Home Posts tagged "get strong" (Page 3)

The Little Black Book of Fitness Business Success

Today, I'm going to be short and to the point on a blog to which I could legitimately devote 10,000 words. If you own a fitness business, you owe it to your self to purchase this book from Pat Rigsby.

Pat sent me an advanced copy last week, and I read the entire thing cover to cover without stopping.  I view this as a resource that could improve our fitness business in so many different capacities that I immediately made it mandatory reading for our entire staff in preparation for our next meeting.  We're going to go through it page-by-page and discuss how we can improve the way that Cressey Performance is run.

I don't make a penny for recommending this book.  In fact, Pat doesn't earn a dime on the sale, either; all the proceeds go to the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

And, while Pat is a great friend and this is a fantastic cause, I still wouldn't recommend The Little Black Book of Fitness Business Success unless it was top-notch reading.  Frankly, though, it's the most kick-ass book I've read on the topic.

You see, success in training clients is all about finding windows of adaptation and addressing them.  As an example, some people need more mobility work, while others need to get strong above all else.  As I've learned, fitness business success is similar; you have to find the windows of opportunity.  Pat outlines dozens of these opportunities in his book.

At $19.95, you can't lose - especially when you consider that it's tax deductible as a continuing education expense investment for those in the fitness industry, and there are some cool video bonuses for those who order today.

Check it out HERE.

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Superhero Workout Review: Small Hinges Swing Big Doors

I was reading a book Sunday afternoon, and this sentence really caught my attention: “Small hinges swing big doors.” Certainly, this is wildly applicable to just about every aspect of life, but particularly to strength and conditioning programs and nutritional approaches.

All too often, folks think that they need to overhaul what they’re doing because they’re stuck in a rut.  They switch from traditional sets and reps to high-intensity training, go on some fad diet, drop $200 at the supplement store on herbs they can’t pronounce, and buy a pair of “toning” shoes.   In short, instead of using the small hinge, they kick down the damn door.  The end results? 1. a thinner wallet (always) 2. continued poor results (almost always) 3. positive results (rarely), but with no idea which of the changes led to these outcomes

The longer I’m at it, the more I realize that long-term success in strength and conditioning programs is all about understanding how to change the hinges: finding the little things that make the big difference.  Maybe it’s a reduction in training volume or intensity to keep someone from burning out, or switching to a reverse lunge instead of a forward lunge to avoid knee pain. Case in point, John Romaniello and Matt McGorry recently sent me an advanced copy of their new Superhero Program, so we decided that we’d make it the staff lift at Cressey Performnace, as it looks really solid.  Plus, we’re super busy at CP right now, so it’s nice to be able to “outsource” our own training for the time being.  We aren’t overhauling our diets or supplementation regimens, nor are we introducing a ton of new exercises; in fact, most of the exercises in the program are ones we do on a regular basis at CP (although many will be novel to others). The program is, however, changing some of the hinges on our doors, particularly in the context of challenging set/rep/tempo protocols and novel fluctuation of training stress from phase-to-phase.  The only things that changed were, in fact, written on a piece of paper – but they got big doors in motion.

There was great energy in the facility today because the guys were excited to try something new.  And, there was more camaraderie among our staff because guys were coaching each other through things and shouting encouragement as we were all “feeling out” the new program. And, judging from the soreness that’s slowly setting in as I write this roughly 10 hours after the first training session of the program, it’s going to be a fun, challenging, and productive few months on a great program.  No overhaul needed – because small hinges swing big doors. The next time you find yourself looking to shuffle things up, remember that unless you’re a true beginner doing everything incorrectly, you usually don’t need to change a lot.  Rather, you pick and choose your modifications – or look to a resource like the Superhero program that has the important components in place, but perhaps in a light you hadn’t considered them before. Click here for more information on Romaniello and McGorry’s Superhero e-book. *For the record, I’ve never read a comic book, nor do I have any interest in Superhero movies.  Roman and McGorry are geeks, but the program's sound. Sign-up today for our FREE newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!!
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Tuesday is a Great Day to Get Strong.

I've got no time for a blog today, but a little live action from CP should do the trick.  Big shout-out to AJ Wnukowski for bringing the A game.

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Lose Fat, Gain Muscle, Get Strong, and Laugh a Little – Installment 5

I haven't published much strength and conditioning randomness of late, so here goes. 1. Here's a research study that demonstrates relationships among a variety of scheduling and recovery factors and injury rates.  The part I found most interesting was that researchers observed that sleeping fewer than six hours the night prior to a competition led to a significant increase in fatigue related injuries. Additionally, while it wasn't specifically observed in the study, my anecdotal observations are that kids who play 14 games in a weekend are more likely to hate their sports, have too many insignificant trophies, and live in their parents' basement until age 35 because they have a weird sense of entitlement and absolutely no idea how to interact on a social level with anyone who isn't on their AAU teams. 2. Speaking of young athletes, interval training works better for them, too.  There's absolutely no reason for a young soccer player to be running miles and miles at a steady-state.  Kids need to get strong and learn to run fast before they try to run fast for a long time.  Interval training is a nice "bridge" between the two when applied correctly during the off-season period.

3. Here's an excellent study with a biomechanical analysis of the hex/trap bar deadlift technique as compared to the conventional deadlift technique.  It backs up a lot of the comments I made last month with my deadlift series from last month, which you can find at the following links: How to Deadlift: Which Variation is Right for You? - Part 1 (Conventional Deadlift) How to Deadlift: Which Variation is Right for You? - Part 2 (Sumo Deadlift) How to Deadlift: Which Variation is Right for You? - Part 3 (Trap Bar Deadlift) 4. Here's an interesting article in Radiology Today about the use of MRI in college athletes as a pre-screening tool - and potentially even an aid in optimizing strength and conditioning programs. Because a lot of the observations on MRI may be "subclinical" (meaning they are findings that occur without the presence of symptoms), there may be merit (albeit at a big cost) to using screens like this as part of an initial (or on the fly) evaluation of an athlete to dictate a training or "prehab" program.  For instance, observing a subclinical patellar tendinopathy may mean you do more soft tissue work around the knee and more heavily emphasize glute activation and minimize quad dominant squatting (among other things) to keep that tendon from reaching a symptomatic threshold. There are, of course, some significant drawbacks.  For starters, MRIs are expensive and time consuming, so not everyone could get them.  How do you decide who deserves it - especially in the era of Title IX?

Second, you're assuming that strength and conditioning coaches are qualified and capable to organize programs around what's found on a radiology report.  Generally speaking, there isn't a ton of individualization in collegiate strength and conditioning because coaches have so many athletes assigned to them and it isn't feasible.  It makes me wonder if you could prevent more injuries if you simply hired 3-4 more strength and conditioning coaches for what it would cost you to get an extra radiologist and imaging technician. Third, and perhaps most importantly, there are a lot of "false positives" on MRI.  I've written about this quite in the past and covered it in our Optimal Shoulder Performance DVD set, but you are headed down a very slippery slope when you start treating the image rather than the athlete.  In other words, how one moves and feels is far more important than how one's MRI looks.  I can guarantee you that the overwhelming majority of my overhead throwing athletes have labral fraying, partial thickness supraspinatus tears, and a host of other "normal" findings for this population.  If I immediately contraindicated a ton of exercises in my program because I knew this, I'd likely be setting them back with regressions in their programming when they actually needed progressions. What are your thoughts on this final issue?  If you had the resources, would you MRI every athlete in a college athletic program?  How would you pick which region to MRI? Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a deadlift technique tutorial!
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Stuff You Should Read: 6/22/11

Here's some recommended reading for the week: BSPMG Review - Charlie Weingroff was one of the presenters at the Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group's annual event, and in this great review, he summarizes many of the key takeaways from the weekend. Want to Get Strong?  Quit Switching Strength Training Programs Every Week. - This is a little blast from the past here at EricCressey.com.  Even if you understand the key message without reading it, you should at least give it a look just to watch some funny YouTube clips. Shapeshifter - Adam Steer and Ryan Murdock introduced this product yesterday.  It's a good fit for those of you who need body weight training workouts exclusively because you don't have access to any equipment.  Training without external load will never be optimal, but these guys do a good job of pulling together some innovative exercises in an organized format to provide a training effect for those who don't have all the amenities a gym offers. Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a deadlift technique tutorial!
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Stuff You Should Read: 5/2/11

Here are a few recommended reads to kick off the week: The Truth About Gluten - Here's an excellent piece from Dr. Mike Roussell on how gluten intolerance can sabotage your nutritional efforts. Waterhorse: The Legend of Tim Collins' Nickname - This was a funny write-up in the Kansas City Star on how Cressey Performance Athlete and KC Royals pitcher Tim Collins got his nickname while training at CP. Why I Do Not Like YTWL Shoulder Exercises - Here's a great post from Mike Reinold - and I agree with him 100%. Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a deadlift technique tutorial!
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Lose Fat, Gain Muscle, Get Strong, and Laugh a Little – Installment 4

Here's a little dose of randomness that will, I guarantee, brighten your day in some way - whether it's by making you laugh or teaching you something. 1. First, I'll be the proud baseball strength coach for a minute and say I'm pumped to announce that Cressey Performance athlete and Atlanta Braves prospect Cory Gearrin got the call-up to the big leagues yesterday.  Cory is a great guy, hard worker, and couldn't be more deserving.  He'll be joining the Braves for their series with the San Francisco Giants this weekend, so keep an eye out for his debut.  For the record, he will NOT be rocking the mullet wig he donned for the Cressey Performance Elite Baseball Development video (9:22 mark) - although I do think that the world is ready for a reincarnation of Mitch Williams circa 1992:

2. My wife is out of town for the next few days, so I'm trying to be ultra-productive in her absence - so I'll be directing you to some content from different people that I enjoyed reading this week.  First, though, one thing I that I'd been meaning to do for quite some time but just got around to doing was updating my Resources Page.  Whether you're a general fitness enthusiast, fitness professional, or fitness business owner, I have reading/viewing recommendations for you that are specific to your needs.  Check it out. 3. I just came across this study demonstrating a valuable role for physical activity in the management of ADHD.  It's not really surprising, but it's the kind of thing to which we should draw attention now that many schools have canned physical education (PE) classes.  It makes me wonder if the reduction in PE has a lot to do with the fact that ADHD is off the charts nowadays.  We might be saving money on not paying PE teachers, but are we just diverting those funds to other areas to deal with kids with learning disabilities, ADHD, etc?  Food for thought.  I have a hunch that if parents and kids just exercised more and ate right, this wouldn't be as much of a problem as it has become. 4. Here's an interesting study on how body mass index (BMI) relates to injury patterns in high school athletes.  I can understand that BMI is an easier way to stratify people into your groups (as compared to measuring body composition), but do we really want to tell people that "BMI-targeted preventive interventions should be developed to help decrease sports injury rates."  I mean, it might not scientific, but wouldn't it be better to say that "We should build stronger, leaner athletes because they are less likely to get hurt."  I just don't love the idea of giving body mass index any love whatsoever...but maybe it's just me being sensitive because I'm technically "obese" by their calculations.

5. John Romaniello wrote a great three-part blog about Macronutrient Breakdowns in your nutrition program.  And, as only John can, he made a seemingly dull subject seem wildly entertaining.  Check them out: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. 6. Here's a good article from Mike Geary on why eggs yolks aren't so bad.  I like this because it's the kind of writing you can just print out for or email to a friend who doesn't believe you when you tell him/her that eggs are not only not dangerous, but actually quite healthy. Okay, that's all.  Have a great weekend, everyone! Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a deadlift technique tutorial!
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Get Strong by Learning from My Strength and Conditioning Mistakes

We bought our dog, Tank, in October of 2010 – and he’s since gone on to be not only man’s best friend around the house, but also an integral (and entertaining) part of the Cressey Sports Performance experience, as he comes to the gym with me just about every day.

In spite of Tank’s affinity for flashing people, he managed to win adoration of the family of one of our CP athletes to the point that they decided they wanted to get a cream puggle just like him.  Having just spent months housetraining him and trying to get him to sleep through the night, my wife and I had plenty of suggestions for these folks to avoid making the mistakes we made.  I mean, we never told him to eat paint chips, but puppies will be puppies, you know?

Anyway, that family is now all settled with their puppy, and it got me to thinking about the importance of learning from others’ mistakes is in the world of strength and conditioning programs.  If I can help out one puppy owner, I might as well help out the 180,000 unique visitors on this website each month!  With that in mind, here are five strength and conditioning mistakes I corrected that have made a big difference for me:

1. Eating like a pansy in the post-training window – If you’re an up-and-coming lifter or athlete who can benefit from increasing muscle mass (and I definitely was), the post-workout period is not a time when you can skimp on calories.  I really did not start making great progress until I was getting in over a thousand calories between my post-training shake and the meal that took place an hour later – and that was on the light side compared to what I’ve seen with some other guys. I can’t think of many things that drive me crazier than seeing one of our athletes finish a training session – and then sit around in the office for 2-3 hours without eating anything.  I love having them hang out at the gym, but I just want them to do it with calories!

2. Not training for strength soon enough – I'm going to dumb getting bigger down as much as I can, yet still keep it mathematical. You've got to do "muscular damage" and then rebuild.  If you don't do work, you don't get damage. Work = Force x Distance

Unless you plan on growing for the rest of your life (or find magical ways to keep adding range of motion to exercises), the easiest way to positively impact the amount of work you do is to apply more force - or be stronger. To that end, I'll make a bold statement here: for the first two years of lifting, your primary goal should simply be to add weight to the bar (provided you can do so in good technique and without pain).  As long as we're talking about compound strength exercises, you'll be very pleased with the results. We have novice lifters at Cressey Performance who grow like weeds in their first two years of training with us - and I can't say that I've ever had someone ask me about "the pump."  I wish I'd had someone to tell me to shut up when I asked about it when I was 18!

3. Spending too much time doing non-essentials – This one goes hand-in-hand with the previous observation.  I really had no place doing curls, triceps extensions, and other isolation exercises when I hadn’t even come close to putting up good numbers on the important strength exercises. It kept me in the gym too long and interfered with my recovery on the really important stuff. The funny thing is that now that I have gotten a lot stronger, I really don’t have interest in doing much of the isolation stuff anymore – because I realize that the core strength exercises are the ones that really helped me progress.

4. Not being more athletic with my energy systems work – Growing up, I was an avid soccer and tennis player, and as a result of all my time on the field/court, I was reasonably quick and good with changes of direction.  When my early 20s rolled around, I took a step back from those sports to pursue strength training "full time."  A few years later, I was invited to play in a charity basketball game against a bunch of at-the-time Patriots players like Ellis Hobbs, Reche Caldwell, Pierre Woods, and Logan Mankins (among others).  Don't let anyone tell you that NFL guys can't play hoops, because these guys mopped the floor with us. The outcome wasn't altogether surprising, but one thing that did open my eyes was how I just didn't feel as athletic as I used to be in spite of the fact that I'd gotten a lot stronger as compared to my high school years.  I was putting force into the ground, but I wasn't applying it quickly - and I wasn't doing it in planes of motion in which I was comfortable.  Not surprisingly, most of my energy systems work at the time (which really wasn't much) was being done on machines: ellipticals, versa-climbers, rowers, and bikes.  I committed to cutting back on mindless repetitive motion cardio right away - and since then, just about all my energy systems work has been sprinting, strongman-type medleys, change of direction work, slideboard work, and medicine ball circuits (plus just a small amount of Airdyne work). The end result?  A 37.2-inch vertical jump - more than 12 inches better than I was back at the time, and I'm at a higher body weight and just as lean as when I was doing all that "gerbil cardio."  More importantly, I feel a ton more athletic - and I'm more likely to do stupid things for others' amusement around the gym.

5. Not finding a good training crew earlier – I’ve been fortunate to lift with some excellent training partners, from my days on-campus at the University of Connecticut, to South Side Gym, to the guys I lift with at Cressey Performance nowadays.  Before that, though, I was flying solo for quite some time.  Let me tell you: good training partners make a HUGE difference.  They pick you up when you’re dragging, help you select weights, provide spots/handoffs, and create an awesome social atmosphere that actually helps training progress. “Going it alone” doesn’t just refer to having training partners with whom you can lift, though.  It also refers to having professional resources to whom you can turn – whether it’s a massage therapist when your elbows get cranky from all the gripping you do, or someone to help you out with your strength and conditioning programs.  I’m not going to lie: I did some terrible programs back in the day when I didn’t know any better.  If I’d had an unbiased party helping me out, I could have saved myself a lot of trouble. That’s one reason why I created The High Performance Handbook.

On one hand, it takes the guesswork out of training by providing the actual strength and conditioning programs as well as an extensive video database to help with technique on all the mobility and strength exercises.  On the other hand, though, I designed it so that it would give folks a lot of wiggle room when it comes to adapting it to their unique goals and needs.  It starts with an easy-to-apply assessment you can use to determine your unique needs.  From there, you've got 4x/week, 3x/week, and 2x/week strength training programs; different supplemental conditioning options; and a unique mobility warm-up for every month of the program.  Problems solved. Click here to learn more about The High Performance Handbook. What were some of your biggest strength and conditioning mistakes?  Share them in the comments section below and you might just help someone from repeating them!

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Show and Go Review: Get Strong and Destroy Clothes

I just received this review from a happy customer of Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better (and grow out of every single piece of clothing you own): Eric, Thought I'd add to your pile of stories about my experience with Show and Go. As a 30 year-old non-athlete who has never truly followed a complete training program, Show and Go really challenged me, brought some great results, and has turned me into a huge snob in the gym (my rest periods are generally spent grimacing at peoples' form and judging them for their partial range movements/exercise choices). The biggest challenge for me was adapting to the longer workouts/more volume/new exercises. As I reached the end of the program I certainly noticed I had adapted well.

I did not test my 1RM before starting, but I had good estimates and without a doubt I am much stronger and much more confident in my body to handle heavier loads. My results: 1RM Deadlift  - 380 (approx. +60lbs) 1RM Front Squat - 245 (approx +55lbs) 1RM Bench Press - 260 (approx +30lbs) Other stats of note: - Gained about 9lbs even though I know I don't eat enough - Literally ripped the back of 5 pairs of pants bending over or sitting down (and grew out of most of the rest of them) - Grew out of almost all my suits (pants and jackets) I'll be coming back to Cressey Performance in the next few weeks to get a new program in person and can't wait. Hopefully my legs/butt will settle down and stop growing out of pants. It's getting to be an expensive hobby for someone who has to dress up for work everyday. Thanks for this program. It was what I needed and it worked. Your blog and Tony's blog helped with continued motivation and instruction throughout. You guys have a good thing going. Looking forward to what's next. Zach Stanley Whether you're a beginner or a veteran lifter, I'd encourage you to check out the program that had Zach splitting pants and moving big weights: Show and Go. Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a deadlift technique video!
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Strength Training Programs: Lifting Heavy Weights vs. Corrective Exercise – Finding a Balance

Q: How does one find a balance between "technique/form/corrective/sissy work" and lifting heavy weights to make gains in a strength training program? I see both extremes, but am curious about what affects the balance between the two.

A: This is actually a great question, and I am actually surprised that I’ve never answered it before in over five years of writing on this site.

For me, it all comes down to five factors in each athlete/client: strength training experience, injury history, goals, time to commit, and training session structure.

In someone with limited strength and conditioning, more of the session is going to be devoted to technique work on entry level strength exercises.  You don’t have to worry as much about lifting really heavy weights simply because beginners can make appreciable strength gains with as little as 40% of 1-rep max on exercises.  The more advanced an athlete becomes, the less time you spend on technique work, and the more work you do with strength development and corrective exercise.  Eventually, when an athlete has a lot of strength, you have to consider whether all the time and effort that would go in to adding 20 pounds to his squat would actually be better spent elsewhere – whether it’s with corrective work, power training at a lower percentage of 1-rep max, or in introducing new exercises.  Effectively, it always comes down to finding someone’s biggest window of adaptation and exploiting it.  That's one reason why I tried to make the Show and Go program so versatile by including 2x/week, 3x/week, and 4x/week training options alongside five supplemental metabolic training protocols.

If we are talking about someone with a lengthy injury history, though, the rules get thrown out the window.  You are not only spending more time with corrective exercise, but also refining your strength exercise selection to work with this individual – so it might mean that you have to do more technique work to add in new strength exercises, regardless of that individual’s training experience.

One’s training goals impact the corrective/heavy lifting balance as well.  If I’m training someone who simply wants to improve quality of life or stay healthy in athletics, I can be a bit more cautious on the heavy lifting side of things and hold back.  However, if we are talking about someone who was put on this planet to get strong and wants to be the most badass guy in the gym, we have to lift some heavy weights to make that happen.  So, while the second scenario in many cases requires more corrective exercise, we’re talking about a population that is willing to take more risks in training to get to a goal that might not be at all interesting to a more “low key” population.  This does not, however, mean it’s okay to let strength-oriented people lift with atrocious technique.  Doing so makes you an unethical clown who is more likely to get sued – not a professional.

Time to commit is another important consideration that many folks overlook.  Very simply, if someone can only get in two exercise sessions a week, I’m not going to be spending a ton of time on corrective exercise with them.  You’re much more likely to die from being fat and having diabetes than you are from having a cranky rotator cuff.  I’ll gladly give these folks additional corrective exercise that they can do during their busy schedules (which are never as busy as they claim), but I won’t coddle them when they need to move.

The last factor, which is more about the training model than the athlete/client in question, is how one structures a training session.  At Cressey Performance, athletes start their sessions with foam rolling and then proceed to an 8-10 exercise dynamic warm-up.  For many folks – particularly young athletes – that is enough “corrective” work, and the remainder of the session can be devoted to technical instruction and increasing strength on exercises that are safe for them.  Those with more accumulated wear-and-tear on their bodies will need more corrective exercise beyond what they’ll get from strength training alone – so we add in fillers (e.g., extra mobility work) between sets, and some additional corrective work at the end of the session.  Since you have a limited amount of time with people, you may have to cut back on strength training or metabolic conditioning initially just so that you can get in this early corrective work to get them over the initial “hump.”  Trust me: it will set the stage for long-term success rather than “short-term gain, long-term pain.”

There are two final points I’d like to make.  First, in my experience, many experienced lifters/athletes have responded well to separating the heavy lifting from the corrective stuff.  When they show up to train, they may be really fired up and ready to go – so the last thing they’ll want is to do some wall slides or spend five minutes getting some length in their rectus femoris.

These folks would be wise to do just enough warm-up work to prepare for their heavy training, and then add in some separate sessions to address movement inefficiencies – whether we’re talking additional foam rolling, massage, mobility drills, rotator cuff work, or something else.  They can also add it in on the end of the session after the hardest work is done.

Second, for many folks, maximal strength can be tremendously corrective.  Increasing strength in one area can reduce excessive stress in another area of the body.  An example of this would be using the box squat or deadlift to learn proper hip hinging techniques, which would increase posterior chain contribution and take some of the burden off the quads in someone with anterior knee pain.  Likewise, all other factors held constant, a stronger muscle is less likely to become degenerative.  You can read more along these lines in two older newsletter of mine on the Law of Repetitive Motion: Parts 1 and Part 2.

Obviously, there are many things to consider, but this should at least get you headed in the right direction in finding the right balance in your strength training program.

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