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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 5/20/19

I hope you had a great weekend. Here's a little recommended reading for the week ahead.

Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better - I turn 38 today, so I decided to put Show and Go, one of my more popular resources, on sale for 38% off. Just head HERE and the discount (from $59.99 to $37.19) will be automatically applied at checkout.

EC on the Lift the Bar Podcast - I joined Stuart Aitken on his podcast to chat about fitness industry success and building up career capital.

Gym Owner Musings: Installment 14 - My business partner, Pete Dupuis, always shares some good nuggets in these brain dumps. They're must-read for gym owners.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 5/13/19

I hope you had a great weekend. After being a bit all over the place on when I published these features, we're back on a Monday schedule with these recommended readings.

Table for One: How Eating Alone is Radically Changing Our Diets - I came across this article on The Guardian the other day and found it really interesting socially and nutritionally.

Speed Training for Hockey - I don't have a big hockey following on this blog, but Kevin Neeld (Head Performance Coach for the Boston Bruins) is a good friend, former intern, and super bright mind in the hockey training field. He just released this resource, and it's available at an excellent discount. If you train hockey players (or are one), it's a no brainer to pick it up. I actually went through it and found some excellent ideas we can use with our baseball athletes as well.

5 Important Lessons on Balance Training - I wrote this article about a year ago, and a recent social media discussion brought it back to the forefront.

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Here’s a preliminary rendering of the new 10,000-square-foot @cresseysportsperformance FL facility in #palmbeachgardens. It’ll open up this winter. Some notes: 1️⃣ the grassy area in front of the building will actually be a turfed infield and double as a Miracle League field 2️⃣ the West (left, in this photo) end of the roof will extend out to cover hitting cages and pitching mounds 3️⃣ we aren’t renaming CSP as “The Sports Center;” we’re just working through signage logistics 4️⃣ the building will back up to the right field line of a showcase stadium field 5️⃣ this is the view from @lomogram’s parking spot 🤣 We’re excited for what will be a great one-stop shop for athletes and general fitness clients alike. In particular, Palm Beach Gardens is quickly evolving as a training and competitive destination for baseball players from around the country. We’re thrilled to be a part of that evolution. #cspfamily

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 5/6/19

I hope you all had a great weekend and are ready to start the new week off with some great content from around the 'Net! First, though, a quick favor: if you've been listening to my new podcast, could you please head over to iTunes and leave us a review? You can do so HERE. Thank you!

Now, on to this week's recommended reading:

Does Norway Have the Answer to Excess in Youth Sports? - I found this article on sport participation in Norway fascinating. I think many other countries - America included - could learn a lot from this model.

8 Tips for Not Wasting Away During Summer Baseball - With summer baseball rapidly approaching, this is an important read for all the skinny teenagers who'll be living out of hotels while at tournaments for weeks at a time.

Social Media For Your Gym: Pick a Lane and Stay in It - With a lot of business owners reading this site, Pete Dupuis' writing is always invaluable. Check this one out for some direction on the social media front.

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BIG NEWS: this winter, @cresseysportsperformance will be moving our Florida location a few miles south as part of an exciting public/private partnership with the city of Palm Beach Gardens. The new location will feature: 1️⃣ a state-of-the-art, brand new 10,000 square-foot training facility 2️⃣ covered pitching mounds and hitting cages 3️⃣ two large turfed agility infields that will also serve as Miracle League fields for charitable initiatives 4️⃣ a larger showcase stadium field The Burns Rd. athletic complex is home to many other baseball fields and associated amenities, and will soon become one of the best baseball destinations in the country. We’re tremendously honored to be part of the project and so appreciative of the support of our vision from so many motivated, visionary people at the @cityofpbgardens. These facility upgrades will enable up to expand our offerings to baseball players of all levels, as well as play an active role in the wellness initiatives in the PBG community while encouraging tourism in the area to benefit the city economically. 🙏 We’ll have some more exciting news on the facility/complex design, staff expansion, and event planning fronts in the coming weeks. For now, though, here’s a glimpse at where this is headed. #cspfamily #palmbeachgardens #elitebaseballdevelopment #mlb

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St. Louis Seminar Announcement: June 2, 2019

I just wanted to give you a heads-up on one-day seminar with me in St. Louis on Sunday, June 2, 2019.

Cressey scapula

We’ll be spending the day geeking out on shoulders, as the event will cover Shoulder Assessment, Corrective Exercise, and Programming.  The event will be geared toward personal trainers, strength and conditioning professionals, rehabilitation specialists, and fitness enthusiasts alike.

Agenda

9:00AM-9:30AM – Inefficiency vs. Pathology (Lecture)
9:30AM-10:15AM – Understanding Common Shoulder Injuries and Conditions (Lecture)
10:15AM-10:30AM – Break
10:30AM-12:30PM – Upper Extremity Assessment (Lab)
12:30PM-1:30PM – Lunch
1:30PM-3:30PM – Upper Extremity Mobility/Activation/Strength Drills (Lab)
3:30PM-3:45PM – Break
3:45PM-4:45PM – Upper Extremity Strength and Conditioning Programming: What Really Is Appropriate? (Lecture)
4:45PM-5:00PM – Q&A to Wrap Up

Location

Output Performance
1429 Strassner Dr.
St Louis, MO 63144

Continuing Education Credits

This event is approved for 0.7 CEUs through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).

Cost: $199.99

Click here to register using our 100% secure server!

Note: we'll be capping the number of participants to ensure that there is a lot of presenter/attendee interaction - particularly during the hands-on workshop portion - so be sure to register early, as previous offerings of this evan have sold out well in advance of the early-bird registration deadline.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Questions? Please email ec@ericcressey.com.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 3/27/19

I hope you're having a great week. Here's a little recommended reading and listening to get you through your Wednesday!

7 Tips for Training Around Lower Back Pain - Mike Robertson outlines some great suggestions for anyone (which is most people) who has struggled with lower back pain at some point or another.

Eccentric Hamstrings Loading for Strength, Hypertrophy, and Injury Prevention - This was a pretty thorough article from Dean Somerset that includes plenty of videos of exercise options to take care of those hammies.

Atomic Habits - I just finished up this audiobook by James Clear. If you've read "The Power of Habit," this is a good follow-up that builds on its concepts. I particularly like the "Habits + Deliberate Practice = Mastery" equation.

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Most of the Instagram posts you see that celebrate entrepreneurship are of the following: 1️⃣Entrepreneur posing in front of a fancy car that was rented for a photo shoot. 2️⃣Entrepreneur sitting in a coffee shop, dressed in business casual, sipping a latte, while working on a laptop. 3️⃣Entrepreneur taking a selfie in an exotic location, with the caption reminding you that you, too, can have great autonomy and work from anywhere if you just follow the tips he/she outlines. You know what? It's not really like that for 99% of entrepreneurs, 99% of the time. With that in mind, this photo of my wife on Friday should serve as a nice reflection of the "other side" of entrepreneurship: the problem with self-employment is that your boss is an a**hole. 😂 In addition to having her own optometry practice, @annacressey also helps out at @cresseysportsperformance - FL with scheduling and billing. On Friday, we were scheduled for a 12:30pm C-section with our third child, but a few emergency C-sections had to take place before we could have our baby, so we got pushed back about 3.5 hours. Luckily, the hospital had great WiFi, so we got some work done. Here she is - uncomfortably pregnant, IV in, and 17 hours with no food or water - ordering some contacts lenses, doing her month-end financials, and scheduling me evaluations. 🤷🏻‍♂️ So, the next time a 23-year-old lifestyle entrepreneur tells you that he's got all the secrets to help you live the life you want, just remember that there's probably a badass mother of three who can share a whole lot more entrepreneurship reality wisdom with you. . . . #cspfamily #entrepreneur #entrepreneurlife #entrepreneurship

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The 4 Most Common Barbell Hip Thrust Technique Mistakes

As I've written previously (see In Defense of the Hip Thrust), I'm a fan of barbell hip thrusts (and supine bridges). Like most exercises, though, there are some common technique pitfalls. This week, on my Instagram, I featured the four most common mistakes I see in this regard. Check them out: 

 
 
 
 
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This is my second installment of this week's series on coaching cues for the barbell hip thrust. Today, we'll focus on weight distribution through the foot. 👇 Often, you'll see individuals go up to the balls of the feet and toes when they're at the top position. This can occur because the individual has either set up with the feet too far away from the hips, or because a quad-dominant individual is actually trying to extend the knees to lift the weight. 🤔 In the former instance, the quick fix is to move the heels a bit closer to the body in the starting position so that the knees end up at a 90-degree angle at the top position (hip extension w/knee flexion). In the latter instance, it can help to a) tell the athlete to go barefoot (more heel contact = more posterior chain recruitment) or b) imagine grabbing the floor as if you're trying to pick up a basketball with your arch. 👍 Thanks to @nickcioffi_14 for the demo and @pete_dupuis for the design work. #cspfamily #hipthrust #glutebridge

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This is my third installment of this week's series on coaching cues for the barbell hip thrust. Today, we'll cover head/neck posture. 👇 Often, you'll see individuals go into a forward head posture at the top position. As a result, they wind up jacking up their neck when they're trying to train the lower body. This can occur because the individual has tried to preserve the line of sight from the starting position even though the torso angle has changed due to the hip extension further down. 👎 A quick "make a double chin" cue usually cleans it up, especially with athletes who've built up a lot of context for neutral neck posture with other exercises. If it doesn't, however, I like to just put the palm of my hand an inch in front of their face on warm-ups as an external focus cue; if they make contact with it, they're slipping into forward head posture. 👍 Thanks to @nickcioffi_14 for the demo and @pete_dupuis for the formatting. #cspfamily #hipthrust #glutebridge

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This is my fourth and final installment of this week's series on coaching cues for the barbell hip thrust. Today, we'll look at hip/spine positioning at the finish position. 👇 Often, you'll see individuals substitute extension of the lumbar spine (lower back) for hip extension, especially at the top position. The gluteus maximus is a terminal hip extensor, which means that those last 10 degrees of hip extension are crucial. It's very easy to load up a lot of weight and come up short on this exercise - or just find bad motion through the wrong place (spine). 👎 The correct finish position has a straight line from the knees to the top of the head, with the glutes activated in the top position. When done correctly, this exercise should lead to zero lower back discomfort (or soreness the next day). 👍 Thanks to @nickcioffi_14 for the demo and @pete_dupuis for the formatting. #cspfamily #hipthrust #glutebridge

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 3/4/19

I'm working on getting back on an every Monday schedule with this recommended reading feature. Here goes!

8 Training Tips for the New Dad - My wife is scheduled for a C-section this Friday as we make the Cressey crew a party of five. It seemed like a good time to bring this article I wrote back in 2016 (two years after our twin daughters were born) to the forefront again.

Dr. Stu McGill on the Strongfirst Podcast - Interviews with Stu never disappoint, and this is a great example.

Assessments: Can Your Clients Actually Do What You Want Them To Do? - This was an excellent post from my long-time friend, Tony Gentilcore.

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*LANDMINE PRESS PROGRESSIONS* 👇 If you’ve followed my work for any length of time, you know all too well that I’m a huge fan of landmine press variations as shoulder friendly upper body pushing options. Here’s how we progress them (be sure to swipe left for a demonstration of each one): 💪 1️⃣Standing Landmine Press – I like this option first for most athletes because the standing position provides for a more horizontal line of pressing, which allows folks to get away with a bit less scapular upward rotation. It can also be helpful in untrained clients who don’t have the strength to press the bar “strictly” from the upper body yet. They can use a bit of lower body contribution (similar to a push press) to get the weight moving. 2️⃣Half-Kneeling Landmine Press – It’s a slightly narrower base of support than in the standing position, and requires more scapular upward rotation to get the job done. And, you can’t use any body English to get the bar moving; it has to be strict. 3️⃣Split-Stance Landmine Press – This builds on the standing landmine press, but with a narrower base of support. And, it’s more challenging stabilization-wise than the half-kneeling landmine press because there are fewer points of contact with the floor, and the center of mass is further up away from the base of support. 4️⃣Low to High Rotational Landmine Press – This is an opportunity to get more athletic with the motion and really focus on transferring force from the lower body to the upper body. 5️⃣Squat to Landmine Press – This one challenges whole-body mobility and an athlete’s ability to transfer force from the lower body to the upper body. 6️⃣Reverse Lunge to 1-arm Landmine Press – There are a few moving parts to this, but most athletes who have solid single-leg strength, good core control, and a grasp on the basic landmine press variations will do well on it. There are other options (e.g., tall kneeling, seated) on the landmine press that we’ll occasionally use, but these six constitute ~95% of all the landmine presses you’ll find in @cresseysportsperformance programs. What other variations do you like? Thanks to @nickcioffi_14 for great demos! #cspfamily

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Why Fitness Industry Hiring is Different Than What You Think It Is

In the past, I've written a few times about how when we want to expand our staff at Cressey Sports Performance, we only hire from our internship program. In hiring, the goal is to get someone who is both competent for the job AND a good fit for your culture. We can teach that competency in an internship, but just as importantly, an internship give us 3-5 months to evaluate whether an individual is the right fit from a personality standpoint. We actively involve our current staff in hiring to make sure that they're the ones helping to shape this culture. I can't recall exactly, but I believe I initially heard the competency/fit discussion in a book from Richard Branson and his hiring practices at Virgin.

This is an important lesson for all businesses, but I'd argue that the fitness industry is unique in that the pendulum swings much more in the direction of "fit." Why? My theory is that it's because the barrier to entry in this industry is so low that very few candidates show a level of competency so overwhelming that they're "must-hires."

Just last week, my theory was put to the test when a large company reached out to me on a reference check on one of our former interns who'd applied for a job. Here was the email I received:

Hi Eric,

I was given your information from <name removed> regarding a professional reference. Would you be able to answer the following questions, in a timely manner?

How long have you know him or her?

What is him or her work ethic?

What management style is conducive to their success?

What is one strength and one opportunity for improvement?

Strength:
Improvement:

Eligible for rehire?

Thank you!

You see where I'm going with this? Not a single one of those questions was specific to this candidate's competency for the position? She didn't ask me whether he had memorized the Krebs Cycle or could differentiate between linear and conjugate periodization.

It's crazy, but competency is actually either a) assumed or b) viewed in a way that the organization thinks they can teach a candidate everything they need to know to be successful...as long as they're a good fit.

What does this mean for up-and-coming fitness and strength and conditioning professionals? Let your resume speak to your competencies, but utilize interviews and your references to show just how awesome you are from a fit standpoint. And, if you're looking for a job at a particular location, get in front of your potential employer in person before applying. That might mean doing a facility visit to observe, dropping off your resume in person, or actually doing a lengthier internship at that location.

Our hiring processes are one of the subjects Cressey Sports Performance co-founder Pete Dupuis and I cover in great detail in our Business Building Mentorship. Our next offering is April 7 at our Jupiter, FL location. For more information, click here

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5 Strategies to Avoid Overthinking Strength and Conditioning Programs

I frequently run Q&A sessions on my Instagram stories, and sometimes, I'll get an inquiry that warrants a detailed response that goes beyond a 15-second time limit of the small amount of text I can squeeze into a respond. This question is one such example:

The more I learn, the more stressful I find programming for athletes. Any tips for this?

First off, I should acknowledge that this is an incredibly common problems for not only new trainers, but experienced coaches as well. The curse of knowledge is a very real thing that can lead to a lot of frustrated tapping on the keyboard as you write up programs for clients that really don't require things all that advanced. Here are a five strategies I've found to help:

1. Identify the biggest rocks and circle them.

After I write up all my notes on an evaluation, I go back and circle 2-3 things that I view as the highest priority items. Maybe it's very limited cervical range of motion, or brutal single-leg strength. If it's a resting heart rate in the 80bpm range, maybe we need to hammer aerobic capacity. Regardless, I find that when you definitively identify and highlight the highest priority items, it makes it easy to get the ball rolling on the program and build some momentum in the "don't sit in silence and overthink things" direction.

2. Think quality movement first.

When joints move efficiently (work from "neutral"), it impacts a host of other systems. You take longer to shift from aerobic to anaerobic energy systems strategies. The length-tension relationship is optimized to enhance strength and power. The lymphatic system works more efficiently to optimize recovery. Effectively, moving efficiently has a "trickle down effect."

These downstream benefits are why we take so much pride in our warm-ups. They shouldn't just get your body temperature up, but rather, they should also work to reduce bad stiffness and improve good stiffness. For instance, with a back to wall shoulder flexion drill, we're reducing bad stiffness in the lats, scapular downward rotators, and lumbar extensors. Meanwhile, we're establishing good stiffness in the anterior core, deep neck flexors, and scapular upward rotators.

3. Acknowledge that you very well may never use some of the tools in your toolbox.

If you're working with post-pregnancy women who are just looking to lose their baby weight, don't expect to use French Contrast Training. And, if senior citizens are your niche, your extensive knowledge of plyometric progressions probably isn't going to have much of an impact (sorry, bad pun).

If you hire a contractor to fix something at your house, he rolls in with his toolbox, but isn't emotionally attached to the idea of using a chainsaw, hammer, screwdriver, or any other specific tool. Rather, he matches the right tool to the job in question, even if it means all the other tools are unused that day. You have to be willing to recognize that a ton of the things you've learned over the years may, in fact, be completely useless for you.

4. "Batch" your programs.

Believe it or not, I have an easier time writing a program for a professional baseball player with years of training experience with us than I do writing a program for an untrained female. The reason is very simple: I write a lot more programs for baseball players, so it's familiar and I have a lot of related cases from which I can draw perspective ("X athlete is similar to Y athlete, so I can build on the success I had with that athlete instead of reinventing the wheel"). For this reason, try to write multiple programs for similar demographics in the same sitting instead of breaking them out to different programming sessions. As a general rule of thumb, I never sit down to write a program unless I'm doing at least 3-4 programs in that sitting.

5. Build on the previous program.

Most of the time, when I write a program, I'm writing it right over the top of the previous month's programs, as doing so allows me to contemplate progressions and regressions quickly and easily. Never, ever start by staring at a blank programming template!

Wrap-up

In closing, remember that program design is only as complex as you make it. When in doubt, simplify!

This post delved into programming strategies, but the truth is that our programming is just one aspect of the systems that make our two Cressey Sports Performance facilities what they are. In our upcoming Cressey Sports Performance Business Building Mentorship, CSP co-founder Pete Dupuis and I will pull back the curtain on these systems to help other gym owners improve their systems. Our next offering will be April 7 at our Jupiter, FL location. For more information, click here.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 1/19/19

I hope you've had a great week. To kick off the weekend, here's a little recommended reading and listening from around the strength and conditioning world.

9 Ways to Survive Off Days - This audio blog from Mike Robertson shares some good strategies for making the most of non-training days.

3 Reasons Team Training Might be a Threat to Your Business - This might be my favorite blog post that my business partner, Pete Dupuis, has ever written.

Cleaning Up Thoracic Rotation - Dean Somerset offers some great insights on optimizing thoracic spine mobility training.

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