Q&A with Precision Nutrition Creator, Dr. John Berardi

About the Author: Eric Cressey

You can’t do anything really creative with your 22nd newsletter; it really isn’t an eventful occasion at all.  As such, we might as well get right to the good stuff!

Good Stuff from the Good Doctor Berardi

Last week, John Berardi sent me a heads-up on a great new program he’s offering to everybody for FREE.  Just this morning, I finished reviewing it myself, and I have to say, it’s another great offering from one of the industry’s brightest experts.  This course piggybacks on John’s highly successful Precision Nutrition package.  You’ve got nothing to lose; sign up for the 8-day Body Transformation with Precision Nutrition email course today and check out what JB has to offer.  In the meantime, here’s today’s reader mail Q&A.


Q: What’s your take on frequency of static stretching?  Is it “the more, the better”?  More or less, how many days per week would be a good idea?

A: In a nutshell…

1) I’m not as huge an advocate of stretching as I used to be, but I still think people need to do it – especially those who sit at computers all day.

2) Activation work and dynamic flexibility drills are ten times as valuable as static stretching.  I’d rather do 6-8 mobilizations than a 12-15 second static stretch.

3) More people need to pay attention to soft-tissue work.  Many times, muscles will just feel tight because they’re so knotted up.  It’s not just about soft tissue length anymore; it’s about quality, too.  You can check out my article The Joint Health Checklist for details.

4) My clients do 2-3 static stretches pre-training at the very most (only chronically overactive muscles), and the rest are at other times of the day.  We’ll include some static stretching of non-working musculature during training in between sets just to improve training economy.

5) Stretching daily has helped a lot of my clients improve faster, but I think that they’ve come along almost just as well with pure activation and mobilization work (we do both).

Q: I’ve been getting a bit of pain in the front of my hips when squatting.  I’m not sure whether it’s the hips flexors or something else.  Squats with a stance around shoulder width are fine, as are any hip flexor exercises that work my legs in line with my body.

It’s only when I squat with a slightly wider stance or do overhead squats that my hips are bothered.  It’s only when I do leg raises with my legs apart, making a “Y” shape with my body, that I really feel the irritated muscle working.  Although these do seem to help it rather than cause it pain.

Do you have any idea what this could be? Or, tips on how to strengthen the area to avoid it?  Thanks for any insight you can offer.

A: Femoral anterior glide syndrome is a classic problem in people with poor lumbo-pelvic function (overactive hamstrings and lumbar erectors coupled with weak glutes). The hamstrings don’t exert any direct control over the femur during hip extension; their distal attachments are all below the knee.  So, as you extend the hip, there is no direct control over the head of the femur, and it can slide forward, irritating the anterior joint capsule.  This will give a feeling of tightness and irritation, but stretching the area will actually irritate it even more.

The secret is to eliminate problematic exercises for the short-term, and in the meantime, focus on glute activation drills.  The gluteus maximus exerts a posterior pull on the femoral head during hip extension, so if it’s firing to counteract that anterior glide caused by the humerus, you’re golden.  We outline several excellent drills in our Magnificent Mobility DVD; when handled correctly, you should see almost complete reduction of symptoms within a week.

Lastly, make sure that you’re popping your hips through and CONSCIOUSLY activating your butt on all squats, deadlifts, good mornings, pull-throughs, etc.  Incorporate some single-leg work as well.  For now, though, keep your stance in for a few weeks, stay away from box squatting, and get some foam rolling done on your adductors, quads, hip flexors, ITB/TFL, and piriformis.

Q: Many members have complained about the thought of getting rid of the Smith Machine in our gym and replacing it with a power rack.  If you wouldn’t mind giving me some ammo (arguments) to shoot them down , I’d really appreciate it.


1. The Smith Machine offers less transfer to the real-world than free weight exercises.

2. Depending on the movement, the shearing forces on the knees and lumbar spine are increased by the fixed line of motion.

3. The lifter conforms to the machine, and not vice versa. Human motion is dependent on subtle adjustments to joint angle positioning; the body will always want to compensate in the most advantageous position possible. Fix the feet and fix the bar, and the only ways to get this compensation are inappropriate knee tracking and, more dangerously, loss of the neutral spine position.

4. Smith machines are generally more expensive.   I suspect that you could get a regular coat rack for about $2K cheaper – and it would take up less space.

Admittedly, I did put together an entire article on things that you actually CAN do with the Smith machine, but the truth is that you could just as easily do them on a fixed barbell in a power rack.

Have a great week, everyone.