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Meet the Press: An Interview with Strength Coach Eric Cressey

Ten years ago, most people who trained with weights had never heard of a "strength coach." Oh sure, there were sports coaches who worked with athletes on performance. And there were famous bodybuilders who theorized on hypertrophy methods in the magazines. There were even personal trainers and fitness instructors, but a strength coach? An expert who specialized in all things iron? A guy who could help you increase your vertical, build your biceps, and add 50 pounds to your bench press? Not many gym-goers had heard of such an animal. Then along came Charles Poliquin, one of the first notable gurus that appealed to a broad spectrum of athletes, bodybuilders, and fitness freaks. Poliquin is still at the top of his game, but a whole new crop of strength coaches have sprung from the seeds he planted way back when TC first introduced him to the Muscle Media 2000 audience. These new guys are young, hyper-educated and viciously smart. We know because most of them are already writing for T-Nation! Eric Cressey is one of those young guns. We caught up with 23-year old Cressey just days after he got his master's degree. We think you'll agree that the future of strength and conditioning is bright. Continue Reading...
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28 Synergistic Factors for Success

There's no such thing as isolation in training or in life. Everything you do, have done, and will do, affects everything else. Success is a synergistic — not additive — phenomenon. To illustrate this synergism, I’ve come up with 28 factors that warrant consideration if you want to be as successful as you can possibly be. Not that nobody will ever attain perfect synergism and, in turn, optimal performance. This list should only serve as a guide to determine where you can improve when your physique or performance improvements stop dead in their tracks. The factors are divided into three categories: those over which you have no control, moderate control, and complete control. Continue Reading...
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Debunking Exercise Myths, Part II

In Part I, our first five adages focused predominantly on the lower body. Now, in Part 2, we’ll look closely at some commonly maligned upper body exercises. Continue Reading...
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Debunking Exercise Myths: Part 1

We live in a society that doesn't want gray areas. People want right or wrong, up or down, and left or right. This mindset carries over to the gym, too; lifters want to be able to say that Exercise A is evil, and Exercise B is safe. Unfortunately, it's not that simple, so with that in mind, I'm devoting this article to killing off some myths, establishing some more well-defined gray areas, and making recommendations on who can do what. I'm going to come right out and say it: in the absence of musculoskeletal pathology, no movement is fundamentally bad. Sure, there are exercises like kickbacks and leg extensions that don't give you as much bang for your buck as their multi-joint counterparts (e.g. dips and squats), but that's not to say that these pansy exercises are "bad" for you. Likewise, it's rare that I write any sort of machine lift into my programming, but there are rehabilitation patients that benefit greatly from certain machine training. In my opinion, there are only five scenarios in which exercise is ever truly bad for you from a health standpoint: 1. When that exercise is performed in excessive volume. 2. When that exercise is performed with poor technique. 3. When that exercise is performed in a manner that puts it out of balance with the rest of the programming that is in place. 4. When that exercise irritates an existing injury or condition. 5. When that exercise is performed with excessive loading (relative to the lifter's capabilities). Now, it's not feasible for me to outline every specific instance where every exercise is safe or unsafe, but I can address some common adages we frequently hear in our gyms. Continue Reading...
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Deadlift Diagnosis

Hi. My name is Eric and I have a problem. I never expected it and I didn't plan for it. It just happened. And now, I'll never be the same. Hardly a minute passes when I don't think about it, salivate, and get the shivers. My own grandmother cringes in fright when she even hears about "it." Yes, folks, I'm a deadlift-aholic. I don't just want to pull; I want to pull every minute of every day for the rest of my life. I dream about grinding out heavy pulls where the bar seemingly bends in half, and I jump at the opportunity to do speed pulls so quickly that I nearly castrate myself with the bar. This passion has led me to a ranking in the Powerlifting USA Top 100 for my weight class, and the brink of a 1RM of 3.5 times my body weight. Continue Reading...
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Cardio Confusion

When it comes to training purely for strength and power, it's become vogue to vehemently oppose "cardio." In light of the traditional connotation of "cardio" and "endurance training" — rubbing your ass raw on a bike for an hour — the individuals bashing such initiatives certainly have justification for their views. However, "cardio" is a very general term. These individuals need to qualify their recommendations on a variety of fronts. Continue Reading...
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10 Mistakes Coaches Make

It's often been said that program design is an art more than it is a science. While I don't completely agree with this assertion, I think we can all agree that some "artists" are a lot better than others. In this article, I'll discuss why some strength and conditioning coaches really do deserve to be "starving artists" — or at least employed in some other field. Continue Reading...
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Neanderthal No More: Part V

It's been a while since Part IV so those of you following this program are probably chomping at the bit for the conclusion. Chomp no more, because this is it! The program contained in this article is designed to reintroduce more of the traditional exercises that you've grown to love while still maintaining the emphasis on postural corrections through appropriate prioritization and volume manipulation. Essentially, it's one step closer to the balanced training programs you should seek to create. Remember, we shifted the balance in the opposite direction to start to take care of the problems created by lack of balance in previous programs. This program will last three weeks (and is meant to follow the first program outlined in part IV), after which you'll want to have a back-off week consisting of markedly lower volume. Oh, and even if you're not following the entire "Neanderthal No More" program, you'll still learn some new exercises you've probably tried before. Here are the goods: Continue Reading...
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5 Relative Strength Myths

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. There's a very simple way to improve your maximal strength almost effortlessly. Surprisingly, it has nothing to do with periodization, sets, reps, intensity, rest periods, exercise selection, neuromuscular coordination, or anything else in the gym with which you're concerned. You won't find it on an infomercial, either. Continue Reading...
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Get Your Butt in Gear II

In Part I we covered some pre-training measures you can use to get your glutes fired up and ready to go. Now it's time to get to work on strengthening them. Before we discuss the exercises, let's go over four regulations. If you violate these four groundrules, we'll kick your ass (no pun intended). 1) You'll use a full range of motion (ROM) on all exercises, even if you're the most inflexible person alive. 2) You'll drive/lead with the heel and not prance around like a sissy on your tiptoes. 3) You'll keep the torso erect (chest high and scapulae retracted) to ensure a full ROM. 4) You'll check your ego at the door and decrease the weight if necessary to perform the exercises correctly! Every rule doesn’t apply to every exercise, but more often than not, these little cues will help you to increase your gluteal function and strength. Now, let's move on to the exercises! Continue Reading...
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