Home 2017 (Page 3)

Performance Programming Principles

Without a doubt, program design is one of the most challenging things for up-and-coming coaches to learn. With that in mind, here are a few thoughts on the topic - and I may even turn this into a regular series.

1. Volume matters.

I just counted them up, and it turns out, I wrote 105 programs in the month of October. I've basically been doing this since 2001, and in these kind of volumes since we opened Cressey Sports Performance in 2007.

When you do anything 3-4 times per day, eventually, it becomes a lot easier. This is why I encourage young coaches to seek out opportunities to program early on in their careers as often as possible. Have a family member who wants to drop 20 pounds? Offer to write something up. Have a buddy who wants a bigger bench press? Write up a specialization program. The best learning experiences will come when they report back on their experiences and you tinker with the program on the fly, but truthfully, even if they don't actually follow through on the program, you'll get better from going through the process. 

Moreover, make sure you have a wide variety of clients early on in your training career. You want to program for everyone from athletes, to general fitness folks, to post-rehab cases.

[bctt tweet="Be a good generalist to build a foundation for becoming a specialist later."]

2. Get some momentum.

Never, ever sit down to write a single program. Rather, always block off some time where you can write several in a row.

Programming is just like any other skill you practice; you need to find your groove. While I write programs every day, the truth is that I feel like the process comes more easily when it's 6-7 in a row on a Sunday night than 1-2 on a Tuesday morning. Like everything in life, "deep work" creates superior results - so try to find blocks of time devoted exclusively to programming.

If you're early in your career and don't have a lot of them to write, use it as an opportunity to write programs for hypothetical clients, or use it as a chance to review old programs you've written - and update them with new things you've learned.

3. Remember that programming is both a science and an art.

If you take two really skilled, experienced strength and conditioning coaches and have them write a program for the exact same athlete, you might get two markedly different programs. Coaches usually agree on the 90% of principles, but may disagree on the means to accomplish objectives. Just because one coach prefers to use block pulls and another likes trap bar deadlifts in month 1 doesn't make either of them incorrect. It's just an opportunity to highlight that there is an artistic component that goes hand-in-hand with the true science behind creating adaptation with training.

That said, there are scenarios where you don't get "poetic license" with your program. As an over the top example, you won't ever be able to convince me that a behind-the-neck barbell press is a good initiative in a 65-year-old man who is six weeks post-op on a rotator cuff repair. Science is so strong in some cases you can't even get to the art discussion; you have to earn the right (with your education) to get to that point.

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Pitchapalooza!

I'm excited to announce that I'll once again be speaking at Pitchapalooza near Nashville, TN. This year's event has an awesome speaker list and will surely be great on both the educational and networking side of the baseball industry. You can learn more HERE.

Hope to see you there!

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 11/7/17

I hope you all had a great weekend. I just got back in the wee hours of Monday morning after teaching a shoulder course in Atlanta, so the new content at EricCressey.com will come in a day or two.

In the meantime, here's some recommended reading for the week:

The Power of Moments - If you've followed me for any length of time, you'll know that I'm a fan of Chip and Dan Heath's writing. This book is no exception, and for any of the fitness entrepreneurs (or any entrepreneurs) out there, I'd call it a must-read.

What Really Constitutes Functional Balance Training? - I had a discussion with another coach the other day about how to approach balance training in athletes, and it reminded me of this old blog of mine. 

Skill Acquisition Considerations for Athletes - These are lecture notes from a recent presentation Nick Winkelman delivered, and they're absolutely outstanding. I'd call this a must-read for any coach.

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Exercise of the Week: TRX Deep Squat Prying

We're long overdue for a new installment of my "Exercise of the Week" series, so here's a look at one of my favorite warm-up/cool-down drills. With TRX Deep Squat Prying, you get a great lat inhibition exercise that has the added benefit of training some hip and ankle mobility, plus core stability. In other words, it delivers some fantastic bang for your training buck. Check it out! 

Speaking of TRX, I've teamed up with them and Stack Media for an awesome contest. One winner will be chosen at random to receive:

  • A trip to Florida for two (flight + 2 nights in hotel) for a training session with me at Cressey Sports Performance
  • TRX Training Products (Suspension Trainer, Rip Trainer, Medicine Ball) and TRX Apparel
  • A $100 Amazon Gift Card

Ready? Enter HERE!

Winner must be must be 18+. US residents only. Giveaway ends 11/13. Rules: http://woobox.com/offers/rules/kqgdu6

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Strength Training Technique: Why Neck Position Matters

A lot of people debate whether neutral neck positioning is important. I don't think it's even a debatable subject, though. Give today's video a watch to learn more:

As additional "ammo," check out this Tweet I came across the other day. Hat tip to Charlie Weingroff for sharing it. Would you want to put your spine in these extended positions while you squat or deadlift?

If you still think that hanging out in cervical extension all day - and then loading it up when lifting - isn't a problem, then I don't know what else to tell you.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 10/30/17

I hope you all had a great weekend and are enjoying these World Series games. You can't beat playoff baseball!

Here are some recommended resources for the week:

10 Daily Habits of Healthy Lifters - I contributed a few paragraphs for this compilation at T-Nation, and the end result included several excellent recommendations.

Bored and Brilliant - I had the long car ride from Massachusetts to Florida last week, and this is one of the audiobooks I covered to pass the time. Manoush Zomorodi took an outstanding look at how technology impacts our lives in negative ways. While it wasn't written from a strength and conditioning perspective, I could totally see how to apply its lessons to the fitness realm.

Should You Squat Tall Athletes? - Mike Robertson did a great job tackling this tall subject. Sorry, bad pun.

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Back in 2005, physical therapist John Pallof (@pallofpt) introduced me to an exercise he called the "belly press." It was an anti-rotation drill done with a cable or band in order to challenge rotary stability. 👍 It quickly became a mainstay in the programming at @cresseysportsperformance, and somehow became known as the "Pallof Press." We incorporated the traditional version (demonstrated here), as well as a host of other variations, including half-kneeling, tall kneeling, wide-stance, and split-stance. 👊 That same year, I signed my first book deal. And, as I wrote "Maximum Strength," including the Pallof Press was a no-brainer, as we used it every day in our programs. 👇 This picture was taken on September 16, 2007 for the exercise demonstration chapter. Look how much hair I had. 😲 The story could end here, but sadly, it doesn't. Not surprisingly, the Pallof Press caught on. In fact, if you Google "Pallof Press" today, you'll get 51,200 search results. 👊 Unfortunately, if you search for "Paloff Press," you'll also get 14,800 hits. 🤔 And "Palloff Press?" 18,100. 😕 And "Palof Press?" 5,310. ☹️ Just look at some of the well-known media outlets included in these hit counts, and you'll be embarrassed for them. 😠 This week, one of our college athletes sent me a copy of his program that included a "Pal Off Press." Thinking that there is no way anybody could possibly be this clueless, I Googled it. Sure enough, 512 hits (and 607 if you hyphenate it to "Pal-Off"). I've had enough. 😡 I learned this great exercise from John. And, if you're using it under that name, you learned it (directly or indirectly) from me. So - both as a favor to me and a measure of respect to him - how about you please spell his last name correctly? 🙏 (Sorry, John; thanks for your decade of patience.) #Pallof #NotPalof #NotPaloff #NotPalloff

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How Rib Cage Positioning Impacts the Pitching Delivery

Today's guest post comes from Cressey Sports Performance - MA pitching coordinator, Christian Wonders.

While it’s good to know little adjustment of mechanics in a delivery, most pitchers struggle with a few bigger rocks that need to be addressed. One of them that needs attention is rib cage position throughout the throwing motion.

Next to the lower half, the rib cage is probably the most important part of a pitching delivery. It is at the center of the body, and serves as a platform for the shoulder blades to move upon, which in turn, dictates where the hand will be at ball release. 

If you take in a large breath, you’ll realize that your thorax expands, and the opposite occurs when you blow out all your air. For this article, we will call the expansion of your rib cage inhalation/ external rotation, and the opposite exhalation/ internal rotation.

Often, we will see pitchers stuck in a state of inhalation bilaterally, where you can see the bottom of the rib cage popping through the skin. Along with this postural presentation comes an anterior (forward) weight shift, poor anterior core control, scapular depression and downward rotation, and even the possibility of a flat/extended thoracic spine.

From a pitching standpoint, the thorax is the center of the body, and is responsible for transferring force, along with assisting the thoracic spine (upper back) in delivering the scapula. When a pitcher presents an extended posture with an inability to control rib cage and pelvic position, it’s hard to make an efficient rotation at front foot strike, while still holding his line to home plate. The outcome is usually misses up in the zone, along with an inability to throw a sharp breaking ball (hanging curveball/backup slider.)

Furthermore, the anterior weight shift can create a quad dominant loading pattern of the back leg, which will feed into a pitcher stepping more across his body, and ruining the pitcher’s direction to the plate. I’m not saying that a pitcher stepping across his body is the worst thing in the world, but they must possess enough core stability, lead leg internal rotation, and thoracic flexion in order to get to a good position at ball release.

So now, the question becomes: how do I stop this from happening?

- Flexion-bias breathing drills to decrease extensor tone

- Anterior core control exercises like prone bridges, rollouts, fallouts, etc.

- Soft tissue work on accessory breathing muscles, lats, intercostals, etc.

- Educating the athlete to not feed into the pattern by standing/sitting/training in bad patterns

- Drills to drive scapular upward rotation, particularly by prioritizing serratus anterior

- Coaching

Coaching is last on the above list, because it’s by far the most important, and the challenge of coaching is figuring out what an individual needs to be consistent on the mound. If you're looking for details on coaching positioning of the anterior core, I'd highly recommend Eric's Understanding and Coaching the Anterior Core presentation. It's a one hour presentation that hits on all the important points you need to understand on this front.

When it comes down to it, positioning of the ribcage can have a serious effect on arm action, extension at ball release, and even lower half mechanics. Therefore, I think it’s important to check the big boxes of pitching mechanics proximal (center) to the body, before moving distally (extremities) to drive the best results on consistency and performance.

Note from EC: Christian is one of the presenters in our Elite Baseball Mentorships. We'll be offering our first one of 2019 on June 23-25 at Cressey Sports Performance - Massachusetts. For more information, head HERE.

About the Author

Christian Wonders (@CSP_Pitching) is the pitching coordinator coach at Cressey Sports Performance-MA. You can contact him by email at christian.wonders25@gmail.com and follow him on Instagram.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 10/24/17

Happy Tuesday! We're a day late with this recommended reading/listening/viewing list, as yesterday was a crazy one in light of the High Performance Handbook sale and a full day of evaluations at Cressey Sports Performance. Then, we wrapped up the day with our annual "Night with the Pros" event.

CSP Fall Seminar Live Tweeting - Frank Duffy was kind enough to live Tweet our annual fall seminar on Sunday, and you can see the "play by play" at this link.

A Roundtable of Rants - This was a compilation of responses from a collection of T-Nation contributors in response to the question, "What's pissing you off right now in the world of fitness or lifting?" As you'll see, my answer was in stark contrast to the rest of panel.

19 Ninja Tricks to Help Your Write Better Training Programs - Mike Robertson provided some outstanding lessons in this podcast. Any coach can benefit from listening to it!

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Versatility and Consistency for Strength and Conditioning Success

If you had to ask me what the single most important factor that makes or breaks someone's strength and conditioning success, I'd immediately answer, "Consistency." The ones who show up and put in the work are the most adherent to the programs, and they develop a host of habits conducive to long-term success. Nobody can really argue with that.

If consistency, then, is a huge goal in any training plan, then what are the objectives that underlay it?

A motivating training environment is obviously important. If you've got good people and energy in your culture, people will want to be consistent.

Novelty is something that inspires other people. People get excited when they experience something new, so subtle or not-so-subtle adjustments to the training program or environment can make a big difference for folks who need an extra boost for consistent attendance.

Progress is big as well. We like to do what we're good at doing - so when you're quantitatively aware of the progress you're making, it feeds back into the motivation that drives consistency.

These are all no-brainers, and I'm sure we could go on and list more key factors influencing consistency. However, one factor that is definitely overlooked is versatile programming.

In other words, you have to be able to modify things on the fly when life gets in the way. Maybe it's tinkering with training frequency/scheduling before a family vacation, shortening a training session when a young athlete is exhausted during final exams, or modifying exercise selection to work around a broken toe. The best programs are the versatile ones - and the best coaches are the ones who understand how to tinker on the fly as needed. If your program and coaching philosophy are too rigid to accommodate these necessary adjustments, consistency will definitely suffer.

What happens, however, when you don't have a coach overseeing your training? How do you make these adjustments?

First - and most obviously - you have to be honest with yourself on how you feel. This is certainly easier said than done, but in my experience, making correct choices on the most obvious decisions is the difference maker for most individuals. For instance, if your nose is running, head is throbbing, and every joint in your body aches, it's probably a much better idea to go home and sleep off the flu than it is to try to plow through a heavy deadlift training session. Most situations aren't this black and white, though. Usually, the tougher decisions are when to push for PRs, add/subtract sets, or make exercise modifications on the fly. "Feel" in this regard comes with experience, and it's usually constantly evolving as you get older and more highly trained.

Second, seek out mentors and training partners to help you along and push you to get better each day. I think this Tweet pretty much sums up this point.

Third, you can outsource. Don't know when you should deload? Adopt a program where deloading periods are already incorporated. Don't know how to design a warm-up that covers all your needs? Have someone else structure it for you so that you don't miss anything. Want something flexible enough to accommodate a busy travel schedule? Get a program where training frequency can be rotated from week to week.

These are all problems I worked hard to solve for my audience when I created The High Performance Handbook. This resource has different programming options based on assessment outcomes, and supplemental conditioning approaches that can be individualized to one's goals (fat loss, athletic performance, etc.). Each phase has 2x/week, 3x/week, and 4x/week lifting options to provide options for various time throughout the training calendar, whether it's an in-season/off-season athlete or an accountant that needs something with less frequency during tax season. I include modifications for folks who may have equipment limitations, and also suggestions on how to tinker with the program if you're an overhead athlete, older lifter, or someone looking to add more muscle mass. In short, I worked hard to create what I believe to be the most versatile strength and conditioning resource available on the market today. For more information, check out www.HighPerformanceHandbook.com.

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The Biggest High Performance Handbook Sale of All Time

I'm psyched to announce that my flagship product, The High Performance Handbook, is now on sale for $50 off the normal price. This is the largest discount I've ever offered on the product, and you can pick it up through the end of the weekend. Check it out HERE.

Don't miss out on this chance to pick up a super versatile training system at a huge discount!

 


 

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