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Monday Q&A with Eric

Q: The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual was fantastic; I just have one question about one of the jumping tests you utilize. In your opinion, should the heels touch the ground lightly during a bounce drop jump? I've heard “yes’ and I've heard “no” from several coaches and I'm trying to form my own opinion on the subject once and for all. A: I think it's a must. Very few athletes have the eccentric strength to land completely on the balls of the feet. You're also putting a lot of undue stress on the Achilles and patellar tendons and limiting your ability to cushion with the hip extensors. By eliminating that cushion (preactivation), you'll increase the amortization phase, therefore killing the very elastic response you're trying to train. A lot of people will argue that it's counterintuitive in light of the sprinting motion, but I don't see that argument as holding water. Vertical displacement is centimeters in sprinting, but meters in bounce drop jumps, so you're comparing apples and oranges in terms of ground reaction forces. I use different short-response tactics for using just the balls of the feet. www.UltimateOffSeason.com
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Paying Homage to the Greatest…

Basketball had Michael Jordan. Hockey had Wayne Gretzky. Martial Arts had Bruce Lee. Their abilities transcended mere stardom and redefined their sports. It's about time all bloggers recognize that we're all just humble villagers next to Bill Simmons - AKA Sports Guy. Eric Cressey
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The First Time in Five Years

It's one thing to make a resolution, it's another thing to adopt a lifestyle. At over 900 lbs. Manuel Uribe left the house for the first time in five years after dropping 256 lbs, from his peak of 1,235 lbs. When given the option, Manuel Uribe made a choice to adopt the Zone diet over gastric bypass surgery, back in 2006; this decision has made the difference. Having adopted a manageable program, Manuel has set the bar at 250 lbs within four years. Ask yourself: Are you on a plan that you can tolerate for the next four years? If not: What are you expecting to happen? Beginner exercisers are not the only ones who fall into the mismanaged training program, athletes do it to. The first step in any successful training program is adherence, if you cannot stick to your plan, it's worthless. If you are forcing yourself through your routines and through your training, you're not proving anything; you're delaying the inevitable. What can we learn from Manuel? It's great to set goals that test your limits, as long as you have the self-efficacy to get there. The first step, is accomplishing enough to have that self-efficacy. Lofty goals and "hardcore" programs do not create self-efficacy, they slowly diminish it. The number one determining influence of positive behavioral change is past performance. The clincher: was it positive or negative. Your coach, your training, and your habits should envelop your goal. I have no doubt that in four years Manuel will walk away from his bed at 250 lbs. Where will you be? Jon Boyle jb@ericcressey.com
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Hot off the Press!

I just got this in the mail today; it’s yet another study to show that static stretching pre-training is (with a few minor exceptions) a big no-no! Bradley, P.S., P.D. Olsen, and M.D. Portas. The effect of static, ballistic, and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching on vertical jump performance. J. Strength Cond. Res. 21(1):223-226. 2007. The purpose of this study was to compare the acute effects of different modes of stretching on vertical jump performance. Eighteen male university students (age, 24.3 +/- 3.2 years; height, 181.5 +/- 11.4 cm; body mass, 78.1 +/- 6.4 kg; mean +/- SD) completed 4 different conditions in a randomized order, on different days, interspersed by a minimum of 72 hours of rest. Each session consisted of a standard 5-minute cycle warm-up, accompanied by one of the subsequent conditions: (a) control, (b) 10-minute static stretching, (c) 10-minute ballistic stretching, or (d) 10-minute proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching. The subjects performed 3 trials of static and countermovement jumps prior to stretching and poststretching at 5, 15, 30, 45, and 60 minutes. Vertical jump height decreased after static and PNF stretching (4.0% and 5.1%, p <> 0.05). However, jumping performance had fully recovered 15 minutes after all stretching conditions. In conclusion, vertical jump performance is diminished for 15 minutes if performed after static or PNF stretching, whereas ballistic stretching has little effect on jumping performance. Consequently, PNF or static stretching should not be performed immediately prior to an explosive athletic movement. Okay, so we know that static and PNF stretching are bogus, and it looks like ballistic stretching doesn’t do much for us, either. So what can we do to warm up for effective performance? Fletcher IM, Jones B. The effect of different warm-up stretch protocols on 20 meter sprint performance in trained rugby union players. J Strength Cond Res. 2004 Nov;18(4):885-8. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of different static and dynamic stretch protocols on 20-m sprint performance. The 97 male rugby union players were assigned randomly to 4 groups: passive static stretch (PSS; n = 28), active dynamic stretch (ADS; n = 22), active static stretch (ASST; n = 24), and static dynamic stretch (SDS; n = 23). All groups performed a standard 10-minute jog warm-up, followed by two 20-m sprints. The 20-m sprints were then repeated after subjects had performed different stretch protocols. The PSS and ASST groups had a significant increase in sprint time (p < or =" 0.05)," or =" 0.05)."> or = 0.05). The decrease in performance for the 2 static stretch groups was attributed to an increase in the musculotendinous unit (MTU) compliance, leading to a decrease in the MTU ability to store elastic energy in its eccentric phase. The reason why the ADS group improved performance is less clear, but could be linked to the rehearsal of specific movement patterns, which may help increase coordination of subsequent movement. It was concluded that static stretching as part of a warm-up may decrease short sprint performance, whereas active dynamic stretching seems to increase 20-m sprint performance. Dynamic stretching, huh? Maybe these Cressey and Robertson guys are on to something with that DVD of theirs… www.MagnificentMobility.com
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Lawn Chairs for Knees

Last week, sports fans witnessed arguably the most gruesome knee injury – both visually and medically – in recent history when the Clippers’ Shaun Livingston’s knee folded up like a lawn chair on a seemingly harmless play (be forewarned; this video is not for those with uneasy stomachs). Given Livingston’s age (21) and “fragile” 6-7 frame, many supporters of the NBA’s new age minimum restrictions are quick to assert that this injury would not have happened if Livingston had been forced to wait longer to enter the NBA. Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports wrote a detailed piece on the topic. As a strength coach who has worked extensively with basketball players, I can say without wavering that this couldn’t be further from the truth; chronological age had nothing to do with Livingston’s injury. Physical maturity, training experience, and – presumably – ignorance of previous injuries and imbalances did. What seems to be lost in the details is that the Clippers guard also had a stress reaction in his lower back and pre-existing ankle problems; any of the best coaches and physical therapists in the business will all tell you that dysfunctions are almost never isolated. Stress reactions are commonly the result of repeated hyperextension of the lumbar spine secondary to poor core stability and hip mobility (not to mention that the typical NBA spine is a LOT longer than that of the Average Joe). As part of this dysfunction, the gluteal muscles fail to fire sufficiently, and they lack the strength and activation level to decelerate “knock-knee,” internal rotation forces in landing – just like the one that ended Livingston’s season. When you lack mobility at the hips and ankles (most basketball players have terrible ankle mobility due to high-top sneakers and ankle taping), the knee (a joint that should just be a stable hinge) develops instability to create mobility. He could easily have developed chronic hip or knee pain; a traumatic injury got him first. Put a 1983 Buick engine in a 2007 Ferrari body, and you’ve got the typical NBA athlete. When it comes to injuries, the basketball culture is reactive, not proactive. Unlike sports like football, hockey, and baseball that have embraced dedicated off-season conditioning programs (not to mention resistance-training from an early age), the basketball community – from the youth leagues right up to the NBA – has yet to appreciate how valuable a role strength and conditioning can play in preventing injuries like Livingston’s.

uotm

Rather than preventing the injuries by participating in dedicated off-court off-season training programs, most basketball players go right back to playing street ball, AAU hoops, or NBA summer leagues – all the while reinforcing the imbalances they’ve developed. Everyone wants to compete, but nobody wants to train or even rehab. Apparently, alley-oops and crossover dribbles are a lot more “sexy” than lifting weights and doing flexibility drills – at least until you rupture an ACL, MCL, PCL, patellar tendon, and lateral meniscus on a lay-up. Karl Malone was notorious for his rigorous off-season lifting regimen, and he was quite possibly the most durable player in the history of the league. Entering the NBA at a young age wasn’t a problem for Lebron James – and it should come as no coincidence that he was resistance training for years before his arrival to the NBA at age 18. I had a 15 year-old, 192-pound high school shortstop front squat 300 for an easy single on Friday, then vertical jump 28.5 inches and box squat 355 today with a bit left in the tank. Do you mean to tell me that he won’t be ready for professional sports physically in three years? Please! The NBA doesn’t need to institute age restrictions; it needs to take the initiative to develop a culture – independent of age – where players start training smart and taking care of their bodies. Want to learn more?  Check out The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual.
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10 Rules of Corrective Lifting

Whether I like it or not, around these parts I've become known as an "injury guy." People get jacked up doing stupid stuff, and guys like Mike Robertson, Bill Hartman, and myself fix them up by pointing out that said "stuff" is, in fact, stupid. To that end, a lot of my consulting work is done in the corrective exercise realm — basically handling people who fall into the gray area between physical therapy and healthy training... bridging the gap, so to speak. We know that 80% of Americans will have lower back pain at some point in their lives, and 70% of gym-goers will experience shoulder problems somewhere along the line, but we can't send all of these people to physical therapy. Continue Reading...

shoulder-performance-dvdcover

Click here to purchase the most comprehensive shoulder resource available today: Optimal Shoulder Performance - From Rehabilitation to High Performance.
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Can’t Prove It, Part 2

In an effort to take things a step back, [TC] asked 8 Testosterone coaches the following question: "What do you believe to be true, even though you can't prove it?" Continue Reading...
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What I Learned in 2006

When I look back on what I was doing and what I knew a few years ago (or even last year), I laugh. The health and human performance field is incredibly dynamic in nature, so if you aren't evolving, you're sure to be left behind. For me, 2006 was a tremendous year of evolution, both personally and professionally, so I figured the new year would be a great time to reflect on some of the more influential revelations I had this year. This list certainly isn't exhaustive, but it should give you a peak into what a difference a year can make. Continue Reading...
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Off-Season Training for Athletes

A few months ago when the PN team sat down to put together this library of training programs to integrate with the Precision Nutrition system, we really wanted to make sure that we had something spectacular for our athletes, many of whom compete at the elite level of their sport. So when it finally came time to put together the program to cover off-season training for athletes, we turned to the guy who does it best: Eric Cressey. Continue Reading... - Phil Caravaggio
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The Truth About Leg Extensions

Without a doubt, the leg extension debate is one of the most heated in the fitness industry today. Let's take a look at what the research says and apply our findings in a practical manner. Continue Reading...
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