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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!

EC

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Product Review: Afterburn

Product Review: Alwyn Cosgrove's Afterburn

If you aren't familiar with Alwyn Cosgrove's stuff, you're really missing out; here is a guy who has produced results time and time again.  If you're looking to get lean fast, but don't have a clue where to start, let Alwyn show you the way.  One of the best aspects of this product is that there's something for everyone.  Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned veteran, you'll learn some tricks of the trade to get you to where you want to be faster.  I've used a lot of Alwyn's ideas personally and with my athletes and clients; I would encourage you to check them out and experience the results for yourself.

Afterburn

Eric Cressey Interview

Yes, I'm really putting an interview with me in my own newsletter.  It's not what you think, though! Brian Grasso from www.DevelopingAthletics.com interviewed me for his newsletter last week; I hope you enjoy it!

Eric Cressey is one of the youngest and brightest stars in the conditioning world today.  He and I have forged a great relationship as of late and I wanted to bring his expertise to you... you WILL be impressed!

BG - Your newest DVD, Magnificent Mobility cites the importance of delineating the difference between "mobility" and "flexibility" in a training program. What is the difference and when do each apply?

EC – Those are great questions, Brian; 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. I see it as tremendously valuable in situations where you want to:

a) Relax a muscle to facilitate antagonist activation (e.g. stretch the hip flexors to improve glute recruitment)

b) Break down scar tissue following an injury and/or surgery (when the new connective tissue may require “realignment”)

c) Loosen someone up when you can’t be supervising them (very simply, there is less likelihood of technique breakdown with static stretching because it isn’t a dynamic challenge)

However, the principle problem with pure flexibility is that it does not imply stability nor preparedness for dynamic tasks. As one of my mentors, Dr. David Tiberio, taught me, we need to have mobile-stability; there’s really no use in being able to attain a given range of motion if you can’t stabilize yourself in that position. Excessive passive flexibility without mobility (or dynamic flexibility, as it’s been called) will actually increase the risk of injury!

Moreover, it’s not uncommon at all to see individuals with circus-like passive flexibility fail miserably on dynamic tasks. For instance, I recently began working with an accomplished ballet dancer who can tie herself into a human pretzel, but could barely hit parallel on a body weight squat until after a few sessions of corrective training. She was great on the dynamic tasks that were fundamentally specific to her sport, but when faced with a general challenge that required mobility in a non-familiar range of motion, she was grossly unprepared to handle it. She had flexibility, but not mobility; the instability and the lack of preparation for the dynamic motion were the limiting factors. She could achieve joint ranges of motion, but her neuromuscular system wasn’t prepared to do much of anything in those ranges of motion.

We went to great lengths in Magnificent Mobility to not only outline mobility drills, but also what we call “activation” movements. Essentially, they teach often-dormant muscles to fire at the right times to normalize the muscle balance, improve performance, and reduce the risk of injury. Collectively, mobility and activation drills are best performed as part of the warm-up and on off-days as active recovery. We’ve received hundreds of emails already from athletes and ordinary weekend warriors claiming improved performance, enhanced feeling of well-being, and resolution of chronic injuries; this kind of positive feedback really makes our jobs fun!

BG – You certainly are known for you ability to get athletes stronger. What type of training do you use for adolescent athletes… let me narrow that down (i) a 16 year old with no formal strength training experience (ii) a 16 year with a solid foundation and decent knowledge with exercise form

EC - First and foremost, we have fun. It doesn’t matter how educated or passionate I am; I’m not doing my job if they aren’t having a blast coming in to train with me. With respect to the individual athletes, I’ll first roll through a health history and just run them through some basic dynamic flexibility movements to see where they stand. As we all know, there is a lot of variation in terms of physical maturity and training experience at these ages, and I can get a pretty good idea of what they need just by watching them move a bit. In your individual cases, much of my training would revolve around the following:

In the unprepared athlete, I’d go right into several body weight drills – many of them isometric in nature – to teach efficiency. We often see an inability to differentiate between lumbar spine and pelvic motion, so I spend quite a bit of time emphasizing that the lumbar spine should be stable, and range of motion should come from the hips, thoracic spine, scapulae, and arms. Loading is the least of my concerns in the first few sessions; research has demonstrated that beginners can make progress on as little as 40% of 1RM, so why rush things with heavy loading that will compromise form? The lighter weights will allow them to groove technique and improve connective tissue health prior to the introduction of heavier loading.

At the start, I’ll emphasize unilateral work; mobility; any corrective training that’s needed; classic stabilization movements (i.e. bridges); and learning the compound movements, deceleration/landing mechanics, and how to accelerate external loads (e.g. medicine balls, free weights). I’ll also make a point of mentioning that how you unrack and rerack weights is just as important as how you train; it drives me crazy to see a kid return a bar to the floor with a rounded back.

In the athlete with a solid foundation, I’ll run through those same preliminary drills to verify that they are indeed “solid” and not just good compensators for dysfunction. Believe it or not, most “trained” athletes really aren’t that “trained” if you use efficiency as a marker of preparedness – even at the Division I, professional, and Olympic ranks; you can be a great athlete in spite of what you do and not necessarily because of what or how you do it.

Assuming things are looking good, I’ll look to give them more external loading on all movements, as the fastest inroads to enhanced performance will always be through maximal strength in novice athletes. As they get more advanced, I’ll start to look more closely at whether they’re more static or spring dominant and incorporate more advanced reactive training movements. Single-leg movements are still of paramount importance, and we add in some controlled strongman-type training to keep things interesting and apply the efficiency in a less controlled environment. Likewise, as an athlete’s deceleration mechanics improve, we progress from strictly closed-loop movement training drills to a blend of open- and closed-loop (unpredictable) tasks.

In both cases, variety is key; I feel that my job is to expose them to the richest proprioceptive environment possible in a safe context. With that said, however, I’m careful to avoid introducing too many different things; it’s important for young athletes to see quantifiable progress in some capacity. If you’re always changing what you do, you’ll never really show them where they stand relative to baseline.

BG – Olympic lifts and adolescents… do you use them? Why or why not?

EC – Personally, I generally don’t for several reasons. It’s not because I’m inherently opposed to Olympic lifts from an injury risk standpoint. Sure, I’ve seen cleans ruin some wrists, and there are going to be a ton of people with AC joint and impingement problems who can’t do anything above shoulder level without pain. That’s not to say that the exercises are fundamentally contraindicated for everyone, though; as with most things in life, the answer rests somewhere in the middle. Know your clients, and select your exercises accordingly.

My primary reasons for omitting them tend to be that I don’t always have as much time with athletes as I’d like, and simply because such technical lifts require constant practice – which we all know isn’t always possible with young athletes who don’t train for a living. Equipment limitations may be a factor (bumper plates are a nice luxury). And, to be very honest, I’ve seen athletes make phenomenal progress without using Olympic lifts, so I don’t concern myself too much with the arguing that goes on. If another coach wants to use them and is a good teacher, I’m find with him doing so; it just isn’t for me, with the exception of some high pulls here and there.

BG – Basing off of the last question, do you teach Olympic lift technique to pre-adolescents?

EC – I don’t. It’s not to say that I wouldn’t be comfortable doing so with a broomstick or some PVC pipe, but when I consider the pre-adolescents with whom I’ve worked, I just can’t see them getting excited about all that technique work for one category of exercises. Olympic lifting is a sport in itself, and I think it should be viewed that way.

BG – My subscribers know that I believe as much in deceleration training as I do in any sort of speed enhancing-based work… How do you improve speed and deceleration habits?

EC – We’re definitely on the same page on this one. In a nutshell, I just slow everything down for the short-term – starting with isometric holds. Every change of direction has a deceleration, isometric action, and acceleration; I’ve found that if you teach the athlete how his/her body should be aligned in that mid-point, they’ll be golden. My progressions are as follows (keep in mind that you can span several of these progressions in one session if the athlete is proficient):

Slow-speed, Full Stop, Hold > Slow Speed, Full Stop, Acceleration > Slow Speed, Quick Transition,

Acceleration > Normal Speed, Full Stop, Hold > Normal Speed, Full Stop, Acceleration > Normal Speed, Quick Transition, Acceleration

Open-loop > Closed-loop (predictable > unpredictable)

With respect to reactive training methods (incorrectly termed plyometrics), we start with bilateral and unilateral jumps to boxes, as they don’t impose as much eccentric force (the athlete goes up, but doesn’t come down). From there, we move to altitude landings, and ultimately to bounce drop jump (depth jumps), repeated broad jumps, bounding, and other higher-impact tasks.

Finally, one lost component of deceleration training is basic maximal strength. All other factors held constant, the stronger kid will learn to decelerate more easily than his weaker counterparts. So, enhancing a generally, foundational quality like maximal strength on a variety of tasks will indirectly lead to substantial improvements in deceleration ability – especially in untrained individuals.

Another week in the books!  Thanks for checking in.

Until next time, train hard and have fun!

EC

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Newsletter #6

Product Review: The Vertical Jump Development Bible by Kelly Baggett

It’s not often that I come across a product that really blows me away to the point of me not only saying “wow,” but also calling the author and complimenting him personally.  There aren’t many Kelly Baggetts in the world, though.

Kelly and I have both worked with a ton of high-level athletes, and I literally found myself nodding in approval with every paragraph I encountered in this book.  Simply put, Kelly is one of the few people in this industry who really “gets it;” he put into words so many things that go through my mind all the time.  This book won’t just teach you about improving an athlete’s vertical jump; it’ll teach you about improving an athlete period.  I’ve used the principles outlined in the book with athletes myself, and they’re tremendously effective and, just as importantly, related in a context that’s understandable for experienced coaches and novice lifters alike.  This book is more than just the “what;” it’s the why, how, when, and who as well.  If you work with athletes or are an athlete yourself, you need to pick up The Vertical Jump Development Bible.

If you need any further proof that Kelly has my highest endorsement, consider that he and I are actually co-authoring an e-book right now as well.  I’m about as picky as they come when it comes to joint ventures; I wouldn’t be pursuing this book if Kelly wasn’t the real deal.  Definitely check his stuff out.

Newsletter Subscriber-only Exclusive Q&A

The Q&A I did in last week’s newsletter was very well received, so I’ll be doing this more frequently.  Last week, I received a great question from an accomplished golfer from whom I am an online consultant, and it sparked a good ol’ fashioned Cressey tangent with plenty of rambling.  Hopefully, there will be something for everyone.

Q:

Having been lucky enough to spend time around some of the world’s best golfers (both pros and amateurs) over the years, the one question that comes up about conditioning for golf is “What gives you the biggest carryover to improving your performance?”  Over the years, I have talked to and asked many strength and performance specialist coaches and have gotten very different answers to what gives maximum results.  One well-known “guru” who has written a book on golf conditioning insists that because golf is a rotational movement, the best way to improve is to bang out lots of rotational movements.  I followed this with a trainer I had until he went and spent time with another world-renowned coach who told him that through his research with hundreds of athletes from multiple sports that rotational movements don’t carry over to rotational events.  I emailed this coach to ask about this and also what part Olympic lifts had for golf and he told me the carryover was not too good and that strong lats and a well integrated shoulder unit is what is required.  But then, to put another slant on this, a prominent Olympic lifting coach told me to snatch and clean, which made me curious to keep finding answers.

Now that I’m training with your programming, you have opened my eyes to a very complete way of training making sure to cure imbalances and develop all strength qualities as well as all factors of dynamic flexibility.  I am now convinced that this is the way to get max results when training for any sport and specializing is not the answer.  I hope you don’t mind me asking you about this, but what your opinions on so-called “sport-specific training?”

A:

Without going any further, the big answer will always be "biomechanically correct efficiency."  You can't have health and performance without it.  Teach the body to move efficiently, and you'll keep it healthy and performing at a high-level indefinitely.  My number one responsibility as a performance enhancement coach is to keep you healthy; you can’t perform if you’re injured.  If you’re inefficient, you’re asking for injury, so that needs to be addressed first and foremost.

However, that’s not to say that corrective training has to follow the lines of the foo-foo garbage so many personal trainers are promoting nowadays.  In fact, I’m speaking on “hardcore corrective training” at the Syracuse Strength Spectacular, and Mike Robertson and I will touch on the subject in great detail at our Building the Efficient Athlete seminar on July 22-23 in New York City.  Just because someone is a little out of kilter doesn’t mean that you have to treat him like he’s a geriatric hip replacement patient.  Here’s a quick example:

Let’s say that a right-handed golfer comes to me with an extension-rotation syndrome (very common) that’s giving him some left lower back pain.  I check him out and find that he’s got a super-tight right iliotibial band – tensor fascia latae complex, and his right rectus femoris is equally knotted up.  My knowledge of functional anatomy tells me that two of his hip flexors on that side are working crazy overtime, so there is a good chance that the psoas major (the only hip flexor active above 90-degrees of hip flexion – a range of motion that most people don’t encounter enough) might not be doing its job.  I test it, and there’s a deficit.  I know that the psoas major doesn’t just flex the femur; it also has the ability to rotate the lumbar spine.  If the right psoas is not firing, it’s not acting in rotation to counteract the rotational pull of the left psoas major.  Essentially, its stiffness relative to the opposite side is insufficient.  So, there’s my rotation.

I also know that the psoas major can pull the lumbar vertebrae anteriorly, so that can contribute to my extension problem.  Likewise, when I factor in the tightness and adhesions in the rectus femoris and TFL, it’s pretty clear that the pelvis is going to be anteriorly tilted (and rotated, most likely) and the gluteus maximus isn’t going to be firing due to reciprocal inhibition.  As such, the individual isn’t going to be able to get full hip extension – so he’ll have to hyperextend his lumbar spine to compensate for a lack of hip extension range of motion.  Likewise, with the overactive TFL, I can guarantee that his gluteus medius on that side isn’t going to be doing its job, so the hip will likely slip into adduction (think of the hip fallout you see in a newbie squatting).

This is really just a small piece of the puzzle in terms of what’s going on, as you’re going to have compensations up and down the entire the kinetic chain.  A knee could have gone first, or the individual might actually develop shoulder pain secondary to this lumbo-pelvis misalignment.  How do we treat it?  Well, definitely not with leg extensions, a little stationary cycling, and some unstable surface balancing!  Here’s what I’m going to do:

1. Really get after the TFL, rectus femoris, quadriceps, and adductors with a foam roller, “The Stick” and, if possible, Active Release®.

2. Static stretch the TFL and rectus femoris.

3. Do some activation work for the psoas major, gluteus medius, and gluteus maximus.

4. Progress to tightly supervised bodyweight-only mobility drills that don’t allow faulty compensation patterns.

5. Use a combination of bilateral and unilateral movements done CORRECTLY to teach proper initiation of the posterior chain.  In other words, I might do a rack pull or pull-through where I teach the individual to fire the glutes and pop the hips through at lockout instead of simply leaning back.  Controlled eccentrics and isometrics holds can be fantastic here.

6. We’re going to start with pure stabilization work for the lumbar spine, and over time, we’ll start to progress to rotational movements once I see that he can get the rotation in the right places.

7. I’ll discuss with the individual what can be done to avoid reinforcing this movement pattern in his daily life.  Maybe he’s always reaching to one side to answer the phone.  Or, more likely, he’s getting too much rotation at his spine with his golf swing because his hip rotators are too tight.

All this said, without a doubt, the single-most important thing I’m going to do with this golfer is continue to treat him like an athlete.  I’ll give him challenges and test him just as I would a healthy athlete – just in a more controlled environment and with slightly modified exercises.  None of that sissy crap needed; it’s just going to make him so soft that training him once he’s healthy (if he ever does get healthy with that garbage) will be like pulling teeth.

Anyway, the take-home message is that you have to understand functional anatomy first and foremost.  Otherwise, you have no place telling people that you’re using “functional training” – especially if you don’t even know the true origins of the term.  I’ll step off my soapbox and get to your questions now…

I think the rotational idea has merit, but the fundamental problem with this is that most people get rotation in all the wrong places.  If you're getting lumbar rotation, you're on the fast track to lower back pain.  Get it at your hips, thoracic spine, and scapulae, though, and you'll be in a good position.  In this regard, one needs to learn to stabilize the lumbar spine (think “Super Stiffness,” as per Stuart McGill) and mobilize the hips, thoracic spine, and shoulder girdle.  That's what you've been doing, and it's paying dividends.  If I just send Average Joe out to train rotation all day, he'd be booking an appointment with his orthopedic back specialist in a matter of weeks (it's the same reason that so many golfers have back pain...remember extension-rotation syndrome secondary to tight hip lateral rotators and hip flexors?)

Let’s just say that I would love to see the peer-reviewed journal in which that “extensive research” was published; lats are important, no doubt, but still somewhat of a stretch as “most” important.  My experience tells me that they're most valuable in sports where you're actually hitting the ground with your swing (e.g. hockey), but not as important as rotational power in the golfing motion.  The effective shoulder model is definitely important, though, so he’s on track in that regard.  You need a perfect balance of stability and mobility for optimal health and performance.

As far as the snatch and clean recommendations are concerned, go to an Olympic lifter, and he's going to tell you to Olympic lift, you know?  Olympic lifting has merits, but two lifts aren't a magic bullet.  The reason this coach’s ideas are valuable is because he made you realize that the value of simplicity is highly overlooked.  However, if you've got imbalances like most golfers do, doing two compound lifts is just going to reinforce those imbalances.

I'm a firm believer in what Vladimir Zatsiorsky termed delayed transmutation (of nonspecific motor potential into sport performance results); it's defined as "the time period needed to transform acquired motor potential into athletic performance."  Basically, this holds that you build an athletic up in a general sense, and then he takes those general qualities and adapts them to his specific sport.  You can think of the training as "generally specific.”

With your program, I'm not tinkering with your golf swing directly, but I'm tinkering with your neuromuscular system, which governs that golf swing.  If it moves efficiently (via constant ingraining of those activation and mobility patterns), you're going to integrate that efficiency into your golf swing without even knowing it.  It's the same reason I can make someone run faster without actually making him run.  Would you believe that in biomechanics lab analysis, the best golfers swing 50% as hard as their poorly performing counterparts?  As long as they've got efficiency and ROM, they can get the job done without overswinging - which also throws things off because transfer of energy through the core is out of whack.

We train mobility where we need that, and stability where we need that.

We train power at all points along the speed-strength continuum for obvious reasons.

We train maximal strength because it can have a ceiling effect on power, especially in naturally reactive individuals.

We do rep work to iron out imbalances and attend to your "aside" goal of being more solid.  As long as you don't put on so much muscle mass that you lose ROM, we're golden.

We do low-intensity recovery work to allow you to bounce back and training again sooner and at a higher level of strength and speed.  Plus, it helps to repeat mobility and activation work on a daily basis.

What we will NEVER do is have you mimic the golf swing under loaded conditions or while standing on an unstable surface.  Crap like this is what makes so many modern "sport-specific" and "functional" training programs so useless.  From my thesis defense presentation:

“Willardson (2004) observed that two problems arise when one attempts to mimic sports skills while on an unstable surface.

1) The individual may actually be mastering two separate motor patterns, as “the underlying neuromuscular recruitment patterns and proprioceptive feedback may be completely different” for the two exercises.

2) The incorporation of unfamiliar entities to a pre-existing neuromuscular recruitment pattern for a given activity may negatively impact performance of that skill.”

So, basically, trying too hard to mimic the golf swing will screw up your golf swing, but enhance your performance in this new environment.  If you want to add ten pounds to your clubs or play in the middle of an earthquake, you’ll be more than prepared.  Otherwise, I’d stick to “general specificity.”

Hopefully, all this makes sense.  I tend to ramble sometimes…

That’s all for this week; stay tuned for some great announcements and new material very shortly.  Have a great week!

EC

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Newsletter #5

We’re five newsletters in, and while the feedback on our interviews has been fantastic, I’ve actually received several emails from people wanting to hear more from me.  In my infinite wisdom, I guess I never realized that people would actually sign up for an EricCressey.com newsletter to hear from Eric Cressey.  With that said, I figured that since I receive hundreds of emails on a weekly basis, I might as well pick a few from the pile and respond for everyone.  There will be some information, some sarcasm, and the occasional rant; I guess that’s part of the beauty of having your own newsletter.  As always, if there is something you’d like to see in the newsletter, just say the word; I’m all ears.

    Q: From reading your stuff and that of John Berardi, I’ve really begun to reconsider the traditional bodybuilding-influenced “bulk-cut” approach to improving body composition.  With respect to getting people to below 10% body fat, Dr. Berardi wrote that “people usually OVERESTIMATE the difficulty and UNDERESTIMATE the duration,” and that it is possible as long as:

    “1) They're willing to work out in excess of 5hrs per week (sometimes up to 8 hours/week).

    “2) They're willing to commit to eating better with each meal. Not follow a fat loss or bulking diet. Simply, every time they sit down to eat, they do better. “3) They're willing to learn a new normal.  We all have habits that are ‘normal’ and if you're 15, 20, 30% fat, your ‘normal’ = good for fat gain.  A diet is abnormal. You'll always get back to 15%, 20%, 30% if you're always doing something abnormal.  However if you re-learn a new normal, you can have a new body.” Judging from your writings, you seem to favor a similar approach.  I was just wondering if you would care to elaborate on any of these things.  I’ve really been thinking about how traditional bulking and cutting might very well be outdated, and would appreciate your thoughts.

    A:

    Those are definitely some statements with which I agree wholeheartedly, and I think that the more people that check out JB’s Precision Nutrition products, the less often I’ll have to encounter questions like this!  Once people start to adopt these ideals, I really think that we’ll see a paradigm shift in the world of training-nutrition interaction for body composition improvement.

    I, too, get really sick and tired of the “bulk and cut” mentality to which so many people adhere.  And, as a competitive athlete myself who has to maintain reasonably strict control over my body weight – yet has still seen consistent improvements in body composition over time – I feel that I have a solid frame of reference from which to speak.  In fact, as I look to drop a few pounds prior to APF Senior Nationals (June 2), my overall training and nutrition strategies aren’t changing much at all.

    With that said, I've got several problems with what has seemingly become the “traditionalist” approach:

    1. People adopt programs, but never habits. Consistency is more important than you can possibly imagine, but when you're constantly shuffling back and forth between programs, you're never really "getting it."  If you had the good habits in the first place, chances are that you wouldn’t have ever had to come to consider the extreme cutting or bulking, right? 2. Progress can be very tough to monitor in experienced individuals. Experienced natural lifters might be lucky to add five pounds of lean body mass a year. How realistic is it to really micromanage such subtle changes over a three-month period (assuming two bulks and two cuts per year)?  Spread five new pounds out over an entire body and you'll see that it isn't readily apparent.  Work with some guys who are 7-feet tall like I have and you’ll see that it’s even more hard to notice – especially when you see them on a daily basis. 3. Bulk/Cut is no way to live.  Let's assume that a year consists of two bulks and two cuts. So, basically, you're spending one half of the year gorging yourself until you become a fat-ass, and the other half in misery until you get lean enough to feel crappier and look better. Toss in a few root canals, a colonoscopy, and a few Ben Affleck movies*, and you’ve got yourself a year to be forgotten.  Yeehaw. 4. Think of the long-term consequences of the bulk/cut scheme.  If you read the research on weight regain and body fat distributions in recovered anorexics, you’ll see that central adiposity is extremely common.  Are severe cutting diets really that much different than clinical cases of anorexia?  Taking someone’s thyroid out and stomping on it would actually be a quicker means to the same end. 5. Do we really want to adhere to guidelines that are predominantly geared toward professional bodybuilders who are so juiced to the gills that you can smell GH on their breath?  They’ve got extensive anabolic arsenals in place to maintain muscles mass and optimize nutrient partitioning as they diet down, and thyroid medications to keep their metabolic rates up in spite of the reductions in calories.  Indirectly, all these substances improve strength and stave off lethargy, making training sessions more productive in spite of caloric reductions.  In the bulking scenarios, the nutrient partitioning effects are still in place, as these individuals are less likely to add body fat when eating a caloric surplus.

    Now, put a natural lifter in the same scenario, and you’ll see right away that he’s immediately at a disadvantage.  Drop calories too fast, and your endogenous testosterone and thyroid levels fall.  You get tired and weak, and your body has to find energy wherever it can – even if it means breaking down muscle tissue.

    I’m not trying to get on a soapbox here; I’m just trying to make people realize that they’re comparing apples and oranges.  You need to do what’s right for you.

    And what does that entail?  Adopt admirable dietary, training, and lifestyle habits, and you’ll build a strong body that moves efficiently and just so happens to look good.  Leave the quick-fix approaches for those with “assistance” and anyone silly enough to watch a fitness infomercial from beginning to end.

    *Note to readers: This reference was spurred on by my good friend, Tony Gentilcore, who was responsible for the quote of the week:

    “There are two kinds of people that irritate me: people who use the leg press, and Ben Affleck.”

    (For your information, Tony has a bit of a crush on Jennifer Garner, and it tends to make him a little biased when the time comes to review Affleck movies)

    Q:

    I was wondering what your thoughts on “finishers” to workouts are.  You know, tough stuff to test yourself at the end of a lift.

    A:

    Truthfully, I rarely add "finishers" to the end of sessions. In my opinion, this brings to light an amazing "phenomenon" that exists in the performance enhancement field. Those who make frequent use of finishers are the very same individuals who don't know a thing about volume manipulation for optimal supercompensation. If the finisher was such a valuable inclusion, then why wasn't it written into the program initially?

    Some people claim that these are an ideal means of enhancing mental toughness.  I can’t disagree, but I do think that your mental training stimuli should already exist in your programming.  If you need to search around for things to haphazardly incorporate at the end of a session, then you need to take a look at program design abilities.  I’d rather see a “finisher” just be considered an appropriately-planned “last exercise.”  Believe it or not, there should even be times when you leave the gym feeling fresh.

    There may be instances where I'll push an athlete (or myself) with increased volume and/or intensity based on the pre-training mood.  This is one basis for cybernetic periodization; effectively, you can roll with the punches as needed.

    I will say, however, that finishers have their place with younger athletes where you’re just trying to keep the session fun.  If you find something productive that they’re enthusiastic about doing, by all means, deviate from your plan a bit and build on that enthusiasm.  When they start getting more experienced, though, you’re going to have to know when to hold back the reins on them a bit.

    Q:

    In December of 2001, I was rear-ended going about 30mph; five cars were involved, and I was the first car hit from behind. My knee hit the dashboard when I was hit from behind and my head was jerked backwards when I hit the car in front of me.

    My knee started hurting soon after, although I never got it checked out.  It’s now become a sharp pain and a constant, dull ache as well with weakness on stairs and squatting-type positions especially.  In addition, there are tender areas, on the outside and top of the knee, that cause extreme pain when I am bending, squatting, lying down, or sitting down for too long. My hip has also been affected, also aching constantly. My right leg and knee also hurt and knot up easily.   The surrounding muscles are very weak with several knots in them, and I also have a very tight iliotibial band.  Any ideas what might be going on?

    A:

    I thought "PCL" (posterior cruciate ligament) the second I saw the word "dashboard;" it's the most common injury mechanism with this injury.  I’m really surprised that they didn’t check you out for this right after the accident; you might actually be a candidate for a surgery to clean things up.  Things to consider:

    1. They aren't as good at PCL surgeries as they are with ACL surgeries, as they're only 1/10 as common.  As such, they screw up a good 30%, as I recall – so make sure you find a good doctor who is experienced with this injury to assess you and, if necessary, do the procedure.

    2. It's believed that isolated PCL injuries never occur; they always take the LCL and a large "chunk" of the posterolateral complex along for the ride.  That would explain some of the lateral pain.

    3. The PCL works synergistically with the quads to prevent posterior tibial translation.  As such, quad strengthening is always a crucial part of PCL rehab (or in instances when they opt to not do surgery).  A good buddy of mine was a great hockey player back in the day, but he has no PCL in his right knee; he has to make up for it now with really strong quads.

    4. Chances are that a lot of the pain you’re experiencing now is related more to the compensation patterns you’ve developed over the years than it is to the actual knee injury.  For instance, the tightness in your IT band could be related to you doing more work at the hip to avoid loading that knee too much.  Pain in the front of the knee would be more indicative of a patellar tendonosis condition (“Jumper’s Knee”), which would result from over-reliance on your quads because of the lack of the PCL (something has to work overtime to prevent the portion of posterior tibial translation that the PCL normally resisted).

    5. From an acute rehabilitation standpoint, I think you’d need to address both soft tissue length (with stretching and mobility work) and quality (with foam rolling).  These interventions would mostly treat the symptoms, so meanwhile, you’re going to need to look at the deficient muscles that aren't doing their job (i.e. the real reasons that ITB/TFL complex is so overactive).  I'll wager my car, entire 2006 salary, and first-born child that it’s one or more of the following:

    a) your glute medius and maximus are weak

    b) your adductor magnus is overactive

    c) your ITB/TFL is overactive (we already know this one)

    d) your biceps femoris (lateral hamstring) is overactive

    e) your rectus femoris is tighter than a camel's butt in a sandstorm

    f) you might have issues with weakness of the posterior fibers of the external oblique, but not the rectus abdominus (most exercisers I know do too many crunches anyway!)

    Again, your best bet is to get that PCL checked out and go from there.  If you’ve made it from December 2001 until now without being incapacitated, chances are that you’ll have a lot of wiggle room with testing that knee out so that you can go into the surgery (if there is one) strong.

    Good luck!

    That’s all for this week; I hope everyone enjoyed it!

    All the Best,

    EC

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    Newsletter #4

    An Interview with Bob Youngs

    As one of the best powerlifters in the world today, Bob Youngs has forgotten more than most lifters will ever know. Bob has more under-the bar-knowledge than almost anyone you'll meet, and just as importantly, he’s as down-to-Earth as they come. I’ve been working with Bob as he works to rehabilitate a few old powerlifting injuries, and in the process of interacting with him, I’ve come to realize just how much the strength and conditioning community is missing with this guy flying somewhat “under the radar.” Fortunately, he was more than willing to do this interview for us; enjoy!

    EC: Hi Bob. Thanks for taking the time to be with us today.

    BY: Eric, it’s my pleasure. I have learned a lot from your Magnificent Mobility DVD as well as your articles. You have also been a huge help in trying to get me healthy.

    EC: Let’s fill readers in a bit on your background. From our interaction, I’ve come to realize that people would be hard-pressed to find someone with as much experience under the bar as you. Our readers might not realize that, though; can you please fill them in on the Bob Youngs story a bit?

    BY: I’ll start in the beginning. I started working out when I was 15 in 1985 and I haven’t stopped since. In high school and college, I trained to try and improve my abilities in sports. I played football, hockey, and baseball in high school. I then played just football in college. I ended up graduating with my degree in exercise science from Central Connecticut State University. I did my first powerlifting meet in February of 1991; so, I have been competing for 15 years now.

    In 1996, I moved to Columbus, OH and began to train at the Westside Barbell Club under the tutelage of Louie Simmons. That is where I really started to learn about strength training. At Westside, you not only have Louie to learn from, but guys like Dave Tate, Chuck Vogelpohl, Amy Weisberger, and all of the rest of the guys. You also had people like Kent Johnson, Chris Doyle, and the late Mel Siff stopping in to see what we were doing. In 2000, I moved to Florida and started my own private powerlifting gym that I named the Southside Barbell Club. Southside Barbell has produced eight lifters who have totaled ELITE in the sport of powerlifting. Since 1999, I have been helping out lifters on the Q&A at Elite Fitness Systems.

    EC: We have a lot of up-and-coming lifters, trainers, and strength coaches on our subscriber lists, so I’m sure that they’d love to hear where you looked for education and inspiration as you ascended the powerlifting ranks. Who were your biggest influences?

    BY: My biggest influence is Lou Simmons. He has more knowledge than anyone I have ever met. Lou is also one of the kindest guys you’ll ever meet; I have an incredible amount of respect for him and he is so willing to help anyone. Dave Tate is another person who has helped me more than I could ever repay him for. I hated Dave when I first met him, but I got to know him better and he is now one of my best friends in life and lifting. The person who helps me the most with my training now is Jim Wendler. I bounce my ideas off Jim and he helps me separate the good ones from the stupid ones. I often tell people that Dave is the big brother I never had and Jim is the little brother I never had.

    As far as reading materials go, I have been reading a lot of articles by Alwyn Cosgrove, Mike Robertson, Michael Hope, and you lately. I seem to be really getting hurt a lot recently and I have had to spend a lot of time learning about mobility, flexibility, program design and rehab.

    My inspiration comes from many people.  My girlfriend, Michele Stanek, really helps keep me focused. She helps me deal with the highs and lows through which a lifter goes. My son, Chris, is an inspiration to me in a way that can be hard to explain. I guess the easiest way to explain how Chris motivates me is to say I know I need to do everything right because he is watching my example. It may seem like a cliché, but I want him to grow up and be a better man that I am. In order for him to do that, I have to show him how through my actions and not my words. My mother has always been my biggest fan. I think she has been to every meet I have ever done. She was also at every game in which I played while I was growing up. My mother is a breast cancer and leukemia survivor and has been through a bone marrow transplant. My parents moved down to Florida and live a couple of miles away from us now; so, I get to see my Mom a lot. She lives with pain every day, and in the process, has shown me what true determination is. My mother never gave up – no matter how bad things got – and it make me realize that I have the greatest mother in the world. I am who I am in large part because of her. Thanks, Mom!

    EC: They say that experience is the only thing that can truly yield perspective; I’d say that you’re a perfect example of that. Speaking of experience, what were some of the mistakes you’ve made along the way, and what would you do differently?

    BY: I’m not even sure where to start on this one. The easiest way to explain this would be to quote Alwyn Cosgrove, “A complete training program has to include movement preparation, flexibility work, injury prevention work, core work, cardiovascular work, strength training, and recovery/regeneration. Most programs cover, at best, two of those.”

    My program only included strength training and some core work for the longest time, and I am now paying for that with chronic injuries. Now, I have had to learn about the other parts that I was missing; the more I incorporate this stuff, the better I feel. However, 15 years of not doing what I should have been doing has really cost me. I have torn my pec major, triceps tendon, intercostal, and biceps tendon. I also currently have a bulging disk in my lower back.

    Could all these have been avoided? Probably not all of them, but I think some of them could have. If I had to name the biggest mistakes, it would be not using a foam roller and not doing any mobility work. In the two months I have been using the foam roller my tissue quality has improved dramatically. I have been doing mobility work, under your guidance, for about a month and I have seen some incredible improvements.

    EC: I know you’re an avid student of the iron game, and read loads of books and watch every DVD you can get your hands on. What are the top ten “must-have” selections from the Bob Youngs library of books and DVDs?

    BY:

    1) Science and Practice of Strength Training by Zatsiorsky

    2) Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance by McGill

    3) Science of Sports Training by Kurz

    4) The Westside Barbell videos by Simmons

    5) Magnificent Mobility DVD by Cressey and Robertson

    6) Encyclopedia of Kettlebell Lifting DVD by Cotter

    7) Sports Restoration and Massage by Yessis and Siff

    8 ) Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Covey

    9) Under the Bar by Tate

    10) Supertraining by Siff

    I put “Supertraining” last because it is the hardest and I feel the others will help you understand it better.

    EC: In addition to learning outside the gym, right off the top of your head, what are five things that our readers can do right now to become a better lifters, athletes, coaches, and/or trainers.

    BY:

    1) A good program must include: movement prep, flexibility work, injury prevention work, core work, cardio work, strength training, and recovery/regeneration work. Does that sound familiar? In other words, construct programs that incorporate all aspects.

    2) Read one book per week. If you ever come over to my house you will see hundreds of books. I shoot for one new book per week.

    3) Network within your given sport or profession. If you are a powerlifter, seek out lifters stronger than you and learn from them. If you are a strength coach, seek out another coach you think has something to offer that you don’t have. You get the idea. Most people are willing to share information if you ask them; this is usually the way you will learn the most.

    4) Work smarter. Many people work hard; what makes a person the best at any given task is usually working smarter.

    5) Have properly defined and realistic goals, and write them down. I am shocked by the amount of athletes and coaches who have one broad goal and no steps to get there. Set a big goal and then break it down into smaller goals. I will use a powerlifter as an example. I hear all the time, “I want to squat 800 pounds.” That’s great, but how do you get there? If you have a current max of 500, your next small goal might be to squat 550. Then, you break that down further to knowing you need to hit X on a given max effort exercise. Now, you have a goal every time you go into the gym.

    EC: Awesome points. Far too many people set themselves up for failure with lofty goals that aren’t built on a foundation of specific objectives. What does a typical training week look like for you?

    BY: Every weekday morning, I start the day by doing my foam roller work, mobility work, and a bike ride. I make sure I have been awake an hour to allow for the spinal fluid to properly drain from my back (read McGill!) prior to starting to train.

    • Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays are non-weight training days for me. I do some stretching, core work, and walking on these days.
    • Tuesday is my bench assistance night; I actually do this workout at home with some stuff I have in the garage. I do various pushups and kettlebell work for the shoulders, traps, and biceps.
    • Thursday is a gym day, but it is still pretty low-key. I do some lat work, pull-throughs, kettlebell swings, and a single-leg movement. My single-leg movements are reverse lunges, walking lunges, step-ups, and Bulgarian split squats.
    • Saturday is my max effort bench day. I do a max effort movement, a high board press or rack lockouts, some type of row, and end with some type of dumbbell press for reps.
    • Sunday is my squat and deadlift day. One week, I do dynamic work for the squat and deadlift and the next week I do max effort work for the squat and deadlift. My assistance work on Sundays is neck, glute-ham raises, and a single-leg movement again.

    I know this is quite different from what most people view as the standard “Westside” template, but this is just how my training has evolved. This schedule allows me to get in the recuperation time I need, and it seems to be working well for me.

    EC: I know that you’ve recently taken a new outlook on your powerlifting career. Please fill our readers in on what’s next for you on the competition scene and where you see yourself in the next few years with powerlifting.

    BY: I have decided to move down to the 242-pound weight class. I have been competing at both the 275s and 308s recently; my heaviest bodyweight was 305. I am currently weighing around 247 or so. I decided to do this for health reasons; my blood pressure and cholesterol weren’t that great when I was 290 pounds. The new diet actually has been pretty fun, as it has added a new dimension to my life. For people who say it easier to be a big fat powerlifter, it has been easier for me to keep my weight down than it was to keep it up.

    I’m going to compete in June at 242 for the first time since 1996. I won’t be completely healthy, but I am looking forward to putting up some decent numbers. I’ll then look to do a meet in December at 242; hopefully, I’ll be all healed up by that time. I’m hoping to beat my all time best total in any weight class at that time.

    Beyond that, I’m just going to keep doing what I do. I love the sport of powerlifting, and have since day one. I still enjoy going to the gym and working hard. I like to think I have gotten smarter over the years and I’m hoping that helps me be an even better lifter at a lighter bodyweight.

    EC: Great information as always, Bob; thanks for joining us! Where can readers go to keep track of you?

    BY: Thank you for having me Eric. I had a lot of fun. I can be reached at the EliteFTS Q&A.

    Another week in the books; see you next Tuesday, everyone.

    Until then, train hard and have fun!

    EC

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    Newsletter #3

    In this update, we’ve got review of Vladimir Zatsiorsky’s Science and Practice of Strength Training as well as an interview with Jay Floyd.

    Product Review: Science and Practice of Strength Training

    I get a lot of emails from up-and-coming coaches and ordinary weekend warriors who are enthusiastic about learning more about how to design their own programs, but are absolutely awestruck and confused by Supertraining.  It’s a phenomenal book, but it isn’t exactly one with which you want to get your feet wet if you’re new to the strength and conditioning education scene.  As such, these individuals often ask me if I have a suggestion for a comparable book that is more user-friendly.  I immediately recommend Vladimir Zatsiorsky’s Science and Practice of Strength Training.

    Admittedly, this book is technical at times, but that’s not to say that you will not be able to think it out.  And, because the ability to think critically is crucial to successful program design, you’ll be better off in the long run when it comes time to write programs for your athletes, clients, and yourself.  Zatsiorsky won’t spoon-feed you cookie-cutter routines, but he will outline which methods do and do not work – and, just as importantly, why they succeeded or failed.

    You’ll receive a comprehensible interpretation of decades of carefully logged training journals of elite Soviet athletes; no Western training system has such a substantial and carefully documented pool from which to draw training insights.  The Science and Practice of Strength Training should be on the bookshelf of every coach, sports scientist, and trainer – as well as those of intermediate and advanced lifters looking to get to the next level.

    An Interview with Jay Floyd

    For those of you who aren’t familiar with Jay Floyd, I would highly recommend searching around for some of his stuff and familiarizing yourself with his name.  In addition to being one of the most accomplished lifters and knowledgeable and passionate coaches around, Jay is a rare breed in the strength and conditioning world: a genuinely good guy.  He understands that he’s developing people as much as he’s developing athletes, and he’ll always take the time to help out up-and-coming lifters.  I know because three years ago, I was one of those lifters.  I was on the fence about whether or not to get into powerlifting, and my discussions with Jay were a huge deciding factor in me making the jump into competitive lifting.  He made me realize that I couldn’t ever be the coach that I wanted to be unless I was doing my best to walk a mile in my athletes’ shoes, and to do so, I needed to get back the competitive mindset I had when I was involved in athletics as I grew up.  Simply stated, I owe him a lot.

    EC: Hi Jay; thanks for taking the time to be with us today.  We’ve interacted a lot over the years, but I’m not a lot of our readers are familiar with you and your accomplishments.  By all means, bring them up to speed by taking a few paragraphs to brag about yourself!

    JF: Well I played football, baseball, and threw the shot put in track in high school, and I have always loved lifting weights.  I started lifting in my room when I was 12 years old; I would crank up “Too Legit To Quit” and lift like crazy.  My dedication to lifting really paid off early for me, as I was able to start at tight end as a sophomore in the toughest classification in Georgia. I went on to be a three-year starter on the football team, was Team Captain, Best Offensive Lineman, Weight Champ, and all those things. I even got to play in the Georgia Dome my senior year.

    After high school, I only had a couple of walk-on opportunities because of my height (6ft.), so I decided to just go to school and not play football.  While in school, I got a degree in Exercise Science and immersed myself in learning as much as I could about strength and conditioning.  During this time I also started powerlifting; now, my current best lifts are an 845 squat, 535 bench, 640 deadlift and 2000 total in the 275lb class.

    EC: Great stuff, Jay; what are you up to now?

    JF: I am now the Strength and Conditioning and Offensive Line Coach at Alexander High School in Douglasville, GA.

    When I got here less than two years ago, we only had three 400-pound squatters, zero 300-pound bench pressers, and two over 250 pounds in the power clean. At our last high school powerlifting meet, we ended up with nine 400-pound squatters, three 500-pound squatters, six 300-pound benchers, one 400-pound bencher, and six over 250 in the power clean.  My best lifter did an APC meet last weekend and squatted 650, benched 451, and deadlifted 551 at age 18 at body weight of 260.  All these lifts were done in old single-ply gear; the squat suit he used was my four-year old Metal IPF squatter, which is actually loose on me at 285!

    I have written articles for Bodybuilding.com, Athletes.com, and Elitefts.com.  I am also in the works with Landon Evans on something in football that should be interesting and I have developed some exercises with bands that should change the way I coach my offensive lineman in football.

    EC: I can speak from experience that coaching entire teams isn’t an easy thing to do, so I’ve got a ton of respect for what you do with your high school kids.  What are the challenges you face on a daily basis in this setting, and how do you overcome them?

    JF: Without a doubt, the biggest challenge is lack of support from the other coaches and administration.  Because the school day is so full, the only time you can work with athletes is during a weight training class.  Unfortunately, our administration is not committed to putting our athletes in those classes; this lack of support is actually one of the reasons that I will not be back at this school next year.

    We also face problems with the coaches of other sports. Many are ignorant to conditioning and this makes my job very difficult.  They do not stress the importance of lifting and getting stronger to the kids and that makes it tough for me to sell the program to their kids.  For most football players, it isn’t a problem, but basketball and baseball are different stories, though.  The overspecialization is killing the athletes in this country, but no one wants to see it.  A lot of really bright coaches have beaten this horse to death, so I won’t go into it any further.

    Another problem I have is more is my fault entirely.  Because I compete in powerlifting, some coaches believe that this is the way we I train my kids year-round.  Although we do have elements of a traditional Westside Barbell program, their training looks nothing like mine.  However, for people who do not know the difference, it looks the same.

    EC: What does a typical day in the life of Jay Floyd look like?

    JF: I wake up between 5:30 and 6AM, and eat right away.  I will go to the gym and train fellow coaches, football players, and powerlifters until 8AM.  At about 8:15AM, I will start the movements from your Magnificent Mobility DVD and start to lift around 8:45AM.  I am usually done by 10:00AM, but I may do accessories throughout the day when I find the time.  I am in classes from 10:20AM until 3:30PM. If it is football season, practice starts at 4PM and I am there until about 7-7:30PM.  If it’s not football season, I hang around for a bit and then go home.  I just got married, so now the afternoons are reserved for my wife.

    EC: I’m sure that - like all of us – you’ve made some mistakes along the way.  What were a few of those mistakes, and how did you turn them into positive learning experiences that benefited your athletes and you as a lifter?

    JF: The biggest mistake I have made is not paying attention to mobility.  I am stuck playing catch-up now and it is much more difficult to backtrack than it is to build it in the first place and then maintain it.  I stress this heavily with my athletes now; we do mobility work of some sort every single day.

    In my own training, going overboard with bands really hurt my strength.  I neglected my straight weight and raw work for too long my squat and deadlift really suffered. In fact, I just wrote an article called "Starting Strength" for EliteFTS.com about this very subject.

    EC: Along those same lines, who in the industry has helped to make you the lifter and coach that you are today?  To whom have you looked for inspiration?

    JF: A guy in this field is a liar if he doesn’t say that Louie Simmons has been the one of his biggest influences; I would not be where I am today if not for Louie Simmons, Dave Tate, Jim Wendler, and the rest of the guys at Westside Barbell and Elite Fitness Systems.  I only know Jim personally, but they have all helped me and been more than generous with their time and money.  Also, guys like you, Landon Evans, Steve Coppola, Jared Bruff, Donnie Thompson, Marc Bartley, and the other guys at the Compound in South Carolina have helped me tremendously with my powerlifting technigue and gear. Your Mobility DVD has been unbelievable for me.  Landon Evans is always there with brilliant ideas, and Steve Coppola and Jesse Burdick are the same way.  Jared Bruff has been a great friend to me over the past four years, as we’ve done many meets together and he has been my handler at most of them; I would not have done as well as I have if not for him.  Joe DeFranco has probably influenced my program design the most; I have done variations of his programs with my kids with great results.  I also have tons of respect for James Smith, and Jason Ferruggia has been great to me as well.  Those are the kind of people that make this business so great.

    And I would be a terrible person if I did not mention my training partners for the past two years.  Clay Livingston, Joey Strickland, and Rich Fendley have pulled more bars off of me than I can count.  I especially want to thank Clay; he has been my constant training partner for the last two years. Of course, I have to thank my wife, too; she has pushed me in powerlifting more than anybody.  It is great to have that kind of support and love at home for what you do.  The best hug I ever received was when she came to the back to hug me after I totaled Elite for the first time; I think she was happier than I was!

    EC: How about “book smarts?”  We also all our interviewees what their top ten book and DVD choices are; if you had to pick ten, what would they be?

    JF: I think reading and constantly learning is extremely important. If you learn one thing that can help you, then it has been worth it.  I read more articles than I do books.  Books tend to be out-of-date very quickly, while articles are more current.  I do think it is somewhat important to be knowledgeable about the human body and its functions; this knowledge enables you to see through many gimmicks right away.  For instance, I had one guy tell me that he heard squats were great because they release acids that are stored in your glutes; I am not kidding.  Now, this is an otherwise very smart guy, but this makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.  Anybody with any fundamental appreciation of how the human body works knows that this is completely insane.  This basic knowledge also allows you to see through most supplements and save money.

    My favorite books and videos?  That’s a tough one.  I read a ton of books that have nothing to do with strength and conditioning, so I might put a couple of those in there as well.

    EC: No problem; we’re all about variety around here.  If it helped you, it’s sure to help someone else.  Shoot.

    JF: In no particular order:

    1. The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel
    2. The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
    3. The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel
    4. High/Low Sequences of Programming and Organizing of Training by James Smith
    5. The Westside Seminar DVDs
    6. Magnificent Mobility by Eric Cressey and Mike Robertson
    7. The Parisi DVDs
    8. The Elite Fitness Exercise Index DVDs
    9. The Fair Tax Book by Neil Boortz
    10. The Terrible Truth About Liberals by Neil Boortz

    EC: Some interesting stuff in there, Jay.  Not many guys can please Billy Graham, Bob Doyle, and Dave Tate in the same breath, but I’d say that you passed the test with flying colors!  Thanks again for taking the time; where can our readers find out more about you?

    JF: I’m not up-to-date enough to have a website or anything, but I will hopefully have more articles up on Elitefts.com, and Landon Evans has something in the works as well.  I can be reached at Goldberg_rjf@hotmail.com. Thanks for giving me this opportunity, Eric.

    That does it for Newsletter #3; thanks for stopping by for another week.  If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to drop me an email at ec@ericcressey.com.   As always, if you have a friend who you think would like our free newsletter, please feel free to pass this on and encourage them to Sign Up.

    Read more

    Newsletter #2

    In this update, we’ve got a review of Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement Impairment Syndromes by Shirley Sahrmann, and an interview with Mike Robertson.

    With seminar appearances, helping our guys get ready for the NBA combine and individual team workouts, and my ordinary three-times-weekly trek to South Side, there isn’t a whole lot of new stuff to report in the “online world” of Eric Cressey. I did, however, have an interview with Stuart McGill published at T-Nation yesterday; check out some great information from the world’s premier lower back pain researcher in Back to McGill.

    In spite of the low-key online scene, it’s shaping up to be an exciting spring and summer; I’ve got several individual and joint-venture projects on my plate for the months ahead, so definitely keep an eye out for exciting announcements at EricCressey.com in the months to come. Without further ado, let’s get to the good stuff!

    Product Review: Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement Impairment Syndromes

    It seems only fitting that one of my first product reviews be devoted to what I believe to be one of the greatest resources available for coaches, trainers, physical therapists, physicians, and everyday weekend warriors with a desire to understand human function and dysfunction. In Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement Impairment Syndromes, Shirley Sahrmann provides a breath of fresh air to those who are tired of following the medical model of care by simply treating symptoms. Instead, Sahrmann proposes countless functional tests and corrective exercise interventions aimed at treating the causes of the problems rather than the compensations that emerge after dysfunction has emerged.

    This book has profoundly impacted the way that some of the industry’s greatest minds train their clients and athletes and themselves. To be blunt, Shirley Sahrmann has likely forgotten more than most physical therapists will ever know. If you’re serious about your own education, and have the best interests of your clients and athletes in mind, you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of this classic.

    An Interview with Mike Robertson

    In light of all the projects on which we’ve collaborated, a lot of people seem to have come to the conclusion that Mike Robertson and I are the same person. I guess that’s what we get for co-authoring ten articles together and co-producing the Magnificent Mobility DVD. I figured that the best way to clear up any confusion about our unique identities would be to interview him. If it helps, read the text below aloud, and use a Midwestern drawl for Mike’s voice, and a pseudo-Boston accent for me. If you’re a visual learner, you might want to alternate an Indianapolis Colts hat with a New England Patriots one at the same time.

    EC: Hey Mike, thanks for agreeing to do this. I know you like the back of my hand, but our readers don’t. Fill them in a bit on your background; I’m sure you get questions all the time about how you got to where you are. Who inspired you?

    MR: Wow Eric, there’s been so many people along the way, to name just one or two wouldn’t really be prudent. However, if I had to name a few people that have significantly impacted the way I view and approach training and nutrition, I’d have to say yourself, Alwyn Cosgrove, Dave Tate, John Berardi, Mike Boyle, Joe DeFranco, Jim Wendler, Ian King, Stuart McGill, Bill Hartman, and Shirley Sahrmann.

    As you can tell, I’ve got everything from physical therapists to elite-level strength coaches, but all have taught me something or significantly influenced my thinking in one way or another. In fact, I think you need to learn from as many disciplines as possible to truly understand how the body works.

    EC: What frustrates you the most about this industry?

    MR: Two things about this industry really annoy me. They are:

    1. People who have no business training people for athletics. These people know who they are; whether they are PTs that “wanna’ be” strength coaches, to strength coaches who just don’t know what the hell they are talking about, these people piss me off. They typically get by with either “smoke and mirrors” training, or by yelling incessantly at their athletes to “work harder.” While this may sound contradictory to my next point, running your athletes into the ground doesn’t make you a good strength coach; it makes you a schmuck.

    2. Lazy people. This can include people who are too lazy to train themselves, people who are too lazy to keep learning, or people that feel like others should help them “catch a break.” I have no sympathy for people like this: I firmly believe you create your own destiny by doing the right things and busting your ass.

    I always say that I could write a killer training book about training hard (the REAL key to success) and no one would buy it. Why? People who are already training hard know it’s the key to their success and my book isn’t going to make a difference. People that aren’t training hard are going to think I’m full of s**t and that it’s their training or diet habits that are holding them back. In other words, they always find some other factor that’s the cause for their failure.

    Simply put, hard work is the difference between people of similar abilities.

    EC: What’s a typical training week look like for you?

    MR: Since I had my knee scoped last June, my training has been all over the place. I was approaching (or exceeding) all my previous PRs this past December, but my body had taken on numerous compensations from the surgery. Even though I don’t feel like I rushed back into things whatsoever, between the surgery and the actual injury that caused it four months earlier, my body was getting very good at doing some very bad things.

    Over the past few months, I’ve been making a concerted effort to clean up my posture and recruitment patterns so I can get back on the platform stronger and healthier than ever before. My current programming looks like this:

    Tuesday: Lower Body (typically ME work)

    Thursday: ME Upper Body

    Friday or Saturday: Accessory Lower Body

    Sunday: Accessory Upper Body

    I’m currently performing a specific mobility circuit that Bill Hartman gave me on a daily basis to re-groove my squat motor pattern and get it back to where it needs to be.

    EC: Now, your wife is a dietician; how has that impacted the way you eat and approach nutrition with clients and athletes?

    MR: Well it’s definitely impacted my wallet and my waistline; when I met her I was a svelt 170 pounds!

    Seriously, though, I’ve always been interested in nutrition, but she has the amazing ability to meld the science and the practice. She’s an amazing cook to begin with, so she has the ability to take the right foods and actually make them taste great. I think too many people think that “healthy” food has to taste like garbage, and that’s just not right. Maybe someday I’ll actually convince her to put all her recipes into an e-book for publication.

    Also, I think if you’re serious about training and don’t take the steps to cover your nutritional bases, you’re pretty much setting yourself up for failure. Whether you’re a bodybuilder, powerlifter, Olympic lifter, strongman, or just someone who wants to improve your physique, you have to respect the power of nutrition and supplementation. If you don’t, please don’t expect to see exceptional results in the gym.

    EC: Name five people you feel everyone should see speak.

    MR:

    1) Alwyn Cosgrove

    2) Dave Tate

    3) Mike Boyle

    4) John Berardi

    5) Anyone who knows more about your profession than you do (even if they don’t have the same outlook as you)

    EC: How about books and DVDs? What are your top ten library “must-have” choices?

    MR:

    1) Supertraining – Mel Siff

    2) Science and Practice of Strength Training -Vladimir Zatsiorsky

    3) Functional Strength Coach – Mike Boyle

    4) Professional Fitness Coach Program Design Manual – Alwyn Cosgrove

    5) Magnificent Mobility – Eric Cressey and Mike Robertson (These guys are geniuses…or so I’ve heard!)

    6) Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance - McGill

    7) Precision Nutrition - Berardi

    8 ) Gourmet Nutrition - Berardi

    9) Parisi Deceleration Method - Parisi Speed School

    10) Charlie Francis FAST Seminar Series

    EC: If you had to pick five things our readers could do right now to become better lifters/athletes/coaches/trainers, what would they be?

    MR:

    1. Start getting some soft tissue work done!

    As Mike Boyle says, “If you aren’t doing something to improve tissue quality, you might as well stop stretching, too.” I firmly agree with him on this point, and while it may cost a few bucks, it’s going to help keep you healthy and hitting PR’s. This could be as simple as foam rolling, or as extreme as getting some intense deep tissue massage or myofascial release done. I’ve tried it all and all of it has its place.

    2. Don’t neglect mobility work!

    Ever since we released our Magnificent Mobility DVD, people are finally starting to see all the benefits of a proper warm-up that includes dynamic flexibility/mobility work. However, just because you understand the benefits doesn’t mean squat if you aren’t doing it! Take the time to get it done before every training session, and even more frequently if need be.

    3. Understand functional anatomy

    Again, you and I (along with many others), have preached this for quite some time, but I’m not sure enough people really understand how the human body works. Hell, I think I do, and then I get into some of these intense anatomy and PT related books and find out tons of new info! Along these same lines, if you don’t understand functional anatomy, you really have no business writing training programs, whether they’re for yourself or for others. That may sound harsh, but for whatever reason people read a couple copies of Muscle and Fiction and think they can write programs. I’ve fixed enough broken people to know that very few people can integrate the functional anatomy into what amounts to functional programming (and no, that doesn’t include wobble boards, Airex pads, etc.).

    4. Train to get stronger

    While I’m all for all the other stuff that goes into training (proper recovery, mobility work, soft tissue work, conditioning, etc.), I think too many people want all the bells and whistles but forget about the basics. GET YOUR ATHLETES STRONG! Here’s the analogy that I use: performance coaches are asked to balance their training so that the athlete: a) improves performance and b) stays healthy. What I see right now is a ton of coaches that focus on all this posture and prehab stuff, but their athletes aren’t really that much better anyway. You have to work on both end of the spectrum. Think about it like this: Let’s say you have this huge meathead that’s super strong but has no flexibility, mobility or conditioning, then throw him on the field. He may last for a while, but eventually he’s going to get hurt, right? You haven’t covered the spectrum. But what’s the opposite situation? We have the coach who focuses on posture, prehab, etc., and the athlete has “optimal” muscle function but is weak as a kitten. Are you telling me this kid isn’t at a disadvantage when he steps on the field or on the court? Again, you haven’t covered the spectrum. In other words, feel free to do all the right things, but don’t forget about simply getting stronger; as you’ve said, it’s our single most precious training commodity.

    5. Keep learning!

    I’m not going to harp too much on this one; simply put, you need to always be expanding your horizons and looking to new places for answers. There’s a plethora of training knowledge out there, and what you don’t know can come back to haunt you. I believe it was Ghandi who said, “Live like today was your last, but learn like you will live forever.” That’s pretty solid advice in my book (and hopefully the last quote I’ll throw in!)

    EC: What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in your training and professional careers? Looking back, what would you do differently?

    MR: It may sound cheesy, but I don’t look at mistakes as mistakes; I look at them as learning opportunities. First and foremost, I wouldn’t have tried to learn to snow ski at the age of 27! This little stunt has set me back almost a year of training and left me with 20% less shock absorption in my left knee. Not the best idea, if you ask me.

    But, instead of looking at it solely as a negative, it’s caused me to really re-examine my own training and thought process. As well, I really dug in so I now have a much better understanding of the knee, as well as how to rehabilitate knee injuries (and what causes them). So while I could piss and moan ‘til the cows come home, the fact of the matter is I’m really not much worse off and I have a much better understanding of myself and the human body.

    EC: Where do you see yourself in a few years, and how would you like to be remembered way down the road?

    MR: Ideally, at some point I’d love to have a training facility geared toward athletes. Whether it’s my own or partnered up with the right people doesn’t really matter. This would not only allow me to do what I’m passionate about, but give me a solid place to train myself. Every day I train at the commercial gym here in Indy a little part of me dies.

    However, I must admit I really enjoy all the “extra-curricular” stuff I do as well: writing articles, producing info products, and giving seminars. I feel like the personal training/performance coaching allows me to keep in touch with what works and allows me to affect people on a small, intimate scale. On the other hand, the extracurricular stuff opens the doors to a huge number of people, all of whom can directly benefit from the things I’ve learned. In my eyes, it’s the best of both worlds.

    As for being remembered, I just hope a person or two out there does remember me! The best thing anyone can say about me is that I influenced their life or athletic career for the better. I genuinely love what I do and the people with whom I work, and I think people can feel that whether it’s me coaching them, writing for them, or speaking to them at a seminar.

    EC: Feel free to use the space below to shamelessly plug all of your products and services.

    MR: Well I’m sure we’ve talked about it ad nauseum, but if you haven’t picked up a copy of our Magnificent Mobility DVD, you need to get it done NOW. You’ll never look at warming-up the same! You and I also have a huge seminar coming up in June at the Peak Performance facility in NYC, and I’m sure it’s going to turn some heads as to how people evaluate and train their clients. Finally, I’m not even going to get into our “little book” until we make some headway!

    Next, Bill Hartman and myself are working on a 2-DVD series and manual that’s going to cover a lot of upper body concepts that I don’t think many people have examined. Bill is an amazing PT, so I really feel this is going to do for the upper body what Magnificent Mobility does for the hips.

    Finally, feel free to come check out my website and sign-up for my FREE NEWSLETTER, which is sent out monthly. You can check out my website at www.robertsontrainingsystems.com, and you can sign up for the newsletter by sending me an e-mail at mike@robertsontrainingsystems.com with “Subscribe” in the subject line.

    EC: Lots of stuff on the agenda, and I’m sure that it’ll all be top-notch. Thanks for taking the time, Mike.

    MR: Thanks a ton for having me, EC!

    That’ll do it for Newsletter #2.

    All the Best,

    EC

    Read more

    Newsletter #1

    We’ve got some great content in this first newsletter, including a review of Precision Nutrition and an interview with Brijesh Patel. First, here’s a quick update on what’s new in the world of Eric Cressey.

    I’ve been busy at T-Nation, publishing two articles in the past month. Be sure to check out Six Lost Lifters to see if you’re missing the boat on some aspect of your training mentality, and Seven Reasons You’re a Weakling to see why the weight on the bar isn’t increasing for you. Also, next time you’re in the grocery store line, you can also find a quick-hit piece from me on Page 25 of the April edition of Men's Fitness magazine.

    You all might be interested in checking out an interview I recently did on Super Human Radio. I'm the second interviewee on this installment, and we discussed the rationale behind our recommendations in Magnificent Mobility. You can find it by scrolling down to the March 4 interview here.

    The Magnificent Mobility DVD craze is really catching on, as coaches, athletes, and ordinary weekend warriors from around the world continue to send positive feedback to Mike Robertson and I on a daily basis. Check out what some of the best of the best have to say in their Magnificent Mobility Reviews.

    If you haven’t picked up a copy yet, you’re missing the boat. Mike and I might not be the most marketing-savvy guys in the world, but you can bet that we understand functional anatomy and injury prevention and rehabilitation. You can pick one up at www.MagnificentMobility.com.

    Product Review: Precision Nutrition

    For those of you who aren’t familiar with Dr. John Berardi’s Precision Nutrition system, I definitely encourage you to check it out here.

    I have to say that I was absolutely astounded at HOW MUCH you get for only $97! Think about it; you’re going to pay anywhere from $50 to $150 for an hour with a personal trainer, and chances are that you might even regress during that time period due to that person’s lack of education and experience.

    I’ve recommended a lot of JB’s products to my clients, friends, and family members. It’s impossible to deny the fact that this is some high-quality stuff that can benefit EVERYONE; I haven’t heard an unfavorable review yet. I use my Gourmet Nutrition e-book all the time, and the No Nonsense Nutrition DVD is the perfect thing to turn on the light bulb over the head of clients and family members who need to get with the program. Regardless of your experience level, Precision Nutrition really does offer something for everyone.

    To be honest, I think that the “Gourmet Nutrition” e-book ALONE is worth $97. However, with the Precision Nutrition package, you get a ton more for that same price; check it out for yourself here before this special ends and the price goes up.

    An Interview with Brijesh Patel

    It seems only fitting that I kick off the interviews with one of the guys who played a large role in getting me to where I am today. When I arrived at the University of Connecticut, I was a little unsure about where my graduate school experience would take me, although I was leaning toward becoming a hardcore geek and doing loads of research. Then, I met Brijesh and Pat Dixon and hit it off immediately with both of them.These guys really took me under their wing in my first few weeks on campus. Pat gave me the tour of campus, and Brijesh took the time to chat with me about anything related to training, nutrition, and life in general. Perhaps most importantly, these two guys brought me into the UCONN varsity weight room to train, and it was there that my love of coaching really went to a whole new level.

    The day I met Brijesh, he invited me to come to watch him coach the baseball guys the next morning at 6AM.I showed up without thinking twice. The passion “B” displayed for coaching and his complete control over an indoor track full of 25 college guys were really remarkable – especially since he did it in a very mild manner.B isn’t one of those coaches who needs to scream and yell at you all the time to make you better, and I’ve really modeled myself from his example. Perhaps most impressively was that every one of those players was wide awake at the crack of dawn; they were anxious to be coached by a guy whom they obviously respected tremendously as someone who could get them to where they needed to be. That was a little over 30 months ago, and my coaching career has absolutely skyrocketed since then; I owe a lot of this success to B.

    EC: Hey B, thanks for agreeing to do this. Some of our readers might not have heard of you (and it’s their loss), so let’s try to bring them up to speed. Fill them in a bit on your background, what you’ve got going on now, your pets, favorite color, whatever.

    BP: Thanks Eric, I’m honored to be one of your first interviewees and would love to help out a fellow Husky and a Husky fellow.

    EC: I was a husky kid long before I went to UCONN. That’s what they used to call us fat kids when they didn’t want to hurt our feelings.

    Mom: “You’re not fat; you’re just husky. That’s why you need to wear elastic jeans and sweatpants all the time.”

    Little Eric: “What does “husky” mean?”

    Mom: “It just means that you play hard, honey. Now wipe the cotton candy stains off your face and try on these Bugle Boys.”

    I digress, but not totally. You were a “husky” guy before UCONN, too, right?

    BP: Yes!  This is kind of a long story, but I’ll try to keep it short so I don’t bore any of your readers. I was always a “bigger” kid growing up, and had trouble participating in many sports because of my disadvantageous size. I went out for football my freshman year in high school and vowed to lose enough weight so that I would have the opportunity to play more. At my peak, I weighed 225 lbs (standing in at a whopping 5’4) with probably a body-fat of 30% (and that’s being generous).

    I did a complete overhaul on my diet, began to exercise every day, and read anything I could get my hands on regarding training, and nutrition. I ended up going a little over board and lost 90 lbs in six months. I was then introduced to the weight-room and fell in love with it. As a high school senior, I knew I wanted to be involved in athletics in some way and what better way than athletic preparation?

    EC: Sounds all too familiar to me; how did you take the next step and get into coaching?

    BP: I went to the University of Connecticut and volunteered in the varsity weight room in my second week of school. I began by simply observing and asking questions and each year I gained more and more responsibility. By my senior year, I was given two teams to train and coach on my own, which was an unbelievable opportunity in itself. This worked itself into a graduate assistant position at UConn for another year a half. Along the way I was fortunate enough to complete internships with Mike Boyle at his professional facility, and with Jeff Oliver at the College of the Holy Cross (where I presently coach).

    EC: Mike and Jeff are both great mentors; who else inspired you?

    BP: There have been a number of people that have inspired me in a number of ways. I really admire all of the people that I have gotten to work with over the years, namely: Jerry Martin, Andrea Hudy, Shawn Windle, Teena Murray, Chris West, Moe Butler, Pat Dixon, Mike Boyle, Ed Lippie, Walter Norton Jr., Jeff Oliver, Liz Proctor, Charles Maka, and anybody else that I forgot.

    I would also like to mention that people that have really shaped the industry and been willing to share their own knowledge: Everybody at T-Nation (Cressey, Robertson, TC, Waterbury, Shugart, Thibaudeau, Berardi, John, Cosgrove, Tate, Poliquin, King, and many others), Louie Simmons, Robb Rogers, Vern Gambetta, Mike Boyle, Paul Chek, Juan Carlos Santana, Mike Clark, Mark Verstegen, Charlie Francis, and all the other great minds and coaches in the field today.

    EC: What frustrates you the most about this industry?

    BP: The number one problem in my opinion is the lack of “open-mindedness” of coaches, and self-proclaimed “gurus.” This may be hard for some people to believe, but there is more than one way to get it done (create a strong, lean, mobile, and injury-resistant athlete). I was asked a question recently about who I don’t really like in the industry, and I don’t think I could actually answer that question. If you take the time to listen to what people say, you’ll find that everybody has something to offer. We need to get over our egos and realize that you could learn something from somebody – even if it’s how NOT to do something.

    EC: Describe a day in the life of Brijesh Patel – coaching, training yourself, you name it.

    BP: I typically wake up by 5 am (I push it to 6 am on the weekends; I know, I’m a rebel!), have a couple cups of coffee and am out the door to work. I like to train in the morning before it gets crazy in the weightroom, so I’ll usually train for about 90-120 minutes. I’m not training for anything in particular, so I try the programs I write for my athletes. This benefits me because I can see what is realistic and what works and what doesn’t before I try something out on my athletes.

    The rest of my morning consists of catching up on emails, writing programs, speaking with coaches, helping out athletes who may come in to make up workouts, and reading up on articles. Our afternoons are extremely busy with teams coming in every 30 minutes, and this lasts from about 2 pm to 6 pm. If you want to check out weightroom efficiency, feel free to stop up to Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. Then I’ll usually do some personal training or group training with high school kids (which I think is the best time to start training).

    EC: The “knowledge is power” mentality is something I’m going to reiterate in each of my newsletters; it’s often been said that you should be reading at least one hour per day if you want to make it anywhere in life.With that said, one question that everyone I interview will have to answer is “What are ten books that every aspiring coach should read or watch?” We’re even going to make it easy on readers by providing them links to these books and DVDs. You’re one of the most well-read guys I’ve ever met, B; what are your top ten?

    BP:

    1. Training for Speed, by Charlie Francis

    2. The Egoscue Method of Health through Motion, by Pete Egoscue

    3a. Designing Strength Training Programs and Facilities, by Mike Boyle

    3b. Functional Training for Sports, by Mike Boyle

    4. Science and Practice of Strength Training, by Vladimir Zatsiorsky

    5. Way of the Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman

    6. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff—and it’s all Small Stuff, by Richard Carlson

    7. Science of Sports Training, by Thomas Kurz

    8a. The Black Book of Training Secrets, by Christian Thibaudeau

    8b. Theory and Application of Modern Strength and Power Methods, by Christian

    Thibaudeau

    9. Modern Trends in Strength Training, by Charles Poliquin

    10. Who Moved My Cheese?, by Spencer Johnson and Kenneth Blanchard

    I think these are a good mix of practical training that works, and personal development that will aid you in becoming a better coach.

    EC: If you had to pick five things our readers could do right now to become better lifters/athletes/coaches/trainers, what would they be?

    BP:

    1. Seek Knowledge - To become the best athlete/coach/trainer/person you have to go out and seek to learn from the best. This knowledge can come from self-help books, business books, college classes, seminars, videos, the internet, you name it. Just go out and learn.

    2. Listen to People - This is a huge problem for all people. We all judge people and shut them and their ideas out based on what we think we know about them. When we actually take the time to listen to what somebody has to say, then and only then should we really judge. If it works for somebody else and not for you find out why it works for them…don’t be quick to judge.

    3. Train - There is nothing more frustrating to see than coaches who don’t do the programs that they write.How do you know if it works? How do you know what it feels like? How do you know if it’s too heavy, too light, too much or not enough?

    The only way to find out is to do it. The program may look great on paper, but if it’s too much and you can’t recover from it, what’s the point?

    4. Balance - Balance is a general word that refers to how we should do everything in life. If we do too much of any one thing, something else is going to suffer. For example, if we spend too much time at work our family and social life are going to suffer. If we train our internal rotators too much with excessive volume our external rotators are going to suffer and leave us more susceptible to shoulder injuries. If we eat too many carbohydrates, our insulin sensitivity is going to decrease and increase our chances of having type 2 diabetes. We need to have balance in everything we do in our lives: work, family, social life, training, and nutrition.

    5. Coach People, not Athletes - The more experienced I get in this field, the more I realize that I not only coach athletes, but coach people. As coaches and trainers, we can have a profound influence on the people with whom we work. We need to realize that we are not only helping an athlete achieve their goals, but also helping them to become better people. We are teaching them what they can do mentally and physically, how to focus their mind, how to stay positive, how to make changes in their lifestyle, how to reduce stress, and how to lead a healthier lifestyle. We run a summer program for high school kids and the biggest changes we see in them are their confidence levels. Parents always remark on how our coaches have been a positive influence on their children.

    “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

    -Veronica Jutras (former HC women’s basketball player and Be Athletic Camp Counselor)

    EC: Great advice, B. On a semi-related note, what’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in your training and professional careers? Looking back, what would you do differently?

    BP: Boy, where do I begin? My first mistake could have been all of the long distance training I did to lose weight when I was in high school. I’m positive that that training killed my chances to make it to the NBA (other than the fact that my genetics weren’t the greatest to begin with). Side note: I haven’t grown much since high school, either.

    As I mentioned earlier, being close-minded and not seeking enough knowledge were the biggest mistakes I made. I thought I knew enough and didn’t believe in what other coaches did. Because it didn’t make sense to me, I closed them out and thought they were bad coaches. I didn’t seek to understand their perspectives or what they were looking to accomplish. I also stopped seeking out new information for a while and became content and comfortable. I soon realized that this was not a quick ticket to become a better coach or a better person. I know now that to become better, I have to try and learn from everybody that I meet. The only way to do that is to ask questions and seek to understand their perspective.

    EC: Where do you see yourself in a few years, and how would you like to be remembered way down the road?

    BP: In a couple years, I imagine myself as a head strength and conditioning coach at a university. I would like to run an excellent program that is respected by my peers, and produces quality professionals. I ultimately want to be known as a good educator and teacher. I really relish the opportunity to work with interns who are eager to learn and become good professionals. Another thing that I hope for is to have a lasting impact upon all the athletes with whom I work. There is nothing more satisfying than to know that you have helped somebody become a better person.

    EC: I think it’s safe to say that you’ve already accomplished more in your 20s than most coaches accomplish in your lifetime, and there’s no doubt that you’ll continue to be a force on the performance enhancement scene for decades to come. That said, feel free to use the space below to shamelessly plug all of your products and services.

    BP: Robb Rogers, Shawn Windle, and I make up S B Coaches College (www.sbcoachescollege.com), an internet education business committed to bringing you the latest information about the methods used by top-level strength coaches to prepare their athletes for competition. Whether you are a sport coach, strength coach, or athlete, we will provide you with products and information that will help you and your athletes achieve new levels of performance. You will find hundreds of inspirational and motivational quotes in our coach’s corner, thought-provoking tip of the months, information-packed newsletters, easy-to-understand articles, PowerPoint presentations that we have utilized, and high quality CD-ROMs and manuals for sale.

    Readers can contact me at bnpuconn@hotmail.com

    EC: Thanks for the time, B!

    BP: Thanks Eric, I really appreciated and enjoyed this opportunity.

    That’s all for this first newsletter; thanks for tuning in. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to drop me an email at ec@ericcressey.com. If you have a friend who you think would like our newsletter, please feel free to pass this on and encourage them to Sign Up.

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    LEARN HOW TO DEADLIFT
    • Avoid the most common deadlifting mistakes
    • 9 - minute instructional video
    • 3 part follow up series