Home Posts tagged "Deadlift"

Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 4/18/18

I hope you're having a great week. Here's a new installment of recommended reading and listening from around the 'net.

Pat Davidson on Coaching, Cuing, and Creating Savages - Pat Davidson never disappoints - and this podcast with Mike Robertson is no exception.

Sleep and Training: The Ultimate Balancing Act - This was a solid guest post from Tim Hendren for Tony Gentilcore's blog. He provides five actionable items you can employ to get more high-quality sleep. I especially liked the point about getting your pets out of your bed, as this little monster has been waking my wife and me up for years.

How Should Relief Pitchers Warm Up? - In light of the nasty weather nationwide early in this baseball season, I've had several questions about how I recommend guys handle cold weather warm-ups at this time of year. My recommendations aren't much different from what I recommend for relief pitchers at any time of year. Get warm, then never cool off. This old post of mine goes into detail on it.

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Random Thoughts on Sports Performance Training – Installment 30

I haven't written up a new installment in this series since last June, so it seemed like a good time to do so. With the professional baseball season underway, I've got plenty of stuff rattling around my brain.

1. The MFR Stick is an absolute game changer.

In the past, we used "The Stick" for self-myofascial-release of the forearms, triceps, and biceps.

It works pretty well, but we've broken a number of them over the years when certain meatheads got a bit overzealous with their soft tissue approaches, and it exploded. Additionally, guys always seem to want to take dry swings with it, and the beads would invariably come flying off and wind up all over the facility.

Luckily, Perform Better came through in the clutch this offseason with the release of the MFR Stick.

Athletes have raved about how much better it is, from the greater feedback provided by the steel, to the reduced "give." And, it's far more durable. This is a must-have for any gym, in my opinion. Pick one up here.

2. Not surprisingly, music selection matters - but with a few key considerations.

It's hard to overlook the beneficial effects of music on exercise performance, whether considering your own anecdotal experience, watching Michael Phelps throw on his headphones before a big race, or actually reading the research. If you actually dig a little deeper, a few important "asterisks" emerge:

a. The benefits tend to be more significant in shorter, more anaerobic tasks, as opposed to lengthier aerobic endeavors (study).

b. Music is more impactful if it is self-selected (study).

c. Males tend to be more impacted by musical selection than females are (study).

d. Motivational music can lead to greater risk taking (study).

The take-home messages are that:

a) if you're a male powerlifter looking to make some really aggressive lifting decisions, you should select your music accordingly.

b) if you're a female cardio enthusiast going out for a leisurely jog, why are you reading this blog? music probably doesn't matter all that much.

c) everyone will continue to disagree over the musical selection at every gym for the rest of time.

3. The most successful coaches and rehabilitation specialists I know understand how to find the commonalities across various disciplines.

The Postural Restoration Institute and Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization approaches both utilize flexion-bias movements to restore normal function.

Both Muscle Activation Techniques and the Selective Functional Movement Assessment emphasize the importance of differentiating between passive and active range-of-motion, and understanding how to enhance motor control in the “gap” between the two.

Various pitching coaches may disagree on the utility of weighted balls or extreme long toss, but everyone agrees on the importance of quality catch-play.

My point here is that the best professionals have good filters to not only weed out the garbage, but to identify the best components of every discipline they encounter. And, they have the foresight to make sure that they don’t get married to a single school of thought, as doing so prevents you from identifying these important unifying themes.

Have a great week!

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 4/5/18

I've been off the grid a bit, as I just made the long drive back to Massachusetts from Florida. That said, it did give me time to check out a few good audiobooks to bolster this week's recommended reading!

Thinking in Bets - I've always been fascinated by the decision-making process as it relates from everything from business strategy to how we acquire habits for training and nutrition. Accomplished poker player Annie Duke did a great job exploring the concepts of uncertainty and probability in this new book.

Chris Chase on the Trainable Exercise Menu - This is an awesome guest post from Atlanta Hawks Strength and Conditioning Coach Chris Chase for Mike Robertson's site. I loved this concept when he initially introduced it on Mike's podcast, and he expands on the concept here.

Top 10 Ways to Build Mental Toughness - T-Nation interviewed several contributors (including me) for this roundtable, and there's some good stuff in there.

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You won’t find a picture that’ll teach you more about how what you do in your strength and conditioning program impacts pitching performance. @srshrek31 has one of the more aggressive down-the-mound deliveries in baseball, which has equated to a perceived velocity that’s been about 1.8mph greater than his actual velocity over the course of his career. 👇 In this position, imagine an aggressive single-leg RDL that drives the front leg back toward the rubber. Effectively, this blocking effect is like riding a bike into the curb. It’s the trigger that tells the arm to go. Here, you see that it’s synced up: as soon as that hip starts to extend, the arm releases the elastic energy that’s built up from lay-back (pre-stretching the lat) into a powerful internal rotation. 💪 You need strength in single-leg stance to accept that force, store elastic energy, and powerfully exert it into the ground to firm up and create the catapult effect. You need hip mobility on the front to do it as you flex, adduct, and internally rotate. And, this doesn’t even take into account the force production and mobility from the back hip that’s set up this position. 😮 Further up, the core has to be stable to transfer force. The upper back has to be mobile to allow for sufficient hip-shoulder separation to occur. The scapula has to be positioned snugly to the rib cage for adequate force transfer. The rotator cuff has to be strong and timed up to center the humeral head (ball) on the glenoid fossa (socket) while competing against the bigger pec and lat musculature. 🔥 Pitching puts you in extreme positions – and it does so over and over again over the course of a career – with very little variation. Prepare accordingly. #cspfamily #Repost @cubs with @get_repost ・・・ Big #OpeningDay performance from the ‘pen! #EverybodyIn

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 3/26/18

Here's a little recommended strength and conditioning reading to kick off your week!

My 5 Least Favorite Coaching Cues - As always, here's some great stuff from Mike Robertson. Sadly, I used to make all these mistakes myself!

20 Random Things I've Learned from Being a Pro Level Strength Coach - I thought this was an awesome look into professional sports from former Lakers strength and conditioning coach Sean Light.

New Training Program for Syndergaard - Here's a MLB.com feature for which I was interviewed. We discussed changes to Noah Syndergaard's offseason program.

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Random Thoughts on Long-Term Fitness Industry Success – Installment 9

It's been a while since I posted a new installment on this series, so here are two thoughts that have been rattling around my brain on the business side of fitness.

1. It takes time and many exposures to build top of mind awareness and, more importantly, trust.

I had a chat with one of our free agent minor league baseball players a few weeks ago. He moved down from New Jersey a few months ago to train with us all offseason.

Two years ago, his agent encouraged him to check Cressey Sports Performance out. He didn’t act.

Then, he played with one of our guys in independent ball and again heard our name, but didn’t follow up on it.

Later, he heard my name mentioned twice on the Tim Ferriss Podcast. While intrigued, he still didn’t act.

Then, last summer, he read the New York Times article about our work with Noah Syndergaard, and he finally reached out.

 

This #tbt is a video of alternating serratus slides on the @trxtraining suspension trainer, with a great demo from #mets pitcher @nsyndergaard. Some thoughts: 1️⃣One of the things we worked a lot on with Noah this offseason was differentiating between glenohumeral (ball on socket) and scapulothoracic (shoulder blade on rib cage) movement. Most pitchers get too much motion from the upper arm, and not enough from the shoulder blade. Notice how the scapula upwardly rotates around the rib cage - which takes stress off the front of the shoulder. 2️⃣ serratus anterior also helps to drive some thoracic flexion in a throwing population that often presents with a flat/extended thoracic spine (upper back). 3️⃣in a general sense, you could call serratus anterior the “anti-lat.” The latissimus dorsi drives a gross extension pattern and can be heavily overused in throwers; the serratus anterior works in opposition (scapular upward rotation, intimate link with the anterior core, accessory muscle of exhalation). 4️⃣add a full exhale at the “lengthened” position on each rep 5️⃣you could’ve observed the shoulder blades better if he was shirtless, but I figured Thor has already hit his weekly quota for shirtless social media cameos.😜 👍💪#cspfamily

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Top of mind awareness isn’t enough anymore. People need to know, like, and trust you. And it takes longer than ever to get to that trust point. I recall hearing that the law of repeated exposures used to be seven interactions with a marketing message. Now, it’s probably a lot more.

If you want to be perceived as a go-to expert in your chosen field, it’s not just enough to do a good job. People need to be made aware that you’re doing a good job from a number of different angles; you have to make your expertise easier to perceive.

2. Don’t compare apples and oranges in the fitness industry (or any industry, for that matter).

As you probably know, we have Cressey Sports Performance facilities in both Hudson, MA and Jupiter, FL. The systems and overarching approach to coaching are very comparable – especially because I spend part of the year at both locations – but there are actually many differences between the two facilities.

Our professional baseball clientele comprises a larger portion of our yearly revenues in Florida, whereas Massachusetts derives more from high school athletes (especially because the high school offseason is longer in a warm weather climate).

Our Massachusetts facility is larger because we have to do more throwing and sprinting inside during the winter. Conversely, Florida weather allows us to do more of this work outside.

We have different staff members at each location. They have unique expertise and personalities.

CSP-MA opened in 2007, and CSP-FL opened in 2014. Massachusetts is a more “mature” business, which gives us a better picture of norms that allow us to compare how things are progressing from year to year.

I could go on and on about the difference, but the important takeaway is that if I sometimes struggle to compare two facilities with virtually the same name and training philosophy, why should you ever compare yourself to another gym?

What Mark Fisher Fitness has to pay for rent in New York City far exceeds what a personal trainer with a small studio in Alabama would have to pay.

Ben Bruno can train a lot more celebrities in Hollywood than a trainer can in North Dakota.

Gross revenues for a giant commercial gym in San Francisco are going to be substantially higher than what a semi-private operation in Minnesota can take in. Meanwhile, the owner of the MN facility might actually make more money and sleep better at night than the owner of the big box gym.

The point is to have a filter when you look at all the “success” you see around you in the fitness industry. There are gyms grossing millions of dollars that are scraping to get by, and others that only do a small fraction of that amount while having a huge community impact – and allowing a fitness entrepreneur to live the life he wants.

Just like you would never encourage your clients to compare themselves to other clients, supermodels, or professional athletes, you shouldn’t compare yourself to any other trainer, business, or facility. All that matters is that when you compare yourself to what you were days, weeks, months, and years before, you’ve progressed.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 3/18/18

I hope you had a great St. Patrick's Day. I'm in the middle of a busy few weeks of on-and-off travel, so here's some recommended reading to hold you over until I've got a chance to film some new content:

Ninety Percent Mental - I just started this sports psychology book from my good friend, Bob Tewksbury. A former MLB All-Star, Bob has gone on to work as a sports psychology consultant for multiple MLB organizations and has tons of great wisdom to share. I'm excited to work my way through it.

"Cressey University" Gave Twins Inside Track on Revamped Roster - Twins beat writer Mike Berardino interviewed me last week for this feature on all the Cressey Sports Performance athletes in the Minnesota organization.

Gym Owner Musings - My business partner, Pete Dupuis, always has some great thoughts on the business side of fitness, and this is another excellent example.

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Exercise of the Week: Landmine Lateral Lunges

Here's an exercise we came up with this offseason in the middle of a training session with NL Cy Young Award Winner Max Scherzer of the Nationals - and it quickly became a "keeper" for his programs moving forward.

Max has gotten pretty strong with lateral lunges, and the kettlebell/dumbbell goblet set-up doesn't work all that well once you're past an appreciable amount of weight. Likewise, holding the weight between the legs drives a more kyphotic (rounded shoulders) posture and can limit range-of-motion. Enter the landmine lateral lunge, a great option for getting strong outside the sagittal plane.

A few quick tips:

1. Sit back into the hip without the toes lifting up.

2. Keep the head/neck in neutral.

3. Make sure you're wearing shoes with good lateral support so that you aren't rolling over the sides.

Enjoy!

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 3/10/18

Here's a special Saturday edition of Stuff to Read!

Bought-In - I posted a guest blog from Brett Bartholomew earlier in the week in light of the release of this new coaching resource from him. I've since had a chance to spend some time going through it, and it's been excellent. I'd highly recommend you check it out if you'd like to delve more into the coach-athlete relationship and optimizing adherence from your athletes.

EC on the Physical Preparation Podcast - It's been over a year since I joined my good friend Mike Robertson on his podcast, so we have plenty of good stuff to catch up on.

The Right Way to Stretch the Pecs - I saw someone really cranking on a pec stretch the other day, and it reminded me of this article I wrote for T-Nation nine years ago. The content still applies, even if I'm getting really, really old.

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This #tbt is a video of alternating serratus slides on the @trxtraining suspension trainer, with a great demo from #mets pitcher @nsyndergaard. Some thoughts: 1️⃣One of the things we worked a lot on with Noah this offseason was differentiating between glenohumeral (ball on socket) and scapulothoracic (shoulder blade on rib cage) movement. Most pitchers get too much motion from the upper arm, and not enough from the shoulder blade. Notice how the scapula upwardly rotates around the rib cage - which takes stress off the front of the shoulder. 2️⃣ serratus anterior also helps to drive some thoracic flexion in a throwing population that often presents with a flat/extended thoracic spine (upper back). 3️⃣in a general sense, you could call serratus anterior the “anti-lat.” The latissimus dorsi drives a gross extension pattern and can be heavily overused in throwers; the serratus anterior works in opposition (scapular upward rotation, intimate link with the anterior core, accessory muscle of exhalation). 4️⃣add a full exhale at the “lengthened” position on each rep 5️⃣you could’ve observed the shoulder blades better if he was shirtless, but I figured Thor has already hit his weekly quota for shirtless social media cameos.😜 👍💪#cspfamily

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5 Quick Tips To Enhance Coach-Athlete Communication

Today, I have a guest post from Brett Bartholomew, an outstanding strength and conditioning coach who has taken a huge interest in the art of "getting through" to athletes. I find the motivation aspect of coaching to be fascinating, and that's why I enjoy Brett's stuff so much. This post is timely, as enrollment in Brett's new online course, Bought-In, is open through the end of this weekend. I'm reviewing it myself and it is absolutely outstanding; I highly recommend you check it out. Enjoy! -EC

Coaching is teaching. And one’s level of effectiveness in teaching is not evaluated solely by what they (the instructor) knows, but rather by what their students understand.

Successful behavioral interventions are anchored via successful social interactions. Seems simple enough, right? Wrong. While the mantra may be straightforward, the reality is that communication and human behavior is a complex subject. If this were NOT the case, we wouldn’t have researchers in the space of behavioral economics and/or psychology who are awarded the Nobel Prize. It just doesn’t seem as important to many of us as strength and conditioning coaches because the topic has not been a focal one in our industry.

You see, we have been focused on trying to optimize human movement (and rightfully so), but we have forgotten to also emphasize human behavior.

We do still actually coach people, right?

In general, people are puzzles of needs, wants, drives and insecurities. It's our job as coaches to find or even be that missing piece for them. And in doing so, we can gain their trust and respect all while augmenting engagement and effort which will only help our training programs become more effective in the long-run. This is not manipulation; it is adaptation! Personalized coaching strategies are the most direct way towards driving the behavioral interventions that we need to take place, so our athletes have a better chance at reaching their goals.

Below are some quick and easy-to-use tips that you should abide by whenever you are leading a session. They may seem obvious, but common sense is not common practice, and learning how to communicate in a versatile manner requires just as much fine-tuning as any other aspect of our craft.


1. Listen!

This is by far one of the most neglected communication strategies in the world – which is why a lack of it has contributed to everything from failed relationships, to people losing their jobs, to major catastrophes throughout human history. Sound a bit dramatic? Good, because the ill-effects of not being willing to close your mouth and open your ears are parallel to you as a strength coach writing a program without being aware that an athlete under your care has sickle-cell trait or cardiac issue.

[bctt tweet="Coaching is a partnership between you (the coach) and the athletes you serve."]

That means flexible communication is a must. Besides, everything we do as coaches is a screen of some sort, which should provide us with data (both objective and subjective) that we can use to enhance the quality of care we provide to our athletes. We spend so much time learning about the history of an athlete’s body, but far too little time learning about their mind. You may be the training expert, but only they know what it is like to be them. You will also learn far more from them than you think.

I know that Stephen Covey quotes have been worn out, but there is a reason for that. Perhaps one of his most powerful phrases is, "most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply." There is often no guiltier culprit than the strength coach as they often feel rushed due to the time and logistical constraints placed upon them while working with large groups or in general. Ask strong, open-ended questions, listen to the answers and write them down or record them just like you would data in a performance profile. Drawing upon this information will help you out in more ways than you think.

2. Speak Their Language

Great coaching is about figuring out an athlete’s purpose and matching it with an evidence-based process. To do this, build off of what your athletes tell you and relate everything you do back to their goals and specific drives. Ask yourself: what do they say they care about most? Why does that matter to them? Learning how to do this efficiently and effectively takes more practice than some care to admit. It is, however, especially effective since you are showing athletes that you are attuned to their goals and have an understanding of what matters most to them. When you speak their language, you scale your message by essentially “talking in color” and painting a vivid picture in their own mind’s eye. This is what leads to increased efficiency while you are on the floor coaching or when you are reviewing their performance results from a previous phase and getting ready to set new goals. It will also help them learn since the information is “stickier” and more personal, which both saves you time as a coach and adds greater significance to the very task you are trying to get them to perform.

3. Know Their Sport

As a strength coach, you should be doing this anyways, since the unique demands of their sport are in part what will influence the training programs that you write as well as some of the skills that you teach. However, even if you do understand the biomechanical and physiological aspects of the sport, there are still various cultural and psychosocial aspects to consider. Every sport has its own unique "cultural" aspects that can affect player personality as well as their perception of what constitutes success. This is where a better understanding of human nature becomes even more critical.

Going back the previous tip, it is hard to "speak a language” if you don't understand the geography of its origins. This metaphor has real meaning since aspects of their upbringing will also influence how they behave in groups, especially as it pertains to working with individual sport athletes vs. team sport athletes. Just as you need to be aware of the myriad of variables that can throw off the success of your training program (poor diet, time constraints, sleep issues etc), you need to keep a keen eye on the "not so obvious" elements of performance which can often be neglected in favor of the typical or more focal aspects of what we do.

4. Be Transparent and a Bit Vulnerable

This can be an uncomfortable one for many, but all I am saying here is that building trust is not a one-way street. You cannot expect to be able to bombard your athletes with both questions and information and expect them to never ask you questions in return, or for you to have to volunteer some information about yourself as well. Not doing so leads to a parasocial relationship, which is the antithesis of what you want when aiming to become a more effective coach. A true professional always welcomes mutual inquiry. By its definition, coaching is a social process; coaches are at the epicenter of it. It was the researcher Pierre Bourdieu who in 1997 first ascertained that the coaching process (as well as coaching practice in general) is to be considered a form of "regulated improvisation." In his 1996 text, Sociological Theory, Dr. George Ritzer observed that effective practice is neither entirely objectively determined nor the unbridled product of free will. Yes, you heard that right: it is an imperfect practice that can only be refined by your willingness to get your hands dirty and enhance your social skills as well as your technical skills.

5. Alter Your Perspective

It is not uncommon for strength coaches to be viewed by their athletes as someone who "doesn't get it." Not every athlete likes lifting weights or various other forms of physical training and can often view the performance side of things as just another task to "check off" so they can get back to playing their sport or living their life. You don't have to agree with this point of view, but you need to be cognizant of it if you are going to have any hope of reaching your athletes on a truly meaningful and influential level.

One of my favorite movies that I used to watch with my father growing up was "Trading Places," which starred Dan Akroyd and Eddie Murphy. In the movie, Akroyd played a wealthy commodity broker and Murphy was a broke hustler always looking for his next con. Through both an odd and humorous turn of events, the two ended up switching places and throughout the rest of movie eventually learned the error in regard to their previous biases and behavior. The movie ended with the both of them in a far better place than either were in the beginning, imbued with a renewed sense of perspective, compassion and wisdom. I bring this up because right now it seems like one of the biggest things that coaches like to incessantly complain about is “millenials” and how they behave/interact. I get it, but at the same time, it’s my opinion that grumbling about how it’s hard to coach someone from a different generation is akin to whining that you can’t write a good program because you don’t have enough equipment. Be creative, get outside of yourself and find a way.

These tips serve as only a small thumbnail of the communication strategies that you should be using throughout your coaching career. In my 5-week online course Bought-In, I discuss over 25 more research-driven influence techniques, coaching strategies and behavioral interventions that you can call-upon while working with athletes of any age, any sport and anywhere in the world. All of which will help you become a better coach.

The course will only be open until midnight this coming Sunday (3/12), but by joining you have lifetime access to all content and all other materials on my Art of Coaching site. Other topics include:

• The influence factors that shape athlete behavior
• How we ourselves get in the way of becoming better coaches
• Frameworks and models to get a better understanding of your athletes + how to engage with them
• Influence tactics that can help you change people’s attitudes, beliefs, values and behaviors

The applied section of Bought-In also includes coaching evaluations, staff-development manuals, and a number of other resources which allow you to actually put the information to use as opposed to mindlessly consuming it.

I hope to see you there!

References

Bourdieu, P. (1997). Outline of a theory of practice. London: Cambridge University Press.

Ritzer, G. (1996). Sociological theory. Singapore: McGraw Hill
 

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 3/2/18

I hope you're having a great week. We brought our daughters to Disney for the first time, so it was a quiet content creation week for me. Luckily, I've got some good stuff from around the 'Net for you:

Neck Pain and Headaches - This guest post from Dr. Michael Infantino on Tony Gentilcore's blog was outstanding; it included some solid background information and good strategies to employ.

Baseball Players Historically Have Shown Great Strength - This was an interesting look at the history of strength in the game of baseball from Tim Kurkjian at ESPN.com. I think it overlooks the fact that wrist and hand strength doesn't really matter if it isn't supported by hip strength, but it's still a good read and message about the direction the game has taken.

EC on the Robertson Training Systems Podcast - I'm joining Mike Robertson on his podcast this upcoming week, and it reminded me to reincarnate my last appearance on the show - which was February 2016. Give this a listen and it'll prime you for our discussion of what's changed over the past two years.

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