Body Worlds: A Review

About the Author: Eric Cressey

It’s hard to believe that we’ve gotten to 20 newsletters, huh?  Now that we’re about five months in, I’m sure that you’ve all had some time to think about the direction in which you’d like this newsletter to head.  I’ve said from day one that I’ll let the readers dictate the content. So, with that said, I’d appreciate your feedback on what you’ve seen and what you’d like to see in the future.  More Q&A?  More contributions from outside authors?  More product reviews?  More interviews?   If so, with whom?

My personal assistant will be compiling all of your responses over the next few days in hopes of making this newsletter the best it can be.  You can send your feedback to with the subject line “Newsletter Feedback.”  Thanks in advance for taking the time to make this newsletter even better.

The Clock is Ticking…

There are only ten days until the early registration deadline for the LA Strength and Performance Nutrition Seminar arrives.  People are coming from as far as England for this outstanding event; you definitely don’t want to miss out on an awesome speaking lineup:

-John Berardi

-Alwyn Cosgrove

-Dan John

-Mike Robertson

-Julia Ladewski

-Some guy named Cressey

There will be plenty of free goodies, complimentary Active Release® assessments and treatments, and loads of opportunities to talk shop with presenters and other coaches, trainers, and athletes.  Check it out now at

A Review of Body Worlds

Those of you who have followed me for more than a few days should know by now that I’m an absolute functional anatomy geek.  So, as I’m sure you can imagine, I was absolutely stoked to hear that “Body Worlds” was coming to the Museum of Science here in Boston.  I’ve written in the past that Gross Anatomy – the course in which I spent about five hours per week with a bunch of cadavers for six months – was likely the most influential course I’ve ever taken.  Unfortunately, while this course was tremendous, few people in the fitness industry – or any industry, for that matter – have the opportunity to experience it.  The Body Worlds exhibit – made possible through a process known as “Plastination” – brings this experience to everyone.

Yesterday, I checked the exhibit out with Cassandra Forsythe, Tony Gentilcore, and Carl Valle, and we were all extremely impressed.  Suffice it to say that I was in full-fledged “functional anatomy geek” mode, so nobody in our group needed the earpiece for a guided tour!

The exhibit is featured in Boston until January 7, 2007, and is also on display in Houston and St. Paul for a limited time.  It’ll be coming to Vancouver in less than one month as well.  I would highly recommend it to anyone – and I don’t get a penny for saying so.  You can find more information at

I would also like to take this moment to mention that Cass and I caught Tony skipping in the museum at one point.  Apparently, you can still get excited about 3-D glasses if you’re 29 years old and can deadlift 560 pounds – but you will still look like a girly-man.


Q: Why is it that when I go on an inversion table – whether it’s totally upside-down hanging by the ankles or just partially upside-down, my lower back actually hurts as it stretches?  I don’t know whether it’s stretching or whether the total area is just relaxed from the gravity and daily crunch on the spine.

Any ideas?  I can’t stay on it long enough to benefit.

A: Inversion tables aren’t a universal treatment approach for lower back injuries.  They might work well with disc issues, but if you have another underlying pathology, there’s a chance that this position will actually give you problems.  For example, I’ve seen people with SI joint problems who can’t hang from a chin-up bar without pain.  You need to get a concrete diagnosis upon which to base treatment modalities – not just pick and choose what you think might work.

Q: I recently saw a tip from you where you encouraged those with shoulder impingement to stay away from back squats and use front squats instead.  I have to say that when I go heavy with front squats, my right shoulder is not happy.  What gives?

A: Front squats are actually an awesome SUBSTITUTE to use when someone has impingement; they keep the humerus out of the “at-risk” (externally rotated and abducted) position that you get with the back squat. A lot of people with impingement really struggle with back-squatting.

If you’re having pain in the shoulder with front squats, I would guess that your problem is more likely to be related to your acromioclavicular (AC) joint.  It’s very common for those with AC joint pathologies to get irritation from positioning weight right on that area.  If you’ve got AC joint problems, you’ll have pain with reaching across your chest, and performing dips and full range-of-motion bench presses.

Q:  I read your article Frequent Pulling For Faster Progress and I loved it. I just finished up week 4.  I see that I’ll be doing rack pulls for weeks 5-8.  Is there a percentage of my max I should be using?  Thanks in advance.

A: For the rack pulls, it really depends on where the pins are set.  Mid-shin will usually be slightly lower than your pull from the floor (starting from the weakest point in the strength curve).  Anything from the bottom of the kneecap up will generally be well above your max.  As a frame of reference, my best competition deadlift is 628, and I’ve done rack pulls above the kneecaps for 755×5.

It’s important to note that contrary to popular belief, pulling from pins above the kneecaps won’t help your lockout much in spite of the apparent specificity.  It’ll thicken up your upper back very quickly, though.  If you want to build your lockout, focus pulling against bands, chains, and weight releasers.  For more information on troubleshooting your sticking points, check out my article, Deadlift Diagnosis.

Lastly, don’t worry so much about percentages.  Sometimes, you just need to leave the numbers-crunching for the accountants and test the waters for yourself.

Q: I’m having a hard time getting my lower legs with the foam roller.  I just can’t get enough pressure applied; any tips?

A: Piece of cake!  Just use a tennis ball in place of the roller; you’ll be amazed at how much scar tissue this seemingly harmless ball can break down.  Most people will notice the most discomfort on the lateral head of the gastrocnemius, and this discomfort will intensify as they move up onto the peroneals.

Additionally, you would be well served to pick up The Stick; it gets the job done and is very versatile, so you can use it on several other hard-to-reach areas.

That does it for this week.  Until next Tuesday, train hard and have fun!