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Isometric Elevated Push-up

It’s been a crazy few days, as I made the move to Boston from Southern Connecticut yesterday – into this morning. The last box was taken off the truck at 12:30AM, and we’re now sorting through the madness around the new apartment. Fortunately, however, our Internet was rigged up this morning, so as a true workaholic, I’m sending this email out at 11:50PM on Tuesday night. I promise a Tuesday newsletter, and I’m a man of my word! Congratulations are in order!In the collegiate strength and conditioning realm, a lot of interns come and go. At risk of sounding judgmental, few really do much to distinguish themselves. Maybe they’re just there for college credit, or they just don’t have the passion for taking an athlete’s success to heart. Every so often, though, you get an intern who is a diamond in the rough – and Mike Irr is one diamond with whom I was fortunate to work while at the University of Connecticut. To be blunt, at only 22 years of age, Mike has already shown that he is one of the few people in the industry who really “gets it.” He’s a tremendously hard-working and passionate coach, and just as importantly, he’s open-minded and unconditionally positive. Last week, all those excellent qualities and diligence paid off for Mike. I received a phone call from Mike telling me that his internship with the Chicago Bulls this summer had gone so well that he was offered a position as the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the team. Keep an eye out for the Bulls in the months and years to come; they just added one hell of a coach to their staff. Congratulations, Mike!

Syracuse Strength Spectacular RecapFor those of you who missed this fantastic event back in June, Ryan Smith’s review of the seminar is now available; you can check it out here.

A Strength and Performance Nutrition Symposium Update

This September’s Los Angeles seminar is looking great. In addition to an awesome speaking lineup, there will be dozens of industry “notables” in attendance, and there will be some awesome goodies bags available for those in attendance. If that wasn’t enough, there will be free ART® all weekend, so you could learn something and get your injuries fixed in one weekend! Remember, the early-registration deadline is August 30, so sign up today!


Q: Had a couple questions on the isometric elevated push-up holds in your new article. How do you structure this exercise into your training programs? Is this something you will do in the warm-up or after other movements?What have you found to be the most effective scheme as far as the hold is concerned? Meaning, do you have your athletes go for time/until fatigue/reps/multiple sets, etc. Have you utilized unstable surfaces with this exercise as well? I would be using the holds mostly with my softball players as they prepare this upcoming fall and am always looking for various shoulder exercises to reduce the risk of injury. Thanks so much for any help you can give. A: With beginners, it may be the first movement. Generally, though, I'll include it later in the training session. It's also great for back-off weeks; I actually include it as part of regeneration phases if an athlete is worn out post-season (maintain muscular activation with lower joint torques). I go into more detail on this in The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual. We always do at least two sets, and sometimes as many as four. I generally won't go longer than a minute; many athletes won't be able to go much longer than 15-20s (especially female athletes). As far as unstable surfaces are concerned, there's not much reason to use them for this; you can train proprioception pretty easily at normal speeds. One of the inherent benefits to using upper body unstable surface training is the maintained muscular activation with lower resultant joint torques (prime movers become joint stabilizers - see JSCR research from David Behm and Ken Anderson). You can get this same benefit from isometric holds, so doing them on unstable surfaces would be overkill, IMO – especially in a female athlete population who is likely too weak in the upper body in the first place. Q: Eric, I have a question about your new off-season training manual. Knowing who wrote this manual, I know that it's going to be a great product! I realize that this would be geared more towards the high performance athlete, but could the "Weekend Warrior" realistically utilize this manual? A: Good question - and I've actually received the same inquiry from a few people now. Here's my (admittedly-biased) take on things: If you've read stuff from Mike Robertson, Alwyn Cosgrove, Kelly Baggett, and me (among a few others), I hope one message you've taken away from the articles is that the ordinary weekend warrior would be a lot better off if he'd train more like an athlete. The strength work athletes do helps you move bigger weights and build more muscle while burning more calories to stay lean. The movement training keeps you functional and helps you with energy system work to keep your body composition in check. The mobility work keeps you healthy and functional so that you can stand up to all the challenges in your training programs without getting injured. This manual shows you how all those pieces fit together at different times of year, and it also provides a lot of "stuff you just ought to know" if you train. Another cool thing is that you'll actually start to watch sports on TV in a different light; you'll begin to pick up on the little things that make each athlete unique. And, if all that isn't enough, you've got 30 weeks of sample programming to keep things interesting! Again, great question! Q: I was reading your Shoulder Savers: Part I article and noticed your table on balance in training. My main question is concerned with overhead presses. These lifts are categorized as internal rotation of the humeral joint. When we do overhead pressing, the humerus is fixed in an externally rotated position, correct? Why then is this internal rotation? A: Good question. It's more out of necessity with the population in question than it is true functional anatomy. You're never really "fixed" in any sort of rotation; your humeral head is always going to be rotating in order to accommodate the degree of flexion/abduction. More external rotation = more subacromial space. This is also going to be affected by the position of the bar (front vs. back vs. dumbbells) and the chosen grip (neutral corresponds to more external rotation). But anyway... Long story short, if you look at all the other exercises in the "right" categories, they're the ones that - when used in excess - typically contribute to impingement. Overhead pressing is only going to make impingement worse, and a large percentage of the population really can't do it safely. As such, it needed a place to go beyond just scapular elevation. Additionally, while I can't remember where I saw the data, there was a study that looked at relative EMG of the three heads of the deltoid and found that anterior deltoid (internal rotator) EMG activity was always higher than that of the posterior deltoid (external rotator).  Consider that the posterior deltoid also leads to superior migration of the humeral head, and the external rotation contribution that you get with the movement is still going to have a sublte effect on increasing the risk of impingement. All that said, debating the minutia isn't what is important; what IS important is that lifters, trainers, and coaches start to appreciate who is and isn't suited for overhead pressing.  The more people I encounter, the more I realize that the "isn't" crowd is a lot bigger than we previously thought.  For those interested in some background in this regard, here are a few shoulder articles I've written over the years: Cracking the Rotator Cuff Conundrum Shoulder Savers: Part I Shoulder Savers: Part II Shoulder Savers: Part III Debunking Exercise Myths: Part II Bogus Biomechanics, Asinine Anatomy: Part II (Myth #9) That does it for Newsletter #17; have a great week, everyone! All the Best, EC
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Review: The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual

A Building the Efficient Athlete Update

I wanted to take a moment to send out a special thanks to all those who attended Mike Robertson and my Building the Efficient Athlete seminar at Peak Performance Gym in New York City last weekend.  A special thanks go out to Joe Dowdell and Tim Davis at Peak for all their help in organizing the seminar. Some good news for those who couldn’t make it: Mike and I had the entire two-day seminar videotaped.  It’ll be available as a multiple DVD set within two months; stay tuned for details. LA Strength and Performance Nutrition Seminar Update The registration website for our HUGE LA seminar is now good to go; you can find out more information and sign-up at www.LAStrengthSeminar.com.  You do NOT want to miss this event, folks; it's going to be a blast!

Dr. Berardi on The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual

Here’s what Dr. John Berardi had to say about the new manual: “Recently Eric Cressey sent me a copy of his new Off-Season Conditioning Manual called, appropriately, The ULTIMATE Off-Season Training Manual. "Wow. ”If you haven't checked this manual out yet, I highly encourage you to do so.  Seriously, I can say this without hesitation - this manual delivers what it promises - it's the ultimate guide to training and physical preparation for athletic dominance. I do have to say more, though.”The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual actually PISSES ME OFF. Wanna’ know why? ”It pisses me off because I wish I had this manual when I was a young buck, training hard but not-that-smart for sport. Who knows what level of competition I could have ascended to if I had known how to train smart and eat smart.  Damn you and your manual, Cressey! ”Over the years I've come to realize that excelling in sport requires a few things. Sure, it takes hard work to get to the top. And, of course, it takes some talent.  But nowadays, the guys at the top not only have the talent and the work ethic, but they also use the best training methodologies available and they dial in their nutrition. To illustrate this point, I just spent the week with a top group of NHL draft picks. And all weekend NHL coaches were there to talk about 'the NEW NHL' - an era where practicing, playing games, and drinking beers post-game isn't enough.  They talked about how in the new NHL athletes were required to be good, to train hard, to train smart, and to dial in their nutrition and supplement programs.  Anything else doesn't quite cut it any more. The facts is that I spent the last two months with top-level athletes and have been hearing the same thing over and over again. ***I heard it in Canmore with the Canadian National Cross Country Ski Team. ***I heard it in Calgary with the Canadian National Alpine Ski Team. ***I heard it in Calgary with the Canadian National Bobsleigh and Skeleton Teams. ***I heard it in Colorado with the Spike Professional Racing Team. "The writing is on the wall: to compete in this day and age, it requires training hard AND smart. "In the past I've recommended Cressey and Robertson's Magnificent Mobility DVD for one reason.  When my athletes ask me questions about about flexibility and proper warm-up, it has all the answers they need. So rather than pirate their stuff or spend hours teaching everything to the athletes, I figured I'd avoid law suits and save everyone time by kicking them a link to the DVD. "With the new manual out, Cressey has just made my job easier - again. I recently pointed 30 NHL drafts to his program so that they would get an early leg up on the competition. From the excellent discussions of muscle adaptation to the 30 weeks of sample programming, this manual has got it all and I strongly support the content in there.  I wouldn't be recommending it otherwise. Seriously, if you want the area of sport training handled, this is a great manual for doing so.” Dr. John Berardi, CSCS www.JohnBerardi.com www.PrecisionNutrition.com You can pick up a copy of the manual at www.UltimateOffSeason.com.

An Interview with EC: Diesel Crew Style

I recently completed what was without a doubt the most thorough and fun interview I’ve ever done.  Jim “Smitty” Smith and the rest of the guys at Diesel Crew are an awesome bunch; you can check the interview out here.

Congratulations to Jon Boyle!

As I had initially planned this newsletter last week, the meat and potatoes of this update were going to be a Q&A section with me.  What I failed to realize was that I would be beaming with pride after the actions of a special, hard-working 21 year-old athlete with whom I’ve been fortunate to work.  For those of you who don’t know the name Jon Boyle, you’d better remember it; he’s well on his way to becoming one of the top endurance athletes in the world. I’ve worked with Jon since July of 2005 – and he has not only endured some of the most rigorous, borderline insane training programs I’ve ever written; he’s thrived on them.  All this hard work and dedication came to fruition in Lake Placid this past Sunday as Jon completed his first Ironman in 14 hours, 13 minutes.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Ironman set-up, it’s a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile cycle, and 26.2-mile run – in a single day. The next time you can’t drag yourself to the gym for one of your three weekly gym trips, think of Jon.  He might be home studying for his full course load at George Washington University.  Or, he might be working at his athletic training internship – or possibly at his full-time job.  He might even be completing one of his eleven training sessions per week.  That trip to the gym doesn’t seem that daunting anymore, does it? The first thing I did when I left our seminar on Sunday afternoon was race to the nearest computer to track Jon’s progress online, but nothing told the story like the recap I received Monday night from the man himself.  Enjoy.

2006 Ironman Lake Placid: A Competitor’s Perspective By: Jon Boyle

This could possibly be the longest report of my life.  I promise that I will try to plug in humor along the way so that you all can make it through.  I promise I've left out everything that doesn't have to be said and included everything that has to be said.  Keep in mind that might be in my terms, a simple race report might just go like: “It hurt like a damned bitch.  I finished.”

It wouldn't be fun if I didn't explain the full nature of the pain.  I can say that I have realized that while the distance increased only two times from my last triathlon, the pain increased nearly ten times.  But, on to the report… August 2005, my first triathlon: I slept on the floor. June 2006, my second triathlon: I slept in my car. For Ironman, I figured it might be good to go first-class: I slept in a bed.  Improvement! My favorite day-before-race-day meal was chili nachos.  I took a nap around 6:30PM and yes... acid reflux.  Woke up around 8:00PM for the pre-race shave and back to bed at 9:00PM.  I woke up at 5:00AM. This is when it all started settling in; I was really concerned about having the worst GI problems I have ever experienced...ever.  I didn't want to screw this up.  I adjusted my pre-race meal. Woke up with 10oz grapefruit juice, a scoop of whey, 4 Flameout, and my Alpha Male.  I owe that grapefruit juice magic to TC.  Finished a peanut butter and wheat bread sandwich with 90 minutes until the gun.  I was down to my one banana and Gatorade.  I closed up the meal gap with 45 minutes left and threw in my four BCAAs with 15 minutes until the gun. The Star-Spangled Banner started up and each note struck like never before.  The swim was a mass start – 2,500 people all going one place at one time.  I got about a two-minute swim warm up, as I was a bit delayed by the extremely long bathroom lines.  When the gun went off, I actually felt pretty good.  I had a really good location – right about in the middle – for the swim start.  The whole first mile I could feel the person behind me dragging on my legs, which made me realize that if I didn’t keep going, I’d get trampled by the 1,000 people behind me!  Of course, I kept going.  It was as if every intelligent participant had been reduced to the nature of a fish – just scrambling.  I was really relaxed in the swim and I felt great, remaining aerobic the whole time. At the 1.2 mile I was out of the water at 33:00.  I was back in the water and off.  Only complaint is that my wetsuit had taken on more water than the Titanic and I could feel it with each stroke.  At the half-mile turn, I saw my first scuba diver and I gave him a thumbs-up.  I am not sure if it was bad luck, but I some how managed to swim WAY off course at that point.  I actually ran into the kayaker telling me "Dude, the course is that way!"  Either way, I was out at 1:15.  I suffered one kick in the face, some scratches on my ankle, and a jammed finger. It was a quarter mile "run" to the transition area.  Why?  I don't know.  It gave me some time to adjust from being horizontal for over an hour.  I was in the transition area and decided to take my time.  I chatted a few with the guy next to me.  Had it not been for his complete lack of English skills, I would've gotten out a lot sooner. I had a lot of heroes that day.  My first hero was the guy who applied my suntan lotion.  Congratulations, Suntan Man.  You're my first hero of the day. The bike was unbelievable.  They told us the first lap would be  "cake" and the second lap would feel a lot worse.  I have to admit, 112 miles would be the longest I have ever biked, but I didn't feel that bad.  Whoever designed the "bento box" is a real jerk, though.  They included this useless piece of plastic with no covering; thanks to it, I managed to slice up my knee until I finally threw it off the side of my bike.  My nutrition was great throughout the bike.  I was on one BCAA every 30 Minutes, one Flameout and one GU carb packet every 45 minutes, 1.5 bottles of Gatorade throughout the hour, and 8oz of water throughout the hour; it was all working well.  My HR was about 165 for the first 30 miles – a lot higher than I would've liked, but I figured that it was more nerves than exertion that was causing it.  The climbs were hellish, though. I realized that people enjoyed calling me "Spike" because of my jersey, and I really didn’t mind.  I’ve probably been called a lot worse!  In all, it was three climbs of 1,100 feet, but I loved it.  6:06 on the bike split. I was out for the second loop and every hill just seemed bigger.  I kept up the nutrition plan and was actually inspired when I cruised by a mailbox with a hanging sign that said "Cressey."  Looks like the man of the hour bought a house just for the occasion.  Really, Coach, you shouldn't have.  I topped out on the downhill at 50mph, which was a thrill alone.  The most memorable bike moment was the guy beating the drum to the rhythm of the climb. As I came into the final transition, my feet started acting up.  In the transition tent, I opted for a foot massage before I got going.  Hero #2 of the day was the ART therapist that cleaned up my plantar fascia before heading out on the run.  I told him "I feel like a new man." The run started and I felt like I had some digestion issues.  I walked the first mile and it felt good.  I started to run, and kept up the nutrition plan.  I cut out the Flameout in the last hour of the Bike and I pushed the BCAAs to one every 45 minutes.  Digestion on the run is a lot harder than on the bike. At about Mile 6, I couldn't take it anymore.  The downhills hurt, and the uphills were like cliffs.  I began to walk just to get myself to recover.  I could tell I screwed up something because I sort of felt intoxicated.  I did the walk/jog/run/shuffle/repeat routine.  Around mile 13 it hurt to walk.  I'd like to think I have a pain tolerance and this just had me at the brink. My “anti-heroes” of the day were the multiple people throwing picnics at the side of the road.  I don't need to see a lobster when all I've had on the day is GU and Gatorade.  The last half of the "walk," I was cursing ever seeing a GU packet again.  I opted for the luscious Fig Newtons instead.  I swear that nothing tastes more heavenly than a stale Fig Newton.  I actually washed it down with chicken broth.  Yum.  I also took the opportunity to Vaseline the “nips,” as I figured the red-eleven would be embarrassing on the finish line...a combination most would not choose.  At that point I debated dipping the Fig Newtons into the broth, but I figured that'd be too much. My next heroes of the day were the kids that gave out high-fives.  When I came in for that last mile on the marathon, I began the sprint.  I probably ran sub-six minutes on that last mile just knowing I was heading home.  It brought me to a 6:30 walk/run-a-thon. When I came into the finish line I decided to jump with my hands up to celebrate.  Upon landing, I realized had about zero eccentric strength and nearly fell on my face.  Chalk that one up as a lesson learned. I think I had more people call me Spike on the run than Boyle.  I guess it goes with the hair too. At the finish I felt as if I were in a drunken stupor.  My next hero of the day was the lovely old lady who brought me my medal and blanket.  She asked, “Would you like food or a massage?” I thought to myself, “Damn, I must be in heaven!” So, she repeated herself: “What would you like?” All I could muster up was “Mom and Dad."  I figured I could pass out right then, but I still need to give my parents a hug. I went in for my massage and afterward I started the uncontrolled shivering, which meant a trip to the medical tent.  I had a final temp of 95°F.  I only dropped about six pounds on the race, meaning I was “decent,” but still a little bad.  They didn't deem me worthy of the IV, though, so I just got chicken broth and a bag of lays potato chips. Of all the people watching from my family, my brother-in-law’s brother and my friend Anders were the only two people to see me finish.   My poor sister managed to watch five hours of finishers and missed me. I remember I was going to try and make this funny and exciting but I forgot a lot about it.  I think I'm still stuck in the euphoria at this point. My final heroes: everyone that supported me along the way.  A special thanks goes out to everyone who covered my shifts throughout this season, and this weekend.  I couldn't have done it alone. Congratulations, Jon; you did a hell of a job, and even more impressively, it’s just the beginning of many more incredible performances. See you next week, everyone. EC
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Nate Green: Optimal Experience

Last week, I promised that another big announcement would come in this newsletter, and I’m not going to go back on my word.  We officially confirmed the speaking lineup and location for what I believe will be a fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime event: The Los Angeles Strength and Performance Nutrition Seminar.  This amazing event will take place on September 16-17 and feature panel of speakers with expertise in a variety of areas:

  • Dr. John Berardi
  • Alwyn Cosgrove
  • Dan John
  • Eric Cressey
  • Mike Robertson
  • Julia Ladewski

Jesse Burdick and Dr. Ryan Smith will also be on-hand to perform complimentary ART all weekend and help out with a few presentations.  Likewise, there will be plenty of bright writers, coaches, and trainers (not to mention some experienced lifters) from the fitness industry in attendance, so networking opportunities will abound.  I’ll have more information and a link to the official seminar homepage in next week’s newsletter; for now, you can follow along here.

More Outstanding Feedback on The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual

“Your Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual is jam-packed with tons of must-have information for the coach and the athlete!  Not only do you point out the problems in the majority of off-season training programs, but you have thoroughly posed solutions that have been proven in the trenches.  Not only are these proven in the trenches, but they are also very easy to follow, and I respect the fact that with all your knowledge, you did NOT try to impress the reader with overcomplicated methods and terminology.  This is a user-friendly manual that I'll be re-reading frequently.  This manual must be in the hands of all coaches who are looking for effective ways to truly improve their team's athletic capabilities! Bottom line, this is a Must-Read!”

Zach Even-Esh


"I received my copy of "The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual" a couple of days ago and have been holding off writing anything about it until I'd absorbed as much as the information as I could.

"It's an extremely comprehensive and easily understood text. It guides you through the off-season step-by-step with tests and subsequent responses to your conditioning/ability and desired sport.  The sample routines look very interesting and I look forward to making my own template to follow within the next couple of weeks. "Even if you're not competing in a sport (as is the case with me), I'd recommend this manual. If you simply want to become more functional and a better all-around athlete (bigger, stronger, faster, etc.), then this is an interesting, enjoyable, and thorough route to take. "Thanks Eric!" Ed Chapman Great Britain

Check it out for yourself now!

New Articles!

I had two articles published last week; be sure to check them out when you get a chance:

Shoulder Savers: Part III

Hanging with Eric Cressey, an interview by Maki Riddington

Contributor’s Corner: Nate Green

Most of you probably aren’t familiar with Nate Green, but don’t forget the name; he’s one of the true rising stars in this industry.  Keep an eye out for great things from him in the future; here’s a sneak peak.

Let it Flow: A Quick Lesson in Optimal Experience

By: Nate Green

Psychology has always fascinated me. At the deepest level, I figure if you can understand how people think—what motivates, aggravates, and incapacitates their total progress, whether in the gym, the kitchen, on the field, or in any faculty of life, really—it’s easier and more exciting to coach them while having a significantly more powerful impact on their overall performance.

So, like EC and his somewhat scary, lustful quest for knowledge obtained from training, coaching, and business books, I’m pretty much a psychology whore—except I’m a much higher grade prostitute than Eric “dirty boy” Cressey – but don’t tell him that!

It’s with this in mind that I would like to introduce an interesting “smack-your-forehead-obvious-but-rarely-elaborated” concept to you: the process of flow.  Coined by renowned psychologist, Mike Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced “cheeks sent me high”), flow describes a state in which one is so completely engaged with a favorable, enjoyable task that time seems to stop.

Now, while that may sound all well and good, Csikszentmihalyi is careful to differentiate between pleasures and enjoyments as they pertain to flow.  While pleasures are seen more as consumption oriented activities that satisfy biological needs—bodily pleasures such as delectable tastes, soothing sounds, orgasms, and the like—enjoyments (or gratifications) are categorized as building psychological capital. Simply put, enjoyments, while they may not bring about intense bodily pleasures at the moment, cause us to invest in absorption and a feel a greater sense of accomplishment in retrospect.

Here are the components of flow:

  • The task is challenging and require skill
  • We concentrate
  • There are clear goals
  • We get immediate feedback
  • We have a deep involvement
  • There is a sense of control
  • Time stops

As Dr. Martin Seligman points out in his book Authentic Happiness, “…flow is a frequent experience for some, but this state visits many others rarely if at all.”  I believe that those of us into this whole “fitness thing” experience flow on a much more regular basis than the average individual.  Whether we’re gasping for air after our last set of squats, taking our third lap around the track, or sinking into a hot, Epsom salt bath, I think it’s safe to say that fitness enthusiasts, whether athletes or weekend warriors, are constantly engaged in a sort of flow continuum.

Take a look back up to the list of components.  Which ones describe the way you feel while in the gym or playing your sport?  All of them?  Good.  Personally, I couldn’t imagine not being dedicated to lifestyle that brings about such high ‘psychological capital’.

Seligman writes, “While we moderns have lost the distinction between the pleasures and gratifications, the golden age Athenians were keen on it.  For Aristotle, distinct from bodily pleasures (eudaimonia) is akin to grace in dancing.  Grace is not an entity that accompanies the dance or comes at the end of the dance; it is part and parcel of a dance well done.”

That’s good stuff.

However, while both Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi separate pleasure from flow, I beg to differ slightly.  While they’re both incredibly intelligent and renowned psychologists, I have reason to suspect that their physical conditioning may not be quite up to par with their “mental muscle.”

Now, if you have Dr. John Berardi’s Precision Nutrition program (which you should), you know all too well that your meals can be both pleasurable (with the right spices and food combinations) and gratifying (with the right macronutrient balance and other healthy effects).  And, if you’ve ever been under hundreds of pounds of iron, you know that the cold bar against your hands just feels right, the way it bends just looks cool, the inhalation of chalk dust just smells, well, chalky. But along with those simple pleasures come the other enjoyable consequences (consequences can be defined as either negative or positive) associated with weight training: better body composition, proper and realistic goal setting, and increased psychological capital and motivation to just set the bar higher.

If you get a “rush” or a “high” from training, good for you; now you know that you’re also building a strong foundation of good habits, strength in every respect, and a strong base upon which you can build.  When the bar hits the ground, inhale deeply and let the whole experience flow right through you.

Just don’t forget to exhale.

About the Author

Nate Green is a member of the Advisory Team for Maximum Fitness magazine, holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and is a NFPT certified trainer who works with clients in his hometown of Whitefish, Montana.  He is currently reading everything on which he can get his hands, constantly pestering industry professionals for advice, and preparing to make a splash in the fitness realm. You can contact Nate at nategreen03@hotmail.com.

I'm headed to New York City this weekend for our long-awaited Building the Efficient Athlete seminar, but I'll be back next Tuesday with more fresh material for you.  Have a great week!


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Exclusive Interview: Chris Mohr

Following its release last week, I received a lot of interest in my latest project, The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual.  All the feedback I’ve received thus far has been fantastic; people literally haven’t been able to put the manual down once they start reading it!  Here’s what a few readers had to say:

“I just received your manual and opened it up to take what I thought would be a quick glance.  ‘Suddenly,’ I found myself three hours later not wanting to put it down. The information you provided in this manual is absolutely fantastic.  I've competed in two professional sports, getting only so far with each one; I can honestly say that the off-season training I did for both is really what ultimately got me there.

“This manual would have had a tremendous impact on my training. It would have taken the guessing and hoping out of my routines and instead given me the confidence needed to attack my training sessions. The routines provided are also extremely helpful, as they not only guide you in the beginning, but take you all the way through a legitimate off-season.  I can't say enough how I wish I had something like this while in college and through out my professional athletic career. This is a must-have for athletes and coaches; I highly recommend it.”

Al Caslow

Elite Powerlifter, Former NFL Wide Receiver


“I just finished reading your off-season training manual and had to email to tell you how awesome it was. This manual is going to have a huge impact on the Strength and Conditioning world. I love how it is not just a cookie cutter program and rather a presentation that leaves the reader with the tools to design his/her own off-season programs for their individual sports.

“Congrats on a great product!”

AJ Roberts



"The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual  is a complete training resource that provides for the practical application of the subject matter that it contains. Through the use of scientific foundations and anecdotal evidence, Eric effectively spans the spectrum of planning considerations specific to non-competitive phases of training. Well done.”

James Smith



With that said, I thought it might be a good idea to give you all a little taste of what you can expect; here’s the foreword to the manual:


“One’s first step in wisdom is to question everything – and one’s last is to come to terms with everything.”

-                                                           -Georg Christoph Lichtenburg

Not a week goes by that I don’t receive a dozen emails from athletes who want the secret to getting bigger, leaner, faster, stronger, and more agile in the off-season. They don’t want to just improve; they want to dominate their competition when the next season arrives.

While I absolutely love their enthusiasm, dealing with these individuals can actually be extremely frustrating. They all want results, and they all want them yesterday, but apparently they don’t like it when I refuse to tell them what they want to hear. As you scan the pages that follow, many of you will probably feel just as confused as those emailing me do; you might even disagree with me to the point of refusing to read on. However, before you do, ask yourself if you disagree with me because you feel that I’m genuinely wrong in my reasoning, or because my reasoning simply calls into question principles and practices to which you’ve adhered for years. Whether you’re a coach, parent, or an athlete yourself, this book might not be what you want to hear, but it is something that you need to hear. In reading this novel, you can expect to rethink what you are doing and possibly even regret what you have done in the past. In the process, I hope that you’ll all walk away from this text with a new paradigm with which to view off-season training. Conversely, you should not expect to find programming that you can simply copy and paste to use with your athletes, clients, children, or yourself. I am a firm believer that the single-most important component of preparing for athletic success and physical transformation is individualization, and that belief will resound throughout this book. All athletes are unique, and programming must reflect each athlete’s distinctive needs. Yes, I have included sample templates at the end of this manual; however, the purpose of these templates is to demonstrate a sample “whole” created from dozens of constituent parts. If you want to learn how to create programs that address your unique needs as a coach and athlete, it’s imperative that you first look to the chapters that precede the sample programming. These chapters outline the means to the end; the programs alone will not tell you much – and they may not be suitable for you. If you’re a coach looking to existing literature as a means of “pirating” programs for your athletes, you need to consider whether doing so is in the best interests of your athletes or just the individual marketing the cookie-cutter program. In no way am I intending to come across as condescending, as I’ll be the first to admit that all coaches – myself included – have areas in which they need to grow. Rather, my message is that downright terrible coaches don’t look to the literature at all. Mediocre coaches look to these resources so that they can have someone else tell them exactly what to do. The best coaches read diligently and critically, scrutinizing everything they encounter to determine if it is correct and, if so, how it can be incorporated into their existing philosophies. It is my hope that you’ll treat the information that follows in this final context. You’ve already taken a key step; you purchased this book in hopes of making your coaching and programming more effective in order to help your athletes. As an accomplished exercise scientist, coach, and athlete myself, it never ceases to amaze me that the problems I will outline are even commonly found in the off-season programs of some of the most prominent strength and conditioning professionals at the highest levels. The shortcomings of such programming errors are “merely” significant at the intermediate level; however, at the elite level, these programming flaws may cost athletes Olympic medals, national championships, individual honors, and millions of dollars in salaries and bonuses. Those of you who are familiar with my writing will likely notice that this work deviates somewhat from my traditional style, which often includes dozens of references. My rationale is very simple: you won’t find this information in your undergraduate textbooks or the peer-reviewed publications most commonly references in our industry. Instead, you’ll only find this information from getting in the trenches, working with athletes, and seeing what works. That’s what I’ve done, and that’s what dozens of fantastic coaches with whom I correspond on a weekly basis have done. If there is information in this text, you can assume that it is the result of countless hours of planning, coaching, and interpreting the results we’ve found. It’s all about reading between the lines – not just referencing what’s on the lines. This is a guide for the practitioner – whether he is a coach or an athlete. If you are someone interested in reading a review of scientific literature that simply doesn’t cut it in the real world – where “what is” predominates over “what should be” – this manual isn’t for you. As powerlifter and coach Dave Tate, one of my mentors and friends, has said: “Science tells us what we did.” Science might point you in the right direction, but it should never tell you what to do. Instead, experimentation validated with results should tell you what works – and just as importantly, what you use in future situations to guarantee success. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that experimentation in training settings around the world is occurring every day. New anecdotal and scientific evidence abounds, and we must seek it out. Our perspectives should be constantly evolving as new information becomes available to us. With that in mind, interpret the information in this book as a 2006 snapshot; many of these ideas may evolve in the years to come. Continue to read and scrutinize, and you’ll be at the top of your field and your game. It’s time to put hidden agendas aside and apply scientific principles and some actual thought to our off-season training programs. It’s time to get to the truth. Eric M. Cressey May 24, 2006

Pick up your copy today!

Exclusive Interview: Chris Mohr, PhD, RD

As you read this interview, I’ll actually be lifting and grabbing a bit to eat up in Boston with this week’s interviewee.  Some of you might not be familiar with Dr. Chris Mohr, so after reading this interview, you might be inclined to think that he’s and “up-and-coming star” in the world of nutrition for health and human performance.  I beg to differ; Chris is already a star – you just might not know about him yet.

Dr. Mohr has Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Nutrition, from Penn State University and the University of Massachusetts, respectively.  He received his PhD in exercise physiology from the University of Pittsburgh and is also a registered dietitian.  He has consulted with various media outlets and corporations, including the Discovery Health Channel, Clif Bar, Fit Fuel, and Labrada Nutrition.  Chris works with all types of individuals, from soccer moms to collegiate and professional athletes.  He has authored or co-authored several textbooks that are to be published in 2007, including a sports nutrition textbook for Human Kinetics and a book, The Platinum Body, on which he consulted with LL Cool J.  In all, Chris has written over 500 articles for consumer publications such as Men’s Fitness, Men’s Health, and Muscle and Fitness, to name a few.  In short, this guy knows his stuff!

EC: Hi Chris, thanks for taking the time to be with us today.  We typically focus a lot on the training end of the spectrum with our interviews, but I think that having more nutrition talk will be a good thing with “beach season” upon us.  Let’s get right to it…randomly toss out ten things that our readers can do right now to optimize their nutritional plans?


  1. Add at least one fruit and/or vegetable to EVERY meal.
  2. Replace saturated and trans fats with fish oil, flax, olive oil, and other healthy fats.
  3. Drink more tea – green and black, as both offer a ton of benefits.
  4. Use a pre-, during-, and post-workout product that offers a carbohydrate:protein blend of about 2-3:1
  5. Drink more water.
  6. Think fiber, not carbs; whole grains are awesome, unless it’s pre-, during-, or post-workout.
  7. Write down what you eat on a daily basis/
  8. Eat at least one handful of almonds and/or walnuts daily.
  9. Add berries to your diet.
  10. Always eat breakfast.

EC: It goes without saying that you’re one of the industry leaders in the field of nutrition for health, performance, and body composition, but who were your mentors?  Likewise, who are the other individuals within the industry with whom you communicate on a daily basis for advanced nutrition knowledge?

CM:  I like to read all that I can – the good, the bad, and the ugly – to keep me in the loop of what’s out there being said, promoted, etc.  With that said, here are some folks I really trust for their nutrition knowledge – well, it’s nobody; I know all the answers!  Just kidding, of course.  John Berardi is great and a good friend, Tom Incledon is very knowledgeable, and I also look to Dave Ellis, who is a dietitian and strength coach who works with many pro/college teams or athletes in every sport.

EC: We’ve talked about the good guys, so how about the bad?  What frustrates you the most about this industry?

CM: The thing that frustrates me the most are those who only want that quick fix; they want all the results, with none of the work.  I hate the different fad diets that come out nearly every day.  Carbs are bad; now they’re good.  Fat is the devil; now it’s the greatest thing in the world.  Nutrition does not have to be that difficult; sure, there are some intricacies that will help you improve body comp, achieve goals, etc., but stick with the basics.  And don’t live off of supplements.  I received an email from a reader the other day with a list of EIGHTEEN different products he was taking and there were about three of each product, just different brands (creatine with dextrose, without, effervescent, three different multivitamins, and more).  Food works pretty damn well – and supplements can of course be beneficial, but don’t try to live off them!

EC: Let’s go with a little word association game.  What 2-3 sentences come to mind when I mention the following words/phrases?

The Food Guide Pyramid - Wish there was more focus on quality of nutrients.  If you’re stuck on a pyramid, I like the Mediterranean Food Pyramid, which emphasizes whole grains, fish, fruits and veggies, and healthy fats.

John Berardi - John is a great guy, very knowledgeable, and a good friend.  Although when he lumps all sports dietitians together as not knowing their head from their ass, he’s barking up the wrong tree!

Fasting - If you want to lose a lot of lean body mass, it’s REALLY effective.  You may be 120 years old when you die because of the extended life from caloric restriction, but you’ll wish you died when you started fasting.

Digestive Enzymes - Depends on your situation.  I don’t believe everyone needs them; the body works pretty darn well, but some folks may benefit from adding them to their regimen.

Eating Organic - Great if you can afford it.  I’m more concerned with folks first getting some healthier foods in their diets; many folks eat less than one fruit and/or vegetable each day.  I’d rather have them start there and just add healthier foods than worrying about paying a lot for organic foods.  If you can afford it, great, but more importantly, start making positive changes from your current diet without worrying too much about the organic thing and then “graduate” to that.

EC: If our readers want to be at the top of their game nutrition-wise, what are a few resources they need to check out?


Yes, the first two are shameless, self-promoting plugs:

  1. Human Inferno – A manual to help you with fat loss; I wrote it with Alwyn Cosgrove
  2. Weapons for Mass – Another manual I co-authored, this time with Dr. Greg Bradley-Popovich.
  3. Gourmet Nutrition by John Berardi and John Williams
  4. Fundamental Fueling Tactics DVD by Dave Ellis, RD, CSCS

EC: Similarly, who are five speakers they should see present?

CM: Alwyn Cosgrove, Craig Ballantyne, John Berardi, Phil Kaplan, and, of course, Eric Cressey.  Well, they should see me too.

EC: What’s new in your world?  I know you’re traveling a ton this summer; please fill us in on what has been on your agenda. Any new projects coming up?

CM:  I am traveling a ton this summer – lots of work, but of course some pleasure too.  So aside from being all over the country in the next few months, I’m working on another cool fat loss project with Alwyn Cosgrove and am in the early stages of a very cool project with someone else in my company that we plan to launch in the fall.  Stay tuned for more details.  I also just wrapped up some work on a book I did with LL Cool J and his trainer that will be coming out in January, in addition to a Sports Nutrition Textbook I co-authored for Human Kinetics that will be out in February 2007.  So, lots of stuff on the horizon!

EC: Thanks for being with us today, Chris.  Where can our readers find out more about you?

CM:  Thanks, Eric!

Check out www.MohrResults.com, www.WeaponsForMass.com, and www.HumanInferno.com.

That’s all for this week.  Before I sign off, I want to remind our readers in the NY/NJ and New England area that we have a few spots remaining for Mike Robertson and my “Building the Efficient Athlete” seminar in New York City on July 22-23.  If you’re interested, please drop me an email at ec@ericcressey.com.

We’ll be back next week with more exclusive material and another exciting announcement.
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New Product: The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual

Hi Folks,

After a week of traveling and an insane amount of planning, we’re back on track with Newsletter #13.  And, this newsletter won’t disappoint; I’ve got some great news to share with you.

New Product: The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual

First up, I’m pleased to announce that my first solo project is now available.  It’s been close to a year in the making, but The Ultimate Off-Season Manual is now available for purchase.

It seems very fitting that this publication comes less than one week after five athletes who had a profound impact on my development as a coach were drafted into the NBA. From a team of twelve basketball players (nine on scholarships), five were drafted into the NBA (four in the first round), one will be a free agent signing, and a seventh received a two-year contract to be an NFL tight-end. In this same year, three of our athletes were drafted into the WNBA (two in the first round).

My experiences with these athletes and countless others, combined with interactions with dozens of coaches and "booksmarts" of my own, led me to put all my thoughts on off-season training in print. At the risk of sounding overly self-confident, I feel like this manual will serve as a valuable resource for coaches and athletes alike for years to come.

You can find out more about the manual at www.UltimateOffSeason.com.

The Syracuse Strength Spectacular: A Quick Recap and Thank You

I also wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who made it out to Syracuse last weekend for what proved to be the single-best conference at which I’ve ever been present.  Going in, I considered myself extremely fortunate to be included in such an incredible lineup of speakers: Dave Tate, Jim Wendler, Joe DeFranco, Buddy Morris, Michael Hope, and James Smith.  As I left, I realized that I was just as fortunate to be a part of what was unquestionably the most enthusiastic and knowledgeable audience I’ve ever encountered.  I guess only the die-hards make it out to Syracuse in June!

In case you missed it, here is how a few of those in attendance responded to the question, “If you were asked what you thought of the seminar, what would you say?”

  • “This was the best $225 that I have ever spent in the area of learning/education of training. I would recommend it to all that will ever ask. Attendee number was just right, not too many and not too small.”
  • “This was the best seminar I have ever been to. Normally you pick up one or two things at a seminar. I have eight pages full and that was just from the time I spent talking to the presenters in the hallway and lunch room. You never see this type of interaction anywhere.”
  • “In a field where the coaches are so "catty" because they don't want anyone to know what they are doing, probably because they are doing f**king wrong, this seminar shoved it in all of their faces. Thank you for the chance to attend and for helping me progress me even more as a conditioning coach.”
  • “Very informative and a departure from run of the mill, impractical, ineffective guru crap.”
  • “I have been asked...I said it was very informative. Also the lineup of presenters was f**king amazing. The fact that many of the attendees are top in their field, too, was a testament to the credibility of the presenters. This was the third seminar I've been to and this was hands-down the best.”
  • “Worth much more than the price of the entire weekend just for the networking opportunities. Overall a tremendous weekend.”
  • “The seminar was great and very informative. It was better than some of the bulls**t research ones I've been to before. I was down to earth - the real deal!”
  • “A valuable resource and if one were interested in setting themselves apart from the rest of the pack, this seminar is a must!”
  • “If you missed it, you screwed up...”
  • “This is the real deal, the real application. This is the mixture of philosophy and practicality, there is not mumbo jumbo talk made to impress anyone, and the presenters have FREE reign to speak on what they want. This comes from coaches who have a proven track record of HIGH success with countless athletes of all levels, ready and willing to share their information in a down to earth manner. This is the place to be when you want to get down with the nitty gritty and learn how coaches take many athletes with little ability and then transform them into a**kickers. I would say, if you're remotely serious in training others, get you’re a** to this seminar and see what it's all about!”
  • “I would say that if you're interested in becoming a strength coach, trainer or are interested in powerlifting, this is definitely something you should not have missed. I would say that it was well worth the money. It exceeded my expectations.”
  • “Amazing quality of the people.  Each of them said things that made a difference in what I ‘thought’ I knew. Left there knowing that I am the luckiest guy to be working in a field with this kind of ‘leadership’ - amazing people.”
  • “I was reminded of concepts I had overlooked and that I needed to reinforce. The seminar left me feeling like my brain was full and provided for a great car ride back home. I met some great people and I look forward to the next seminar.”
  • “Quite pleased. It let me know where I was on the knowledge curve, and motivated me to practice my profession and train harder than I was even before the seminar.”
  • “The entire weekend was fantastic and I can't say enough great things about it. It was a great experience to hear so many knowledgeable and bright people in the field speak.”
  • “Great mix of theory and practice from people who walk the walk and talk the talk.”
  • “One the best I've ever been to; it was relevant to what the audience does.  No bullshit – professional - yet relaxed atmosphere.  I could not have asked for a better experience.”

You might be asking: why is EC bothering to post these survey results?  Well, the answer is very simple: we’re likely going to be doing this again in the not-so-distant future, so don’t miss out next time!  Keep an eye out for details in the months to come…

"Building the Efficient Athlete" Seminar

A few seats remain for Mike Robertson and my "Building the Efficient Athlete" seminar, which will take place in New York City July 22-23.  This will be a great opportunity to take your program design and coaching abilities to the next level; you don't want to miss it.  For more information, please email me at ec@ericcressey.com.

A Great Read

As some of the survey results show, a lot of people can use opportunities like seminars to open their eyes to new perspectives.  It seems only fitting to stick with this trend with our recommended reading for the week.  I stumbled onto this short-topic article when I saw the name of the author: Dr. Jeff Volek.  I studied under Dr. Volek at UCONN, and he’s one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of low carbohydrate diets for health and performance.  As I’m sure you can imagine, given the area of his expertise, Dr. Volek isn’t afraid to rock the boat and make you think about what you’ve held as sacred for your entire lives.  With that said, check out Genius Junk Food.


I’m currently back home in Maine visiting my family for the 4th of July holiday, so naturally, I have been hitting up my old gym for some lifts while I’m here.  When I’m back in Connecticut, I lift at South Side Gym, a training facility so hardcore that even the cockroaches are afraid to cause trouble.  As I’m sure you can imagine, these two training environments are markedly different.

As it turned out, this is a low stress training week, so I didn’t have a ton of training to do back here in Maine.  Nonetheless, I went in to the gym and hit up eight easy sets of two reps with 335 pounds for my dynamic squat work, and then moved on to speed deadlifts for 8x1 with 455.  I did a few sets of reverse lunges and some bar rollouts, and called it a session – nothing too revolutionary or challenging for me, as it was a recovery week.  Not surprisingly, though, everyone in the gym looked at me like I had two heads for the entire time I trained.  Hell, they looked at me like I was nuts when I passed 135 in my warm-up!

Back at South Side, I squat in a training crew with five legitimate 700-pound squatters, one 800-pound squatter, and two 900-pound squatters.  When we pull, I tend to redeem myself, but that’s not to say that there is a single guy in that crew who can’t push me to move bigger weights day-in and day-out.  The bench press and all our assistance work is no difference.  It’s expected that I do the same for them.

Dave Tate touched on this in great detail out in Syracuse last weekend.  Training in a great environment is one thing that will undoubtedly make you a much more successful lifter, but only if the expectations put on you (by others and yourself) in that environment are high will you reach the next level.  For the guys at South Side, 455 pounds on the bar is nothing; they expect me to do more, and because I know that, I expect it of myself, too.  In the general fitness setting, though, you don’t get those expectations; mediocrity (at best) surrounds you, so you become content to be mediocre.

Some people might think that it would have felt great for my ego to come back home and be the strongest guy in the gym, but that couldn’t be further from the truth; I hate lifting anywhere where there aren’t expectations in place for me.  I wish that one of the old ladies in the gym had come up and called me out for being a sissy and not slapping another plate on the bar.

What does this mean for you?  It’s very simple:

1. Find a great training environment.

2. Find some good training partners.

3. Make it clear to them that you expect a ton of them and that they should expect a ton of you.

That does it for this week.  We’ll be back next week with more exclusive material.

To our American audience, have a Safe and Happy Fourth of July!  To those abroad, who said you could take a break?  This is our holiday; get back in the gym!


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Newsletter #12

It’s a crazy busy week, so this newsletter is going to be a quick-hitter.

  • I did a push/pull last weekend to get a little redemption for my Senior Nationals frustration and wound up benching 402 and deadlifting 628 – both competition personal bests.  It was nice to get back on track and set the tone for the new training cycle.
  • I had a new article published at T-Nation last week; in case you missed it, check out The Joint Health Checklist.

I recently did an interview with Nick Grantham, a highly respected strength and conditioning coach in the UK.  Enjoy!

NG: Eric, thank you for the interview. Why don't you start by telling us a little bit about your current coaching commitments?

EC: My pleasure, Nick; thanks for having me.  I just left the facility in Southern Connecticut at which I was taking clients and athletes, and I’ll be moving up to Boston August 1 to help get Excel Sports and Fitness Training  off the ground with Rebecca Manda, John Sullivan, and Brad Cardoza.  Additionally, Carl Valle – one of the best track and field coaches around – will be actively involved at Excel as well.  We are going to do phenomenal things with athletes and weekend warriors of all levels; I’m really excited to be a part of such a fantastic opportunity.  I lived in Boston for two years and was born and raised in Maine, so it’ll be a return home of sorts; I still have lots of family and friends in the area.

Presently, I’m back up at the University of Connecticut 2-3 days per week helping out with the athletes with whom I worked while I was there in the past.  We’ve already had three drafted into the WNBA and anticipate having six more headed to the NBA, so there has been a lot of work going into preparing them for their individual workouts with teams and, for some guys, the NBA combine.  There are still a lot of undergraduate athletes on campus, too, so it’s a full day.

For the most part, though, I’m actually enjoying a little downtime for the first time in long while.  I'm stronger than I've ever been because I've been able to devote more focus to my training at South Side Gym.  Likewise, it’s given me a chance to work on various writing and consulting projects, and travel to attend and speak at seminars.  So, I guess I’m just an unemployed guy who doesn’t like to sit still, now that I think about it!

Rest assured that I don’t have it in me to become one of those guys who just writes books and articles and never trains people; we’ve got too many of them in this industry already.  I love to work with athletes and get under the bar myself; the day that stops being fun and I start considering just writing and consulting full-time is the day that I need to find a new profession.  Performance enhancement coaching is about attitude and passion – not typing.

NG:  Can you tell the reader your educational or previous career background?

EC: I started out at business school (Babson College) thinking that I wanted to be an accountant.  That thought passed pretty quickly, as I realized that training and nutrition was on my mind a lot more than crunching numbers.  I transferred to the University of New England after my sophomore year, taking all my management credits with me into a Sports and Fitness Management degree (with some supplemental classes in health service delivery systems).  I pretty much had that degree done in 2.5 years, so I decided to double major by adding Exercise Science to the mix.  I wound up graduating with 168 credits, and in the process recognized that I was a lot more interested in the science and practice of performance enhancement than I was in management.

As such, I went on to get my Master’s degree in Kinesiology with a concentration in Exercise Science at the University of Connecticut, where I was involved in varsity strength and conditioning and research in the human performance laboratory.  The UCONN Department of Kinesiology was recently voted the #1 Kinesiology Graduate Program in the US; the faculty and graduate students are brilliant, and opportunities abound with research and coaching.  I am really lucky to have had the opportunity – and to still be involved in some capacity and have those resources at my fingertips.

NG: You're a competitive powerlifter - what can you take from your own training that would be of use to our readers?

EC: Competing has completely changed me as a coach and a writer; I never realized how much better I am at what I do when I share a competitive mindset with my athletes.  My decision to compete was one of the wisest choices I ever made.  In fact, this decision had such profound implications that I think I could go on all day.  However, a few things that I have come to appreciate in a whole new light:

1. Planned overreaching is tremendously valuable when used correctly.

2. You need to appropriately schedule back-off/regeneration phases.

3. Success rests with attention to detail.  Imagine putting in an entire 12-week training cycle and then bombing out because your squat technique was off on just one day…this hasn’t happened to me, but it does happen.

4. Train for performance, eat clean, and things will almost always fall into place.  I couldn’t care less about “the pump” anymore.

5. Attitude is the single-most important factor that determines your success or lack thereof.  I’ll take a guy with a great attitude on a garbage program over someone with a lousy attitude and the best program in the world anyday.

6. The value of a good training crew cannot be overstated.  It changes your attitude completely.  They pick you up when you’re dragging, and you do the same for them.  They pick up on the little things that make the big differences and help you get personal bests when you don’t realize you have them in you.

I could go on all day, but you get the point.  If you don’t have a goal, it’s hard to view exercise as anything more than “working out.”  Anybody can “work out;” you need to train.

NG: I spend a lot of time working with athletes that come to me with a good training history, only to find that lifting techniques are, well, pretty crappy to say the least! Sometimes the best people to work with are the ones that have never stepped foot inside a gym because you don't have to spend the whole of the session undoing all of the bad habits! If a newbie walks into your facility, what would you do to make sure that when he came over to the UK in 3 years time to train with me that I wouldn't be faced with a mess?!

EC: We’d do loads of foam rolling, activation, and mobility work to make sure that he’s moving efficiently through a full range of motion.  From there, I’d use a combination of isometric holds and traditional strength training movements with an emphasis on single-leg work and lumbar spine and scapular stabilization.  The basics work great when they’re done properly; it’s our job to ensure that ideal technique precedes loading.  People wouldn’t need to have such elaborate assessment schemes if most athletes were taught to do the right things correctly early-on, you know?

NG: I know you share with me an interest in maintaining a healthy shoulder girdle (that sounds a bit sad!). I try to incorporate my injury prevention work for the shoulders into the main training routine (I like to superset between the main lifts). I like to use a variety of exercises internal/external/PNF pattern rotator cuff work on elastics/pulleys, stability push ups on balance boards, bosu boards, rings, med ball catches, plate throws, Cuban snatches etc). Can you share with our readers some of the key exercises that you use to protect the shoulders from injury?

EC: Ha!  You’re not kidding; I became a shoulder enthusiast out of necessity.  Being a tennis player turned powerlifter isn’t exactly easy on the shoulders, you know?

You’ve got some great stuff there; I use most of them myself.  One thing that I can overstate enough is the fact that the overwhelming majority of shoulder problems originate at the scapula – not the glenohumeral (ball-and-socket) joint.  With that in mind, as the years have gone on, I’ve devoted more of my “prehab” volume to stabilizing the scapulae – most commonly with work emphasizing the lower traps and serratus anterior in particular – along with the traditional external and internal rotation work for the humerus.  The progression is always isolated to compound; my more experienced athletes don’t do as much of the single-joint stuff.  It’s generally integrated in more complex patterns.

Above all, though, fitness professionals need to understand how to assess the shoulder girdle.  Unfortunately, it’s an assessment that isn’t in the repertoire of most coaches today.  Hopefully, some products with which I’m involved will help to elucidate these issues to fitness professionals within the next six months.

NG: Your Master’s thesis looks at training on unstable surface as it relates to improving athletic performance. How has what you've discovered as a result of your research influenced your programming?

EC: Well, unfortunately, I can’t reveal my data until the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research publishes it (hopefully this fall).  I can, however, tell you that I’m already hard at work on putting together a “layman’s” version of the entire thesis to relate my findings to athletes and coaches in a more easily-interpreted context (reading academic writing isn’t much different than perusing stereo instructions, unfortunately).  Without saying too much, I can tell you that a lot of people are going to be very surprised at the results; it’s going to open a lot of eyes and make people re-evaluate how they utilize these implements.  This truly was the first study of its kind; nobody to-date had looked at how chronic training on these implements affects performance in trained, healthy athletes.

NG: I recently gave a talk on core stability to a group of strength coaches and physiotherapists (athletic trainers) - this was my first slide 'Much of what has been said about ‘core training’ has come from physiotherapists – they are experts at getting injured people healthy – they are not experts at training athletes!' - I borrowed that from Mike Boyle! Now I wasn't rubbishing all of the good work that has been done by people like McGill, Hodges, Saunders and Sahrmann. I was trying to do two things - 1. wake the audience up! 2. wake the S&C coaches up to the fact that maybe somewhere along the line a whole load of us forgot what we were supposed to be doing, building strong and a powerful athletes that can withstand the demands of their sport. How do you approach training the 'core' with your clients?

EC: Honestly, the word “core” has become so hackneyed that it makes me kind of ashamed that our profession.  I mean, let’s face it: “Core” can essentially be translated as “The rectus abdominus, lumbar erectors, obliques, and all those other muscles between the knees and shoulders that I’m either too lazy or misinformed to list.”

Everything is related; our bodies are great at compensating.  As such, it’s imperative that the approach one takes to “core” training be based on addressing where the problems exist.  The most common lower back problems we see are related to extension-rotation syndrome.  We most often get hyperextension at the lumbar spine because our gluteus maximus doesn’t fire to complete hip extension and posteriorly tilt the pelvis; we have to find range of motion wherever we can get it.  Having tight hip flexors and lumbar erectors exaggerates anterior pelvic tilt, so this hyperextension is maintained throughout the day to keep the body upright in spite of the faulty pelvic alignment.

The rotation component simply comes along when you throw unilateral dominance into the equation.  It might be a baseball pitcher always throwing in one direction, or an office worker always turning to answer the phone on one side.  Lumbar rotation is not a movement for which you want any extra range of motion, and the related hip hiking isn’t much fun to deal with, either.

The solution is to get the glutes firing and learn to stabilize the lumbar spine while enhancing mobility at the hips, thoracic spine, and scapulae.  You just have to get the range of motion at the right places.

Unfortunately, thinking this stuff out isn’t high on some people’s priority list.  It’s “sexier” to tell a client to do some weighted sit-ups, Russian twists, and enough yoga to make the hip flexors want to explode.  I’m not going to recommend sit-ups to anyone, and if an athlete is going to do something advanced, he’s going to have shown me that he’s prepared for it by successfully completing a progression to that point.  You can get away with faulty movement patterns in the real world, but when you put a faulty movement pattern under load in a resistance training context, everything is magnified.

NG: I like to develop what we call 'bullet proof' athletes - men and women that can take to the field and cope with what the sport and their opponents throws at them. What would be your main tips for making a 'bullet proof' athlete - what areas should we focus our attention on and what exercises could we use?


1. Adequate hip mobility.

2. Stability of the lumbar spine, scapulae, and glenohumeral joint.

3. Posterior chain strength and normal firing patterns

4. Loads of posterior chain strength.

5. More pulling (deadlifts, rows, and pull-ups) than pushing (squats, benches, and overhead pressing)

6. Greater attention to single-leg movements

7. Prioritization of soft-tissue work in the form of foam rolling, ART, and massage

8. Attitude (being afraid when you’re under a bar is a recipe for injury)

9. Adequate deloading periods

10. Attention to daily posture (you have 1-2 hours per day to train, and 22-23 to screw it up in your daily life)

NG: I know you study the field a lot and - who are your go to guys when it comes to training?

EC: Wow, that’s a very loaded question, as I’m fortunate to be able to communicate with some of the most brilliant minds in the business (training, nutrition, supplementation, and marketing) on a daily basis.  Some names that immediately come to mind as really influencing me personally are: Chris West, Brijesh Patel, Alwyn Cosgrove, John Berardi, Jason Ferruggia, Dave Tate, Mike Boyle, Mike Robertson, Michael Hope, Jim Wendler, Cassandra Forsythe, William Kraemer, David Tiberio, Brian Grasso, Kelly Baggett, Bob Youngs, Joe DeFranco, Buddy Morris, Brad Cardoza, John Sullivan, Carl Valle, Ryan Lee, and too many powerlifters and training partners to even list.  Suffice it to say that my email address book and the phone book on my cell phone are pretty much filled to capacity!  My undergraduate advisor called me a “sponge for information;” others might just call me a pain in the ass who needs to stop cramming so much information into his brain and have some fun instead.  They don’t realize that this IS fun for me!

NG:  What are your goals as a coach?

EC: I want to positively influence the lives of those with whom I work and those who buy my products.  My love of exercise in many ways saved my life, and I’m fortunate to be in a position to give something back to the world of health and human performance.

NG: In a nutshell - What is your training philosophy?

EC: I’ve been asked this so many times that I’ve decided to come out with an “auto-responder!”

“Train your body to work efficiently and take care of your diet and lifestyle, and you’ll be rewarded with a physique that performs at a high level and just so happens to look great.  You can’t build a castle on quicksand, so sometimes you need to take a step back and make sure that the appropriate foundation is in place.  Foundations aren’t built with gimmicks; they’re built with hard work and scientific practices.”

NG: I'm asking all of our contributors for their top three books - the ones every S&C coach should have in their library? We've had some great answers and I'm building a virtual library on the links page of the web-site....what are your top 3?

This is going to come across as a self-fulfilling prophecy, but if you ask the functional anatomy guy what’s important, he’s going to say “functional anatomy.”  If you don’t understand structure, you won’t understand function.  If you don’t understand function, you won’t understand performance or be able to recognize dysfunction – and every athlete has something wrong with them, trust me.

1. Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement Impairment Syndromes by Sahrmann

2. Muscles: Testing and Function with Posture and Pain (5th ed.) by Kendall et al.

3. Kinetic Anatomy by Behnke (good starter text for people just getting their feet wet)

Keep in mind that I read about two books per week; these are just three that are great in light of the subject matter at hand.

NG: Is there anything else you would like to mention (you can talk about your products etc)?

EC: Well, now that I’m officially the “busiest unemployed guy in the world,” I’ve been fortunate to tie up some loose ends on a variety of projects that I’ve had in the works for months.  Mike Robertson and I just launched MagnificentMobility.com to promote our DVD, which has already received tons of great feedback.  I’ll also be releasing my first solo writing project this summer; not to toot my own horn, but sports performance coaches around the world are going to absolutely eat it up.  It draws on a ton of personal experience with a wide variety of athletes as well as conversations I’ve had with some excellent coaches; I really think it’s going to open a lot of people’s eyes about how we train our athletes.

Mike Robertson and I will be releasing our next big project in mid-August as well, so we’re excited about that.  I’ve also got several speaking engagements lined up; readers can check out my schedule.  Other than that, it’s mostly just some e-books and lots of facility planning on the agenda.

Thanks again for having me!

Another week in the books; thanks for stopping by!

All the Best,


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Product Review: Ultimate Sales Kit for Fitness Professionals

EC on the Fitcast

On Sunday night, I had the pleasure of being a guest host on the Fitcast with Kevin Larrabee and Dr. John Williams.  We covered a lot of ground; definitely check it out.  Here are the download instructions directly from Kevin:

To Get the episodes of the FitCast:

1) If you do not have iTunes, I highly encourage you do do so here (it's free): http://www.apple.com/itunes 2) If you do have iTunes (or, once you've downloaded it for free above), click this link below and your iTunes player will be launched, showing you all The FitCast episodes: http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=151651969&s=143441 3) Once you click the link above and iTunes has launched, hit subscribe (this is also free).  This will make sure that you're notified each time there's a new episode of The FitCast 4) At this point you can either listen to The FitCast on your computer or you can download it to your mp3 player for listening in the car or whenever you like. 5) Also, as a quick heads up, if at any point in time you lose these links, you can search for The FitCast in the iTunes store (www.itunes.com).  Just make sure you choose "The FitCast" with Kevin Larrabee and Dr. John Williams. 6) Finally, The FitCast has a web site with links to all the stories and websites that are discussed in the show.  Here's that link: www.thefitcast.com.

Product Review: Jim Labadie’s Ultimate Sales Kit for Fitness Professionals

As you can imagine, as we open up our own facility, everyone in the Excel crew has been reading a lot more business books of late.  I’ve been fortunate to have several mentors point me in the right direction on this front, and a guy whose products kept getting recommended is Jim Labadie.  I’d seen some of the stuff he’d done with Ryan Lee, so I had a good idea of the high-quality he had to offer.

As such, I threw my hat in the ring and picked up some of his stuff; it’s absolutely fantastic.  If you’re a fitness professional looking to be successful and learn how to work smarter instead of just longer, you need to pick up Jim’s Ultimate Sales Kit.  This collection of nine audio CDs offers a wealth of information about the sales process, publicity, establishing systems, and a whole lot more.  I wish I had known about it several years ago; it would have saved me a lot of time, frustration, and money.  I can tell already that it’ll be worth every penny, as stuff like this pays itself off 100-fold.  Check it out for yourself:

An Interview with AJ Roberts

I figured that you were probably getting sick of hearing from me, so this week, we’ve got a new interview for you.  If you haven’t heard of AJ Roberts yet, consider this interview your introduction to one of the future stars of the strength and conditioning world.  I’ve interacted with AJ via email for several months now, and we finally had the chance to meet up and talk some shop at APF Seniors in Las Vegas last weekend.  To say that I was impressed with his knowledge, passion, and enthusiasm for lifting and coaching would be an understatement; this guy is wise beyond his years.  Watch out for him in the years to come.

EC: Thanks for being with us today, AJ.  You’ve really opened some eyes in the powerlifting community over the past two years.  Could you please fill our readers in a bit on your background?

AR: I am 21 years of age and am currently attending the University of Idaho, where I’m seeking a bachelor's degree in Sports Science.  I have always been involved in athletics. From an early age, I played various sports and in high school I was a three-sport athlete with football, basketball, and track and field.  In my senior year, I was ruled ineligible, and this is when I began my powerlifting career.

In February of 2004, I began training with (now University of Washington strength coach) Matt Ludwig and (world squat record holder) Brent Mikesell.  Under their guidance I have set state, national and world records in multiple federations and have accumulated a 950-lb. squat, 661-lb. bench press, and a 700-lb. deadlift, with my best total being 2300.

EC:  You just got back from the APF Senior Nationals, could you tell us how that went?

AR: I competed in the 308-lb. class despite only weighing in at 284 lbs.  I'm not a big fan of cutting weight, so I just lift in whatever weight class into which I fall.  I had high expectations going into the meet and knew that it was going to take a 2400+ total to win.  Unfortunately, I only managed to get my opener in the squat (935) and after seeing so many people bomb out, I lifted conservatively to make sure I finished the meet.  I did manage to get an 11-lb. personal record in the bench (661) and finished with a 2295-lb. total, which was good enough for second place.  Hopefully, I can put it all together at the World Championships in November.

EC: Big numbers – especially at age 21!  You’re also involved in coaching at the collegiate ranks right now; please tell us a bit about that.  What are you doing?  How do you like it?  What are you learning from the experience?

AR: I have been a volunteer/intern in the Vandal Athletic Center at the University of Idaho now for almost two years.  In this time, I have been lucky enough to work alongside several different strength coaches, assisting with football, basketball, swimming, and soccer.  I really enjoy the hands on experience of getting to run drills, coach, and watch the athletes develop over the years.  The biggest thing that I will take away from my experience is that is not what you do, but the way you do it that is important.

EC: You’ve said that you’ve got the world’s best squat coach in Brent Mikesell.  What is it that makes Brent such a tremendous squatter and coach?  What insights can you pass along to our readers that will take their squats – and the rest of their lifts – to all new levels?

AR: There aren't too many people in this sport that love it and are as dedicated to it, or the lifters involved, as Brent is.  He works harder in the gym than anyone else I know, and even when he is hurt or sick, he will be there to help spot and load.  There are so many little things that I have learned from him it would be impossible to summarize it all here.

EC: How has being a competitive powerlifter impacted you as a coach?

AR: The biggest trait that I have carried over into coaching is the emphasis on perfect form.  I'm constantly working with the athletes to make sure they are not sacrificing form for strength, which is common due to the competitive atmosphere that is often created in a varsity weight room.

EC: I have to say that when we were talking at Seniors, you reminded me a lot of, well, me!  You’ve got that way about you; you’re always thinking that there is a better way to do things.  And, more importantly, you’re thinking about what that better way is.  With that said, randomly throw some idea out there that will really make our readers say “Oh, shit, that really makes sense!”


  • You must always seek knowledge from those who are more knowledgeable than you and who know what it takes to be strong!
  • Speed is more important than your ego!
  • Full range of motion work is the most important part of training; lifting big weights to a high box or a 3-board in the gym is not going to help you hit the numbers you want in a meet!
  • Your upper back is just as important as you lower back!
  • Being strong and being technical are just as important as one another!
  • Simple is still best!
  • Nothing beats hard work!

EC: I know I’ve been sending a ton of resource recommendations your way, so fill me in on the ones that have impacted you the most and think that our readers would benefit from.

AR: I would say the following are must buys for anyone who is serious about strength and conditioning

1. Professional Fitness Coach Program Design Bible by Alan Cosgrove

2. Supertraining by Mel Siff

3. Essentials of Weightlifting and Strength Training by Mohamed F. El-Hewie

4. The Sport Training Profits Program by Ryan Lee

5. Magnificent Mobility DVD by Eric Cressey and Mike Robertson

EC: Ha!  You already got the interview, AJ; you didn’t have to butter me up with that last one!  Anyway, fast-forward five years; where is AJ Roberts going to be?

AR: Hopefully, I have established myself as one of the best strength coaches in the nation and will have opened up my own sports training facility.

EC: I’d put money on it.  Hell, just from chatting with you, I’d hire you just to keep you from becoming one of my competitors!  Thanks for taking the time, AJ.

That’ll do it for this week’s newsletter.  Be sure to check back next week for some more exclusive content.

All the Best,


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Great Eight Reasons for Basketball Mobility Training

The “Great Eight” Reasons for Basketball Mobility Training

By: Eric Cressey

When it really comes down to it, regardless of the sport in question, the efficient athlete will always have the potential to be the best player on the court, field, ice, or track. Ultimately, knowledge of the game and technical prowess will help to separate the mediocre from the great, but that is not to say that physical abilities do not play a tremendously influential role on one’s success. Show me an athlete who moves efficiently, and I’ll guarantee that he or she has far more physical development “upside” than his or her non-efficient counterparts.

This “upside” can simply be referred to as “trainability;” I can more rapidly increase strength, speed, agility, and muscle mass in an athlete with everything in line than I can with an athlete who has some sort of imbalance. That’s not to say that the latter athlete cannot improve, though; it’s just to say that this athlete would be wise to prioritize eliminating the inefficiencies to prevent injury and make subsequent training more effective. Unfortunately, most athletes fall into the latter group. Fortunately, though, with appropriate corrective training, these inefficiencies can be corrected, and you can take your game to an all-new level. Mobility work is one example of the corrective training you’ll need to get the job done.

What’s the Difference Between Mobility and Flexibility?

This is an important differentiation to make; very few people understand the difference – and it is a big one. Flexibility merely refers to range of motion – and, more specifically, passive range of motion as achieved by static stretching. Don’t get me wrong; static stretching has its place, but it won’t take your athleticism to the next level like mobility training will.

The main problem with pure flexibility is that it does not imply stability nor readiness for dynamic tasks – basketball included. When we move, we need to have something called “mobile-stability.” This basically means that there’s really no use in being able to get to a given range of motion if you can’t stabilize yourself in that position. Believe it or not, excessive passive flexibility without mobility (or dynamic flexibility, as it’s been called) will actually increase the risk of injury! And, even more applicable to the discussion at hand, passive flexibility just doesn’t carry over well to dynamic tasks; just because you do well on the old sit-and-reach test doesn’t mean that you’ll be prepared to dynamically pick up a loose ball and sprint down-court for an easy lay-up. Lastly, extensive research has shown that static stretching before a practice or competition will actually make you slower and weaker; I’m not joking!

Tell Me About This Mobility Stuff...

So what is mobility training? It’s a class of drills designed to take your joints through full ranges of motion in a controlled, yet dynamic context. It’s different from ballistic stretching (mini-bounces at the end of a range of motion), which is a riskier approach that is associated with muscle damage and shortening. In addition to improving efficiency of movement, mobility (dynamic flexibility) drills are a great way to warm-up for high-intensity exercise like basketball. Light jogging and then static stretching are things of the past!

My colleague Mike Robertson and I created a DVD known as Magnificent Mobility to address this pressing need among a wide variety of athletes – basketball players included. We’ve already received hundreds of emails from athletes and ordinary weekend warriors claiming improved performance, enhanced feeling of well-being, and resolution of chronic injuries after performing the drills outlined in the DVD. I think it’s safe to say that they like what we’re recommending! In case that feedback isn’t enough, here are seven reasons why basketball players need mobility.

Reason #1: Mobility training makes your resistance training sessions more productive by allowing you to train through a full range of motion.

We all know that lifting weights improves athletes’ performance and reduces their risk of injury. However, very few people realize the importance of being able to lift through a full range of motion. Training through a full range of motion will carry over to all partial ranges of motion, but training in a partial range of motion won’t carry over to full ranges of motion.

For example, let’s assume Athlete A does ¼ squats. He’ll only get stronger in the top ¼ of the movement, and his performance will really only be improved in that range of motion when he’s on the court.

Now, Athlete B steps up to the barbell and does squats through a full range of motion; his butt is all the way down by his ankles. Athlete B is going to get stronger through the entire range of motion – including the top portion, like Athlete A, but with a whole lot more. It goes without saying that Athlete B will be stronger than Athlete A when the time comes to “play low.”

Also worthy of note is that lifting weights through a full range of motion will stimulate more muscle fibers than partial repetitions, thus increasing your potential for muscle mass gains. If you’re a post-player who is looking to beef up, you’d be crazy to not do full reps – and mobility training will help you improve the range of motion on each rep.

Reason #2: Mobility training corrects posture and teaches your body to get range of motion in the right places.

If you watch some of the best shooters of all time, you’ll notice that they always seem to be in the perfect position to catch the ball as they come off a screen to get off a jump shot. Great modern examples of this optimal body alignment are Ray Allen and Reggie Miller; their shoulders are back, chest is out, eyes are up, and hands are ready. The catch and shot is one smooth, seemingly effortless movement.

By contrast, if you look at players with rounded shoulders, they lack the mobility to get to this ideal position as they pop off the screen. After they receive the ball, they need to reposition themselves with thoracic extension (“straightening up”) just so that they can get into their shooting position. This momentary lapse is huge at levels where the game is played at a rapid pace; it literally is the difference between getting a shot off and having to pass on the shot or, worse yet, having it swatted away by a defender. These athletes need more mobility in the upper body.

As another example, one problem we often see in our athletes is excessive range-of-motion at the lumbar spine to compensate for a lack of range of motion at the hips. Ideally, we want a stable spine and mobile hips to keep our lower backs healthy and let the more powerful hip-joint muscles do the work. If we can’t get that range of motion at our hips, our backs suffer the consequences. Believe it or not, I’ve actually heard estimates that as much as 60% of the players in the NBA have degenerative disc disease. While there are likely many reasons (unforgiving court surface, awkward lumbar hyperextension patterns when rebounding, etc.) for this exorbitant number, a lack of hip mobility is certainly one of them. Get mobility at your hips, and you’ll protect that lower back!

Reason #3: Mobility training reduces our risk of injury.

It’s not uncommon at all to see athletes get injured when they’re out of position and can’t manage to right themselves. If we get range of motion in the right spots, we’re less likely to be out of position, so we won’t have to hastily compensate with a movement that could lead to an ankle sprain or ACL tear.

As an interesting add-on, one study found that a softball team performing a dynamic flexibility routine before practices and competition had significantly fewer injuries than a team that did static stretching before its games (1).

Reason #4: Mobility training will increase range of motion without reducing your speed, agility, strength in the short-term.

Believe it or not, research has demonstrated that if you static stretch right before you exercise, it’ll actually make you weaker and slower. I know it flies in the face of conventional warm-up wisdom, but it’s the truth!

Fortunately, dynamic flexibility/mobility training has come to the rescue. Research has shown that compared with a static stretching program, these drills can improve your sprinting speed (2), agility (3), vertical jump (3-6), and dynamic range of motion (1) while reducing your risk of injury. Pretty cool stuff, huh?

Reason #5: Mobility training teaches you to “play low.”

All athletes want to know how to become more stable, but few understand how to do so. One needs to understand that our stability is always changing, as it’s subject to several environmental and physical factors. These factors include:

1. Body Mass – A heavier athlete will always be more stable. Sumo wrestling…need I say more?

2. Friction with the contact surface – The more friction we can generate (as with appropriate footwear) with the contact surface, the better our stability. Compare a basketball court (plenty of friction) to the ice in a hockey rink (very little friction), and you’ll see what I mean. This also explains why athletes wear cleats and track spikes.

3. Size of the base of support (BOS): In athletics, the BOS is generally the positioning of the feet. The wider the stance, the more stability we are. Again, think sumo wrestling.

4. The horizontal positioning of the center of gravity (COG) – For maximum stability, the COG should be on the edge of the BOS at which an external force is acting. In other words, if an opponent is about to push you at your right side, you’ll want to lean to the right in anticipation in order to maintain your stability after contact.

5. Vertical positioning of the COG: The lower the COG, the more stable the object. You’ll often hear sportscasters talk about Allen Iverson being unstoppable because of his “low center of gravity” or because he “plays low.”

From a training standpoint, we can’t do much for #1, #2, or #4. However, mobility training alone can dramatically impact how well an athlete handles #3 and #5. The better our mobility, the easier it is for us to get wider and get lower. The wider and lower we can get when we need to do so, the better we can maintain our center of gravity within our base of support. Neuromuscular factors – collecting providing for our balancing proficiency – such as muscular strength and kinesthetic awareness play into this as well, and the ultimate result is our stability (or lack thereof) in a given situation.

Reason #6: Mobility training can actually make you taller…Really!

I’ve worked with a lot of basketball players, and I can honestly say that not a single one of them has ever told me that he wants to be shorter. And, I can assure you that the coaches and scouts would take a guy who is 7-0 over a 6-11 prospect any day.

So what does that have to do with our mobility discussion? Well, imagine an athlete who is very tight in his flexors; his hips will actually be slightly flexed in the standing position, as the pelvis will be anteriorly tilted (top of the hip bone is tipping forward). Likewise, if an athlete has tightness in his lats (among other smaller muscles), he’ll be unable to fully reach overhead. These two limitations can literally make an athlete two inches shorter in a static overhead reach assessment.

Just as importantly, such an athlete is going to “play smaller,” too. He won’t jump as high because he can’t get full hip extension and won’t be able to optimally make use of the powerful gluteal muscles. And, his reach will be limited by his inability to get the arms up fully. Together, these factors could knock two inches off his vertical jump and prevent him from making a game-saving block. It really is a game of inches.

Need further proof? I’ve seen several athletes instantly add as much as two inches on their vertical jump just from stretching out the hip flexors and lats before they test. This is an acute change in muscle length, though; mobility training will enable you to attain these ranges of motion all the time.

Reason #7: Mobility and “activation” training teach certain “dormant” muscles to turn on.

In our daily lives and on the basketball court, it’s inevitable that we get stuck in certain repetitive movement patterns – things we do every day, several times a day. With these constant patterns, certain muscles will just “shut down” because they aren’t being used. Two good examples would be the glutes (your butt muscles) and the scapular retractors (the muscles that pull your shoulder blades together). As a result, these shutdowns lead to faulty hip positioning and rounded shoulders, respectively (and a host of other problems, but we won’t get into that).

To correct these problems, we need what is known as activation work. These drills teach dormant muscles to fire at the right times to complement the mobility drills and get you moving efficiently. Mike and I went to great lengths in Magnificent Mobility to not only outline mobility drills, but also activation movements and movements that incorporate components of both.

Reason #8: Having mobility feels good!

Think about it: what’s the first thing an athlete wants to do after a good stretching session? Go run and jump around! Now, just imagine having that more limber feeling all the time; that’s exactly what mobility training can do for you.

Closing Thoughts

Knowledge of the game and technical prowess will take an athlete far in the game of basketball, but it takes an efficient body to build the physical qualities that will take that same athlete to greatness. Without adequate mobility, an athlete will never even reach the efficient stage – much less the next level.

For more information on mobility training, check out MagnificentMobility.com


1. Mann, DP, Jones, MT. Guidelines to the implementation of a dynamic stretching program. Strength Cond J. 1999;21(6):53-55.

2. Nelson AG, Kokkonen J, Arnall DA. Acute muscle stretching inhibits muscle strength endurance performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2005 May;19(2):338-43

3. Kurz, T. Science of Sports Training. Stadion, 2001.

4. Young WB, Behm DG. Effects of running, static stretching and practice jumps on explosive force production and jumping performance. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2003 Mar;43(1):21-7.

5. Thompson, A, Kackley, T, Palumbo, M, Faigenbaum, A. Acute effects of different warm-up protocols on jumping performance in female athletes. 2004 New England ACSM Fall Conference. 10 Nov 2004.

6. Colleran, EG, McCarthy, RD, Milliken, LA. The effects of a dynamic warm-up vs. traditional warm-up on vertical jump and modified t-test performance. 2003 New England ACSM Fall Conference. 11 Nov 2003.

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My Accomplishments to Date

Something New for EricCressey.com

Not a week passes that I don’t receive a handful of emails from people – especially “up and comers” in the fitness industry – who are interested in not only how I got to where I am, but how I did so at such a young age.  I can say without wavering that I’m the last person you’ll ever hear toot his own horn, but I would say that my accomplishments to-date (I just turned 25) speak for themselves:

  • I published my first article just prior to my 21st birthday, and since then have gone on to author over 80 more articles in various online and print magazines
  • Mike Robertson and I released a very popular DVD, Magnificent Mobility.
  • I just completed my first training manual.
  • I’ve worked with or consulted for thousands of athletes at all levels, and even more ordinary “weekend warriors” in a variety of contexts.
  • I’ve set state, national, and world records in the sport of powerlifting.
  • I’ve been an invited guest speaker all over the country.

Again, I list these accomplishments not to boast, but simply to offer a frame of reference for the recommendations I’m about to make.  With that said, when someone emails me and asks how I got to where I am, and what resources I recommend, I make recommendations in several areas: work ethic, professionalism, demeanor, free resources, trial and error, seminars, and paid resources in terms of training, nutrition, and business.

Work Ethic

This is the foundation for everything.  I’d like to be able to give you a quick-fix answer, but the truth is that nothing will ever go as far as elbow grease and perseverance.  It sucks, but work long hours - longer than you could even imagine. I have regularly worked 80+ hour weeks for as long as I can remember; at times, it has been 40 of athletes/clients (some for free) and 40 of writing/online consulting/forum responses. I did it in the past so that I could get to where I am now, and I do it now to capitalize on the foundation I put down in the past and so that I can spend time with my family when that day comes.

I had a conversation with Mike Boyle on this back in December, and asked him flat-out where I should draw the line on work and play.  His response: "At your age, you don't.  Sleep in the office if you have to.  It'll all pay off."  You won't find someone who works harder than I do, and when one of the most sought-out performance enhancement coaches in the history of sports gives an overachiever like me that kind of encouragement, you not only pay attention; you go from really productive to crazy productive.

So, in short, the truth is that I have busted my butt from day one and wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t done so.  I didn’t spend a penny on alcohol in my college career; it was better spent on resources such as books, DVDs, seminars, and quality food and supplements to make me the lifter and coach that I am today.  I never went on Spring Break; I worked in gyms and with athletes at universities for every single one of them through my six years of college education (undergraduate and graduate).  I didn’t abuse my body with excessive late nights – or any alcohol or drugs – because I knew how such behavior would affect my training, coaching, and writing.  I haven't even watched an episode of Survivor, 24, American Idol, Lost, Alias, Will and Grace, The Apprentice, or any of a number of other popular shows I'm forgetting to mention; I'd just rather be doing other things.  Don't get me wrong; I've still had fun along the way, but I've gotten better about finding a balance.  Life is all about choices, and I chose to be where I am today.


It doesn’t cost a thing to be punctual, professional, and polite.  I credit a ton of my success to the fact that my parents instilled these values in me at an early age.  Write thank you notes to people who help you.  Shake people’s hands firmly and look them directly in the eye.  Show up on time.  Dress up for seminars that warrant dressing up.  Spell-check everything.  Say “please” and “thank you.”  You’d be amazed at how far these things go – seriously.  Dale Carnegie's book How to Win Friends and Influence People should be required reading in every high school for this very reason. Demeanor

If you don’t love what you’re doing, find something else.  Be enthusiastic; you can't teach passion. If you love this, act like it and have some fun! You’ll be amazed at how your athletes and clients get excited when YOU get excited.  And, if you're just training for you, you'll be amazed at how much better you progress when you find something that excites you.  Going to train should never be an undesirable experience; if it is, you need to shuffle things up.

The Meat and Potatoes

With all that said, here's a link to the newest addition to EricCressey.com: the Recommended Resources Page.

Have a great week!


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Excessive Dorsiflexion in Athletes

EricCressey.com Subscriber-only Q&A

Q:  I figure you would be a good person to ask about a question I have; it deals with excessive dorsiflexion and athletes.  Kelly Baggett was explaining how people with excessive dorsiflexion rarely are good athletes. He said it is related to hip position. Could you elaborate on the subject? A: As usual, Kelly is right on the money!  Why else would I have endorsed his Vertical Jump Development Bible last week?  I honestly wonder if the two of us are on some sort of wavelength with one another, as I think you could use our thoughts interchangeably in most cases!

To answer your question, if there is too much dorsiflexion at the ankles, it is generally a sign that you're not decelerating properly at the knees and hips, so the ankles are taking on an extra percentage of the load. I would suspect weakness of the knee and/or hip extensors.

To be honest, though, not many people are really capable of excessive dorsiflexion, as their calves are so tight. I suspect he's referring more to the fact that the heel is further off the ground and the knee is tracking forward too much as compensation (related to the quads being overactive, too).  If you look at the research on jump landings in female athletes, you’ll find that they land with considerably more knee flexion than their male counterparts.  We know that weak hamstrings are very common in females, and that this is one reason for their increased risk of anterior cruciate ligament injuries.  The hamstrings are hip extensors, meaning that they also decelerate hip flexion.  If they don’t have enough explosive and limit strength to control the drop of the hips upon landing, there’s no other option but to flex the knees extra to cushion the drop.  It’s an unfortunate trend that just plays back into the quad-dominance (deceleration of knee flexion). Obviously, dynamic flexibility plays into this tremendously, too. If you can't get ROM in one place, your body will seek it out elsewhere.

Q: I have an imbalance - one leg vs. the other. Do you suggest doing 100% unilateral leg-work for a while to cure the imbalance?

A: This is a tough one to answer; it's never as simple as "right and left." Generally, you'll see muscles on each side that are a bit stronger or weaker. For example, in right-handed individuals, they'll typically be stronger on lunging movements with the left leg forward. The left ITB/TFL, right quadratus lumborum, and right adductors will be tight, while the right hip abductors, left adductors, and left quadratus lumborum will be weak.*  There are more complex ramifications at the ankle and foot, too.  Often, the best way to address the unilateral imbalance in a broad sense is to figure out where people are tight/weak and address those issues. I've seen lunging imbalances corrected pretty easily with some extra QL work or pure stabilization work at the lumbar spine. The tricky thing about just doing extra sets on one side is that your body will often try to compensate for the imbalances. You might get the reps in, but are you really doing anything to even yourself out if you're just working around the dysfunction? This is just some stuff to consider.  I don't think doing more on that side will hurt, but it won't always get you closer to where to want to be.

*If you’re interested in learning more along these lines, I would highly recommend Muscles: Testing and Function with Posture and Pain (5th Ed.) by Kendall et al.  This is truly a classic text that every fitness professional should own.

Q:  I am a strongman competitor and am thinking about incorporating squat briefs into my training. I talked to a powerlifter buddy of mine and he said he would recommend briefs for max effort squats and deadlifts to keep the hips healthy. What do you think about this?

A: Well, my first observation is that you’re not going to be using the briefs in competition, are you?  Specificity is more important than people think; what’s specific for a powerlifter won’t necessarily be specific for a strongman.

However, given the nature of the training you’ll be doing (powerlifting-influenced), I wouldn’t rule the briefs out right away.  It depends on whether you're regularly box squatting and/or squatting with a wide stance.  If you are, I'd say that they're a good investment, and you could use them 1-2 weeks out of the month.

I would, however, caution against using them as a crutch against poor lifting technique.  There are a lot of guys who just throw on briefs because their hips hurt, not realizing that it isn't the specific exercise that is the problem; it's the performance of that exercise that gives them trouble.  For example, hamstring dominant hip extension/posterior pelvic tilt allows the femoral head to track too far anteriorly and can cause anterior hip pain.  If the glutes are activated appropriately, they reposition the head of the femur so that this isn't a problem.  Unfortunately, a good 80% of the population doesn't have any idea how to use their glutes for anything except a seat cushion.

Have a great week!


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