Home 2011 April (Page 2)

Workout Routines: Exercising on Vacation: Part 1

A few years ago, as my wife and I were discussing where we wanted to go for our honeymoon, we both agreed that we wanted to go somewhere that we could be active.  The “sit by the pool and crush margaritas” vacation just isn’t us – and that’s why we wound up in Costa Rica for nine days in March.  From everything we read, Costa Rica was a place where you could hike, surf, ride horses, snorkel, zipline – and get your heart rate up just by driving on narrow, cliffside roads with drivers so aggressive that they make Boston cabbies look like they’re just getting their learners’ permits.

Anyway, our “active” vacation got me to thinking about just how many people completely blow it with their workout routines and diets when they are on vacation.  I know what you’re thinking: “vacations are supposed to be time off from everything, so quit being such a nitpicker!”

I’ll agree: a vacation should be completely relaxing (and ours was), but I’d argue that doing absolutely nothing on vacation is a problem for most people for four reasons.

First, vacations are almost always a time when folks are confronted with obscene amounts of food and alcohol.  You’re not just eating a larger quantity of food; you’re eating “out” more with others preparing that food.  You’re also tempted by foods that are “new” to you – which can quickly shift the macronutrient breakdown that feels best in your normal diet.  I, for instance, ate a ton of fresh fruit in Costa Rica at pretty much every meal in spite of the fact that I’m a guy who normally doesn’t eat a ton of carbs.

When so much is out of your control on the dietary front – and you’re tempted by foods you wouldn’t otherwise eat (like that third slice of cake at 1AM on the all-inclusive cruise), exercise could be your best friend.  Well, that and cracking your own coconuts when you don't have a sharp knife on hand.

(for the record, I made an awesome pina colada protein shake out of Metabolic Cooking with fresh pineapple and coconut)

Second, a lot of people see dramatic changes to their normal sleep schedule while on vacation.  My wife and I actually wound up going to bed earlier and waking up earlier while there because we were usually wiped out by the end of the day and the sun was so bright in the morning.  Plus, on a few occasions, we had monkeys throwing mangos at our roof (not kidding).

However, most people go in the opposite direction: in bed at 2AM and up at 12PM.  We know that sleep quality, duration, and timing has a huge impact on how our body functions, so canning exercise at a time when sleep is at its poorest might not be the best idea.

Third, most vacations are longer than your typical deload week, especially when you factor in travel days.  Taking 5-7 days off is one thing, but nixing your training effect for up to two weeks is a recipe for getting soft – or, even worse, falling off the exercise bandwagon altogether.

Fourth, I’ll probably take some heat for this, as I wrote in The Art of the Deload, I think that the idea of a complete deload week is a silly idea for the overwhelming majority of the population.

The last statistic I saw had 64% of Americans as overweight or obese.  Of the other 36%, there are probably quite a few people who are naturally slender and don’t even exercise – which means that maybe a quarter of all Americans actually exercise and are in a shape other than “round.”  Go to any gym, and think about how many of those 25% of the population actually work hard enough in their strength training programs to justify taking a full week off.

Fifth, traveling sometimes means that you spend entire days sitting on planes and in airports.  A long plane ride can make an 8-hour day at your cubicle feel like a walk in the park.  I know my body is always the most stubborn when it comes to warming up the day after a long plane ride.  Some moving around on vacation can really do the body good when it comes to maintaining mobility.

Now that I’ve made my case for vacation exercise, check back soon for Part 2, where I’ll talk about what we did for training in Costa Rica.

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Cressey Performance Pro Guys’ Locations

I just wanted to put out this quick note for my readers out there who may be baseball fans located near a professional baseball park. It's a listing of where the participants in this season's off-season program will begin the year.  Please comment if you're located near one of these teams and plan on heading out to support our guys, as it's awesome to know when our players have a good audience cheering them on. This list progresses from East to West, American to National League (by organizational affiliation): Chad Jenkins – Dunedin, FL (Blue Jays High A) Matt Abraham – Dunedin, FL (GCL Blue Jays) Kevin Youkilis – Boston, MA (Boston Red Sox) Jeremy Hazelbaker – Salem, VA (Red Sox High A) Jeremiah Bayer – Salem, VA (Red Sox High A) Matt Kramer – Ft. Myers, FL (GCL Red Sox) Craig Albernaz – Montgomery, AL (Rays AA) Kevin Moran – Kannapolis, NC (White Sox Low A) Phil Negus – Kannapolis, NC (White Sox Low A) Corey Kluber – Columbus, OH (Indians AAA) Tim Collins – Kansas City, MO (Kansas City Royals) Anthony Seratelli – Northwest Arkansas (Royals AA) Kevin Pucetas – Omaha, NE (Royals AAA) Crawford Simmons – Kane County, IL (Royals Low A) Matt Perry – Lakeland, FL (GCL Tigers) Ryan O’Rourke – Beloit, WI (Twins Low A) Tim Kiely – Little Rock, AK (Angels AA) Trystan Magnuson – Sacramento, CA (A’s AAA) Shawn Haviland – Midland, TX (A’s AA) Jeff Bercume – Phoenix, AZ (AZL Athletics) Nick McBride – Hickory, NC (Rangers Low A) Ryan Rodebaugh – Hickory, NC (Rangers Low A) Chad Rodgers – Lynchburg, VA (Braves High A) Cory Gearrin – Gwinnett (Braves AAA) Tim Gustafson – Pearl, MS (Braves AA) Steve Cishek – New Orleans, LA (Marlins AAA) Matt Bouchard – St. Lucie, FL (Mets High A) Chris McKenzie – Hagerstown, MD (Nationals Low A) Bryan LaHair – Des Moines, IA (Cubs AAA) Steffan Wilson – Huntsville, AL (Brewers AA) Cory Riordan – Tulsa, OK (Rockies AA) Dan Houston – Modesto, CA (Rockies High A) Will Inman – Tuscon, AZ (Padres AAA) Kyle Vazquez – Scottsdale, AZ (AZL Giants) Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a deadlift technique tutorial!
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Stuff You Should Read: 4/8/11

Today's blog post should kick off your week with some good reading recommendations: 1. Collins Brings New Meaning to Short Relief - This article from Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports has been one of the best features on Tim Collins that I've seen thus far - and he gets bonus points for the shout-out to Cressey Performance in there (even links to some videos of Tim training on my YouTube page). 2. Something to Watch: CP athlete Danny O'Connor will be fighting on Showtime tonight (Friday), so be sure to check it out if you're surfing channels and you've got it in your programming lineup.

3. Metabolic Cooking - Just a friendly reminder that the 52% off introductory price on this great healthy recipe resource ends tonight (Friday) at midnight.  Several people have purchased it after my review earlier this week and have actually emailed me to say thank you for the recommendation. 4. The Truth about Real Butter - While on the topic of nutrition, here's a solid blog post from Brian St. Pierre on why butter isn't as bad as you probably thought in the past. Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a deadlift technique tutorial!
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A Must-Try Recipe – and My Chubby 4th Grade Pics!

When I was in fourth grade, I loved two things: sports and chicken fingers.

When I was about 8, I went on a 4-5 day trip to Gettysburg with my grandparents, and to this day, my grandmother jokes about how I ordered chicken fingers for every single lunch and dinner for the entire trip.  Likewise, Tuesdays at the Sea Road School cafeteria was affectionately known as “nug-nug” days for the chicken nuggets my friends and I couldn’t wait to dominate each week.

Little did we know (at the time, at least) that we were really just eating a load of “mechanically separated chicken parts,” sugar, bread crumbs, corn starch, vegetable oil, and “leavening” and “anti-foaming” additives.  In spite of my crazy activity level, it’s these stellar ingredients (and surely some of the other garbage I was eating) that were responsible for my remarkable transformation between my third and fourth grade school pictures.

Whoever said that you can’t gain “baby fat” in 4th grade never watched me crush nug-nugs.

Kidding aside (kind of), it should come as no surprise that I love to eat; at heart, I’m still a chubby kid who wants his chicken fingers.  However, I fight my inner demons and stick to the healthy stuff.  I’m proud to say that I was “chicken finger sober” for 16 years, but that streak ended on Monday night.  Fortunately, I was working off a great recipe I picked up from Dave Ruel’s Metabolic Cooking e-book, one of my favorite resources of all time.

These fingers were “to die for,” so I thought I’d reach out to Dave to see if he’d be okay with me reprinting his Metabolic "Fried" Chicken Fingers recipe for my loyal readers.  Knowing the joy that chicken fingers has brought to mankind for centuries, he kindly obliged – and here it is:


• 4 cooked chicken breasts (4oz each)
• 2 egg whites
• 1 teaspoon coconut oil
• ½ cup bran buds
• ½ cup oatmeal
• 1 teaspoon onion powder
• Salt and pepper


1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Prepare baking sheet by coating the coconut oil. Cut chicken breasts into four equal strips (you should have 16 strips total). Set aside. Grind oatmeal and bran buds in a food processor (or blender). Next, combine all dry ingredients in a large container with a tightly fitting lid. Shake well. This is your coating mixture.

2. Add egg whites in a medium bowl. Dip each strip in the egg whites. Then dip each strip (finger) in the coating mixture. Make sure each piece is well coated.

3. Place on the baking sheet. When all of your chicken has been coated and your baking sheet is full, place in the oven and bake for 10 mins or until golden. Then turn the fingers and bake for an additional 5-6 minutes."

Here's how ours turned out (and I can assure you that they tasted even better than they looked; I was more concerned with wolfing them down than I was with tastefully presenting them for the camera):

For more awesome recipes like this, be sure to check out Metabolic Cooking, a great resource to which you'll be referring for years to come. It (as well as its sister resource, Anabolic Cooking) is on sale for just $10 through the end of the day today

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Congratulations to UCONN and Coach Chris West!

For those of you who don't know, as part of the fifth generation of UCONN graduates in my family, I was a really proud Husky on Monday night when they won the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship.  While Coach Calhoun and Kemba Walker will be getting a lot of media attention (and rightfully so) over the next few days, the man for whom I was the most thrilled wasn't someone who appeared in the box scores or post-game interviews.  It was Chris West, the the Associate Head of Strength and Conditioning at UCONN, who got his first national championship ring.

From 2003 through 2005 (and even a bit in 2006) - as I was getting started in this field - I was a "sidekick" to Chris.  During that time period, I helped Chris out with basketball and soccer.  At the time, as I recall, they were all top 5 in the country: not a bad collection of athletes to be training! Chris was an incredible mentor to me and afforded me tremendous opportunities to not only work with high level athletes, but also see all the important work that goes on behind the scenes.  These experiences and conversations with Chris not only made me a better coach, but also showed me just the kind of work ethic it takes to be successful in the strength and conditioning field.  Chris' passion for helping athletes made me realize that you can (and should) have a blast when you're coaching.  Likewise, his insatiable desire to constantly be improving as a professional pushed me to be a little better each day - and a lot better over the course of a career. And, I wasn't the only one; you can find many of Chris' other "understudies" doing great things in professional sports .  One of them, Mike Irr, is the head strength and conditioning coach for the Charlotte Bobcats, and Mike and I texted back and forth Monday night not only as excited UCONN supporters, but also because we were both so excited for Chris to get the ring he deserved.  It's countless hours of hard work rewarded. As an interesting aside to this, I got down to a game at Gampel Pavilion last year and remarked to my uncle after that contest that the only way UCONN would win was if they had a dominant big man who could rebound and block shots.  It was the case with the 1999 championship team when the combination of Jake Voskuhl and Kevin Freeman gave the Huskies a strong inside presence, and also in 2004 when Emeka Okafor was National Player of the Year and UCONN won its second national title.

Last year's Huskies just had tall guys, but no dominant big men. However, Alex Oriakhi's improvement from last year to this year was remarkable and clearly played a huge role in UCONN's success this year - and a huge part of that improvement absolutely, positively came in the weight room with Chris.  You could see it in the way he used his strength to box out and set himself up in the low post (where he was dominant on Monday night) and the reactive ability he displayed with successive jumps in rebounding and blocking (4 blocked shots on Monday).  Even more interestingly, the only time that UCONN struggled in the game - the last portion of the first half - was when Oriakhi was out with foul trouble.  He was an essential part of not only the win in the finals, but the entire season.

You don't just find dominant big men; you develop them.  While Oriakhi was already a pretty big dude when he got to college, I just didn't see the body control or athleticism last year that he showed this year.  While some of that surely was a matter of instincts and on-the-court coaching, a lot of the credit goes to Coach West for a fantastic job with preparing him. Congratulations, Chris! Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a deadlift technique tutorial!
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Metabolic Cooking: Making it Easier to Eat Clean with Healthy Food Options

A lot of people know me as a guy with incredible willpower when it comes to eating; I’m not a guy who eats pizza, desserts, or really anything kind of junk.  However, a lot of people take that to mean that I don’t enjoy food – but that couldn’t be further from the truth.  I love to eat – but I prefer it to be healthy food options; give me a good steak and some fresh vegetables and I’ll be much happier than if I’d just spent some quality time with Ben and Jerry.

That’s why I’m always psyched when I get healthy recipes thrown my way.  As much as I like healthy food, it’s easy to get stuck in ruts with the same things over and over again.  Taking it a step further, now that I’m living with a wife, I have to keep in mind that she doesn’t tolerate a bland diet as easily as I could – and since she likes to cook, new recipes are pretty clutch for my marriage!

As such, I was really fired up when I read through Dave Ruel’s Metabolic Cooking, a resource consisting of over 250 awesome recipes for eating healthy.  If you like John Berardi’s stuff in this regard, you’ll also love Dave’s.

Metabolic Cooking is a really expansive product, as it provides recipes for breakfasts, chicken/poultry, fish/seafood, red meat, pork, sides, smoothies, snacks, and vegetarian options.  There were several things that really stood out for me about this fantastic resource.

The first thing I really took away from this resource was how to use different spices in cooking.  You’ll get a kick out of this, but the ONLY thing I added to our wedding registry last year was a spice rack, as I wanted to use more herbs and spices in our cooking.  I received it – but it’s been sitting idle in our kitchen since October simply because I didn’t know when to use things like thyme, sage, and rosemary.  Sure enough, Dave includes a lot of these in his recipes – and they’ve been delicious additions to meat and vegetables.  Check out the herbed green beans I made the other night.

He does some equally creative stuff with healthy salad dressings, too.

Second, Dave “convinced” me to start eating some pork again.  I never really resisted including pork in my diet like a lot of people do nowadays (because they think it’s unhealthy), but I didn’t really have any good recipes that made me want to go out and buy some.  That changed last week when I made some slow cooker chili pork the other night.

Third, Dave gave me something to do with the coconuts and fresh pineapples in our front yard during our honeymoon in Costa Rica.  Check out this pina colada smoothie (yes, I even hacked up the coconut and pineapple myself).  Before and afters:

Fourth, my wife and I eat a fair amount of ground turkey, which almost always comes in one-pound packages.  The problem is that 16 oz of meat cooks up to 12oz of meat – and I’ll eat 7-8oz and my wife will eat 4-5oz.  In other words, there are zero leftovers after we have dinner – and I get "hangry" (a combination of hungry and angry) when there’s nothing kicking around the next day for me to take to work.  Dave’s got a great recipe called “Mexi Turkey-Eggs Skillet” that adds eggs (and some vegetables) to the ground turkey, which thickens it up and ensures that you’ll have some leftovers.

When all was said and done, my wife and I both had our dinners – and then had enough for lunch for both of us to take to work the next day.  And I wasn’t hangry at all.

Fifth, on the logistical side of things, Dave has a cool feature in his e-book that allows you to easily navigate back and forth from the individual recipes to the table of contents (and vice versa).  I hadn’t seen this before in an e-book and I absolutely love it (so much, in fact, that I plan to incorporate something similar where appropriate in my future products).

For those looking to lean out (or gain muscle, for that matter), Dave provides nutritional facts for each recipe and advice on whether to include it as a protein and fat, protein and carb, or “mixed” meal.  So, it’s not just recipes; it’s very useful advice as well.

In case you couldn’t tell by now, I give this product about 47 thumbs up, as evidenced by the fact that all I’ve been doing is eating healthy food (and a lot of it) ever since it arrived.  I mean, can you argue with this Lemon Herb Mustard Chicken?  Not bad for a meathead strength coach, huh?

Trust me: this is a resource you will use for years to come.  Pick up a copy and you won’t be disappointed: Metabolic Cooking. As an added bonus, it's on sale for 67% off this week - along with its "sister resource," Anabolic Cooking, which is also awesome. You can get them both for just $20 right now...pretty sweet deal.

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Back from Kansas City: A Tim Collins Update

After I published my feature on Tim Collins' rise to the big leagues the other day, I had quite a few requests from readers to update them on how Tim did - so I thought I'd post a quick blog about it today. Tim actually made his MLB debut on opening day, entering the game for the ninth inning with the Royals down 4-2.  He pitched one inning, and gave up one hit and one walk, but no runs.  He had one strikeout...of Torii Hunter (who'd hit a mammoth 461-foot HR earlier in the game). It was a pretty special day for all of us.  Sorry for the grainy photo (taken from my Blackberry), but here's Tim with my business partner, Pete, and me prior to the game.

As an interesting little aside to all of this, the phrase "Tim Collins" was actually trending on Twitter at the time that he entered the game on Thursday.  My original piece was retweeted 75 times and recommended 270 times on Facebook, making it the busiest traffic day in EricCressey.com history - so that had to get the ball rolling in some regard. More importantly, I think a lot of people had really just been waiting for the debut, as it's an awesome story.

On a funny aside, we were joking that although he was trending on Twitter, no Kansas City fans would recognize him out of his jersey when we went out to dinner after the opener.  That was true; we had a quiet dinner with Tim and his parents.  The only recognition came when an arm reached back to grab Tim as we left the restaurant at 10:15PM.

It was Torii Hunter, the 13-year MLB veteran who is making $18 million this year and surely meets hundreds of new people every day.  However, he recognized Tim - and took the time to congratulate him on his debut, tell him he was impressed with his stuff, and wish him well this season and beyond. Class act.  Maybe we ought to all be Angels fans for a day in his honor?

Thanks to everyone for your kind words and support.

UPDATE: Tim wound up picking up his first MLB win on Sunday afternoon, pitching the 11th, 12th, and 13th innings for the Royals in their win over the Angels.  His final line was 3IP, 2H, 0BB, 0ER, 5K.  Check out the video highlight of his appearance.

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Assess and Correct “Completely Changed My Life”

We received the following testimonial from a very satisfied Assess and Correct customer via email last week, and I thought I'd share. "After spending five years heading in the wrong direction regarding my training, I was left with many injuries in my upper as well as my lower body. I had multiple muscle/strength imbalances and horrible posture which caused overuse injuries, chronic pain, pinched nerves and other problems. I physically couldn’t do a single thing without causing some sort of pain. Even though I was only 22 years old at the time, I just assumed that I had headed so far down the wrong path that I would never recover and never be able to comfortably work out again. I accidentally came across one of Eric’s articles about one of my many problems. I read the article and instantly looked for others. "After some deliberation I decided that Assess and Correct might be something that could help me. I gave it a try, consistently performing the exercises, in combination with other exercises recommended by Cressey, Robertson, and Hartman aimed at restoring correct posture. The best way to describe this product was that it completely changed my life. "I have loads of mobility and stability in all the right places. I went through every exercise or mobility drill in every progression even if I didn't need to. All the exercises are described thoroughly and simple to complete. Injuries or no injuries, I would recommend this product to every single person who lives and active lifestyle. I am a believer and will be a lifetime follower of Eric Cressey, Mike Robertson, and Bill Hartman. Thanks, guys!" Click here to pick up a copy of Assess and Correct for yourself!

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