Home Articles An Interview with Eric Cressey: Part II (LBC)

An Interview with Eric Cressey: Part II (LBC)

Written on January 31, 2008 at 1:39 pm, by Eric Cressey

By: Erik Ledin of Lean Bodies Consulting

EL: Dynamic warm ups, mobility exercises, soft tissue work/foam rolling, static stretching – who should be doing this and with what kind of frequency?

EC: Well, everyone needs mobility and good soft tissue quality.

If they’re serious problem areas, then daily – or even multiple times daily – is the best bet. Others might just go with rolling a few times a week with mobility work prior to all training sessions. The majority of my clients spend about five minutes rolling and working with a lacrosse ball four times a week prior to their dynamic flexibility warm-ups. We also incorporate mobility/activation drills in between sets of compound exercises.

EL: A lot of it is relatively “new,”- at least to the physique conscious individual. Why should a physique conscious individual, training for aesthetics, worry about this stuff?

EC: Good question – and I’ve actually received the same inquiry from a few people now. In a word, longevity. Here’s my (admittedly-biased) take on things:

If you’ve read stuff from Mike Robertson, me, and several others from similar schools of thought, I hope one message you’ve taken away from the articles is that the ordinary weekend warrior would be a lot better off if (s)he’d train more like an athlete. The strength work athletes do helps you move bigger weights and build more muscle while burning more calories to stay lean. The movement training keeps you functional and helps you with energy system work to keep your body composition in check. The mobility work keeps you healthy and functional so that you can stand up to all the challenges in your training programs without getting injured.

Additionally, from a fat loss standpoint, think about what happens when you improve efficiency: you recruit more muscle fibers, therefore creating a bigger “metabolic disturbance” (to quote Alwyn Cosgrove). Deadlifts will give you more benefit if your glutes are firing, and you’ll get more out of chin-ups if your lower traps are kicking on all cylinders. And, improving efficiency will keep the body away from technical breakdown with high-intensity interval training and metabolic-oriented resistance training circuits, decreasing the risk of injury.

Here’s a great example – a client of mine who was featured in the Boston Globe for her inspirational story:


Steph went from a size 20 to a size 2– and prepared for a fantastic showing for a first-timer at the Boston Marathon. What this article doesn’t touch on much is how many injuries she had when we first started; it was like triage! Mobility and activation work was absolutely necessary to get Steph healthy (and keep her healthy enough) to make it possible for her to do what it takes to prepare for the marathon.

She got lean with proper diet and a combination of lifting, sprint intervals, hill work – with threshold runs and once weekly long, slow distance runs thrown in for the sake of necessary aerobic adaptations (I wouldn’t include these with a pure fat loss client). However, she couldn’t have done any of this if it wasn’t for the “money in the bank” she got from the mobility and activation work; it indirectly helped to get her lean.

EL: The elliptical machine is a very common piece of cardio equipment in the gyms these days. I think it’s taken over stationary bikes, step mills and even the treadmill as the most used piece of cardio equipment in the gyms today. Is it an effective tool?

EC: I don’t vilify it like many others in the industry, as I’ve seen it prove useful for people coming back from knee problems, back pain, shin splints, and the like. I always like to have a low-impact option available for people for cardio, and this fits the bill nicely (heck, I use it myself a bit). Granted, the calculators on these machines drastically overestimate calorie burn because they don’t take into account the momentum utilized, but who cares how many calories you burn during the session? It’s about effort and the post-exercise oxygen debt you accumulate.

Still, like almost every piece of cardio equipment, the elliptical doesn’t allow for full range of motion, so you need to complement it with mobility work and some more full range of motion energy systems work (e.g., sprinting). EL What are the most common program design mistakes you see in training programs today?

EC: There are a ton. Here’s the tip of the iceberg, in no particular order:

1. Excessive volume

2. No fluctuation of training stress

3. Foo-foo exercise selection

4. No attention to injury prevention/prehab

5. Not understanding how to take deload periods appropriately

6. Plain ‘ol ugly exercise exercise (it’s the how, not just the what)

7. Too many machines and not enough free weights

8. Poor training environments/bad lifting partners

9. No attention to recovery/regeneration protocols

10. Thinking that it’s JUST about lifting and cardio

EL: The MMDVD is a great resource for lower body dynamic warm ups and mobility work. But with over 30 exercises contained in the video, could you provide any insight as to how one might go about choosing exercises that are most suited to them?

EC: Honestly, the best way to go about doing things is to try the movements out and see where you are the most “restricted.” For instance, most females will do fine with high knee walks and not have to worry about them. Then, they’ll try lunging variations, pull-back buttkicks, and alternating lateral lunge walks and notice that their hip flexors, quads, and adductors (respectively) won’t let them get the range of motion they need.

In general, though, they all need to be doing supine bridges and birddogs along with the above three variations relatively frequently, and the rest can be mixed and matched so as to provide variety. Mike, Bill Hartman, and I are exploring the idea of pulling together some comprehensive templates people can use on this front.

EL: Where can people read more of your articles?

EC: They can check out my website, www.EricCressey.com, where we have a free weekly newsletter. I also publish a near-daily blog at http://ericcressey.blogspot.com/.

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