitement of having 120 people at your house (yes, this is my living room), but because it was awesome just to appreciate just how far Tyler had coming as a person and an athlete since he started training with us back in 2008.

Reverse Crunch Technique - This two-minute video on coaching the reverse crunch was part of a popular blog, Down on Lumbar Flexion in Strength Training Programs? Enter the Reverse Crunch.

How to Create a Real Strength and Conditioning Program - This is one of the webinars I created around the re-launch of Show and Go back in October.

How to Create an Imbalanced Strength and Conditioning Program that Works - I released this webinar just a few weeks after the first one, as I was feeling the "webinar mojo" and this had been a topic I'd want to cover for quite some time.

Those were my top five videos of the year, but there were definitely plenty more you may have missed.  Luckily, you can check them out on my YouTube Channel.

I'll be back tomorrow with one last "Best of 2011" feature.

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The Best of 2011: Features

I love writing multi-part features because it really affords me more time to dig deep into a topic of interest to both my readers and me.  In many ways, it’s a challenge on par with writing a short book, whereas individual blogs tend to be quick bullet points. That said,  here were five noteworthy features from 2011 at EricCressey.com: How to Deadlift: Which Deadlift Variation is Right for You? - Part 1 (Conventional Deadlift) - This kicked off a three-part series on why certain deadlift variations may be more appropriate than others for certain lifters.  Be sure to read installments 2 and 3: the Sumo Deadlift and the Trap Bar Deadlift.

Is an Exercise Science Degree Really Worth It? - Part 1 - I expected this series to be far more controversial than it was, but to be honest, most people simply agreed with me, so it was popular for a different reason!  Check out Part 2 as well.

Coffee Consumption and Health: The Final Word - Part 1 - As I noted the other day, one of the biggest surprises for me in 2011 was that my readers were psyched to get nutrition content at EricCressey.com, and Brian St. Pierre's guest blog on coffee consumption and health was one such example.  Be sure to check out Part 2 as well.

How to Fit Core Stability Exercises into Strength and Conditioning Programs - Part 1 - This two-part feature was published late in the year, but that didn't stop it from receiving enough traffic to rank in the top five at year-end.  It was a follow-up to the Functional Stability Training seminar that Mike Reinold and I presented at Cressey Performance in November.  Click here for part 2. Is Dairy Healthy? The Whole Story - Part 1 - This three-part feature was another great guest submission from Brian St. Pierre on a hotly debated topic in the nutrition world.  Check out Part 2 and Part 3 as well. Speaking of features, that wraps up this third installment of the "Best of 2011" series; I'll be back soon with the top videos of 2011. Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!
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Now Available: Cressey Performance/New Balance Hoodies

We’re putting in a pre-order for our new Cressey Performance Hooded Sweatshirts and I thought I’d open this one up to the EricCressey.com readers out there.  These sweatshirts are made by New Balance and are widely praised by the 50 or so of us who got in on the initial order.

Highlights (courtesy of New Balance) include: -          "Set-in sleeve construction" -          "Rib Knit Cuffs, Waistband, and Side Panels for style and comfort" -          "3 panel Jersey-lined hood with draw cord" -          "Kanga pocket for easy storage" -          "Body – 80% Cotton, 20% Polyester" -          Screened “CP” logo We have found that these sweatshirts run a little bit large.  More specifically, unless you’re 6’3/225lbs, you’re not going to want to order an XL.  This is what an XL will look like on you, if you're 5-7, 175 pounds like Tim Collins.

At 5-8, 190 pounds, I wear a large - and it's slightly big. We will be accepting orders until next Wednesday (January 4th).  The cost will be $59.99 per sweatshirt, plus shipping/handling.  All pre-ordered sweatshirts will ship by 1/25/12. The following sizes are available: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL.  Please just indicate in the comments section of the order form what size you'd like.  CLICK HERE to order. Also, if you'd like to complete your winter CP attire, you can pick up a CP beanie, too:

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The Best of 2011: Product Reviews

I've already featured the top articles at EricCressey.com from 2011, and now it's time to highlight the top product reviews I did at this site in the last year. 1. Metabolic Cooking - This was the most popular product review I did on the year for a very simple reason: everybody needs to eat!  And, the folks reading this site prefer to eat "clean" - and Dave Ruel did a great job of making this easier and tastier with an outstanding recipe book to which I still refer every week.  I made two posts about the product: Metabolic Cooking: Making it Easier to Eat Clean with Healthy Food Options A Must-Try Recipe - and My Chubby 4th Grade Pics! (this is the best chicken fingers recipe in history; try it!)

2. Muscle Imbalances Revealed - Upper Body - This was the sequel to the popular lower-body product that was released by Rick Kaselj et al. in 2010.  I went through and highlighted each presenters contributions to the product via four posts: Muscle Imbalances Revealed Review - Upper: Part 1 (Dean Somerset) Muscle Imbalances Revealed Review - Upper: Part 2 (Dr. Jeff Cubos) Muscle Imbalances Revealed Review - Upper: Part 3 (Tony Gentilcore and Rick Kaselj)

3. Lean Hybrid Muscle - As the review below will demonstrate, this program offered me a nice change of pace from my "normal" training when I needed to shake things up earlier this year.  It's a nice follow-up to Show and Go.  Here's my review: How I'm Breaking Out of My Training Rut: The Lean Hybrid Muscle Strength and Conditioning Program

4. Post-Rehab Essentials - Based on the fact that Dean Somerset has now gotten two shout-outs in my top product reviews of 2011, you might think that I have somewhat of a man-crush on him.  The truth is that I think Dean relates complex terms in simple terms and "teaches" about as well as anyone in the fitness industry.  Check out this post that touches on why his product has merit: 4 Reasons You Must Understand Corrective Exercise and Post-Rehab Training

There were certainly some other great products I encountered this year, but these four reviews proved to be the most popular with my readers, based on hosting statistics. We'll be back soon with the top features of 2011. Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!
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The Best of 2011: Articles

With 2011 winding down, I'll be dedicating this week to the best content of the year, based on traffic volume at EricCressey.com.  I'll kick it off today with my most popular articles from the past year. 1. My New Favorite Training Shoe - This post received more than 3,000 views more than #2.  Apparently, footwear is a topic about which folks were anxious to read, and I gave a detailed review of all the minimalist footwear options I've tried - and folks shared it a ton.  Additionally, based on feedback on my Twitter account, a lot of people purchased the New Balance Minimus based on my recommendation and have absolutely loved it.

2. Your Arm Hurts?  Thank Your Little League, Fall Ball, and AAU Coaches. - This post received well over 1,000 Facebook "shares" and loads of Tweets, and I'm hopeful that this is indicative of parents, coaches, and players learning about how to approach arm care and throwing programs intelligently.  I think it was also popular because it was a good blend of scientific evidence and simple, everyday logic. 3. Tim Collins: Why Everyone Should Be a Kansas City Royals Fan (at least for a day) - This was my favorite post of the year, as it was a chance to celebrate a good friend and long-time Cressey Performance athlete who is everything that is right about Major League Baseball. As a cool little aside, traffic to this article played a large part in having "Tim Collins" trending on Twitter during his MLB debut on Opening Day in March.

4. Weight Training Programs: You Can't Just Keep Adding - It sounds like many of my readers were glad to hear that I was doing some writing on managing training stress.  There is a lot of common sense in this one, but sometimes, that's what people need! 5. Strength Training Programs and Squat Technique: To Arch or Not to Arch? - Here's a very misunderstood topic in the area of strength and conditioning technique.  You'll be happy to know that I'll be addressing it in great detail in the new Functional Stability Training resource that Mike Reinold and I are releasing soon. 6. Shoulder Hurts? Start Here. - In this piece, I outlined three sure-fire strategies that just about everyone can employ regardless of their shoulder issues.

7. Healthy Food Options: Why You Should Never Take Nutrition Advice from Your Government - One of the biggest surprises for me in 2011 was that my readers absolutely ate up (no pun intended) nutrition content, and summer Cressey Performance intern Tyler Simmons' guest blog perfect example.   He shared some great (and controversial) thoughts in this guest blog. 8. Correcting Bad Posture: Are Deadlifts Enough? - People want results, and they want them fast.  This post touched on whether or not the deadlift could be an optimal "shortcut" for getting to where you want to be. 9. Why the Gym's Out-of-Business and the Porn Store's Thriving - This was proof that I can write about just about anything.  Don't ever expect to see a content drought here at EricCressey.com.  The timing for this was really good, as I got the idea to write it right around the time that we released The Fitness Business Blueprint.

10. Lifting Heavy Weights vs. Corrective Exercise: Finding a Balance - I can definitely see how folks found this topic so interesting, as it's a very challenging balance to strike.  In fact, it was even a very challenging piece around which to wrap my brain! This wraps up our top 10 posts of 2011, but I'll be back soon with more "Best of" highlights from 2011.  Next up, I'll list my top product reviews of the year. Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!
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Happy Holidays!

Just a quick note to let everyone know that I'll be away from the computer for a few days for the holidays.  Thank you very much for all your support, and best wishes for a great holiday season!
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The Most Overlooked Continuing Education Opportunity for Fitness Professionals

I write a lot at EricCressey.com about various continuing education opportunities for fitness professionals. Reading this blog and other related websites on the 'net is one. Checking out some of my products and those created by other folks in the industry is a second. Attending seminars is a third. Getting out to observe other coaches is a fourth; we have observational interns stop by all the time to check out Cressey Performance for a day or two. Fifth would be teaching.  One of the best ways to master a topic is to have to teach it and answer questions about it.  This is why giving seminars and doing staff/intern training makes me better at what I do. However, there is a sixth option out there that - to be very honest - blows all the rest out of the water.

All of your clients/athletes have things to teach you.

Case in point, Monday was the busiest day in Cressey Performance history, as lots of our college guys rolled back in from the fall semester and jumped in with our professional athletes, adult clients, and high school and middle school clientele.  This week alone, we saw athletes from the following:

29 of the 30 MLB organizations

Over 20 area high schools and their associated middle schools Wake Forest University Vanderbilt University University of Virginia University of Maryland Boston College Northwestern University University of Florida Coastal Carolina University University of Connecticut Columbia University Florida Tech Kennesaw St. University University of Hartford Binghamton University Bryant University Babson College Assumption College Wheaton College Rollins College Southern New Hampshire University UMASS - Lowell UMASS - Amherst Middlebury College Emory University Elon University Carson-Newman College St. Lawrence University Washington University - St. Louis Franklin Pierce Colby College Bowdoin College Eckerd College

I'm sure I'm forgetting a few - and this is on top of our adult clients, but that's neither here nor there.  The point is that every single one of these individuals has a unique background: different injury histories, different training backgrounds, and different responses to the training they are doing with you.  Ask them questions about what they like and what they dislike.  Find out what's worked, and what hasn't.  Ask where their biggest shortcomings are; what do they struggle with on a daily basis?

This form of education is the absolute best of the bunch for two reasons.

First, it's the best kind of information, because it's already framed in the context of an existing schema in your mind (I covered this concept in an old blog, Strength and Conditioning Programs: How to Make Change Easier).  Comparatively speaking, when you read about a concept in a book, you have to consider how it applies to a client/athlete of yours before you can apply it - and then you have to evaluate it to see what works.  When you do "Q&A" with the individual in question, you get useful information that you can immediately apply.

Second, it's an opportunity to show clients/athletes that you genuinely care about them and are taking an interest in their unique situations.  This simply doesn't happen in facilities when they don't do evaluations on the first day.  And, it certainly doesn't happen when everyone does the same program off the dry erase board.

So, the next time you're looking to pick up some new ideas to help your strength and conditioning philosophy evolve, start asking questions of the people who matter the most: your clients and athletes.

For more business, training, and personal strategies, be sure to check out The Fitness Business Blueprint.

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The 6 Characteristics of a Good Dynamic Warm-up

The dynamic warm-up is an extremely important component of a strength and conditioning program.  In addition to reducing the risk of injury while enhancing subsequent performance in a variety of contexts, it's also a great place to implement corrective exercise drills to address underlying muscle imbalances. With that in mind, to get the most out of your dynamic warm-up, keep in mind these six characteristics of an effective pre-training program. 1. A good dynamic warm-up should be preceded by soft tissue work. Every one of our clients at Cressey Performance goes through the following foam rolling series (at the very least) prior to their first warm-up drills.

For a bit more on the rationale behind foam rolling, check out this post of mine from a few months ago.  Needless to say, it's important - and will make your dynamic warm-up far more productive. 2. A good dynamic warm-up should progress from ground-based to standing. When I write a warm-up, I want athletes to do all their ground-based activation and mobility drills first, rather than mix them in with standing exercises.  This works not only for the sake of convenience, but also in terms of facility logistics: traffic throughout the gym is more predictable.  As an example, I might use a wall hip flexor mobilization to improve hip extension range of motion before I'd get an athlete up to do lunge variations in the standing position.

I like to see things progress from ground-based, to standing in-place (e.g., scapular wall slides, bowler squats), to standing and moving.

3. A good dynamic warm-up should progress from single-joint to multi-joint movements.

We might do a rocking ankle mobilization or quadruped extension-rotation early in the warm-up to work purely on ankle mobility and thoracic spine mobility, respectively, but once the warm-up progresses and one becomes upright, all the joints need to be working together in an appropriate balance of mobility and stability.  Just count how many different pieces are in place on this drill:

4. A good dynamic warm-up addresses mobility at the ankles, hips, and thoracic spine.

Even if people just worked on these three areas (to the exclusion of everything else) and then moved on to the rest of their strength training programs, the world would be a much healthier and high-performance place.  Throw on restrictive footwear and sit hunched over a desk all day, and these are the areas that will suffer the most - so make sure you've got drills for each in the warm-up.  Keep in mind that while one drill each for the ankle and thoracic spine mobility will be sufficient for most, it'll likely take several to take care of the hips, as they need to be moved in all three planes of motion.

5. A good dynamic warm-up should take into account joint laxity.

This is something I have to keep in mind all the time, as many of our baseball pitchers have considerable congenital joint laxity.  Their joint ranges of motion are already so good that we don't need to do much (if at all) in terms of mobility work.  Rather, we do substantially more low-level activation drills during the warm-up period to teach them how to stabilize joints prior to more intense exercise.  Conversely, if you have someone who is as tight as a drum, chances are that you can be more aggressive with mobility drills, knowing the subsequent stability will come more easily to them.

6. A good dynamic warm-up should actually increase body temperature.

I see a lot of people who drag their heels going through a warm-up, thinking too much or simply wasting time along the way.  You don't need to do 20 different drills, but rather select 8-10 drills and do them at a pace that allows you to get your body temperature and joint range of motion up sufficiently to be prepared for a more specific warm-up (e.g., light deadlifts).  If you take it too slowly, it just won't have the same effect.  While everyone is different when it comes to perspiration, I like to see athletes sweating a little bit by the end of the warm-up.

These are just a few quick and easy guidelines I like to keep in mind when writing the dynamic warm-ups in our strength and conditioning programs.  Of course, each client has unique needs - from actual physical limitations to space/equipment limitations - that one must take into account as well.

To learn more, I'd encourage you to check out Assess and Correct: Breaking Barriers to Unlock Performance.  This two-DVD set provides 27 assessments and 78 corrective exercises that can serve as the foundation for effective dynamic warm-ups in your strength and conditioning programs.

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Reader Poll: What Do YOU Want to See at EricCressey.com in 2012?

I get ideas for content at EricCressey.com from a wide variety of sources: clients at Cressey Performance, seminars, DVDs, books, or even just current events that may have parallels in the fitness industry.  That said, though, I always love hearing reader suggestions, as I think it's important to give my audience a feeling of ownership with my site, as you're the ones who make it possible and worthwhile for me. To that end, I'd absolutely love to hear some suggestions on topics you'd like covered at EricCressey.com in 2012.  Additionally, if there are particularly mediums (e.g., videos, webinars, individual articles vs. series) that you prefer, please let me know.  The 2011 year was a huge growth year at EricCressey.com, and I'm confident that 2012 will be even better - especially with your feedback. Please post your comments, suggestions, questions, constructive criticisms, and anything else you'd like to "throw out there" in the comments section below.  Thanks!
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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 12/15/11

Here's this week's list of recommended strength and conditioning reading: Groin Strain? Get Manual Therapy - I received an email inquiry this week about training around a groin strain, and it reminded me of this old post of mine. America's Scariest Fitness Trends - This was a story by Adam Campbell for Yahoo Sports' The Postgame, and I provided a few quotes. Quantifying the Farmer's Walk - I thought this was an outstanding piece from Shon Grosse, a good friend of mine who is an outstanding physical therapist in Pennsylvania. Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!
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  • Avoid the most common deadlifting mistakes
  • 9 - minute instructional video
  • 3 part follow up series