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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.

Top Tweet of the Week

Top Instagram Post of the Week

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Cressey Sports Performance Business Building Mentorship: April 7, 2019

We’re excited to announce that on Sunday, April 7, 2019, we’ll be hosting our third CSP Business-Building Mentorship, a day of learning with Pete Dupuis and me. For the first time, we'll offer this event at our Jupiter, FL facility. Pete and I have spent over 11 years crafting the operational systems and strategies that fuel CSP today, and we’re excited to pull back the curtain for fellow gym owners.

It is our intention to foster an environment conducive to learning and the exchanging of ideas, so we will be limiting participation to 30 individuals.

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

8:30am: Registration & Coffee

Morning Session – Lead Generation & Conversion

09:00am – 09:30am: Introduction: The Four Pillars of Fitness Business Success
09:30am – 10:30am: Lead Generation: Strategic Relationship Development, Identifying & Connecting with Opinion Leaders, Social Media Strategies
10:30am - 11:00am: Q&A
11:00am - 12:00pm: Lead Conversion: CSP Selling Strategy & Methodology
12:00pm - 01:00pm: Lunch (provided)

Afternoon Session – Business Operations & Long-Term Planning

01:00pm – 02:00pm: Operations: Accounting for Gym Owners – Guest Lecture from Mike Graham, CPA
02:00pm – 02:30pm: Operations: Internship Program Design & Execution
02:30pm – 03:00pm: Operations: Hiring Protocols, Staff Development & Continuing Ed.
03:00pm – 03:30pm: Long-Term Planning: Lease Negotiation Considerations
03:30pm – 04:30pm: Long-Term Planning: Strategic Brand Development, Evaluating Opportunities, SWOT Analysis
04:30pm – 06:00pm: Q&A

Cost: $799.99

This event is sold out. Please email ec@ericcressey.com to be added to the waiting list or announcement list for the next offering.

Please keep in mind that both previous offerings of this mentorship have sold out well in advance of the event date. With that in mind, if you're interested in attending, please be sure to register early!

Location:
Cressey Sports Performance - Florida
880 Jupiter Park Drive
Suite 7
Jupiter, FL 3358

If you have additional questions, please direct them to ec@ericcressey.com. Looking forward to seeing you there!

PS - If you're looking for hotel information, we have preferred rates at the Comfort Inn and Suites Jupiter and the Fairfield Inn and Suites-West Palm Beach/Jupiter. If you mention the Cressey Sports Performance Corporate rate, you'll get a discounted rate. The hotels are less than 5 minutes from the facility. The contact information is below.

Comfort Inn and Suites-Jupiter
6752 West Indiantown Rd, Jupiter, FL 33458
(561) 745-7997

Fairfield Inn and Suites-West Palm Beach Jupiter
6748 West Indiantown Rd, Jupiter, FL 33458
(561) 748-5252

The Fairfield Inn on Indiantown Rd. in Jupiter, FL offers our clients a heavily discounted nightly rate. Just mention "Cressey" during the booking process in order to secure the discount. Their booking phone number is

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Have You Tried the 1-leg Dumbbell Pullover?

The 1-leg dumbbell pullover is a nice variation on a classic. It’ll add a rotary stability challenge to what is normally considered an upper body and anterior core drill. I’m using this variation a bit more this time of year (with throwing volume and intensity ramping up), as you can get a good training effect with less external loading.

We'll usually program this for 3-4 sets of 4-5 reps per side. It pairs well with exercises that aren't concrete push or pull exercises: Turkish Get-ups, kettlebell windmills, and bottoms-up kettlebell carries. I even like pairing it up with TRX Ys, as it's effectively the opposite pattern. Enjoy!

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Cressey Sports Performance Hooded Sweatshirts Now Available!

To kick off the new year, we're excited to announce that we just did a production run of a new Cressey Sports Performance Hooded Sweatshirt design:

Each hooded sweatshirt is $44.99 + S&H. When you add one to your cart, please just type your size in the comments section (Small, Medium, Large, XL, and XXL are available). CLICK HERE to order.

These usually sell very quickly, so don’t delay if you’re interested in picking one up. Enjoy!

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The Best of 2018: Product Reviews

To wrap up my “Best of 2018″ series, I’ll highlight the top product reviews I did at this site in the last year. Here they are:

1. Complete Youth Training - This was Mike Boyle's great new resource for those who work with young athletes. He touched on everything from the problems with early specialization to age-specific training stages. It's a good investment for parents and coaches alike. I loved how his perspective as a parent coalesced with his commentary as a strength and conditioning coach and business owner.  Since it was the most popular product I reviewed this year, I reached out to Mike to see if he'd be up for running a quick promo sale for my readers, and he kindly agreed. From now through January 4, you can get $50 off on the resource. No coupon code is needed; just head HERE.

It inspired this blog I wrote: Strength in the Teenage Years: An Overlooked Long-Term Athletic Development Competitive Advantage.

2. The Culture Code - This new book from Dan Coyle was one of my favorite reads of the year. Dan's become a friend over the years, so I was able to get him to do an interview here at EricCressey.com when the book was released: Coyle on Culture.

3. Bought In - Brett Bartholomew is an outstanding strength and conditioning coach who has taken a huge interest in the art of "getting through" to athletes. In this course, he outlines a lot of great strategies for building rapport with athletes. Brett authored a guest post for this site as well: 5 Quick Tips to Enhance Coach-Athlete Communication.

Also in 2018, I released a product of my own that was a long time in the making: Sturdy Shoulder Solutions. This resource includes close to seven hours of webinars and lab sections on everything upper extremity. 

We're back to the regular EricCressey.com content this week. Thanks for all your support in 2018! We've got some great stuff planned for 2019.

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The Best of 2018: Strength and Conditioning Features

I really enjoying creating features with multiple installments because it really allows me to dig deep into a topic that interests both me and my readers. It’s like writing a short book, with each post being a different chapter. That said, here were a few of my favorite features from 2018 at EricCressey.com:

1. Random Thoughts on Sports Performance Training

This is definitely my longest standing active series, and while I don't update it every month, it'll always include some gems.

Installment 30
Installment 31 

2. Random Thoughts on Long-Term Fitness Industry Success

This series touches more on the business aspect of fitness.

Installment 9
Installment 10

Installment 11

3. Performance Programming Principles

I made it a goal to write more about program design this year, as I think it's a big hole in the market.  These were a few steps in that direction:

Installment 2
Installment 3

The Best of 2018 series is almost complete, but stayed tuned for a few more highlights!

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The Best of 2018: Guest Posts

 I've already highlighted the top articles and videos I put out at EricCressey.com in 2018, so now it's time for the top guest posts of the year. Here goes…

1. The Issue With Most Powerlifting-Specific Programs - Former Cressey Sports Performance intern Jamie Smith shares some insights to help you plug up the holes in traditional powerlifting programs.

2. Going Out With a Bang: Creating and Implementing Workout Finishers - CSP-FL coach Jason Jabour delivered some great insights on how to cap off a great training session with an appropriate finisher.

3. 7 In-Season Training Strategies to Maintain Strength - CSP-MA Director of Performance John O'Neil covers some strategies for maintaining strength during the competitive season.

4. The Truth About Dodgeball and Tag - Lee Taft is a tremendous coach on the speed and agility front, and in today's post, he touches on a controversial topic: the elimination of dodgeball and tag from youth physical developmental programs.

5. What Research Can Tell Us About "Super Champion" Athletes - Tennis training expert Matt Kuzdub delves into commonalities of success among the most high achieving athletes - and how they differentiate themselves from those who don't quite "make it."

I'll be back soon with the top strength and conditioning features from 2018.

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The Best of 2018: Strength and Conditioning Videos

With my last post, I kicked off the "Best of 2018" series with my top articles of the year. Today, we'll highlight the top five videos of the year.

1. Supine Banded Shoulder Flexion on Roller - I love this exercise for building thoracic spine mobility, shoulder flexion, and scapular posterior tilt.

2. Split-Stance Hip Abduction End-Range Lift-off - CSP coach Frank Duffy contributed this awesome hip mobility challenge as part of a guest post this year.

3. Landmine Lateral Lunges - This is an exercise I thought up on the fly while working with three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, and we liked it so much that it's become a mainstay in his offseason programming.


4. Rhomboids Functional Anatomy - this webinar is an excerpt from my popular new resource, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions.

5. Knee-to-Knee Rollover Medicine Ball Stomp - this new medicine ball drill was a power training exercise thought up by my CSP-FL business partner, Shane Rye. The knee-to-knee approach encourages the athlete to stay in the back hip longer.

I'll be back soon with the top guest posts of 2018!

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The Best of 2018: Strength and Conditioning Articles

With 2018 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. The Study Every Trainer and Coach Should Read and Understand - Good movement matters - and here's the research that helps to demonstrate why.

2. How to Use the Acumobility Ball for Upper Extremity Health and Performance - I'm a huge fan of the Acumobility ball, and in this detailed video-oriented post, I discuss how we utilize it for specific work in the upper body.

3. Crossfit and Confirmation Bias - Write a blog that mentions Crossfit and get great traffic? Go figure.

4. Making Movement Better: Duct Tape or WD-40? - Should you add stability or mobility to fix a problem? Give this article a read to find out.


Source: http://laughingateverydaylife.com/2016/07/duct-tape-vs-wd40/

5. Why You Shouldn't Look Up When You Lift - It drives me bonkers to see lifters looking up at the ceiling during squats, deadlifts, and even arm care exercises. In this post, I discuss why that's the case.

I'll be back soon with another "Best of 2018" feature. Up next, the top videos of the year!

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