Home Posts tagged "Cressey Performance" (Page 21)

PrecisionNutrition.com: A Day in the Life of Eric Cressey…

Hey Gang, A few months ago, Precision Nutrition contributor Erin Weiss-Trainor tracked me down for an interview of sorts where she inquired about what goes on in a day in the life of Eric Cressey.  It includes training, nutrition, and what goes on at Cressey Performance.  You can check it out at the link below: Precision Nutrition Expert Profile: Eric Cressey
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Medicine Ball Madness

EricCressey.com Subscriber-Only Q&A Q: My question pertains to medicine ball workouts for pitchers.   Are they only off-season training drills, or can I do them with my pitchers between starts? And, are there good ones for pitchers arms, in particular?  I know you mentioned doing some one-arm drills with your pitchers. A: It's safe to say that we probably do more medicine ball work than anyone on the planet.  In fact, we've broken 17 medicine balls (16 featured in this photo) thus far this off-season.


Our destruction of medicine balls has been so epic that our equipment supplier actually asked us if we were throwing them against a wall with "jagged edges," as nobody had ever had similar problems, much less with as much regularity.  So, suffice it to say that we hammer on medicine ball work a ton in the off-season, and the useful life of a ball around here is 4-6 weeks.  But, I don't want to digress... After the season ends, pitchers usually get a two-week break from anything that involves overhead throwing or rapid elbow extension after they are done throwing before we integrate any of this.  Position players start right up with it. I think it's crucial to start up right away so that you can teach proper scap and hip loading so that guys will get the most out of it when the time comes to throw with more volume and complex exercises that help to maintain pitching-specific mobility, as Stanford-bound Sahil Bloom shows:

We typically go 3x/week medicine ball work with anywhere from 80 to 120 throws (never more than eight per set) per session from October through December (the last month overlaps with throwing programs where these guys are just tossing - nothing too challenging).  This continues right up through spring training for all our position players.  For pitchers, though, as January rolls around, we add in more bullpens and aggressive long tossing (and weighted balls, for some guys), and the medicine ball work drops off to two times a week with less volume and a more conservative exercise selection.  This twice a week set-up goes right through Spring Training. We always pair our medicine ball work with various mobilizations so that guys are addressing flexibility deficits instead of just standing around.  It might be thoracic spine and hip mobility drills from Assess and Correct.  Combining these mobilizations with all our medicine ball work, warm-ups, foam rolling/massage, and the static stretching programs guys are on, we have no concerns about pitchers "tightening up" with lifting.  Blue Jays prospect Tim Collins doesn't seem to be all "muscle-bound" here, for instance:

I don't do a ton of medicine ball work in-season with my higher level guys; it's usually once every five days.  A lot of the focus is on the non-dominant side.  So, a right-handed pitcher would do more rotational stuff from the left side to keep as much symmetry as possible.  With high school athletes, on the other hand, I see no reason why you can't use a slightly higher volume of medicine ball drills in-season.  Kids are resilient and in many cases, undertrained, so there is always a big window of adaptation ahead of them. With respect to the one-arm smaller medicine ball work, we use those two variations around this time of year.  It's usually just two sets of eight reps right after throwing sessions twice a week.  I like the idea of consolidating the stress with throwing outings.  That said, there are some people that do them as warm-ups prior to throwing.  Here, Atlanta Braves prospect Chad Rodgers demonstrates a few with a 1kg (2.2lb) ball.

As a random aside, off to the side in this video, you'll see how we tend to pair mobility/activation movements with power training, as Royals catching prospect Matt Morizio goes back and forth from clap push-ups to scapular wall slides.

This is really just the tip of the iceberg, so for more information, I would encourage you to check out our resource, Functional Stability Training; it is incredibly thorough, including plenty of options for both off- and in-season medicine ball work. Enter your email below to subscribe to our FREE newsletter:
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Peak Power or Vertical Jump?

The answer is both! The question?  "What do you test?" My rationale is this: if you have a skinny athlete who adds 15 pounds during a two-month period, but his vertical jump stays the same, a VJ-only assessment protocol won't tell you that he gained a ton of peak power. As such, we use vertical jump in conjunction with body weight to calculate estimated peak power output using the Sayers equation.  While recent research demonstrates that this equation typically underestimates peak power, the important thing for me is reproducibility (not complete accuracy). As an example, last week, I posted a video of Tim Collins, a Cressey Performance athlete and Toronto Blue Jays prospect who vertical jumped 38.7 inches at his final test of the off-season.

More impressively, he went from 27.9" on October 3 to 38.7 on February 4 while adding six pounds to his frame. Without factoring in the six-pound weight gain, we are looking at a 34.8% improvement in peak power.  When we factor it in, though, it becomes a 37.2% mprovement.  That 2.4% might seem insignificant to some, but the truth is that it's an impressive result for an entire year's hard work for many elite athletes with less window of adaptation ahead of them.

Vertical jump is a measure of relative power.  Peak power is a measure of absolute power.  Both have implications in the world of baseball, as you have to decelerate your body weight on each pitch, and you have to sprint, which is a function of the force you put into the ground relative to your body weight.  Conversely, the push-off during pitching and the hitting motion are all about absolute power.

So, all things considered, you've got to track body weight and vertical jump, then plug them into an equation.

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Inverted Row Ignorance

In this week's "The Biggest Loser made me want to stab my eye out with a hot poker" moment, I watched what appeared to be a 1,742-pound woman attempt to do an inverted row.  It was an admirable attempt, for sure, but I'm sorry to say that in all my years of coaching and writing strength and conditioning programs, I've can think of fewer than 20 females who have ever been able to perform a single good inverted row. This isn't a knock on women; it's just that they, on average, have markedly less strength than men in the upper body.  And, more importantly, the inverted row is a more advanced strength exercise than people realize - so that strength discrepancy will be more readily apparent. As a frame of reference, here is what a good inverted row looks like:

As you can see, the chin stays tucked to keep the cervical spine (neck) in line with the rest of the body.  Without that forward head posture, you're getting just the kind of scapular retraction you want.  Speaking of scapular retraction, you'll also notice that the chest is going ALL THE WAY up to the bar. There are three compensation patterns that you'll come across.  To protect the innocent, I won't post videos, but rest assured that if you did a quick YouTube search for "inverted row," you'd quickly come across example of the following: 1. The Ceiling Humper: This individual will give a little tug of elbow flexion and scapular retraction to get about halfway up, and then he/she will violently thrust the crotch to the heavens.  In some circles, this individual is known as "The Fish."  Regardless, it isn't pretty. 2. The Scared Cat: This individual basically does a curl - including curling the wrists in - so that there is essentially everything occurring except scapular retraction.  In the process, they get to the top - but in that top position, they are rounded up in a ball like - you guessed it - a scared cat.  There is, however, a delightful chin protrusion/forward head posture that makes that individual believe that the movement actually took place.  Unfortunately, it didn't - and this effort, too, isn't pretty. 3. The Half-Asser: This individual is the lazy cousin of the Ceiling Humper and Scared Cat.  He can be found around dudes who do half pull-ups, pop their collars, and live in their parents' basements.  Very simply, he (or she, for that mattter) only goes halfway up - but usually still insists on using the feet-on-the-box set-up (the most advanced progression). Sadly, the acronym IRA was already taken, so Inverted Rows Anonymous could never get off the ground - and these issues persist.  I suspect that we're looking at a $47 million government stimulus package to remedy the issue.  And, as our new commander-in-chief has stated, "things are going to get worse before they get better," be prepared to observe this inverted row ignorance for quite some time before it's addressed. For a host of better scapular stabilization exercises, check out Optimal Shoulder Performance.


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Random Friday Thoughts: 1/16/09

No blog yesterday; things were kind of crazy around CP, and I did a 14-hour day that began with dropping Pete off at the airport at 6:15.  The good news is that it allowed me to stockpile some content for today's random thoughts. 1.  For this week's music selection, I got a little inspiration from one of Cressey Performance's newest clients.  Here's a little old-school flavor for you:

2. Speaking of that new client, I guess you could say that the cat is out of the bag.

The Guy I Love to Hate

Rumor has it that this guy can pitch a little bit.

3. Here is a great review of Maximum Strength.  I've been so busy lately that I actually forgot I'd published a book about six months ago and probably ought to mention it here and there!  Click here to pick up a copy.


4.  As I've written before, I'm not a fan of Vitamin Water - but I will say that I love article!

U.S. Group Sues Coke over Vitamin Water Health Claims

5.  Apparently, George the Lobster is the talk of my hometown (Kennebunk/Kennebunkport, ME).  They're freeing this 140-year-old , 20-pound lobster on the beach up there this weekend.  It was a strategic move to release him in January, as it reduces the likelihood that George will be scared back into captivity by the socially-awkward males tourists on the beach in their lime green Speedos. Oh, and on a semi-related note, I could eat an entire 20-pound lobster in one sitting and then be hungry 15 minutes later.  Lobster alone never fills me up; I'm a surf and turf guy.  Us Maine guys are spoiled brats like that.

6. For those who missed it, I had an article published late last week at T-Nation; check it out: The Right Way to Stretch the Pecs 7. After a holiday hiatus, I got back on track with my newsletter this week.  Newsletter 138 focuses on the misunderstood role of the rhomboids.

8. I got asked the other day why I cue folks to keep the chin tucked during squatting and deadlifting variations. Shoulder geek that I am - and even though it's just the tip of the iceberg - I gave the following perspective: Cervical extension = levator scapulae shortness Levator scapulae shortness = scapular anterior tilt and insufficient upward rotation Scapular anterior tilt and reduced upward rotation = unhappy shoulder Additionally, you've got the extensor reflex - which Mike Robertson covered quite nicely HERE. Have a great weekend, everyone.

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Random Sunday Thoughts: 1/11/09

We're a few days late with this post, as I was in Washington, D.C. from Thursday through Saturday for the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society Team Medicine conference. 1. Metallica's the music choice of the day.  Can you really go wrong with a band that's this badass with a drummer who used to be a junior tennis prodigy?

2. To start off, I want to congratulate Cressey Performance athlete Mark Hogan on becoming the first ever football scholarship athlete at Georgia St, a new program that will begin play in 2010. 3. It never ceases to amaze me how many people still haven't grasped the concept of "N=1."  Maybe I have a skewed perspective on the importance of a big sample size because of my time in the research world?  Perfect example: I get an email from a powerlifter who had shoulder problems for years, and they *magically* disappear when he takes a step back from benching (presumably in terrible form) in favor of doing dips and handstand push-ups.  So, obviously, the logical line of reasoning is that everyone with shoulder problems is only a few hundred dips and handstand push-ups away from shoulder bliss and an altogether utopian society where the glenohumeral Tinkerbell sprinkles fairy dust on labrum tears and bicipital tendinosis to make things allllllllllll better.  Seriously, it's just logic. 4. I'm sure I'll get a few email follow-ups to #3 from those interested to know if I have any mythological treatments for knee, elbow, and ankle pain.  For those, I recommend duct tape and a glue gun.  Lower backs, on the other hand, respond best to Indian rain dances.  It's true.  Four separate individuals (coincidentally, all of them went by the name "Professor N=1") told me so. 5. On a less cynical note, I had an article published at T-Nation on Tuesday.  Check it out: The Right Way to Stretch the Pecs. 6. As you may have already noticed, we're still working out some kinks in the site - particularly the Articles and Baseball Content pages.  I promise; we're getting closer! 7. A few weeks ago, I gave you a heads-up on one Cressey Performance athlete (Shawn Haviland) who has a blog.  It turns out that another one has a good one rolling along, and he deserves some love, too.  Check out Will Inman (Padres system pitcher) at WilliamInman.com.  Good content, but if he calls me a trainer one more time, he's going to be pushing the sled until the cows come home. Just a quick one this week.  Have a great weekend.

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Congratulations to Bree Schaaf!

A big congratulations goes out to Cressey Performance athlete Bree Schaaf, who claimed the 2009 U.S. Bobsled National Championship today.  In doing so, Bree qualified for the World Championship team.  Awesome job, Bree; we're all proud of you!



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Random Friday Thoughts: 12/19/2008

We actually got a snow day up here, so I'm using it to catch up on all sorts of stuff - from holiday shopping, to wrapping presents, to writing articles and programs.  Admittedly, I did sleep until 9AM this morning, and that's pretty late for me. 1. It occurred to me that thanks to the miracle known as YouTube, I can embed a music video in my first random post each week, and you'll have musical entertainment in the background (if you want) as you read my stuff.  And, since it's the season of miracles, I'll do just that.  For the record, the experience will be all the more enjoyable if you hold your mouse in your right hand and raise a lighter in the air with the left arm.  Of course, it won't really work out that well if you try to play the other videos below at the same time, but my intentions were good... Here's Coming Undone by Korn, a classic song around Cressey Performance.  It gets me all fired up to blog like a rock star. 2. While snow is a royal pain in the butt up here in New England, it does have one upside: accident-prone reporters who think they need to be outside to accurately relate just how much it is snowing. Occasionally, you'll even get an in-studio goofball: 3. The only thing better than weathermen making tools of themselves?  You guessed it: clumsy women stomping grapes with their feet on camera. 4. Apparently, we've got some pro pitchers - one in VA, and the other in NH - drawing inspiration from this blog as they prepare to get up here in early January to prepare for spring training.  How you like these apples, fellas?  Up five reps from the Thanksgiving day lift - simply because that's how we roll. Come get some, fellas! A huge thanks goes out to Jeremy Heffer and the University of Georgia Strength and Conditioning staff for the "Power G" beanie that made this all possible. 5. I've talked previously about the long-term detrimental effects of taping ankles, and I recently got a good inquiry about whether I thought this same issue would be present in MMA fighters who tape their wrists.  My response was that it probably wasn't an issue as much at the wrist predominately because the wrist isn't a weight-bearing joint.  By loading the ankle while it's taped, we solidify neural patterns a lot more quickly.  Additionally, nobody tapes their wrists for the same duration and frequency as those athletes (basketball players, for instance) who tape their ankles daily for several hours - and combine those restrictions with wearing high-top sneakers.  I remember seeing an interview with Bill Walton back in the mid-1980s when he joked about how the ankle taping got tighter and tighter as the season went on - probably because the guys got more and more unstable at their ankles! That's all she wrote for today.  Have a great weekend, everyone!

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13 Things That Drive Me Nuts

By popular demand, some of the clients at CP who appreciate my cynical side requested that I pull together a list of things that annoy me.  I turned to our intern, Chris, and asked him to pick a number between 1 and 20, and he chose 13.  So, in lieu of Random Friday Thoughts, here are 13 things that drive me nuts... 1. It recently occurred to me that my Random Friday Thoughts are no longer very random - and not just because I do them every Friday.  Truth be told, I am the Random Pioneer, and countless individuals have attempted to randomly follow in my random footsteps with their own random attempts at random brilliance in random blogs.  I have a random message for these random copycats: you might as well give it up, as my randomness cannot be matched, so you might as well throw in your towel (and no, Steph, we aren't getting towels for you at CP). I believe this cat reflects my random sentiments quite nicely:

2.  I can't believe Joe Dirt didn't win an Oscar.

3. It's a written rule at CP that when you have one week remaining on your current program, it's your responsibility to notify a CP staff member that you'll need a new program printed out and ready to go within a week.  It's an unwritten rule (as one 17-year-old athlete found out this week) that those who forget to tell us that they need a new program - and then show up to lift on the day the new program would have started - are rewarded with the following program for the day: A1) Barbell Bulgarian Split Squats: 8x8/side A2) Neutral Grip Pull-ups: 8x6 I don't think we'll be having this problem much more... 4. I always love it when a fitness professional sets up a new program or opens his/her own facility and writes his own press release.  It usually comes out something like: "World-Renowned Fitness Expert Announces Plans to Revolutionize the Fitness Industry "In a move that has been called revolutionary, forward-thinking, bold, and daring, Ben Dover, CPT, QRS, ASAP, AEIOU is now personal training adults ages 18-65 in his mother's basement to help them loose [note from EC: this is intentionally spelled wrong, because people always spell lose incorrectly] weight.  Dover graduated with honors from Moldy Gordita Community College in Burnt Scrotum, New Mexico. "Says Dover, 'My Moldy Gordita and Burnt Scrotum experiences have made my outlook on fitness very unique.*   Unlike other personal trainers, I encourage clients to eat right and exercise.' *Note from EC: yes, I know you can't be very one-of-a-kind, but Ben doesn't. "Dover has limited availability, but is now accepting new clients for 22 available hour-long time slots between the hours of 1AM and 11PM." I see this at least once a week - seriously.  As I think about it more, though, it's pretty amusing. 5. I need to see another story on TV about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie like I need to gouge out my eyes with a hot poker. 6. Sometimes, a video says it all.

(for the record, it isn't Tony that drives me nuts; it's the universal acceptance of the stability ball as training implement for everybody) 7. If you Google "medial deltoid," you get 7,710 results.  You know what?  There is no such thing as a medial deltoid!  It's the middle deltoid - and yes, it is a pretty big difference anatomically (the medial deltoid would technically be the anterior deltoid, if you really think about it).  You don't get Google search results for rhombazoids or upper trapezoids - and medial deltoid isn't much better. 8. In my article series on running programs for pitchers, I alluded to how I dislike it when pitchers run to get fit.  Rather, I feel that they need to get fit to run.  Truth be told, this doesn't just apply to pitchers; it applies to everyone, endurance athletes included.  Taking up running to lose weight is a recipe for disaster for a lot of people.  These people may include: dentists, professional wrestlers, eskimos, Starbucks employees, politicians, elves, laywers, and even superheroes.  Yes, the only thing worse for Superman than kryptonite is distance-running-induced plantar fasciitis. If you're a marathoner or triathlete, have at it - but be sure you're prepared to start it in the first place. 9. Can somebody tell me why we're just arresting this guy now?  He should have been incarcerated for that hairstyle the seconds the 1980s were over!

10. The only thing worse than a close-talker is a close-coacher.  This may include standing on top of an athlete, or shouting as many cues as possible during a set.  Step off, dude. 11. Inside-Out doesn't get much love, but it is the single-best upper extremity injury prevention product out there.  If you have shoulder or elbow issues, you should have bought this over a year ago!

Give Bill and Mike (and your rotator cuffs) some love. 12.  I really could use about 28 hours in the day.  I'd even settle for 27 - but 24 just doesn't seem to be cutting it.

13. It drives me nuts that I really couldn't come up with #13, but then I realized that I could just go back to my mainstay.  Good Lord, this is atrocious.  I don't even know where to begin...

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A Good Blog Worth Reading

Shawn Haviland is a Cressey Performance athlete who started up a blog a month or two back.  The Oakland A's drafted Shawn out of Harvard in the 33rd round in 2008.  He actually wrote up a piece about training at CP: 5 Things I have Learned (So Far) from the Guys at Cressey Performance Shawn started out as a janitor at M.I.T. before he solved a complex math problem left on a chalkboard - and that led to instant baseball success.  Or maybe that was Good Will Hunting...
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  • Avoid the most common deadlifting mistakes
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