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2020 Black Friday/Cyber Monday Sales!

Just like everyone else on the planet, I'm offering some great Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales. We're just going to kick it off a week early so you have time to sort through it all! From now through next Monday (11/30) at midnight, you can get 25% off the following resources by using the coupon code BF2020EC at checkout.

These eight resources can be purchased through my secure website:

Sturdy Shoulder Solutions - My most recent product release delves going into a ton of depth on some important topics with respect to upper extremity evaluation, programming, and training. Learn more HERE.

CSP Innovations - A collaborative effort by the Cressey Sports Performance staff about a variety of topics. Learn more HERE.

The Specialization Success Guide - A great resource for those looking to pursue strength gains on the big three (squat, bench press, deadlift). Learn more HERE.

The Ultimate Offseason Training Manual - This was the first book I wrote, and it's stood the test of time because of how much of the writing was based on principles that'll last forever. Learn more HERE.

Understanding and Coaching the Anterior Core - A presentation that will bring you up to speed on an important aspect of core training for health and high performance. Learn more HERE.

The Truth About Unstable Surface Training - This e-book covers one of the more controversial topics in the training and rehabilitation worlds today. Learn more HERE.

Everything Elbow - A quick presentation that highlights the key aspects of taking care of throwing elbows. Learn more HERE.

The Art of the Deload - A special report that helps you sort through various approaches to deloading in training programs. Learn more HERE.

And, these two resources I co-created with Mike Reinold can be purchased through his website:

Functional Stability Training (includes Core, Upper, Lower, and Optimizing Movement) - We cover everything from assessment, to programming, to coaching cues, to bridging the gap between rehab and high performance.

Optimal Shoulder Performance - This is a great "primer" on the basics of the shoulder.

Remember, just enter BF2020EC to get the discount.

Enjoy!

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 10/19/20

We're back with another edition of recommended reading, although this week will be much more about listening!

EC on the Stacked Podcast - I joined old friend Joe DiStefano for a podcast where we went into great detail on the unique nature of the shoulder joint - and how to keep it healthy in your training programs. You can listen to it right here, if you want: 

EC on The Darren Woodson Show - Retired NFL player Darren Woodson and his crew have a great podcast that interviews successful folks from a variety of industries. It was an honor to join them:

Naval Ravikant on Happiness, Reducing Anxiety, and Much More - I really enjoyed this Tim Ferriss podcast; while it delved into topics like cryptocurrency, it shared lessons that are wildly applicable across other industries.

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It goes without saying that scapular control - or the ability to position the shoulder blades appropriately - is absolutely essential to safe and effective upper extremity movement. In order for that to occur, though, the shoulder blades have to start in the right position. With respect to scapular rotation, "neutral" posture has the shoulder blades sitting at 5 degrees of upward rotation at rest. In the picture below, the black line represents where he should be in terms of upward rotation, but instead, you'll see that he sits in about 20-25 degrees of downward rotation (for the record, there are a number of other things wrong with this posture, so this is only a start!). The problem with starting in this much downward rotation (or any downward rotation, at all) is that it's like beginning a race from 20 yards behind the starting line. When the arm starts to move up, the shoulder blade needs to rotate up to maintain the ball and socket congruency. If it starts too low, it can't possibly be expected to catch up - so the ball will ride up relative to the socket, regardless of how strong the rotator cuff is to try to prevent that superior migration. You'll wind up seeing irritation of the rotator cuff, biceps tendon, labrum, or bursa if it's left unchecked. Step 1 is to simply educate people on where the scapula actually should sit, and step 2 is to work on training from that correct new starting position.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 10/9/20

Here's some recommended content to get October rolling:

Darcy Norman on the Value of Working with Interesting People - I really enjoyed this multi-faceted podcast by Mike Robertson with Darcy Norman, who has a lot of experience in the elite soccer world.

Digital Minimalism - I've enjoyed each of Cal Newport's books, and while this one wasn't as big of a hit for me, it does provide some important discussion points about how technology excessively shapes our existence - and what to do about it.

Play, Practice, or Train? - This was an awesome article from Gray Cook that provides some insights on how to improve organization of our training among these three key classifications. They all have their place, but we have to know how to best fit each one into our planning.

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Creative Conditioning: Installment 2 – Proteus Circuits

As a follow up to my recent Creative Conditioning post (here), here's another good one I've been using - this time featuring the Proteus Motion units we have at both our Cressey Sports Performance facilities. This is just a three-exercise 30s on: 30s off interval approach, but you really could utilize a number of different options.

Here's why I like it:

1. Similar to a medicine ball medley, Proteus is concentric-dominant, so you won't elicit much, if any, soreness the following day. That makes it fit more easily with the rest of your strength and conditioning programs. Unlike with med balls, however, you can vary the loading the resistance in the line of motion. This is a key differentiation; just going heavier with a med ball changes the patterning; that isn't true of the Proteus, where movement quality is preserved.

2. Traditional cardio approaches typically get you "stuck" in sagittal plane, repetitive initiatives like cycling, elliptical, and even sprinting. Similar to hopping on a slideboard or doing change-of-direction movement work, this exposes you to reps in different planes to stimulate different body systems (fascial, lymphatic, etc) to unique patterns. As you can see, I need more of this in my life!😂

3. Depending on the exercises you choose, there are limited ground reaction forces, which can make this helpful if you have heavier athletes/clients who may not be able to take the pounding of sprint/change-of-direction work.

You can learn more about Proteus Motion by visiting www.ProteusMotion.com.

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Exercise of the Week: Supine Bridge w/Reach

The supine bridge with reach has been a popular mobility drill for us for close to a decade now, but I realized that we haven't highlighted it in an online feature to give it the love it deserves. The video is actually part of The High Performance Handbook video library.

I love this drill because it not only gives us the terminal hip extension we get with many glute activation exercises, but also an element of thoracic mobility. In many athletic endeavors (including pitching, as you see below), the thoracic spine must continue to rotate as the hips extend.

This drill enables us to not only train some of the muscular recruitment patterns we want, but also challenges the fascial system by getting us a more multi-planar, proximally initiated challenge. You also get a nice blend of elasticity because of the rhythmic nature of it, and can easily interject variety by changing the angle at which you reach.

We'll work this into a warm-up with a set of five reps on each side, or mix it in as a "filler" between medicine ball sets. Give the supine bridge with reach a shot to keep your mobility work engaging, progressive, and productive!

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Creative Conditioning: Installment 1 – Medicine Ball Medleys

It's important to have plenty of tools in your training toolbox to challenge energy systems development. With that in mind, I wanted to kick off a Creative Conditioning series for you. Hopefully, some of these options give you some variety to not only keep clients/athletes engaged, but also to help them stay healthy and continue to move well in the process.

One of the downsides of traditional cardio is that you typically get stuck in repetitive patterns through small ranges of motion. So, while you might be challenging energy systems in the ways you want, you may simultaneously be creating unfavorable biomechanical challenges. With that in mind, I always like to have higher-amplitude, less repetitive options for our clients.

Medicine ball circuits are one such option. In this version, I use the 6lb med ball for shuffle to scoop toss (5/side), side-to-side overhead stomps (5/side), and reverse lunge to shotput (5/side) - and it works out to right about a minute of work.

A few notes:

1. Medicine ball work is awesome because it won't make you sore (very little eccentric overload), offers endless variations/combinations, and provides a more significant functional carryover to the real-world.

2. Medicine ball medleys won't absolutely bury your lower body like sprinting or cycling can, so it can be an approach that fits into your overall programming a bit more "conveniently."

3. You can keep it simple with in-place options, or - as I do here - add more excursions with side shuffles, sprints, etc. to add a bit of complexity.

4. I wouldn't use medicine ball medleys with true beginners for conditioning because fatigue negatively impacts technique, and you can wind up seeing some ugly rotational patterns as sets progress. The last thing you want to do is chew up a lower back while you're trying to get heart rate up.

5. We use the Extreme Soft Toss Med Balls from Perform Better. I've found them to be the best blend of ideal rebound and durability.

Try them out - and remember that the only limit is your imagination. 

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Programming Principles: Installment 4

With this week's $50 off sale on The High Performance Handbook, it seemed like a good time to update this series on program design strategies. Many fitness professionals and strength and conditioning enthusiasts have looked to this resource as a model upon which to base some of their program design efforts, so I thought I'd dig in a bit deeper on a few useful principles you'll find in it that should be consistent across all programs.

1. The warm-up should always build context for the strength and power training exercises that follow.

A good warm-up shouldn't just get your body temperature up; it should also be a chance to drive quality movement so that you're patterned for the loading that follows.

Planning to sprint and want to improve the likelihood that you'll get clean hip extension? Try a glute wall march iso hold.

Looking forward to a big overhead pressing day? Get in a set of the back-to-wall shoulder flexion drill.

[bctt tweet="Specificity doesn't just matter with respect to how your high-load and high-velocity movements carry over to performance; it also relates to how your warm-ups prepare you for those movements in the first place."]

2. In any program, the most important work should occur early in the training session.

In my opinion, one of the absolute ways to teach a young coach how to efficiently and effectively program is to ask him/her to take a 4x/week strength training program and pare it back to a 3x/week and eventually a 2x/week program. In doing so, it forces the coach to really consider what the most important programming inclusions are.

95% of the time, you'll find that it simply means cutting off the last exercise pairing from each day, trimming the volume on certain exercises, and then simply rearranging the exercises so that there aren't competing supersets (which can often happen when switching from an upper/lower split to a full-body approach). If you go through this exercise and find that any of your A1/A2 and B1/B2 programming is "expendable," then you probably need to reconsider your programming approaches.

3. Make use of combination exercises when you need to be efficient - or just more athletic.

Let's face it: you don't always have unlimited time to get in an optimal training effect. In this situations, it's really helpful to have exercises you can plug in to combine some of your favorites. Here are just a few examples:

Landmine Squat to 1-arm Press - I love this as a first exercise on the middle day of a 3x/week strength training program. You can train a squat pattern, get a bit of lower body stimulus, and still drive some free scapula pressing under considerable load.

Rear-Foot Elevated 1-arm Low Cable Row - This is a great horizontal pulling exercise you can plug in when you also want to get a little single-leg emphasis, but don't want to bury an athlete with fatigue or soreness. I might use it on a full-body day when we've already had a deadlift variation and lateral lunge variation, but I want some kind of single-leg work in the sagittal plane without making the session last much longer.

The possibilities are really endless on this front, but the point is that you always need to have options for delivering multiple training effects without driving excessive volume or really long sessions.

I'll be back soon with another Programming Principles installment, but in the meantime, as a friendly reminder, The High Performance Handbook is my flagship resource, and I currently have it on sale at the largest discount ($50 off) that we've ever offered, though Sunday at midnight. The discount is automatically applied at checkout at www.HighPerformanceHandbook.com.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 9/1/20

Happy September! It's been a few weeks since I posted a recommended reading list. Here goes...

Intangibles: Unlocking the Science and Soul of Team Chemistry - This recent release from Joan Ryan is the best book I've read in 2020. If you're involved in strength and conditioning or team sports in any capacity, I'd call it a must-read.

The Most Important Coaching Responsibility - I wrote this last year, but in light of how many people are acting on social media these days, it seemed like a good time to reaffirm the importance of staying away from negative influences.

Why It's So Hard to Find Dumbbells in the US - This is an entertaining piece in light of the crazy times of 2020.

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I came across this picture of Josh Hader's delivery (via @brewers) the other day, and it was yet another reminder to always check the neck first when you see more distal (shoulder, elbow, etc.) symptoms in an overhead throwing population. When you consider the lateral flexion of his cervical spine in conjunction with the shoulder abduction and external rotation, elbow flexion, and wrist extension each throw is effectively an upper limb tension test on the nerves (and vascular structures) that run from the brachial plexus down to the fingertips. What exacerbates this tension? 👇 1. Increased cervical lateral flexion 2. Insufficient clavicular upward rotation 3. Insufficient scapular upward rotation and posterior tilt 4. Increased shoulder external rotation 5. Poor glenohumeral (ball on socket) control 6. "Gritty" tissue density from neck-to-hand that interferes with nerves gliding smoothly 7. Increased wrist extension (to a lesser degree, in my experience) Regardless of what you think might be in play, always start with the neck. I think the Selective Functional Movement Assessment four-part cervical screen (swipe left) is a great place to start. #cspfamily

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Cressey Sports Performance Business Building Mentorship: Online September 22-24

We’re excited to announce that on Tuesday-Thursday, September 22-24, Pete Dupuis and I will be hosting our fifth CSP Business-Building Mentorship. For the first time, this event will be offered in an online format over Zoom. Pete and I have spent over 13 years crafting the operational systems and strategies that fuel CSP today, and we’re excited to pull back the curtain for fellow gym owners.

It is our intention to foster an environment conducive to learning and the exchanging of ideas, so we will be capping the number of attendees who participate. The event will run from 12pm-3pm Eastern time (Boston) each day so that we can account for attendees in many different time zones.

Here’s a look at our agenda for the offering:

Day 1 – Introduction & Lead Generation

12:00pm – 12:30pm: Introduction: The Four Pillars of Fitness Business Success
12:30pm – 3:00pm: Lead Generation: Strategic Relationship Development, Identifying & Connecting with Opinion Leaders, Social Media Strategies

Day 2 – Lead Conversion & Business Operations (Part 1)

12:00pm - 1:00pm : Lead Conversion: CSP Selling Strategy & Methodology
1:00pm – 2:00pm: Operations: Accounting for Gym Owners – Guest Lecture from Mike Graham, Certified Public Accountant
2:00pm – 3:00pm: Operations: Internship Program Design & Execution

Day 3 – Business Operations (Part 2) & Long-Term Planning

12:00pm – 1:00pm: Operations: Hiring Protocols, Staff Development & Continuing Ed.
1:00pm – 2:00pm: Long-Term Planning: Lease Negotiation Considerations
2:00pm – 3:00pm: Long-Term Planning: Strategic Brand Dev., Evaluating Opportunities, SWOT Analysis

Note: we will include Q&A opportunities throughout the presentations and at the end of each day, so the 3:00pm is not a "hard stop" time.

Cost: $899.99

Click here to register using our 100% secure server.

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Exercise of the Week: Bottoms-up Kettlebell Arm Bar

Today's guest post comes from Cressey Sports Performance - Florida coach Derek Kambour.

The Kettlebell Arm Bar is an exercise you will commonly see performed in facilities across the country. Admittedly, it was an activity that we stayed away from for a period, mostly because of the population that we work with and the vulnerable position it could put them in. Many of the high-level pitchers that come to us have experienced anterior shoulder pain. Obviously, these symptoms could be present for a number of reasons, including a loose anterior capsule, labral tear, cranky biceps tendon, nerve-related issues, rotator cuff issues, or a most of other challenges. Regardless of what is causing the symptoms, one of our jobs as performance specialists is to make sure that we are making appropriate exercise selections and not provoking any of these symptoms. What we have found over time with the Kettlebell Arm Bar is that – when executed in a specific manner, at the right time, with appropriate loads – it gives us a lot of return on investment and has not provoked any of these symptoms with any of our athletes.

Many coaches utilize this exercise with their athletes for reflexive shoulder stability (irradiation) and rotary core stability benefits, which can be useful reasons to include them in a program. However, we can also use this activity to accomplish other important training outcomes if it is performed the way that is shown in the video below:

As physical therapist Bill Hartman has done a great job of demonstrating (and be sure to check his stuff out), when we can use internal forces (air pressure, fluid volumes, etc.,) to our advantage in order to help reshape the ribcage and improve scapulothoracic mechanics, that is where we can potentially restore shoulder range of motion without working directly on the joint. Certainly, there are manual interventions that may be necessary, but if we can assist in re-establishing normal joint mechanics with movement alone, I think that is extremely valuable. While many of our throwing athletes possess plenty of external rotation on their throwing shoulder (though we do sometimes see those who have limitations here as well), most will possess very limited internal rotation, especially after a long season. With this movement paired with specific breathing sequences, you can potentially improve shoulder motion in both directions. Traditionally, this movement was thought of as purely a “stability” exercise, but it just goes to show that how you implement or coach the exercise matters.

You may be wondering how heavy this exercise needs to be loaded. My simple answer to this is that if you struggle to breathe during the exercise, there is a good chance it’s too heavy. In that case, keep the goal the goal, and go down in weight. The kettlebell can be held in the normal position (bell is sitting on the outside of your wrists) or, as seen in the video, you can utilize the bottoms-up position to challenge the movement further. We typically like to use the KB Arm Bar in either the warm-up, or paired with medicine ball work for 2-3 sets of 4-6 reps/side.

About the Author

​Derek Kambour serves as a Strength and Conditioning Coach. Prior to joining the staff, Derek completed an internship at CSP-FL in the fall of 2018. Prior to joining the CSP-FL team, Derek coached a variety of athletes and clientele at performance facilities in New Jersey. He graduated from Montclair St. University with a degree in Exercise Science and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the NSCA. Derek is also a competitive powerlifter. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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