Home Posts tagged "Interviews" (Page 3)

An Interview with Eric Cressey: Part II (LBC)

By: Erik Ledin of Lean Bodies Consulting

EL: Dynamic warm ups, mobility exercises, soft tissue work/foam rolling, static stretching – who should be doing this and with what kind of frequency?

EC: Well, everyone needs mobility and good soft tissue quality.

If they’re serious problem areas, then daily – or even multiple times daily – is the best bet. Others might just go with rolling a few times a week with mobility work prior to all training sessions. The majority of my clients spend about five minutes rolling and working with a lacrosse ball four times a week prior to their dynamic flexibility warm-ups. We also incorporate mobility/activation drills in between sets of compound exercises.

EL: A lot of it is relatively "new,"- at least to the physique conscious individual. Why should a physique conscious individual, training for aesthetics, worry about this stuff?

EC: Good question - and I've actually received the same inquiry from a few people now. In a word, longevity. Here's my (admittedly-biased) take on things:

If you've read stuff from Mike Robertson, me, and several others from similar schools of thought, I hope one message you've taken away from the articles is that the ordinary weekend warrior would be a lot better off if (s)he'd train more like an athlete. The strength work athletes do helps you move bigger weights and build more muscle while burning more calories to stay lean. The movement training keeps you functional and helps you with energy system work to keep your body composition in check. The mobility work keeps you healthy and functional so that you can stand up to all the challenges in your training programs without getting injured.

Additionally, from a fat loss standpoint, think about what happens when you improve efficiency: you recruit more muscle fibers, therefore creating a bigger “metabolic disturbance” (to quote Alwyn Cosgrove). Deadlifts will give you more benefit if your glutes are firing, and you’ll get more out of chin-ups if your lower traps are kicking on all cylinders. And, improving efficiency will keep the body away from technical breakdown with high-intensity interval training and metabolic-oriented resistance training circuits, decreasing the risk of injury.

Here’s a great example – a client of mine who was featured in the Boston Globe for her inspirational story:


Steph went from a size 20 to a size 2– and prepared for a fantastic showing for a first-timer at the Boston Marathon. What this article doesn’t touch on much is how many injuries she had when we first started; it was like triage! Mobility and activation work was absolutely necessary to get Steph healthy (and keep her healthy enough) to make it possible for her to do what it takes to prepare for the marathon.

She got lean with proper diet and a combination of lifting, sprint intervals, hill work – with threshold runs and once weekly long, slow distance runs thrown in for the sake of necessary aerobic adaptations (I wouldn’t include these with a pure fat loss client). However, she couldn’t have done any of this if it wasn’t for the “money in the bank” she got from the mobility and activation work; it indirectly helped to get her lean.

EL: The elliptical machine is a very common piece of cardio equipment in the gyms these days. I think it's taken over stationary bikes, step mills and even the treadmill as the most used piece of cardio equipment in the gyms today. Is it an effective tool?

EC: I don’t vilify it like many others in the industry, as I’ve seen it prove useful for people coming back from knee problems, back pain, shin splints, and the like. I always like to have a low-impact option available for people for cardio, and this fits the bill nicely (heck, I use it myself a bit). Granted, the calculators on these machines drastically overestimate calorie burn because they don’t take into account the momentum utilized, but who cares how many calories you burn during the session? It’s about effort and the post-exercise oxygen debt you accumulate.

Still, like almost every piece of cardio equipment, the elliptical doesn’t allow for full range of motion, so you need to complement it with mobility work and some more full range of motion energy systems work (e.g., sprinting). EL What are the most common program design mistakes you see in training programs today?

EC: There are a ton. Here’s the tip of the iceberg, in no particular order:

1. Excessive volume

2. No fluctuation of training stress

3. Foo-foo exercise selection

4. No attention to injury prevention/prehab

5. Not understanding how to take deload periods appropriately

6. Plain ‘ol ugly exercise exercise (it’s the how, not just the what)

7. Too many machines and not enough free weights

8. Poor training environments/bad lifting partners

9. No attention to recovery/regeneration protocols

10. Thinking that it’s JUST about lifting and cardio

EL: The MMDVD is a great resource for lower body dynamic warm ups and mobility work. But with over 30 exercises contained in the video, could you provide any insight as to how one might go about choosing exercises that are most suited to them?

EC: Honestly, the best way to go about doing things is to try the movements out and see where you are the most “restricted.” For instance, most females will do fine with high knee walks and not have to worry about them. Then, they’ll try lunging variations, pull-back buttkicks, and alternating lateral lunge walks and notice that their hip flexors, quads, and adductors (respectively) won’t let them get the range of motion they need.

In general, though, they all need to be doing supine bridges and birddogs along with the above three variations relatively frequently, and the rest can be mixed and matched so as to provide variety. Mike, Bill Hartman, and I are exploring the idea of pulling together some comprehensive templates people can use on this front.

EL: Where can people read more of your articles?

EC: They can check out my website, www.EricCressey.com, where we have a free weekly newsletter. I also publish a near-daily blog at http://ericcressey.blogspot.com/.

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An Interview with Eric Cressey: Part I (LBC)

By: Erik Ledin ofLean Bodies Consulting

EL: First off, thanks for agreeing to the interview. We've known each other for a number of years now. I used to always refer to you as the "Anatomy Guy." You then became know for being "The Shoulder Guy" and have since garnered another title, "The Mobility Guy." Who is Eric Cressey?

EC: Good question. As you implied, it's the nature of this industry to try to pigeonhole guys into certain professional "diagnoses." Personally, even though I specialize in athletic performance enhancement and corrective exercise, I pride myself on being pretty well-versed in a variety of areas - endocrinology, endurance training, body recomposition, nutrition, supplementation, recovery/regeneration, and a host of other facets of our industry. To some degree, I think it's a good thing to be a bit all over the place in this "biz," as it helps you to see the relationships among a host of different factors. Ultimately, I'd like to be considered a guy who is equal parts athlete, coach, and scholar/researcher.

All that said, for the more "traditional answer," readers can check out my bio.

EL: What are the three most underrated and underused exercises? Does it differ across gender?

EC: Well, I'm not sure that the basics - squats, deadlifts, various presses, pull-ups, and rows - can ever be considered overrated or overappreciated in both a male and female population.

Still, I think that single-leg exercises are tremendously beneficial, but are ignored by far too many trainers and lifters. Variations of lunges, step-ups, split squats, and single-leg RDLs play key roles in injury prevention and development of a great lower body.

Specific to females, we know that we need a ton of posterior chain work and correctly performed single-leg work to counteract several biomechanical and physiological differences. Namely, we're talking about quad dominance/posterior chain weakness and an increased Q-angle. Increasing glute and hamstrings strength and optimizing frontal plane stability is crucial for resisting knock-knee tendencies and preventing ACL tears. If more women could do glute-ham raises, the world would be a much better place!

EL: What common issues do you see with female trainees in terms of muscular or postural imbalances that may predispose them to some kind of injury if not corrected? How would you suggest they be corrected or prevented?

EC: 1. A lack of overall lower body strength, specifically in the glutes and hamstrings; these shortcomings resolve when you get in more deadlifts, glute-ham raises, box squats, single-leg movements, etc.

2. Poor soft-tissue quality all over; this can be corrected with plenty of foam rolling and lacrosse/tennis ball work.

3. Poor core stability (as much as I hate that word); the best solution is to can all the "turn your lumbar spine into a pretzel" movements and focus on pure stability at the lower back while mobilizing the hips and thoracic spine.

4. General weakness in the upper body, specifically with respect to the postural muscles of the upper back; we'd see much fewer shoulder problems in females if they would just do a LOT more rowing.

EL: You've mentioned to me in the past the issues with the ever popular Nike Shox training shoe as well as high heels in women. What's are the potential problems?

EC: When you elevate the heels chronically - via certain sneakers, high-heels, or any other footwear - you lose range of motion in dorsiflexion (think toe-to-shin range of motion). When you lack mobility at a joint, your body tries to compensate by looking anywhere it can to find range of motion. In the case of restricted ankle mobility, you turn the foot outward and internally rotate your lower and upper legs to make up for the deficit. This occurs as torque is "converted" through subtalar joint pronation.

As the leg rotates inward (think of the upper leg swiveling in your hip joint socket), you lose range of motion in external rotation at your hip. This is one of several reasons why females have a tendency to let their knees fall inward when they squat, lunge, deadlift, etc. And, it can relate to anterior/lateral knee pain (think of the term patellofemoral pain ... you've got restriction on things pulling on the patella, and on the things controlling the femur ... it's no wonder that they're out of whack relative to one another). And, by tightening up at the ankle and the hip, you've taken a joint (knee) that should be stable (it's just a hinge) and made it mobile/unstable. You can also get problems at the hip and lower back because ...

Just as losing range of motion at the ankle messes with how your leg is aligned, losing range of motion at your hip - both in external rotation and hip extension - leads to extra range of motion at your lumbar spine (lower back). We want our lower back to be completely stable so that it can transfer force from our lower body to our upper body and vice versa; if you have a lot of range of motion at your lower back, you don't transfer force effectively, and the vertebrae themselves can get irritated. This can lead to bone problems (think stress fractures in gymnasts), nerve issues (vertebrae impinge on discs/nerve roots), or muscular troubles (basic strains).

So, the take-home message is that crappy ankle mobility - as caused by high-top shoes, excessive ankle taping, poor footwear (heel lifts) - can cause any of a number of problems further up the kinetic chain. Sure, we see plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinosis, and shin splints, but that's just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what can happen.

How do we fix the problems? First, get out of the bad footwear and pick up a shoe that puts you closer in contact with the ground. Second, go barefoot more often (we do it for all our dynamic flexibility warm-ups and about 50% of the volume of our lifting sessions). Third, incorporate specific ankle (and hip) mobility drills - as featured in our Magnificent Mobility DVD.

Oh, I should mention that elevating the heels in women is also problematic simply because it shifts the weight so far forward. If we're dealing with a population that needs to increase recruitment of the glutes and hamstrings, why are we throwing more stress on the quads?

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An Interview with Julia Ladewski

By: Eric Cressey

We’re back with another interview this week – and it certainly won’t disappoint.  Those of you who haven’t heard of Julia Ladewski need to seek out everything she writes, as she’s one of the brightest young stars in the strength and conditioning community.  Keep an eye out for great things from her in the months and years to come!

EC: Hi Julia; thanks for being with us today.  For our readers who don’t know you, could you please fill them in a bit on your background and what you’re doing now? JL:  Currently, I’m a Strength Coach at the University at Buffalo, in Buffalo, NY.  I graduated from Ball State with a degree in Exercise Science where I also spent time working with the varsity athletes (baseball, volleyball, gymnastics, track & field).  From there, I spent a summer at Athletes’ Performance in Tempe, AZ where I continued to work with college athletes, as well as youth and professional.   After that I came out to Buffalo, where I’m going on my fifth year as Assistant Strength Coach. I am also a competitive drug-free powerlifter, squatting 463, benching 240, and deadlifting 424 in the 132-pound weight class.   And in my “free” time, my husband and I train high school kids of various sports.

EC: Now, you started out at Ball State, which is well known for producing some outstanding lifters and coaches.  What is it about Ball State?  Something in the water?  And, how the hell did that schmuck Robertson manage to get in?  I heard his father teaches there, so that must have had something to do with it.  But I digress…the floor is yours! JL:  Ball State, first of all, has one of the top Biomechanics labs in the country, formerly headed by Dr. Robert Newton.  Dr. William Kramer also used to be there, so it has a tradition of serious biomechanics research, which in turn breeds super smart students, who become awesome strength coaches.  I have no idea how Robertson ended up there.  I had the unfortunate “privilege” of being on the powerlifting team with him while I was there.   And I can say this about that team… Other than it being good ol’ Mid-Western, Indiana water, it was started by Justin Cecil, who himself was a great lifter and coached many of us to National Championships.  His intensity and desire to be the strongest team was imbedded in us whenever we trained.  It’s like Westside Barbell… strong breeds strong.  And that’s what we were…. STRONG! EC: You’re a highly successful female in a sport that has traditionally been dominated by males.  How has your path to success in powerlifting been different in light of your gender? JL:  First of all, I owe it all to the females before me that paved the way.  Once I fell in love with the sport, I wanted to be the best, to be #1.  It’s about stepping out of your comfort zone and surrounding yourself with people who are strong and supportive.  Most of those people are males.  If you’re fortunate enough, you’ll have some other females to train with.  (I have only 1 female training partner.)  So it’s setting standards higher than the public sees.  Most people think women are supposed to lift 5 pound dumbbells and run on the treadmill all day.  But stepping out of that stereo type has not only allowed me to be successful in powerlifting, but also make me a successful strength coach.  For me, it’s motivating to know that there’s only a handful of women in the history of the sport that have done what I’ve done.  And being a part of that history keeps me wanting to lift more and more. EC: Thus far, we’ve focused primarily on you as a lifter, but you’re also a strength and conditioning coach at the University at Buffalo.  How has your experience as a lifter made you a better coach? JL:  Eric, powerlifting is a huge part of my coaching career.  Here’s why… Strong breeds strong.  Ok, so my athletes don’t need to be ‘powerlifter’ strong, but they do need to get stronger.  Being a strong female has allowed me to gain the respect of the athletes I work with, especially males.   They listen to me when I help them squat because they know I have had success in that.  It has also allowed me to be proficient in exercise technique and program design.  If I could give advice to someone wanting to be a strength coach, or how to get better in your field, it would be to workout and get stronger. EC: I know you and I have discussed the problems we encounter with female athletes at length; why don’t you fill the readers in on the problems you face as a coach in this regard? JL:  The problems are so extensive that I could write an entire book on it.  But to keep it simple, here are the most prominent issues. 1. Knock-knees – females knees buckle in severely when squatting, jumping, landing, lunging, etc.  It has to do with the Q angle of their hips and (the thing that can be corrected) weak glutes. 2. Over-dominant quads – females tend to use more quads, less hamstring and glutes for all activities.  This leads to patella femoral problems.  So, strengthening the hamstrings and glutes has to be a staple of their program. 3. Not wanting to get “bulky” – I hate that word, Eric.  It’s so stupid.  I’ve been lifting consistently (heavy) for 10 years and I have yet to “bulk up”.  Without going into too much detail, as women, it’s going to be extremely difficult for you to grow man muscles due to your low testosterone levels.  So with my athletes, after they have been lifting for a year or so, and I’ve instilled some confidence in them that they won’t get “bulky”, then they really start to buy into the program, they get really strong and their athletic performance takes off! (Note from EC: Julia and I are actually going to be publishing an e-book together on this very topic in light of our extensive experience with training female athletes at all levels.) EC: How about ordinary female weekend warriors? JL:  As I mentioned above, most female recreational lifters, who are lifting just to stay healthy and ward off the body fat, don’t want to get big.  So they use light weight, high reps and they use the same exercises over and over and over again.  And they wonder why their progress stalls!  You must constantly use new exercises to provide a stimulus for the muscles to grow.  And hopefully we all know by now that muscle burns fat, so it’s ok to build muscle!   Weekend warriors have the same knee problems that athletes have, more so the weak glutes part.  They can’t use their glutes effectively when, for example, picking up something around the house, so they use their back muscles and they end up with back pain.  The list goes on, but those are the main things. EC: What are some exercises that you think all women (assuming they're healthy) need to be doing? JL: I think all women should be doing squats and deadlifts.  They are great total-body exercises that give you the most bang for your buck – especially for most women who are in a time crunch when it comes to working out.  You could knock out some squats and deads and get what you need lower body-wise from those two exercises.  Of course I always recommend doing single leg exercises as well.  But those two are the Granddaddy of 'em all! EC: Who has had the biggest influence on you as a lifter and a coach? JL:  Well, I would say that my husband, Matt, has had the most influence on me as a lifter and coach together.  If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have began or stuck with the sport of powerlifting.  He also supported me when I decided to change majors and pursue a career that I loved, where he challenges me daily to learn more and more. But independently from Matt, I would say Louie Simmons (and Westside) have had the biggest influence on me as a lifter.  When we lived closer to Columbus, we traveled out there quite often to learn from the best.  Remember, strong breeds strong! As a coach, I can’t say that I can narrow it down to one person.  Most importantly, the people that I have worked with and under have shaped me the most.  Mark Verstegen, Cheyenne Pietri and Buddy Morris have all had impacts in my coaching career.  Most of all, I have learned how to develop my own coaching style and each of these men have brought something to the table. EC: On a semi-related note, let’s go with a word association game; what’s the first thing that comes to mind when I say: Buddy Morris JL:  I gotta keep this short, huh?  ;)  Ok, ok.  Buddy has forgotten more things thant most people will ever learn.  He’s been in the business for 25 years.  Love working with him. EC: Louie Simmons JL:  Powerlifting icon.  He’s taught me so much and is willing to help ANYONE! EC: Curves JL:  Need I comment?  Fine…  Curves is ruining the women’s fitness industry.  Don’t get me wrong, those women working out are at least doing something.  But if they only knew… EC:  Buffalo Winters JL:  Not as bad as you think.  Everyone thinks of the couple years they got 8 feet of snow in a week.  It’s not like that every year. EC: The Chicago Cubs JL:  ROCK!!!  I know, we have a good season every once in a blue moon, but I love ‘em!  (I’m a Chicago native.) EC: Last but not least, what are some of your top resources (books, manuals, DVDs) that you feel all lifters and coaches should have: JL: 1. Supertraining by Mel Siff 2. Magnificent Mobility DVD – Eric Cressey & Mike Robertson 3. Science and Practice of Strength Training: 2nd Ed. – Zatsiorsky and Kraemer 4. Any Russian Manual – Verkhoshansky (among others) 5. High Low Sequences of Programming and Organizing Training – James Smith 6. The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual – Eric Cressey This is by no means a complete list, but they are items I refer to most often. EC: Thanks for taking the time to be with us today, Julia.  Where can our readers find out more about you? JL:  Check out the new website at www.LadewskiStrength.com.  I have a free newsletter for which you can sign up, articles, products, and other stuff.  You can email me directly at julia@ladewskistrength.com.   Thanks, Eric!  We’ll have to do this again sometime!

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An Interview with John Pallof

By: Eric Cressey

I’m a nice guy.  I pay my taxes, get all giddy when I see new pictures of my baby niece, and never rip the tags off my mattresses.  However, when it comes to fitness and health care professionals, I’m a cynical bastard.  I read a ton and am always looking for ways to get better, so I guess you could say that I’m less than tolerant when it comes to people in this industry who are lazy and afraid to question the status quo.  This is probably why John Pallof and I get along so well (well, that and the fact that we’re both Irish, went to school at UCONN, and cheer for the Red Sox). John is without a doubt one of the brightest therapists I know.  He’s our go-to guy in Massachusetts, and has already been out to our facility to offer one more set of eyes to our most complex cases and highest-caliber athletes.  I just had to interview a guy who “gets it” so well. EC: Hey John, thanks for taking the time to talk shop.  As hackneyed a first question as it might be in the world of fitness interviews, could you please tell our readers a bit about yourself? JP:  I am a physical therapist first, specializing in treating athletes of all ages and levels.  I have worked hard to develop skills in both the PT and performance enhancement arenas, as I do actively train athletes anywhere from four to ten hours a week on top of my “normal” PT job at South County Physical Therapy in Auburn, MA.  As for the physical therapy side of things, I pride myself on my manual therapy skills, biomechanical assessment perspectives, and a very solid therex background, largely developed from my interactions with numerous professionals in the strength and conditioning field. EC:  I can’t believe you’re not even going to list “off color humor” as one of your finest qualities!  But anyway…one of the main reasons you’re our go-to guy in terms of physical therapy is that you think outside the box and really have an understanding of what it is performance enhancement coaches do.  How did you gather that perspective? JP:  I have had the great fortune to spend the past four years working with the two coaches I view as the standard to whom all other strength and conditioning coaches should be compared:  Jeff Oliver and Brijesh Patel, from the College of the Holy Cross, in Worcester MA.  My career would not be where it is if not for them.  I have spent countless hours with these guys on a weekly basis, and they’re two of the brightest guys I know, in any field.  Above all, I have learned the value of generosity (in time, knowledge, and opportunity) and how to be a true professional from “Ollie.”  I have accepted the fact that we will probably all be working for Brijesh someday, as he is the most disgustingly organized, and hardest working person I know.  A woman at HC actually mistook me for B once – not sure if she had her glasses on! As far as gaining perspective on performance enhancement, the only way to learn it is to do it – do the training yourself, and coach, coach, coach – and then coach some more.  Plus, there is an abundance of good seminars and reading materials out there, so there is no excuse to slack off on learning. EC:  Along those same lines, why is it that most physical therapists aren’t able to see things like you are?  Where is the profession as a whole missing the boat? JP:  Some of the blame falls at the feet of the academic world, and thus the American Physical Therapy Association, who designs the standardized academic criteria for accreditation.  This can be a very long conversation, but in a nutshell…more emphasis needs to be placed on teaching students clinical reasoning skills – learning how to think critically – as opposed to dogmatic memorization of theories which are just that: theories.  Not to be overlooked as well, the therapeutic exercise component of the education process is pretty bad.  Most, if not all PTs have no idea how to teach a squat, much less an Olympic lift.  I was lucky enough to have Dave Tiberio and Mike Zito (among others) as role models while at UCONN, so I learned that it’s not really about memorizing crap; it’s about learning how to think and problem solve. EC:  You and I had a great discussion recently about lumbar stabilization, and I know our readers would love to hear some of the stuff you shared with me.  Care to fill them in a bit? JP:  I view abdominal musculature in two categories:  global stabilizers and local stabilizers.  Local stabilizers function to give segmental stability – control what happens between individual vertebrae – primarily shearing and compressive forces.  They give your spine integrity and prevent buckling when you flex/twist.  Examples include the transversus abdominus, multifidus, psoas, and to some degree the internal oblique due to its insertions into the thoracolumbar fascia.  Global stabilizers are your larger muscles that contribute to overall stability and help generate force – think rectus abdominus, quadratus lumborum, and external oblique, amongst others.  Paul Hodges and others helped develop these classifications, and are extremely bright therapists. EC:  Any helpful tips for training within these classifications? JP:  First, make sure you have good local stabilizer function, especially if the client has had LBP in the past.  Second, focus on isometric endurance (these are postural muscles remember).  Then, progress to force production and movement: just my two cents.  Remember – pain shuts these local stabilizers down – so athletes with a history of pain may need to work extra on these guys. EC: How about a few examples in this regard?  Any particular exercises you’re using frequently to retrain local stabilizers following injuries? JP:  Well, there are two main ones that I find myself using frequently – cable column (or stretch band) pushes and quadruped multifidus lifts.  CC pushes – standing in an athletic position (good lordosis, butt back, chest up/scaps back, feet beneath hips), the cable is parallel to your body – holding the handle with both hands in front of your belly button.  Without allowing trunk movement and maintaining good positioning, you slowly extend your arms to full extension (at stomach height), than slowly return.  Can do for reps or holds.  You are basically resisting a rotational force. EC: They’re called Pallof Presses, dude!  Tell the world! JP: Quadriped multifidus lifts – quadruped, with one knee on airex pad (knees beneath hips, hands beneath shoulders).  Slowly lift the down femur vertically by rotating your pelvis to level – no actual hip movement, more pelvis on spine motion.  Again, for reps, then progressing to holds for isometric endurance. EC: I know you’ve seen a lot of really bright physical therapists and coaches speak; who do you feel would be the best for trainers and ordinary weekend warriors to see? JP:  Mike Boyle; some of the Australian therapists (e.g., Mark Comerford) who are starting to make the rounds; and Brijesh Patel.  For PTs, any of the Maitland manual therapy seminars or Mulligan courses.  There are a ton of people who I have not seen but would like to in the years to come. EC: How about resources?  What five books, DVDs, manuals, CD-ROMS, etc. have impressed you? JP:  In no particular order: 1. Theory and Applications of Modern Strength and Power Methods, by Christian Thibaudeau 2.  Nutrient Timing, by John Ivy and Robert Portman 3. Atlas of Human Anatomy, by Frank Netter – by far the best and most accurate anatomy book, bar none. 4. Freakonomics, by Stephen Levitt – excellent book, examining how the “conventional wisdom” of anything is often wrong, when looked at objectively in the right context. 5. Spinal Mobilization Made Simple: A Manual of Soft Tissue Techniques, by Jeffrey Maitland – more of a reference – the Maitland manual therapy/clinical reasoning seminars are the best continuing education series out there – rock solid, phenomenal results, bulletproof reasoning methods.  Check out www.ozpt.com.  Lots of great research backing up the superior efficacy of manual therapy combined with corrective exercise. 6. Therapeutic Exercise for Lumbopelvic Stabilization: A Motor Control Approach for the Treatment and Prevention of Low Back Pain, by Paul Hodges and Carolyn Richardson.  Once again, those damn Aussies are ahead of the game when it comes to rock solid science.  Not “I think,” but “research shows” – and they don’t just talk about it, they apply it. Oops – that was six – had to include the anatomy book, because most people have no idea about something as basic as origins and insertions. EC: Thoughts on Stuart McGill’s stuff? JP: I like most of his concepts – very practical, and they make sense.  I have not seen him speak first-hand, but I’ve heard nothing but positive reviews.  I’m not sure that I agree with avoiding rotational movements in the spine – you can twist all you want, but you’re not going to get a lot of rotation in the lumbar spine due to the orientation of the facets – primarily compressive forces between opposing joint surfaces.  However, I completely agree with shearing forces, not so much compressive forces, being damaging to the spinal column.  The idea of isometric endurance rather than force production when training the core also makes tons of sense. EC: Randomly throw some idea out there that will really make our readers say “Oh, crap, that really makes sense!” JP: 1.  A muscle that often gets overlooked with shoulder impingement type problems – like the plain looking girl at the dance – the serratus anterior.  It’s very important for a few reasons: helps rotate and protract the scapula/acromion up and out of the way of the humeral head, and is also important for force coupling with the rhomboids/lower and middle trapezius. 2. Many “hamstring pulls” – especially chronic ones – are actually symptoms of a mild nerve irritation – neural tension dysfunction.  Just like a brake cable on a bike, your nerves need to glide through the tissue they travel through.  If they get hung up, they will become symptomatic to varying degrees.  Picture a brake cable on a bicycle – the metal cable glides through the plastic casing.  Your nerves need to be able to glide through the structures and tissues they travel through – as much as 7 to 10 mm in some areas! 3.  A topic of contention – the elephant in the room – the psoas.  While there are many theories out there, I believe the psoas acts along with the TVA/multifidus/internal oblique as a local/segmental stabilizer of the spine.  Think about the origins on the anterior surface of the transverse processes of the lumbar spine.  Why the hell would it attach so intricately if all it did was flex the hip?  The psoas atrophies in a fashion similar to the multifidus with back pain.  The multifidus and the psoas form a force couple/agonist-antagonist relationship, giving stability of one vertebrae on the other. EC: Very cool stuff, John; thanks again for taking the time.
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An Interview with Jay Floyd

By: Eric Cressey

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Jay Floyd, I would highly recommend searching around for some of his stuff and familiarizing yourself with his name.  In addition to being one of the most accomplished lifters and knowledgeable and passionate coaches around, Jay is a rare breed in the strength and conditioning world: a genuinely good guy.  He understands that he’s developing people as much as he’s developing athletes, and he’ll always take the time to help out up-and-coming lifters.  I know because three years ago, I was one of those lifters.  I was on the fence about whether or not to get into powerlifting, and my discussions with Jay were a huge deciding factor in me making the jump into competitive lifting.  He made me realize that I couldn’t ever be the coach that I wanted to be unless I was doing my best to walk a mile in my athletes’ shoes, and to do so, I needed to get back the competitive mindset I had when I was involved in athletics as I grew up.  Simply stated, I owe him a lot.

EC: Hi Jay; thanks for taking the time to be with us today.  We’ve interacted a lot over the years, but I’m not a lot of our readers are familiar with you and your accomplishments.  By all means, bring them up to speed by taking a few paragraphs to brag about yourself!

JF: Well I played football, baseball, and threw the shot put in track in high school, and I have always loved lifting weights.  I started lifting in my room when I was 12 years old; I would crank up “Too Legit To Quit” and lift like crazy.  My dedication to lifting really paid off early for me, as I was able to start at tight end as a sophomore in the toughest classification in Georgia. I went on to be a three-year starter on the football team, was Team Captain, Best Offensive Lineman, Weight Champ, and all those things. I even got to play in the Georgia Dome my senior year.

After high school, I only had a couple of walk-on opportunities because of my height (6ft.), so I decided to just go to school and not play football.  While in school, I got a degree in Exercise Science and immersed myself in learning as much as I could about strength and conditioning.  During this time I also started powerlifting; now, my current best lifts are an 845 squat, 535 bench, 640 deadlift and 2000 total in the 275lb class.

EC: Great stuff, Jay; what are you up to now?

JF: I am now the Strength and Conditioning and Offensive Line Coach at Alexander High School in Douglasville, GA.

When I got here less than two years ago, we only had three 400-pound squatters, zero 300-pound bench pressers, and two over 250 pounds in the power clean. At our last high school powerlifting meet, we ended up with nine 400-pound squatters, three 500-pound squatters, six 300-pound benchers, one 400-pound bencher, and six over 250 in the power clean.  My best lifter did an APC meet last weekend and squatted 650, benched 451, and deadlifted 551 at age 18 at body weight of 260.  All these lifts were done in old single-ply gear; the squat suit he used was my four-year old Metal IPF squatter, which is actually loose on me at 285!

I have written articles for Bodybuilding.com, Athletes.com, and Elitefts.com.  I am also in the works with Landon Evans on something in football that should be interesting and I have developed some exercises with bands that should change the way I coach my offensive lineman in football.

EC: I can speak from experience that coaching entire teams isn’t an easy thing to do, so I’ve got a ton of respect for what you do with your high school kids.  What are the challenges you face on a daily basis in this setting, and how do you overcome them?

JF: Without a doubt, the biggest challenge is lack of support from the other coaches and administration.  Because the school day is so full, the only time you can work with athletes is during a weight training class.  Unfortunately, our administration is not committed to putting our athletes in those classes; this lack of support is actually one of the reasons that I will not be back at this school next year.

We also face problems with the coaches of other sports. Many are ignorant to conditioning and this makes my job very difficult.  They do not stress the importance of lifting and getting stronger to the kids and that makes it tough for me to sell the program to their kids.  For most football players, it isn’t a problem, but basketball and baseball are different stories, though.  The overspecialization is killing the athletes in this country, but no one wants to see it.  A lot of really bright coaches have beaten this horse to death, so I won’t go into it any further.

Another problem I have is more is my fault entirely.  Because I compete in powerlifting, some coaches believe that this is the way we I train my kids year-round.  Although we do have elements of a traditional Westside Barbell program, their training looks nothing like mine.  However, for people who do not know the difference, it looks the same.

EC: What does a typical day in the life of Jay Floyd look like?

JF: I wake up between 5:30 and 6AM, and eat right away.  I will go to the gym and train fellow coaches, football players, and powerlifters until 8AM.  At about 8:15AM, I will start the movements from your Magnificent Mobility DVD and start to lift around 8:45AM.  I am usually done by 10:00AM, but I may do accessories throughout the day when I find the time.  I am in classes from 10:20AM until 3:30PM. If it is football season, practice starts at 4PM and I am there until about 7-7:30PM.  If it’s not football season, I hang around for a bit and then go home.  I just got married, so now the afternoons are reserved for my wife.

EC: I’m sure that - like all of us – you’ve made some mistakes along the way.  What were a few of those mistakes, and how did you turn them into positive learning experiences that benefited your athletes and you as a lifter?

JF: The biggest mistake I have made is not paying attention to mobility.  I am stuck playing catch-up now and it is much more difficult to backtrack than it is to build it in the first place and then maintain it.  I stress this heavily with my athletes now; we do mobility work of some sort every single day.

In my own training, going overboard with bands really hurt my strength.  I neglected my straight weight and raw work for too long my squat and deadlift really suffered. In fact, I just wrote an article called "Starting Strength" for EliteFTS.com about this very subject.

EC: Along those same lines, who in the industry has helped to make you the lifter and coach that you are today?  To whom have you looked for inspiration?

JF: A guy in this field is a liar if he doesn’t say that Louie Simmons has been the one of his biggest influences; I would not be where I am today if not for Louie Simmons, Dave Tate, Jim Wendler, and the rest of the guys at Westside Barbell and Elite Fitness Systems.  I only know Jim personally, but they have all helped me and been more than generous with their time and money.  Also, guys like you, Landon Evans, Steve Coppola, Jared Bruff, Donnie Thompson, Marc Bartley, and the other guys at the Compound in South Carolina have helped me tremendously with my powerlifting technigue and gear. Your Mobility DVD has been unbelievable for me.  Landon Evans is always there with brilliant ideas, and Steve Coppola and Jesse Burdick are the same way.  Jared Bruff has been a great friend to me over the past four years, as we’ve done many meets together and he has been my handler at most of them; I would not have done as well as I have if not for him.  Joe DeFranco has probably influenced my program design the most; I have done variations of his programs with my kids with great results.  I also have tons of respect for James Smith, and Jason Ferruggia has been great to me as well.  Those are the kind of people that make this business so great.

And I would be a terrible person if I did not mention my training partners for the past two years.  Clay Livingston, Joey Strickland, and Rich Fendley have pulled more bars off of me than I can count.  I especially want to thank Clay; he has been my constant training partner for the last two years. Of course, I have to thank my wife, too; she has pushed me in powerlifting more than anybody.  It is great to have that kind of support and love at home for what you do.  The best hug I ever received was when she came to the back to hug me after I totaled Elite for the first time; I think she was happier than I was!

EC: How about “book smarts?”  We also all our interviewees what their top ten book and DVD choices are; if you had to pick ten, what would they be?

JF: I think reading and constantly learning is extremely important. If you learn one thing that can help you, then it has been worth it.  I read more articles than I do books.  Books tend to be out-of-date very quickly, while articles are more current.  I do think it is somewhat important to be knowledgeable about the human body and its functions; this knowledge enables you to see through many gimmicks right away.  For instance, I had one guy tell me that he heard squats were great because they release acids that are stored in your glutes; I am not kidding.  Now, this is an otherwise very smart guy, but this makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.  Anybody with any fundamental appreciation of how the human body works knows that this is completely insane.  This basic knowledge also allows you to see through most supplements and save money.

My favorite books and videos?  That’s a tough one.  I read a ton of books that have nothing to do with strength and conditioning, so I might put a couple of those in there as well.

EC: No problem; we’re all about variety around here.  If it helped you, it’s sure to help someone else.  Shoot.

JF: In no particular order:

  1. The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel
  2. The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
  3. The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel
  4. High/Low Sequences of Programming and Organizing of Training by James Smith
  5. The Westside Seminar DVDs
  6. Magnificent Mobility by Eric Cressey and Mike Robertson
  7. The Parisi DVDs
  8. The Elite Fitness Exercise Index DVDs
  9. The Fair Tax Book by Neil Boortz
  10. The Terrible Truth About Liberals by Neil Boortz

EC: Some interesting stuff in there, Jay.  Not many guys can please Billy Graham, Bob Doyle, and Dave Tate in the same breath, but I’d say that you passed the test with flying colors!  Thanks again for taking the time; where can our readers find out more about you?

JF: I’m not up-to-date enough to have a website or anything, but I will hopefully have more articles up on Elitefts.com, and Landon Evans has something in the works as well.  I can be reached at Goldberg_rjf@hotmail.com. Thanks for giving me this opportunity, Eric.
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Exclusive Interview with Dr. Jason Hodges

I am extremely fortunate to not only have a loyal group of newsletter subscribers, but also a very knowledgeable and passionate group of individuals who come from unique backgrounds.  Collectively, you subscribers give me a ton of outstanding feedback that makes me better at what I do.

After Newsletter 95, I received a great email response from Dr. Jason Hodges:

Regarding the low back, I am a radiologist and I see MRIs every day describing what you said in the newsletter. Lots of people have bulging discs without symptoms. This is especially true of older patients who can have bulging discs at every level but without focal neurologic symptoms. In my experience, younger patients tend to have focal neurological signs with even mild disc bulges or disc herniations. But very often, the symptoms don't match up with the imaging findings. I have seen patients with symptoms down the right leg, but the disc herniation is on the left side, etc.

Needless to say, that “etc.” at the end of the last sentence got me intrigued, so I asked Dr. Hodges if he would be willing to do an interview for our subscribers.  I think you’ll find it very enlightening – and forward-thinking.

EC: Thanks for joining us this week, Dr. Hodges.  Could you please tell us a bit about both your professional background and health and human performance interests?

JH: Thanks for the opportunity, Eric. I did my undergrad at University of Kansas with a BA in biochemistry graduating in 1991, and received my MD degree from U. of Kansas School of Medicine in 1995. I finished my Radiology residency at U. of Missouri in 1999 and received my American Board of Radiology certification the same year. I am currently an executive partner in S and D Medical LLP in NYC. My interest in fitness really lies outside my professional duties although there is obviously some overlap. My Radiology training is not specific to fitness.

EC:  In your reply to my newsletter last week, you not only confirmed some of the things I noted about MRI results in what we think are healthy lower backs, but also had some other very interesting experiences to share.  Would you please fill our readers in?

JH: Often imaging findings do not correlate with clinical findings. Older patients often have very degenerative spines without symptoms. Whereas younger patients can have small bulging discs or herniated discs and have debilitating pain. The human body has a great reserve capacity. I see many “normal” kidneys that are in chronic renal failure

Medical imaging generally deals with anatomy: how organs “look”, not so much how they function. Obviously, they are linked, but function can decline long before anatomic changes occur. Symptoms can occur without imaging abnormalities. This leads doctors to conclude that nothing is wrong because the x-ray/CT scan/MRI looks normal. This is simply not the case.

Medical imaging is simply one piece of the clinical puzzle. An analogy can be made with astronomy. You can image the universe at visible light, x-ray, ultraviolet, infrared, etc. Each modality provides a vital, but incomplete picture of the universe. You have to put it all together to get the big picture.

EC: How about the knees?  I know a lot of people are walking around with chronic ACL tears that aren’t symptomatic, but what else do you see?

JH: It is often easier to see acute injuries better than chronic images. We often see the secondary finding, such as edema or fluid collections rather than the direct injury itself. An acute ACL tear may show a gap in or fraying of the ACL, surrounding edema and joint effusion. A chronic ACL tear may show only a wavy appearance or abnormal signal as scar tissue has partially healed the injury. But it is important to recognize the chronic ACL tear because it alters the biomechanics of the knee, stressing other parts of the knee. This can lead to a higher risk of meniscal tear or premature arthritis. A common cluster of findings in acute knee injury is ACL tear, medial meniscal tear and medial collateral ligament sprain/tear and a joint effusion.

EC:  Shoulders?

JH: The most common finding I see is tendinopathy of the supraspinatus tendon. It is the most likely to be impinged under the acromion and clavicle. The shape of the acromial hook can predispose to impingement, as can arthritic changes of the acromioclavicular joint. In radiology, we tend to use the term “tendinopathy” rather than “tendonitis”. “Tendonitis” implies white blood cell inflammation, which we cannot confirm on MRI. So we use the imaging term of “tendinopathy” which can certainly include tendonitis.

EC:  So, what’s your take?  Are we too heavily reliant on MRIs as a society?  Certainly, it takes a lot more resources to get a MRI than x-rays, yet many people seem to request these at a moment’s notice to gain some peace of mind.  What kind of accuracy are we talking?

JH: As I said, MRI is just a piece of the big picture. Some of the limitations include the fact that we image the joints in a static state, in one position. We image the lumbar spine with the patient lying down which is a whole different loading scheme than standing up. The tracking of the patella during extension is really best assessed by physical exam, not by MRI. It is a matter of putting too many eggs in the imaging basket, so to speak. MRI is the best imaging modality for the soft tissues, but it is not all-seeing/all-knowing.

EC: Let’s talk about lifters.  What are you seeing in terms of chronic adaptations to lifting heavy stuff?

JH: To be honest, we don’t image many lifters except in the setting of acute injury. Lifters tend to be younger and healthier. Certainly, lifters have better bone density and have a lower risk of osteoporosis. Larger muscles and lower bodyfat are obviously the case.

EC: Aside from lifting, what other lifestyle habits have you found lead to less-than-stellar diagnostic imaging?  Alcohol?  Certain occupations?

JH: By far, the biggest limitation is obesity. All of the imaging modalities are limited by it, mostly for technical reasons. An ultrasound beam can only penetrate so far into the soft tissues. X-rays and CT scans are degraded by scattered radiation, which leads to a higher radiation dose and grainy images. Also, the time it takes to do the study increases, which gives a higher incidence of motion blur.

EC: So diagnostic imaging is less accurate with obese patients?  One more reason to not get fat in the first place!

We often talk about how the best doctors are the ones who meet the lay population halfway.  In other words, they’re the ones who can tell an injured patient what he CAN do, and not just what he CAN’T do.  My experience has been that the best trainers and coaches are the ones that can meet the doctors halfway, and it’s something to which I attribute a lot of my success.

To that end, what resources would you recommend to trainers, coaches, and everyday weekend warriors looking to learn more in the direction of the clinical realm?

JH: Frankly, the mainstream media is not a great source of information. It is incumbent on us radiologists to let the primary care doctors know what we can image and, more importantly, what we can’t. Orthopedic surgeons tend to be the most knowledgeable regarding the musculoskeletal system, but don’t discount chiropractors. I am pretty open-minded to alternative medicine, unlike many of my fellow MDs. My chiropractor does a great job using ART on my trigger points in my traps. Also, never be afraid to get a second opinion.

My advice to all practitioners – be they doctors, chiropractors or trainers – is to learn as much as possible. Be confident in your knowledge and abilities, but don’t think that any one practitioner has all the answers. Medical knowledge is too vast for anyone to know everything about everything. I know my medical school training regarding fitness and nutrition was paltry. Sure, I learned about muscle fiber composition and the biochemistry of vitamins and minerals. But, most doctors just parrot the standard dogma of low-fat, high-carb diet, walk 20 minutes three times a week, etc. You and I both know that won’t lead to any significant body composition changes.

EC: Agreed.  I actually know several doctors who have “seen the light” when they’ve started to read more of Dr. John Berardi’s work – not to mention the latest research of carbohydrate-restricted diets from the likes of Jeff Volek and Cassandra Forsythe.  What else?

JH: Seek out those practitioners who aren’t afraid of the cutting edge. Just as you wouldn’t want a trainer who is a glorified rep counter, you don’t want a doctor who is simply going to give you the same old tired, old-school nutrition and fitness “advice,” if you can even call it that. That advice may promote health, but it won’t give the body composition changes most of your readers seek.

In addition to being confident in their abilities, practitioners need to know when to refer to other people. Some things need to be treated medically or surgically. They can’t be fixed in the gym or at the training table. Health and wellness should be a team effort with everybody working in their areas of expertise and not outside of it. Underconfidence and overconfidence in your abilities are equally bad for your client/patient.

Unfortunately, Western style medicine is very disease-oriented and body-part-oriented, often losing the big picture, especially regarding the whole kinetic chain of the musculoskeletal system. My opinion is that this is where trainers and chiropractors shine. I wish my fellow doctors would be more amenable to referring patients to trainers/chiropractors for problems that don’t need medical or surgical treatment. The human body has great ability to adapt and heal itself, if you give it a chance.

EC: Thanks again for taking the time to be with us!

JH: My pleasure. Thank you for inviting me. My kind gratitude to my colleague D. Dillon, RN, BSN for her assistance.

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Turbulence Training Under the Microscope: An Interview with Craig Ballantyne

Craig Ballantyne is one of the most widely published and successful guys in our industry – and for a good reason: he gets results. His Turbulence Training protocols have helped thousand of people get lean over the past few years, and with summer upon us, I figured it would be a great time to track Craig down for an interview.

EC: Let’s be honest: every Average Joe trainer under the sun has an e-book or 5-minute guide to sucker misinformed housewives into shelling out hundreds of dollars to learn the “hidden secret” of fat loss. Frankly, I’ve had hundreds of products along these lines cross my path in the past few years, and the only two that have withstood the test of time – and yielded outstanding results time-and-time again are yours and Cosgrove’s. I know about your programming, but let’s enlighten our readers a bit about what makes Turbulence Training so effective.

CB: I think there are a lot of other good ideas and programs out there; not a day goes by that I don't get a good idea from another trainer.  Maybe Alwyn and I just claimed the catchiest names - or maybe it’s the Scottish last name.

What I've done over the years is take my experience in research, and in training athletes, and in working with busy people with minimal equipment, and rolled that up into a program that meets the needs of my readers.

I've adapted the program quite a bit over the years because users have demanded changes. For example, in the past, it used to focus on barbell exercises, but now includes only dumbbell and body weight training exercises (with the exception of my more advanced "Fusion and Synergy" fat loss programs).

The principles remain the same, though. We use more intense strength training than traditional programs (lower reps, not as low as a powerlifter, but lower than 99% of fat loss programs recommended in the past - although this is changing as the approach becomes more popular).

Each workout uses supersets. This gets the workout done faster. I also use what I call "non-competing" supersets, basically referring to supersetting two exercises that don't use the same muscles - including grip strength.

So, a dumbbell split squat and a dumbbell chest press would be non-competing. A dumbbell reverse lunge and a dumbbell row would be competing, because they both demand intense grip work. So, I'd avoid the lunge-row combo.

And then we finish up each workout with interval training. This, too, has evolved over the years. I used to recommend basic 30-second intervals, with 60-second recovery, done on a bike or treadmill (or sprints outside). Now I'm using bodyweight circuits in place of intervals, or sometimes barbell complexes, or sometimes even high-rep dumbbell work.

These changes have all been based on feedback from users. For example, a lot of Turbulence TrainingSo, we use body weight training circuits instead. These are great and can be adapted for any fitness level. readers work out at home with nothing but dumbbells and a bench; they don't have a machine for cardio.

For the interval type circuits, I like to use six total bodyweight exercises, three lower body and three upper body. Then just alternate between upper and lower in a 6-exercise circuit.

So bottom line, a Turbulence Training workout will run like this:

5-minute body weight warm-up

20-minutes superset strength training

18-minutes interval training

7-minutes stretching or mobility work

We do three hard workouts per week, yet I emphasize that everyday is an exercise day (that is, on the four days you don't do a hard Turbulence Training workout, you must still get 30 minutes of activity - preferably something you enjoy and enables you to spend time with family or friends).

EC: Along these same lines, where are most fat loss programs falling short? Where are people missing the boat?

CB: Mostly in nutrition, to be frank.

But as for the workout component, relying solely on long, slow cardio exercise to build the body of your dreams is only going to lead to pain and frustration from a lack of results.

It is simply not an efficient way to exercise for fat loss. If you only have 45 minutes to exercise, and you spend 40 of those minutes on a cardio machine, then you have no hope of building the body you want.

The cardio mindset is all about breaking down the body, burning calories, and looking negatively at food (i.e. how much exercise can I do to punish myself for eating this brownie?). It's that 1980s aerobic-high carbohydrate mentality that has literally ruined people's lives by leading them down the wrong physical path.

The Turbulence Training fat loss mindset is positive, and is focused on building the body, boosting the metabolism, and developing positive nutrition rituals that fuel your body for mental and physical performance.

Another mistake of fat loss programs is focusing on the "calories burned". Just like the nutrition industry is slowly starting to recognize that a "calorie isn't always a calorie", we need to accept that the number of calories burned in a workout is not the main determinant of fat loss success.

First, machine calorie counters are notoriously inaccurate. Second, you can wipe out all the calories you just burned in about 30 seconds with a Starbucks summer drink. And finally, we need to look at the bigger question - and that is how does your workout affect your daily metabolism?

I believe a high-intensity workout - like Turbulence Training - leads to better results because it focuses on boosting your metabolism. So while you won't burn as many calories during the workout - according to the machine - you end up burning more fat over the course of the day and week. And that's the bottom line.

EC: Memorial Day weekend was the unofficial start to summer, meaning that millions of people are scrambling to get as lean as possible as fast as possible. If you had to give them three bits of advice, what would they be?

CB: First, your nutrition is going to give you the majority of your results. Find a time when you can go to the grocery store and prepare your meals for the week. Stick to that. Give yourself a little reward each week, but don't go overboard.

Find out how many calories you eat now. Then cut back on your calories AND try to improve the quality of your nutrition. Take baby steps, and don't move too quickly. For example, tomorrow, make sure you eat one additional fruit. The day after, add one extra serving of vegetables. The third day, cut out all sugary beverages. And so on.

Second, get social support. Whether you find kindred fat loss spirits on the Internet, at work, in the gym, or at home with a family member, make sure you have someone that you can be accountable to (get a trainer once a week), and that will support you (if your family isn't supportive, find someone on a good internet forum or a buddy at work).

Social support will keep you out of the wrong eating situations and will always be there to help you hit new personal bests in your workouts. Don't underestimate what a helping hand can do for your fat loss.

Third, if you really want to succeed, then be prepared to suck it up for a few weeks. After all, what's eight weeks of discipline over the course of a lifetime? It's nothing. Just think about the last eight weeks of your life...doesn't it seem like that time just flew by?

So, if you get serious about your nutrition and consistent with an intense program of strength training and interval training, you can make dramatic changes in four weeks, eight weeks, or whatever is left this summer.

Find a time when you know you can stick to your workout. Don't let anything get in the way.

And after eight weeks of consistent effort, you'll have a better body, and this is where it gets good...

You'll find its much easier to maintain a great body, AND you'll have built so many healthy habits in those eight weeks that you won't feel like going back to the old way of living where you ate - and felt - like crap all the time. Plus, you'll have a consistent exercise habit. It's a win-win situation to put yourself through an eight-week intensive regimen.

EC: Tell us about Turbulence Training; what’s the scoop?

CB: This is the one-year anniversary of my program at TurbulenceTraining.com. Over the past year, we've helped thousands of people lose fat in less time than ever, and we want to help even more this year.

So I twisted a few arms and rounded up some excellent bonuses that include...

1) Meal Plans for Men & Women by Dr. Chris Mohr (Value $99)

2) How to Measure Your Body Fat by Dr. John Berardi (Value $29.97)

3) High-Octane, Fat Burning Recipes by Mike Roussell (Value $19.99)

4) How Hormones Affect Your Fat Loss: A Special Report from Dr. Holly Lucille & Jon Benson (Value $19.99)

5) A One-Month Bonus Trial at Global-Fitness (Value $9.95)

6) The Turbulence Training Hardcore Fat Loss 4-Week Program by Craig Ballantyne (Value $19.99)

7) A Three-Month Basic Level Membership to the Turbulence Training Discussion Forums & Other Exclusive Fat Loss Info (Value $59.85)

If readers are curious, they can check them out at TurbulenceTraining.com.

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An Interview with Chris Mohr, PhD, RD

By: Eric Cressey

Some of you might not be familiar with Dr. Chris Mohr, so after reading this interview, you might be inclined to think that he’s and “up-and-coming star” in the world of nutrition for health and human performance.  I beg to differ; Chris is already a star – you just might not know about him yet.

Dr. Mohr has Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Nutrition, from Penn State University and the University of Massachusetts, respectively.  He received his PhD in exercise physiology from the University of Pittsburgh and is also a registered dietitian.  He has consulted with various media outlets and corporations, including the Discovery Health Channel, Clif Bar, Fit Fuel, and Labrada Nutrition.  Chris works with all types of individuals, from soccer moms to collegiate and professional athletes.  He has authored or co-authored several textbooks that are to be published in 2007, including a sports nutrition textbook for Human Kinetics and a book, The Platinum Body, on which he consulted with LL Cool J.  In all, Chris has written over 500 articles for consumer publications such as Men’s Fitness, Men’s Health, and Muscle and Fitness, to name a few.  In short, this guy knows his stuff!

EC: Hi Chris, thanks for taking the time to be with us today.  We typically focus a lot on the training end of the spectrum with our interviews, but I think that having more nutrition talk will be a good thing with “beach season” upon us.  Let’s get right to it…randomly toss out ten things that our readers can do right now to optimize their nutritional plans?


  1. Add at least one fruit and/or vegetable to EVERY meal.
  2. Replace saturated and trans fats with fish oil, flax, olive oil, and other healthy fats.
  3. Drink more tea – green and black, as both offer a ton of benefits.
  4. Use a pre-, during-, and post-workout product that offers a carbohydrate:protein blend of about 2-3:1
  5. Drink more water.
  6. Think fiber, not carbs; whole grains are awesome, unless it’s pre-, during-, or post-workout.
  7. Write down what you eat on a daily basis/
  8. Eat at least one handful of almonds and/or walnuts daily.
  9. Add berries to your diet.
  10. Always eat breakfast.

EC: It goes without saying that you’re one of the industry leaders in the field of nutrition for health, performance, and body composition, but who were your mentors?  Likewise, who are the other individuals within the industry with whom you communicate on a daily basis for advanced nutrition knowledge?

CM:  I like to read all that I can – the good, the bad, and the ugly – to keep me in the loop of what’s out there being said, promoted, etc.  With that said, here are some folks I really trust for their nutrition knowledge – well, it’s nobody; I know all the answers!  Just kidding, of course.  John Berardi is great and a good friend, Tom Incledon is very knowledgeable, and I also look to Dave Ellis, who is a dietitian and strength coach who works with many pro/college teams or athletes in every sport.

EC: We’ve talked about the good guys, so how about the bad?  What frustrates you the most about this industry?

CM: The thing that frustrates me the most are those who only want that quick fix; they want all the results, with none of the work.  I hate the different fad diets that come out nearly every day.  Carbs are bad; now they’re good.  Fat is the devil; now it’s the greatest thing in the world.  Nutrition does not have to be that difficult; sure, there are some intricacies that will help you improve body comp, achieve goals, etc., but stick with the basics.  And don’t live off of supplements.  I received an email from a reader the other day with a list of EIGHTEEN different products he was taking and there were about three of each product, just different brands (creatine with dextrose, without, effervescent, three different multivitamins, and more).  Food works pretty damn well – and supplements can of course be beneficial, but don’t try to live off them!

EC: Let’s go with a little word association game.  What 2-3 sentences come to mind when I mention the following words/phrases?

The Food Guide Pyramid - Wish there was more focus on quality of nutrients.  If you’re stuck on a pyramid, I like the Mediterranean Food Pyramid, which emphasizes whole grains, fish, fruits and veggies, and healthy fats.

John Berardi - John is a great guy, very knowledgeable, and a good friend.  Although when he lumps all sports dietitians together as not knowing their head from their ass, he’s barking up the wrong tree!

Fasting - If you want to lose a lot of lean body mass, it’s REALLY effective.  You may be 120 years old when you die because of the extended life from caloric restriction, but you’ll wish you died when you started fasting.

Digestive Enzymes - Depends on your situation.  I don’t believe everyone needs them; the body works pretty darn well, but some folks may benefit from adding them to their regimen.

Eating Organic - Great if you can afford it.  I’m more concerned with folks first getting some healthier foods in their diets; many folks eat less than one fruit and/or vegetable each day.  I’d rather have them start there and just add healthier foods than worrying about paying a lot for organic foods.  If you can afford it, great, but more importantly, start making positive changes from your current diet without worrying too much about the organic thing and then “graduate” to that.

EC: If our readers want to be at the top of their game nutrition-wise, what are a few resources they need to check out?


Yes, the first two are shameless, self-promoting plugs:

  1. Human Inferno – A manual to help you with fat loss; I wrote it with Alwyn Cosgrove
  2. Weapons for Mass – Another manual I co-authored, this time with Dr. Greg Bradley-Popovich.
  3. Gourmet Nutrition by John Berardi and John Williams
  4. Fundamental Fueling Tactics DVD by Dave Ellis, RD, CSCS

EC: Similarly, who are five speakers they should see present?

CM: Alwyn Cosgrove, Craig Ballantyne, John Berardi, Phil Kaplan, and, of course, Eric Cressey.  Well, they should see me too.

EC: What’s new in your world?  I know you’re traveling a ton this summer; please fill us in on what has been on your agenda. Any new projects coming up?

CM:  I am traveling a ton this summer – lots of work, but of course some pleasure too.  So aside from being all over the country in the next few months, I’m working on another cool fat loss project with Alwyn Cosgrove and am in the early stages of a very cool project with someone else in my company that we plan to launch in the fall.  Stay tuned for more details.  I also just wrapped up some work on a book I did with LL Cool J and his trainer that will be coming out in January, in addition to a Sports Nutrition Textbook I co-authored for Human Kinetics that will be out in February 2007.  So, lots of stuff on the horizon!

EC: Thanks for being with us today, Chris.  Where can our readers find out more about you?

CM:  Thanks, Eric!

Check out www.MohrResults.com.
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An Interview with Brijesh Patel

By: Eric Cressey

It seems only fitting that I kick off the interviews with one of the guys who played a large role in getting me to where I am today.  When I arrived at the University of Connecticut, I was a little unsure about where my graduate school experience would take me, although I was leaning toward becoming a hardcore geek and doing loads of research.  Then, I met Brijesh and Pat Dixon and hit it off immediately with both of them.  These guys really took me under their wing in my first few weeks on campus.  Pat gave me the tour of campus, and Brijesh took the time to chat with me about anything related to training, nutrition, and life in general.  Perhaps most importantly, these two guys brought me into the UCONN varsity weight room to train, and it was there that my love of coaching really went to a whole new level.

The day I met Brijesh, he invited me to come to watch him coach the baseball guys the next morning at 6AM.  I showed up without thinking twice.  The passion “B” displayed for coaching and his complete control over an indoor track full of 25 college guys were really remarkable – especially since he did it in a very mild manner.  B isn’t one of those coaches who needs to scream and yell at you all the time to make you better, and I’ve really modeled myself from his example.  Perhaps most impressively was that every one of those players was wide awake at the crack of dawn; they were anxious to be coached by a guy whom they obviously respected tremendously as someone who could get them to where they needed to be.  That was a little over 30 months ago, and my coaching career has absolutely skyrocketed since then; I owe a lot of this success to B.

EC: Hey B, thanks for agreeing to do this.  Some of our readers might not have heard of you (and it’s their loss), so let’s try to bring them up to speed.  Fill them in a bit on your background, what you’ve got going on now, your pets, favorite color, whatever.

BP: Thanks Eric, I’m honored to be one of your first interviewees and would love to help out a fellow Husky and a Husky fellow.

EC: I was a husky kid long before I went to UCONN.  That’s what they used to call us fat kids when they didn’t want to hurt our feelings.

Mom: “You’re not fat; you’re just husky.  That’s why you need to wear elastic jeans and sweatpants all the time.”

Little Eric: “What does “husky” mean?”

Mom: “It just means that you play hard, honey.  Now wipe the cotton candy stains off your face and try on these Bugle Boys.”

I digress, but not totally.  You were a “husky” guy before UCONN, too, right?

BP: Yes!  This is kind of a long story, but I’ll try to keep it short so I don’t bore any of your readers.  I was always a “bigger” kid growing up, and had trouble participating in many sports because of my disadvantageous size.  I went out for football my freshman year in high school and vowed to lose enough weight so that I would have the opportunity to play more.  At my peak, I weighed 225 lbs (standing in at a whopping 5’4) with probably a body-fat of 30% (and that’s being generous).

I did a complete overhaul on my diet, began to exercise every day, and read anything I could get my hands on regarding training, and nutrition.  I ended up going a little over board and lost 90 lbs in six months.  I was then introduced to the weight-room and fell in love with it.  As a high school senior, I knew I wanted to be involved in athletics in some way and what better way than athletic preparation?

EC: Sounds all too familiar to me; how did you take the next step and get into coaching?

BP: I went to the University of Connecticut and volunteered in the varsity weight room in my second week of school.  I began by simply observing and asking questions and each year I gained more and more responsibility.  By my senior year, I was given two teams to train and coach on my own, which was an unbelievable opportunity in itself.  This worked itself into a graduate assistant position at UConn for another year a half.  Along the way I was fortunate enough to complete internships with Mike Boyle at his professional facility, and with Jeff Oliver at the College of the Holy Cross (where I presently coach).

EC: Mike and Jeff are both great mentors; who else inspired you?

BP: There have been a number of people that have inspired me in a number of ways.  I really admire all of the people that I have gotten to work with over the years, namely: Jerry Martin, Andrea Hudy, Shawn Windle, Teena Murray, Chris West, Moe Butler, Pat Dixon, Mike Boyle, Ed Lippie, Walter Norton Jr., Jeff Oliver, Liz Proctor, Charles Maka, and anybody else that I forgot.

I would also like to mention that people that have really shaped the industry and been willing to share their own knowledge: Everybody at T-Nation (Cressey, Robertson, TC, Waterbury, Shugart, Thibaudeau, Berardi, John, Cosgrove, Tate, Poliquin, King, and many others), Louie Simmons, Robb Rogers, Vern Gambetta, Mike Boyle, Paul Chek, Juan Carlos Santana, Mike Clark, Carl Valle, Mark Verstegen, Charlie Francis, and all the other great minds and coaches in the field today.

EC: What frustrates you the most about this industry?

BP: The number one problem in my opinion is the lack of “open-mindedness” of coaches, and self-proclaimed “gurus.”  This may be hard for some people to believe, but there is more than one way to get it done (create a strong, lean, mobile, and injury-resistant athlete).  I was asked a question recently about who I don’t really like in the industry, and I don’t think I could actually answer that question.  If you take the time to listen to what people say, you’ll find that everybody has something to offer.  We need to get over our egos and realize that you could learn something from somebody – even if it’s how NOT to do something.

EC: Describe a day in the life of Brijesh Patel – coaching, training yourself, you name it.

BP: I typically wake up by 5 am (I push it to 6 am on the weekends; I know, I’m a rebel!), have a couple cups of coffee and am out the door to work.  I like to train in the morning before it gets crazy in the weightroom, so I’ll usually train for about 90-120 minutes.  I’m not training for anything in particular, so I try the programs I write for my athletes.  This benefits me because I can see what is realistic and what works and what doesn’t before I try something out on my athletes.

The rest of my morning consists of catching up on emails, writing programs, speaking with coaches, helping out athletes who may come in to make up workouts, and reading up on articles.  Our afternoons are extremely busy with teams coming in every 30 minutes, and this lasts from about 2 pm to 6 pm.  If you want to check out weightroom efficiency, feel free to stop up to Holy Cross in Worcester, MA.  Then I’ll usually do some personal training or group training with high school kids (which I think is the best time to start training).

EC: The “knowledge is power” mentality is something I’m going to reiterate in each of my newsletters; it’s often been said that you should be reading at least one hour per day if you want to make it anywhere in life.  With that said, one question that everyone I interview will have to answer is “What are ten books that every aspiring coach should read or watch?”  We’re even going to make it easy on readers by providing them links to these books and DVDs.  You’re one of the most well-read guys I’ve ever met, B; what are your top ten?


1. Training for Speed, by Charlie Francis

2. The Egoscue Method of Health through Motion, by Pete Egoscue

3a. Designing Strength Training Programs and Facilities, by Mike Boyle

3b. Functional Training for Sports, by Mike Boyle

4. Science and Practice of Strength Training, by Vladimir Zatsiorsky

5. Way of the Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman

6. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff—and it’s all Small Stuff, by Richard Carlson

7. Science of Sports Training, by Thomas Kurz

8a. The Black Book of Training Secrets, by Christian Thibaudeau

8b. Theory and Application of Modern Strength and Power Methods, by Christian


9. Modern Trends in Strength Training, by Charles Poliquin

10. Who Moved My Cheese?, by Spencer Johnson and Kenneth Blanchard

I think these are a good mix of practical training that works, and personal development that will aid you in becoming a better coach.

EC:  If you had to pick five things our readers could do right now to become better lifters/athletes/coaches/trainers, what would they be?


1. Seek Knowledge - To become the best athlete/coach/trainer/person you have to go out and seek to learn from the best.  This knowledge can come from self-help books, business books, college classes, seminars, videos, the internet, you name it.  Just go out and learn.

2. Listen to People - This is a huge problem for all people.  We all judge people and shut them and their ideas out based on what we think we know about them.  When we actually take the time to listen to what somebody has to say, then and only then should we really judge.  If it works for somebody else and not for you find out why it works for them…don’t be quick to judge.

3. Train - There is nothing more frustrating to see than coaches who don’t do the programs that they write.  How do you know if it works?  How do you know what it feels like?  How do you know if it’s too heavy, too light, too much or not enough?

The only way to find out is to do it.  The program may look great on paper, but if it’s too much and you can’t recover from it, what’s the point?

4. Balance - Balance is a general word that refers to how we should do everything in life.  If we do too much of any one thing, something else is going to suffer.  For example, if we spend too much time at work our family and social life are going to suffer.  If we train our internal rotators too much with excessive volume our external rotators are going to suffer and leave us more susceptible to shoulder injuries.  If we eat too many carbohydrates, our insulin sensitivity is going to decrease and increase our chances of having type 2 diabetes.  We need to have balance in everything we do in our lives: work, family, social life, training, and nutrition.

5. Coach People, not Athletes - The more experienced I get in this field, the more I realize that I not only coach athletes, but coach people.  As coaches and trainers, we can have a profound influence on the people with whom we work.  We need to realize that we are not only helping an athlete achieve their goals, but also helping them to become better people.  We are teaching them what they can do mentally and physically, how to focus their mind, how to stay positive, how to make changes in their lifestyle, how to reduce stress, and how to lead a healthier lifestyle.  We run a summer program for high school kids and the biggest changes we see in them are their confidence levels.  Parents always remark on how our coaches have been a positive influence on their children.

“People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

-Veronica Jutras (former HC women’s basketball player and Be Athletic Camp Counselor)

EC: Great advice, B.  On a semi-related note, what’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in your training and professional careers?  Looking back, what would you do differently?

BP: Boy, where do I begin?  My first mistake could have been all of the long distance training I did to lose weight when I was in high school.  I’m positive that that training killed my chances to make it to the NBA (other than the fact that my genetics weren’t the greatest to begin with).  Side note: I haven’t grown much since high school, either.

As I mentioned earlier, being close-minded and not seeking enough knowledge were the biggest mistakes I made.  I thought I knew enough and didn’t believe in what other coaches did.  Because it didn’t make sense to me, I closed them out and thought they were bad coaches.  I didn’t seek to understand their perspectives or what they were looking to accomplish.  I also stopped seeking out new information for a while and became content and comfortable.  I soon realized that this was not a quick ticket to become a better coach or a better person.  I know now that to become better, I have to try and learn from everybody that I meet.  The only way to do that is to ask questions and seek to understand their perspective.

EC: Where do you see yourself in a few years, and how would you like to be remembered way down the road?

BP: In a couple years, I imagine myself as a head strength and conditioning coach at a university.  I would like to run an excellent program that is respected by my peers, and produces quality professionals.  I ultimately want to be known as a good educator and teacher.  I really relish the opportunity to work with interns who are eager to learn and become good professionals.  Another thing that I hope for is to have a lasting impact upon all the athletes with whom I work.  There is nothing more satisfying than to know that you have helped somebody become a better person.

EC: I think it’s safe to say that you’ve already accomplished more in your 20s than most coaches accomplish in your lifetime, and there’s no doubt that you’ll continue to be a force on the performance enhancement scene for decades to come.  That said, feel free to use the space below to shamelessly plug all of your products and services.

BP: Robb Rogers, Shawn Windle, and I make up S B Coaches College (www.sbcoachescollege.com), an internet education business committed to bringing you the latest information about the methods used by top-level strength coaches to prepare their athletes for competition.  Whether you are a sport coach, strength coach, or athlete, we will provide you with products and information that will help you and your athletes achieve new levels of performance.  You will find hundreds of inspirational and motivational quotes in our coach’s corner, thought-provoking tip of the months, information-packed newsletters, easy-to-understand articles, PowerPoint presentations that we have utilized, and high quality CD-ROMs and manuals for sale.

Readers can contact me at bnpuconn@hotmail.com

EC: Thanks for the time, B!

BP: Thanks Eric, I really appreciated and enjoyed this opportunity.

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An Interview with Eric Cressey

Brian Grasso - Your newest DVD, ‘Magnificent Mobility’ cites the importance of delineating the difference between ‘mobility’ and ‘flexibility’ in a training program. What is the difference and when do each apply?

Eric Cressey - Those are great questions, Brian; very few people understand the difference – and it is a big one. Flexibility merely refers to range of motion – and, more specifically, passive range of motion as achieved by static stretching. Don’t get me wrong; static stretching has its place. I see it as tremendously valuable in situations where you want to:

a) Relax a muscle to facilitate antagonist activation (e.g. stretch the hip flexors to improve glute recruitment)

b) Break down scar tissue following an injury and/or surgery (when the new connective tissue may require “realignment”)

c) Loosen someone up when you can’t be supervising them (very simply, there is less likelihood of technique breakdown with static stretching because it isn’t a dynamic challenge)

However, the principle problem with pure flexibility is that it does not imply stability nor preparedness for dynamic tasks. As one of my mentors, Dr. David Tiberio, taught me, we need to have mobile-stability; there’s really no use in being able to attain a given range of motion if you can’t stabilize yourself in that position. Excessive passive flexibility without mobility (or dynamic flexibility, as it’s been called) will actually increase the risk of injury!

Moreover, it’s not uncommon at all to see individuals with circus-like passive flexibility fail miserably on dynamic tasks. For instance, I recently began working with an accomplished ballet dancer who can tie herself into a human pretzel, but could barely hit parallel on a body weight squat until after a few sessions of corrective training. She was great on the dynamic tasks that were fundamentally specific to her sport, but when faced with a general challenge that required mobility in a non-familiar range of motion, she was grossly unprepared to handle it. She had flexibility, but not mobility; the instability and the lack of preparation for the dynamic motion were the limiting factors. She could achieve joint ranges of motion, but her neuromuscular system wasn’t prepared to do much of anything in those ranges of motion.

We went to great lengths in Magnificent Mobility to not only outline mobility drills, but also what we call “activation” movements. Essentially, they teach often-dormant muscles to fire at the right times to normalize the muscle balance, improve performance, and reduce the risk of injury. Collectively, mobility and activation drills are best performed as part of the warm-up and on off-days as active recovery. We’ve received hundreds of emails already from athletes and ordinary weekend warriors claiming improved performance, enhanced feeling of well-being, and resolution of chronic injuries; this kind of positive feedback really makes our jobs fun!

Brian Grasso - You certainly are known for you ability to get athletes stronger. What type of training do you use for adolescent athletes… let me narrow that down (i) a 16 year old with no formal strength training experience (ii) a 16 year with a solid foundation and decent knowledge with exercise form

Eric Cressey - First and foremost, we have fun. It doesn’t matter how educated or passionate I am; I’m not doing my job if they aren’t having a blast coming in to train with me. With respect to the individual athletes, I’ll first roll through a health history and just run them through some basic dynamic flexibility movements to see where they stand. As we all know, there is a lot of variation in terms of physical maturity and training experience at these ages, and I can get a pretty good idea of what they need just by watching them move a bit. In your individual cases, much of my training would revolve around the following:

In the unprepared athlete, I’d go right into several body weight drills – many of them isometric in nature – to teach efficiency. We often see an inability to differentiate between lumbar spine and pelvic motion, so I spend quite a bit of time emphasizing that the lumbar spine should be stable, and range of motion should come from the hips, thoracic spine, scapulae, and arms. Loading is the least of my concerns in the first few sessions; research has demonstrated that beginners can make progress on as little as 40% of 1RM, so why rush things with heavy loading that will compromise form? The lighter weights will allow them to groove technique and improve connective tissue health prior to the introduction of heavier loading. At the start, I’ll emphasize unilateral work; mobility; any corrective training that’s needed; classic stabilization movements (i.e. bridges); and learning the compound movements, deceleration/landing mechanics, and how to accelerate external loads (e.g. medicine balls, free weights). I’ll also make a point of mentioning that how you unrack and rerack weights is just as important as how you train; it drives me crazy to see a kid return a bar to the floor with a rounded back.

In the athlete with a solid foundation, I’ll run through those same preliminary drills to verify that they are indeed “solid” and not just good compensators for dysfunction. Believe it or not, most “trained” athletes really aren’t that “trained” if you use efficiency as a marker of preparedness – even at the Division I, professional, and Olympic ranks; you can be a great athlete in spite of what you do and not necessarily because of what or how you do it.

Assuming things are looking good, I’ll look to give them more external loading on all movements, as the fastest inroads to enhanced performance will always be through maximal strength in novice athletes. As they get more advanced, I’ll start to look more closely at whether they’re more static or spring dominant and incorporate more advanced reactive training movements. Single-leg movements are still of paramount importance, and we add in some controlled strongman-type training to keep things interesting and apply the efficiency in a less controlled environment. Likewise, as an athlete’s deceleration mechanics improve, we progress from strictly closed-loop movement training drills to a blend of open- and closed-loop (unpredictable) tasks.

In both cases, variety is key; I feel that my job is to expose them to the richest proprioceptive environment possible in a safe context. With that said, however, I’m careful to avoid introducing too many different things; it’s important for young athletes to see quantifiable progress in some capacity. If you’re always changing what you do, you’ll never really show them where they stand relative to baseline.

Brian Grasso - Olympic lifts and adolescents… do you use them? Why or why not?

Eric Cressey - Personally, I generally don’t for several reasons. It’s not because I’m inherently opposed to Olympic lifts from an injury risk standpoint. Sure, I’ve seen cleans ruin some wrists, and there are going to be a ton of people with AC joint and impingement problems who can’t do anything above shoulder level without pain. That’s not to say that the exercises are fundamentally contraindicated for everyone, though; as with most things in life, the answer rests somewhere in the middle. Know your clients, and select your exercises accordingly.

My primary reasons for omitting them tend to be that I don’t always have as much time with athletes as I’d like, and simply because such technical lifts require constant practice – which we all know isn’t always possible with young athletes who don’t train for a living. Equipment limitations may be a factor (bumper plates are a nice luxury). And, to be very honest, I’ve seen athletes make phenomenal progress without using Olympic lifts, so I don’t concern myself too much with the arguing that goes on. If another coach wants to use them and is a good teacher, I’m find with him doing so; it just isn’t for me, with the exception of some high pulls here and there.

Brian Grasso - Basing off of the last question, do you teach Olympic lift technique to pre-adolescents?

Eric Cressey - I don’t. It’s not to say that I wouldn’t be comfortable doing so with a broomstick or some PVC pipe, but when I consider the pre-adolescents with whom I’ve worked, I just can’t see them getting excited about all that technique work for one category of exercises. Olympic lifting is a sport in itself, and I think it should be viewed that way.

Brian Grasso - My subscribers know that I believe as much in deceleration training as I do in any sort of speed enhancing-based work… How do you improve speed and deceleration habits?

Eric Cressey - We’re definitely on the same page on this one. In a nutshell, I just slow everything down for the short-term – starting with isometric holds. Every change of direction has a deceleration, isometric action, and acceleration; I’ve found that if you teach the athlete how his/her body should be aligned in that mid-point, they’ll be golden. My progressions are as follows (keep in mind that you can span several of these progressions in one session if the athlete is proficient):

Slow-speed, Full Stop, Hold > Slow Speed, Full Stop, Acceleration > Slow Speed, Quick Transition, Acceleration > Normal Speed, Full Stop, Hold > Normal Speed, Full Stop, Acceleration > Normal Speed, Quick Transition, Acceleration

Open-loop > Closed-loop (predictable > unpredictable)

With respect to reactive training methods (incorrectly termed plyometrics), we start with bilateral and unilateral jumps to boxes, as they don’t impose as much eccentric force (the athlete goes up, but doesn’t come down). From there, we move to altitude landings, and ultimately to bounce drop jump (depth jumps), repeated broad jumps, bounding, and other higher-impact tasks.

Finally, one lost component of deceleration training is basic maximal strength. All other factors held constant, the stronger kid will learn to decelerate more easily than his weaker counterparts. So, enhancing a generally, foundational quality like maximal strength on a variety of tasks will indirectly lead to substantial improvements in deceleration ability – especially in untrained individuals.

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