Review: The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual

About the Author: Eric Cressey

A Building the Efficient Athlete Update

I wanted to take a moment to send out a special thanks to all those who attended Mike Robertson and my Building the Efficient Athlete seminar at Peak Performance Gym in New York City last weekend.  A special thanks go out to Joe Dowdell and Tim Davis at Peak for all their help in organizing the seminar.

Some good news for those who couldn’t make it: Mike and I had the entire two-day seminar videotaped.  It’ll be available as a multiple DVD set within two months; stay tuned for details.

LA Strength and Performance Nutrition Seminar Update

The registration website for our HUGE LA seminar is now good to go; you can find out more information and sign-up at  You do NOT want to miss this event, folks; it’s going to be a blast!

Dr. Berardi on The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual

Here’s what Dr. John Berardi had to say about the new manual:

“Recently Eric Cressey sent me a copy of his new Off-Season Conditioning Manual called, appropriately, The ULTIMATE Off-Season Training Manual.


”If you haven’t checked this manual out yet, I highly encourage you to do so.  Seriously, I can say this without hesitation – this manual delivers what it promises – it’s the ultimate guide to training and physical preparation for athletic dominance.

I do have to say more, though.”The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual actually PISSES ME OFF. Wanna’ know why? ”It pisses me off because I wish I had this manual when I was a young buck, training hard but not-that-smart for sport. Who knows what level of competition I could have ascended to if I had known how to train smart and eat smart.  Damn you and your manual, Cressey!

”Over the years I’ve come to realize that excelling in sport requires a few things. Sure, it takes hard work to get to the top. And, of course, it takes some talent.  But nowadays, the guys at the top not only have the talent and the work ethic, but they also use the best training methodologies available and they dial in their nutrition. To illustrate this point, I just spent the week with a top group of NHL draft picks. And all weekend NHL coaches were there to talk about ‘the NEW NHL’ – an era where practicing, playing games, and drinking beers post-game isn’t enough.  They talked about how in the new NHL athletes were required to be good, to train hard, to train smart, and to dial in their nutrition and supplement programs.  Anything else doesn’t quite cut it any more. The facts is that I spent the last two months with top-level athletes and have been hearing the same thing over and over again.

***I heard it in Canmore with the Canadian National Cross Country Ski Team.

***I heard it in Calgary with the Canadian National Alpine Ski Team.

***I heard it in Calgary with the Canadian National Bobsleigh and Skeleton Teams.

***I heard it in Colorado with the Spike Professional Racing Team.

“The writing is on the wall: to compete in this day and age, it requires training hard AND smart.

“In the past I’ve recommended Cressey and Robertson’s Magnificent Mobility DVD for one reason.  When my athletes ask me questions about about flexibility and proper warm-up, it has all the answers they need. So rather than pirate their stuff or spend hours teaching everything to the athletes, I figured I’d avoid law suits and save everyone time by kicking them a link to the DVD.

“With the new manual out, Cressey has just made my job easier – again. I recently pointed 30 NHL drafts to his program so that they would get an early leg up on the competition. From the excellent discussions of muscle adaptation to the 30 weeks of sample programming, this manual has got it all and I strongly support the content in there.  I wouldn’t be recommending it otherwise. Seriously, if you want the area of sport training handled, this is a great manual for doing so.”

Dr. John Berardi, CSCS

You can pick up a copy of the manual at

An Interview with EC: Diesel Crew Style

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

Congratulations to Jon Boyle!

As I had initially planned this newsletter last week, the meat and potatoes of this update were going to be a Q&A section with me.  What I failed to realize was that I would be beaming with pride after the actions of a special, hard-working 21 year-old athlete with whom I’ve been fortunate to work.  For those of you who don’t know the name Jon Boyle, you’d better remember it; he’s well on his way to becoming one of the top endurance athletes in the world.

I’ve worked with Jon since July of 2005 – and he has not only endured some of the most rigorous, borderline insane training programs I’ve ever written; he’s thrived on them.  All this hard work and dedication came to fruition in Lake Placid this past Sunday as Jon completed his first Ironman in 14 hours, 13 minutes.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Ironman set-up, it’s a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile cycle, and 26.2-mile run – in a single day.

The next time you can’t drag yourself to the gym for one of your three weekly gym trips, think of Jon.  He might be home studying for his full course load at George Washington University.  Or, he might be working at his athletic training internship – or possibly at his full-time job.  He might even be completing one of his eleven training sessions per week.  That trip to the gym doesn’t seem that daunting anymore, does it?

The first thing I did when I left our seminar on Sunday afternoon was race to the nearest computer to track Jon’s progress online, but nothing told the story like the recap I received Monday night from the man himself.  Enjoy.

2006 Ironman Lake Placid: A Competitor’s Perspective

By: Jon Boyle

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

It wouldn’t be fun if I didn’t explain the full nature of the pain.  I can say that I have realized that while the distance increased only two times from my last triathlon, the pain increased nearly ten times.  But, on to the report…

August 2005, my first triathlon: I slept on the floor.

June 2006, my second triathlon: I slept in my car.

For Ironman, I figured it might be good to go first-class: I slept in a bed.  Improvement!

My favorite day-before-race-day meal was chili nachos.  I took a nap around 6:30PM and yes… acid reflux.  Woke up around 8:00PM for the pre-race shave and back to bed at 9:00PM.  I woke up at 5:00AM.

This is when it all started settling in; I was really concerned about having the worst GI problems I have ever experienced…ever.  I didn’t want to screw this up.  I adjusted my pre-race meal.

Woke up with 10oz grapefruit juice, a scoop of whey, 4 Flameout, and my Alpha Male.  I owe that grapefruit juice magic to TC.  Finished a peanut butter and wheat bread sandwich with 90 minutes until the gun.  I was down to my one banana and Gatorade.  I closed up the meal gap with 45 minutes left and threw in my four BCAAs with 15 minutes until the gun.

The Star-Spangled Banner started up and each note struck like never before.  The swim was a mass start – 2,500 people all going one place at one time.  I got about a two-minute swim warm up, as I was a bit delayed by the extremely long bathroom lines.  When the gun went off, I actually felt pretty good.  I had a really good location – right about in the middle – for the swim start.  The whole first mile I could feel the person behind me dragging on my legs, which made me realize that if I didn’t keep going, I’d get trampled by the 1,000 people behind me!  Of course, I kept going.  It was as if every intelligent participant had been reduced to the nature of a fish – just scrambling.  I was really relaxed in the swim and I felt great, remaining aerobic the whole time.

At the 1.2 mile I was out of the water at 33:00.  I was back in the water and off.  Only complaint is that my wetsuit had taken on more water than the Titanic and I could feel it with each stroke.  At the half-mile turn, I saw my first scuba diver and I gave him a thumbs-up.  I am not sure if it was bad luck, but I some how managed to swim WAY off course at that point.  I actually ran into the kayaker telling me “Dude, the course is that way!”  Either way, I was out at 1:15.  I suffered one kick in the face, some scratches on my ankle, and a jammed finger.

It was a quarter mile “run” to the transition area.  Why?  I don’t know.  It gave me some time to adjust from being horizontal for over an hour.  I was in the transition area and decided to take my time.  I chatted a few with the guy next to me.  Had it not been for his complete lack of English skills, I would’ve gotten out a lot sooner.

I had a lot of heroes that day.  My first hero was the guy who applied my suntan lotion.  Congratulations, Suntan Man.  You’re my first hero of the day.

The bike was unbelievable.  They told us the first lap would be  “cake” and the second lap would feel a lot worse.  I have to admit, 112 miles would be the longest I have ever biked, but I didn’t feel that bad.  Whoever designed the “bento box” is a real jerk, though.  They included this useless piece of plastic with no covering; thanks to it, I managed to slice up my knee until I finally threw it off the side of my bike.  My nutrition was great throughout the bike.  I was on one BCAA every 30 Minutes, one Flameout and one GU carb packet every 45 minutes, 1.5 bottles of Gatorade throughout the hour, and 8oz of water throughout the hour; it was all working well.  My HR was about 165 for the first 30 miles – a lot higher than I would’ve liked, but I figured that it was more nerves than exertion that was causing it.  The climbs were hellish, though.

I realized that people enjoyed calling me “Spike” because of my jersey, and I really didn’t mind.  I’ve probably been called a lot worse!  In all, it was three climbs of 1,100 feet, but I loved it.  6:06 on the bike split.

I was out for the second loop and every hill just seemed bigger.  I kept up the nutrition plan and was actually inspired when I cruised by a mailbox with a hanging sign that said “Cressey.”  Looks like the man of the hour bought a house just for the occasion.  Really, Coach, you shouldn’t have.  I topped out on the downhill at 50mph, which was a thrill alone.  The most memorable bike moment was the guy beating the drum to the rhythm of the climb.

As I came into the final transition, my feet started acting up.  In the transition tent, I opted for a foot massage before I got going.  Hero #2 of the day was the ART therapist that cleaned up my plantar fascia before heading out on the run.  I told him “I feel like a new man.”

The run started and I felt like I had some digestion issues.  I walked the first mile and it felt good.  I started to run, and kept up the nutrition plan.  I cut out the Flameout in the last hour of the Bike and I pushed the BCAAs to one every 45 minutes.  Digestion on the run is a lot harder than on the bike.

At about Mile 6, I couldn’t take it anymore.  The downhills hurt, and the uphills were like cliffs.  I began to walk just to get myself to recover.  I could tell I screwed up something because I sort of felt intoxicated.  I did the walk/jog/run/shuffle/repeat routine.  Around mile 13 it hurt to walk.  I’d like to think I have a pain tolerance and this just had me at the brink.

My “anti-heroes” of the day were the multiple people throwing picnics at the side of the road.  I don’t need to see a lobster when all I’ve had on the day is GU and Gatorade.  The last half of the “walk,” I was cursing ever seeing a GU packet again.  I opted for the luscious Fig Newtons instead.  I swear that nothing tastes more heavenly than a stale Fig Newton.  I actually washed it down with chicken broth.  Yum.  I also took the opportunity to Vaseline the “nips,” as I figured the red-eleven would be embarrassing on the finish line…a combination most would not choose.  At that point I debated dipping the Fig Newtons into the broth, but I figured that’d be too much.

My next heroes of the day were the kids that gave out high-fives.  When I came in for that last mile on the marathon, I began the sprint.  I probably ran sub-six minutes on that last mile just knowing I was heading home.  It brought me to a 6:30 walk/run-a-thon.

When I came into the finish line I decided to jump with my hands up to celebrate.  Upon landing, I realized had about zero eccentric strength and nearly fell on my face.  Chalk that one up as a lesson learned.

I think I had more people call me Spike on the run than Boyle.  I guess it goes with the hair too.

At the finish I felt as if I were in a drunken stupor.  My next hero of the day was the lovely old lady who brought me my medal and blanket.  She asked, “Would you like food or a massage?”

I thought to myself, “Damn, I must be in heaven!”

So, she repeated herself: “What would you like?”

All I could muster up was “Mom and Dad.”  I figured I could pass out right then, but I still need to give my parents a hug.

I went in for my massage and afterward I started the uncontrolled shivering, which meant a trip to the medical tent.  I had a final temp of 95°F.  I only dropped about six pounds on the race, meaning I was “decent,” but still a little bad.  They didn’t deem me worthy of the IV, though, so I just got chicken broth and a bag of lays potato chips.

Of all the people watching from my family, my brother-in-law’s brother and my friend Anders were the only two people to see me finish.   My poor sister managed to watch five hours of finishers and missed me.

I remember I was going to try and make this funny and exciting but I forgot a lot about it.  I think I’m still stuck in the euphoria at this point.

My final heroes: everyone that supported me along the way.  A special thanks goes out to everyone who covered my shifts throughout this season, and this weekend.  I couldn’t have done it alone.

Congratulations, Jon; you did a hell of a job, and even more impressively, it’s just the beginning of many more incredible performances.

See you next week, everyone.