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Cricket: Training for Speed-Strength

Q: Cricket is essentially a “speed-strength” based game - hitting, throwing and running. However, it requires players to play for long periods - anything between 2-6 hours a day. How can players include these opposing factors in their training?

A: One of the things you always have to concede with any sport is that you're always going to be riding a few horses with one saddle. Ironman competitors will never squat 500 with their aerobic training stimuli, and powerlifters won't compete in Ironman events because training to do so would interfere with their strength gains. All other sports fall somewhere in the middle between these extremes.??From a general standpoint, you train to become more efficient as an athlete. First, you have to do so biomechanically by ironing out muscle imbalances. You need to be a better athlete before you can be a better cricket player. So, mobility and activation work, soft-tissue quality initiatives, and appropriate resistance training is key to success on this front.??Next, you have to be efficient in the context of your sporting movements - and that's where tactical work comes in.??What you're referring to with this question is one-third of the efficiency equation: metabolic efficiency. The more aerobic a sport, the sooner you'll need to prioritize intensive metabolic conditioning in the off-season period. So, a soccer player would require it sooner than a football player. I go into great detail on this in The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual.??Cricket is a bit of middle-ground, though. From a duration standpoint, it's clearly a long event at times. However, it isn't necessarily continuous; it's more along the lines of what you see in baseball - which is basically a completely anaerobic sport. You sprint, stand around for an extended period, and sprint again - possibly even 30-60 minutes later! Just because the matches/games last 4-5 hours doesn't mean that they're aerobic - or that you need to train for them with repeated bouts of high-intensity exercise with INCOMPLETE rest.??My suggestion is to do what it takes to be fast and powerful - and let the duration of the matches just fall into place. Attend to nutrition/hydration and recovery protocols well, and the physical qualities you've built will sustain themselves in spite of the duration of the match. And, if you're crazy athletic, chances are that you'll win those matches a lot sooner.

Eric Cressey

Get your Questions Answered.

Don't Make The Same Mistakes as your Competition. Utilize Your Off-Season.
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A Single Off-Season

The hits on this particular night pinged loudly off the bats, traveled far, and were seemingly endless. With contributions from up and down the lineup, the Lincoln-Sudbury Regional baseball squad had piled up 13 runs by the end of the second inning.

The Boston Globe on Eric's High School Baseball Players
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“Puny and Weak” ISO “Size and Strength”

I was considering purchasing The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual. I just wanted to ask if it is useful for the average joe to use. I'm an 18 year old guy who's a senior in high school. I don't partake any sports per se. So, I don't have a season. Maybe I'll play a game of football or soccer or throw some hoops around with the guys.

But, right now I'm a puny, skinny, 130 lbs. 5'8 teenager. I was wondering if this manual can help increase my muscle size, increase my strength, speed, and explosiveness? Also, I just stopped smoking a couple of days ago. So, my cardiovascular capacity pretty much...sucks! Is there any information on how to improve my cardiovascular endurance?

I was also thinking of getting Magnificent Mobility to increase flexibility. Also, in regards to nutrition I own Berardi's Precision Nutrition, so I got that area covered.

Thanks for bearing with this long post. I hope to hear from you soon.

Good question - and I've actually received the same inquiry from a few people now. Here's my (admittedly-biased) take on things:

If you've read stuff from Mike Robertson, Alwyn Cosgrove, Mike Boyle, Kelly Baggett, and me (among a few others), I hope one message you've taken away from the articles is that the ordinary weekend warrior would be a lot better off if 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.

This manual shows you how all those pieces fit together at different times of year, and it also provides a lot of "stuff you just ought to know" if you train. Another cool thing is that you'll actually start to watch sports on TV in a different light; you'll begin to pick up on the little things that make each athlete unique.

And, if all that isn't enough, you've got 30 weeks of sample programming to keep things interesting. :)

Again, great question!

Eric Cressey

Get Your Questions Answered.

Crush the Competition.

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Mastering The Deadlift: Part I

Everyone knows how valuable the deadlift can be, but not everyone does it regularly. Yeah, a few people are just plain lazy, but many are simply afraid. They've never been taught to do it safely and are concerned that they'll get hurt if they push the weights without assurance that their form is on-point. With that in mind, this series was born. Here I'll give you a full-on analysis of a good deadlift, examples of every single deadlift debacle you'll see in the gym, and provide you with plenty of deadlift variations you can incorporate into your training for longstanding success with this fantastic movement. First, though, we need to cover eight prerequisite issues to set the stage. Continue Reading...
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The Underrated Exercises

What are the three most underrated and underused exercises? Does it differ across gender?

Well, I'm not sure that the basics - squats, deadlifts, various presses, pull-ups, and rows - can ever be considered overrated or overappreciated in both a male and female population.

Still, I think that single-leg exercises are tremendously beneficial, but are ignored by far too many trainers and lifters. Variations of lunges, step-ups, split squats, and single-leg RDLs play key roles in injury prevention and development of a great lower body.

Specific to females, we know that we need a ton of posterior chain work and correctly performed single-leg work to counteract several biomechanical and physiological differences. Namely, we're talking about quad dominance/posterior chain weakness and an increased Q-angle. Increasing glute and hamstrings strength and optimizing frontal plane stability is crucial for resisting knock-knee tendencies and preventing ACL tears. If more women could do glute-ham raises, the world would be a much better place!

Eric Cressey
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Take Home Messages for Parents

Many coaches, while well intentioned, haven’t been educated in how children develop, and that is part of the reason kids are pushed so far in sports. Until that changes, it is very important that parents take an active role in their child’s exercise and sports programs to allow for adequate variety, rest, and most importantly, fun. Here are some points to consider for your young athlete:

1. Encourage variety! While some sports may require earlier specialization, it’s best for most athletes to avoid concentrating on only one sport until they’ve at least reached 11th grade.

2. Regardless of your child’s chosen sports, emphasize the importance of resistance training and flexibility drills. These general approaches should take place year-round – even in multi-sport athletes – to reduce the risk of injury, assist in motor development, build confidence, and enhance performance. Without resistance training and flexibility work, young athletes are competing on fumes, not conditioning.

3. Ask your son or daughter candidly if he/she still enjoys his/her sport(s). If the answer is no, look for alternative ways for your child to have fun while exercising. Remember, kids need to play, not compete. When pressure takes the place of fun, it’s time to take a break and put the fun back in exercise.

4. Overuse and traumatic injuries are a sign that the physical challenges imposed on your child have exceeded his/her ability to stand up to them. If these injuries are occurring, your young athlete needs a break in order to get healthy with some corrective exercise programming.

Eric Cressey

Working with Young Athletes? Turn a Good Program into a Great Program.
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Maximal Strength Yields Maximal Vert

With the tests, etc, what would you need to look for in a powerlifting exclusive athlete. Obviously they would focus on strength, but is the speed and rate of force development exercises (reactive training) beneficial as well?

I'm thinking making the SSC more efficient would be beneficial as long as strength is maintained and focused on as well.

Definitely - you're on the right track. There are quite a few lifters who use box jumps and the like in their training. The main interfering factor for a lot of guys is body weight; they just get too heavy for the pounding. If you're 242 or below, though, I think there is a lot of merit to using them. I've subbed in box jumps and broad jumps for DE squat days when I needed to deload or just get the bar off my back for a week.

Interesting little aside...

My buddy Greg Panora was in town back in December for the Christmas holiday, so we got a lift in together. For those who don't know Greg, he's the world record holder at 242 (broke Steve Goggins' old record a few months ago - 1000+ squat, 700 bench, and 800+ deadlift). He lifts at Westside.

Greg is box squatting 495 + greens and blues for speed, and he glances over and sees the Just Jump platform and asks what it is. I tell him we use it to check vertical jump, so he wants to try it. He gets on in beat-up old briefs, Chuck Taylors, and a belt - at a weight of 250 - and jumps 35". Probably could have gone 38" with a deload and proper attire.

Anyone who says maximal strength doesn't matter for jumping and athletic ability is absolutely full of crap. :)

Eric Cressey

Lift Heavier. Jump Higher.

Do You Have Similar Questions? Get Them Answered.
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Nike Shox and High Heels

You've mentioned to me in the past the issues with the ever popular Nike Shox training shoe as well as high heels in women. What's are the potential problems?

When you elevate the heels chronically - via certain sneakers, high-heels, or any other footwear - you lose range of motion in dorsiflexion (think toe-to-shin range of motion). When you lack mobility at a joint, your body tries to compensate by looking anywhere it can to find range of motion. In the case of restricted ankle mobility, you turn the foot outward and internally rotate your lower and upper legs to make up for the deficit. This occurs as torque is "converted" through subtalar joint pronation.

As the leg rotates inward (think of the upper leg swiveling in your hip joint socket), you lose range of motion in external rotation at your hip. This is one of several reasons why females have a tendency to let their knees fall inward when they squat, lunge, deadlift, etc. And, it can relate to anterior/lateral knee pain (think of the term patellofemoral pain ... you've got restriction on things pulling on the patella, and on the things controlling the femur ... it's no wonder that they're out of whack relative to one another). And, by tightening up at the ankle and the hip, you've taken a joint (knee) that should be stable (it's just a hinge) and made it mobile/unstable. You can also get problems at the hip and lower back because ...

Just as losing range of motion at the ankle messes with how your leg is aligned, losing range of motion at your hip - both in external rotation and hip extension - leads to extra range of motion at your lumbar spine (lower back). We want our lower back to be completely stable so that it can transfer force from our lower body to our upper body and vice versa; if you have a lot of range of motion at your lower back, you don't transfer force effectively, and the vertebrae themselves can get irritated. This can lead to bone problems (think stress fractures in gymnasts), nerve issues (vertebrae impinge on discs/nerve roots), or muscular troubles (basic strains).

So, the take-home message is that crappy ankle mobility - as caused by high-top shoes, excessive ankle taping, poor footwear (heel lifts) - can cause any of a number of problems further up the kinetic chain. Sure, we see plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinosis, and shin splints, but that's just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what can happen.

How do we fix the problems? First, get out of the bad footwear and pick up a shoe that puts you closer in contact with the ground. Second, go barefoot more often (we do it for all our dynamic flexibility warm-ups and about 50% of the volume of our lifting sessions). Third, incorporate specific ankle (and hip) mobility drills - as featured in our Magnificent Mobility DVD.

Oh, I should mention that elevating the heels in women is also problematic simply because it shifts the weight so far forward. If we're dealing with a population that needs to increase recruitment of the glutes and hamstrings, why are we throwing more stress on the quads?

Eric Cressey

Don't Know the Drills? Grab the Magnificent Mobility DVD.
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Children and Elite Athletes: Similar but Different

Just like kids need to learn to ride a bike or read, they need to learn how to use their bodies properly; this is really the premise behind training. Training can improve reaction time and enhance functional capacity, so your athlete can move faster and more easily. And, a solid exercise stimulus can build bone density, decreasing osteoporosis risk down the road. Improving athleticism through training also has amazing effects on a young athlete’s confidence, and research has shown that athletic success has a favorable effect on your sprinter’s classroom performance.

Unlike elite athletes, kids are growing and not all activities are appropriate for them.
This is true for all types of sport, whether recreational or competitive. For kids, injuries at young ages can have long-term impacts on their adult lives. A child’s nervous system, endocrine system, cardiovascular system, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones respond identically to that of the elite athlete – just not necessarily on the same level.

Eric Cressey

Train your athletes right.
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Never Rehashed; Always Reevaluated

After the seminar had winded down in Chicago, Alwyn Cosgrove, Mike Robertson, and I were chatting it up in the hotel lounge as we waited to leave for the airport. In the middle of the conversation, Alwyn said to me something along the lines of, “Your presentation is getting really good; I caught the second half of it and it’s really polished. I really like the term ‘metabolic debt’ that you used; I’ve always said ‘metabolic disturbance,’ but I like debt better. It describes what I’m trying to say better; I’m going to steal that.”

Needless to say, I was pretty flattered. Here’s a guy who has spoken all over the country about optimal fat loss programming, and he’s constantly looking to get better – not just in the context of the protocols he uses (i.e., seeking out cutting-edge research), but also in the way that he relates it to those who want to understand the “why” instead of just the what.

I starting thinking about it long and hard on the flight home. Since last January, I’ve been to a ton of seminars – both as a speaker and a presenter. I’ve seen both Alwyn Cosgrove and Mike Boyle six times, Stuart McGill four times, and Dave Tate, John Berardi, Dan John, Mike Robertson, Brijesh Patel, John Pallof, and Carl Valle twice each…the list goes on and on. I’ve also seen several of them on DVDs, read their writing, and we even communicate via email or phone a weekly (and even daily) basis, too – so what gives? Wouldn’t I get sick of seeing them and talking to them – especially since we’re often repeating presentations in different locations? Isn’t it just the same information rehashed?

Absolutely not – and for the exact reason Alwyn, Mike, Dr. McGill, and Mike Robertson caught my presentation the other day: we’re always looking for two things:

First, subtle changes that have been integrated in terms of ideas – or the way in which they’re related. And second, a chance to review valuable information we might already know – but with a chance to incorporate it into schemas (essentially frames of reference) that we’ve recently incorporated

When I hear somebody reply to an article – or review a book – with a statement like “There’s nothing new here,” I can’t help but think that there "isn’t anything new here" because that individual is simply too lazy to think. And, it explains rather easily why this individual is the one reading the article instead of writing it, or listening to the presentation instead of delivering it.

Set yourself apart by not only seeking out education – but also by being open-minded enough to utilize it effectively.

Andrew Heffernan gets the “Blog of the Week” award from me for his thorough and entertaining recap of the Chicago seminar at http://blog.dynamicfitness.us/. He had me laughing out loud at his recap of my presentation:

Finally, Eric Cressey is a preposterously accomplished guy who, at age 25, is not only a very successful powerlifter but one of the most highly respected trainers around. Just listening to his lecture and getting a sense of the depth and scope of his knowledge made me wonder what the hell I've been doing frittering away these last 36 years. Part of me wanted to jump up on the stage and strangle him in all his youthful, charming, and articulate glory, but one look at his arms and chest made me realize that even that was a futile fantasy. My only comfort is that someday, many, many years after I've fallen into decrepitude, dementia and death, Eric Cressey, too, will die. Sure, there will be streets in Boston named after him, an Eric Cressey annual parade, and hoards of future gold medallists tearfully crediting him with all their success, but he will be dead, and I must be thankful for that one, tiny blessing

Thanks, Andrew… I think! Would it make you feel any better if I told you that I will be turning 26 on Sunday?

Eric Cressey

Here is a list of Eric's upcoming seminar dates.

Or catch Eric Cressey and Mike Robertson on their latest DVD release.

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