Home Posts tagged "Cressey Performance" (Page 2)

Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 3/25/14

It's time for this week's collection of recommended reading, with a Cressey Performance flavor to it.  I grabbed dinner with a bunch of our Marlins, Cardinals, and Mets guys last night in Florida, so it seemed like only the right thing to kick things off with some baseball stuff!

cpfam-BjiV-snIMAA-QIf

Draft Q&A: Eric Cressey, Part 1 - I was interviewed last week by Baseball America on the topics of MLB draft preparation, long-term athletic development, and some of our client success stories.  Be sure to also check out Part 2, as there are some great lessons in here, regardless of whether you work with baseball players or not.

CP Client Spotlight: Meet Stacie! - Here's a great story of a CP client who's made some awesome progress training at CP.  Stacie proves that Cressey Performance isn't just for baseball players!

Are You Foam Rolling All Wrong? - In this Daily Burn interview, CP massage therapist and strength and conditioning coach Chris Howard weighs in on the topic of foam rolling.

Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive Instant Access to a 47-minute Presentation from Eric Cressey on Individualizing the Management of Overhead Athletes!

Name
Email
Read more

Chad Waterbury Advanced Training Workshop at Cressey Performance!

Last week, I got an email from Chad Waterbury saying that after years of trying to make it work, he was finally flying out to the East Coast to hang out with us at Cressey Performance.  Since Chad doesn't get to this side of the country very often, I floated the idea of doing a workshop while he's here, and he was all in!  It's short notice, but this April 5 from 2pm to 6pm, he'll deliver his Advanced Training Workshop at CP in Hudson, MA - and we'd love to see you there!

waterbury

Here's some of what Chad will cover:

  • The essential factors that limit and enhance explosive power.
  • The crucial role of proper ribcage and pelvis alignment, and how to identify and correct them.
  • How to increase full-body neural drive before each training session using only your body weight.
  • A simple way to get the most glute activation during squats and deadlifts. (Hint: it’s not the “spread the floor with your feet” trick.)
  • The single most accurate test to determine if your client is at risk for knee injury.
  • The most effective ways to measure explosive strength.
  • Key elements for designing any strength-building program.

In short, these four hours will be jam-packed with knowledge you'll be able to put into action immediately.  Here are the specifics:

Date/Time: Saturday, April 5, 2014, 2pm-6pm

Location: Cressey Performance, 577 Main St - Suite 310, Hudson, MA.

CP579609_10151227364655388_1116681132_n

Price: $99.99 regular, $79.99 student rate through the early bird registration deadline (March 31). The price goes up $30 after 3/31.

Registration:

Click Here to Register at the Regular Rate

Click Here to Register at the Student Rate

If you'd like to register more than one attendee, please just change the quantity to 2 (or more) on the order form, and then list the attendees' names and email addresses in the comments section.

Sorry for the short notice, but this opportunity is too good to pass up, as Chad is fantastic in seminar. Hope to see you there!

For those interested in hotel options, we have a great deal in place with Extended Stay America - Marlborough. They offer a preferred rate of $59.00 + tax on Queen Studio Suites.  Rates can be accessed by calling the hotel at 508-490-9911 and identifying yourself as a guest of Cressey Performance.

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

5 Characteristics of Successful Metabolic Resistance Training Programs

Metabolic resistance training (MRT) has been all the rage in the fitness industry over the past few years.  And, while people have started to appreciate that interval training is a better option for fat loss than steady-state aerobic activity, that doesn't mean that they've learned to effectively program this interval training - especially when it involves appreciable resistance, as with MRT.  In other words, it's much easier to program intervals on the recumbent bike than it is to include kettlebell swings, as one obviously has to be much more cognizant of perfect technique with the swing.  With that in mind, with today's post, I'll highlight five characteristics of safe and effective metabolic resistance training programs.

1. They must include self-limiting exercises.

With self-limiting exercises, fatigue stops you from completing a rep before your technique can break down.  A perfect example would be sled pushing or dragging.  It's virtually impossible to have technique break down with these exercises, especially in a trained athlete, and even under considerable loading.  And, I can't say that I've ever seen anyone injured while using a sled.

Taking this a step further, I'd note that there are exercises that might not be self-limiting initially, but reach that point eventually. For example, with a beginner, a suspension trainer inverted row is not self-limiting at all; there are several important technique elements that a lifter needs to master because doing the exercise under conditions of fatigue.

Push-ups would be another example.  We've all seen the classic push-up form deterioration under fatigued conditions: a sagging, excessively arched lower back; forward head posture; and elbows flaring out.  It's the classic "panic mode" strategy employed by beginners.  However, you never see it in experienced lifters; they'll simply fail before the technique breaks down.  Part of this comes from technical proficiency, but it's also related to the fact that the limiting factor shifts from anterior core stability to upper body strength/endurance as an individual gets more experienced.

With all this in mind, it shouldn't surprise you that what's appropriate for a MRT program changes over the course of a training career.

2. There has to be sufficient total work to achieve a training effect.

I hate to burst anyone's bubble, but doing 5-10s intervals probably isn't going to do much for you - unless you're doing a ton of them, or using really short rest intervals.  Essentially, you have to get to the point where you shift over from the ATP-PC to the glycolitic (anaerobic) system.  This is a sweet spot where intensity of exercise is high while volume remains up - and that's how you create the "metabolic debt" that makes interval training so beneficial.

I think it's better to look at total work than just reps in a given set, as not all drills are created equal.  For example, if you do a barbell complex consisting of five snatches, five cleans, five front squats, five barbell rows, and five deadlifts, you've done a ton more work than if you just did 25 medicine ball throws.  The loading capabilities are greater with the barbell complex, and the bar travels over a greater distance.  Since work equals force times distance, it's a more powerful stimulus than the medicine ball throws.

3. The work intervals must be short enough to preserve a high effort level and good technique.

This could be considered the "corollary" to #2.  Doing a set of 100 barbell snatches is absurd, as technique breaks down, and the amount of weight an athlete can use is almost too trivial to even call it metabolic RESISTANCE training.  Plus, it would likely take about 2-3 minutes to complete, which means that you're getting much more aerobic, even if an athlete is "working hard."  My feeling is that you use your work bouts to challenge anaerobic systems, and your recovery period to condition the aerobic energy system.  Let's be honest: most strength training enthusiasts care more about the aerobic system for recovery than actual aerobic exercise performance, anyway.

4. The programming must appreciate the influence of "other" stress.

My wife takes bootcamps at Cressey Performance three days a week, and they're heavily focused on MRT.  Accordingly, she only does "true" strength training sessions two days a week.

I, on the other hand, don't take bootcamps, but have more traditional lifting sessions four days a week.  I'll usually supplement them with one metabolic resistance training, sprinting, or rowing intervals session, as well as one low intensity "blood flow" day.

Our dog, Tank, on the other hand, lays around all the time and doesn't do a damn thing.

tank

Effectively, the harder you train on the strength side of things, the less you can do on the conditioning side of things.

This also applies to those with considerable stress outside the gym.  Stress is stress, so if your life is crazy hectic, it may not be appropriate to do a lot of high volume MRT.  Some low-key aerobic activity might be a better supplement to your strength training work until you can get your stress sorted out.

5. There must be adequate equipment and sufficient space available.

This is an incredibly important, but commonly overlooked factor that heavily influences a metabolic resistance training program's success. While you can usually get by with minimal equipment with a MRT program, body weight only can get old very quickly.  Fortunately, just adding a kettlebell, band, suspension trainer, barbell, or other implement can quickly expand your exercise selection pool.  It's important to realize that a little bit can go a long way, especially if you're training in a busy gym and can't monopolize pieces of equipment for too long without someone walking off with them!

Space is a different story, though.  If you have a 10'x10' home gym with low ceilings, it's going to be tough to do barbell complexes, sled pushes, or farmer's walks.

1-armfarmers

Likewise, using our busy gym example from above, do you really want to even attempt a barbell complex in a busy commercial gym?  You might have pristine form, but some inattenive gymgoer might still walk right into you in a middle of a set of power cleans.  Make sure that your area is big - and secure - enough.

As you can see, there is a lot more that goes into designing a safe and effective metabolic resistance training program than meets the eye. To that end, I highly recommend Jen Sinkler's new resource on the topic: Lift Weights Faster.

LWF-Product-Bundle-no-EBF

The depth of this product really blew me away, as there are 138 pages of sample MRT workouts using all sorts of different equipment, or none at all. There are some great ideas in there for fitness professionals and fitness enthusiasts alike, and I'll certainly be implementing some of the techniques Jen describes in our programming at Cressey Performance.  It's on sale at a great introductory price this week, so be sure to check it out.

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

Common Arm Care Mistakes: Installment 5

It's been over a month since I posted an update to this series, so with the baseball season underway, I thought I'd get back to it - and focus on something we see as an in-season problem:

Pitchers not being advocates for themselves with respect to playing other positions games on non-pitching days.

Absolutely nothing drives me crazier than when I hear about a player throwing 6-7 innings, and then being asked to come back and play shortstop or catcher in the next few days. In fact, it might be the very definition of insanity, as it defies a lot of what we know about recovery, fatigue management, and arm stress.

To be clear, pitchers absolutely do need to throw throughout the week to optimize performance and develop.  You can't just pitch, then sit around for six days and expect to get better or stay sharp.  However, I think we do need to approach what guys do on non-pitching days on a very individualized basis.

If we're talking about starters who are going to throw 60+ pitches at least once a week, they need to stick to playing DH, 1B, 3B, 2B, or OF in the 2-3 days after a start - and preferably throughout the entire week.  Sure, there will stil be the possibility for intense throws, but the volume is much lower, and they'll be able to get their legs under them better, as compared to off-balance throws from shortstop, or rushed throws from the catching position.

If we're talking about relievers who just get innings here and there, it's a totally different story.  If they're only throwing 15-20 pitches a few times a week, they can play anywhere they're needed.  The volume just isn't enough on the mound to make it a very valid concern. The only exception to the rule might be early in the season; if guys are really sore in the 24-48 hours after they pitch, they're probably better off somewhere other than shortstop or catcher.

Now, all this seems well and good - until you realize that just about every 12-year-old in the country says that he plays "pitcher and shortstop."  Seriously, I get excited when I hear a young kid who is a catcher, second baseman, or just an "all over" utility guy.

youthpitcher2

So, as you can see, players don't just need to be counseled on this; they need to be counseled on this at a young age.

A big part of developing starting pitchers over the long haul is helping them to build work capacity, the ability to throw more innings.  This obviously gets a lot of attention in the professional ranks with young pitchers who are on strict innings limits.  However, it's equally important at the youth levels; you have to build work capacity gradually, especially in athletes who are skeletally immature. The problem with throwing them at shortstop or catcher is that it immediately puts you in a position where you underestimate how much wear and tear is on the pitcher's arm over the course of a season.

Looking for more in-depth baseball insights?  Check out one of our Cressey Performance Elite Baseball Mentorships; we'll have events in June, October, and December.

Home_page1

Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive Instant Access to a 47-minute Presentation from Eric Cressey on Individualizing the Management of Overhead Athletes!

Name
Email
Read more

Aspiring Fitness Professionals: You’re Already Coaching Inspirational Athletes

Today's guest post comes from Pete Dupuis, my business partner of seven years at Cressey Performance. In addition to serving as our business director, Pete oversees our internship program and has a great perspective on how many aspiring fitness professionals see themselves, and where they want to be.

dupuis

Now that your “busy season” is coming to an end, and all of your pro athletes have reported to spring training, do you guys basically throw it on autopilot and count the seconds until next September when the minor league season wraps up?

An intern applicant asked me this question earlier this week.  His mentality actually wasn’t all that far off from that of many other previous applicants. In fact, I ask every single candidate what his or her long-term career goal within the fitness industry is, and the response is almost universally inspired by this attitude. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that at least 90% of the responses I receive when asking the career goal question specifically mention working with either “elite” or “professional” athletes. 

I get it.  Professional athletes are living the dream.  Why would you want to coach soccer moms?  General fitness population is boring you to death.  The lawyer you train isn’t concerned with getting in to “beast mode” every time he hits the gym.  Seriously, I get it.

Before you go and make a career change to coach professional athletes, or abandon a successful personal training business at your local commercial gym, I have a question for you: have you made an effort to REALLY get to know the people surrounding you every time you go to work?  More specifically, do you realize the goldmine of networking opportunities you are letting pass by on a daily basis as you dream about prepping a D-1 athlete for the NFL combine?

I’m not here to tell you that you have to “pay your dues” before you can start setting the bar that high (although, you do).  I’m here to tell you that in some cases, the least interesting clients we have at Cressey Performance can be the professional ballplayers.  In short, the season is so long and draining that when the off-season rolls around, most of them really don’t want to talk about baseball – which is the stuff you may find “cool” and discussion-worthy. While their in-season periods are very much abnormal as compared to “typical” jobs, they’re normal people in the off-season.

So, what do I tell an intern applicant when he or she asks me what the best thing is about working with so many professional athletes? 

Sometimes I’ll tell them that we have one client who dresses up as Santa Clause and jumps out of an airplane with multiple other Santa impersonators every December to raise funds for charity. 

He also happens to own one of the most successful roofing companies in Massachusetts, as well as property in Costa Rica that he kindly offered to EC for his honeymoon trip in 2011.

I’ll occasionally tell them that we once prepared a client for the FBI entrance exam, and he demonstrated the art of subduing a suspect by taking Tony Gentilcore to the floor and handcuffing him in less than 4 seconds…in the middle of a crowded gym…while dressed in a Halloween costume…in between his sets of deadlifts.

handcuffimg_5683-300x225

Maybe I’ll tell them that we have one former intern whose favorite part of his time with us was the hours he spent coaching and socializing with the 7th employee at Facebook. 

Sometimes I tell them to look across the gym where we have not one, but three engineers from Bose who like to soak up the unique training environment while they’re not at their office designing some of the best audio equipment the world has seen.

Most importantly, I tell them that they’re going to miss out on a truly amazing learning experience if they spend their time with us (or at any other gym) only concerning themselves with chasing the “elite” athletic population.  There are some amazing stories just waiting to be told right there on the training floor.  You’ll inevitably find yourself on the receiving end if you step out of your comfort zone and appreciate the fact that many of the “average” people you interact with have experienced some pretty amazing things.  The clients who show up for training sessions on a year-round basis, as opposed to during an off-season, are the ones with whom you have the chance to make a life-long impression.

There will be times in the future when you’ll need to consult the people around you as you encounter difficult decisions.  Some of your best career, life, and business advise is likely to come from the network of individuals you’ve worked hard to develop in this gym setting.  This type of insight is almost certainly NOT going to come from the guy who has spent the last six months riding buses around the country and surviving entirely on sunflower seeds and fast-food.  It is also unlikely to come from the ones who are accustomed to bypassing airport security to step on to their chartered flight to the next MLB stadium.

CP579609_10151227364655388_1116681132_n

Whenever it is that my CP days are behind me, I’m obviously going to look back fondly on seeing close friends make big-league debuts, or maybe even compete in the summer or winter Olympics.  What I’ll absolutely cherish, though, is the fact that a couple of casual Saturday morning conversations with one of our general fitness clients eventually led to an introduction to the girl who is now my wife.  It’s a good thing I didn’t pass on chatting with her so that I could spend more time watching the pro guys argue over who had next on the ping-pong table.

Looking for more fitness business insights?  Check out the Fitness Business Blueprint, a detailed "how-to" guide for those interested in starting up their own businesses in this industry.

fbb_mockup_2_green_mockup

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 3/3/14

Happy March, everyone.  I just got back from a weekend in Nashville to watch the Vanderbilt/Stanford baseball series, so I'm playing a bit of catch-up as I get back to the office.  Vanderbilt swept the series, and our Cressey Performance guys actually picked up wins in the Friday and Sunday games.  Here they (Tyler Beede and Adam Ravenelle) are with their vertically challenged strength coach.

1891350_700671351977_323672517_o

Luckily, I've got some great content from you nonetheless:

Interview with Eric Cressey - Mike Robertson just posted this interview with me.  We talk about several things, but the foremost one is my work with baseball players, and what makes this a unique population.

CP Client Spotlight: Meet Kat! - This is a great feature we ran on one of our adult clients, Kat Mansfield.  She talks about the progress she's made, what Cressey Performance means to her, and how it integrates with her regular yoga practice and instruction. This is something we'll be doing more and more moving forward, as a lot of people don't realize how many clients we train from other walks of life besides just baseball! We see them in bootcamp, semi-private, and personal training formats.

Course Notes: Explain Pain - Zac Cupples wrote up a fantastic review of a David Butler seminar he attended. There are several "one-liners" in here that will resound with you over and over again.

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 56

We're lucky to have Cressey Performance coach Andrew Zomberg filling in for this week's collection of quick tips for your nutrition and strength and conditioning programs.  Here we go!

1. Own the weight/movement during execution.

Far too often, I see trainees fail to take control during the execution of a lift. For example, many people completely disregard the tempo, which inevitably leads to a faulty lift.  If I see something like this, I tell the individual to "own the weight/movement or count to three” as they go through the eccentric portion." By employing this cue and focusing on the tempo, you will not only mitigate the risk of injury, but you will become more proficient with the given lift.

So, the next time during the execution of a lift, try to become more mindful with how fast you’re completing each rep.  Make an attempt to utilize a countdown or envision the “owning” cue in order to control the lift.

2. Limit yourself to three steps when you set-up for a squat.

Squatting (whether a traditional back squat, front squat, or one that utilizes specialty bars) is generally a staple in most training programs.  But too often, a lifter will take too many steps to set up once they unrack the bar from the J-hooks.  This bad habit not only causes the lifter to lose his/her pre-settings (air and tension), but it also expends far too much energy during the foot-placement.

So, once you are under the bar and your air is set, take only three steps for your set-up.  On the first step, allow yourself to clear the hooks.  Then, use the second and third step to position yourself in the appropriate squat stance.  From there, reset your air and go to town!

3. Assume a quadruped position while loading for a push-up.

Once you have mastered a conventional push-up (unloaded without elevation or additional stability points), the next step for progression is loading it (using a weighted-vest, chains or bands).  However, this weight should not be added while in the push-up position because you will fight the anti-extension component and waste a lot of energy you need for the lift.

Instead, assume the quadruped position (on all fours) as weight or added resistance is being loaded.  If you opt for a vest or bands, still assume the quadruped position (rather than hanging out in a starting push-up position).  By doing this, you allow your base of support to be closer to your center of gravity, making the set-up less strenuous.  Remember, even though you want to work hard, be smart.  You need to know when to preserve your energy in order to optimize the exercise.

photo-53photo-54

4. Get out of your footwear as much as you can.

The shoes we wear often restrict our range of motion and provide external stability that our feet need to develop on our own.  This is why many lifters perform some of their training exercises barefooted.  Eliminating footwear allows for improvements in ankle and foot mobility and stability, reduction in hypertonic calves, greater activation of the posterior chain, and increased proprioception of the foot.

However, there are unfortunate situations where gyms do not allow members to take off their footwear.  So in these cases, you should purchase minimalist sneakers (we like the New Balance MX20v3) that will aid in providing just enough stability to prevent lateral sprains, all while helping you increase ankle mobility and stability in the foot.  Also, get out of your footwear (running sneakers, dress shoes, or heels) whenever you can, and while shoeless, implement foot and ankle drills in order to maintain adequate function.

5. Create a shake matrix to streamline the smoothie making process.

A busy lifestyle forces many of us to eat on-the-go, which is why shakes are all the craze lately.  Unfortunately, a lot of people make the same smoothie day after day, week after week, without any changes or new add-ons.  Incorporating different nutrient-dense ingredients is very important, though.  The variety provides a blend of essential macronutrients, vitamins and minerals you need for optimal bodily functioning.

So, I refer you to the “shake matrix” (see below), created by Dr. Mike Roussell.  This table presents different, tasty ways to eliminate boredom and ensure that you provide plenty of nutrients to your body.  Use it as inspiration and change up your recipes!

shakematrix

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 55

Thanks to Cressey Performance Coach Greg Robins, here are some strength and conditioning tips to kick off the weekend:

1. Try this convenient way to massage your upper traps.

In my never-ending quest to make my neck disappear, my upper traps take quite a beating. I’m not alone; many lifters place a high demand on this area via heavy deadlifts, back squats, and high amounts of upper back volume. It comes with the territory, but I couldn’t help but think there must be a better way to attack soft tissue work below what’s left of my neck. Luckily, CP coach and massage therapist, Chris Howard, had a great tip for me.  Here it is:

2. Consider giving more positive feedback.

As part of our internship process at CP, we hold mid-term and final evaluations to let our interns know how they’re doing. It just so happens that this past week was the halfway point for our spring class. I’m fortunate that I get to watch our new interns operate under two very different environments, both the day-to-day semi-private strength training, and the faster-paced morning bootcamp classes.

As the mid-term evaluations came to a close, I realized that even our smartest, most prepared interns, received similar feedback from me:

“If someone is doing something right,
you can still reinforce the positive.”

During the day, when things move at the pace of the athlete, a coach can have the tendency to switch into “observation” mode. Especially as the baseball off-season draws to a close, many of our athletes are very self-sufficient. From a technique perspective, they are relatively flawless.

In the morning, we have many clients who have executed some of the day’s exercises hundreds of times. In the fast paced bootcamp environment, a coach may have the tendency to look feverishly for faults, and find none.

bootcamps72950_211664285638467_1370417084_n

That’s not a negative, but as a coach our job is not merely to offer up negative or constructive feedback. In fact, offering positive feedback can make the training even more effective. Here a few quick reasons why:

  • Often times, people do things correctly and are not even aware of it. Positive feedback can help them hone in on something they are doing well, how they’re making it happen, and how it feels. You will notice that these actions/feelings will translate well to the actions and feelings they need to create on an exercise where they aren’t as comfortable or proficient.
  • Receiving positive reinforcement will help them push harder, and bring more energy to the session.
  • It’s a great opportunity to break the ice, and build a rapport with a client who may be more introverted.
  • As a coach, it keeps you alert and in a more “active” mode.

3. Make a more nutritious sandwich.

Speaking of our interns, I recently got a fantastic idea from Brooks Braga, one of the current ones. Brooks turns to a sandwich for a quick meal on a daily basis, and I couldn’t help but notice his bread slices looked a lot like a pancake. As it turns out, they were – and some pretty nutritious and delicious ones at that! In fact, they are made primarily from almond and coconut flour. I asked if I could share the "Brooks Bread" recipe and he obliged; thanks, Brooks!

Ingredients:

½ cup almond flour
½ cup coconut flour
1-2 scoops vanilla protein powder
1 tsp baking powder
2-3 eggs
~½ cup unsweetened coconut milk

Directions:

a. Mix the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl
b. Mix the eggs and coconut milk in a separate bowl
c. Combine the wet and dry ingredients
d. Scoop a heaping tablespoon-sized amount of batter and spread into your shape of choice on a griddle/frying pan.  If it’s as runny as normal pancake batter the pancakes will not stick together, so it should be thick!
e.  Cook on low-medium heat for a minute or so per side

Modifications:

a. 1 tbsp arrowroot powder can be added for thickening/binding
b. 1 tsp vanilla and/or cinnamon makes them a little more delectable
c. 1 tbsp coconut oil/grass-fed butter makes them richer
d. Several spoonfuls of coconut cream will help to increase the caloric density
e. 1-2 tbsp cacao powder can be used to make chocolate pancakes...why not?
f. Stevia can be used for sweetening

IMG_9479

Notes from Brooks:

a. The batter should be thick enough to the point where you have to spread it out on the griddle/frying pan.  If it is too runny the pancakes will not hold together very well.
b. You might have to play around with the coconut milk amount depending on your other ingredients.  I would suggest starting with ¼ cup coconut milk and adding more until you get a consistency that is thicker than normal pancake batter but still spreadable.

There you have it: a tasty substitute for your lackluster whole grain bread slices. Give it a try!

4. Try this simple programming tip to add more volume to your assistance exercises.

The following is a great way to ensure that you do more work in an exercise over a four-week period. I use it all the time for a sets and reps scheme on the smaller exercises in a program. Let’s use a DB Reverse Lunge as the example:

Wk 1: 3x8
Wk 2: 4x8
Wk 3: 3x10
Wk 4: 4x10

The key is to set your best set of 8 in week 1 and then use that same weight all the way into week 4. By increasing volume through the addition of sets first, and then through the addition of reps and sets, we are able to do more total work both overall and in a single set. That’s a good recipe for increased muscle growth, and strength gains as well.

The bigger the movement, and the stronger you are on it, the more difficult it will be to make this a reality. With that in mind, stick to this scheme for your assistance work.

5. Ditch the handle to increase grip demands on a farmer carry.

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 2/13/14

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

Is Your Vitamin D Supplement Hurting or Helping You? - This might be the single-best thing I've ever read on Vitamin D.  The Precision Nutrition team did a great job with it.

Buddy Morris: The Next Chapter - This is a great podcast at EliteFTS with Buddy Morris, head strength and conditioning coach at the University at Buffalo. I've long been a fan of Buddy's not only because he's a bright guy, but also because he's an example of everything that's right about strength and conditioning. He's humble, super approachable, and always looking to get better - regardless of how long he's been in the field.  This is a "must listen" for up-and-coming coaches.

Cressey Performance on Social Media - You might not know it, but Cressey Performance is well represented on social media.  If you aren't following us already, you're missing out on daily tips, exclusive articles, and the ever popular "quote of the day."  Here's where you can find them all:

Cressey Performance on Facebook

Excellence Bootcamps on Facebook

Cressey Performance on Instagram

Cressey Performance on Twitter

Enjoy!

CP3

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

Strength Training Programs: 3 Habits to Make You a Better Lifter

Today's guest post comes from Cressey Sports Performance coach, Andrew Zomberg.  Andrew's a fantastic coach and a great writer, so you'll be seeing much more about him around here in the future!
 

Habitual behavior happens unconsciously and compulsively. Daily activities like brushing your teeth or setting your alarm before bed are programmed into your brain simply because of the repetitive nature in which you carry out these actions.  You want to create the same kind habitual behavior in your lifting routine. But, building these habits requires specificity. In other words, it is not enough to say, “I want to be a more efficient lifter.” This big goal needs to be broken down into small, specific behaviors in order to make the change attainable.

Below are three important habits to establish in your lifting routine. These behaviors will pave the way to efficiency. Just know, reinforcing them will take time. According to a 2009 study from London’s University College, it takes 66 days to successfully adopt a new habit.  What does this mean? At first, you will have to work hard at implementing them into your lifting routine – so don’t get discouraged! Eventually, these habits will become second nature, and you will incorporate them without even thinking about it.

1. Create structure. Structure provides a baseline to achieve your fitness goals. By planning things out and establishing a purpose to be at the gym, you can ensure quality and consistency in your workouts. Structure also makes it easier to stick to a program long-term. But planning requires effort and discipline, especially in the preparation phase. To make structure and organization a habit, aim to:

  • Write everything down. This includes the load (amount of weight lifted), any modifications (regressions, progressions, etc.), and the settings (cable column adjustments, hand placements, stance, etc.). It is not practical to remember exactly what you did last week, so take the guesswork out. Keeping track of your workouts is also highly motivational. Tracking your progress provides positive feedback and reminds you just how hard you are working to attain the end goal.
     
  • Execute the program without deviation. Program designs are created for a reason. Exercise choice and exercise order aren’t just arbitrary recommendations that can be ignored. Sure, warm-ups can be boring, and of course it is easier to do a lat pull down than a chin-up, but there are no shortcuts to speed, strength and growth. So, stick to the plan!
     
  • Improve your accountability to minimize hiccups in your programming. If you have a work commitment, schedule your training session around it. If you have an injury, find a way to safely work out. If you often make excuses to skip a weekend workout, train with a partner to increase your accountability to get the gym.

2.  Improve the proficiency of each lift. Awareness is underrated in fitness. Take single-leg work, for instance. Many “lungers” allow their knee to translate too far forward, which yields premature heel lift. Unbeknownst to their knowing, this redistributes the stress to unwanted areas and simply doesn’t target the intended areas (the hamstrings and glutes). It is so important to hone in on proper technique to ensure stability, proper body alignment, movement quality, and of course, safety. In order to improve proficiency in your programming, make a habit to:

  • Learn the right way to do each exercise. There are plenty of experts in the field who have mastered specific lifts from whom you can learn. However, please keep an open mind. Do not get caught up with just one individual. By learning from several enthusiasts, you are exposed to many different physical and verbal cues that will help perfect your lifts.
     
  • Practice lifts and all of their steps. There are several key components of a lift, including (but not limited to) the set-up, the tempo of the ascent/decent, and the lockout of the movement. Do not race through exercises. Take the time to execute the movements in their entirety in order to maximize results.
     
  • Figure out the limiting factors. These factors may include, mobility or stability restraints, lack of kinesthetic awareness or a pre-existing injury that is preventing the proper execution of a movement. There are several ways to reveal these issues.  Watch videos. Work with a training partner. Get assessed by a trained professional, like an athletic trainer, physical therapist, or chiropractor. It is essential to address limiting factors because if you continue to perform in faulty movements, they will become ingrained, which prohibits growth and could eventually lead to further injury.

3.  Add variations to programs and exercises. Variations are different ways of executing movements to increase or decrease the level of difficulty, eliminate monotony or simply expand your existing knowledge base. Adding variety to your programming will not only create the necessary adaptations for growth, but it will also enhance your level of expertise in specific lifts. Variations are effective on a monthly basis. To add variations in your programs, strive to:

  • Manipulate the volume. Changing your reps and sets by either adding more or less weight in your current program will provide the muscular disturbances needed for noticeable and consistent growth.
     
  • Add more exercises to your toolbox. Your muscles will not get stronger unless you force them to do so. By utilizing different exercises, you impose new stresses to the body, eliminating monotony and allowing for adaptation. This change leads to an endless list of benefits, including the improvement of cardiovascular health, the enhancement of body composition, and the development of quality of movement.
     
  • Play around with additional training variables. Alter your base of support (stance), create new ranges of motion (deficits or partials), adjust your grip placement or modify your tempo.  Changing the variables not only warrants growth, but also helps you avoid plateaus.  Remember, repetition allows the body to adapt to the repetitive motions, so mix it up – on a monthly basis!

Andrew Zomberg is a strength and conditioning coach at Cressey Performance.  You can follow him on Twitter: @AndrewZomberg.

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more
Page 1 2 3 4 23
LEARN HOW TO DEADLIFT
  • Avoid the most common deadlifting mistakes
  • 9 - minute instructional video
  • 3 part follow up series