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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 6/15/18

It's been a quiet week here on the blog because I'm still recovering from last week's Sturdy Shoulder Solutions product launch and the barrage of college athletes who are all starting up at CSP at the same time. Luckily, I do have some good content from around the 'net for you:

Pat Rigsby on Building Your Ideal Fitness Business - Pat Rigsby is the man. I got this email from Mike Robertson in my inbox this morning and cleared time in my schedule to listen to this podcast right away. He always has great business insights for fitness professionals.

10 Strength and Conditioning Lessons from Friends, Mentors, and Colleagues - This is a great compilation from my buddy Todd Hamer, who's been a mainstay in the college strength and conditioning field for as long as I can remember.

Lessons Learned from a Bum Elbow - I posted this story on my Facebook page the other day, and there are a lot of lessons in here for fitness professionals and rehabilitation specialists, especially those who deal with throwing athletes.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 6/9/18

Happy Saturday! This edition of "stuff to read"is a few days late in light of the Major League Baseball Draft and release of my new resource, Sturdy Shoulders Solutions. As a quick reminder, it's on sale for $50 off through the end of the day tomorrow (Sunday). You can learn more at www.SturdyShoulders.com.

With it being a shoulder product, I figured I'd use this week to "reincarnate" some upper extremity content from my archives:

Are You Packing the Shoulder Correctly? - Most people don't appreciate the relevant anatomy involved in packing the shoulder, so that may actually utilize the wrong muscles to get the job done. This webinar delves into the topic in detail.

3 Tips for Improving Your Back to Wall Shoulder Flexion - This video demonstrates a few quick and easy cues to improve your capacity for overhead reaching.

Exercise of the Week: Standing External Rotation Holds to Wall - This exercise is a great fit for everyday lifters and baseball players alike, as it builds rotator cuff strength without any equipment.

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Have a great weekend!

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Are You Getting Shoulder Motion in the Right Places?

With this week's release of my new project, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions, I thought I'd give you a little sampling of what's included. In this TRX serratus anterior exercise video excerpt, I talk about the importance of getting good scapulothoracic (shoulder blade on rib cage) movement so that you don't have to find extra glenohumeral (ball on socket) motion.  Check it out:

This is a key shoulder health principle I cover in great detail in my new resource - and it's on sale for $50 off through Sunday at midnight. You can learn more at www.SturdyShoulders.com.

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Shoulder Health: Where Small Hinges Swing Big Doors

The shoulder girdle is a complex series of joints unified by subtle movements in perfect timing. If you need proof, just check out this slide from my new release, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions.

This study looked at the difference between the empty can and full can in terms of both muscular recruitment and actual movement in folks with symptomatic impingement vs. healthy controls. Not surprisingly, the empty can exercise hurt more. Just looking at this picture hurts my shoulder (and my shirt is wildly fitting).

To me, though, that's not the most significant takeaway from these study results. Rather, take a look at some of the numbers included in their findings: 1-3 degrees (joint movement) and 1-4% (muscular activation). These are subtle, subtle quantifiable differences between those in pain and those who are pain free - and most of them really can't be perceived "on the fly."

What does this mean for how you assess, program, and coach?

First, from an evaluation standpoint, we have to truly understand what quality movement should look and feel like. If you can't truly define "normal," then how can you ever truly appreciate "abnormal?"

Second, not all exercises are created equal (as we learned from the empty vs. full can discussion). 

Third, in coaching, we have to constantly solicit feedback from our athletes on where they feel exercises.

These are all key principles on which I focus in my new resource, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions - and it's on sale for $50 off through Sunday at midnight. You can learn more at www.SturdyShoulders.com.

 

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“Sturdy Shoulder Solutions” is Now Available!

I'm super excited to announce the release of my new resource, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions, which will be on sale for $50 off through Sunday. This product has been years in the making, and it includes over six hours of cutting edge assessment, coaching, and programming strategies. You can learn more at the following link:

http://www.SturdyShoulders.com

Here's what you'll experience:

  • Simplifying Shoulder Health (Webinar)
  • How Posture Impacts Pain and Performance (Webinar)
  • Important Upper Extremity Functional Anatomy Considerations (Webinar)
  • The Proximal-to-Distal Principle (Webinar)
  • Nuances of the Neck (Webinar)
  • Rethinking the Thoracic Spine (Webinar)
  • Making Sense of Serratus Anterior (Webinar)
  • Is Upper Trapezius the Devil? (Lab)
  • The Myth of Normal Range of Motion (Lab)
  • Rethinking the Thoracic Spine (Lab)
  • Making Sense of Serratus Anterior (Lab)
  • Good Exercises Gone Bad (Lab)
  • The Myth of Balancing Pushes and Pulls (Lab)

It's a great fit for personal trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, sports coaches, and rehabilitation specialists. Additionally, many fitness enthusiasts will appreciate the focus on individualizing programming recommendations and technique coaching strategies.

In particular, it’s a tremendous fit for anyone who has previously been exposed to our Optimal Shoulder Performance and Functional Stability Training products. Sturdy Shoulder Solutions serves as an up-to-date companion to the educational material covered in those previous offerings.

You'll get instant online access to this digital-only product after purchase. Just head to http://www.SturdyShoulders.com to pick it up.
 

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 5/24/18

I'm a day late with these recommendations in light of a lot of a busy week of evaluations at Cressey Sports Performance as the college crew rolls back in. However, that's given me a few extra days to compile some good reading material for you:

Cressey Sports Performance Featured in Boston Voyager Magazine - This feature on Cressey Sports Performance - MA just ran in Boston Voyager magazine. You'll learn a bit about the history of our business and how we approach things.

One Thing that Annoys Me About the Fitness Industry - Tony Gentilcore makes an outstanding point in this blog. It's one of the few "rants" you'll read that actually has an invaluable message.

EC on the The Farm System Podcast - I was interviewed for this baseball development podcast last just a few weeks ago; give it a listen!

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Serratus anterior is important for a myriad of reasons - but most people tend to focus on its impact on scapular stabilization and motion. Don't overlook the impact of the serratus anterior - particularly the upper fibers - on rib positioning, though. The upper fibers can internally rotate (pull down) the first few ribs, which make it an important anagonist to the subclavius and scalenes, which elevate those ribs. In other words, if you're a person who always feels "balled up" in your neck/clavicle region, chances are that you need some good serratus work to help make your manual therapy up there "stick." 🤔 In my humble opinion, this also helps to explain why some athletes wind up having thoracic outlet surgeries after elbow and shoulder surgeries. If you do a ton of rehab arm care work in the wrong positions, you aren't just putting the glenohumeral (ball/socket) and scapulothoracic (shoulder blade/rib cage) in bad positions; rather, you're also negatively impacting the orientation of the ribs that help to determine whether crucial nerve and vascular structures are impinged. 😬 Move well before you move a lot. 👍#cspfamily

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What (Physically) Goes Into a Good Swing

Cressey Sports Performance athlete Chris Taylor had a big go-ahead 2-run HR last night for the Dodgers - and the second I saw this photo of his swing on Instagram, I immediately got to thinking about how great a representation it is of the demands of the swing.

 

CT3 for the lead! #LADetermined

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As a right-handed hitter, the pelvis rotates counterclockwise toward the pitcher during the swing. However, "counterclockwise" doesn't really do justice to the fact that it's actually hip movement in three planes: rotation (transverse), abduction (frontal), and extension (sagittal). Additionally, earlier in the swing, the torso actually rotates clockwise to create the separation that allow for greater storage of elastic energy and sets the stage for the barrel getting to the zone at the right time and angle - and for as long as possible. This reminds us that you can't have good swing mechanics if you don't have mobility in the hips and thoracic spine, and adequate stability in the core to prevent any energy leaks.

More specific to this photo, though, is the fact that all that motion from the trailing leg has taken place, which means all the force has been transferred forward - and something has to "accept it." We often use the analogy of riding a bike into a curb; if the curb isn't hard, the kid doesn't get launched over the handlebars. In this case, the "firm curb" is the front leg creating a blocking effect as the hip extensors and external rotators (glutes!) eccentrically control that aggressive force transfer into the lead leg. As you'll see in this photo, sometimes the tri-planar forces are so significant that guys might even roll to the lateral aspect of their shoes. And, unless they're in a great pair of New Balance cleats, they might even "swing out of their shoes" (yes, you'll sometimes see guys fold over the side of cleats that don't have good lateral stability).

Anyway, let's take this example to an untrained 15-year-old who doesn't have the strength, motor control, and mobility foundation that Chris has here. There's a good chance he's going to go to the wrong places to find a lot of this motion to generate, transfer, or accept force - and the most common spot is the lower back. You'll commonly see stress fractures and annoying tightness in this region in these kids because the lumbar spine isn't conditioned to produce force or go through significant rotational motion. Watch one of these kids go through a simple bowler squat and they usually fold up line a lawn chair.

In my experience (both in pitching and hitting), the kids most at risk are the ones who grow quickly at a young age. They have long levers that help them to generate velocity, but insufficient physical strength and range of motion to dissipate these aggressive patterns as they get to this position and beyond. They're all gas and no brakes.

Chicks can't dig the long ball if you're in a back brace because you ignored your hip and thoracic mobility and core stability. Take as much pride in your physical preparation as you do in your swing. Chris sure does!

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Why You Shouldn’t Look Up When You Lift

To tuck the chin or not? It's one of the most debated topics in the world of strength and conditioning and sports medicine these days. If you've read any of my stuff (including the detailed presentation, "Nuances of the Neck," in my new resource, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions), you'll know that I prefer tucking it - the so-called "packed neck position" - to preserve a more neutral cervical spine positioning, whether it's on deadlifts, squats, or push-ups.

One of the most common arguments against this packed neck position is that Powerlifter X and Olympic Lifter Y look up during lifts, and they're really strong. I'd encourage you to consider that:

1. Most of your clients/athletes have no interest in being Powerlifter X or Olympic Lifter Y. They just want to be fit, healthy, proficient in their sport. They value quality of life over weight room PRs - so movement quality takes place over absolute loading.

2. Good outcomes don't necessarily equate to good movements, so it's difficult to always draw population-wide conclusions from elite athletes. As an example, Cressey Sports Performance athlete and Cubs pitcher Steve Cishek is an accomplished MLB pitcher, yet he has some "high maintenance" pitching mechanics that you would never teach to another up-and-coming pitcher. He's just found a way to make them work, even if they do put his body in some funky positions. 

 

Slooooooow moooooo Cisshhheekkk. #cspfamily #cubs

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Just because someone is strong doesn't mean that they're getting to those big numbers via the most efficient or healthy avenues.

3. We have no idea what Powerlifter X or Olympic Lifter Y's necks will look (or feel) like in their 60s.

4. Especially under load, it's never a great idea to take one joint close to its end-range at the expense of motion at other joints. A common example is getting too much low back movement when the hips are stiff. Well, when it comes to cervical extension, most people get far too much in the upper cervical region and far too little in the lower cervical spine. So, not all "look ups" are coming from the same place - and some will certainly create more pathology than others.

5. When you go into upper cervical/head extension, you're shortening levator scapulae, which is a downward rotator of the scapula.

If you're looking to set up an overhead squat or snatch, it's probably not a great idea to encourage downward rotation of the scapula when you need upward rotation for quality overhead motion. Here's a video that delves into this a bit further:

6. You're also shortening sternocleidomastoid, which is one of the biggest muscular contributors to chronic headaches.

So do yourself a favor and just tuck your chin a bit. And, if you'd like to learn more about the functional anatomy and unique challenges we face with the neck, be sure to check out Sturdy Shoulder Solutions.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 5/18/18

Happy Friday! I'm a few days late with this post in light of our spring sale as well as some speaking-related travel I had this week. The good news is that the travel gave me some time to do some reading/viewing/listening and come up with some additional recommendations for you. Check them out:

Complete Youth Training - This is Mike Boyle's great new resource for those who work with young athletes. He touches on everything from the problems with early specialization to age-specific training stages. It's a good investment for parents and coaches alike. I loved how his perspective as a parent coalesced with his commentary as a strength and conditioning coach and business owner. It's on sale for $50 as an introductory discount.

The Best Team Wins - This was a recommendation from my buddy Josh Bonhotal, who's spent the past several years at the Purdue basketball strength and conditioning coach. Whether you're a coach or involved in a business in any way, this is a great book that'll teach you a lot about your interactions with athletes, fellow coaches, employees, and co-workers.

Prioritization and Success for Strength and Conditioning Success - I was reminded of this older post of mine this week when chatting with an up-and-coming strength and conditioning coach about how I've approached career development since I entered the industry.

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I think the long head of the triceps is a really overlooked structure in the development of both shoulder and elbow pain in throwers. Many people forget that it crosses the shoulder joint - and therefore effectively links the scapula to the lower arm. 🤔 In the late cocking phase of throwing, it's working eccentrically to prevent excessive elbow flexion while storing elastic energy that can be released on the subsequent elbow extension of the delivery. In other words, you can view the long head of the triceps as somewhat of a "mini-lat," as the lat serves this similar store-release function (albeit with different functions) - and they both work as shoulder extensors. 💪 It's also interesting in that it's one of the few muscles where the trigger point referral patterns can work up and down, as opposed to just down. I've seen some throwers where treating triceps has been a game changer in terms of everything from elbow, to shoulder, to neck pain. 👇 The long story short is that you have to give the triceps some love with quality self-myofascial release/manual therapy and make sure that you preserve tissue length (by stretching into shoulder flexion and elbow flexion simultaneously). Swipe right for some ideas. Thanks to @andrewmillettpt for the dry needling and manual therapy and @oneilstrength and @sooo_deep for the exercise demos. #cspfamily

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Spring Sale: Final Day!

In case you haven't already heard, I'm running my spring sale right now, with four of my products for sale at 40% off. Just enter the coupon code SPRING (all CAPS) at checkout to apply the discount. The discount runs until tonight (Tuesday) at midnight. You can learn more at the following links:

Cressey Sports Performance Innovations

The Art of the Deload

Understanding and Coaching the Anterior Core

The Truth About Unstable Surface Training

Enjoy!

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