Home Posts tagged "Eric Cressey" (Page 2)

40 Random Thoughts

Like everyone else, I've had my role models and mentors who've looked out for me. My mother has taught high school English for over 20 years, so I owe a lot of my writing success to her. My father taught me to tie a tie and to remember to check the oil in my car. My brother, the accountant, is always a phone call away if I need financial advice. Guys like Alwyn Cosgrove, John Berardi, Dave Tate, and Jason Ferruggia have all been extremely gracious in giving me advice as an up-and-comer in this business. In short, I'm just the sum of many constituent parts: individuals to whom I owe a debt I'll never be able to repay. Continue Reading...
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Smart from the Start

"I wish I could have my first year of training back." How many times have you heard an experienced trainee say that? Likewise, how many times has a newbie come up to you and asked you to help him get started in the iron game? It happens to me on a daily basis. Continue Reading...
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Solutions to Lifting Problems

It's happened to all of us at one point or another. You show up to the gym, anticipating a great training session, or even just another solid day of lifting. However, once you start adding plates to the bar, it just isn't there. The weights feel heavy. And, you just can't find your groove. Stubborn ass that you are, you keep adding plates, looking for a PR. And, of course, you get buried under your first heavy attempt — or just fall short on the target number of reps. It might be that you didn't get enough sleep last night, or that your girlfriend broke your heart. Hell, maybe there was just a little too much gravity for you in the gym that day. Regardless, your training partners are calling for the staple removers (because you got stapled), shovels (because you got buried), and spatulas (to get your pancaked ass off the floor). Do you hammer through it and try again? Or, do you just call it a day and get out of there? Continue Reading...
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An Interview with Nick Grantham

I first came across Nick Grantham’s name in some of Alwyn Cosgrove’s writings, and I know that Alwyn isn’t one to lavish praise on anyone in this industry who doesn’t deserve it.  Shortly thereafter, Nick and I began exchanging emails, and I came to appreciate just how solid a coach he is.  I did an interview for his newsletter a few months back, and now it’s time to reverse roles and share with you a bit of what he has to offer.

EC: Hi Nick, thanks for taking the time to be with us today.  Please take a few moments to fill our audience in on who you are, where you’ve been, and what you’re doing now.  Feel free to leave out any incriminating details, but don’t omit anything that’ll give me some firepower for busting Cosgrove’s chops!

NG: First, thanks for asking me to do this interview. I guess I had a pretty standard childhood (fortunately, it was back in the day before computer games, so there was plenty of physical activity).  I always enjoyed sport and belonged to my local track and field and soccer clubs, although I was never setting the world on fire with my performances.  That was left to one of my older brothers, Chris, who has an annoying ability to be pretty good at any sport he even attempts.

Around the age of 12, I got into Taekwon-Do, and once I got to black belt, I realized that I was pretty good!  To cut a long story short, I competed nationally and internationally for a number of years, and it was during this time that I was unfortunate enough to encounter Alwyn Cosgrove!  I have plenty of good stories – maybe a future e-book!  Al was at University and I was also thinking about getting out of my job in insurance to go to Uni.  I applied and was accepted at the same Uni as Al, which was great because we now both had a training partner and I think this was really when our understanding of the importance of physical preparation took off.  Alwyn graduated a couple of years before me and set up shop in America (the rest is history – fantastic wife, beautiful house, great career).  I finished my degree and went on to complete a post-graduate degree in Exercise and Nutrition Science. I began my coaching career at the Lilleshall Sports Injury and Human Performance Centre, where I worked for the British Gymnastics Team.  Since then, I’ve continued to work as a strength and conditioning coach working with many of the country’s elite athletes, including Olympic and Paralympic finalists; World, European and Commonwealth Games medalists; and professionals in a multitude of sports, including netball, cricket, hockey, skiing, professional football, rugby league, rally driving, Boxing and ultra-endurance running. I’m currently working for the English Institute of Sport, a lottery funded organization that provides a nationwide network of world-class support services designed to develop the talents of elite athletes.  My role is lead strength and conditioning coach for the West Midlands region and I’m responsible for the programming of 20-30 athletes from a range sports. In addition to the day job, I’m running Winning Edge Fitness Solutions (www.winningedgefitness.co.uk), a web-based venture delivering information to coaches and athletes on the latest advances in training. It’s been a real challenge, but it’s exposed me to so many great people that are out there that are working on the floor and getting results. EC: What are the main differences you see in the performance enhancement community in Europe as compared to North America?  What do you feel is unique that Europe has to offer us?  What do we offer to Europe? NG: The biggest difference is experience.  S&C is well established in North America.  Western Europe has been slow to catch up and S&C is only now starting to become a recognized career path.  I think we are at the “tipping point” and in the next five years, S&C will go from weakness to strength (excuse the pun).  I’ve been fortunate enough to travel through and visit some of the leading training establishments in North America, Australia, New Zealand and Europe, so I’ve a pretty good idea of what’s out there. North America – experience is the key – S&C has been around for decades and it’s ingrained in the national culture (sporting culture…not the burger eating culture).  If I want to know what works over time in a practical environment, chances are I can get a good answer from a coach in the USA.  I’ve always found the coaches to be very open and honest on my visits to the USA (maybe because they don’t see a UK S&C coach as a threat!).  One drawback is that it’s sometimes difficult to take direct comparisons due to differences in national sports (American football, baseball, lacrosse, etc.) and a superior collegiate system.  The other negative is that at times you can be a bit insular, and given that Western Europe and the Southern Hemisphere is catching up in terms of S&C, you would do well to dig your passports out and take a flight out of America to come and see some of the good stuff that is taking place overseas. Western Europe – it’s exciting times!  The profession is young and that means there is a real desire to improve.  It’s a bit like sport – when you are a champion there’s always someone that wants to knock you off your perch; that someone is Europe!  I think there is a real passion to drive S&C forward and to begin to lead the way (let’s face it: Eastern Europe led the way for years).  The diversity that Europe offers culturally translates into S&C and we have the opportunity to go to different countries and see how their system works and then take it and apply appropriate parts to our training environment. When all that is said, we can all learn a lot from each other – I know that I’ve picked up a lot of very useful information during my travels and I really enjoy sharing my experiences with coaches from overseas. EC: Very interesting perspective.  Now, rapid fire: what are ten things our readers can do RIGHT NOW to become leaner, stronger, faster, and more muscular? NG: 1. Set goals – SMART goals so that you know where the journey is going to take you and how you are going to get to your destination. 2. Keep a training diary – You need to track your progress. 3. Train consistently – Set a plan and stick to it. It’s all too easy to say, “Hey, I’ll train today.”  If you don’t schedule a time to train, chances are you will get to the end of the day and you will have missed your session. 4. Recover well – You’ll understand why when you read the rest of the interview! 5. Concentrate on the 98% - I’ll explain this one later on. 6. Include conditioning work (prehab/remedial/injury prevention….call it what you like….my choice is conditioning) in your training session.  Superset between the main lifts – that way the work gets done and you will be on the way to becoming “bulletproof.” 7. Replace steady-state running with high intensity intervals – Come on, do I really need to explain this one?  Intervals will give you more bang for your buck than slow steady-state running. 8. Don’t get hung up on TVA recruitment – Isolating a muscle will not necessarily transfer to improved core strength during athletic movements.  Train how you are going to perform; make sure you hit all of the major muscle groups (rectus abdominus, obliques, erector spinae, etc.). 9. Learn to handle your bodyweight – I’ve worked with elite gymnasts – these guys are super strong.  I don’t really care what your bench is if you can’t even handle your own bodyweight with good form.  Don’t neglect the basics. 10. Whole body hypertrophy programmes – I’m with Alwyn Cosgrove on this one.  Why go for split routines when you can get a greater training effect from a whole body hypertrophy routine? EC: You’re on a sinking ship with your entire library of resources – training, nutrition, business, psychology, lifestyle, gardening, astrology, whatever.  What are the ten resources you save as the ship goes down? NG: OK, I’m not sure why I would have my entire library of resources on me during a cruise, but hey, I’ll go with it!  It’s really difficult to do this and I’ve not gone into my library (actually, bookshelves in a spare bedroom) to jog my memory.  I’m going with what comes to mind as a write this down. Physical Preparation Supertraining – Mel Siff (a no brainer - this is a must have – I was fortunate to see Mel present before he passed away – awesome knowledge base) Running: Biomechanics and Exercise Physiology in Practice - Bosch and Klomp (I just got this and it’s looking good) Speed Trap – Charlie Francis (not really a training manual, but there are some great insights into Charlie’s training concepts) Functional Strength Coach DVD Set – Mike Boyle (this is a must-have DVD series – 10 hours packed full of great information from Mike) Business The E- Myth - Michael Gerber (great one for anyone thinking of setting up a small business) So You Want to be a Physical Preparation Coach? – Ian King (this book helped me enormously when starting out – especially with my contract negotiations!) Fitness Info Products – Ryan Lee (I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing right now if I hadn’t bought this product) Lifestyle The Five Major Pieces to the Life Puzzle – Jim Rohn (Great book that offers a real perspective on what’s important for success. The Millionaire Next Door – Stanley & Danko (I have this as an audio book and just loved the insights into behaviors and characteristics of the wealthy) Think and Grow Rich – Napolean Hill (tough going and one that took me a long time to get though but it certainly makes you think) EC: Speaking of sinking ships, where are most athletes missing the boat?  What common mistakes do you see all the time? NG: Don’t get me started or we will be here all day!  I will try to keep it brief and give you my top three: 1. Lack of consistency – So many people want a quick fix and want to see results yesterday.  Newsflash: it takes time.  I’m sure we are all familiar with the general rule of 10,000 hours of correct, progressive and adaptive training to be a successful athlete at the elite level.  Okay, so some of you may argue that not everyone will be operating at an elite level, but the general rule still applies; you need to do your time before you can expect to get some payback.  There are no shortcuts and one of my favorite quotes is “The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.”  Think about it! 2. Being too clever - People trying to be too clever and thinking that innovation should always mean advances in technology or the like.  Sometimes, innovation can be adopting a very simple approach.  I was recently listening to Vern Gambetta speak and he summed it up with this quote: “Everyone is looking for the 2% that is going to make a difference – but what about the other 98%?”  All too often, we worry about the small things when we don’t even have the basics under control.  You have no right to be doing the clever stuff until your have the 98% covered – and don’t forget it has to be done consistently. I think your Magnificent Mobility DVD is a great example of taking care of the 98%.  Please don’t be offended, but what you deliver is a simple-to-use resource.  The content is proven, it’s not fancy, it’s not clever, and you don’t need the latest piece of kit to perform the drills.  It takes care of the basics – that’s what will boost performance. 3. Poor Recovery – It’s all about training and what takes place during the 1-2 hour training session.  The majority of people neglect what happens during the other 22 hours!  You don’t improve from training; you improve by recovering from training.  This is an area that I’ve been looking at for the past 18 months and I guarantee that if you take care of the fundamental rules of recovery you will see your performances in the gym and in your sport go through the roof.  I’ve recently pulled together a heap of recovery information into a single training manual and I’ve put together the “recovery pyramid” that guides you through the myriad of different recovery strategies available. For more details, check out www.recoveryregeneration.com. EC: Right on.  I’ve read the e-report and it’s very thorough.  Moving on, what does the future hold for you?  Where is Nick Grantham going to be in five years? NG: More of the same, I hope!  I always find it difficult to predict where I will be in 5-10 years.  Back in 1992, I was working in Banking and Insurance, five years later I was graduating from University, five years on from that I was working with a national squad preparing them for a major World Championships.  I honestly wouldn’t have predicted any of those major events! I’m really enjoying what I’m doing at the moment.  The day job is fantastic; I get to work with some great high-level athletes in a tremendous working environment, and the website stuff is an exciting new area. I hope that whatever the future holds won’t take me too far away from what I really enjoy – and that’s coaching.  The new ventures that are starting this year are very exciting and I think that the UK is just on the verge of taking off in terms of getting the S&C message out to wider audiences; hopefully, I will be part of that movement. Moving away from work, I hope the future will bring some additions to my family; my daughter Erin needs some playmates!  The short answer is, who knows what I will be doing in five years?  I’m not too bothered, as long as I have my family and friends around me to share the experiences with (it would be very dull otherwise). EC: Feel free to shamelessly promote your products and services here.  I’ll just sit back and give a cyber “thumbs-up” as you go. NG: Well, Eric, the website has been name checked a few times!  The first two products to come out from Winning Edge Fitness Solutions are two in-depth reports. Recovery and Regeneration - The Essential Guide to Training Hard Without Falling Apart gives readers access more than 20 pages packed full of the latest information on recovery and regeneration. Vibration Training - From Space Exploration to Fitness Club is a slight departure from the norm, and I know I’ve had a dig at people being too clever!  However, like it or not, vibration training is big news and it’s important that you are up to date with the background information because you need to be able to be able to answer your clients questions on the latest advances in training technology – and they will be asking! The big thing you will then need to do is work out if it falls into the 98% or the 2% - but one thing is for sure: if you don’t have the information, you can’t make an informed decision. Other than the e-reports, I’ve got some exciting collaborations with two companies in the UK that are looking to establish a series of seminars throughout the UK (keep an eye on the site for my speaking schedule), as well as some possible joint ventures including a tennis-specific conditioning manual. EC: Thanks, Nick.  Where can our readers find out more about you? NG: Thanks for having me Eric. If your readers are interested in reading more about me or they simply want to take a look through my archives, then they can check out www.winningedgefitness.co.uk.  We run a free weekly newsletter packed full of training advice and regular features.  If your readers have any questions, they can also e-mail me at nick@winningedgefitness.co.uk.
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One More Reason I Love Writing My Newsletter…

I consider myself very fortunate to not only have a good-sized newsletter list, but also to have such a knowledgeable collection of readers who share some awesome feedback with me. After last week's newsletter on the current status of the fitness industry, I got this great email from Nick Beatty, and he agreed to let me reprint it here, as I think it's right on the money. "Eric, "Thanks for your sharing your insightful anecdote about your and Mike's experience at the shoulder presentation. I agree that personal trainers could and should attend these education events, but the lack of trainers in the room speaks to a bigger problem- the very definition of what a personal trainer is and how you become one. "Case in point, where would the sponsors/presenters of the event advertise in order to increase trainer attendance? Within university departments? On journal websites? At GNC and sports clubs? At your local bodybuilding competition? At yoga studios? At your local YMCA? At the tanning salon? "The bar is set low for trainers, so to assume the lowest common denominator and expect a high-school educated personal trainer to comprehend (and more importantly contribute to) a lecture by a professional group that requires an undergraduate degree, followed by a terminal degree in physical therapy, is unfair to the trainer. So who fills the post-rehab gap? Will it be the good trainers, or a special certification (i.e. one in particular rips you off in order to call yourself a post-rehab expert) that gets lots of trainers to that point, or will Dr. Mike Jones and his MES/AAHFRP expand? Who knows, but as long as the gum-chewing dude spotting lat raises is allowed to call himself a Personal Trainer- the industry is screwed. "I recently left my personal training job in NYC to hit the books again, and some of my thoughts from my exit interview echo your sentiments: What didn't you like about Company X? "Regarding my dislikes, it is difficult to to determine whether they are related to Company X or to the industry that Company X is in. Company X operates on a level that is better than most companies in the industry, so it is my guess that the things I dislike about Company X are either because of the industry, or because of the nature of the business. "I dislike personal training, and by that I mean I dislike the whole concept of a 'fitness professional' and what goes along with that. There is no licensure for 'fitness professionals,' only certifications. The high-school drop-out who eats steroids for breakfast and independently trains; the ex-athlete who trains from experience; the certified (insert cert here) trainer who trains at a gym; the highly qualified trainer; the physical therapist with a CSCS; the yoga instructor in a leotard and sneakers at the CEU event; the fitness enthusiast with a website, product, or podcast: ALL these folks are 'fitness professionals.' It is no wonder the public and the profession itself doesn't know what to make of personal training. There is a serious identity crisis in personal training, and until it's addressed, LMTs, PTs, and all other allied health professionals will be better respected- and paid! Best, Nick" Nick Beatty, MS, CSCS, ACSM HFS, is a personal trainer in Manhattan and medical student at the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine. Feel free to drop him a line at nick@hpdp.org.
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22 More Random Thoughts

In my first Random Thoughts article, I mentioned how my approach to nutrition and strength and conditioning was much like that of George Carlin when it came to comedy: I really had no transitional material. In honor of this great comedian's passing in mid-June, it seemed only fitting to toss out an equally random sequel. Continue Reading...
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Maximum Strength and Interval Training

Q: I do intervals as part of hockey training, which is basically year-round – but especially now in pre-season. In Maximum Strength, you use a pattern of high-medium-very.high-low training stress for weeks 1-4. Would the interference with intervals that you talk about decrease if I do interval work mainly during the medium and low intensity weeks? What is your experience? A: I certainly wouldn't increase the volume of the intervals during the medium and low-intensity weeks. If you do, you simply negate the effects of the deloading period; it’s still stress on your body. Instead, I'd just keep the interval work constant and make all your training stress fluctuations occur within your weight training. That said, interval training isn’t necessary year-round if you are a hockey player. Check out my Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual for more information on that front.
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New E-Book: The Truth About Unstable Surface Training

I released a new product just last night. For more information, check out: This one should open a lot of eyes in our industry, so don't miss out!
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Detailed Review of Maximum Strength

I just got an extremely thorough review back from a happy Maximum Strength customer. Check it out for yourself! Hi Eric, First of all, a big thank you for writing Maximum Strength. It is an awesome book and money well spent. I strongly recommend it to anyone who wants to get bigger, stronger and faster. Improvements [note from EC: weights are converted from kilograms): Broad Jump increased 12” from 93.5” to 105.5” Box Squat increased 55 pounds from 297 to 352. Bench Press increased 50 pounds from 220 pounds to 270 pounds Deadlift increased 22 pounds from 462 to 484 3RM chin-up increased 22 pounds from BW+44 to BW+66 (BW was unchanged) I could write a book on my verdict of the whole program, but I've just got back from Testing day at the gym and I'm shattered. The biggest thing the program showed me was that I had not been training hard enough. The training sessions in Maximum Strength were brutal and longer than I was used to prior to doing the program. My whole attitude changed. I now always dig deeper and push myself to the limit. This brings me to another interesting point. I cannot over emphasize how important the deload weeks proved to be for me. I found that midway through the third week of each cycle, I was hammered and by week 4, my enthusiasm was nil. However, after the deload week I was always firing on all cylinders and raring to go for the first week of the next phase. I understand everyone is different, but three hard weeks followed by one easy seems to work great for me. Needless to say, great product! I am ecstatic with my results and there will be more to come. Thanks, Elliot Newman Leeds, United Kingdom Find out more about Maximum Strength here.
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Sturdy Shoulders, Big Bench

Anthony Lucia is a guy who came to Cressey Performance just over eight weeks ago with some chronic, painful shoulder issues – and he had just pre-tested for the Maximum Strength program. I gave him some takeaway mobility and soft tissue drills, plus a few subtle modifications to the Maximum Strength program. This morning, I got this email from him:

"Hey Eric,

"I just thought I'd give you some feedback. I have been doing MS for 8 weeks now, in fact I just started phase 3 today. On packing day my shoulder hurt so much I tried to bench 245 and just about couldn't rerack it. After seeing you personally, and 8 weeks of stretching and stretching and stretching, I benched 285 for 1 the other day, with no discomfort!

"You set straight an average gym guy with 25 years of lifting experience, who thought he knew it all. In fact, after I told my dad (age 70) what you did for me, he went out and bought your book. "I can honestly say, I never believed in stretching, I thought my warm-ups were good enough. Boy, was I wrong. Stretching has made me more flexible, and most importantly more aware of my form and balance.

"You have helped me with my recovery so much, thank you. I can't wait for the sequel to Maximum Strength!"

Anthony Lucia South Hadley, MA Order Maximum Strength!
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  • Avoid the most common deadlifting mistakes
  • 9 - minute instructional video
  • 3 part follow up series