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How to Stay on Top of the Latest Research

I pride myself on having a training philosophy that is rooted in both “in the trenches” anecdotal experience and evidence-based practice. Both can be challenging to develop, but for different reasons.

Building a sample size in your head helps you to make judgment calls when the research isn’t necessarily there, or you need to make inferences based on limited information. As an example, as I've written previously here, research has demonstrated that lat strains that are managed conservatively have a return to pitching timeline of ~100 days. That information is great if you’re seeing an athlete from Day 0 post injury, but where should that individual’s progress be at Day 40? That’s where in the trenches experience helps. Unfortunately, it takes a ton of time - and learning from mistakes along the way.

Evidence-based information can be accessed much easier and without the need for years of experience. Unfortunately, though, there is a ton of it to sift through. There are countless scholarly journals out there, and full-text access isn’t always easy to come by. Moreover, We often take for granted that study designs are all acceptable if something makes it to publication. The truth is that some scholarly journals have much lower publication standards than others. it could be a full-time job just pouring over all these journals, but it could be five full-time jobs to make sure they’re all legitimate.

Who has time for that? Certainly not me. Luckily, the good folks at Examine.com have built out an amazing team whose focus is particularly in this evidence based arena. And, they’ve got an awesome new resource - Examine Personalized - I’m excited to tell you about because I’m going to be utilizing it myself. Here's how it works:

I love this approach because it's both curated content: just like you follow certain people on social media to get the information you want, this allows you to select which categories mean the most to you. Here are the 25 categories you can select from for your targeted education:

The July update covered 275 studies over 149 pages in these 25 categories. This is going to save me a lot of time and, more importantly, make me a more informed professional. And, it'll help me to come up with ideas for content for my writing and videos on this site, as some of my most popular articles of all time have related to me building on what I've learned from evidence-based research.

As an introductory offer (through this Friday at midnight), they've got some sweet deals in place:

Monthly: $9/mo
Yearly: $75 (normally $90)
Lifetime: $299 (normally $399)

You also get to choose your free gift: either a free Supplement Guide (normally $49) or three months of Nutrition Examination Research Digest (normally $60). You can learn more HERE.


 

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 7/7/20

Here's a list of recommended reading/listening to check out:

Examine Personalized - Examine.com has been around close to a decade and has consistently produced top-notch evidence based information on a variety of subjects related to health and human performance. Now, they have a crazy affordable ($9/month, $75/year, or $299 lifetime) new service that makes it easy for you to stay on top of the latest published research in your chosen fields. The July update is 149 pages alone and features 25 categories!

Muscles and Management: Episode 87 - Pete Dupuis - My business partner, Pete, was a guest on this recent podcast, and he shared a lot of insights on starting/managing a gym.

Professional Development: Processes vs. Outcomes - Being able to separate processes from outcomes is a crucial competency, and it definitely applies to growing as a fitness professional.

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I often say that wrist/hand and foot/ankle specialists are the brightest sports medicine professionals out there. My rationale: there are a ton of anatomical structures in a small area. In fact, 106 of the 206 bones in your body can be found in the hands and feet. Additionally, the hands and feet are highly proprioceptive areas, yet because they feature more tendons than muscle bellies, the blood supply isn’t great. Finally, the hands and feet are highly susceptible to overuse; once they get cranky, they’re challenging to settle down. The end result is a lot of challenging sports medicine cases. #Repost @dr.alvaromuratore @get_repost_easily #repost_easily ****** The extensor retinaculum of the wrist is a system of containment and stabilization of the extensor tendons at the level of the wrist. It is located on the back of the wrist, it is approximately 6 cm wide and 3 cm long, it is directed from the radius towards the ulna in the form of a bracelet. It also has fibrous longitudinal partitions that form 6 compartments through which the extensor tendons cross. #handsurgery #handsurgeon #handanatomy #tendonsurgery #anatomy #handtherapy #physicaltherapy #kinesiology #sportsmedicine #orthopedicsurgeon #orthopedics #orthopedicsurgery #medicalstudent #medicalstudents #cspfamily

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Exercise of the Week: Step-up Rotational Cable Lift

Today's guest post comes from Cressey Sports Performance - Florida Director of Performance, Tim Geromini.

Cable chops and lifts have been an integral part of strength and conditioning programs for many years, and will continue to be for good reason. They establish proper kneeling and split stance hip positions, create anti-rotation and anti-extension core control, train thoracic mobility, and teach us how to absorb force in multiple planes. To that end, seeking variations where we can challenge clients in new ways led us to the step-up rotational cable lift.

Here is how to make sure you’re doing this properly and seeing the benefits:

1. The box should align your hip to about 90 degrees of flexion; more is not always better in this instance. At this depth you should still be able to create force pushing down through the box and feel your hip extensors engage.

2. Make sure you are in a neutral spine position. In too much hip flexion, it’s very easy to either lean back into lumbar extension or round forward into lumbar flexion. Neither of these positions allows you to create stability in your lower half.

3. The inside foot should be pointing straight ahead and that hip should be extended.

4. The foot on the box should not remain “rooted” the entire set; imagine trying to pick up a basketball with that foot. Focus on keeping your knee from caving in or bowing out. If I’m looking straight at you, there should be a straight line from your toes, knee, hip, and shoulder.

5. Both hip flexors should be pointing straight ahead avoiding any lateral flexion or hips bailing out to the side. Keep your arms in tight on the initial pull and your rotational component will come from your thoracic spine, not lumbar spine.

We typically program these for 8 reps per side towards the end-portion of a training session.

About the Author

Tim Geromini is the Director of Performance at Cressey Sports Performance - Florida. Prior to joining the CSP team; Tim spent time with the Lowell Spinners (Class A Affiliate of the Boston Red Sox), Nashua Silver Knights (Futures Collegiate Baseball League), Cotuit Kettleers of (Cape Cod Baseball League), and UMass-Lowell Sports Performance. You can contact him at timgero@gmail.com and on Twitter (@timgeromini24).

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Exercise of the Week: Half-Kneeling Kettlebell Windmill

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

At Cressey Sports Performance, we utilize several kettlebell windmill variations. A while back, Eric covered the regular standing version HERE. Today, I’d like to cover the half kneeling position, as I think there are some technical elements that should be highlighted in order to get the most out of this exercise.

Often, you’ll see this activity performed similar to the downward portion of a Turkish Get-Up, where the individual is in a half kneeling position, with the back hip in an externally rotated position, and then they will hinge back into that hip as they reach towards the ground, all while holding weight in an overhead position. While there is nothing wrong with this execution – especially if the goal is to challenge the individual’s ability to stabilize load in an overhead position while improving the ability to hinge – I do believe there are some ways we can coach this activity in a specific manner to get more out of it. I originally saw the execution of this exercise from Dr. Pat Davidson, so all credit goes to him for showing how to get more from this activity. This is an awesome transverse plane core exercise that helps individuals learn how to load their hip in the frontal plane. If you are an athlete trying to improve your ability to get in and out of a cut, or a pitcher looking to improve back hip loading or accepting force on the front hip, this could be a great exercise to include. Below is a demonstration that gives you a general understanding as to how we coach this exercise.

When performed in this manner, folks are getting a lot more than just overhead stability benefits. Here are some of the key components of this exercise explained further:

1. Setting up in a solid half-kneeling position is going to be essential when executing this variation. To ensure that the individual is in a good position, we like to have the individual drive the back foot into a wall, especially for those who have never performed this exercise before. The wall allows the individual to feel their hamstring and glute to gain better control of their pelvis on the down side hip. The wall is not always needed, but it can certainly help. The front foot should also be pressed into the ground as well.

2. Once set up in this half kneeling position, the KB can be pressed overhead. It is important to note, this exercise does not need to be loaded very heavy at first. We often start folks with a 15-25lb. kettlebell and they are absolutely smoked by the time they are done with their set. Sometimes, I will have the person I am working with perform this with no load, as it allows them to focus on the more important aspects of the exercise.

3. Before the individual reaches for the ground, they should be shifting into the front hip. Many times, when someone goes to perform this hip shift action, they will lose control of their pelvis and go into an anteriorly oriented position. Be sure that you, or the individual you are coaching, executes the shift while maintaining a subtle tuck of the pelvis.

4. As the individual begins to rotate and reach for the ground, it is important to keep both arms long. While they are slowly reaching towards the ground with the bottom arm/hand, they should be trying to maintain that hip shift without any movement of the front femur. The most common movement fault seen with this exercise is the inability to maintain control the front leg as the hips shift laterally towards the front side. The front leg should not move front to back or side to side, and it may be beneficial to think about pushing the knee in towards the midline. If done correctly, they should feel their adductors working significantly.

5. Most of the time, I will instruct the individual to reach down until the palm of their hand touches the ground, and that is as far as I will have them go. Some individuals are pretty mobile and can get their forearm all the way down to the ground. I’m fine with this as long as everything else checks out and they are feeling the desired musculature.

6. To get even more out of this activity, we can add a respiratory component to challenge this position further. Once the hand reaches the ground, the individual should get a full exhale out, and closing the side of the ribcage that is down. After a full exhale out and maintaining that bottom position, the individual can then inhale into the side of the ribcage that is up (trying to get air into the upper chest wall). After they have achieved maximal expansion in this area, they can exhale out again as they come back up into the starting position.

We will typically have our athletes perform this exercise for 2-4 sets of 6-8 reps per side as an accessory exercise towards the end of the session, or as part of their movement prep before their strength training. Once they’re proficient with it, we might load it up more and use it as part of a first pairing on an upper body training session (similar to how we program Turkish Get-ups). Give it a shot!

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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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 6/4/20

It's time for another recommended reading list from around the 'Net. Let's get to it!

A conversation: Retired African American MLB players on race, baseball, America - It would be tone-deaf to publish a recommended reading list in current times without alluding to the challenges facing the world right now - and this tremendous roundtable discussion with some of the most successful African American athletes of the past 20 years in baseball was outstanding.

EC on the EliteFTS Podcast - I joined the EliteFTS team to talk strength and conditioning for baseball on their podcast. You can listen to the entire conversation on their YouTube page:

EC on the Baseball Outside the Box Podcast - I also chatted with Peter Caliendo on his baseball podcast this past week. Check it out:

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 5/22/20

I hope you've had a good week. Here's a little content from around the 'Net to kick off your weekend on the right foot.

EC on the Just Fly Performance Podcast - I joined Joel Smith for a discussion on skill development, shoulder training, how our philosophies at Cressey Sports Performance have evolved over the years, and how I view/manage asymmetries in athletes.

Coach to Coach - This new book from Martin Rooney is a quick read, but one that includes several profound messages for coaches. I'd highly recommend it not only for young coaches looking to "find their way," but also veteran coaches who need to rediscover why they became coaches in the first place.

Michael Lewis: Inside the Mind of an Iconic Writer - I really enjoyed Tim Ferriss' interview with Michael Lewis, best known in my world for authoring Moneyball. He provided some cool insights on the origins of his research into baseball, and also intrigued me at some of the practices he's employed to develop as a writer.

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Here's a cool visual of the subscapularis, the largest of the rotator cuff muscles. In this video, you'll see its ability to internally rotate the humerus. More importantly, though, you have to appreciate what isn't seen here: the pectoralis major and latissimus dorsi muscles. You see, these powerful internal rotators (and others) attach further down on the humerus, which means that they don't have any direct control over the head of the humerus as they create that internal rotation, whether it's in a throwing motion, dumbbell bench press, or some other IR movement. The subscapularis absolutely has to be the largest of the rotator cuff muscles because it has to "keep up with" the largest muscles of the upper body to maintain keep the humeral head (ball) centered on the glenoid fossa (socket) during internal rotation. If it doesn't do its job, the humeral head glides can glide forward and irritate the structures at the anterior aspect of the joint: long head of the biceps tendon, glenohumeral ligaments, nerve/vascular structures, etc. 👇 This is a perfect illustration of arthrokinematics (subtle motions at joint surfaces: rolling, rocking, gliding) vs. osteokinematics (larger movements between bones: flexion/extension, abduction/adduction, ER/IR). Every gross movement of the body relies heavily on a finely tuned interaction between these two kinds of movement - and you'd be hard pressed to find a better example than subscapularis. #Repost @dr.alvaromuratore @get_repost_easily #repost_easily ****** El músculo subescapular esta ubicado en la cara anterior del hombro, su función principal es la rotación interna. En este preparado anatómico se puede ver al subescapular realizando rotación interna , además se observa la apófisis coracoides con el ligamento coracoacromial y el tendon de la porción corta del biceps. En El húmero se observa la porción larga del biceps cubierta por el ligamento transverso.

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Key Considerations for Making the Most of At-Home Training

Today's guest post comes from Cressey Sports Performance - Massachusetts coach, Drew Cobin.

Due to the current status of our country and gyms being closed, a lot of trainers, coaches, and fitness influencers are posting at-home workouts all over the internet. This article will seek to help sort out some of the clutter and help coaches, trainees, and anyone interested to make better at home training decisions.

Now, the first logical question to ask when organizing at-home health/performance training is, what is the goal? This will dictate a lot of the important variables in the at home training program. While just doing something is probably better than nothing, not having a goal in mind will likely lead to mediocrity. This is because without a specific focus, the training strategy will likely be less successful, as it is pulled in too many directions.

It’s kind of like switching majors in college. If the goal is to get a specialized degree, the best course of action is probably to stick to one major and take all the classes that it requires. Getting the degree isn’t going to come easily or quickly, but sticking to one major will definitely lead to steady progress toward the end goal. Training is the same, working towards one goal and staying the course will lead to faster and longer lasting progress.

When choosing an at-home training program, you need to make sure that you consider three important factors: Specificity, Overload, and Fatigue Management/Recovery. Let’s look at each in a bit more detail.

Specificity asks, “Does the program involve exercises, volumes, and intensities that reflect the goal.” So, doing four sets of 50 jumps squats holding a baseball will likely not help that baseball player in search of his baseball performance goal because the exercise itself is not very sport specific, and the repetitions are too high to train for power given the intensity of this exercise.

In consideration of Overload, in order to improve the human system, getting temporarily worse will result in getting better according to Hans Selye’s GAS Model, and the principle of supercompensation. This means that resistance training itself does not build muscle, improve cardiovascular function, or shred body fat. In fact, it is the cessation of training when adaption or the physiological improvement, supercompensation occurs. A good training program will overload the system over time through appropriate periodization or the manipulation of volume and intensity over time allowing for adaption to occur.

Third, we have to account for Fatigue Management and Recovery, since the resistance training or exercise itself does not improve the system; rather, the subsequent tissue recovery and repair does. Too much fatigue can disrupt the system by inhibiting our ability to recover sufficiently. Fatigue is absolutely essential for improvement, but without proper management, it can cause diminishing returns. For example, going too heavy, training to failure too often, or inducing massive amounts of high intensity work can cause an acute or chronic performance decline. With the aforementioned 4x50 jumps squats example, imagine trying to do sprints right after: the sprints will surely be less effective than if you had done something less fatiguing prior. The same can be said for over-fatiguing in a more chronic manner; an example is training to failure multiple days in a row on deadlifts for multiple weeks. In this case, initial acute improvements may be made, but over time, injury may occur and/or performance will decline by neglecting to get enough recovery between high stress training sessions.

So, with that said, making sure the training stimulus is one that allows for quality stress or fatigue distribution daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly can be crucial in search of maximizing progress. One might ask, is this an exercise that is challenging enough, but allows for proper execution of the rest of the exercises in the program? For example, what might be more effective for strength gain: a) supersetting a high threshold compound strength movement like a deadlift with a low threshold coordination movement like a bear crawl, or b) doing four high threshold compound strength movements in a row back to back, like doing heavy deadlifts, then heavy squats, then heavy bench press, then heavy overhead press? The answer, of course, is the first selection – and then mixing in those higher threshold movements in over the course of the rest of the day or week.

Knowing this, what techniques might be most effective given limited equipment selection at home? Well first, let’s look at three training constants that directly apply to successful training stimuli in application of the GAS model to achieve the desired effects of supercompensation.

Three Ways to Stimulate Hypertrophy (Muscle Growth)

1. Mechanical Tension
2. Muscle Damage
3. Metabolic Stress

Now let’s say building muscle is the goal of an at home training program. The three ways to stimulate hypertrophy or muscle growth should all be included in making a training program effective.

Mechanical Tension represents increasing load on the tissue progressively, or simply using enough resistance. One strategy to do this at home would be to decrease the base of support in order to increase the resistance applied to one specific tissue. For example, in a squat, the prime mover is the knee joint, so in a training cycle, one could start with bilateral squats, progress to split squats, and then finally, single leg squats. This progression will apply more resistance through bodyweight and gravity alone on the quadriceps, glutes, and the stabilizer muscles involved in these movements.

The next order of business is to induce Muscular Damage. The eccentric or lowering phase of a movement will create the most muscle damage. So, we probably want to focus on the lowering phase of the squat, split squat, and single leg squat by spending the most time there. Five seconds or so down during each repetition will likely be a great strategy to induce muscle damage.

Lastly, we want to achieve higher levels of Metabolic Stress, which usually is done through using higher rep ranges. Different strategies such as intelligently designed supersets using not competing muscle groups, and things like 1.5 reps can also be effective for creating metabolic stress. In fact, in athletic performance training programs, achieving metabolic stress can occur in many different ways other than always doing high reps. Strength training occurs in the 1-5 rep range, so if the trainee wants to improve strength, searching for metabolic stress elsewhere may be best in certain situations. Isometrics can be huge for strength capabilities, so pairing an isometric squat variation of appropriate difficulty with a jump or sprint could be a great idea for an athlete while training at home.

Let’s sum it up:

1) Have a goal in mind.

2) Don’t freak out if you can’t train as much.

3) Your strength won’t decline so much that it won’t come back after these next couple of weeks; studies have shown that strength does comes back fairly quickly.

4) Do something fast! Power is the ability to produce force rapidly, and contrary to strength, it does tend to decline quickly. Luckily, power training can be trained easily with just body weight as resistance (sprinting, jumping, landing, shuffling, etc.).

5) Flush out internet programs or workouts by looking for a net positive gain. Look for Specificity, Overload, and Fatigue Management in a program, and look for Mechanical Tension, Muscular Damage, and Metabolic Stress, in a given workout. Then decide if a program or workout will result in a net positive towards your goal.

If learning more and training efficiently during these crazy times sounds intriguing, feel free to reach out to us at Cressey Sports Performance. We’re happy to help out with online programming to get you headed in the direction of your goals, regardless of your equipment limitations. Just drop us an email at csp.trainonline@gmail.com.  

About the Author

Drew Cobin, CSCS serves as a Semi-Private Strength & Conditioning Coach and Strength Camp Associate Coordinator here at CSP. He is a graduate of Central Connecticut State Uni​​​​versity, where he studied Exercise Science and played varsity soccer. Drew has experience coaching in many different avenues, but his great passion is in training for performance. He offers insight into cutting through some of the clutter, and staying on the path towards the goal. You can follow him at @drewcobin on Instagram.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 5/4/20

Here's a list of recommended reading/listening since our last update on this front.

EC on the Vigor Life Podcast - I recently joined my buddy Luka Hocevar on his podcast to talk about career development and the skill sets fitness professionals will need for the future.

Athletic Shoulders with Eric Cressey - I was also a guest on the Science for Sport Podcast, where we discussed preparing shoulders for competition, and touched on the difference between the private sector and working for a team.

Youth Single-Sports Specialization in Professional Baseball Players - This study was recently published in the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine, and it shows the early specialization isn't the right path for developing a professional athlete. I thought that the most interesting part of the study was Figure 5, the Reasons for Single-Sport Specialization. It's implied that pressure from parents and coaches isn't a leading cause of early specialization, but I have a hard time believing that kids specializing before age 14 make that decision all on their own, and without outside influence.

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Everything works - until it doesn't. And, pushing maximal strength is certainly no exception. 👇 Early on, building strength is an absolute game changer. A little strength goes a long way in providing the foundation for joint stability, power, and endurance. Over time, though, added levels of strength don't provide the same significant return on investment (point of diminishing returns). Instead, you need more specificity to develop these qualities. And, the stress of continuing to push for maximal strength effectively squeezes out other training initiatives because it's competing for a limited recovery capacity. Eventually, pushing maximal strength actually interferes with the development of those qualities because it's such a massive toll on the body to preserve. And, the risk of injury during training rises exponentially. Quality of life goes down dramatically as lifters are constantly banged up in their quest to gain 5-10 pounds of bar weight in an entire training cycle. "It is what it is" if we're talking about a strength sport athletes where all that matters is what's on the bar. It's a terrible path to be on if we're talking about an athlete or just someone who wants to feel, look, and perform well in their daily lives. #cspfamily

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Exercise of the Week: Adductor Slides

Today's guest post comes from Cressey Sports Performance - Florida Director of Performance, Tim Geromini.

One of the more forgotten muscle groups in the lower extremity is the adductor (groin) complex. Often, there is so much focus on glute activation and hamstrings range of motion that we overlook the adductors. As Eric has written in the past (all the way back in 2004!), depending on the population, adductors can get injured because they're either overactive or weak. In other words, they need to be both "long and strong." Enter an exercise that not only works on eccentrically creating range of motion at the adductors, but concentrically strengthening them, too!

Some of the benefits of Adductor Slides - and the associated coaching cues needed to make the most of your efforts:

1. Eccentric Control: The adductors are mostly known to absorb force in change of direction movements as they experience a ton of eccentric stress when an athlete has to cut or adjust his position. This exercise is not a traditional passive stretch as we are actively stretching the adductors into hip abduction. This should be a slow and controlled purposeful movement, keeping the hips in line with the knees. A cue that works well is “pretend there is a band attaching the Valslides together; now stretch that band.” This cue helps you understand to put force into the ground as you spread your knees as far apart as possible (another helpful cue). You are only going to go as low as your range of motion allows, so work within the range you have. Keeping your feet on the ground is a good starting point. As your range of motion and strength increases, try keeping them off the ground to progress the exercise.

2. Concentric Strength: Now that you have a sufficient stretch of the adductors, it’s time to strengthen them driving up into hip adduction. A helpful cue would be “pull the turf together on the way up.” The adductors play a big and often overlooked role in creating rotational power. At CSP, we often talk about shifting your weight from your back hip to your front hip on a medicine ball exercise, on the mound, and even in the cage. In this instance the role of the adductors is to help internally rotate the femur to create power in the lower half. Without sufficient adductor strength, you’re going to leave a lot of power on the table.

3. Anterior Core Strength: Neither of the two benefits listed above work very well if you can’t maintain a neutral spine while doing them. In other words, don't let the lower back arch. It’s important to note that the adductor muscles originate on the pubis (the bottom portion of the pelvis) and are vital in controlling pelvic stability. If you are doing this exercise on your own, it may be helpful to place an object on your low back and make sure it doesn’t fall off as you go through the movement.  Again, think slow on the way down and fast on the way up.

We typically program this exercise for 8 reps either in a warm-up or as a pairing with a rotational med ball exercise. As a regression, you can do one leg at a time while the non-Valslide knee is positioned on the ground/pad.

About the Author

Tim Geromini is the Director of Performance at Cressey Sports Performance - Florida. Prior to joining the CSP team; Tim spent time with the Lowell Spinners (Class A Affiliate of the Boston Red Sox), Nashua Silver Knights (Futures Collegiate Baseball League), Cotuit Kettleers of (Cape Cod Baseball League), and UMass-Lowell Sports Performance. You can contact him at timgero@gmail.com and on Twitter (@timgeromini24).

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Exercise of the Week: Birddog Rows

Today's guest post comes from Cressey Sports Performance - Florida Director of Performance, Tim Geromini, with a video assist from CSP-FL coach, Derek Kambour. Tim was one of the contributors on our Cressey Sports Performance Innovations resource, a collaborative effort of the CSP staff. It's on sale for $75 off through Sunday at midnight; just head to www.CSPInnovations.com and enter coupon code APRIL2020.

The Dumbbell Birddog DB Row is a very humbling rowing variation and has been helpful for our clients to lock in their horizontal pulling technique. This exercise doesn’t require as much cuing from us due to the internal feedback the client gets as the set goes on, but it is important to coach the correct set-up position before the client begins the row.

Some of the benefits of the Birddog Row:

1. Core Demands: This rowing variation requires great anti-extension and anti-rotation core control. Once you get the DB off the ground it’s important to pause and establish proper core position so you don’t rock side to side. If you’re having trouble keeping technique its best to lower the weight first and see if this clean up your form.

2. Hip Extension: Adding on to the core component of the row, maintaining a neutral spine and getting quality hip extension add a unique demand no other rowing variation can offer. In clients who are naturally in lumbar extension (arching of the lower back), the contralateral aspect of this row can help separate hip extension from lumbar extension.

3. Slower, Controlled Tempo: One of the main flaws you see in horizontal pulling is excessive range of motion at the top where the shoulder dumps forward into anterior tilt (over-rowing). To perform this exercise well, you have to slow down the rowing portion which gives great sensory feedback leading to better technique. This will also improve scapula protraction at the bottom portion for better shoulder mechanics.

4. Better Arm Path: Because of the alignment with the bench, you naturally have to leave some space between your arm and your ribs otherwise the DB will hit the bench on the eccentric or concentric portion of the row. This self-teaching benefit eliminates keeping your arm tucked in too close to your side.

5. Improved Cervical Position: It's very common in rowing variations to see cervical extension (head tilted up) or flexion (chin to chest) as compensation patterns mostly because there is no balance component to traditional rows. The birddog row has unique balance demands that add needed focus from the lifter. This leads to more of a neutral cervical spine position (double chin) to help improve balance.

We typically program this exercise for 3-4 sets of 6-10 reps per side.

To cover a wide variety of training and coaching concepts, I'd encourage you to check out CSP Innovations; it's on sale for $75 off through Sunday at midnight with coupon code APRIL2020 at www.CSPInnovations.com.

About the Author

Tim Geromini is the Director of Performance at Cressey Sports Performance - Florida. Prior to joining the CSP team; Tim spent time with the Lowell Spinners (Class A Affiliate of the Boston Red Sox), Nashua Silver Knights (Futures Collegiate Baseball League), Cotuit Kettleers of (Cape Cod Baseball League), and UMass-Lowell Sports Performance. You can contact him at timgero@gmail.com and on Twitter (@timgeromini24).
 

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