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Want to Open a Fitness Facility? Consider These Points.

On a recent Instagram Q&A, I received the following question:

"What's your advice for someone who wants to open their own training facility?"

While there are undoubtedly many more directions I could go with this, here's what came to mind:

1. Establish systems that will continue to work as it grows. In other words, don't just fly by the seat of your pants to get through today.

2. Remember that the glamour of autonomy can sometimes overshadow the hard work it takes to run a gym.

3. Be meticulous with scrutinizing your lease negotiation. That expense can make or break a business no matter how good your training and business models are.

4. Get out and observe as many successful gyms as possible.

5.  Find good mentors and/or business partners, even if they are just people you can vent to when you're frustrated. Entrepreneurship can be lonely.

6. Purchase equipment clients will actually use, not just what you like for your own training.

7. Know your numbers. Shockingly few gym owners do.

8. Understand the difference between loss leaders and stupid initiatives that simply devalue your offerings.

9. Communicate with your significant other what entrepreneurship will look like.

10. Follow my business partner, Pete Dupuis, and read everything he's written at www.PeteDupuis.com. We've made a lot of mistakes over the years, and he's recapped them in his writing so that you can learn from them instead of making them yourself.

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Exercise of the Week: Cross-Behind 1-arm Cable Row

Courtesy of the imagination of Cressey Sports Performance - Florida co-founder Shane Rye, the cross-behind 1-arm cable row is a new horizontal pulling variation we've been using quite a bit lately.

This drill not only offers all the typical postural benefits of properly-executed horizontal pulling, but also trains the fascia system to a greater degree than typical rowing variations. You see, as the trailing leg steps behind, you create a significant stretch along the entire lateral line - especially during the eccentric (lowering) phase of the movement. To some degree, it's a loaded lean away lateral line stretch:

We'll typically program this for sets of 8-12 reps as an assistance exercise. Additionally, as you can see in the video, adding an opposite arm reach is a great way to encourage extra thoracic rotation.

If you're looking to learn more about how I evaluate, program, and coach at the shoulder joint, be sure to check out my popular resource, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions.

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Assisted Lower Body Training

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

Hands Assisted lower body training is nothing new. To my knowledge, the Hatfield Squat was the first popularized exercise of this nature in the sports performance world. The Hatfield Squat is a Safety Squat Bar Squat with your hands assisting you by holding onto the squat rack. By holding onto the rack, we would increase stability because instead of having just two points of stability, there are now four points of stability: two feet & two hands (as long as the floor and rack are stable).

This concept leads to an interesting question to consider. Since strength and stability go hand and hand, can we use increased stability to increase loading potential?

Mike Boyle popularized the idea of doing unilateral lower training for sport specificity and decreased spine load. When doing unilateral training, we usually will work to decrease stability over time as a means of progression so that one leg is working harder. A sample progression would be going from a Squat to a Split Squat, and then to a Single Leg Squat. What’s interesting to me is that stability – rather than force production capabilities – often becomes the limiting factor when performing a Single Leg Squat, which results in limiting the external load. As mentioned before, stability and strength go hand-in-hand, so sometimes, if you can increase single leg strength via increased load, you will in turn increase single leg stability. The example here would be to do a single leg squat with hand assistance from a rack to increase points of stability, thereby increasing external loading capabilities, as shown below:

Using hand assistance appropriately in a training program can be great for unilateral strength and stability. So, when is it appropriate to use assistance in a program? And what are some examples of exercises that utilize this concept?

It’s important for strength and conditioning coaches to understand that most sports are played one leg. Usually, we see one leg on the ground while the other prepares to hit the ground, or we might see feet in different positions, serving the purpose of producing forces in certain directions. What we never really see, however, is an athlete using their hands for stability by holding an immovable object like a squat rack, although proper upper extremity action can aid in stability and movement efficiency. As such, it’s important to see using hand assistance for what it is: a training tool, used to increase stability and load, to get stronger and more stable to produce more force in the right direction without assistance.

How, then, can we use it? One of my favorite ways to use this is by performing what I like to call an Eccentric Overload. This is when you use more load on the lengthening phase of a resistance exercise than the shortening phase. An example would be using a heavier kettlebell than you can handle on an unassisted single leg squat (you can also use a dumbbell or safety squat bar). Here you would slowly lower in the single leg squat without assistance, then once you reach the bottom of your chosen range of motion, use the free hand for assistance from the rack. This works well because the hardest part of an exercise is the reversal of movement, and by using assistance here, we are able to train with a supramaximal load on the eccentric phase of the single leg squat. We are also able to get more braking forces if we want to, which come in the form of eccentric/isometric contractions in sports. After the downward phase in this exercise, we can have the athlete hit the brakes at the joint position that we want to work on for applying braking force prior to using hand assistance for reversal of motion.

Using hand assistance has no limits and can be used outside of just strength movements. We can also intelligently use it for plyometrics as well (once again to increase stability), and also overspeed exercises to improve conduction speed. You can use band assistance on jumps and sprints, or hand assistance on single leg hops. All these methods can work great for changing body positions, as well as ground contact times, and therefore their transfer to sport.

To recap, using hand assistance is one way to change to demands of a given exercise. As coaches, hand assistance is another tool in the toolbox, but it’s not the be-all, end-all. Hands assistance will increase load tolerance via increased stability. Manipulation of load and stability throughout an athlete’s training program is key to the program’s success. Going through periods of increased and decreased stability, load, and speed are key elements to an athletic development and rehabilitation programs.

Here’s a video to represent a programming progression going from assisted to unassisted and challenging stability/reactivity in plyometrics:

If you like these videos or want more ideas on this subject, follow @DrewCobin on Instagram for more. Enjoy!

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Two Decades in the Gym

It occurred to me the other day that I’ve been lifting weights seriously for a full two decades.

For 13 of those 20 years, I’ve been a gym owner. I’d conservatively estimate that at least one training session per week over those 13 years has been me solo in a 6,000-15,000 square foot facility. That’s about 700 training sessions I’ve logged without another person in sight.

There have been days when I’ve pulled 650 pounds by myself, and others when 405 pounds felt absurdly heavy - but I always showed up. There have been 5am grinders and midnight madness. I’ve trained when I was excited about something, and also when I was irritated about something else.

What are the points?

1. Showing up consistently always pays off, even when the 10/10 training sessions seem to be overshadowed by the 3/10 debacles. And, as my buddy @benbrunotraining often says, most of your training consists of the 7/10 sessions in the middle.

2. Intrinsic motivation is probably the most overlooked facet of long-term training success. If you’re waiting for someone else to motivate you, your plan isn’t good. You have to be willing to embrace the suck by yourself and view extrinsic motivation as a bonus when it comes.

3. A lot of people fall in love with the destination when they should be enjoying the process. My training has been as much about trying out new exercise and programming strategies that might help our athletes as it has about my own fitness goals. And, it’s served as an important time for me to gather my thoughts and work through challenging decisions.

Here’s to the next 20 years.

Happy New Year!

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The Best of 2020: Guest Posts

I've already highlighted the top articles and videos I put out at EricCressey.com in 2020, so now it's time for the top guest posts of the year. Here goes…

1. Progression Strategies for Back Hip Loading - In this article, Cressey Sports Performance - MA pitching coordinator Jordan Kraus shared some strategies for improving back hip loading in the pitching delivery. Once you read it, however, you'll recognize that these strategies are universal for progressing this important competency for any rotational sport athlete.

2. Arm Care: Why Are We Still Talking About Down and Back? - Eric Schoenberg, who serves as a physical therapist at Cressey Sports Performance - Florida, discusses one of the most misunderstood cues with respect to upper extremity health.

3. Taking Proteus Motion for a Spin - Last December, we brought in a new technology - Proteus Motion - to Cressey Sports Performance – Florida to try out for the offseason, and we integrated it at CSP-MA shortly thereafter. It goes without saying that we found some excellent benefits, and in this guest contribution, physical therapist Tanner Allen elaborates on them.

4. 4 Training Principles to Make the Most of Your Speed Work - With so many people getting outside to sprint in light of gyms closing during the pandemic, it was a good time for CSP-FL coach Derek Kambour to reflect on important training approaches to help them all move efficiently.

5. Sandbag Training for Baseball Players - We've been using sandbags a lot more in our training these days, and it's largely due to the influence of physical therapist Dan Swinscoe, who delivered an awesome inservice to our staff on the topic. Here's a guest post from Dan that highlights the how and why of using sandbags.

I'll be back soon with more highlights from 2020.

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The Best of 2020: Strength and Conditioning Videos

With my last post, I kicked off the "Best of 2020" series with my top articles of the year. Today, we'll highlight the top five videos of the year.

1. Birddog Rows -This is one of our favorite horizontal pulling variations. Check out this great write-up on the drill from CSP-FL Director of Performance, Tim Geromini.

2. Half-Kneeling Kettlebell Windmill - This drill comes to you courtesy of Cressey Sports Performance coach Derek Kambour. The Half-Kneeling Kettlebell Windmill is an awesome full-body exercise that delivers several important benefits. Learn more in this write-up.

3. Adductor Slides - This is an awesome exercise for adductors that are both long and strong. Check out this full write-up to learn more about how we use this drill.

4. Bottoms-up Kettlebell Arm Bar - The Kettlebell Arm Bar is an awesome exercise that delivers several important benefits, but we've admittedly taken some time to warm up to it. Learn more here.

5. Bowler Squat to J-Band Y - This exercise is the brainchild of physical therapist Eric Schoenberg, who works out of Cressey Sports Performance – Florida. When I first saw him implementing it with a patient, I immediately thought, “How have I never thought of it?” It actually combines two of my favorite exercises: the bowler squat and the J-Band Y. In doing so, we get an awesome arm care exercise that integrates single-leg balance and hip mobility. Learn more here.

I'll be back soon with the top guest posts of 2020!

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The Best of 2020: Strength and Conditioning Articles

With 2020 winding down, I'm using this last week of the year to direct you to some of the most popular content of the past 12 months at EricCressey.com, as this "series" has been quite popular over the past few years. Today, we start with the most popular articles of the year; these are the pieces that received the most traffic, according to my hosting statistics.

1. What Do You Think of XYZ Method? - Often, I’ll get inquiries where folks ask what I think of a specific method. It might be yoga, Crossfit, Pilates, or a number of different disciplines. These are always challenging questions to answer because there are actually a number of variables you have to consider - and that's what I cover in this article.

2. Accidental Strength and Conditioning Success - I often joke that some of the biggest training successes of my career came about when I was trying to develop one athletic quality, but actually wound up accidentally developing something else that yielded a great return on investment. Medicine ball training might be the absolute best example of this.

3. Random Thoughts on Sports Performance Training - Installment 36 - This series is among my most popular, and I was long overdue for an update.

4. Efficient Programming, Better Warm-ups, and Combination Exercises - This feature outlined some programming principles you can employ when designing strength and conditioning plans.

5. Variation Without Change - For long-term training success, there are certain exercise categories that have to be mainstays. However, underneath those broad categorization schemes, there are a lot of opportunities (and a great need) for variation.

I'll be back soon with another "Best of 2020" feature. Up next, the top videos of the year!

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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.

Top Tweet of the Week

Top Instagram Post of the Week

 
 
 
 
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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.

Top Tweet of the Week

Top Instagram Post of the Week

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