Home Posts tagged "Ben Bruno"

Exercise of the Week: Slideboard Lateral Lunge with Eccentric Band Overload

The slideboard lateral lunge with eccentric band overload is a great exercise I picked up from my buddy Ben Bruno.

You’ll notice that the excursion (on the slideboard) leg has a band around the ankle. This increases the eccentric challenge (slideboard + band = hard!), which has to be offset by a better “hold” from the hinge pattern on the support leg. This hold is comparable to what many hitters rely on to give them adjustability against off speed pitches, and what pitchers feel to avoiding drifting down the mound too quickly — or simply swinging the front leg open.

You can try this with a kettlebell goblet, one-arm racked, or one-arm down setup. We’ll typically program it for 8-10 reps per set, especially because it generally takes a rep or two or athletes to feel it out.

If you’re looking for an exercise that will provide some specific carryover to on-field performance in rotational sport athletes, look no further!

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 5/18/15

Good morning, everyone. In following with Monday tradition, here are some good strength and conditioning readings to kick off your week:

6 Mistakes Experienced Lifters Make - Ben Bruno was spot-on with his points in this article at T-Nation.

Durability on Decline for Today's Players - This MLB.com feature brings to light some pretty crazy numbers on how injury rates have gone up in professional baseball - both due to change in the game, and how players prepare.

35 Ways to Transform Your Body - As always, the folks at Precision Nutrition come through with practical advice for those looking to improve their nutrition and training programs. Here, they highlight lessons from their most successful clients.

Finally, just a friendly reminder that we're ten days out from the early-bird registration deadline for the Alex Viada seminar at Cressey Sports Performance in Hudson, MA. This will surely be a great event you won't want to miss. You can get more details HERE.


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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 9/22/14

Happy Monday, everyone; I hope you all had a great weekend. Here's this week's list of recommended strength and conditioning reading:

Reverse Dieting - Authors Sohee Lee and Layne Norton just introduced this resource, and I was fortunate to get an advanced copy to review. It's a great look at how chronic dieting can significantly damage metabolism and make it difficult to keep lost body fat off (or lose body fat in subsequent "dieting" efforts). Just as importantly, they outline a strategy for overcoming these challenges. I'd definitely recommend it if you're interested in nutrition, or have dealt with problems like this on your "physique journey." 


9 Training Concepts that Suck - While the title is unnecessarily harsh, this article from Ben Bruno is excellent.

Body Language and Leadership - I enjoy reading Gabe Kapler's stuff because he blends a successful background in baseball with a passion for training and nutrition. He also touches on everything from parenting to behavioral research and leadership. To that end, this is a great post for coaches and athletes alike. 

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 5/5/14

I'm traveling this week, so it's a good time to highlight some content from others. Here's this week's list of recommended reading:

The Diamond Dish Podcast: An Interview with Eric Cressey - This is an interview I did a few weeks ago on the topic of long-term baseball development.

Are Athletes Really Getting Faster, Better, and Stronger - I enjoyed this TED Talk from David Epstein, which discussed some overlooked factors that contribute to the improvements in athletic accomplishments we've seen over the past century.

Choose Strength - This was an excellent contribution from Ben Bruno at Schwarzenegger.com. Read up if you want to get strong!

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 6/3/13

It's time for this week's installment of recommended strength and conditioning reading:

Half of College Grads Are Working Jobs That Don't Require A Degree - This article ran at Forbes.com the other day, and while it doesn't speak directly to the fitness industry, I thought it drew some interesting parallels to this old two-part series of mine:

----> Is An Exercise Science Degree Really Worth It? - Part 1
----> Is An Exercise Science Degree Really Worth It? - Part 2

Functional outcomes following revision ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction in Major League Baseball pitchers - It's well documented that UCL reconstructions (Tommy John surgeries) have a very high success rate when it comes to returning to previous (or better) levels of competition.  However, they've been around long enough that surgeons are sometimes seeing the same throwers back again for a second UCL reconstruction on the same elbow. Guys like Joakim Soria and Brian Wilson are the most recognized examples of late. As would be expected, the results aren't quite as good the second time around, but there is still a solid success rate, and it's better among relief pitchers than starters.


(if you're interested in learning more about the injury mechanisms for UCL tears as well as my experiences working with post-op Tommy John cases, be sure to check out my Everything Elbow in-service)

Rack Hip Thrusts - This was a short, but very useful article by Ben Bruno over at T-Nation.  If you've ever had problems with the set-up on barbell hip thrusts, it's a must-read.  Plus, I found it wildly entertaining that Ben referred to the male reproductive anatomy as "tackle."

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 4/29/13

Here's this week's list of recommended strength and conditioning reading:

9 Reasons Pitching Velocity Increases Over the Course of a Season - One of the big stories of the first month of the MLB season is that Justin Verlander's velocity is down. It's to be expected, given that he he started his off-season throwing program later in light of the heavy workload during last year's season and playoffs.  Still, it's good to know why some pitchers see their velocity go up during the season.

Not Your Average B.S. Core Training - Ben Bruno offers some great new core stability exercises you can incorporate in your strength training programs.

The Sagittal Plane Still Matters - Here's a great piece from Mike Robertson that'll teach you a ton about the knee, including a discussion of the "Should you train the VMO?" question.

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Fitness Feeds: A Collaborative Upcycling Effort for Charity

Recently, I had a conversation with my good friend John Romaniello about charity work. John brought up how he is most passionate about feeding those who can’t afford to eat in America, and something he said hit a nerve with me:

"I find it to be the very definition of irony that we spend much of our time in the fitness world telling people to eat less to lose weight or eat more to gain weight. Meanwhile, in America, there are people who still can’t afford to eat – period."

I thought back to when I was a kid and discovered that my mother (a high school teacher) kept food in a drawer of her desk to feed students who came to school hungry. It was astounding to me that in my hometown – a reasonably affluent community in Southern Maine – there were still families who couldn’t afford to eat.

John and my conversation ultimately brought in another fitness friend, Ben Bruno, and we discussed how we might be able to use our industry presence to increase awareness and, more importantly, make it easy for our readers and colleagues to help to feed folks. We stumbled upon an organization called Causes International that will allow us to do just that, and – as it turns out – much more.

You see, Causes International focuses on upcycling, the process of donating your used electronics so they can be sent back UP the chain, and either disposed of in an environmentally clean and sustainable way—or given to those in need. This is a big deal, as electronics that aren’t disposed of properly often wind up releasing extremely toxic heavy metals—such as lead, cadmium, mercury, chromium and deadly toxins like polyvinyl chlorides—directly into the environment. We may not notice it yet in the US, as over 80% of our "electronic trash" is sent overseas, but there are parts of China and other industrialized countries where people can’t breath the air or drink the water, and children are dying or being born with defects because of these toxins.

These electronics – even if they’re outdated or broken – actually have residual value to those who refurbish them and introduce them into other markets, or simply reuse the parts. With over 12 million laptops thrown away in 2007 alone in America, and more than 100 million smartphones tossed in the garbage annually around the world, there are a lot of financial resources going to waste, literally and figuratively.

That’s where Causes International comes in; they have developed not only education—but practical, real-world solutions for fixing the e-waste epidemic for good. In this case, in line with the theme of our drive (Fitness Feeds), the “good” will also refer to feeding the hungry.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1…

Do your normal spring cleaning and notice how many outdated pieces of technology you find (the average American has 4-5 items). Figure out which items you want to donate, and enter them for donation directly on the special donation page Causes set up for us at www.FitnessFeeds.org. Over 60,000 items, in 13 different categories - iPhones, iPods, iPads, and MacBooks (even with shattered screens), plus various other items, like other smartphones, video games, graphing calculators, or digital cameras - are eligible.

Step 2…

Once you do that, you’ll receive a free, pre-paid shipping label you can print off —so that you don’t have to spend a penny or leave your house in order to send in your used electronics. You just hand it to a UPS driver or put it in one of their 40,000+ boxes around the country.

Step 3…

This is the best part: the items you donate can be used to generate revenue to help Feeding America put food on the table for hungry Americans. Every $1 raised can provide 8 meals for those in need. That’s not a typo: $1 yields 8 meals.

And, your donation is 100% tax deductible.  There's no cash outflow, either, so Causes has done a great job of combating the "donor fatigue" seen by charities in a down economy.

Our goal with this drive is to provide 100,000 meals to those in need by the end of April, and we can do it with your help. We’d love it if you’d put that broken or outdated iPhone to great use, and encourage your friends to do the same by passing along the www.FitnessFeeds.org link.

This is an absolute win/win for everyone. You’re cleaning out the clutter in your house, while feeding those in need, while saving the Earth, while getting a tax deduction – and without spending a penny. However, Ben, John, and I wanted to sweeten the deal by offering a free PDF special report, “30 Ways to Shake Up Your Training Programs Today,” to anyone who donates. Just forward your receipt on to receipts@fitnessfeeds.org and we'll send it along. We'd normally sell it, but in this case, it's just our way of saying thanks for supporting a great cause.

Thanks for your time, consideration, and support. I’d encourage you to click the link below to start upcycling today:


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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 8/13/12

Here's this week's list of recommended strength and conditioning reads:

When to Wear Minimalist Shoes - I thought this was a great post from Dean Somerset on a hot topic these days.  Dean, like me, is a fan of the New Balance Minimus.

As an interesting little aside to this, last week, I had a chance to preview the newest version of the Minimus (due out in December), and they're absolutely awesome.  Cool colors, awesome design, super durability, and great fit. I'm excited to rock them.

The Most Overlooked Continuing Education Opportunity for Fitness Professionals - My experience out at the Area Code Games reminded me of this old post of mine, as I had an opportunity to interact with kids from all over the country on the baseball field.  The athletes and clients you encounter can teach you a ton.

Glutes Gone Wild: Part 2 - Silly name, but good article from Ben Bruno nonetheless.  There are some exercise variations in here that we use quite often at CP.

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Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 12

Here are some random tips from CP coach Greg Robins to help you improve health, get strong, lose fat, gain muscle, and move better.

1. Consider mixing protein powder with something other than water or milk.

I hardly ever recommend protein powder as the best choice for a quality protein source. However, a quality product (with minimal garbage thrown in the mix) is an easy way to get more protein into someone's diet. For some, a scoop with water or milk is fine; they even enjoy the taste. For others, myself included, the novelty of protein shakes has diminished greatly. Enter other viable options to mix in a scoop or two of your favorite protein supplement.

Option 1: Ice Coffee

This is a game changer. Adding a scoop of vanilla or chocolate protein powder to black coffee is a delicious alternative to milk, cream, and sugar. It not only tastes great, but also fuels your body and gives you a little boost. Furthermore, I find it to be a fantastic option for people looking to shed some weight. The protein powder will satiate you, while the caffeine can work to curb your appetite and stimulate your metabolism.

WARNING: don't try this with hot coffee. The protein powder will not mix well and tends to curdle at the top.

Option 2: Oatmeal

After you cook up a cup or two of raw oats, throw in a scoop or two of your favorite flavor. Make sure the protein goes in after the oatmeal is cooked, and before it cools down and solidifies.

Option 3: Plain Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is delicious on its own, but sometimes it needs some variety. I would much rather get some flavor from a scoop of protein than the sugar filled "fruit" you find at the bottom of most other varieties. One of my favorite concoctions looks like this: 1 cup of plain greek yogurt, 1 scoop of chocolate whey, 4tbsp of oat bran, 4tbsp of shredded coconut flakes. Mix it all together, place it in the fridge over night, and you’ve got a delicious breakfast or snack for the next day.

2. Keep things fresh to keep people motivated.

Last week, I touched upon the importance of sticking to exercise selections long enough for them to have value/transfer in a strength training program. That said, I have spent some quality time inside the walls of commercial gyms, and run a number of different boot camps. You have to keep it fresh, I GET IT! So, how does a coach or trainer get the best of both worlds? First and foremost, educate your clients. You don't need a fancy explanation; just give them a little insight. Show them the "why" that backs up the "how" that gets them the "what."

Look to your assistance exercises as the first place to add variety. Monitoring the progress in (most) assistance work is not as important as just doing it. With that in mind, this is the first place where exercises can be altered more often. There is no point in choosing variations without a purpose. Luckily there are a lot of different exercises that accomplish similar, or the same thing. Resources, such as this blog, are full of different ideas.

Likewise, coaches such as Ben Bruno and Nick Tumminello have made it a point to offer up tons of innovative exercise variations, so check them out!

Lastly, "finishers" (circuit/medley training) at the end of a strength session is a logical place to add in something creative and fun. Keep the intensity high, the duration short, and mix it up. I know many people utilize these, so if you have a “go-to” option, please drop a comment below.

3. If you can’t do full push-ups, stop doing them on your knees.

The push up is a fantastic exercise. It will forever remain a staple for building the pecs, shoulders and triceps. However, let's not forget to appreciate its most redeeming quality: The push up is an ultimate test in torso stability, and the ability to coordinate movement around a stable midsection. While this function of the push up makes it such a great choice for gym goers, it also provides us the reason that push-ups from a kneeling stance will have little transfer to performing them on your feet. Instead, elevate the hands as necessary, and train the push up in the position you ultimately desire to do them from in the future. Doing so will not only help you to train the muscles responsible for pushing, but also those responsible for keeping the spine in a neutral position.

4. Get outside!

5. Remind parents and team coaches that gaining good weight is still a good thing!

Without fail, I will hear at least one young athlete each week ask one of our CP coaches if putting on weight will make them slower. We all know "speed" is what separates the good from the great, as the faster we can move, react, throw, etc., the better we’ll perform. We need to appreciate that speed is dependent on force, and stronger people have more force potential.

In a recent study, published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, investigators looked at the off-ice fitness profiles of elite female ice hockey players relative to team success. The study found that, "Athletes from countries with the best international records weighed more, yet had less body fat, had greater lower body muscular power and upper body strength, and higher aerobic capacity compared to their less successful counterparts."

To those of us in the field, this is obvious. As with many topics, we as strength coaches or trainers tend to forget the popular opinions of those less involved with what we do. Many parents and coaches still argue that "lighter" means faster, and muscle is "bulky”. Gaining 25lbs of muscle over the course of year will make a 16 year-old athlete who weighs 165lb. into a 190-lb., faster, bigger, stronger athlete. Moreover, 25lbs dispersed evenly over the frame of a 6' athlete will not transform him into the next Lou Ferrigno. Be mindful of this, and again, educate your clients, athletes, and parents!

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 7/18/12

Here's this week's list of recommended strength and conditioning reading:

Corrective Carries - This excellent piece from Bill Hartman highlights just how valuable carrying exercises can be if they are executed with correct form.

The Paradox of the Strength and Conditioning Professional - This guest blog from Rob Panariello for Bret Contreras' blog was excellent, even if it did read very "sciency." I'd call it must-read material for up-and-coming strength and conditioning coaches.

6 Primo Pressing Permutations - Here's another innovative article from Ben Bruno.  He always has some good exercises for spicing things up in your strength training programs.

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