Workout Pass Deal

About the Author: Eric Cressey

It was a tough loss for the Patriots last night, and everyone in Boston is pretty down today, but the show must go on!  Only a month or so until spring training kicks off for the Red Sox, so the stormy clouds are parting already.  And, of course, the updates at roll on…

Thousands of Training Programs at your Fingertips!

Tomorrow, Ryan Lee’s newest venture, Workout Pass, will officially launched.  It was an honor when Ryan contacted me last fall to contribute to this project, as it put me in some great  company, including Alwyn Cosgrove, Mike Boyle, Craig Ballantyne, and several more bright minds from the industry.  For a very reasonable monthly fee, you can get access to thousands of the actual programs we’ve used with our clients and athletes in our respective specialities.  My programs will focus on maximal strength development and improving athletic performance.  I’ve already uploaded 32 training sessions plus complete warm-ups for those interested in taking their strength to the next level – and there is plenty more to come.

As an added bonus, Ryan is giving away 73 bonus special reports and e-books valued at $1,681 to those who sign-up prior to tomorrow’s 9AM launch.  This is going to be huge, and I’m psyched to be a part of it.  Check it out for yourself:

Workout Pass

Early Registration Deadlines Fast Approaching

Time is running out to sign up at the early-registration rate for the two seminars at which I’ll be speaking in February – one in Winchester, MA (2/10), and one in Fairfax, VA (2/24).  Check out my Schedule page for information.

Now Available: Powerlifting: A FitCast Insider Exclusive Interview with Eric Cressey

About two months ago, I did a two-part interview with Kevin Larrabee for the FitCast Insider, and you can now pick up a copy for just $4.99.  The discussion covers several topics, including nutrition for relative strength athletes, fluctuation of training stress, and deloading strategies prior to competition.  You can find out more HERE. Subscriber-only Q&A

I get a ton of email inquiries on a weekly basis, so every so often, I like to make a Q&A out of some of the more detailed dialogues.  Enjoy!

Q: I am a first year physical therapy student in college, and I have a real passion for strength and conditioning.  I have been reading some of your articles and they are great.  The reason I am contacting you is to ask a question about having athletes warm up barefoot, as you recommended in your last article.  I understand your reason for doing this, but if we are so focused on doing things “functionally,” why barefoot?  Most athletes compete in some form of shoe, so shouldn’t we have them perform exercises in shoes?  I am really into orthopedics, so the foot and ankle joints are really of interest to me.  Thank you for taking the time to answer my question.

A: Thanks for your email and the kind words.  I think the response is that the functional movement craze goes a bit too far in some instances.  In this case, the addition of inappropriate footwear has actually created a weakness in the smaller muscles of the foot and lower leg.  And, barefoot is as functional as you get, if you consider the way we “should” have evolved.  I don’t like the idea of altogether ignoring a glaring weakness; we lose a ton of dexterity in our feet as we age.

As an aside, most Americans sit on their fat a**es all day, yet we advocate doing as much training as possible standing up because it’s more “functional.”  Acting counterintuitively isn’t always a bad thing.  Food for thought!

Q: I used to do both front and back squats with my athletes, and have found since eliminating back squats our complaints of lower back pain are fewer. Although I don’t hear it much, I am getting complaints of pain on release of the bar back to the rack across the scapular-thoracic area sometimes shooting to the front of the chest. They literally put the bar back and then stand there for a second for the pain to pass. I tested the last two kids with an inverted row and neither one could touch their chest to the bar. Am I looking at weak scapular stabilizers? Do you have any thoughts on this? Their form looks good.

A: Have you checked for regular ol’ acromioclavicular joint pathology?  Front squats can really destroy athletes who have irritated AC joints – both acute and chronic. A lot of times, you’ll see a humeral anterior glide syndrome with posterior capsule stiffness, subscap shutdown, and levator tightness – and this will lead to the AC joint problems.  The tricky thing is that it can also be linked to pain posteriorly as you’ve described.

Additionally, you have some guys who just lack the scapular stability to rack the bar correctly.  Believe it or not, I RARELY use the clean-grip with athletes; it’s usually the cross-face or straps version on front squats.  I’m training athletes, not O-lifters, and I find that thoracic posture is much better with a cross-face set-up.  This is especially important when I’m dealing with athletes in grip-intensive sports; I’m not going to do anything to jeopardize their wrists.

Q: What is your opinion of front versus back squat? I question with my football players whether I should be doing back squat with some of my older kids; they all go off to college and do them.  Recently I’ve run into a problem with kids going to the gyms to do back squat because we’re not doing them at the school. I struggle between sticking to my guns and continuing to educate the kids on why we do front squat and feeling like If their going to back squat I’d rather have them lifting with me under supervision. Can you offer any guidance on this?

A: I don’t do any full Olympic back squats anymore.  All our quad dominant squatting is either front squats or Anderson front squats.  When we’re looking for more posterior chain emphasis while squatting, I will box squat them.  Box squats get crucified by a lot of coaches simply because they don’t know how to teach them – or they’ve watched someone else teach them poorly. I’m an accomplished powerlifter who has been around them long enough to know how to teach them very well, so they’re a mainstay in my program.  We go regular box squats, box squats with a front squat grip (awesome exercise), and safety squat bar box squats.  The concerns with forward lean isn’t as bad when you’re only squatting to slightly below parallel and not giving the kid wiggle room to good morning the weight up out of the hole.

Q: Do you consider the DB snatch to be an “overhead” lift?  I use it with my baseball players because of the “pulling” action, the eccentric lowering and the stabilization they get on the catch. So far, I’ve never had an injury to any of my pitchers as a result of the DB snatch.

A: Yes, I consider it one.  You have to remember that many shoulder injuries are the result of cumulative trauma (e.g., bone spurs on the acromion process that take years to develop – which is why we see more impingement in older populations).  Additionally, kids are very resilient; you can basically get away with anything with high school kids – often because the joints are so lax.  Just because you can get away with it doesn’t mean that it might not be contributing to long-term problems – especially in an overhead athlete scenario.  There are much better ways to develop power safely in these populations, so I’d leave it out.

That’ll do it for this week.  Don’t forget: our Building the Efficient Athlete DVD set won’t be around at the introductory price forever; pick up a copy today!  Until next week, train hard and have fun!

All the Best,