Home 2013 May

Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 43

Courtesy of Greg Robins, here are this week's five tips to help your strength and conditioning programs out.

1. Try this simple cue to maintain proper leverages with your deadlift technique.

2. Consider coaching a softer knee position in prone bridge variations.

The most important aspect of any prone bridge exercise is control of the spine. Gravity is working down on us, and creating a need to engage the anterior core to keep from over extending. Coaching a stiff, or locked out knee may be o.k. for much of the population. However, in some cases you are better off coaching a knee position that is slightly flexed, to just short of fully extended. More times than not, this slight regression will help trainees to a better feel for using the appropriate muscles, whereas before the hard locked out legs were causing a lot of compensation elsewhere. 


3. Utilize "blocks" in your programming.

Block periodization is somewhat of a “buzz” word in the strength training community. It is viewed as a complex system reserved for the advanced training population. In reality, the general concept of block periodization is something that can be easily utilized by all strength training enthusiasts.

By now, you have probably heard that periodization itself isn’t the super cutting-edge concept some make it out to be. In fact it’s more or less just a way to say “organization.” Block periodization refers to organizing your training into specific periods of time. Each period can have a different length, and each should have a different primary focus. So how does this system of organization apply to you, and why is it worth considering?

For starters, organizing things into blocks helps you define a specific goal for a certain period of your training. Additionally, acknowledging different blocks in a training period helps you select appropriate exercises, use movements you might not normally know where to insert, and assign a quantity of work to a given exercise.

Normally, block periodization is synonymous with fancy words like accumulation, transmutation, and realization. For some, understanding these terms is beneficial. For many, it’s not necessary at all. Instead, you can assign whatever focus you want to a given block. However, I would encourage you to embody the theme of moving from “general to specific.”

What you do in the gym will work to either help you, hurt you, or in some cases have no effect whatsoever. Assuming you a have a specific goal in mind, everything you do in the gym should be done in an effort to aid you in achieving your goal.  All these things have a different relationship with your progress towards the end goal. Some have a very direct relationship, while others have a more indirect relationship. Each is important, but without planned organization, we tend to focus solely on those with a more direct relationship.

The issue there is that the time spent on an area with a more indirect relationship is still very important. Ignoring them for too long can cause a rapid change in your training out of necessity. Because you ignored these areas, their improvement has now become essential to you moving forward with the more directly related things. Now that this is the case, more time must be spent on improving the indirect things, and the direct things become stagnant at best.

As an example, the most direct correlation to improved sport performance will always be the training of the sport in question. If an athlete spends 90% of his time playing his sport, he has a greater risk of injury due to repetitive overuse of the body in relation the movements of the sport. For every one percent of time he spends on items more indirectly related to his sport performance, the better his oddGR262682_659447396708_1354528890_ns of avoiding an overuse injury. See Eric’s College Baseball: Is Summer Ball Worth It? article for a real-world example of this.

The same could be said for someone looking to improve a certain fitness category. If you want to squat, bench, and deadlift more – and all you do is these lifts, you, too, will combat the aches and pains associated with the exposure to the same movements over and over. Enter the block organization scheme.

With this concept, we can allot certain periods of time to being either more general, or more specific. In other words, they can be more indirect or direct. When you organize your own training, start incorporating this idea. Everyone’s blocks will be different, and completely dependent upon his or her goals. Here is a simple way to think about it.

Block 1 (4 – 8 weeks)

Most general, or indirect: 60% or more of what you do.

Less general, more direct: 30% or more of what you do.

Most specific or direct: 10% or less of what you do.

Block 2 (3 – 6 weeks)

Most general, or indirect: 20% of what you do.

Less general, more direct: 50% or less of what you do.

Most specific or direct: 30% or more of what you do.

Block 3 (2 – 4 weeks)

Most general, or indirect: 10% or less of what you do.

Less general, more direct: 10% or less of what you do.

Most specific or direct: 80% or more of what you do.

4. Add the band-resisted sled sprint to your arsenal.

Band resisted sled sprints are a great tool for a variety of reasons. Any sled sprint sprint offers the benefit of lower impact, and in this case you have the ability to move the feet very explosively with less ground contact forces than traditional sprinting. Furthermore, the trailing person can alter the resistance to meet the demands of either the training intensity or the output from the sprinter. Lastly, these are a viable option for people coming back from upper extremity issues who may not be able to push a heavier sled.

5. Take advantage of grilling season.

Up North, we have crappy weather, plain and simple. This year, it's been exceptionally awful. Unfortunately, that means our time available to grill is shorter than I would like. While the good weather is upon us, I make it a point to use the easiest food preparation tool short of the microwave as much as possible, and you should, too. Grilling is about as simple as it gets. You can cook meats, veggies, and even starches all in the same place. Plus, clean-up is virtually non existent. If you have been in a food prep rut, get yourself outside and on the grill!

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Coaching Cues to Make Your Strength and Conditioning Programs More Effective: Bench Press Technique Edition

It's time for another installment of Coaching Cues to Make Your Strength and Conditioning Programs More Effective, and in this round, I'll be focusing specifically on bench press technique.  Here are a few of the ones I find myself using most often with our athletes:

1. Push yourself away from the bar.

This is a cue that is especially important when doing sets with multiple reps, as everything after rep 1 can look worse and worse if you can’t repeat your starting position. You see, when you first unrack the weight to bench press, you want the shoulder blades packed underneath you to create a stable upper back “platform” from which you can press.  You should aim to keep this platform consistent throughout the set.

Now, imagine two bench press technique scenarios: 1) you thinking about pushing the bar away from you and 2) you thinking about pushing yourself away from the bar.  Which one is going to lead to your protracting your shoulder blades at the “finish” position? It’d be the former, for sure.  So, think about driving your upper back into the bench by pushing yourself away from the bar.  This is a great tag-along point to this previous video from Greg Robins, which discussed how important it is to just ease the bar out over the pins rather than jerking it out over them; you want the lifter to remain tight under the bar, not have to protract to go get it.

This platform discussion actually leads to my next cue…

2. Go up and get the bar.

It drives me bonkers when I see a lifter let the bar free-fall, only to bounce off the sternum and come halfway back up.  It’s a toss-up of whether this is worse for the sternum or shoulders, but regardless, it’s a bad move. 

Rather than getting dominated by gravity, I prefer to see lifters “go up and get the bar.” In other words, I don’t want them to wait for it to reach their rib cage; I want them to help the process along by actively using the muscles of the upper back to pull the bar down to them.  Additionally, they can bring the rib cage up to the bar by getting air in to create some intra-abdominal pressure.

Beyond simply reducing the distance the bar has to travel, this bench press technique will also limit how much the humerus (upper arm) extends past the body.  When it extends past the body too much (as with a dip), the head of the humerus glides forward and can irritate the anterior structures of the shoulder.   So, this approach allows you to press heavier weights and stay healthier while doing so.

3. Get the feet out wider.

If there is something out there that would drive me bonkers me more than people who kick their feet around while bench pressing, I haven’t discovered it yet.  There’s no place for antsy feet in good bench press technique, as it’s a sign that you aren’t putting any force into the ground and definitely don’t have sufficient core stability to press heavy weights.

While some folks would cue these individuals to pull the feet up under the body and create a big arch of the lower back, I don’t think that’s necessary in the general population (although many powerlifters utilize this approach with great success).  Instead, I’ll just tell folks to get the feet out wider.  It’s much more difficult to dance around with your feet when you’re in a more abducted position, as it’s likely closer to the end of the lifter’s range of motion in the frontal or transverse plane than the narrower stance width would be.

Just getting your feet a bit wider should help you to improve leg drive, transfer force up to the bar, and avoid looking like a tap-dancing schmuck under the bar.

Give these three tips a shot during your next bench press session and I'm sure you'll feel a lot stronger and safer under the bar.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 5/28/13

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend.  I've been traveling, so apologies for the delayed publication on this one! Here's this week's list of recommended strength and conditioning reading:

What's the Best Diet?  - Here's a great piece from the good folks at Precision Nutrition that'll make you think twice about whether there is one perfect diet for you.

Strength Training Success: How Dr. P did at 47 What He Couldn't Do at 30 - This was an old blog, but one with an enduring set of lessons.  I think you'll find it entertaining.

The Effect of Reactive Neuromuscular Training in Pitchers - This was an excellent guest post from former CP intern Sam Sturgis on Mike Reinold's blogs. We know rhythmic stabilizations are valuable, but this piece sheds more light on how they are best utilized. Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!



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Exercise of the Week: Standing External Rotation to Wall

This week's exercise of the week is a great fit for everyday lifters and baseball players alike, as it builds rotator cuff strength without any equipment.

If you're looking for more cutting-edge arm care strategies, be sure to check out Sturdy Shoulder Solutions!

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Pelvic Arch Design and Load Carrying Capacity (Or, How the Heck Does EC Deadlift So Much?)

Today's guest post comes from Dean Somerset.  In reviewing his outstanding resource, The Complete Shoulder and Hip Blueprint (which is currently on sale for $100 off), I loved the section Dean devoted to pelvic structure as it relates to our ability to handle heavy weight training. I asked if he'd be willing to expand on the topic in a guest post, and he kindly agreed.  I really enjoy Dean's work and think you will, too. - EC

I love the deadlift, but it doesn’t love me back all that much. I can pull about 455 on a good day at a body weight of 230, but I haven’t tested a max pull in a few months. I just finished training for a kettlebell course, so it would be interesting to see if it’s gone up at all without specific deadlift training but more accelerative training, but that’s neither here nor there, nor is it relevant to today’s post. It’s just a cool thought.

One reason why I am at the mercy of the deadlift is a previous injury to my right sacroiliac (SI) joint. This causes the arch structure of the pelvis to be compromised, and limits my ability to withstand the shear forces of a heavy deadlift.

Arch structures are an integral feature of a lot of architectural structures, and for good reason. They help to disburse compressive loads across a span towards abutments on either side of the span. Think of ancient Roman aqueducts, bridges, or even more contemporary structures such as the arch in St Louis.


The ability to withstand compressive forces and maintain a powerful structure is so impressive in an arch structure that many ancient arches were constructed without the use of mortar between the joints of the stones. This compressive resistance is of massive importance not only in buildings, but in our own anatomy.

The pelvis is essentially an amazing structure that’s a composite of a single bone made of dozens of noticeable arch structures that integrate between the left and right sides, using the sacrum as the keystone.

As the pelvis and its arches form a span between the two abutments of the legs, it allows for a tremendous amount of compressive force to be relatively easily dispersed across it with relative ease.

The downside to an SI joint injury comes when in the bottom position of the deadlift, or any forward flexed position for that matter, as the arch structure runs directly across the back of the SI joint and it is required to be completely and perfectly integrated, much like the keystone in an arched doorway. If not, the structure comes down.

Now, I have some theories as to how you could use genetics to your advantage to lift heavy weights, as well as some observations about our mutual good friend Eric here as to why that bugger can pull so much weight, training, diet, and focus aside (hey, we all know he’s a cyborg, but there’s some advantages that a solid work ethic can’t provide everyone). A lot of it depends on how much compressive stress your pelvis can manage.

First, there are four different types of pelvis when looking at the width, breadth and angulations of the sit bones (technically known as the ischial tuberosities). This is important because the wider and shorter the arches, the less likely they can sustain during crazy heavy loadings. The best hips for heavy vertical loading are narrow and deep.

The Android and Anthropoid hip positions are the most favorable for pulling a sick deadlift off the floor, whereas the wider and shallower gynecoid and platypelloid hips would most likely result in an epic fail and probably injury.

It should come as no surprise to anyone who reads EricCressey.com that there are different types of pelvises (pelvii?). He’s mentioned a lot that there are different types of acromions in the shoulder and that specific angulations would affect rotator cuff function and risk of shoulder impingement. Everyone has different joints and bones, and it’s the combination of these that allows for some of us to do specific things that others can’t. For instance, I can get my hips way wider and longer in the sagittal and frontal plane than most people can, which means mobility isn’t a problem, regardless of what amount of stretching I do.

As a result of my pelvic angles, I’ve got that on lock down. Conversely, loading through a hip flexed sagittal plane loading means I have to brace like no ones business and use some of my active tissues as passive restraints instead of as drivers for the weight. The form closure of the joint is less effective with a wider pelvis than in a narrower one, and the form closure has to work harder, meaning the amount of weight I can pull is less than optimal, and the amount of weight Eric can pull makes grown men weep and kick walls in frustration.

However, it also means he has some minor issues getting unrestricted mobility outside of the sagittal plane. This video shows a very subtle restriction to femoral external rotation during abduction. Check out the kneecap of the extended leg.

Here’s another view of the same leg, but with a similar movement.

Hey, I’ve got a ton of my own movement restrictions, just like everyone else. Check this action out:

That was terrible! But did you see my earlier Cossack squat? Like a boss.

Eric owns sagittal plane, potentially due to a stacked pelvis that’s designed to bear weight like no ones business. However, in nature you typically don’t see the combination of excellent characteristics. In many cases the yin of mobility is in sharp contrast to the yang of max strength. For liner force production, the guy’s one of the best in the world hands down.

I can hit up lateral mobility like a champ, but sagittal force production is an issue.

So how would you assess each of us to develop a program that would help each of us, given our unique capabilities and hindrances? Would you focus on working towards building up the weakness in an isolative manner (as many corrective strategies employ) or would you look to hit up more of an all-encompassing manner, where we could still use our strengths to our advantage and make progress, without feeling like minor restrictions were a big issue?

I’d rather train like a beast than do stuff that may or may not provide much benefit based on my hip positioning and the arch structure of my specific anatomy any day of the week, so having a big tool box to draw from can make or break a program that gets both of us excited to train and fist pump like champs, which means we’re both going to be more likely to see it through to the end and get some sick gains.

The simple difference could be having me do way more loaded carries to use loading without exposing my spine to as much shear forces, as well as sagittal plane stabilization exercises like front planks and anti-extension presses. For Eric, it may mean using a lot more lower load hip rotational movements that still challenge the core, such as low crawl patterns a la Ido Portal.

Follow this up with stupid amounts of loading through sagittal plane dominant movements and he’d be a champ fo’ sho’.

At the end of the day, programming for the individual is most effective when you balance the “yin and yang” of their strengths and weaknesses, but understand the structural benefits the individual may have available to them, as well as the restrictions. Having a broad hip structure versus a narrower structure can be the difference between someone who loves deadlifts versus someone who wants to hit up rotational drills all day long. Having the tools to assess and develop an awesome program for them can be the difference between being a good trainer and a great trainer. 

Looking for more great information like this? Check out Dean and Ton Gentilcore's product, The Complete Shoulder and Hip Blueprint.  It's on sale through Wednesday for $100 off, and includes tons of fantastic information.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 5/21/13

Here's this week's list of recommended strength and conditioning reading:

Post Rehab Essentials Version 2.0 - Dean Somerset just released this today and it's excellent.  Candidly, I didn't get a chance to start it until Sunday night, so I'm only partway through.  I'll be writing up a review of it as soon as I can find some time to finish up with it.  The first edition was very good, and this new version has fantastic content as well.  Dean is a super bright guy who kind of flies under the radar, but you'd be wise to check it out, especially since you can get CEUs for it.


The Food Freak Show - Brian St. Pierre wrote up this article for T-Nation on where our food production industry is headed.  The article is based on a presentation he gave at last year's CP Fall Seminar, and you can actually listen to it here, too.

Breathing Pattern Disorders - This was an excellent recap Mike Reinold wrote up after a small seminar with Leon Chaitow.  Chaitow is one of the best manual therapists on the planet, and in this review, Mike discusses his approaches to the assessment and treatment of breathing pattern disorders.

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Elite Baseball Mentorships: Developing a Performance Team

Today’s guest post comes from my friend and colleague, physical therapist Eric Schoenberg.  Eric is an integral part of our Elite Baseball Mentorships.

One of the topics that came up most commonly in the course evaluations and feedback from our first Phase 1 Elite Baseball Mentorship in January was “how lucky” Eric, Matt, and I are to have such a great facility (CP) to work in and “how nice it must be” to have strength and conditioning, pitching instruction, and physical therapy all under one roof (or in very close proximity to each other).


The truth is, professional relationships do not just happen unless you make them happen.   Coaches, business owners, medical professionals, and athletes themselves don’t let just anyone into their circle.  People are skeptical by nature and need to know that you care and are not a threat to their goals, reputation, or career.  However, once trust is established, then the foundation for success in any partnership (i.e. coach/player, strength coach/physical therapist) can be built.

At the center of every great performance team must always be the athlete.  I suggest making this the first criteria you look for when building a great network of performance coaches, medical professionals, and athletic coaches. 

The success of any coach or medical professional is measured by the success of the athletes or teams with whom they work. 

It is important to surround yourself with people that understand and follow this very simple concept.  High level athletes have had people trying to latch onto them from a very young age.  They are very skilled at seeing right through people with egos who don’t have their best interest at hand.  This is the quickest way to lose credibility in our field.

In response to the feedback from our last mentorship, I've outlined five principles (non-clinical) below that you can use to help build a strong network to ensure better results for your athletes. 

1. Communication:  Be clear and concise.  Don’t leave anything to chance or assume that everyone is on the same page.  I have seen countless examples of athletes failing in physical therapy, training, or following a throwing program because any combination of the doctor, PT, strength coach, skill coach, or parent were unclear with their communication.  In addition, it is a simple courtesy to keep referral sources current with the progress of their athletes.  Failure to communicate is a sure way to end a professional relationship.

2. Time:

  1. Donate your time:  Show that you care.  Ask and expect nothing in return. Have the best interest of the athlete in mind (always).  Understand that it is not about you.  Show that you can add value and provide a service that is not currently being met.  Along the same lines…
  2. Respect other people’s time:  Don’t just “show up” unannounced at someone’s office, gym, or field and expect them to give you time.  Be professional and set up a meeting that works for the person you are trying to work with.  Better yet, ask them a good time that you can come by and observe and then go out of your way to offer your services to one or their athletes on the spot.  This goes a long way to establish selflessness and credibility.

3. Understand and respect each person’s role:  Don’t try to be all things to all people.  Be good at what you do and don’t try or claim to be an “expert” at everything.   Surround yourself with people that challenge you and know more than you in certain areas (but make sure you know more than them about something or you will be phased out!) Understand the strengths and weaknesses of yourself and the people in your immediate network.   Observe often and learn as much as you can about each person’s role.  Eric Cressey and Matt Blake know more about physical therapy and human movement than the vast majority of licensed physical therapists on the planet.  However, they don’t claim to be a PT, they understand ethical boundaries, and they respect scope of practice.


4. Know your role (really well!):  Never stop learning.  Stay open minded on things you have yet to learn.  You owe it to your athletes and your network to be an authority and trusted resource in your field.  However, it’s critical to have the confidence to know when to refer out.  You don’t need to be the hero all the time.  At the end of the day, if the athlete succeeds because you had the humility to refer them to someone that could help them more than you, then you did your job.  Remember, you will gain respect if your athletes get better, regardless of who gets the credit at the end.

5. Swing for the fences:  Once all your hard work and patience finally pays off and you “get your shot” to work together with a particular coach, PT, or athlete, knock it out of the park.  In our fields, we have moments (successes or failures) that allow us to either gain or lose the confidence of the people that we are trying to impress.  Be prepared for the situation and get results.  Remember to always be confident and overdeliver.    

A founding mission of the Elite Baseball Mentorships is to develop a national network of qualified professionals in the baseball community that share a similar philosophy in managing baseball players.  This is pivotal in keeping athletes healthy and allowing them the best opportunity for success in their careers. 

If you would like more information regarding the mentorships, please visit our website, www.EliteBaseballMentorships.com.   The early bird registration deadline for the June 23-25th Phase 1 Mentorship is: May 23, 2013. Click here to register.

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Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 42

After a brief hiatus for a much-deserved vacation, CP coach Greg Robins is back with five new tips for you this week.  Before we begin, I should mention that the week-long sale on Show and Go ends tomorrow at midnight, so don't miss out!  Now, let's get to the good stuff:

1. Don't let the distance between the ribs and pelvis change.

2. Base your nutritional approach around foods that you actually like!

The title speaks for itself, but here’s the deal: if you read this series regularly, then you know the importance I place on making a nutrition plan “doable.” Adherence is the key to success. When people decide they are going to “clean” up their eating it’s funny what a drastic “360” they take with their food choices. It’s as if what they enjoy to eat no longer matters. Will power has fallen from the sky and soaked them with its greatness.

The only issue is that most people’s forecasts aren’t calling for will power. There’s a better first step. – one that is more productive in the long run than abandoning ship completely and serving up a helping of things you don’t like.

Make a list of all the “real” foods you DO like. Choose foods that you actually enjoy eating, but also ones that the majority would consider healthy. Choose at least a few in each of the following categories. Here’s mine:

Protein: Meat = Beef (any kind), Poultry = Chicken (Not boneless skinless breasts!), Dairy = Greek Yogurt, Fish = Tuna, Others = Whey, Eggs, Pork, All red meat

Fat: Nuts = Nut butters (any kind), Oils (Coconut, Olive), Other = Avocados

Vegetables: Asparagus, Sweet Potatoes, Spaghetti Squash


Fruit: Blackberries, Apples, Blueberries, Pears

Other Carbs: Oats, Rice, Quinoa

With this list you have the beginning of your shopping list. From here you can search the web for recipes revolving around these items. Finding healthy recipes that include these things will introduce you to some variety. When in doubt, just go back to the list. Having this – as your first step and “fall back” – will greatly improve your chances of cleaning up your eating.

3. Use the suspension trainer when you don't have a cable accessible for rotary stability exercises.

4. Notice the pauses in your breath to help you relax.

Breathing is becoming a buzz worthy topic these days, and it’s a warranted surge of attention. We’ve only been doing it our whole lives, every day, and every moment. That’s reason enough to open an ear and see what the fuss is about.

One of the interesting things about breathing is that it sort of defines you. We are, in many ways, the product of the breaths we take. For example, when we constantly inhale, and never completely exhale, we tend to adopt an extended posture to support our breaths. Oddly enough, we also adopt a more “extended” way about us. We are more up tight, stressed, and restless.

Interestingly, the rate we breathe at (respiratory rate) actually shows correlation with our life span. A mouse takes 60 – 230 breaths per minute and has an average life span of 1.5-3 years. Whales on the other hand, take about 3–5 breaths per minute and live on average to be over 100 years old. We fall a little shy of that with about 12–16 breaths, and a life span of 70 – 80 years.

Slowing your respiratory rate probably won’t get you anywhere closer to being a whale. However, it does have a unique way of teaching you how to breathe slower, and helping you to relax.

Give this a try: twice a day, stop and observe the pauses that you take after each exhalation and inhalation. Just observing the pauses will cause you to breathe deeper and deeper, as well as begin to extend the pauses themselves.

5. Integrate appropriate breathing with your cable chops.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 5/16/13

With Show and Go on sale this week, I thought I'd use today's recommended reading post to point you in the direction of some related content:

My Top 10 Strength and Conditioning Mistakes - This is a free 23-minute webinar I made back when Show and Go first launched.  Regardless of your training experience, I'm sure you'll find some pearls of wisdom in there.

5 Reasons You Aren't Getting Stronger - I wrote this around the time that Show and Go was released, too.  It's one of the more popular articles ever published on this site. There is a small amount of overlap with the aforementioned webinar, but important points do deserve repetition!


Is Show and Go Okay for Females? You Tell Me. - A lot of ladies ask if Show and Go can be a good fit for them, so I pulled together this compilation of ladies crushing heavy weights. 

To take advantage of this week's sale on Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better, click here.

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5 Traits of Successful Athletes

With Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better on sale for this week, I thought I’d give you a sneak peak at the final chapter of this resource.  While most people want the programs (the what), I think it’s also important to understand the “how,” too.  In other words, if you give two trainees the exact same program, why do they often get remarkably different results?  Sure, genes play into this, but there are additional factors that influence one’s long-term success.  You can learn about a few of them below. - EC

All this in mind, as I sit here to write up this last chapter, it’s important for me to actually make it into something useful for you.  To that end, I thought back to the most accomplished athletes and lifters with whom I’ve interacted over the years to brainstorm up some traits that typify almost all of them.  What words do I think of when considering these individuals?

Consistency – Their outstanding results are never about just a 16-week program, finding a magic pill, or taking shortcuts.  They don’t skip out on 2-3 months here and there because work gets busy.  They never let minor aches and pains sidetrack them because they find ways to train around these issues and rehabilitate them in the process.  They can’t fathom taking 19 weeks to complete a 16-week program.  Training is an integral part of their lives, so they do it with more consistency than their less-accomplished peers.  In the grand scheme of things, the programming, technique, and training environment are important – but just showing up is the single-most important thing.

Focus – When it’s time to train, the cell phone goes off.  There’s no talking about the boozing that went on at the bars the weekend before, or complaining about problems with the new girlfriend.  When these successful trainees are in the gym, they are there for one reason: to lift heavy stuff and get better.


Training Partners/Environment – Successful individuals realize that they’ll never be as well off alone as they will be with the help of the individuals around them, so they surround themselves with the right people.  The end result is constant, detailed feedback; handoffs and spots whenever they’re needed; accountability to ensure the aforementioned consistency; and camaraderie that improves results exponentially. 

Realistic Expectations – My best deadlift is 660 pounds, but to be honest, on about 363 days of the year, I don’t think I could come within 20 pounds of it.  It just isn’t possible to be at your best for every training session – and it gets even harder to be close to that “peak” feeling as you get more experienced and accomplished.  Push too hard when you aren’t feeling it, and you’ll set yourself back.  The most accomplished powerlifters, bodybuilders, and strength sport athletes out there know when to push and when to hold back to take deloading periods; they have realistic expectations of themselves and listen to their bodies.


Insatiable Desire to Improve – Some of the best athletes I’ve ever met and worked with have also been the most inquisitive and open-minded to suggestions.  They are constantly looking for new ways to improve, and appreciate that the field of strength and conditioning is a very dynamic one in which new research emerges almost daily.  They recognize that there is more than one way to skin a cat, so they borrow bits and pieces from many different philosophies to find what works best for them.

For more information, check out Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better.  It's on sale this week at a big discount.

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