Home 2018 July

Strength in the Teenage Years: An Overlooked Long-Term Athletic Development Competitive Advantage

Earlier this week, I posted this Tweet, and it got a pretty big response:

Of particular note to me, though, was one reply:

"The worst thing youth developmental athletes can do is to max out one biomotor ability and save themselves from developing ALL abilities. A long term program must develop all, not just strength. Strength, endurance, speed, flexibility.... No exploitation allowed."

This is one of the most glaring misconceptions about long-term athletic development, and I think it warrants a thorough response.

To be clear, I am all for prioritizing a host of biomotor abilities at a young age and continuing to develop them over the course of the athletic lifespan. You can't just turn athletes into powerlifters.

However, where I do disagree with this statement is that it implies that all these separate qualities are their own unique domains that must be trained separately. In reality, we have to look at things as a pyramid, not a collection of separate silos. The foundation of that pyramid is undoubtedly maximal strength.

I cover this in great detail in my e-book, The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual. Here's a quick excerpt with respect to power development:

"...maximal relative strength has a “trickle-down” effect to all things athletic. If you took your best squat from 200 pounds to 400 pounds, a single body weight squat would feel a lot easier, wouldn’t it? How about a single vertical jump? You have about 0.2 seconds to exert force on a classic vertical jump test; you’ll never make use of all the strength that you have, regardless of how good your rate of force development (explosive strength) is.

"However, let’s say (hypothetically) that you can put 50% of your maximal strength to work in that short time period. If we keep that percentage constant, isn’t an athlete with more maximal strength automatically at a great advantage? The 200-pound squatter can exert 100 pounds of force into the ground; the 400-pound squatter can exert 200 pounds. Is there really any question as to who can jump higher?"

This assertion has been consistently validated in the research world: a lack of maximal strength limits one's power potential. Having a strength foundation allows you to make the most of your plyometric, sprint, and agility progressions.

There are implications on the endurance end of the continuum as well.

"Now, let’s take this a step further to the endurance end of the spectrum. If you go from 200 to 400 pounds on that 1-rep max squat, wouldn’t a set of 20 body weight squats feel easier?

"If you could do lunges with 100 pound dumbbells in each hand, wouldn’t running five miles with just your body weight feel easier? You may have never thought of it, but every athletic endurance endeavor is really nothing more than a series of submaximal efforts."

Obviously, these strength numbers are unrealistic for the overwhelming majority of high level endurance athletes, but they aren't for competitive athletes from other sports requiring a blend of strength, power, and endurance. If you need further proof, check out the research I cited in my article, 5 Resistance Training Myths in the Running World.

Strength has implications for how well athletes move, too. The initial reply mentioned flexibility, which according to Wikipedia) is "the range of movement in a joint or series of joints." This is a static measure, whereas athletic success is more governed by mobility, which is one's ability to reach a position or posture. The difference is the presence of stability in a given circumstance, and that's impacted by muscular control. In fact, I would actually argue that the biggest "trickle-down" effect of maximal strength is joint stability, which in turn impacts mobility. As an example, this 6-11 athlete couldn't squat well when he first came in, but after eight weeks of training built a foundation of strength, he was able to do this:

All athletic qualities are important, but to say that they should all be trained equally at all times - especially in young athletes with a huge window of adaptations in front of them - is extremely short-sighted. Imagine a child that tried to take math, science, and history courses before mastering language skills. If you can't read and write, you will struggle to pick up these more progressive challenges. Strength is foundational in this same way, and this is the pyramid through which I view it:

The closer the items are to the bottom, the more heavily impacted by strength they are. We can debate where each of these items should be positioned on the pyramid (and it likely depends on the athlete in question), but nobody can debate that strength is an important foundation for all these other qualities. It's rooted not only in anecdotal experience of many elite coaches, but also in loads and loads of research.

As a closing thought, several months ago I reviewed Mike Boyle's great new resource, Complete Youth Training. After reviewing it, I told Mike that I enjoyed it not only as a strength and conditioning coach, but also as a parent of twin daughters. I think the most compelling statement Mike made in the entire resource is that one of the most impactful things he's done with his daughter (an accomplished D1 hockey player) was to strength train a minimum of two days per week since she was 11 years old. When you've got strength at a young age - and you preserve/build it over the years - the rest of your training becomes that much more productive.

Mike's put this resource on sale for $50 off this week, and I'd strongly encourage you to check it out, whether you're a strength and conditioning professional, rehabilitation specialist, sport coach, or parent of a young athlete. There's some excellent information in there for everyone. You can learn more HERE.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 7/30/18

I hope you had a good weekend. We're back on our normal Monday schedule with this recommended reading collection after being a bit erratic over the past few weeks.

Divergent Thinking: Inside John O'Malley - This is a lengthy interview, but definitely worth the time. While the interview is with an accomplished cross country/track coach, the lessons are applicable across many disciplines. Thanks to former CSP intern Mike Boykin for sending this my way.

Cardio or Weights First? Let's Settle This. - Dean Somerset did an excellent job with this post on a decades-old debate.

Transformer Bar Overview - I'm a big fan of the transformer Bar from Kabuki Strength, and this video outlines my thoughts (as well as those of Stuart McGill and Kelly Starrett) on why that's the case.

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I spoke at an event called the Syracuse Strength Seminar back in June of 2006. At the time, I was 25 years old – and the rest of the panel consisted of Dave Tate, Joe Defranco, Mike Hope, Jim Wendler, James Smith, and Buddy Morris. 👇 After the event, 47 of the attendees filled out online evaluations. The feedback on me was mostly positive, with the exception of three guys who clearly took issue with my age. Here are their delightful responses. 🤦‍♂️ When I got the feedback, I shot Dave (@underthebar) an email to ask for his suggestions on how I could be better – and he provided some invaluable insights on presentation styles. He also shared these words that stuck with me. 👏 “Right now you are in the paying your dues phase. I remember this very well. You are doing what you need to do. You need to continue reading your ass off, writing, training, training clients, networking, reading more, listening to audio tapes. It is a high stress time because you have to absorb and take in so much info. The age thing does not matter. Think of this: at age 23, Tony Robbins was speaking in front of crowds of 18,000 people. The last advice I can give is when you read and listen to tapes - think. Everyone reads but very few can apply the knowledge. Education is not power - the application of it is.” 👍 In life, you can either dwell on the haters (3/47), or recognize that the overwhelming majority of people (44/47) are openminded folks who try to find the good in situations, independent of your age or experience (or a host of other factors). It helps to have good friends and mentors who remind you to identify and leverage your strengths. Make sure you listen to the right people. Thanks, Dave. #cspfamily #tbt

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Random Thoughts on Long-Term Fitness Industry Success – Installment 11

It's time for a new edition of my thoughts on the business of fitness. Before I get to it, just a friendly reminder that we're hosting our second-ever Cressey Sports Performance Business Building Mentorship on October 15. You can learn more HERE.

Now on to some business concepts...

1. It might take years for someone to become a customer.

Just a few weeks ago, I released my newest product, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions. One interesting thing about my newsletter/product management set-up is that I can tell how long someone has been a "prospect" before becoming a customer. Basically, I know the date they signed up for my newsletter, and then I can check that out to see what products they've purchased and when.

During this launch, I had multiple people purchase this resource as their first purchase with me after over 3,000 days on my list. Yes, that means they "window shopped" for over eight years prior to taking the plunge.

Very few people purchase on the first exposure to a marketing message. Or the second. Or the third. It actually takes load of opportunities for them to perceive your expertise, and usually over the course of an extended period of time. They need to know, like, and trust you - and some people take a long time to get to trusting you enough to initiate a transaction.

Be persistent, but patient. It's harder than ever to be seen and heard.

2. It's a very small world; watch your social media behavior.

I made this post on Twitter yesterday, and it got quite a bit of attention.

 Beyond the obvious moral issues of saying cruel things to pro athletes (or celebrities - or anyone else, for that matter), you should be cognizant of the fact that it can very quickly come back to bite you in the butt. Some of the agencies who represent these players may also represent others - athletes, actors, musicians, speakers, or coaches - who could be potential future clients for you. One of your followers could be an old friend or teammate of the athlete. It's an incredibly small world, so chasing a few retweets isn't worth sacrificing a relationship or potential client down the road.

3. Investments are different from expenses.

This is one of the most misunderstood accounting/economics concepts in all industries, and certainly in the fitness business.

An investment has the potential to appreciate in value. Maybe you spend money on a continuing education event, buy a DVD for some new training strategies, put money into a retirement account, or purchase some equipment that allows you to deliver a higher-quality product to your clients. Perhaps you hire a consultant to fine-tune your business, or decide to buy your building instead of continuing to pay rent. Additionally, from an accounting standpoint, investments are usually (but not always) tax deductible.

Expenses are like setting money on fire. They're the $5 you spend at Starbucks each morning, or the Porsche you bought on credit when you were making $20,000/year (is that even possible?). They don't appreciate, and there is a huge opportunity cost to these expenditures. Some are necessary and even tax deductible (e.g., rent), but they always need to be heavily scrutinized. Can that expense be reduced or somehow shifted into an investment?

Fitness businesses are notoriously bad at understanding the difference between the two, or understanding that one's financial situation may dictate what is and isn't acceptable. If you're grossing $5,000/month, paying $1,000/month to a cleaning service probably isn't a good expense; clean the gym yourself. Do you really need to buy seven different types of leg curl machines when you're already $300,000 in debt? And, why do you have payroll expenses when you've only got three clients?

Most businesses (and individuals, in their personal finances) would be wise to go through every cash expenditure and figure out how each one can be categorized. Growing gross revenue is always a priority, but many businesses can be even more profitable if they learn to appropriately trim the fat.

If you've found value in these insights, I think you might enjoy the upcoming Business Building Mentorship Pete Dupuis and I will be hosting on Monday, October 15th. It's a tax deductible expense if you're a fitness business owner, and we'd guarantee that the lessons learned will more than pay for the cost of attendance. Plus, registration in the mentorship includes free attendance at our fall seminar on October 14.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 7/20/18

I hope you had a great week. Just in case you didn't, here's some good recommended reading/listening to kick off your weekend on the right foot.

So You're Considering Putting Your Name on Your Business? - This is awesome stuff from my business partner, Pete Dupuis, who discusses why having the name "Cressey" in "Cressey Sports Performance" has led to some challenges.

Max Scherzer wasn't predestined for greatness but has a hard-earned Hall of Fame Case - Chelsea Janes wrote this outstanding piece on CSP athlete Max Scherzer for the Washington Post. There are loads of great lessons in there for up-and-coming athletes.

Joe Kenn on Coaching in the NFL and Chasing Simplicity - Mike Robertson recorded this outstanding podcast with one of the most experienced guys in the strength and conditioning field today.

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Cressey Sports Performance Business Building Mentorship – October 15, 2018

We’re excited to announce that on Monday, October 15, we’ll be hosting our second CSP Business-Building Mentorship, a day of learning with Pete Dupuis and me. This event will take place at our Hudson, MA location the day after our annual fall seminar. Pete and I have spent nearly a decade crafting the operational systems and strategies that fuel CSP today, and we’re excited to pull back the curtain for fellow gym owners.

It is our intention to foster an environment conducive to learning and the exchanging of ideas, so we will be limiting participation to 25 individuals.

Here’s a look at our agenda for the day:

8:30am: Registration & Coffee

Morning Session – Lead Generation & Conversion

09:00am – 09:30am: Introduction: The Four Pillars of Fitness Business Success
09:30am – 10:30am: Lead Generation: Strategic Relationship Development, Identifying & Connecting with Opinion Leaders, Social Media Strategies
10:30am - 11:00am: Q&A
11:00am - 12:00pm: Lead Conversion: CSP Selling Strategy & Methodology
12:00pm - 01:00pm: Lunch (provided)

Afternoon Session – Business Operations & Long-Term Planning

01:00pm – 02:00pm: Operations: Accounting for Gym Owners – Guest Lecture from CSP’s CPA, Tom Petrocelli
02:00pm – 02:30pm: Operations: Internship Program Design & Execution
02:30pm – 03:00pm: Operations: Hiring Protocols, Staff Development & Continuing Ed.
03:00pm – 03:30pm: Long-Term Planning: Lease Negotiation Considerations
03:30pm – 04:30pm: Long-Term Planning: Strategic Brand Dev., Evaluating Opportunities, SWOT Analysis
04:30pm – 06:00pm: Q&A

Cost: $699.99 (includes free admission to CSP Fall Seminar on Sunday, October 14) 

SOLD OUT!

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Register Now for the 7th Annual Cressey Sports Performance Fall Seminar!

We're very excited to announce that on Sunday, October 14, we’ll be hosting our seventh annual fall seminar at Cressey Sports Performance. As was the case with our extremely popular fall event over the past six years, this event will showcase the great staff we're fortunate to have as part of our team. Also like last year, we want to make this an affordable event for everyone and create a great forum for industry professionals and fitness enthusiasts alike to interact, exchange ideas, and learn. We're happy to have Perform Better as our official sponsor again this year as well.

Here are the presentation topics:

Guest Keynote Speaker: Pat Rigsby -- The Future of Fitness Business: The Blueprint for Success in a Changing Market

In this presentation, you'll discover how you can position yourself to succeed now and in the future within the fast-evolving fitness industry. You'll learn what you must do to stand out from the competition, earn more and take advantage of your strengths to design a business that will thrive for the long-term. If you want to command higher rates, enjoy better retention and grow a business you enjoy, don't miss this session.

Eric Cressey -- The Overhead Athlete Evolution

Cressey Sports Performance opened in 2007 and quickly became known as a destination for baseball players from around the country looking to improve. This niche gave rise to specific expertise with this demographic. Interestingly, development of the overhead athlete has changed drastically during the past 11 years, and Eric will outline the new challenges we face and strategies that must be employed to keep arms healthy. While the presentation will focus on overhead athletes, the overwhelming majority of lessons will also be applicable to everyday fitness clients as well.

Pete Dupuis -- The Secrets of Our Industry's Top Performing Fitness Businesses

In this presentation, Pete will bring you inside the strategic mindset of some of our industry's most successful fitness business owners. He's interviewed a series of industry influencers and will share the most under appreciated components of their established and immensely profitable operations. Takeaways will include tips for upgrading branding strategy, fine-tuning employee development, maximizing the effectiveness of social media efforts, and more.

Kyle Driscoll -- Simplifying Coaching Cues for High Speed Movements

Kyle will discuss why training rotational power, especially via medicine ball work, is important for everybody. Coaching high speed movements can, however, be difficult to see - and even more difficult to coach. The higher speed the movement is, the more simple the cues needs to be.

Chris Howard -- Shoulder Pain: What Causes It and What Can We Do About It?

Nearly every fitness professional has encountered an athlete or client dealing with shoulder pain or discomfort. In this presentation, Chris will blend his experience of anatomy and muscular referred pain patterns with strength and conditioning and soft-tissue strategies to illustrate how he addresses clients experiencing shoulder pain. Whether you are new to strength and conditioning, or a seasoned veteran, you will see shoulder pain from a new perspective following this presentation.

John O'Neil -- Stress Application and The Principles of Load Management: What Every Coach Needs to Know

In this discussion, John will cover how he as a strength coach for training clients who have multiple variables that affect their ability to handle applied stress within a gym setting, including how to manage these principles in conjunction with a sport coach. This information will include both theoretical aspects of load management in addition to very specific examples used at Cressey Sports Performance.

Cole Russo -- Creating a System for Movement Progressions

Many strength and conditioning coaches have a collection of sprint and agility drills they like to utilize, but no organized framework of how to apply them. In this presentation, Cole will define a system for teaching your athletes movement. This presentation will include both a lecture on movement progressions, coaching tips, and crucial movement competencies; as well as a following practical/movement session.

**Bonus 3:00PM Saturday Hands-on Session**

Frank Duffy -- Neanderthal No More 2.0: Reviving a Classic

Whether you’re a high-level professional athlete or a desk jockey, at the end of the day, you’re a human being. In this hands-on presentation, Frank will outline the “big rocks” you should consider integrating on a daily basis and how to modify them to align with your own capabilities and goals.

Location:

Cressey Sports Performance
577 Main St.
Suite 310
Hudson, MA 01749

Cost:

Early Bird (through 9/21) Regular Rate – $129.99, Regular Rate (after 9/21) $159.99

Early Bird (through 9/21) Student Rate – $99.99, Regular Rate (after 9/21) $129.99

Date/Time:

Sunday, October 14, 2018
Registration 8:30AM
Seminar 9AM-5PM

**Bonus session Saturday, October 13 at 3:00pm.

Continuing Education

This event has been approved for 0.8 National Strength and Conditioning Association CEUs.

Click Here to Sign-up (Regular)

or

Click Here to Sign-up (Students)

We’re really excited about this event, and would love to have you join us! However, space is limited and most seminars we’ve hosted in the past have sold out quickly, so don’t delay on signing up!

If you have additional questions, please direct them to cspmass@gmail.com. Looking forward to seeing you there!

NOTE: Pete and I will be hosting our CSP Business Building Mentorship on Monday the 15th. If you sign up for the business mentorship, admission to the fall seminar is included.

PS - If you're looking for hotel information, The Extended Stay America in Marlborough, MA offers our clients a heavily discounted nightly rate of just under $65.00. Just mention "Cressey" during the booking process in order to secure the discount. Their booking phone number is 508-490-9911.

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Why Rhomboids Probably Aren’t Your Best Friend

Today, I've got an excerpt from my new course, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions. I discuss the functional anatomy of the rhomboids, a commonly misunderstood muscle group with big implications.

For a lot more functional anatomy insights like these - as well as a comprehensive look at shoulder assessment, programming, and coaching - be sure to check out Sturdy Shoulder Solutions.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 7/13/18

Happy Friday the 13th! Hopefully none of this recommended reading is bad luck.

ASMI Injuries in Baseball Course - Mike Reinold just put this great course on sale, and it's an absolute steal compared to what you would have had to pay to travel and attend it. There's some excellent information from some of the top baseball sports medicine professionals in the world, so I'd call it "must watch" for anyone who trains or treats baseball players. It's on sale for 50% off through this Sunday (the discount is automatically applied). You can check it out HERE.

The 11 Best Books for Smart Meatheads - T-Nation pulled together this compilation of reading recommendations from several of its contributions. My recommendation was (without hesitation) Legacy

Make the Back Squat Feel and Look Better - This was an outstanding guest post from Dr. Nicholas Licameli for Tony Gentilcore's site. It's a longer read, but well worth it, as it's super thorough and links out to some good additional reading/viewing.

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I used my last set of pull-ups the other day as a tutorial on one of the most common mistakes I see. 👇 Compare the first four reps (correct) with the last four reps (intentionally incorrect). 🤔 You'll notice that on the good ones, there is good scapular movement on the rib cage through upward and downward rotation, and no forward head posture. The elbows don't dive behind the midline of the body, either. 👍 On the last four reps, notice how the elbows dive back and the scapula "dumps" forward into anterior tilt. This puts a lot more stress on the front of the shoulder. Additionally, this goes hand-in-hand with the head jutting forward (upper cervical extension). This faulty head/neck/scapula positioning under load is one reason why you'll frequently see people tweak their necks doing pull-ups. 👎 Pull-ups can be an amazing exercise, but just make sure 1️⃣the neck is in neutral; 2️⃣the shoulder blades are rotating up/down and not tilting forward/back; and 3️⃣the elbows aren't shooting too far back.👏#cspfamily #sturdyshouldersolutions

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2018 CSP Elite Baseball Development T-Shirts Now Available!

I’m excited to announce that the 2018 edition of the Cressey Sports Performance Elite Baseball Development t-shirts (powered by New Balance Baseball) are now available for sale.  Here's the design:

These shirts are insanely comfortable and run true to size.

Each shirt is $24.99 + S&H. Click the links below to add shirts to your cart:

XXL

Extra Large

Large

Medium - sold out!

These usually sell very quickly, so don’t delay if you’re interested in picking one up. Enjoy!

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5 Reasons for the Increase in Lat Strains in Baseball Pitchers

There have been some noteworthy lat strains in MLB this year, and this trend isn't showing any signs of letting up. Here are a few reasons why they're occurring at such an alarming rate.

1. Better Diagnosis

Any time a diagnosis becomes more "accepted," doctors know to look for it more immediately. In 2011, Jake Peavy was the first player to actually tear the lat off the humerus and have surgery on it, but now we're actually seeing 1-2 of these each year in guys who come to Cressey Sports Performance for consultations (on top of guys who have lower grade lat strains). In the past, a lot of doctors would mistake lat strains for rotator cuff injuries or biceps tendon issues (because the lat attaches on the front of the humerus). Sometimes, lat injuries would be missed on MRIs because the attachment is far enough down the humerus that a regular shoulder MRI wouldn't cut wide enough. In short, better identification and subsequent diagnosis are always a big reason why a class of injuries "surges."

2. Harder Throwers

Lat recruitment during acceleration is substantially higher in high level throws than it is in amateur pitchers. In particular, as lot of elastic energy is put into lat during the lay-back phase of throwing while it works as an anterior stabilizer of the shoulder as it prepares to unleash that energy into powerful internal rotation and horizontal adduction.

Sprinters who run fast pull hamstrings more often. Basketball players who jump high increase their risk of Achilles ruptures. It shouldn't be a surprise that harder throwers have a higher incidence of lat strains.

3. Inappropriate Strength Training

With each passing day, weight training gets more and more "accepted" in baseball populations, and I absolutely love it. Unfortunately, that means a lot of inferior programs get implemented, and nothing is more inferior in a baseball strength and conditioning setting than programs that are way too lat dominant. If you're doing pull-ups, bench presses, heavy deadlifts, farmer's walks, walking dumbbell lunges - and then coaching all your rows and arm care exercises to be very lat dominant, you're really just exacerbating all the negative adaptations we see in throwers. If you look around your weight room and see a ton of guys with limited shoulder flexion, that should be a red flag.

4. Poorly Executed Arm Care Programs

Lats are sneaky, as they'll find a way to creep into a lot of arm care exercises. You'll see people "tug down" (extension/adduct) the humerus (upper arm) during external rotation exercises using the lat when it should be relaxing to allow the arm to externally rotate.

You'll see hands creeping toward the midline (shoulder internal rotation) during wall slide variations - when the lat should be relaxing to allow "clean" overhead motion to take place.

You'll see individuals lock the scapula down into depression during prone trap raises instead of allowing it to posterior tilt.

And, in the most commonly butchered exercise by every lat strain pitcher I've ever seen, you'll see the humerus tugged down during the prone horizontal abduction (when it should be at 90 degrees).

These examples should help to demonstrate that we've had a lot of success bringing lat strain injuries back to full function not only because of our quality manual therapy, but also because we know how to prescribe and meticulously coach the exercises that are so important for these individuals to master.

5. Weighted Balls

Weighted ball programs increase external rotation quickly (particularly in hypermobile throwers) and the lat - as one of the anterior stabilizers of the shoulder - is one structure that takes on the brunt of the load. When external rotation increases quickly and high speeds are involved, the lat at lay-back is analogous to the Achilles tendon of a basketball player that lands on a heavy dorsiflexed ankle; it just can't "give" any more. If you're a visual learner (and don't have a weak stomach), check out the 1:40 mark in this video to see what crazy eccentric stress at the end-range of a joint can do.

Now, imagine he's an untrained 14-year-old working at these speeds and you put a 100-pound weight vest on him; do you think it'll turn out well?

Weighted balls are awesome - when they're integrated at the right times, at the right loads, in the right dosages, with the right athletes who have earned the right to use them.

Closing Thoughts

If you look at these five contributing factors - and exclude the one (better diagnosis) that's actually a good thing - you'll realize that we have three that are completely in our control. Coach exercises correctly, prescribe strength and conditioning exercises appropriately, and integrate weighted baseball work the right way. If we do these three things correctly - and make sure to take care of tissue quality and length in our throwers - I firmly believe we can completely prevent lat strains, and that's been verified by our experience at Cressey Sports Performance.

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