Home Posts tagged "Exercises"

Cressey’s Favorite Strength Exercises

We see everything at Cressey Performance. While just about 70% of our clients are baseball players, we also have everything from Olympic bobsledders and boxers, to pro hockey players and triathletes, to 69-year-old men who bang out pull-ups like nobody's business. Obviously, certain athletic populations have specific weaknesses that need to be addressed. Soccer and hockey players and powerlifters tend to have poor hip internal rotation. Basketball players don't have enough ankle mobility. Baseball pitchers need to pay more attention to scapular stability, posterior rotator cuff strength, and glenohumeral (shoulder) internal rotation range of motion. Continue Reading...
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The Seven Habits of Highly Defective Benchers

In my line of work, I get to see a lot of pitching instructors and hitting coaches. Some have the unbelievable ability to really get through to kids and make them great. On the other hand, there are some that flat-out suck. As I've seen these two ends of the spectrum, I've come to realize that the best guy to teach you a curveball is rarely the one who has had a dirty 12-to-6 breaking ball since he was in seventh grade. Rather, the guy that can teach you the most is the one who struggled with his curveball for years and tried everything to even turn it into a mediocre pitch. Continue Reading...
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Mythbusters Vol 1

Let me be clear about one thing: with the possible exception of anything that comes out of Larry King's mouth, there are no unimportant interview questions. Every question or comment serves a purpose, whether it's to get the interviewee to open up, show emotion, unleash new information, or just get back on track. Everything matters. But I recently learned that sometimes I should just let the guy ramble. If he wants to rant, my job is to shut up and make sure the tape recorder keeps rolling. Most of the guys I interview are great at going off on tangents. And while the resulting transcript is often a jumbled mess of opinion, applied research, and hard-earned experience, occasionally I get something unexpected: an idea for a completely different article based on the unrelated information or opinion. To paraphrase Rod Stewart, every tangent tells a story. This is a collection of those tangents and tidbits from Dave Tate, Chris Bathke, Matt McGorry, Eric Cressey, and Craig Weller. Continue Reading...
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The Right Way to Stretch the Pecs

Stretches to maintain length of both the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor are really important — especially in the weight-training population, where Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are declared national bench press holidays in all 52 weeks of the year. Simply put, everyone presses too much and pulls too little. However, what few people (including Mike and I, circa 2004) realize is that in the process of stretching out the pecs (particularly pectoralis major) in this fashion, you run the risk of irritating the anterior shoulder capsule, particularly if the shoulder blades aren't stabilized. As the picture below shows, the attachment point of the pectoralis major is further down the humerus. Continue Reading...
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Lats: Not Just Good for Pulldowns

Imagine, for a second, that I was to tell you that there's a muscle that: a) has serious growth potential b) can dramatically increase your squat and deadlift poundages c) can drive your bench press through the roof d) can keep your shoulders, upper back, lower back, and hips healthy e) can help you run faster f) affects the way you breath You'd probably think I was nuts. Surely the strength training community would've caught on by now, right? Well, I wouldn't say that they haven't caught on; I'd just say that they haven't learned how to utilize this muscle — and it does exist — in the right ways. Perhaps the worst part is that this muscle has a big cross sectional area already, so it's staring people right in the face. I'm talking about the latissimus dorsi, lats for short. Let's get to it... 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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First Person: Cressey

When TC asked me to outline a recent training program, he was probably expecting to get something powerlifting-oriented, as that's probably the style of training people associate with my name around these parts. Truth be told, I'm at a bit of a crossroads in my training career. I still consider myself an athlete first, meaning that lifting (while competitive in itself) has always been a means of becoming more athletic or displaying the athleticism I have. To take it a step further, I work almost exclusively with athletes, particularly baseball guys. This past off-season at Cressey Performance, we saw 96 baseball players from 32 high schools, 16 colleges, and 8 MLB organizations. As such, it's really important for me to not only look like an athlete (and not like a blocky, immobile powerlifter), but also be able to lift, jump, and sprint alongside these guys. Hell, I even caught bullpens for four of the pros! Continue Reading... Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive and Receive a Copy of the Exact Stretches used by Cressey Performance Pitchers after they Throw!
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7 Tips for your Physical Therapist Visit

After two years of searching, I've established a good network. But you as a Testosterone reader don't have that luxury when your shoulder is throbbing. With that in mind, here are seven tips to help you be an advocate for your cause as you visit a physical therapist. Continue Reading...
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A Silly Split

The more I write, the more weird emails I receive. I'm always very accommodating in answering people's questions even if they're rude and critical of my work; in fact, I enjoy defending my assertions. I'm a firm believer that there must be a rhyme and a reason for everything a coach or writer recommends; what better way to prove it than to defend those recommendations in the face of criticism. Just recently, I had one such opportunity when I received an email criticizing me for writing a four-days-per-week training program that didn't "adhere" to the Mo-Tu-Th-Fr training split. Apparently, my actions constituted a serious program design faux pas, so I felt it necessary to justify my recommendation with an entire article on the very topic. In short, I'm not a big fan. It's a split designed for convenience. Unfortunately, there isn't much about the iron game that is inherently "convenient." Loading hundreds of pounds onto barbells and then lifting them isn't convenient, nor is sprinting, or preparing healthy meals, for that matter. Yeah, so you want the weekends off; who doesn't? Speaking anecdotally, I don't think that most trainees inflict enough damage to warrant two days of complete rest (and, for many, complete gluttony in front of a TV screen for college and NFL football games). And, to those who insist that the two days is enough for supercompensation to occur, I don't think you really even understand what supercompensation is; it take a lot longer than two days. I don't necessarily include MWF splits in this category, however, as they tend to be full-body training sessions that complement other training (e.g. sport-specific conditioning, cardiovascular activity, team practices, extra assistance sessions). First, let's consider why I don't like it from a logical perspective. You should know to prioritize work for your specific weaknesses by placing it on a "fresh" day (immediately after a rest day). Now, the Mo-Tu-Th-Fr training split allows for two fresh days, whereas a Mo-Tu-Th-Sa split, for example, allows for three. This might not seem like a big difference, but consider that it means trading roughly 50 pseudo-depleted sessions for 50 fresh sessions over the course of the year. In my mind, this corresponds to significant gains over the course of a training career; take a look at the template advocated by the lifters at Westside Barbell Club, which follows such a structural template, and you'll see that the proof is just as much in the numbers as it is in the logic. Next up, let's look at this from a pragmatic perspective. Are the gyms busier on weeknights or weekends? If you answered "weekends," you ought to just give up and take aerobics classes. Some of the best sessions of my training career have been on weekends simply because my mind was more clear of the all the nuisances of the "weekday world." Now, let's consider the Mo-Tu-Th-Fr split from a scientific perspective. Research has shown that following a resistance training session, skeletal muscle protein synthesis can be elevated for up to 48 hours (1). However, these researchers studied untrained subjects (2). MacDougall et al. (1995), on the other hand, found that in resistance trained subjects, protein synthesis had returned to baseline at 36 hours post-exercise (3). Keep in mind that I'm assuming that you're reading this site because you actually train, so we'll classify you with the latter group. If you don't train, why not head over to the Good Housekeeping forums? I'm sure that everyone will appreciate you sharing a few recipes while Martha Stewart is making license plates instead of quiches. To apply this protein synthesis data to you, we're going to calculate a thing I like to call "downtime." This is the time between training sessions minus 36 hours; basically, it gives you the amount of time in between sessions that you aren't above baseline in protein synthesis. We want to minimize this! Let's say that you're a Mo-Tu-Th-Fr evening lifter. Skeletal muscle protein synthesis is elevated rapidly, so we'll say that you stimulate it by 8PM on all days. From the time that you get the marked elevations on Friday to the time that protein synthesis is kickstarted on Monday, you're looking at 72 hours, the last two of which are essentially spent in a catabolic state during training (keep in mind that you'll be in a catabolic state all weekend if you're hopelessly intoxicated the entire time!). That leaves a full 36 hours of downtime (72 minus 36). Moreover, you get another 12 hours of downtime from 8AM to 8PM on Thursday; this is pretty much unavoidable, given your schedule. In all, theoretically speaking, that gives you two days per week (48 hours) that you aren't above baseline. Now let's consider what happens with the Mo-Tu-Th-Sa split and the same lifting times; assume once again that you're firing up protein synthesis around 8PM on all days. Because you took two rest days during the week and only one on the weekend instead of one during the week and two on the weekend, you have three 12-hour periods of downtime during the week (8AM-8PM on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday). Therefore, with the Mo-Tu-Th-Sa split, we have only 36 hours at baseline. A difference of twelve hours might not seem like much to you now, but over the course of a year, that works out to be an additional 26 days with protein synthesis elevated! If you don't buy into my scientific perspective, consider it from an anecdotal perspective by observing the outstanding results numerous trainees have experienced from programs that emphasize more frequent training (even if it means shorter sessions). While Bulgarian weightlifters have taken it to an extreme (albeit successfully) with several sessions per day, you can also read about the benefits of frequent training sessions in Joel Marion's Center Your Training; Ripped, Rugged, and Dense 2.0; and Sequential Development for Size. Conclusion The next time you write up your training program, ask yourself if it's based on logical, pragmatic, and scientific principles. Or, is it designed to make things convenient for you? If you find yourself answering yes to the latter question, chances are that you're sacrificing gains in both size and strength. Be sure to get your priorities straight before you determine how to break things up. With that said, let the angry email barrage commence! References 1. Phillips SM, Tipton KD, Aarsland A, Wolf SE, Wolfe RR. Mixed muscle protein synthesis and breakdown after resistance exercise in humans. Am J Physiol. 1997 Jul;273(1 Pt 1):E99-107. 2. Rasmussen BB, Phillips SM. Contractile and nutritional regulation of human muscle growth. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2003 Jul;31(3):127-31. 3. MacDougall JD, Gibala MJ, Tarnopolsky MA, MacDonald JR, Interisano SA, Yarasheski KE. The time course for elevated muscle protein synthesis following heavy resistance exercise. Can J Appl Physiol. 1995 Dec;20(4):480-6.
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Five Resistance Training Myths in the Running World

To some, resistance training is the Rodney Dangerfield of the running community; it gets no respect. To others, it’s like Tom Cruise; runners think it might be useful, but it just doesn’t make any sense to them. And then, there are those to whom resistance training is like Abraham Lincoln; it’s freed them from being slaves to ineffective programming. As a performance enhancement specialist who has a lot of “Abe” endurance athletes under my tutelage, I’d like to take this opportunity to bring the Rodney and Tom runners in the crowd up to speed. With that in mind, let’s look at the five most prominent myths present in the running community with respect to resistance training Continue Reading...
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