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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 9/21/18

I missed a week of this weekly recap in light of the big Sturdy Shoulder Solutions sale last week, so I've had a chance to stockpile some good stuff for you. Before we get to it, a friendly reminder that tonight at midnight is the early-bird registration deadline for the Cressey Sports Performance Fall Seminar. You can learn more HERE.

With the fall seminar in mind, I want to highlight some content from our presenters:

45 Lessons I've Learned Along the Way - Pat Rigsby is our keynote speaker at the fall event, and this was an outstanding post he just published on his 45th birthday.

How to Cultivate Intrinsic Motivation in Young Athletes - CSP-MA Director of Performance John O'Neil wrote up this article shortly after his 2014 internship with us, but the lessons still go strong today.

The Biggest Challenge in Offering Semi-Private Training - and How to Solve It - This was an awesome post on the business of fitness from my CSP-MA business partner, Pete Dupuis.

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Off-season Shoulder Sale!

Our professional baseball guys are rolling back in to kick off the offseason, so I wanted to offer a sale to celebrate this fun time of year. What better way to celebrate the unofficial start of the baseball offseason than to put my shoulder course, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions, on sale for $50 off through Sunday?

This product includes over six hours of cutting edge assessment, coaching, and programming strategies. You can learn more at the following link (with the discount automatically applied):

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: 9/3/18

Happy Labor Day! I hope you're enjoying a long weekend with family and friends. In case you get a few quite minutes to catch up on some reading and listening, here are some good things to check out:

International Youth Conditioning Association High School Strength and Conditioning Certification - I was one of the contributors on this resource, and it's on sale for $100 off using the coupon code HSSCSFLASH through Tuesday at midnight.

9 Ways to Help People Change While Staying Within Your Scope - I thought Krista Scott-Dixon did an excellent job with this article for Precision Nutrition. As she notes, sometimes, the line between "coach" and "therapist" gets very blurred.

Stacey Hardin on Purposeful Collaboration in Pro Sports - I loved this podcast from Mike Robertson, who interviewed Stacey Hardin of the Minnesota United soccer club. There was some great information on how sports medicine teams should collaborate for the best care for the athletes they serve.

Forget About Squat Depth - This was an excellent JL Holdsworth article about why squat depth should be individualized to each lifter.

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The adductors (groin muscles) have a complex structure, but a solid knowledge of functional anatomy in two specific regards can help you to keep these tissues healthy. 👇 First, stretching into abduction alone isn't enough. You have adductors that flex the hip, and others that extend the hip - so you have to account for both in your mobility work. Second, they have a large cross sectional area that runs from just above the knee all the way up to the pelvis, so you need to use both broad and specific approaches to self myofascial release. Swipe left to check out some approaches you can implement to cover all your bases. 👍 1️⃣Adductor Rolling w/Med Ball on Table: Just don’t make eye contact with anyone while doing this one. 2️⃣Adductor/Ab Rolling on Lacrosse Ball: You’re working on the adductor tendons as they attach on the pubis (bottom of the pelvis). 3️⃣Split-Stance Kneeling Adductor Mobilizations: Stretch the hip into both flexion and extension without substituting low back motion. 4️⃣Half-Kneeling Adductor Dips: This “open” position can be more comfortable for those with limitations to hip internal rotation. This option also provides ankle mobility benefits. 5️⃣Split-Stance Hip Abduction End-Range Lift-offs: Here’s a good @functionalrangeconditioning inspired movement to build some motor control at end-range hip abduction to make ROM changes “stick.” Don’t let the hip “fall out.” 6️⃣Lateral Lunge w/Band Overhead Reach: Get the arms overhead without arching the lower back to integrate some core stability with your hip mobility changes. 💪 Give these a shot and let me know how they went in the comments below! #cspfamily

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Crossfit and Confirmation Bias

Last month, I published a blog about the importance of building strength in the teenage years. In case you missed it, you can read it here.

The gist was that strength is foundational to many other athletic qualities: power, stability, endurance, and even mobility. In short, building strength in untrained lifters is low-hanging fruit that can have a massive impact on other domains. However, if you train many of the qualities higher up on this pyramid early in a training career, you don't see very profound changes to athleticism. It's why the kid who just does agility ladders doesn't get much more agile, and the cross-country runner can't go faster just by running slow.

As is always the case with my new articles, I sent it out to my newsletter list - and there are always a dozen or so people who'll reply to the article. One, in particular, stood out for me:

"This reads as an incredible endorsement of multimodal training like Crossfit! Which highlights the very different skills in the article! Thanks for sharing!"

This is an incredibly well-intentioned person, but unfortunately, he could not be any more incorrect. And, it's a nice illustration of the confirmation bias we often encounter in the training world.

This gentleman really loves Crossfit, and that's fine. He can train a bunch of different qualities and have a lot of fun. That does not mean, however, that concurrent training of all these qualities is a way to optimize long-term athletic development in teenagers (or any age of athletes).  His confirmation bias leads him to believe that what he enjoys (and likely what has worked for him) will be good for every scenario he encounters.

Sure, you can build a lot of these qualities simultaneously, especially in untrained individuals. However, you are not going to develop a 95mph fastball or run a 10-second 100m dash if you're consistently rowing 1000m, doing sets of 15 power cleans, or rocking kipping pull-ups like they're going out of style. And, you're going to have a much harder time staying healthy as you embark on these goals, as each sport has unique energy systems requirements and position-specific demands. How often do you see aggressive hip-shoulder separation, appreciable single-leg work, and end-range shoulder external rotation in the typical Crossfit program?

Again, if you want to do these things, by all means, go for it and have fun - but don't confuse them with a plan that's optimized for athletes. Random programming might keep training novel, but it delivers random results - and athletic success is much more the result of targeted efforts to meticulously address the growth windows one can identify. In short, you can't take general solutions to specific problems.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 8/24/18

I hope you're having a good week. Here's a little recommended reading/listening to keep the ball rolling:

Is Your Gym Set-up Functional or Just Pretty? - This is an outstanding post from my business partner, Pete Dupuis. If you're a gym owner - or aspire to be one - it's a must-read.

The Road Less Stupid - I just finished this up as an audiobook, and it was outstanding. Lots of very good pearls of wisdom, whether you're looking for actionable business/coaching strategies or just some good one-liner quotes.

Strength and Conditioning Programs: When Precision Tops Effort - This is one of my favorite guest blogs at EricCressey.com, as John O'Neil did an outstanding job with it. I thought I'd reincarnate it in light of a conversation John and I had earlier this week.

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Fitness Business Success: Maybe You Aren’t as Prepared as YOU Think You Are

A few weeks ago, we took our three-year-old twin daughters blueberry picking. They had an absolute blast - so you could say that they are very passionate about blueberry picking. In fact, they are quite certain that they are the best blueberry farmers on the planet today.

Here’s the thing, though: they really don’t know much about blueberries. And, they don’t even know what they don’t know.

Addison refused to take her sunglasses off, so she could barely tell the difference between the ripe ones and the ones that needed to stay on the branch for longer to ripen.

Lydia got so excited that she tripped over an irrigation hose.

In short, their passion left them nothing short of blind and disoriented with respect to the competencies it takes to become a successful blueberry farmer.

Sadly, this example is not much different than where many fitness professionals are at the start of their career. They're wildly passionate about fitness and really enjoy working out, so why not make it into a career?

Wikipedia defines the Dunning–Kruger effect as "a cognitive bias in which people of low ability have illusory superiority and mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is."

In other words, you think you're going to be the varsity quarterback, but you're actually only skilled enough to be the carrying water bottles out to the JV squad. This is the harsh reality of most fitness businesses: they're often based too much on passion and not enough on specific career capital (which I previously wrote about here and here).

As a result, people who open gyms get surprised by a lot of things. Start-up costs are higher than anticipated. Generating leads is tougher than they'd expected. Managing growth proves challenging because they've never had to manage employees or pay attention to client retention strategies. They don't realize how complex managing finances is. There aren't enough hours in the day to get to everything they need to do when both working IN the business and ON the business. The list goes on and on.

And, I'd argue that these issues are even more prevalent in the fitness industry than in other entrepreneurial realms. There's a lower barrier to entry in the industry, significant initial start-up costs for gyms, and a service-oriented business model that presents unique challenges. In short, there are a lot of reasons why gyms either fail or really struggle to get by.

My Cressey Sports Performance business partner, Pete Dupuis, has a MBA and consults for various gym owners on a daily basis to help them avoid these common pitfalls. We've been at this for over 11 years and have two facilities still going strong, and a huge part of that success is the significant work we do behind the scenes to make sure we're a well-oiled machine and just just a "workout place" started because we were passionate.

With that in mind, last year, we offered our Business Building Mentorship for the first time. It sold out quickly and received outstanding feedback - so we've decided to offer it again. It'll take place October 15 at our Hudson, MA location (alongside our fall seminar). If you're interested in attending, you can learn more and register HERE.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 8/9/18

I hope you're having a good week. I was off the grid for a few days for a mini family vacation in Maine, so this post is a few days late. However, as you can see, the scenery was well worth it!

The Ideal Business Formula - I was fortunate to get an advanced copy of this book by Pat Rigsby, and it was outstanding. I highly recommend any business owners out there check it out.

The Underrated Value of Mediocrity - This was a quick read from Tony Gentilcore, but the message is important and enduring.

This surgeon wants to offer cheap MRIs. A state law is getting in his way. - This article was an interesting look at the rising costs of diagnostic imaging - and how one surgeon is challenging existing laws in order to make these tests more affordable.

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Strength in the Teenage Years: An Overlooked Long-Term Athletic Development Competitive Advantage

Earlier this week, I posted this Tweet, and it got a pretty big response:

Of particular note to me, though, was one reply:

"The worst thing youth developmental athletes can do is to max out one biomotor ability and save themselves from developing ALL abilities. A long term program must develop all, not just strength. Strength, endurance, speed, flexibility.... No exploitation allowed."

This is one of the most glaring misconceptions about long-term athletic development, and I think it warrants a thorough response.

To be clear, I am all for prioritizing a host of biomotor abilities at a young age and continuing to develop them over the course of the athletic lifespan. You can't just turn athletes into powerlifters.

However, where I do disagree with this statement is that it implies that all these separate qualities are their own unique domains that must be trained separately. In reality, we have to look at things as a pyramid, not a collection of separate silos. The foundation of that pyramid is undoubtedly maximal strength.

I cover this in great detail in my e-book, The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual. Here's a quick excerpt with respect to power development:

"...maximal relative strength has a “trickle-down” effect to all things athletic. If you took your best squat from 200 pounds to 400 pounds, a single body weight squat would feel a lot easier, wouldn’t it? How about a single vertical jump? You have about 0.2 seconds to exert force on a classic vertical jump test; you’ll never make use of all the strength that you have, regardless of how good your rate of force development (explosive strength) is.

"However, let’s say (hypothetically) that you can put 50% of your maximal strength to work in that short time period. If we keep that percentage constant, isn’t an athlete with more maximal strength automatically at a great advantage? The 200-pound squatter can exert 100 pounds of force into the ground; the 400-pound squatter can exert 200 pounds. Is there really any question as to who can jump higher?"

This assertion has been consistently validated in the research world: a lack of maximal strength limits one's power potential. Having a strength foundation allows you to make the most of your plyometric, sprint, and agility progressions.

There are implications on the endurance end of the continuum as well.

"Now, let’s take this a step further to the endurance end of the spectrum. If you go from 200 to 400 pounds on that 1-rep max squat, wouldn’t a set of 20 body weight squats feel easier?

"If you could do lunges with 100 pound dumbbells in each hand, wouldn’t running five miles with just your body weight feel easier? You may have never thought of it, but every athletic endurance endeavor is really nothing more than a series of submaximal efforts."

Obviously, these strength numbers are unrealistic for the overwhelming majority of high level endurance athletes, but they aren't for competitive athletes from other sports requiring a blend of strength, power, and endurance. If you need further proof, check out the research I cited in my article, 5 Resistance Training Myths in the Running World.

Strength has implications for how well athletes move, too. The initial reply mentioned flexibility, which according to Wikipedia) is "the range of movement in a joint or series of joints." This is a static measure, whereas athletic success is more governed by mobility, which is one's ability to reach a position or posture. The difference is the presence of stability in a given circumstance, and that's impacted by muscular control. In fact, I would actually argue that the biggest "trickle-down" effect of maximal strength is joint stability, which in turn impacts mobility. As an example, this 6-11 athlete couldn't squat well when he first came in, but after eight weeks of training built a foundation of strength, he was able to do this:

All athletic qualities are important, but to say that they should all be trained equally at all times - especially in young athletes with a huge window of adaptations in front of them - is extremely short-sighted. Imagine a child that tried to take math, science, and history courses before mastering language skills. If you can't read and write, you will struggle to pick up these more progressive challenges. Strength is foundational in this same way, and this is the pyramid through which I view it:

The closer the items are to the bottom, the more heavily impacted by strength they are. We can debate where each of these items should be positioned on the pyramid (and it likely depends on the athlete in question), but nobody can debate that strength is an important foundation for all these other qualities. It's rooted not only in anecdotal experience of many elite coaches, but also in loads and loads of research.

As a closing thought, several months ago I reviewed Mike Boyle's great new resource, Complete Youth Training. After reviewing it, I told Mike that I enjoyed it not only as a strength and conditioning coach, but also as a parent of twin daughters. I think the most compelling statement Mike made in the entire resource is that one of the most impactful things he's done with his daughter (an accomplished D1 hockey player) was to strength train a minimum of two days per week since she was 11 years old. When you've got strength at a young age - and you preserve/build it over the years - the rest of your training becomes that much more productive.

Mike's put this resource on sale for $50 off this week, and I'd strongly encourage you to check it out, whether you're a strength and conditioning professional, rehabilitation specialist, sport coach, or parent of a young athlete. There's some excellent information in there for everyone. You can learn more HERE.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 7/30/18

I hope you had a good weekend. We're back on our normal Monday schedule with this recommended reading collection after being a bit erratic over the past few weeks.

Divergent Thinking: Inside John O'Malley - This is a lengthy interview, but definitely worth the time. While the interview is with an accomplished cross country/track coach, the lessons are applicable across many disciplines. Thanks to former CSP intern Mike Boykin for sending this my way.

Cardio or Weights First? Let's Settle This. - Dean Somerset did an excellent job with this post on a decades-old debate.

Transformer Bar Overview - I'm a big fan of the transformer Bar from Kabuki Strength, and this video outlines my thoughts (as well as those of Stuart McGill and Kelly Starrett) on why that's the case.

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I spoke at an event called the Syracuse Strength Seminar back in June of 2006. At the time, I was 25 years old – and the rest of the panel consisted of Dave Tate, Joe Defranco, Mike Hope, Jim Wendler, James Smith, and Buddy Morris. 👇 After the event, 47 of the attendees filled out online evaluations. The feedback on me was mostly positive, with the exception of three guys who clearly took issue with my age. Here are their delightful responses. 🤦‍♂️ When I got the feedback, I shot Dave (@underthebar) an email to ask for his suggestions on how I could be better – and he provided some invaluable insights on presentation styles. He also shared these words that stuck with me. 👏 “Right now you are in the paying your dues phase. I remember this very well. You are doing what you need to do. You need to continue reading your ass off, writing, training, training clients, networking, reading more, listening to audio tapes. It is a high stress time because you have to absorb and take in so much info. The age thing does not matter. Think of this: at age 23, Tony Robbins was speaking in front of crowds of 18,000 people. The last advice I can give is when you read and listen to tapes - think. Everyone reads but very few can apply the knowledge. Education is not power - the application of it is.” 👍 In life, you can either dwell on the haters (3/47), or recognize that the overwhelming majority of people (44/47) are openminded folks who try to find the good in situations, independent of your age or experience (or a host of other factors). It helps to have good friends and mentors who remind you to identify and leverage your strengths. Make sure you listen to the right people. Thanks, Dave. #cspfamily #tbt

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Random Thoughts on Long-Term Fitness Industry Success – Installment 11

It's time for a new edition of my thoughts on the business of fitness. Before I get to it, just a friendly reminder that we're hosting our second-ever Cressey Sports Performance Business Building Mentorship on October 15. You can learn more HERE.

Now on to some business concepts...

1. It might take years for someone to become a customer.

Just a few weeks ago, I released my newest product, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions. One interesting thing about my newsletter/product management set-up is that I can tell how long someone has been a "prospect" before becoming a customer. Basically, I know the date they signed up for my newsletter, and then I can check that out to see what products they've purchased and when.

During this launch, I had multiple people purchase this resource as their first purchase with me after over 3,000 days on my list. Yes, that means they "window shopped" for over eight years prior to taking the plunge.

Very few people purchase on the first exposure to a marketing message. Or the second. Or the third. It actually takes load of opportunities for them to perceive your expertise, and usually over the course of an extended period of time. They need to know, like, and trust you - and some people take a long time to get to trusting you enough to initiate a transaction.

Be persistent, but patient. It's harder than ever to be seen and heard.

2. It's a very small world; watch your social media behavior.

I made this post on Twitter yesterday, and it got quite a bit of attention.

 Beyond the obvious moral issues of saying cruel things to pro athletes (or celebrities - or anyone else, for that matter), you should be cognizant of the fact that it can very quickly come back to bite you in the butt. Some of the agencies who represent these players may also represent others - athletes, actors, musicians, speakers, or coaches - who could be potential future clients for you. One of your followers could be an old friend or teammate of the athlete. It's an incredibly small world, so chasing a few retweets isn't worth sacrificing a relationship or potential client down the road.

3. Investments are different from expenses.

This is one of the most misunderstood accounting/economics concepts in all industries, and certainly in the fitness business.

An investment has the potential to appreciate in value. Maybe you spend money on a continuing education event, buy a DVD for some new training strategies, put money into a retirement account, or purchase some equipment that allows you to deliver a higher-quality product to your clients. Perhaps you hire a consultant to fine-tune your business, or decide to buy your building instead of continuing to pay rent. Additionally, from an accounting standpoint, investments are usually (but not always) tax deductible.

Expenses are like setting money on fire. They're the $5 you spend at Starbucks each morning, or the Porsche you bought on credit when you were making $20,000/year (is that even possible?). They don't appreciate, and there is a huge opportunity cost to these expenditures. Some are necessary and even tax deductible (e.g., rent), but they always need to be heavily scrutinized. Can that expense be reduced or somehow shifted into an investment?

Fitness businesses are notoriously bad at understanding the difference between the two, or understanding that one's financial situation may dictate what is and isn't acceptable. If you're grossing $5,000/month, paying $1,000/month to a cleaning service probably isn't a good expense; clean the gym yourself. Do you really need to buy seven different types of leg curl machines when you're already $300,000 in debt? And, why do you have payroll expenses when you've only got three clients?

Most businesses (and individuals, in their personal finances) would be wise to go through every cash expenditure and figure out how each one can be categorized. Growing gross revenue is always a priority, but many businesses can be even more profitable if they learn to appropriately trim the fat.

If you've found value in these insights, I think you might enjoy the upcoming Business Building Mentorship Pete Dupuis and I will be hosting on Monday, October 15th. It's a tax deductible expense if you're a fitness business owner, and we'd guarantee that the lessons learned will more than pay for the cost of attendance. Plus, registration in the mentorship includes free attendance at our fall seminar on October 14.

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