Home Posts tagged "Mike Boyle"

Random Thoughts on Sports Performance Training – Installment 31

It's time for this month's installment of my random thoughts on sports performance training. In light of this week's $50 off sale (ending tonight) on Mike Boyle's outstanding resource, Complete Youth Training, I thought I'd focus this edition on the training of young athletes.

1. Puberty changes everything.

The best players at age 11 usually aren't always the best players at age 18 for two reasons:

a. They're usually the ones that get heavily overused by an overzealous coach who wants to win now - and end up injured, missing crucial developmental time periods.

b. Puberty changes absolutely everything. The hormonal and biomechanical changes that kick in during adolescence massively impact how one controls the center of mass within the base of support.

Prepubescent training is all about having fun and establishing solid foundations of movement that set young athletes up for future success.

2. Some training practices are more about establishing routines as they are about creating adaptation.

All our athletes begin their training sessions with self-myofascial release work: foam rolling, lacrosse ball trigger point work, the FMR Stick, and the Acumobility Ball. This includes younger athletes who honestly probably don't really need it.

Why do these youngsters do it, too? Because I want it to become a habit. I want them to realize that the gym isn't just about lifting heavy stuff, throwing med balls, and running fast. Rather, it's also a place where you can go to take care of soreness and actually leave feeling better than when you arrived. This proactive approach at age 13 helps us tremendously when they're age 18 and have more legitimate stresses on their bodies.

Just shorten that rolling series up and get right to the good stuff!

3. Youth training should be all about linear progress for the first two years of organized strength training.

It drives me crazy when kids have to re-gain initial strength. As an example, let's say a kid comes in at age 15 and takes his trap bar deadlift from 135 to 225 over the course of three months. His technique is pristine and he's learned how to put force into the ground.

Then, his sports season starts and he disappears for six months. At the end of the season, he comes back in and starts all over at 135 pounds. Sure, this time around, there's a bit of a technical foundation, and he makes those gains a little bit faster than the first time around. Really, though, we're talking about a situation where he wasted 1/8 of his high school development window.

We've all seen this graphic in the performance realms before, but the truth is that the image on the right applies to intermediate and experienced athletes. The goal is to never have setbacks in beginners because the positive adaptations are so easy to come by with consistent training, even if it's only two days per week of in-season work.

This is one reason why I've added a new component to every young athlete evaluation I do: a discussion about expectations and timelines. Every kid who walks in our facility will say that they want to play Division 1 sports. Very few truly appreciate the consistency and work ethic it will take to get to that point.

4. Make sure your medicine balls are the right weights.

I'm often asked what weight medicine balls we use for our training - and I always respond with a range: 4-8lb for our rotational work, and 4-12lb for our overhead work.

This range accounts not only for the type of exercise, but also the size of the athlete. A 13-year-old athlete will do best with a 4-pound ball for rotational med ball scoop tosses, whereas a 250-pound MLB player will handle a 8lb ball much better.

This, however, might be the most impressive med ball video you'll ever see from a 13-year-old, regardless of weight!

5. With skinny young male athletes, competition works amazingly on the nutrition front.

If you're training teenage male athletes who want to gain weight, nothing works better than having weekly weigh-ins that are charted for everyone to see. We've done it two years in a row with our college development program, and it's also proven extremely successful in our high school athletes. These quantifiable changes not only help to evaluate progress, but they also drive camaraderie among your athletes. Since we starting doing this, we see more guys going out to meals together, chatting each other up on the nutrition front, and discussing what has been working well for them.

Another interesting observation on this front: young athletes are often very out-of-touch with huge swings in body weight. As an example, earlier this week, I had an athlete tell me that he was 145 pounds during an evaluation. When we actually weighed him in, he was 133 pounds. That's an 8.3% loss of body weight! I'm 183 pounds, and if you dropped me by 8.3% to 167.8 pounds, I'd feel absolutely miserable. Young athletes aren't in-tune enough with their bodies to recognize this, though. It's up to us to make them consciously aware of how big swings in body weight are bad for not only performance, but also health and academic performance (dehydration has a massive impact on brain function).

Wrap-up

I could go on and on about lessons learned in training young athletes (and I might, at a later date), but in the meantime, I'd strongly encourage you to check out Mike Boyle's new resource, Complete Youth Training. I loved this product as both a strength and conditioning coach and a parent. Mike did a tremendous job of outlining the problems in the current youth sports landscape while also including practical solutions to these concerns. You can learn more - and get $50 off through tonight at midnight - HERE.


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Strength in the Teenage Years: An Overlooked Long-Term Athletic Development Competitive Advantage

Earlier this week, I posted this Tweet, and it got a pretty big response:

Of particular note to me, though, was one reply:

"The worst thing youth developmental athletes can do is to max out one biomotor ability and save themselves from developing ALL abilities. A long term program must develop all, not just strength. Strength, endurance, speed, flexibility.... No exploitation allowed."

This is one of the most glaring misconceptions about long-term athletic development, and I think it warrants a thorough response.

To be clear, I am all for prioritizing a host of biomotor abilities at a young age and continuing to develop them over the course of the athletic lifespan. You can't just turn athletes into powerlifters.

However, where I do disagree with this statement is that it implies that all these separate qualities are their own unique domains that must be trained separately. In reality, we have to look at things as a pyramid, not a collection of separate silos. The foundation of that pyramid is undoubtedly maximal strength.

I cover this in great detail in my e-book, The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual. Here's a quick excerpt with respect to power development:

"...maximal relative strength has a “trickle-down” effect to all things athletic. If you took your best squat from 200 pounds to 400 pounds, a single body weight squat would feel a lot easier, wouldn’t it? How about a single vertical jump? You have about 0.2 seconds to exert force on a classic vertical jump test; you’ll never make use of all the strength that you have, regardless of how good your rate of force development (explosive strength) is.

"However, let’s say (hypothetically) that you can put 50% of your maximal strength to work in that short time period. If we keep that percentage constant, isn’t an athlete with more maximal strength automatically at a great advantage? The 200-pound squatter can exert 100 pounds of force into the ground; the 400-pound squatter can exert 200 pounds. Is there really any question as to who can jump higher?"

This assertion has been consistently validated in the research world: a lack of maximal strength limits one's power potential. Having a strength foundation allows you to make the most of your plyometric, sprint, and agility progressions.

There are implications on the endurance end of the continuum as well.

"Now, let’s take this a step further to the endurance end of the spectrum. If you go from 200 to 400 pounds on that 1-rep max squat, wouldn’t a set of 20 body weight squats feel easier?

"If you could do lunges with 100 pound dumbbells in each hand, wouldn’t running five miles with just your body weight feel easier? You may have never thought of it, but every athletic endurance endeavor is really nothing more than a series of submaximal efforts."

Obviously, these strength numbers are unrealistic for the overwhelming majority of high level endurance athletes, but they aren't for competitive athletes from other sports requiring a blend of strength, power, and endurance. If you need further proof, check out the research I cited in my article, 5 Resistance Training Myths in the Running World.

Strength has implications for how well athletes move, too. The initial reply mentioned flexibility, which according to Wikipedia) is "the range of movement in a joint or series of joints." This is a static measure, whereas athletic success is more governed by mobility, which is one's ability to reach a position or posture. The difference is the presence of stability in a given circumstance, and that's impacted by muscular control. In fact, I would actually argue that the biggest "trickle-down" effect of maximal strength is joint stability, which in turn impacts mobility. As an example, this 6-11 athlete couldn't squat well when he first came in, but after eight weeks of training built a foundation of strength, he was able to do this:

All athletic qualities are important, but to say that they should all be trained equally at all times - especially in young athletes with a huge window of adaptations in front of them - is extremely short-sighted. Imagine a child that tried to take math, science, and history courses before mastering language skills. If you can't read and write, you will struggle to pick up these more progressive challenges. Strength is foundational in this same way, and this is the pyramid through which I view it:

The closer the items are to the bottom, the more heavily impacted by strength they are. We can debate where each of these items should be positioned on the pyramid (and it likely depends on the athlete in question), but nobody can debate that strength is an important foundation for all these other qualities. It's rooted not only in anecdotal experience of many elite coaches, but also in loads and loads of research.

As a closing thought, several months ago I reviewed Mike Boyle's great new resource, Complete Youth Training. After reviewing it, I told Mike that I enjoyed it not only as a strength and conditioning coach, but also as a parent of twin daughters. I think the most compelling statement Mike made in the entire resource is that one of the most impactful things he's done with his daughter (an accomplished D1 hockey player) was to strength train a minimum of two days per week since she was 11 years old. When you've got strength at a young age - and you preserve/build it over the years - the rest of your training becomes that much more productive.

Mike's put this resource on sale for $50 off this week, and I'd strongly encourage you to check it out, whether you're a strength and conditioning professional, rehabilitation specialist, sport coach, or parent of a young athlete. There's some excellent information in there for everyone. You can learn more HERE.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 5/18/18

Happy Friday! I'm a few days late with this post in light of our spring sale as well as some speaking-related travel I had this week. The good news is that the travel gave me some time to do some reading/viewing/listening and come up with some additional recommendations for you. Check them out:

Complete Youth Training - This is Mike Boyle's great new resource for those who work with young athletes. He touches on everything from the problems with early specialization to age-specific training stages. It's a good investment for parents and coaches alike. I loved how his perspective as a parent coalesced with his commentary as a strength and conditioning coach and business owner. It's on sale for $50 as an introductory discount.

The Best Team Wins - This was a recommendation from my buddy Josh Bonhotal, who's spent the past several years at the Purdue basketball strength and conditioning coach. Whether you're a coach or involved in a business in any way, this is a great book that'll teach you a lot about your interactions with athletes, fellow coaches, employees, and co-workers.

Prioritization and Success for Strength and Conditioning Success - I was reminded of this older post of mine this week when chatting with an up-and-coming strength and conditioning coach about how I've approached career development since I entered the industry.

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I think the long head of the triceps is a really overlooked structure in the development of both shoulder and elbow pain in throwers. Many people forget that it crosses the shoulder joint - and therefore effectively links the scapula to the lower arm. 🤔 In the late cocking phase of throwing, it's working eccentrically to prevent excessive elbow flexion while storing elastic energy that can be released on the subsequent elbow extension of the delivery. In other words, you can view the long head of the triceps as somewhat of a "mini-lat," as the lat serves this similar store-release function (albeit with different functions) - and they both work as shoulder extensors. 💪 It's also interesting in that it's one of the few muscles where the trigger point referral patterns can work up and down, as opposed to just down. I've seen some throwers where treating triceps has been a game changer in terms of everything from elbow, to shoulder, to neck pain. 👇 The long story short is that you have to give the triceps some love with quality self-myofascial release/manual therapy and make sure that you preserve tissue length (by stretching into shoulder flexion and elbow flexion simultaneously). Swipe right for some ideas. Thanks to @andrewmillettpt for the dry needling and manual therapy and @oneilstrength and @sooo_deep for the exercise demos. #cspfamily

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The Best of 2017: Product Reviews

To wrap up my “Best of 2017″ series, I’ll highlight the top product reviews I did at this site in the last year. Here they are:

1. Complete Sports Conditioning - This resource from Mike Boyle is top notch, and he does a great job of simplifying complex topics for up-and-coming strength and conditioning coaches. Since it was the most popular product I reviewed this year, I reached out to Mike to see if he'd be up for running a quick promo sale for my readers, and he kindly agreed. From now through January 3, you can get $100 off on the resource. No coupon code is needed; just head HERE.

2. American Sports Medicine Institute Injuries in Baseball Course - Mike Reinold compiled this great list of webinars from accomplished surgeons and rehabilitation specialists to create an excellent sports medicine resource for those in the baseball world.

3. L2 Fitness Summit Video Series - Dean Somerset and Dr. Mike Israetel released this video of a one-day seminar back in November, Dean offers a nice glimpse into some assessment components that go beyond typical movement screens, and Mike's presentation on hypertrophy mechanisms and strategies was insightful as well. These are some seemingly minimally-related topics, but they did a good job of pulling everything together.

Also in 2017, the Cressey Sports Performance team released CSP Innovations. This resource highlighted a collection of different topics from the CSP staff, so there's something for everyone at a price much cheaper than attending a seminar.

We're back to the regular EricCressey.com content this week. Thanks for all your support in 2017!

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8 Takeaways From Complete Sports Conditioning

I've been working my way through Mike Boyle's resource, Complete Sports Conditioning. To say that I've been impressed has been an understatement, as it's a fantastic resource that offers a nice blend of research, anecdotal observations, actual programming recommendations for those who need to manage energy systems development in athletes. It's on sale for $100 off through the end of the day today.

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That said, Mike's presentations got me thinking about a variety of conditioning-related topics, so I figure I'd do a bit of a brain dump here to highlight some of my favorite take-home points from this resource. 

1. This quote kicked off Mike's initial presentation on the right foot! 

Using extra conditioning to try to enhance "mental toughness" might yield some benefits in young athletes who have larger windows of adaptation in work capacity - and because just about anything works for untrained athletes. In more experienced athletes, however, throwing in a bunch of extra conditioning usually just leads to increased injury rates - and the realization that it's super challenging to try to take the spots off a leopard.

2. You don't have to be an aerobic rock star; you just have to be good enough.

I deal with a lot of baseball players, and it's important that they have a solid aerobic base. This allows them to bounce back faster between bouts of intense exercise (i.e., throwing 95mph or running to first base) and training sessions. They don't have to have elite aerobic capacity, though.

We've always used a resting heart rate below 60 as our standard for a "sufficient" aerobic base with the baseball guys, and it was good to hear Mike reaffirm this (referencing Dave Tenney of the Seattle Sounders).

Honestly, most guys show up at the start of the offseason with a sufficient aerobic base (via this measure) because it's something that is relatively easy to maintain once established. As Mike noted, “You can get ten minutes of aerobic work with a good warm-up.”

And, as I noted in Building Aerobic Capacity with Mobility Circuits, we will do exactly that (albeit with extended warm-ups) with our guys in the first month of the offseason.

warmups

There has definitely been an industry-wide trend of heavily emphasizing aerobic base work - and that's a good thing - but we have to be careful about taking it too far with athletes who have other important qualities they need to train. That said, remember that very low intensity work (below 70% of max heart rate) affords "easy gains" that can promote recovery and help with long-term adaptations to training, so if folks have the time for it, adding a little bit in won't hurt (assuming the modality is appropriate).

3. Appreciate the interaction between biomechanics and physiology.

It's our natural tendency to get "boxed in" based on our specialty. As an example, I'm a shoulder and elbow guy, so I'm naturally going to be drawn to learning more about those joints as opposed to seeking out continuing education on the foot and ankle, even though that's my biggest weakness. It's just like training athletes; they like to do what they're already good at, and as coaches, we need to be cognizant of giving them what they need.

This has parallels in the conditioning discussion. Many coaches will be incredibly physiology driven, meaning they understand the cardiovascular and (possibly) endocrine responses to a given training protocol. However, in my experience, these folks are often the most likely to overlook the biomechanical side of things, and that has an even larger contribution to injury risk in athletes. Mike demonstrated that he's a guy who understands both sides of the equation well. A few key points that stood out:

a. With treadmills, the athlete isn’t creating hip extension. Rather, the belt moving is creating hip extension.

b. Most "traditional" conditioning - all cardio equipment and straight-ahead sprinting - occurs almost exclusively in the sagittal plane, but most sports injuries involve frontal and transverse plane challenges that go uncontrolled. Incorporating slideboards and change-of-direction work like shuttle runs to conditioning programs is imperative to check both the biomechanics and physiology boxes.

c. Rowing might be blast heart rate up, but from a biomechanical standpoint, it can irritate a lot of lower backs and hips. I've even seen folks deal with forearm/elbow overuse issues from adding in extra gripping with rowing on top of their normal lifting programs. It's probably not an awesome conditioning option for team sports athletes.

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d. Shuttle runs are far more intensive than tempo runs because of the deceleration/acceleration components involved with changing direction - but they also allow you to train to prevent injuries better than straight-ahead running (even if heart rates are matched to the tempo approach).

This leads to...

4. Year-round competitive play may have eliminated the need for "conditioning."

When athletes is playing hockey, soccer, basketball, or some other conditioning-heavy sport, they are stressing both the same movement patterns/muscles and the same energy systems. And, if you think extra conditioning is going to help a basketball player who is already playing five games per week, you're sorely mistaken. If you add more in, you're likely going to increase injury risk and lose valuable training time that would be better focused on enhancing other athletic qualities like strength and power. 

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5. Heart rate based training is superior to time-based interval training.

Time-based interval training prescription is very arbitrary, and Mike demonstrated it in real-time with a collection of athletes from different backgrounds performing conditioning on heart rate monitors. When time during the "hard" portion of the interval is matched, athletes will have a lot of variability in how quickly their heart rates recover. A 15s: 45s work: rest ratio might be a piece of cake for one athlete, but absolutely crush another one. 

Cardiac drift - a phenomenon where heart rate will gradually trend upward as a training session progresses - will likely exaggerate this even further. The further up it goes during the "work" period, the further down it'll have to come during the "rest" portion.

The take-home point is that monitoring heart rate allows you to individual conditioning in a way that promotes faster adaptation - and gives you peace of mind that you're actually training what you want to train.

6. Maximum heart rate is highly variable.

At Cressey Sports Performance - Florida, we have a 57-year-old client who is a competitive skisurf (ocean paddling) racer. His max heart rate is 180 beats per minute, which effectively blows the "220 minus age" model for predicting max heart rate out of the water. Mike Boyle is about the same age, and he mentioned that he, too, can get up to the 180bpm mark. 

Conversely, I'm sure there are other folks who can't come close to their age-predicted max heart rate. I'm 35 years old, and I'm not sure that I could touch 185bpm, as I always seem to be an "under responder" when it comes to monitoring heart rate.

The point is that you never know unless you measure it and plan accordingly. Having an idea of both resting and max heart rate is really helpful for planning things out.

7. "If I have young kids, the last thing I am going to be worried about is fitness, and the first thing I’m going to be worried about is fastness."

I loved this quote and absolutely plan to steal it (thanks, Mike). If we are talking about SPORTS conditioning, the faster athlete should theoretically always win, and that's why it's so important to start with speed development. This comes through getting stronger and training power.

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Starting with speed is also particularly important because fatigue is the enemy of motor learning. If we want young athletes to pick up new skills, we can't introduce these challenges with a huge conditioning element that may impede that development. Sure, aerobic exercise offers benefits for motor learning, but as we noted earlier, most young athletes are already getting an "accidental" aerobic stimulus with some of their other training. As the saying goes:

[bctt tweet="Move well before you move a lot."]

If I had to ballpark an age, I'd say that it would be a bad idea to do targeted aerobic work with anyone under 15 years old. Free play and multiple sports is the name of the game up through age 12, and then the 13-15 year-old athlete has remarkable windows of adaptation for strength and power, making this a perfect time to initiate more targeted strength and conditioning work. Specific low-intensity steady state work just gets pushed out because athletes have to be athletic and work on the most pressing growth areas.

Apologies to all the middle school cross country coaches who are reading this!

8. Good conditioning programming is heavily based on common sense.

If you're ever struggling to really appreciate what athletes need, sit back and watch the sport. Appreciate how much ground an athlete covers, how much time is spent at maximum speed, how many changes of direction take place, and how much time he/she spends with the ball/puck. These observations will tell you just as much as researching the energy systems demands.

These are really just a very small tip of the iceberg with respect to what this excellent resource contains, so I'd definitely recommend you check it out for yourself, especially since it's on sale for $100 off through tonight (Wednesday) at midnight. You can check it out HERE

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 4/5/17

Happy Hump Day! This time of year, I get Wednesdays off, so after we take our daughters to gym class, I'm getting in a lower body lift and then headed out with my wife and one of our clients for some sea kayaking in beautiful Jupiter, FL.

Complete Sports Conditioning - I'm currently going through this new resource from Mike Boyle, and it's excellent. What I like the most it that it's a blend of research and anecdotal evidence from Mike's decades in the strength and conditioning field. I'd highly recommend this to anyone who works with individuals for whom energy systems development is a significant priority. It's on sale for an introductory $100 off through Friday at midnight, too.

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The Single Dumbest Thing Trainers Do - With tax day rapidly approaching, it seems like a good time to reincarnate this. If you're a trainer, why are you doing your own taxes?

Physical Preparation Podcast with Mike Potenza - This was released in late February, but I just got around to listening to it. It's an excellent chat with a really bright NHL strength coach.

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Random Thoughts on Sports Performance Training – Installment 24

With only a few days to spare, here is the November 2016 edition of randomness!

1. Don’t let bad movement become cemented joints.

As I presented in Functional Stability Training of the Upper Body, mobility can be restricted for a lot of reasons.

One thing I didn't note in this video is that if you have muscular, capsular, or alignment issues that persist for an extended period of time, you'll eventually develop changes to the joint (bony overgrowth). In a 2013 study, world-renowned hip specialist Marc Phillipon examined how the incidence of femoroacetabular impingment (FAI) - bony overgrowth at the hip - changed across various stages of youth hockey. At the PeeWee (10-12 years old) level, 37% had FAI and 48% had labral tears. These numbers went to 63% and 63% at the Bantam level (ages 13-15), and 93% and 93% at the Midget (ages 16-19) levels, respectively. The longer one played hockey, the messier the hip – and the greater the likelihood that the FAI would “chew up” the labrum.

fai
Source: Lavigne et al. 2004

It's imperative for strength and conditioning coaches to understand these issues. On evaluation, if an athlete already has changes to the joint, we need to create training programs to deliver a training effect while working around these issues. If you squat an entire team of football players even though you know 4-5 of them already have significant FAI and associated pathologies in their hips, you're probably going to be funding some hip surgeon's retirement. Work on deadlifting and single-leg work instead, though, and you'll probably kick the can down the road for those athletes.

Conversely, if your assessment reveals that an athlete is out of alignment and has some tissue density and core control issues that are preventing quality hip flexion and internal rotation, you need to design a program to get to work on those problems before they can develop bony blocks at the hip. As my buddy Mike Reinold often says, "Assess, don't guess." 

2. We might be seeing the end of the versatile strength and conditioning coach.

One thing I've noticed in the strength and conditioning field over the past decade is an increased tendency toward specialization among coaches. Over the years, there have some been really bright coaches - Al Vermeil, Mike Boyle, and Bob Alejo come to mind - who've had success across multiple sports at the highest levels. They were few and far between, but it was still something that was feasible if someone was educated and motivated enough. I think that's changing and this versatility will be obsolete very soon.

We're seeing a much bigger focus on analytics in all professional sports; the focus on minute details has never been greater. In college sports, we are seeing more "baseball only" and "hockey only" guys to build on the years of the football strength and conditioning coach typically not working with other teams. At every level, specialization among strength coaches (and rehabilitation specialists, for that matter) is increasing. As a result, if a coach tries to venture out into another sport at a high level, it takes longer to get up to speed. 

If a guy leaves basketball to go to baseball, he's got to learn about thoracic outlet syndrome, ulnar collateral ligament injuries, and lat strains; these just don't happen very often in hoops. He won't have to worry much about humeral retroversion in his programming for shooting guards, either - but it has a huge influence on how he manages functional mobility in pitchers.

 

Today is Day 12 of #30DaysOfArmCare. Thanks to #Tigers pitcher @adamrav12 for the assist! Key takeaways: 1. Retroversion is a common finding and throwing shoulders. It gives rise to greater lay-back at max external rotation. 2. The more passive range of motion you have, the more consistently you must work to maintain active stability of that ROM. ROM without stability is injury risk. 3. Perform your cuff work in the positions that matter - and keep in mind that individual differences in passive ROM may be present. 4. Don't stretch throwers into external rotation, especially if they already have this much lay-back! Follow #30DaysOfArmCare and @cresseysportsperformance for more tips to keep throwing arms healthy. #cspfamily #armcare #baseball #mlb

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Likewise, just because I have a solid handle on managing shoulders in overhead athletes doesn't mean that I'm equipped to handle the metabolic demands that swimmers encounter.

Versatility is still important; a well-rounded professional will never go hungry. However, at the higher levels, I just see fewer and fewer professional teams and colleges valuing it highly when the quickest option is to seek out specialists in specific realms.

3. Create context not only to improve coaching, but also to improve adherence.

Recently, I saw a professional pitcher who noted that his team had commented on how limited his extension on each pitch was. For those who aren't familiar, in recent years, teams have started tracking the actual release point of various pitchers. Basically, if two pitchers both throw 95mph, but one releases the ball closer to the plate, the one with more extension is actually releasing the ball closer to the plate, so it "gets on" the hitter faster. All things considered, a higher extension is generally better. You can view it as part of the Statcast panel on each MLB pitchers' page; here's CSP athlete Steve Cishek's, as a frame of reference. Steve's extension is well above MLB average, so the perceived velocity of his pitches are over one mph higher than their actual velocity.

cishekextension2

Returning to the pitcher I evaluated recently, he commented that although his fastball velocity is among the best in the minor leagues and he has quite a bit of movement, he doesn't strike a lot of guys out. While there are a lot of reasons for this, one consideration has to be physical limitations that don't allow him to get extension out in front. In his case, on evaluation, we saw a pseudo military posture; his shoulder blades were tugged back into adduction, and he lacked the upward rotation to effectively "get out front."

adductedscap

Additionally, in the lower extremity, he had significant bilateral muscular/alignment limitations to hip internal rotation. If you don't have sufficient hip internal rotation on your back leg, you aren't going to ride your hip down the mound very far. If you don't have internal rotation on the front hip, you won't be able to accept force on the front leg, so you'll effectively cut off your deceleration arc, also shortening your extension out front. These are usually the guys who "miss" up-and-armside, or cut balls off in an attempt to correct the issue.

If I had just told him he needed to fix these for the sake of fixing them - or even just to prevent injury - it probably wouldn't hold much water. However, by relating these movement inefficiencies back to aspects of his delivery with which he struggles, the buy-in is a lot higher. Striking guys out is a lot "sexier" than avoiding injury or conforming to some range-of-motion norm. 

4. This is a great weekend to be an up-and-coming fitness professional or rehabilitation specialist on a limited budget.

Black Friday/Cyber Monday might be annoying if you're in stores and dealing with a bunch of crazy Moms who are fighting over the last Tickle-Me-Elmo, but in an online context, it's pretty darn awesome - especially if you're an aspiring coach looking to get your hands on some quality educational material.

I did my undergraduate education at a smaller Division 3 school in Southern Maine. We didn't have a varsity weight room where I could observe or volunteer, and there weren't tip top internship opportunities right down the road where I could've found opportunities like that. Looking back, I realize that one of the main reasons I got on the right path was that I was willing to search high and low for those learning opportunities. I spent hours reading T-Nation and hard copy books I'd bought, not to mention driving to whatever seminars I could find.

Nowadays, education is much, more more accessible. Instead of driving nine hours to Buffalo or dropping $1,000 on a plane right, hotel, rental car, and seminar registration, you can spend 10% of that amount and get an awesome education - and you can pick and choose what you want to learn. This weekend, you can do it super affordably, too.

Want a crash course in relative stiffness? Check out my presentations in Functional Stability Training: Optimizing Movement (on sale for 20% off with coupon code BF2016). 

Looking to patch up the holes in your college anatomy course by learning about functional anatomy instead? Pick up Building the Efficient Athlete from Mike Robertson and me (20% off this weekend; no coupon code needed).

Need some cutting-edge hip mobility strategies? Watch Dean Somerset's presentations in The Complete Shoulder and Hip Blueprint (on sale for $30 off through Monday).

Interested in taking a peek into the mind of a successful NFL strength and conditioning coach? Soak up Joe Kenn's knowledge in Elite Athletic Development (20% off this weekend; no coupon code needed).

It's an amazing age in strength and conditioning; short of actual hands-on coaching experience, all the information you need to be successful is at your fingertips in a digital medium - and this is the weekend to get it at the best price.

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7 Entertaining Quotes from Mike Boyle

Back in 2005, I presented at my first "big" event - about 120 coaches and trainers.  I spoke right after Mike Boyle, and right before lunch; it was the very epitome of being stuck between a rock and a hard place.  You see, Mike was a super polished speaker with many years under his belt, and lunch was pulled pork barbeque, which provided a fantastic scent that easily distracted a hungry audience.

To say that my presentation could have gone better would be an understatement.  I believe I used the word "umm" and "okay" a combined 1,500 times in the hour. I had about 75 slides for a 60 minute talk.  After the presentation, Mike gave me some great advice; paraphrased, it was: "Relax, have fun, and just be yourself; it's more entertaining if you're talking with them than if you're talking at them. And use more videos."

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Needless to say, it was helpful advice that was rooted in a lot of experience, as Mike is one of the more entertaining presenters in the fitness industry. One of the things he's noted for on this front is some good one-liners, so as I went through his new DVD set, Functional Strength Coach 5, I wrote down these gems, which I think you'll appreciate:

1. "It [Training] all comes down to anatomy and physics."

I loved this one because I'm constantly hammering home the importance of having an anatomy foundation. If you don't understand structure, you can't understand function or dysfunction.

2. "We want to be simple, not just safe."

Mike went on to discuss how "safe" alone doesn't get the job done, as a lot of people would argue that machines are "safe."  "Simple" implies safety - but with an appreciable training effect.

3. "There are a lot of poor people out there who just want to train athletes."

I cracked up when he said this, as just about every young fitness professional only wants to work with athletes.  As my business partner, Pete Dupuis, wrote in this great guest blog almost two months ago, the adult clients you encounter not only help pay the bills, but also have some of the greatest potential to teach you about training and life.  Very few people "make it" in the private sector by training athletes only.

4. "The intervention matters more than the monitoring. You’ve got to train."

This was a great point.  So many people are wildly focused on monitoring athletes now that the actual training seems to be getting back-burnered.  I'm all for monitoring, but if you are willing, able, or qualified to get quality work in, monitoring doesn't really matter.

5. "In culture, there is an asshole-to-good guy ratio."

Mike went on to discuss that if more than 20% of the people in a team setting are hard to deal with, it's going to be difficult to be achieve your training goals with everybody.

6. "You never see anyone who can run or jump who doesn’t have an ass – in any sporting activity."

You need to train ass to haul ass.  Enough said.

7. "The two most profitable areas of hospitals in the United States are bariatic surgery and spinal surgery."

Well, this certainly is a sad commentary on our society to wrap up this article, huh?

Looking to learn more about Mike's thought processes - and be entertained with more one-liners like this? Check out the newly released Functional Strength Coach 5, which is available at $50 off through the end of the week.

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The Truth About “Quick Feet” and Agility Ladder Drills

Michael Boyle published this Q&A newsletter about quick feet and agility ladder drills last week, and I enjoyed it so much that I asked him if I could repost it here.  Suffice it to say that I am not a fan of "agility ladder" drills, and while Mike does use them in moderation, he makes a great case for why we don't want to go overboard - or expect too much of them. Q: A couple of threads on the Strength Coach forum got me thinking about the question of foot speed and athletes. I can't tell you how often I hear a parent or a coach ask, "How can I improve my son's/daughter's/athlete's foot speed or agility?" A: It seems everyone always wants the shortcut and the quick fix. The better question might be "Do you think you can improve foot speed?" or maybe even the larger question, "Does foot speed even matter?" That begs the larger question, "Does foot speed have anything to do with agility?" I know coaches or parents reading this are asking, "Is this guy crazy?" How many times have we heard that "speed kills?" I think the problem is that coaches and parents equate fast feet with fast and quick feet with agile. However, fast feet don't equal fast any more than quick feet equal agile. In some cases, fast feet might actually make an athlete slow--often I see fast feet as a detriment to speed. In fact, some of our quick turnover guys, those who would be described as having fast feet, are very slow off the start.

The problem is fast feet don't use the ground well to produce force. Fast feet might be good on hot coals, but not on hard ground. Think of the ground as the well from which we draw speed. It is not how fast the feet move, but rather how much force goes into the ground. This is basic action-reaction physics. Force into the ground equals forward motion. This is why the athletes with the best vertical jumps are most often the fastest. It comes down to force production. Often coaches will argue the vertical vs. horizontal argument and say the vertical jump doesn't correspond to horizontal speed, but years of data from the NFL Combine begs to differ. Force into the ground is force into the ground. In spite of what Brett Contreras may say, vectors don't seem to matter here. The truth is parents should be asking about vertical jump improvement, not about fast feet. My standard line is "Michael Flatley has fast feet, but he doesn't really go anywhere. If you move your feet fast and don't go anywhere, does it matter? It's the old "tree falling in the woods" thing.

The best solution to slow feet is to get stronger legs. Feet don't matter. Legs matter. Think about it this way: If you stand at the starting line and take a quick first step but fail to push with the back leg, you don't go anywhere. The reality is that a quick first step is actually the result of a powerful first push. We should change the buzzwords and start to say "that kid has a great first push." Lower body strength is the real cure for slow feet and the real key to speed and to agility. The essence of developing quick feet lies in single-leg strength and single-leg stability work… landing skills. If you cannot decelerate, you cannot accelerate - at least not more than once.

One of the things I love is the magic drill idea. This is the theory that developing foot speed and agility is not a process of gaining strength and power, but rather the lack of a specific drill. I tell everyone I know that if I believed there was a magic drill we would do it every day. The reality is it comes down to horsepower and the nervous system, two areas that change slowly over time. How do we develop speed, quickness and agility? Unfortunately, we need to do it the slow, old-fashioned way. You can play with ladders and bungee cords all you want, but that is like putting mag wheels on an Escort. The key is to increase the horsepower, the brakes, and the accelerator. I think the answer for me is always the same. I wrote an article last year called "Is ACL Prevention Just Good Training?" In much the same way, development of speed, agility and quickness simply comes down to good training. We need to work on lower body strength and lower body power - and we need to do it on one leg. I also love "agility" ladder drills. They provide excellent multi-planar dynamic warm-up. They develop brain-to-muscle connection and are excellent for eccentric strength and stability. We do less than five minutes of ladder drills, one or two times a week. I don't believe for a minute that the ladder is a magic tool that will make anyone faster or more agile, however I do believe it is a piece of the puzzle from the neural perspective. People waste more than five minutes on biceps curls, but we have long debates about ladder drills. These are also a great tool to show to coaches who want "foot speed." Sometime it's easier to "yes" them than to argue with them. Give a guy with "bad feet" a jump rope and you get a guy with bad feet and patella tendonitis. For more information on Michael Boyle, check out StrengthCoach.com or the Functional Strength Coach 3.0 DVD set.

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The Lucky 13: Cressey’s Top Reading Recommendations

A few months ago, I gave a two-day seminar to just over 80 fitness professionals and strength and conditioning coaches.  Even with a seminar this long, I can never cover everything I'd like to cover - and it's generally because much of what I'd like to address relies on some prerequisite knowledge that the attendees may not possess.

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With that in mind, at the attendees' request, I sent a follow up email to all of them with a list of some of the best resources - books/manuals and DVDs - that I've encountered along my journey of self-education. Please keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list, by any means, but it does cover what I'd consider requisite reading to get a good foundation in a lot of the concepts I covered last weekend. 1.  Any anatomy text will do, but I prefer texts that speak more to functional anatomy.  Netter's Atlas of Human Anatomy is very good, and I know of many physical therapists in the US who keep a copy of this book on hand for patient education.  Kinetic Anatomy is also a solid text that speaks to functional anatomy, and I believe the newer version comes with a tag-along DVD.  Lastly, our Building the Efficient Athlete DVD set was created in part to educate folks on the functional anatomy side of things that they may miss during a conventional college curriculum.  I know of several facilities in the US that use it extensively for staff training. 2. Anything from Stuart McGill - While there are several schools of thought with respect to low back function and rehabilitation (and I'd encourage you to check out each of them), McGill is the one that resonates with me the most.  You can find a lot of his research on Pubmed, but he also has several books (and a DVD) available that I'd highly recommend.  For those of you who are interested in some science and some applied, go with Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance.

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For those of you who are a bit geekier and want to learn a lot more about the clinical side of things, check out Low Back Disorders.  If you are going to train clients or athletes, you need to understand back pain. 3. Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement Impairment Syndromes by Shirley Sahrmann is probably the book that has influenced me more than any other in my career.  It's worth every penny.

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4. For shoulder stuff, I think that The Athlete's Shoulder is a great resource.  It is written by physical therapists and surgeons, though, so it can get very clinical at times.  Those of you who are more interested in actual practical applications would be more interested in our new Optimal Shoulder Performance DVD set, which is the video of a seminar I did with Mike Reinold, who is actually one of the co-authors of The Athlete's Shoulder.  If you enter the coupon code "reinold200osp" today only at checkout HERE, you can get the DVD set with free shipping today as part of Mike's "sale week" to celebrate his 200th post.

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5. Muscles: Testing and Function with Posture and Pain - This is a newer version of Kendall's classic text, and it's an incredibly detailed resource that you'll find yourself referring back to time and time again.  Several of the screens we use in our everyday assessments with clients and athletes were influenced in part or entirely by Kendall's text. 6. Gray Cook's work is fantastic.  If you want quick, practical tips, check out Secrets of the Hip and Knee and Secrets of the Shoulder.  Both DVDs give you some tips that you can immediately put into practice. 7. Anatomy Trains by Thomas Myers is an excellent read to get you thinking more and more about the role of the fascial system.  I saw Thomas speak this past weekend in Providence, and he was absolutely fantastic - so excellent, in fact, that I'll probably write up a blog with some quick notes from his lecture.  And, I'll be reading this for the third time this week, too!

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8. Bulletproof Knees - Mike Robertson wrote this manual and I can honestly say that I haven't seen a better product on the market with respect to information that can be quickly applied to clients with knee pain - both in terms of understanding it and correcting it.

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9. Mike Boyle has some excellent products - including all the Functional Strength Coach DVDs (#3 was the most recent).  You can always find some good reading at StrengthCoach.com.  I believe they still have the 14 days for $1 trial period, and as part of that, you get his Designing Resistance Training Programs and Facilities book for free. 10. Anatomy of Breathing - I think it's valuable to appreciate the muscles involved in respiration and start to put them into your functional anatomy framework as soon as possible.  This book is a very quick read, but you'll get that foundational knowledge and start to think about how all this stuff lines up.

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11. 2008 Indianapolis Performance Enhancement DVD set - This is a product that has largely flown under the radar because it was overshadowed by several other products that were launched around the same time.  However, the short vs. stiff discussion that Bill Hartman presented as part of it is well worth the cost of the entire DVD set. 12. Clinical Applications of Neuromuscular Techniques (Part 1 and 2) - These books read like stereo instructions, but they are insanely thorough.  I recommend them to anyone who is really dorky like I am.  They will definitely help you to collaborate with manual therapists and physiotherapists a lot more effectively. 13. Assess and Correct - Shameless self-promotion here, but I'm extremely proud of this product.  It's a DVD set and four accompanying manuals that cover 27 assessments and 78 corrective exercises we use with our clients and athletes.  If I had to recommend one of our products to a trainer, this would be it.  Stuart McGill have us some extremely flattering reviews on Assess and Correct as part of his new DVD.

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I should note that the countless journal articles I've read over the years are noticeably absent from this list, but you can easily access the abstracts of those pieces at www.pubmed.com if you search by whatever keyword relates to your area of interest.  I find myself using it daily, and I'll generally follow up on these abstracts by getting the full-text articles.  Also, in addition to the few resources I note below, you can find a more extensive collection of recommended readings on my resources page. This includes a collection of links to free blogs that I read daily.  Many of my blog readers don't know that, in addition to this blog, I have a free newsletter where readers get exclusive content and early notice on things - so you'll definitely want to sign up HERE if you haven't already. It's also been a matter of interacting with as many smart folks as possible, just making (and documenting) observations with our clients/athletes, and going to seminars.  This list should get you started, though!
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