Home Posts tagged "High Performance Training"

Exercise of the Week: Supine Bridge w/Reach

The supine bridge with reach has been a popular mobility drill for us for close to a decade now, but I realized that we haven't highlighted it in an online feature to give it the love it deserves. The video is actually part of The High Performance Handbook video library.

I love this drill because it not only gives us the terminal hip extension we get with many glute activation exercises, but also an element of thoracic mobility. In many athletic endeavors (including pitching, as you see below), the thoracic spine must continue to rotate as the hips extend.

This drill enables us to not only train some of the muscular recruitment patterns we want, but also challenges the fascial system by getting us a more multi-planar, proximally initiated challenge. You also get a nice blend of elasticity because of the rhythmic nature of it, and can easily interject variety by changing the angle at which you reach.

We'll work this into a warm-up with a set of five reps on each side, or mix it in as a "filler" between medicine ball sets. Give the supine bridge with reach a shot to keep your mobility work engaging, progressive, and productive!

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

Versatility and Consistency for Strength and Conditioning Success

If you had to ask me what the single most important factor that makes or breaks someone's strength and conditioning success, I'd immediately answer, "Consistency." The ones who show up and put in the work are the most adherent to the programs, and they develop a host of habits conducive to long-term success. Nobody can really argue with that.

If consistency, then, is a huge goal in any training plan, then what are the objectives that underlay it?

A motivating training environment is obviously important. If you've got good people and energy in your culture, people will want to be consistent.

Novelty is something that inspires other people. People get excited when they experience something new, so subtle or not-so-subtle adjustments to the training program or environment can make a big difference for folks who need an extra boost for consistent attendance.

Progress is big as well. We like to do what we're good at doing - so when you're quantitatively aware of the progress you're making, it feeds back into the motivation that drives consistency.

These are all no-brainers, and I'm sure we could go on and list more key factors influencing consistency. However, one factor that is definitely overlooked is versatile programming.

In other words, you have to be able to modify things on the fly when life gets in the way. Maybe it's tinkering with training frequency/scheduling before a family vacation, shortening a training session when a young athlete is exhausted during final exams, or modifying exercise selection to work around a broken toe. The best programs are the versatile ones - and the best coaches are the ones who understand how to tinker on the fly as needed. If your program and coaching philosophy are too rigid to accommodate these necessary adjustments, consistency will definitely suffer.

What happens, however, when you don't have a coach overseeing your training? How do you make these adjustments?

First - and most obviously - you have to be honest with yourself on how you feel. This is certainly easier said than done, but in my experience, making correct choices on the most obvious decisions is the difference maker for most individuals. For instance, if your nose is running, head is throbbing, and every joint in your body aches, it's probably a much better idea to go home and sleep off the flu than it is to try to plow through a heavy deadlift training session. Most situations aren't this black and white, though. Usually, the tougher decisions are when to push for PRs, add/subtract sets, or make exercise modifications on the fly. "Feel" in this regard comes with experience, and it's usually constantly evolving as you get older and more highly trained.

Second, seek out mentors and training partners to help you along and push you to get better each day. I think this Tweet pretty much sums up this point.

Third, you can outsource. Don't know when you should deload? Adopt a program where deloading periods are already incorporated. Don't know how to design a warm-up that covers all your needs? Have someone else structure it for you so that you don't miss anything. Want something flexible enough to accommodate a busy travel schedule? Get a program where training frequency can be rotated from week to week.

These are all problems I worked hard to solve for my audience when I created The High Performance Handbook. This resource has different programming options based on assessment outcomes, and supplemental conditioning approaches that can be individualized to one's goals (fat loss, athletic performance, etc.). Each phase has 2x/week, 3x/week, and 4x/week lifting options to provide options for various time throughout the training calendar, whether it's an in-season/off-season athlete or an accountant that needs something with less frequency during tax season. I include modifications for folks who may have equipment limitations, and also suggestions on how to tinker with the program if you're an overhead athlete, older lifter, or someone looking to add more muscle mass. In short, I worked hard to create what I believe to be the most versatile strength and conditioning resource available on the market today. For more information, check out www.HighPerformanceHandbook.com.

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

Spring Sale!

The weather is warming up, baseball season is underway, and I've got my spring cleaning all wrapped up. The logical next step to keep the momentum rolling is to announce a big spring sale!

With that said, I'm putting my flagship product, The High Performance Handbook, on sale. From now through Sunday at midnight, you can get this popular training resource for $30 off HERE.

The discount has already been applied, so no coupon code is needed.

HPH-main


Enjoy!

Read more

10 Ways to Remain Athletic as You Age

Back in my early-to-mid-20s, my focus shifted into powerlifting and away from a "traditional" athletic career. While I got a ton stronger, I can't say that I felt any more athletic. In hindsight, I realize that it was because I trained strength at the exclusion of many other important athletic qualities. Since then, I've gone out of my way to include things that I know keep me athletic, and as a result, at age 36, I feel really good about taking on anything life throws my way. With that in mind, I thought I'd pull together some recommendations for those looking to remain athletic as they age.

1. Stay on top of your soft tissue work and mobility drills.

Without a doubt, the most common reason folks feel unathletic is that they aren't able to get into the positions/postures they want. As I've written in the past, it's much easier to do a little work to preserve mobility than it is to lose it and have to work to get it back. Some foam rolling and five minutes of mobility work per day goes a long way in keeping you athletic.

2. Do a small amount of pre-training plyos.

I think it's important to preserve the ability to effectively use the stretch-shortening cycle (SSC). That's not to say that every gym goer needs to be doing crazy depth jumps and sprinting full-tilt, though. A better bet for many folks who worry about tweaking an Achilles, patellar tendon, or hamstrings is to implement some low-level plyometric work: side shuffles, skipping, carioca, and backpedaling. Here's a slightly more advanced progression we use in The High Performance Handbook program:

The best bet is to include these drills right after the warm-up and before starting up with lifting.

3. Emphasize full-body exercises that teach transfer of force from the lower body to the upper body.

I love cable lift variations to accomplish this task in core exercises, but push presses, landmine presses, and rotational rows are also great options.

4. Emphasize ground-to-standing transitions.

Turkish Get-ups are the most well-known example of this challenge, but don't forget this gem:

5. Get strong in single-leg.

Squats and deadlifts will get you strong, no doubt, but don't forget that a big chunk of athletics at all levels takes place in single-leg stance. Lunges, 1-leg RDLs, step-ups, and split squats all deserve a place in just about everyone's training programs.

6. Use core exercises that force you to resist both extension and rotation.

Efficient movement is all about moving in the right places. The lower back isn't really the place to move, though; you should prioritize movement at the hips and upper back. With that in mind, your core work should be focused on resisting both extension (too much lower back arching) and rotation. Here are a few favorites:

7. Train outside the sagittal plane.

It's important to master the sagittal (straight ahead) plane first with your training programs, but once you get proficient there, it's useful to progress to a bit of strength work in the frontal place. I love lateral lunge variations for this reason.

8. Chuck medicine balls!

I'm a huge fan of medicine ball drills with our athletes, but a lot of people might not know that I absolutely love them for our "general population" clients as well. I speak to why in this article: Medicine Ball Workouts: Not Just for Athletes. Twice a week, try adding in four sets at the end of your warm-up and prior to lifting. Do two sets of overhead stomps and two sets of a rotational drill, starting with these two variations in month 1:

In month 2, try these two:

Trust me; you'll be hooked by the "8-week Magic Mark."

9. Be fast on your concentric.

If you want to stay fast, you need to keep a fast element in your strength training program. This can obviously entail including things like Olympic lifts, jump squats, and kettlebell swings. Taking it a step further, though, you can always just make a dedicated effort to always accelerate the bar with good speed on the concentric (lifting) portion of the movement. 

10. Play.

In a given week, on top of my normal lifting, I might catch bullpens, sprint or condition with my athletes, play beach volleyball, or run a few football receiving routes at the facility. The old adage, "Variety is the spice of life" applies to fitness and athleticism, too. Don't be afraid to have some fun.

The longer you've been training, the more you realize that your strength and conditioning programs have to be versatile enough to preserve your athleticism and functional capacity while still keeping training fun. If you're looking for a flexible program that's proven effective across several populations, I'd encourage you to check out my flagship resource, The High Performance Handbook.

HPH-main

 Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

Are You Willing to Ask for Help?

For a huge chunk of my life, I was a complete control freak. Looking back, I was convinced that I could "handle" everything that came my way - both in terms of expertise and actual time commitment. It was always easier to do it myself than it was to find someone else to do it, as I knew I'd have to be looking over their shoulder and second-guessing their work, anyway.

Then I hit a critical threshold.

Around 2006, my clientele grew exponentially right after I moved to Boston. All of a sudden, I was training clients seven days per week and - in many cases - over 13 hours per day. On top of that, my online presence was growing, product sales were rolling, and I had more writing and speaking opportunities than ever before. I was still powerlifting competitively, so training had to be a priority. With multiple revenue streams, my financials were getting more and more complex. And, last (but certainly not least), I'd just started dating Anna (who is now my wife), so that relationship was a big priority as well. I wanted to do it all.

Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in the day, and I was using almost all of them - which meant sleep was getting pushed out. The success that I'd dreamed of for years was actually kicking my butt. For the first time in my life, I recognized that I needed help.

As it turns out, "help" was a bit complex. It entailed opening Cressey Sports Performance and bringing on my business partner, Pete Dupuis, to handle the managerial side of things. Tony Gentilcore also joined in to help out with managing a rapidly-growing clientele.

This help was game-changing for me. In spite of the exhaustion that went with starting a new business, I felt invigorated and the long hours didn't phase me. Having others' expertise and efforts working alongside my own afforded me more time and opportunities to focus on what I did really well: evaluating, programming, and coaching.

Months later, we brought on Brian St. Pierre as our first employee. We asked him to "help" step up our nutritional offerings for our clients, and he crushed it. It's been an important part of our business ever since. Chris Howard later "helped" to bring in massage therapy. Greg Robins and George Kalantzis "helped" build up our strength camps. We hired a fantastic accountant who has "helped" simply our finances and save us a lot of money. Later, it was a payroll company to "help" with that side of things, and an office manager to "help" manage the daily chaos at our facility so that Pete can focus on business development. I've got a lawyer, financial adviser, landscaper, cleaning lady, part-time nanny, and host of other people who "help" me on a regular basis. I refer clients out to physical therapists, physicians, chiropractors, pitching coaches, hitting coaches, and many other ancillary professionals who can "help" our clients. Now, I have the "help" of two new business partners - Brian Kaplan and Shane Rye - with the opening of our Jupiter, FL facility this past fall.

I say this not to brag, but to show you how asking for help and being willing to outsource tasks that don't best leverage my skillset has completely changed my life for the better time and time again. It's freed up time to focus on things I do REALLY well. This has allowed me to grow my businesses, be a better husband and father, and have great satisfaction with my job (if I can even really call it a "job"). Time and time again, asking for help and outsourcing has proven to be a good decision - and I started out as the biggest micromanaging skeptic you could possibly imagine.

What does this have to do with YOU, though?

If you want a contract drafted up, you go to a lawyer.

If you want your taxes done, you go to an accountant.

For some reason, though, most folks try to take on their most precious commodity - the body - by themselves. And, this is probably why we see so many crazy fad diets, and so many brutal displays of "what in the world is that exercise, and is he really going to hurt himself?" on display at most commercial gyms. And, it's one reason why many people really aren't happy with their physiques, functional capacity, or physical quality of life.

The truth is that many of these people are just a few months away from looking, feeling, and moving dramatically better. They just need to seek out help - just like I have (albeit in different contexts).

This blog is obviously about fitness, and if you're reading it, I'm guessing that means that you've looked to me for help. Thank you for your vote of confidence.

To that end, I'm confident that one outstanding way in which I can help you is by directing you to The High Performance Handbook. I'm confident that it's a versatile program that can really help the overwhelming majority of my readers to get closer to their goals and educate them in the process.

But even beyond The High Performance Handbook program, I hope this blog has made you think a bit about how you can find help to simplify your life and create opportunities to focus on what you do REALLY well. It's made a world of difference for me.

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 9/15/14

To help kick your week off on the right foot, here are three recommended strength and conditioning readings for you:

Carbohydrate Tolerance: Is it Determined by your Genes? - Helen Kollias pulled together this excellent article for Precision Nutrition. It's not just a research review, though; she also provides some important action items to help you improve your ability to tolerate carbohydrates.

The Radar Gun Revolution - Those of you who are baseball fans will appreciate this candid look at how the radar gun has changed the way that players are scouted. Anecdotally, I can tell you that the best scouts I've met always seem to know when to put the radar gun away (or leave it at home).

guns

No Dumbbells? No Problem - A few of my online clients don't have access to dumbbells in their home gyms, and it led me to write the "High Performance Training Without the Equipment" series a while back.

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 5/16/13

With Show and Go on sale this week, I thought I'd use today's recommended reading post to point you in the direction of some related content:

My Top 10 Strength and Conditioning Mistakes - This is a free 23-minute webinar I made back when Show and Go first launched.  Regardless of your training experience, I'm sure you'll find some pearls of wisdom in there.

5 Reasons You Aren't Getting Stronger - I wrote this around the time that Show and Go was released, too.  It's one of the more popular articles ever published on this site. There is a small amount of overlap with the aforementioned webinar, but important points do deserve repetition!

sag-main

Is Show and Go Okay for Females? You Tell Me. - A lot of ladies ask if Show and Go can be a good fit for them, so I pulled together this compilation of ladies crushing heavy weights. 

To take advantage of this week's sale on Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better, click here.

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

5 Traits of Successful Athletes

With Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better on sale for this week, I thought I’d give you a sneak peak at the final chapter of this resource.  While most people want the programs (the what), I think it’s also important to understand the “how,” too.  In other words, if you give two trainees the exact same program, why do they often get remarkably different results?  Sure, genes play into this, but there are additional factors that influence one’s long-term success.  You can learn about a few of them below. - EC

All this in mind, as I sit here to write up this last chapter, it’s important for me to actually make it into something useful for you.  To that end, I thought back to the most accomplished athletes and lifters with whom I’ve interacted over the years to brainstorm up some traits that typify almost all of them.  What words do I think of when considering these individuals?

Consistency – Their outstanding results are never about just a 16-week program, finding a magic pill, or taking shortcuts.  They don’t skip out on 2-3 months here and there because work gets busy.  They never let minor aches and pains sidetrack them because they find ways to train around these issues and rehabilitate them in the process.  They can’t fathom taking 19 weeks to complete a 16-week program.  Training is an integral part of their lives, so they do it with more consistency than their less-accomplished peers.  In the grand scheme of things, the programming, technique, and training environment are important – but just showing up is the single-most important thing.

Focus – When it’s time to train, the cell phone goes off.  There’s no talking about the boozing that went on at the bars the weekend before, or complaining about problems with the new girlfriend.  When these successful trainees are in the gym, they are there for one reason: to lift heavy stuff and get better.

sag-main

Training Partners/Environment – Successful individuals realize that they’ll never be as well off alone as they will be with the help of the individuals around them, so they surround themselves with the right people.  The end result is constant, detailed feedback; handoffs and spots whenever they’re needed; accountability to ensure the aforementioned consistency; and camaraderie that improves results exponentially. 

Realistic Expectations – My best deadlift is 660 pounds, but to be honest, on about 363 days of the year, I don’t think I could come within 20 pounds of it.  It just isn’t possible to be at your best for every training session – and it gets even harder to be close to that “peak” feeling as you get more experienced and accomplished.  Push too hard when you aren’t feeling it, and you’ll set yourself back.  The most accomplished powerlifters, bodybuilders, and strength sport athletes out there know when to push and when to hold back to take deloading periods; they have realistic expectations of themselves and listen to their bodies.

ec_660dl

Insatiable Desire to Improve – Some of the best athletes I’ve ever met and worked with have also been the most inquisitive and open-minded to suggestions.  They are constantly looking for new ways to improve, and appreciate that the field of strength and conditioning is a very dynamic one in which new research emerges almost daily.  They recognize that there is more than one way to skin a cat, so they borrow bits and pieces from many different philosophies to find what works best for them.

For more information, check out Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better.  It's on sale this week at a big discount.

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

This Week Only: Save Big on Show and Go

For only the second time since its release (and first time since 2011), I'm putting Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better on sale. It's my birthday a week from today, so I figure I can use the proceeds to buy myself some hair plugs or a few rounds of Bingo, now that I'm getting old.

Joking aside, though, through this Saturday (5/18) at midnight, you can get this resource for just $77 (48% off the normal price).

sag-bonus

With me working on a new project that'll be due out later this year, now is the perfect time to give the Show and Go program a test-drive, as it'd be a great option for setting you up to give the next generation of "Cressey Madness" a go in the fall.  Don't take that to mean that the Show and Go program is outdated, though, as I still get great feedback on the program every single day of the week.

For more information, head here.

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

3 Strategies to Avoid Getting Too Comfortable with Your Strength and Conditioning Programs

In the past, I’ve written about how fond I am of the writing of Chip and Dan Heath, brothers who’ve written best sellers like Made to Stick and Switch. These books have provided insights about why certain ideas are accepted while others are rejected, and outlined strategies to implement paradigm shifts effectively. Effectively, they analyze how people behave and process information in order to help readers make effect positive changes in business and in life. On my recent vacation, I read their newest release, Decisive, which discusses all the factors that affect whether we make good or bad decisions. I stumbled upon a gem in this great read that I think applies heavily to folks’ fitness programs.

In reference to a meta-analysis of the psychology literature, the Heaths write: “In reviewing more than 91 studies of over 8,000 participants, the researchers concluded that we are more than twice as likely to favor confirming information than dis-confirming information.” Furthermore, the brothers note, “The confirmation bias also increased when people had previously invested a lot of time or effort in a given issue.”

Think about how this applies to the fitness community. There are a lot of folks who go to the gym and do what they’ve always done because it’s comfortable. It’s much easier to just go and do an exercise that you already know than it is to have to learn something new. And, beyond just the comfort factor, being willing to adopt new ways also means that you may have to accept that your old ways weren’t up to snuff – and that can be a bitter pill to swallow when it means thousands of hours at the gym may have been used inefficiently.

People want to confirm their awesomeness, not refute it.

One of my most important roles as a strength and conditioning coach is to help people embrace change when it comes to exercise. This generally means that I make a living “dis-confirming” what others are doing in their own exercise programs; otherwise, I wouldn’t be needed.

While there are certainly exceptions to the rule (in powerlifting, for instance, you want to be as efficient and consistent as possible with the three main lifts), change means creating a disturbance that least leads to greater fitness adaptation. It may be a richer proprioceptive environment to better prepare someone for life's demands, a different metabolic conditioning stress to drop body fat, an exercise variation to help someone avoid an overuse injury, or a new warm-up to improve movement quality on the way to achieving a goal.

Change must, however, be implemented differently for each individual. Some folks are ready to jump right into the deep end, and others are more reluctant and need to be eased into adjustments. Some folks may really need a complete program overhaul, while others might just need some tinkering.

How, then, do you know where you stand without someone like me there to help you? I’d ask yourself these five questions to determine if you’re getting too comfortable:

1. In the past four months, have you been moving toward your goals or further away from them?

2. What have you sacrificed to make this progress? This may be time, energy, money, or allowing a different fitness quality to detrain (e.g., losing metabolic conditioning as you put on muscle mass and strength). Are you comfortable with this sacrifice?

3. Are you motivated to get to the gym when the time comes to train?

4. Have you remained healthy during the program, or does it hurt to do certain exercises?

5. Can you do the things you want to do in life? Can you walk up the stairs without getting out of breath? Are you capable of putting your own luggage in the overhead compartment on a plane? Does it bother you that you can’t fit into some of your clothes? Will you make up an excuse to not play catch with your son because your shoulder is killing you?

If any of these questions left a bad taste in your mouth, then you need to evaluate how you can better structure your workout routines. And, in order to do so, you need an unbiased perspective, because we’re all wired to simply agree with ourselves.

1. Get a training partner. – Training partners aren’t just about offering spots, carpools, or accountability to show up for all your training sessions; they’re also there to give you brutal honesty when you need it. Find someone who can tell you when you’re spinning your wheels or being an idiot.

2. Outsource your training. – It might mean you buy a book or DVD and follow the recommended program or hire someone to work with you in person. At CP, our staff members write programs for each other and we all train together so that we can all work toward our individual goals with impartial feedback along the way. Interestingly, we have many fitness professionals who have looked to us for their own training. We have several clients who are personal trainers and strength coaches who appreciate outsourcing things to us in the same way that their clients do to them. Additionally, Show and Go has been very popular with fitness professionals not only because they can look at how the programs are structured, but also follow the program to shake up their own workout routines.

3. Think up alternatives. – The Heath brothers talk extensively about how the best way to come to a good decision is to realize that there is an “And” and not just an “Or.” In other words, not all questions are “yes/no” or “A/B” in nature – even if we try to make them that way. It’s important to brainstorm and investigate alternative solutions that could work best.

As an example, think of a lifter whose shoulder hurts and thinks he needs to stop training until it’s healthy. He might wonder, “Should I train through pain or stop?” The alternative answer is to train around pain, finding exercises that help one maintain a training effect without exacerbating the injury. I know: it sounds logical to assume one would pursue this third option, but you’d be amazed at how many people shut it down altogether. They avoid comprehensive decision-making processes, and you can imagine how this may apply to decisions they encounter in other aspects of their lives.

There are surely many other ways to determine whether you’re getting too comfortable and, if so, what to do about it. However, these were a few ideas to get the ball rolling and make you consider if you’re really heading in the right direction with your training.

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more
Page 1 2 3 14
LEARN HOW TO DEADLIFT
  • Avoid the most common deadlifting mistakes
  • 9 - minute instructional video
  • 3 part follow up series