Home Posts tagged "Deadlift" (Page 5)

Shoulder Health: Where Small Hinges Swing Big Doors

The shoulder girdle is a complex series of joints unified by subtle movements in perfect timing. If you need proof, just check out this slide from my new release, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions.

This study looked at the difference between the empty can and full can in terms of both muscular recruitment and actual movement in folks with symptomatic impingement vs. healthy controls. Not surprisingly, the empty can exercise hurt more. Just looking at this picture hurts my shoulder (and my shirt is wildly fitting).

To me, though, that's not the most significant takeaway from these study results. Rather, take a look at some of the numbers included in their findings: 1-3 degrees (joint movement) and 1-4% (muscular activation). These are subtle, subtle quantifiable differences between those in pain and those who are pain free - and most of them really can't be perceived "on the fly."

What does this mean for how you assess, program, and coach?

First, from an evaluation standpoint, we have to truly understand what quality movement should look and feel like. If you can't truly define "normal," then how can you ever truly appreciate "abnormal?"

Second, not all exercises are created equal (as we learned from the empty vs. full can discussion). 

Third, in coaching, we have to constantly solicit feedback from our athletes on where they feel exercises.

These are all key principles on which I focus in my new resource, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions - and it's on sale for $50 off through Sunday at midnight. You can learn more at www.SturdyShoulders.com.

 

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 5/24/18

I'm a day late with these recommendations in light of a lot of a busy week of evaluations at Cressey Sports Performance as the college crew rolls back in. However, that's given me a few extra days to compile some good reading material for you:

Cressey Sports Performance Featured in Boston Voyager Magazine - This feature on Cressey Sports Performance - MA just ran in Boston Voyager magazine. You'll learn a bit about the history of our business and how we approach things.

One Thing that Annoys Me About the Fitness Industry - Tony Gentilcore makes an outstanding point in this blog. It's one of the few "rants" you'll read that actually has an invaluable message.

EC on the The Farm System Podcast - I was interviewed for this baseball development podcast last just a few weeks ago; give it a listen!

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Serratus anterior is important for a myriad of reasons - but most people tend to focus on its impact on scapular stabilization and motion. Don't overlook the impact of the serratus anterior - particularly the upper fibers - on rib positioning, though. The upper fibers can internally rotate (pull down) the first few ribs, which make it an important anagonist to the subclavius and scalenes, which elevate those ribs. In other words, if you're a person who always feels "balled up" in your neck/clavicle region, chances are that you need some good serratus work to help make your manual therapy up there "stick." 🤔 In my humble opinion, this also helps to explain why some athletes wind up having thoracic outlet surgeries after elbow and shoulder surgeries. If you do a ton of rehab arm care work in the wrong positions, you aren't just putting the glenohumeral (ball/socket) and scapulothoracic (shoulder blade/rib cage) in bad positions; rather, you're also negatively impacting the orientation of the ribs that help to determine whether crucial nerve and vascular structures are impinged. 😬 Move well before you move a lot. 👍#cspfamily

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Why You Shouldn’t Look Up When You Lift

To tuck the chin or not? It's one of the most debated topics in the world of strength and conditioning and sports medicine these days. If you've read any of my stuff (including the detailed presentation, "Nuances of the Neck," in my new resource, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions), you'll know that I prefer tucking it - the so-called "packed neck position" - to preserve a more neutral cervical spine positioning, whether it's on deadlifts, squats, or push-ups.

One of the most common arguments against this packed neck position is that Powerlifter X and Olympic Lifter Y look up during lifts, and they're really strong. I'd encourage you to consider that:

1. Most of your clients/athletes have no interest in being Powerlifter X or Olympic Lifter Y. They just want to be fit, healthy, proficient in their sport. They value quality of life over weight room PRs - so movement quality takes place over absolute loading.

2. Good outcomes don't necessarily equate to good movements, so it's difficult to always draw population-wide conclusions from elite athletes. As an example, Cressey Sports Performance athlete and Cubs pitcher Steve Cishek is an accomplished MLB pitcher, yet he has some "high maintenance" pitching mechanics that you would never teach to another up-and-coming pitcher. He's just found a way to make them work, even if they do put his body in some funky positions. 

 

Slooooooow moooooo Cisshhheekkk. #cspfamily #cubs

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Just because someone is strong doesn't mean that they're getting to those big numbers via the most efficient or healthy avenues.

3. We have no idea what Powerlifter X or Olympic Lifter Y's necks will look (or feel) like in their 60s.

4. Especially under load, it's never a great idea to take one joint close to its end-range at the expense of motion at other joints. A common example is getting too much low back movement when the hips are stiff. Well, when it comes to cervical extension, most people get far too much in the upper cervical region and far too little in the lower cervical spine. So, not all "look ups" are coming from the same place - and some will certainly create more pathology than others.

5. When you go into upper cervical/head extension, you're shortening levator scapulae, which is a downward rotator of the scapula.

If you're looking to set up an overhead squat or snatch, it's probably not a great idea to encourage downward rotation of the scapula when you need upward rotation for quality overhead motion. Here's a video that delves into this a bit further:

6. You're also shortening sternocleidomastoid, which is one of the biggest muscular contributors to chronic headaches.

So do yourself a favor and just tuck your chin a bit. And, if you'd like to learn more about the functional anatomy and unique challenges we face with the neck, be sure to check out Sturdy Shoulder Solutions.

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Mobility Exercise of the Week: Split-Stance Hip Abduction End-Range Lift-off

Today, I wanted to introduce you to a mobility exercise we're utilizing a lot these days at Cressey Sports Performance. Here's a great demonstration from Cressey Sports Performance coach Frank Duffy :


Speaking of Cressey Sports Performance, as part of my spring sale, I'm putting Cressey Sports Performance Innovations on sale for 40% off through Tuesday at midnight. This resource features webinars on a variety of topics that will help coaches and fitness enthusiasts improve their training, programming, and coaching. Just enter the coupon code SPRING (all CAPS) at checkout to apply the discount. You can add it to your cart HERE.

About the Author

Frank Duffy is the Coordinator of Strength Camps at Cressey Sports Performance-Massachusetts. He is a Functional Range Conditioning Mobility Specialist (FRCms) and Kinstretch Instructor. You can contact him via email at frankduffyfitness@gmail.com, check out his website, and follow him on Instagram.

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5 Important Lessons on Balance Training

You'll hear the terms "stability" and "balance" thrown around a lot in the personal training, strength and conditioning, and rehabilitation communities, but they're often covered in very vague terms - and with hastily thrown together exercise progressions. With this week's spring sale on The Truth About Unstable Surface Training (enter coupon code SPRING for 40% off), I thought I'd cover some things you need to appreciate to be more informed in this regard.

1. Balance and stability are not the same thing.

In Basic Biomechanics, Susan Hall (2003) defined stability as "resistance to both angular and linear acceleration, or resistance to disruption of equilibrium.” Conversely, she defined balance as "the ability to control equilibrium” or “the process of maintaining the center of gravity within the body’s base of support within a given sensory environment.”

In other words, stability is  a state, and balance is a proficiency. Your level of stability is constantly changing based on environmental factors, external influences working on you, and your positioning. Balance is something you have (or lack) to varying degrees; neural factors such as muscular strength, kinesthetic awareness, coordination, and proprioception all contribute to one’s balancing proficiency.

In training, we often reduce stability (e.g., go to unilateral instead of bilateral stance) in order to train to improve our balancing proficiency.

2. Static and dynamic balance are only loosely correlated.

All the way back in 1967, Drowatzky and Zuccato observed little carryover from static to dynamic balance skills, and it was proven again decades later by Tsigilis. With that in mind, it makes sense to train a "continuum" of balance challenges ranging from static to dynamic:

3. Balance is an easy and "free" adaptation to acquire.

If you watch all of the exercises I just outlined along that static-to-dynamic continuum, none of them are particularly taxing. In other words, they can be trained every day without having to remove a lot of other stuff from your programs out of concern for exceeding recovery capacity. The best way to improve balance is to train it frequently and with small exposures, even if it's as simple as telling athletes to brush their teeth on one foot. Nobody will overtrain on balance work.

4. Balance is skill specific.

Having great balance on hockey skates doesn't mean that you'll have elite balance on a basketball or tennis court. This is why it's so important to challenge balance in a variety of ways (by manipulating stability scenarios) in training; it increases the likelihood of "overlap" to the chaos that athletic participation throws at us.

5. Unstable surface training is simply one means of modifying stability in a given situation - but that doesn't mean that it's an appropriate or safe method of training balance.

I spent two years of my life studying unstable surface training (UST) for my master's thesis, which was published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in 2007. Suffice it to say that there are a few scenarios in which UST can be very useful, most notably the rehabilitation of functional ankle instability. Usually, however, over avenues of stability manipulation are much better ways to enhance balance.

With that in mind, if you'd like to learn more about not only unstable surface training, but all the different ways you can alter stability to enhance balance in your training programs, I'd strongly encourage you check out my e-book, The Truth About Unstable Surface Training. It's on sale for $40 off as part of our spring sale; just enter the coupon code SPRING at checkout to get the discount.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 5/3/18

I hope you're having a great week. Here's some recommended reading from around the 'net to finish it off on a high note.

11 Deadlifting Tips - I contributed to this deadlift compilation for T-Nation, and it covers this big lift from a number of different perspectives.

The Biggest Change in Strength Coaching - This quick post from Dave Tate was spot-on with where I see the industry headed in future years.

Vernon Griffith on Communication, Mindset, and Lasting Impact in Youth Athletics - I love learning from coaches who understand how to get through to athletes and create long-term positive changes. This podcast is a great example.

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When we coach our overhead medicine ball stomp variations, I never want athletes to try to "deaden" the rebound by catching the ball as it comes right off the floor. This approach is shown in the video on the right, and you'll notice that I'm already in deceleration mode (in anticipation of "protecting" against the rebound) rather than powering through the entire range of motion. Contrast it to the better technique on the left, where I just "let it eat" and then "regroup" with a catch at torso height. 👇 Another downside to trying to stop the rebound closer to the floor is that it markedly increases the likelihood that you'll jam a thumb. And, where there really aren't any benefits to stopping the rebound lower down, it's really not worth the risk. #cspfamily

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 4/27/18

It's a rainy day in Massachusetts - which is the perfect time to compile some recommended reading for the week. Check it out:

Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement Impairment Syndromes - I'm throwing this one in there because it's probably been the single most influential book on my development as a coach. It was first published 17 years ago, but I still finding myself referencing it regularly - including this week. If you're in the fitness or rehabilitation worlds, give it a read.

Behold the Transformation of Noah Syndergaard - This was an excellent Sports Illustrated article that took a look at the pitch selection modifications that Cressey Sports Performance athlete and Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard has made over the years.

Are Health and Aesthetics Mutually Exclusive? - A question I got this week reminded me of this blog I wrote back in 2014, so I thought I'd bring it back to the forefront.

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On the left, you’ll see one of the biggest mistakes we see with the landmine press: the scapula (shoulder blade) dumps forward at the bottom position - and it winds up setting an individual up for not being able to upwardly rotate the scap during the pressing phase. 🤔 In the position of “elbows close to the side,” you’re right in the line of pull of the lats and pec minor, which both directly or indirectly oppose upward rotation and good overhead motion. These suckers like to turn on and stay on. 👎 With that in mind, getting the elbow off the side can be a game changer for driving good scapular motion around the rib cage. Note how much “cleaner” the shoulder blade moves in the video on the right. A cue i like on this front is to “draw half of the letter U.” 👍 Thanks to @lala_salt for the Stella demos! #cspfamily

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The Study EVERY Trainer and Coach Should Read and Understand

There are very few absolutes in the world of health and human performance. The answer to just about every question that's asked is "maybe." Even in the debate between anecdotal observations and exclusively evidence-based practice, there are gray areas that can sometimes be heavily debated. 

There is one study, however, that I think every trainer, coach, rehabilitation specialist, and fitness enthusiast should read and understand. My long-time friend Dr. Stu McGill - arguably the world's premier spine authority - is one of the lead authors as well:

Frost DM, Beach TA, Callaghan JP, McGill SM. Exercise-Based Performance Enhancement and Injury Prevention for Firefighters: Contrasting the Fitness- and Movement-Related Adaptations to Two Training Methodologies. J Strength Cond Res. 2015 Sep;29(9):2441-59.

I know what you're thinking: "What can I learn from how firefighters train? My sport, life, and occupational demands are entirely different."

To understand why this study matters so much to you and how you train, we need to look at the methods of it.

Basically, the researchers took 52 firefighters and plugged them into one of three groups:

1. a movement-guided fitness (MOV) group that received both programming and coaching on how to move correctly

2. a conventional fitness (FIT) group that only received programming, but not coaching

3. a control (CON) group that didn't do any exercise intervention

Before and after the 12-week training (or no training, in the control group) intervention, all the firefighters went through a series of fitness test and laboratory screens. They looked at things like body composition, aerobic capacity, grip strength, muscular endurance (max push-ups, planks for time), lower body power (vertical jump), and flexibility (sit-and-reach test).

Of particular importance was the fact that the pre- and post-tests included "five whole-body tasks" that were NOT included in any part of the training intervention. These challenges were a box deadlift, squat (body weight), lunge, split-stance 1-arm cable press, and split-stance 1-arm cable row. The goal was to evaluate how well the training actually transferred to creating more efficient, high-quality movements in whatever chaos life (or, more specifically, firefighting) threw at them. On these tasks, researchers looked at spine and knee motion with reflective markers to scrutinize movement quality under various conditions of low and speed of movement. The researchers noted (bolded section is from me for emphasis):

FIT and MOV groups exhibited significant improvements in all aspects of fitness; however, only MOV exhibited improvements in spine and frontal plane knee motion control when performing each transfer task. FIT exhibited less controlled spine and frontal plane knee motions while squatting, lunging, pushing, and pulling. More MOV participants (43%) exhibited only positive posttraining changes (i.e., improved control), in comparison with FIT (30%) and CON (23%). Fewer negative posttraining changes were also noted (19, 25, and 36% for MOV, FIT, and CON).

So what the heck does this mean for you? Quality training matters.

Those in the high-quality coaching group moved significantly better on average and had substantially fewer negative outcomes. In the training without coaching group, the average "upside" was lower - and there were more incidences of negative adaptation.

This is a study that proves that coaching a quality single-leg RDL will carry over to our pitchers controlling themselves safely into landing.

It shows that the "true" hip extension we train in the gym will also be there when our athletes run and jump.

It shows that the lateral lunge we coach helps our athletes to change direction safely on the lacrosse field.

It demonstrates that deadlift hip hinge technique we coach so hard in the gym reduces my likelihood of hurting my back when I pick up a squirming toddler.

It means that the 90/90 rotator cuff strength and timing position we meticulous coach and train protects our guys when they lay the arm back during the external rotation phase of throwing.

It also shows that quality strength and conditioning outcomes are about so much more than just a program or even a good training environment; they're about hammering home loads of consistently high quality reps to markedly increase the likelihood of favorable movement quality adaptations - while protecting against the downside.

This study also demonstrates why ready-to-print rotator cuff programs often fail shoulder pain patients. That one-size-fits-all approach - combined with inattentive coaching - often keeps patients on a painful path, when a little bit of technique and programming adjustments could be a game changer. And, it shows why some otherwise healthy people can wind up injured when they do the exact same program as the friend who had no problems at all with it. We see it all the time in individuals who come our way for one-time consultations; just a little coaching or program tinkering makes a huge difference in keeping them asymptomatic and enjoying their training.

The pride you take in your coaching - and the pride individuals take in their training technique - matters. Don't ever forget it!

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