Home Posts tagged "Newsletters" (Page 11)

Ryan Lee Bootcamp Recap

I’m back from a weekend in Stamford, CT for the Ryan Lee Bootcamp, so it’s time to get back at it with this week’s update.


Reminder I just want to remind you all once again that if you haven’t re-opted-in, we’ll need you to do so as soon as possible. As I mentioned last week, we’re switching our newsletter over to a new set-up, and this requires us to do the opt-in again with the new sign-up. The simplest way to do things is to send an email with the subject line “SUBSCRIBE” to ecressey-178309@autocontactor.com. Doing so will ensure that you’ll receive all the newsletters when we officially make the switch in a few weeks. Thanks for your patience with us as we go through this annoying but necessary process! FANTASTIC New Product from Robertson and Hartman Over the past few years, I’ve become known as the “Shoulder Guy.” I probably get two dozen emails each week from readers who have shoulder problems due to poor training programming, incorrect technique, congenital factors, or traumatic injury. To say that it occupies a lot of my time would be an understatement! While I make a point of answering all email inquiries as thoroughly as I can, it goes without saying that I can only do so much without being “there” to coach someone. It’s not just about what you do; it’s also about how you do it. This is just one of several reasons I’m absolutely thrilled to recommend the Inside-Out DVD and Manual, a new resource that was just introduced by my friends and brilliant colleagues, Mike Robertson and Bill Hartman.

This resource will not only save me a lot of time; it’ll also give me a product to which I can send those with chronic and acute shoulder pain – and those looking to avoid it in the first place. Mike and Bill go into great detail on the seven key components that need to be included in an effective upper-body warm-up program to protect against injuries, optimize performance, and correct existing imbalances. I was fortunate to preview the DVD and manual for Mike and Bill, and I immediately sent them a unsolicited testimonial for them to use after watching it. It really is THAT good; this will be a valuable resource for years to come.

Do your shoulders a favor and pick up this DVD and manual today; you’ll be thanking me immediately and in the years to come. Inside-Out New Article Last week, I had a new article published at T-Nation; check out 13 Tips for Mighty Elbows and Wrists. Ryan Lee Bootcamp Recap Ryan Lee once again put on one of the fitness industry’s premier events. This year’s Bootcamp provided an outstanding blend of training information and practical business information for fitness professionals. Things are crazy busy for me after a weekend on the road, so I don’t have the time to write up a full review. I can, however, give you a quick list of some of the take-home points from the seminar for me personally. Some of these are related to the speakers themselves, and some are simple my take-away thoughts/impressions: 1. Mike Boyle is without a doubt one of the most forward-thinking guys in the industry. If you don’t believe me, see below. 2. Jeremy Boone outlined some intriguing ACL prevention testing strategies that may come to light in the next few years. I have some questions about the accuracy and precision of one-half of the test, but I definitely thing that the idea is great and has a lot of potential. 3. If you haven’t read Brian Grasso’s stuff, you need to do so IMMEDIATELY – especially if you deal at all with young athletes. Brian is a brilliant coach, speaker, and leader in the fitness industry; in fact, he’s everything that is right about the fitness industry. If you haven’t looked into the International Youth Conditioning Association (www.IYCA.org), I would strongly encourage you do so right away. I don’t make a penny off endorsing the organization; I just feel strongly that this group is going to be doing even more incredible things in the years to come – especially with a guy like Brian at its head. If you haven’t seen him speak, seek him out. 4. Steve Cotter can do some really impressive stuff! 5. Jimmy Smith is one helluva’ Stamford tour guide. Thanks, Jimmy! 6. At any event, the opportunities in the hotel lobby, hallway, and at the networking socials are just as valuable as the speakers themselves. If you aren’t interacting with your colleagues at these events, you’re missing out. Be proactive! 7. If you want to be a great coach, don’t just focus on learning on new exercises. Focus on learning how to effectively implement the exercises in your training arsenal and making people better instead of just more tired. This is what separated the brightest attendees from the mediocre ones, in my opinion. 8. This kettlebell thing has really gotten out of hand, people. I admire your enthusiasm and motivation to help others succeed, but it’s just one tool in your toolbox. 9. There is absolutely no substitute for enthusiasm and hard work – regardless of your progression. 10. As always, you should be reading at least an hour per day. Every successful fitness professional at this conference was putting in this minimal amount of time – and often a whole lot more. Tip of the Week Reconsider how you approach single-leg training. I get a lot of questions about whether single-leg exercises are quad-dominant or hip dominant and where to place them in training programs. After chatting more with Mike Boyle and considering how I’ve approached it in the past, I’ve realized that if you categorize things the way Mike does, you have a lot of “wiggle room” with your programming to fit more of it in. Mike separates his single-leg work into three categories: 1. Static Unsupported – 1-leg squats (Pistols), 1-leg SLDLs 2. Static Supported – Bulgarian Split Squats 3. Dynamic – Lunges, Step-ups From there, you can also divide single-leg movements into decelerative (forward lunging) and accelerative (slideboard work, reverse lunges). I’ve found that accelerative movements are most effective early progressions after lower extremity injuries (less stress on the knee joint). I think that it’s ideal for everyone to aim to get at least one of each of the three options in each week. If one needed to be sacrificed, it would be static supported. Because static unsupported aren’t generally loaded as heavily and don’t cause as much delayed onset muscle soreness, they can often be thrown in on upper body days. Here are some sample splits you might want to try: 3-day M – Include static supported (50/50 upper/lower exercise selection) W – Include static unsupported (only lower body exercise) F – Include dynamic (50/50 upper/lower exercise selection) Notice how the most stressful/DOMS-inducing option is placed prior to the longest recovery period (the weekend of rest). 4-day M – Include static supported in lower-body training session. W – Include static unsupported (only lower body exercise in otherwise upper body session) F – Include dynamic in lower-body training session Sa – Upper body workout, no single-leg work outside of warm-up and unloaded prehab work Be sure to switch exercises and rotate decelerative/accelerative every four weeks. For those of you who haven’t seen it already, definitely check out Mike’s Functional Strength Coach DVD set; it’ll make you a better coach and lifter immediately and force you to rethink a lot of the things you’re doing. His Designing Strength Training Programs and Facilities manual is also fantastic. That does it for this week. We’ll be back next week with some great new content that I GUARANTEE you’ll really enjoy – but you’ll need to take care of the re-opt-in process I outlined above. Just send an email with the subject line “SUBSCRIBE” to ecressey-178309@autocontactor.com, and you’ll be all set. All the Best, EC
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Newsletter #25

This week’s newsletter is going to be right to the point, as I’ll be headed out on Friday for Ryan Lee’s Bootcamp in Stamford, CT.  Fortunately, my crazy summer/fall traveling schedule is winding down, so you can plan on seeing a lot more from me in the online and information product realm in the months and weeks to come.

Newsletter Update: IMPORTANT!!!!!

After some frustrations with our current newsletter set-up, I’ve decided to host EricCressey.com updates from a different provider.  As such, as much as I hate to have to do this, we’re going to need everyone on our list to resubscribe with the new set-up; due to opt-in laws, we can’t just transfer your subscription without having you confirm it.

Fortunately, though, this is a tremendously easy process.  Later this week, I'll import all your addresses into the new system.  You’ll receive an opt-in email to confirm your subscription; please just click through the provided link, and you’ll be golden.  You can, however, make the process easier by going HERE to re-subscribe now, or by sending an email to ecressey-178309@autocontactor.com (no opt-in is necessary with the email option).

IMPORTANT NOTE: In many cases, your junk mail filter will send the opt-in notification to your junk mail folder, so be sure to check there if you don’t get it.  Also, be sure to mark us as “safe” so that you can receive future newsletters.

If you have any concerns that you haven’t been subscribed, drop us an email at ec@ericcressey.com and we’ll take care of you.  Thank you very much for your patience and understanding as we work to make this newsletter experience even better.

The Sturdy Shoulder Seminar: October 28th in Waltham, MA

Sign-ups are rolling in for our first seminar at Excel; don’t miss out!  NSCA CEUs are available, and we have student discounts in place.  Please email ec@ericcressey.com for more info.

Tip of the Week

Don’t be so linear and forward in your energy systems work.

Got to any gym, and you’ll see loads of people doing cardio at varying intensities, with different machines, listening to different music, and wearing different exercise sneakers.  While they each appear unique, the reality is that they’re all stuck in linear movements that always have them moving forward.  Take any of these people off their precious ellipticals, treadmills, and recumbent bikes, and you’ll find that they lack frontal and transverse plane stability and carry their weight anteriorly.  The solution is pretty simple; get them moving in different ways!

The first step is to include some single-leg work in all exercise programming.  This does NOT include unilateral leg presses and Smith machine lunges; you should actually be doing some of the stabilization work!

Second, make sure that you’re training movements that require full hip flexion (knees get above 90 degrees) and hip extension (glutes fire to complete hip extension).  Sprinting meets these guidelines very easy, but cardio equipment that limits range of motion will always fall short.  I’m not saying that they don’t have their place; I’m just saying that I’d rather have people outside doing sprints and multi-directional work instead.

Third, and most importantly incorporate more backwards and lateral movement in your energy systems work.  Here’s an example that I used with an online consulting client of mine recently:

Dynamic Flexibility Warm-up

The following should be performed in circuit fashion with the designated rest intervals from below incorporated between each drill.

A1) High Knee Run: 20 yards

A2) Butt Kicks: 20 yards

A3) Backpedal: 20 yards

A4) Carioca: 20 yards to the right

A5) Carioca: 20 yards to the left

A6) Side Shuffle: 20 yards to the right

A7) Side Shuffle: 20 yards to the left

A8) Backpedal: 20 yards

A9) Scap Push-up: 15 reps

A10) Sprint: 50 yards

Week 1: 3 times through, Rest interval: 15s between drills, two minutes between sets

Week 2: 3 times through, Rest interval: 10s between drills, two minutes between sets

Week 3: 4 times through, Rest interval: 10s between drills, two minutes between sets

Week 4: 2 times through, Rest interval: 5s between drills, two minutes between sets

EC on Superhuman Radio

I did an hour-long interview with Carl Lanore on Superhuman radio on Saturday.  We went into detail on a lot of the topics I cover in The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual, and there’s even a week-long discount code in place at www.SuperHumanRadio.com for those wanting to purchase the manual.  You can even download a few chapters free to check it out.  The audio interview is available in both Media Player and MP3 format.

That’ll do it for this week’s update.  Don’t forget to confirm your subscription so that you can continue receiving updates from EricCressey.com!

Have a great week,


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Jim Labadie Interview with Eric Cressey

LA Strength and Performance Nutrition Seminar Recap

I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone – both attendees and speakers – who came out to the Los Angeles seminar this weekend.  In particular, a HUGE thanks goes out to Andy Susser on a great job organizing the event.  He did a fantastic job of scoring an excellent facility and pulling together a great lineup of speakers, an enthusiastic audience, and several generous sponsors, including Biotest, APT Wrist Wraps, Staley Training Systems, Zach Even-Esh, Mike Robertson, Alwyn Cosgrove, Dan John, and I.

Next up will be Ryan Lee’s Bootcamp, followed by “The Sturdy Shoulder” seminar October 28th here in Boston at Excel Sport and Fitness.  For more information on registration for the shoulder seminar, drop me an email at ec@ericcressey.com.

Congratulations to Greg Panora!

I wanted to take a quick moment to congratulate my good friend Greg Panora (Westside Barbell) on a tremendous accomplishment.  This past weekend, Greg squatted 1000, benched 685, and deadlifted 800 for a 2,485 total to surpass Steve Goggins' world record in the 242-pound weight class. What makes this feat even more impressive is that Greg contacted me less than a year ago to help him out with some back problems he'd been having.  At the time, Greg couldn't even put a bar on his back, and several doctors had recommended that he give up powerlifting altogether.  Less than a year later, he's pain free and the #1 lifter in his weight class in unarguably the most competitive powerlifting federation around.  My interactions with Greg gave me an appreciation for just how "hardcore" corrective training can be if you really understand both the psychological and physiological ramifications of having an injury when you compete at a high level.  And, he's a perfect example of how you sometimes have to take one step back to take two steps forward.  If more lifters had the discipline Greg has demonstrated, I'd see a lot fewer injuries - and those who are injured would heal up a lot quicker. Nice job, buddy.

Jim Labadie Interview with EC

A few weeks ago, fitness business expert Jim Labadie interviewed me for his newsletter.  The main focus of the interview was how I’ve managed to pull things together at the ripe ol’ age of 25.  Jim didn’t use all the content, so I figured that we’d post it here rather than let it disappear into the archives of my hard drive.  Additionally, in light of this past weekend’s LA seminar, I decided to add some tidbits.  The following comes in response to the question, “To what do you attribute your success at such a young age?”=

1. Mentors

I have to give a ton of credit (and thanks) to several mentors who have looked out for me with respect to training/nutrition and – probably most importantly – business.  Hard work and learning from your mistakes can take you as far as you want to go, but if you want to get there faster, you’re best off seeking out the advice of those who are where you’d like to be.

I’ve been fortunate to have guys like Alwyn Cosgrove, Dave Tate, John Berardi, Jason Ferruggia, Mike Boyle, Joe DeFranco, and – more recently – you and Ryan Lee.  I only wish I had found out about you two sooner; things would have come about even faster!  You can’t be an expert on everything, so it’s to your advantage to have a solid network of mentors to which you can turn when an unfamiliar situation arises.  Chances are that one or more of them has been there at some point, made a mistake, and learned from it; why bother to make that same mistake on your own?

Case in point: Alwyn and I had a running email dialogue going about two months ago.  I have one emailed saved in which he referred me to his production and shipping company (Vervante), recommended a great liability insurance agent to meet my needs (clubinsurance.com), and recommended two books by Thomas Plummer that have been great.  That email saved me thousands of dollars and countless hours on trouble.

A conversation I had with Dave Tate about four months ago really solidified this concept in my mind.  Dave did a tremendous job with his physique transformation with John Berardi’s nutritional guidance.  Truth be told, though, Dave knows nutrition better than you might think; he actually minored in it in college!  However, soliciting JB’s advice was in Dave’s best interests; John is really up-to-date on optimal nutrition and supplementation strategies.  Why would Dave want to spend hundreds of hours reading up on recent developments in the nutrition world when he can be studying up on public speaking, running a business, developing great equipment, and making people stronger – the four things for which he is best known?  A few phone calls and emails to John was the smarter – not longer – way to work.

2. A Variety of Experiences

I can’t overstate how valuable it has been for me to experience as many different realms within the fitness industry as possible.  I’ve worked in general fitness settings, collegiate strength and conditioning, and now athlete-specific training in the private sector.  I’ve worked with some great physical therapists, and in the human performance laboratory of the #1 Kinesiology graduate program in the country (The University of Connecticut).  I’ve spent a year training at South Side Gym, one of the world’s most renowned hardcore powerlifting gyms.  At the other end of the spectrum, I’ve done a six-month internship in cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation during my undergraduate years.  All these experiences have given me a better frame of reference from which to coach, write, and speak at seminars.  And, as a competitive athlete who practices what he preaches, I have a more informed perspective to offer those who have competitive aspirations as well.

3. Reading about Business instead of JUST Training

Third, more recently (thanks to recommendations from ALL of the aforementioned mentors), I’ve been paying as much attention to business reading as I do training/nutrition reading.  I’ve already read hundreds of training books (and I’ll continue to read them), but in the grand scheme of things, increasing my training knowledge 5% probably won’t change my income or “brand equity” much at all.  If I increase my business knowledge, though, both will increase pretty rapidly, as that’s the area with the greatest room for growth.  It’s not any different than giving more attention to your weaknesses in the weight room, if you really think about it.

Our DVD and my off-season training manual are perfect examples.  These are training ideas that have been rattling around in my head for years now, but it took business “know-how” and enough confidence in my ability to bring them to market to make them a reality.  On a semi-related note, I should note that (assuming you have the right business partner), joint ventures tend to work best on big projects.  Mike Robertson and I work really well together, so when we decide to bring something new to market – as was the case with our DVD back in January, and a DVD set of our July seminar that will be out in October – things fall into place much more quickly.  It’s nice to be able to split tasks up, and more importantly, you always know someone is waiting for you to get your s**t done.  The deadlines are always built-in; you can’t procrastinate.

4. An Appropriate Outlook on Continuing Education

Fourth, I’m positive that my outlook on continuing education has played a huge role in getting me to where I am today.  If you ask most trainers to spend $199 to attend a seminar, they say that it’s too expensive.  However, if you asked them to put $199 into the stock market with a guarantee that it would increase their income, they’re call it a wise investment.  Does anyone see where I’m going with this?

Apparently, going to training and nutrition seminars in order to become a better training isn’t a wise investment; it’s just an “expense.”  Last time I checked, when all things are held equal, good trainers make more money than bad trainers.  In fact, I can speak from experience as someone who specializes in corrective training; I spend a lot of time fixing the damage some crappy trainers have done.  I get the clients’ referrals, and the “other guy” gets all the public criticisms.  Are those seminars, books, DVDs, and CDs still “expenses?”

And, these same people don’t seem to think that business education for trainers is a worthwhile investment.  I can say without wavering that this couldn’t be more off the mark.  Before I got into the fitness industry, I thought I wanted to be an accountant – so I spent two years at Babson College, the best entrepreneurial school in the country according to Business Weekly.  They taught me a lot about how great companies like Dell and GE operate – but they never talked about the fitness industry.  As much as I learned about business in a general sense in those two years, I can honestly say that VERY little of it applies to what I do on a daily basis now.  Our industry is entirely unique, and that’s why products from guys like you, Ryan Lee, and Thomas Plummer are paying themselves off hundreds of times over.  I’d call that an investment – not an expense.

People also need to remember that a lot of these expenses can be written off at year-end.  If you’re incurring income as a result of these expenditures, they’re business expenses (although you should still view them as investments).  I never lost all the accountant in me – especially since I’ve got three CPAs in my family.

I’ve invested over $8,000 on continuing education this year – and it’s only September.  Brian Tracy has said that reinvesting 3% in your continuing education is one of the most valuable career moves you can make.  That’s only $1,500 for a trainer earning $50K, but it would give you any of the following (or a combination of several):

·        6-7 two day seminars

·        10-15 one day seminars

·        15 manuals

·        30 DVDs

·        40-80 books

Think about what happens with a seminar, DVD, book, manual, or any other information product.  A qualified professional devotes hundreds and possibly even thousands of hours to pulling together loads of information in an organized format – and then sells it to you for a tiny fraction of the costs he incurred to gain this knowledge.  You don’t have to devote nearly as much time to acquire the information, either.

Seminars in particular are a fantastic expenditure not only because of the information presented, but also because of the networking opportunities.  To be honest, at this point, I look forward more to talking shop with colleagues in the audience than I do to the presentations!  This past weekend alone, I chatted at length with:

Factor in that I also presented to 65-70 seminar attendees on Saturday and Sunday, and then to another group of high school athletes and parents Monday night, and you’ll realize that I had the opportunity to interact with a ton of avid trainees.  You never know what training secrets they’ll bring to the table, or how they’ll add to the frame of reference you possess as a coach.  I’d also like to add that I saw Jessica Simpson at the airport – but I’m still convinced that the paparazzi were just there to see me!

With all that said, here’s your chance to see for yourself.  On Saturday, October 28th, I’ll be giving my first seminar at Excel Sport & Fitness Training.  We’re keeping the cost down because we want this to double as an “open house” for the new facility – but I can assure you that I’ll be going into a ton of depth on the seminar.  And, just as importantly, there will be a ton of big names from the industry in attendance – meaning that you’ll have loads of opportunities to network.  For more information, email ec@ericcressey.com.

5. Hard Work

This one probably should have gone first, but that wouldn’t have made for much of an interview, huh?  I’m not going to lie: I come from a family of hard-working perfectionists in which mediocre just isn’t acceptable.  There are a lot of people in the fitness industry who are working hard already, but need to learn to work smart.  However, there are also a lot of trainers and coaches out there who are flat-out lazy and need to get with the program.  I didn’t spend a penny on alcohol in my college career, as I worked every weekend, volunteered in any fitness capacity that I felt would advance my career, and trained to compete at a high level myself.

I’m not saying that people have to follow in my footsteps; hell, what I just typed doesn’t sound fun to me at all!  But, at the same time, I think that the take-home lesson is that you have to be willing to make some sacrifices and use some elbow grease if you’re going to get to where you want to be.  As Thomas Jefferson once said, “I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it."

That does it for this week.  Have a great week, everyone.


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Exclusive Interview: John “Sully” Sullivan

Exclusive Interview: John “Sully” Sullivan

As many of you know, I made the move back to Boston just over a month ago because I was absolutely thrilled at the opportunity to be a part of what I believe is one of the premier performance enhancement teams in the country: Excel Sport & Fitness Training.  A few weeks ago, I profiled one member of that team: Carl Valle.  Now, it’s only fitting to look to the rest of the team – starting with my long-time friend John Sullivan.

Sully is one of the reasons that I am a strength athlete.  He’s handled for me at powerlifting meets, I’ve been at his Strongman competitions, we’ve competed in the same events, but only recently have we gotten the opportunity to work in the same facility and train together.  To say that I feel fortunate would be an understatement; Sully is the kind of lifter, athlete, and coach that makes you better at what you do – regardless of your experience level.  He has considerable experience as a strongman, powerlifter, and mixed martial artist, and he’s one of the more well read coaches I’ve ever met.

EC: Hey Sully, thanks for taking the time to talk some shop today.  I obviously know what you’re up to nowadays, but please fill our readers in on what’s new in your world.

JS:  I’ve been busy opening my training facility, Excel Sport & Fitness, with my two partners Brad Cardoza and Rebecca Manda.  On top of that, we’ve brought in Carl Valle, Matt Delaney and the great Eric Cressey to round out our staff.  That’s consumed most of my time as of late, but we seem to really be picking up steam so it’s worth it.

Aside from that I’m currently preparing for 2006 North American Strongman Nationals, where I’ll be competing on Oct. 21st in Louisville, Kentucky.  My training has been going really well, and I’m looking to come in stronger than ever.

EC:  You’re most well known for your success as a strongman, so we’ll start there.  How did you get into Strongman, and how has competing as a strongman made you a better trainer and coach?

JS: I got started in 2002 when I met a couple guys who owned a facility in my area.  I decided to give it a try for a change of pace in my training, though had no intentions of ever competing.  I did tire flips, log presses, and farmer’s walks on my first visit and I was hooked.

The main aspect of strongman competitions is that they require a fairly diverse range of strength qualities.  Raw strength, power, strength endurance, etc. are all necessary components of strongman preparation.  As such, it became necessary for me to become proficient in the powerlifts, the Olympic lifts, certain bodybuilding techniques, as well as learning different methods of injury prevention, injury management, etc.  Aside from this, it opened my eyes to the potential for using certain strongman implements to train athletes.  This has given me a pretty broad base of options with which to train clients.

EC: A question I hear all the time with respect to strongman training is “How can I prepare for a competition if I don’t have unlimited access to the implements?”  What can the Average Joe do in his gym to help him along?

JS: Of course, nothing can replace training on the implements.  But if access is limited, you have to make sure your gym training focuses on compound movements that will give you the necessary strength to manipulate the implements effectively.  As I said earlier, a blend of powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting along with some boldybuilding techniques is a good mix.  If you’re doing cleans, box squats, jerks, heavy rows, front squats, deadlifts, and the like in your training, you’ll be on the right path.

EC: I know you’re never one to turn down an opportunity to rant about something.  What frustrates you the most about this industry?

JS: Just one?  Damn.  Well, one thing I hate is when trainers and coaches are ill-prepared to train their clients.  I think the best people in the industry are very well rounded, in both the theoretical and practical aspects of strength & conditioning.  Some trainers have no basis working with clients, because they lack the fundamental knowledge to not only get results, but to keep their clients safe in the process.  In the private setting especially, I think clients would be shocked if they knew that their trainer’s resume consisted of little more than simply “I’ve got big arms.”

EC: What have been your biggest mistakes as a lifter and trainer?

JS: As a lifter, I think my biggest mistake was ignoring the boring stuff, like activation and mobility work.    It’s not fun, but eventually it catches up with you and you get an injury.  In my case, it was a back injury that nearly kept me from competing at 2005 Nationals.  Since then, I’ve smartened up and have added a lot more mobility work to my training, and my back has thanked me for it.

As a trainer, I think I used to get too advanced when people didn’t really need it.  The basics are almost always the best.

EC: You’re a very well-read guy; I don’t know many people who can quote Supertraining from memory!  With that said, what five resources (books, DVDs, manuals) have been the most valuable to you?

JS: A few resources that I really like have been:

  1. Modern Trends in Strength Training by Charles Poliquin – It’s a small book but full of information you can immediately use.
  2. Magnificent Mobility by Eric Cressey & Mike Robertson – Again, if you want to stay injury free something like this is really a must.
  3. Diagnosis & Treatment of Movement Impairment Syndromes by Shirley Sahrmann – Every trainer should own this book.  It’s full of useful information that will help keep your clients injury free.
  4. Supertraining by Mel Siff – It’s been criticized for being too difficult to decipher, but it’s an awesome resource with tons of information.
  5. Science and Practice of Strength Training by Vladimir Zatsiorsky – A great blend of theoretical and practical information.

EC: What are five things our readers can do right now to become better lifters, athletes, coaches, and trainers?


  1. Be able to both teach and demonstrate proper form on as many lifts as possible.
  2. Never stop learning (books, DVD’s, seminars, phone conversations, etc.).
  3. There are many ways to get people stronger, faster, leaner, and more muscular; learn more than one of them.
  4. Learn functional anatomy, you owe it to your clients and yourself.
  5. Be passionate about what you do; your clients can tell if you’re just going through the motions.

EC: Thanks again for taking the time, John.

We’ll be back next week with another all-new newsletter.  Until then, train hard and have fun.

All the Best,


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Q&A with Precision Nutrition Creator, Dr. John Berardi

You can’t do anything really creative with your 22nd newsletter; it really isn’t an eventful occasion at all.  As such, we might as well get right to the good stuff!

Good Stuff from the Good Doctor Berardi

Last week, John Berardi sent me a heads-up on a great new program he’s offering to everybody for FREE.  Just this morning, I finished reviewing it myself, and I have to say, it’s another great offering from one of the industry’s brightest experts.  This course piggybacks on John’s highly successful Precision Nutrition package.  You’ve got nothing to lose; sign up for the 8-day Body Transformation with Precision Nutrition email course today and check out what JB has to offer.  In the meantime, here's today's reader mail Q&A.


Q: What’s your take on frequency of static stretching?  Is it "the more, the better"?  More or less, how many days per week would be a good idea?

A: In a nutshell...

1) I'm not as huge an advocate of stretching as I used to be, but I still think people need to do it – especially those who sit at computers all day.

2) Activation work and dynamic flexibility drills are ten times as valuable as static stretching.  I’d rather do 6-8 mobilizations than a 12-15 second static stretch.

3) More people need to pay attention to soft-tissue work.  Many times, muscles will just feel tight because they’re so knotted up.  It's not just about soft tissue length anymore; it's about quality, too.  You can check out my article The Joint Health Checklist for details.

4) My clients do 2-3 static stretches pre-training at the very most (only chronically overactive muscles), and the rest are at other times of the day.  We’ll include some static stretching of non-working musculature during training in between sets just to improve training economy.

5) Stretching daily has helped a lot of my clients improve faster, but I think that they've come along almost just as well with pure activation and mobilization work (we do both).

Q: I've been getting a bit of pain in the front of my hips when squatting.  I'm not sure whether it's the hips flexors or something else.  Squats with a stance around shoulder width are fine, as are any hip flexor exercises that work my legs in line with my body.

It's only when I squat with a slightly wider stance or do overhead squats that my hips are bothered.  It's only when I do leg raises with my legs apart, making a “Y” shape with my body, that I really feel the irritated muscle working.  Although these do seem to help it rather than cause it pain.

Do you have any idea what this could be? Or, tips on how to strengthen the area to avoid it?  Thanks for any insight you can offer.

A: Femoral anterior glide syndrome is a classic problem in people with poor lumbo-pelvic function (overactive hamstrings and lumbar erectors coupled with weak glutes). The hamstrings don’t exert any direct control over the femur during hip extension; their distal attachments are all below the knee.  So, as you extend the hip, there is no direct control over the head of the femur, and it can slide forward, irritating the anterior joint capsule.  This will give a feeling of tightness and irritation, but stretching the area will actually irritate it even more.

The secret is to eliminate problematic exercises for the short-term, and in the meantime, focus on glute activation drills.  The gluteus maximus exerts a posterior pull on the femoral head during hip extension, so if it’s firing to counteract that anterior glide caused by the humerus, you’re golden.  We outline several excellent drills in our Magnificent Mobility DVD; when handled correctly, you should see almost complete reduction of symptoms within a week.

Lastly, make sure that you're popping your hips through and CONSCIOUSLY activating your butt on all squats, deadlifts, good mornings, pull-throughs, etc.  Incorporate some single-leg work as well.  For now, though, keep your stance in for a few weeks, stay away from box squatting, and get some foam rolling done on your adductors, quads, hip flexors, ITB/TFL, and piriformis.

Q: Many members have complained about the thought of getting rid of the Smith Machine in our gym and replacing it with a power rack.  If you wouldn't mind giving me some ammo (arguments) to shoot them down , I’d really appreciate it.


1. The Smith Machine offers less transfer to the real-world than free weight exercises.

2. Depending on the movement, the shearing forces on the knees and lumbar spine are increased by the fixed line of motion.

3. The lifter conforms to the machine, and not vice versa. Human motion is dependent on subtle adjustments to joint angle positioning; the body will always want to compensate in the most advantageous position possible. Fix the feet and fix the bar, and the only ways to get this compensation are inappropriate knee tracking and, more dangerously, loss of the neutral spine position.

4. Smith machines are generally more expensive.   I suspect that you could get a regular coat rack for about $2K cheaper – and it would take up less space.

Admittedly, I did put together an entire article on things that you actually CAN do with the Smith machine, but the truth is that you could just as easily do them on a fixed barbell in a power rack.

Have a great week, everyone.


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Foam Roller Plus

New Articles

Last week, I had an article published in the FitCast Magazine; you can check out “Yoga This and Pilates That” here. Additionally, if you’re standing in line at the grocery store, you can find an interview with me in the October issue of Oxygen Magazine.  The article – written by Karen Karvonen – delves into the merits of soft tissue work.  Speaking of soft-tissue work…

Product Review: Foam Roller Plus

About two years ago, Mike Robertson and I wrote “Feel Better for $10,” an article that discussed the “what, why, and how” of foam rolling.  It might have been our most popular article at T-Nation; the positive responses were overwhelming – and they continue to be to this day.  Simply breaking down some knots in soft-tissue can make a huge difference in how you feel and perform.  However, what would you say if I told you that I just stumbled onto something even better? When I arrived at Excel in early August, I noticed that the crew had picked up a pair of the “Foam Roller Plus” models.  It didn’t take long for these things to really impress me; they absolutely blow the plain ol’ foam models out of the water.  What separates them from the original model?  Well, for starters, several inches of foam have been replaced by PVC pipe!  It’s a five-inch PVC core surrounding by just one inch of foam, making it a great progression for those who have gotten past the entry level version – not to mention those who are masochistic enough to enjoy it full-throttle from the start! Pick one up and see for yourself!

Contributor’s Corner: Jimmy Smith

Many of you may not have heard of Jimmy Smith yet, but rest assured that he’s a name that you’ll want to remember, as he’s going to be doing great things in the fitness industry for many years to come.  Check out The Functional Seven, Jimmy's contribution to EricCressey.com, and see for yourself! Until next week, train hard and have fun! EC
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Body Worlds: A Review

It’s hard to believe that we’ve gotten to 20 newsletters, huh?  Now that we’re about five months in, I’m sure that you’ve all had some time to think about the direction in which you’d like this newsletter to head.  I’ve said from day one that I’ll let the readers dictate the content. So, with that said, I’d appreciate your feedback on what you’ve seen and what you’d like to see in the future.  More Q&A?  More contributions from outside authors?  More product reviews?  More interviews?   If so, with whom?

My personal assistant will be compiling all of your responses over the next few days in hopes of making this newsletter the best it can be.  You can send your feedback to ec@ericcressey.com with the subject line “Newsletter Feedback.”  Thanks in advance for taking the time to make this newsletter even better.

The Clock is Ticking…

There are only ten days until the early registration deadline for the LA Strength and Performance Nutrition Seminar arrives.  People are coming from as far as England for this outstanding event; you definitely don’t want to miss out on an awesome speaking lineup:

-John Berardi

-Alwyn Cosgrove

-Dan John

-Mike Robertson

-Julia Ladewski

-Some guy named Cressey

There will be plenty of free goodies, complimentary Active Release® assessments and treatments, and loads of opportunities to talk shop with presenters and other coaches, trainers, and athletes.  Check it out now at www.LAStrengthSeminar.com.

A Review of Body Worlds

Those of you who have followed me for more than a few days should know by now that I’m an absolute functional anatomy geek.  So, as I’m sure you can imagine, I was absolutely stoked to hear that “Body Worlds” was coming to the Museum of Science here in Boston.  I’ve written in the past that Gross Anatomy – the course in which I spent about five hours per week with a bunch of cadavers for six months – was likely the most influential course I’ve ever taken.  Unfortunately, while this course was tremendous, few people in the fitness industry – or any industry, for that matter – have the opportunity to experience it.  The Body Worlds exhibit – made possible through a process known as “Plastination” – brings this experience to everyone.

Yesterday, I checked the exhibit out with Cassandra Forsythe, Tony Gentilcore, and Carl Valle, and we were all extremely impressed.  Suffice it to say that I was in full-fledged “functional anatomy geek” mode, so nobody in our group needed the earpiece for a guided tour!

The exhibit is featured in Boston until January 7, 2007, and is also on display in Houston and St. Paul for a limited time.  It’ll be coming to Vancouver in less than one month as well.  I would highly recommend it to anyone – and I don’t get a penny for saying so.  You can find more information at www.BodyWorlds.com.

I would also like to take this moment to mention that Cass and I caught Tony skipping in the museum at one point.  Apparently, you can still get excited about 3-D glasses if you’re 29 years old and can deadlift 560 pounds – but you will still look like a girly-man.


Q: Why is it that when I go on an inversion table – whether it’s totally upside-down hanging by the ankles or just partially upside-down, my lower back actually hurts as it stretches?  I don't know whether it’s stretching or whether the total area is just relaxed from the gravity and daily crunch on the spine.

Any ideas?  I can't stay on it long enough to benefit.

A: Inversion tables aren't a universal treatment approach for lower back injuries.  They might work well with disc issues, but if you have another underlying pathology, there's a chance that this position will actually give you problems.  For example, I've seen people with SI joint problems who can't hang from a chin-up bar without pain.  You need to get a concrete diagnosis upon which to base treatment modalities - not just pick and choose what you think might work.

Q: I recently saw a tip from you where you encouraged those with shoulder impingement to stay away from back squats and use front squats instead.  I have to say that when I go heavy with front squats, my right shoulder is not happy.  What gives?

A: Front squats are actually an awesome SUBSTITUTE to use when someone has impingement; they keep the humerus out of the "at-risk" (externally rotated and abducted) position that you get with the back squat. A lot of people with impingement really struggle with back-squatting.

If you're having pain in the shoulder with front squats, I would guess that your problem is more likely to be related to your acromioclavicular (AC) joint.  It's very common for those with AC joint pathologies to get irritation from positioning weight right on that area.  If you’ve got AC joint problems, you’ll have pain with reaching across your chest, and performing dips and full range-of-motion bench presses.

Q:  I read your article Frequent Pulling For Faster Progress and I loved it. I just finished up week 4.  I see that I’ll be doing rack pulls for weeks 5-8.  Is there a percentage of my max I should be using?  Thanks in advance.

A: For the rack pulls, it really depends on where the pins are set.  Mid-shin will usually be slightly lower than your pull from the floor (starting from the weakest point in the strength curve).  Anything from the bottom of the kneecap up will generally be well above your max.  As a frame of reference, my best competition deadlift is 628, and I've done rack pulls above the kneecaps for 755x5.

It’s important to note that contrary to popular belief, pulling from pins above the kneecaps won’t help your lockout much in spite of the apparent specificity.  It’ll thicken up your upper back very quickly, though.  If you want to build your lockout, focus pulling against bands, chains, and weight releasers.  For more information on troubleshooting your sticking points, check out my article, Deadlift Diagnosis.

Lastly, don’t worry so much about percentages.  Sometimes, you just need to leave the numbers-crunching for the accountants and test the waters for yourself.

Q: I’m having a hard time getting my lower legs with the foam roller.  I just can’t get enough pressure applied; any tips?

A: Piece of cake!  Just use a tennis ball in place of the roller; you’ll be amazed at how much scar tissue this seemingly harmless ball can break down.  Most people will notice the most discomfort on the lateral head of the gastrocnemius, and this discomfort will intensify as they move up onto the peroneals.

Additionally, you would be well served to pick up The Stick; it gets the job done and is very versatile, so you can use it on several other hard-to-reach areas.

That does it for this week.  Until next Tuesday, train hard and have fun!


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Exclusive Interview: Carl Valle

It’s Tuesday again; time to get the ball rolling on another newsletter!

Article Update

For those who missed it, I had an article published at T-Nation last week; check out 40 Random Thoughts if you’ve actually enjoyed what I’ve been spewing for the past 18 newsletters.  And if you didn’t, hopefully #19 will get you to come around.

Exclusive Interview: Carl Valle

I’ll admit it: I’m somewhat of a snob when it comes to “approving” of what other coaches do.  I’m so detailed and focused in what I do that I expect all of my peers to hold themselves to equally high standards.  The end result is that there really aren’t many people to whom I’m comfortable referring my clients and athletes.  Frankly, though, if someone is being interviewed, they’re people I consider to be in the upper echelon.

Along these same lines, there are not many people with whom I would talk sprinting mechanics for over an hour at 1AM following a random phone call.  Hell, there aren’t many people who can (or will) call me at 1AM period!  Carl Valle can do just that, though.  He’s extremely well-read and experienced, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a coach out there who can boast of being an expert sprint and swim coach – and understand regeneration protocols in phenomenal detail.  I’m fortunate to work with Carl on a daily basis now that I’m up in Boston, and there is no doubt in my mind that we’ll be churning out freaky athletes for years to come.

EC: Hey Carl, thanks for being with us today.  You just couldn’t get enough of me at the facility all day, huh?  Let’s get right to the meat and potatoes.  You know sprinting mechanics better than anyone with whom I’ve ever spoken personally; where did all this knowledge come from?

CV: Just wait until football season starts and you have to deal with my cranky moods if the 49ers are struggling; then ask if you’re getting enough of me!

Good question, though: where does one get good information on sprinting with so many clowns out there spewing misinformation?  Most of my knowledge stems from far better coaches who are willing to share their sources and experiences openly and I have been very lucky early on.  I owe a lot to Mike Corn from the USA Track and Field Coach’s education school for keeping the instructors and curriculum top-notch.  Each year is very humbling to me as I must throw out the ego and learn from not only the speakers presenting, but also from the coaches attending as well.  In order to take advantage of the enormous bank of information available from great minds you must do your homework with your anatomy and physiology to be on the same page.

My coaching experiences with athletes ranging from high school to world-class sprinters were daily reminders that you better do your research because you are dealing with people’s goals and sometimes even dreams.  During my days in Tampa and North Carolina, I felt I was doing the right things but I was very raw and didn’t have the ability to make the daily adjustments and refinements.  If I knew then what I know now, I think I would be the one speaking at clinics instead of the guy in the back scribbling notes!  Remember, wisdom is a product of both knowledge and experience, so do your reading, listening, and experimenting.

EC:  Let’s talk common myths in training for speed.  Where are people hopelessly misinformed?

CV: Myths exist because people are frankly lazy or are less passionate than many of the more successful coaches out there.  Running isn’t a mystery; it’s just elementary physics and gross anatomy and physiology that can be learned by anyone who puts in the time.  Too many people are looking for easy answers instead of investing in solid training information when trying to develop athletic performance.  Why do a cadaver dissection when you lean back and watch a DVD on the couch?  Perhaps the most common problem I see with this industry is so much lack of patience with improving a quality that one resorts to more “magical” methods because the boring and straightforward avenue sounds less attractive when a gadget or guru can do it twice as fast with half the effort.  After a few years of hearing the same myths over and over again from self-proclaimed online experts and traveling snake oil salesmen, I created three categories of speed myth propagators. They are:

The Gadget Guys – Those who push catalog equipment during their presentations and exaggerate the effectiveness of what this equipment can do for athletes.  I find that equipment must be used sparingly and that athletes must learn to control their bodies before adding any outside tool.  Two tools such as sleds and resistance lines are only 5% of most successful sprinting programs.

The Mechanics Masters – These frauds share drills or new theories of running and make things more complicated than they really are.  I do feel that technique is important but many times mechanical errors stem from program design, postural issues, strength and mobility factors, and other coaching needs besides a lack of drills from a DVD.  It’s analogous to a Tylenol deficiency causing headaches.

The Bomb Squad – These guys assume that every “explosive” exercise will develop speed better than foolishly sprinting from time to time.  Every one of these guys has a secret weight program they stole “Mission Impossible” style from the Russians and Germans.  The funny thing is that they always talk about 40-yard dash times of foreign athletes when those countries use the metric system!  Perhaps it was a translation error?

The truth is that speed development requires sprinting, strength and power training, work capacity, regenerative work (active recovery training, nutrition, and rest), and a great coach to artistically juggle those elements.

EC: You get a lot of high school and college athletes looking to get faster; what are the most common shortcomings you see in them, and how do you address these shortcomings?

CV: Most athletes come to me with small injuries that are at the nagging point that could grow into major problems if they are not treated early.  While many different and unique shortcomings exist, the most common three issues I deal with are poor fitness levels and little accountability in recovery factors.  Here are three factors athletes should consider when looking to improving their speed.

Work Capacity – While speed, strength, and power are the primary means to developing athletic performance, conditioning acts as an internal battery charger to the neuromuscular system and can’t be ignored.  So many athletes think they are overtraining, but in reality they don’t have a biochemical platform to self-repair and need to look at developing a specific work capacity to ensure they are supporting the high intensity elements in their programs.

Lack of Regeneration – The ability to improve requires consistency and an ample amount of time and (unfortunately) injury and illness are viruses that can plague any program if you are not doing enough regeneration work.  Everyone talks about cold lasers, exotic fish oils, and ART, but very few athletes get enough sleep and eat healthily.  Get the basics down and then talk about whey protein drinks and sports massage.

Bad Frames – Sprinting and power training work, but most athletes come in needing to lower body fat, correct muscle imbalances, and finish rehabbing injuries.  Athletes are like cars and need to clean out their trunk (get lean), fix their alignment (correct inefficiencies), and sometimes put their car in the shop (physical therapy).  Don’t come to a race shop to soup up your car if it is going to break down any minute on the highway.  Over the last few years I am getting more and more athletes with preexisting injuries that have not been solved and this is my primary challenge.  This is why I am thrilled to have you at Excel to help troubleshoot problems.

EC: I know you’re anything but mainstream in the avenues you pursue to gain your knowledge; what resources (books, DVDs, manuals) have you found to be the most valuable?

CV: Besides Magnificent Mobility and The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual, Eric?

EC: Those are in a class of their own, wise guy.  And remember that I’m a powerlifter and you’re a swimmer/runner; natural selection and the concept of food chains dictate that I can and should kill and eat you.  Continue…

CV: Believe it or not, I have found the early Paul Chek information to be useful since his correspondence courses deal with functional anatomy in depth, and, I am a huge fan of the Championship Productions Videos (Track and Swimming) because they share good information from real experts.

Books: If you have some money to spend, here are some good resources. I have about 800+ books and 120 five-inch binders of world class coaching content, so much of my info is from pieces here and there.  Two books that I find to be staples are:

Peak When It Counts: 4th Edition by William Freeman.  If you are serious about real periodization pick up this text from trackandfieldnews.com as well as the texts on sprinting, jumping, and throwing.

Strength and Power in Sport (Encyclopedia of Sports Medicine) edited by Paavo Komi – Very solid information with the best group of authors.  Worth the price and is the standard for any coach wanting to know what is needed to develop freaks.  Everyone has Supertraining, but I don’t find it to be as useful but it is important to review it to keep pushing the limit.

Building the Efficient Athlete DVD Set – To be honest I didn’t feel comfortable endorsing products of my friends and colleagues, but not endorsing aggressive corrective exercise would be a disservice. While I like the concept of corrective exercise, the means to evaluate and reprogram an athlete have not worked with my own clients when following some of the less progressive material. While I didn’t attend the seminar in person, the videos you’ve shown me and my knowledge of your abilities has made me realize that it’s going to be a great product that will help a lot of people.  If people are serious, they get the DVD series because it’s a good value and the material will help them do things at a high level themselves and with their athletes.  What I like about what you two did is that you made training an internal movement screen instead of just having people doing tests.  With the hundreds of tests you can do, it's nice to see why someone is compensating instead of just saying they failed a specific test.  This enables the coach to have a watch dog mentality during all training time and not just the assessment or post-training check-up.  It’s scary that there are people out there who are not even aware of concepts such as building a spine of steel and neurologically smooth coordination.

(Note from EC: This DVD set was filmed in late July, and should be available in mid-to-late September; stay tuned.)

Read the American Swim Coaches Association (ASCA) World Books. My opinion is that the best minds are in swimming and that is a shame since aquatic sports don’t transfer too well to the rest of the field.  I wouldn’t get my weight training information from a swim coach, but you can learn a lot about the art of coaching from the good ones.

The rest of my information comes from exchanging USB drives at conferences, emails from coaches that type up their workouts, and chatting on the phone.  Half the information I refer to is unpublished content from other coaches that are organized in binders and, of course, locked in a secure storage facility.

EC: You’ve traveled all over the place to see people speak; who are some speakers that everyone needs to experience first hand?

CV: The problem with some coaches is that many don’t present information formally on any speaking circuit or conference because they don’t like to travel or are too busy to speak.  Here are some coaches, experts, and speakers that I find worth the time:

John Berardi, Charlie Francis, Dave Tate, Dan Wirth, Dick Jocums, Al Vermeil, Mike Boyle, Vern Gambetta, Bryan Tobias, Dan Pfaff, Kebba Tolbert, Dave Kerin, Randy Gillon, Adam Lockhart, Mike Stone, Travis Skaggs, William Kramer, Steven Fleck, Brijesh Patel, Landon Evans, Mike Clark, William Sands, Gray Cook, JJ Hunter, Dave Marsh, Phil Lunden, Gary Winckler, John Smith, Paul Chek, Tony Wells, Don Babbit, Art Vengas, Skip Kenney, Richard Quick, Nort Thorton, Mike Bottom, Paul Bergan, Wolfgang Mier, Boo Shexnayder, Mike Young, John Pallof, and some powerlifter named Eric Cressey.

Others speakers may exist, but those are the people I have listened to first-hand.  For example, I enjoy guys like Mike Robertson, John Sullivan, and Christian Thibaudeau but I have not attended any of their seminars.  Mel Siff has passed away, but his presentations were well done.  Some other guys are great resources, but the names I shared come to mind easily.

EC: Fast-forward five years…where is Carl Valle, and what are people saying about him?

CV: I don’t know where I will be in five years, but I do hope people think my efforts are noble in trying to keep the industry evolving and honest.  I am really frustrated with the huge influx of posers and frauds in our field, Eric, and I hope things change soon.  No matter what I do I will still be the guy that reads comic books, drinks too much coffee, and tells jokes at the wrong time – but at least I am known to be a help and not parasite or sellout.  I just want people to think my information is honest and accurate and my training creative and effective.  My goal is to be respected by people I respect.

EC: Word association time.  Name the first sentence or two that come to mind when you see the following words:

Charlie Francis

CV: Brilliant man and simply the best 100m coach of all time, regardless of the drugs involved.  Although forever linked to scandal, very few people know how generous and unselfish Charlie is as a person.

EC: John Berardi

CV: John has the rare ability to make the very complicated simple and practical without losing the effectiveness or key details.  His consulting was a wise investment and I am glad I pushed for his services.

EC: Resisted Sprints with the Sled

CV: They work, but sprinting without equipment can work, too.  I would invest my time running faster speeds instead of running with higher resistances.

EC: The Red Sox Bullpen

CV: I don’t know too much since I wear this Boston Red Sox hat to look like Ben Affleck since he landed Jennifer Garner.  Jokes aside, the bullpen has not been exactly shutting teams down and must rebound or the magic number will be 911.

EC (groaning in lament about the Sox): Excel Sport and Fitness Training

CV: The best facility and staff in New England – period.

EC: That’ll do it, Carl; thanks a ton for taking the time to be with us.  What projects have you got on your plate right now, and where can our readers find out more about those projects and you?

CV: Currently, I am working on two compendiums on training and recovery that have been started and given up on for six years.  If one likes Anatomy Trains or Sports Training Principles, you will enjoy the stuff I am working on.  My goal is to share something I will be proud of and a hardcopy should be available October 31, 2007.

Another major project is the supplement line of which I am a part, and this has taken nearly three years.  The company is called Myonova and we have two regeneration products that are superior; I’m very proud to be involved with them.  The Cytofuse product is an NCAA compliant post-workout formula and we have an antioxidant formula that is years ahead of those of our competitors.  August 31 will be the birth of the new label line, but we NCAA champion teams and many Olympic athletes have already been using the products for over two years.  For more information, go to www.myonova.com and read more about us (it will be up next Friday, August 25).

Finally, I have a few seminars at which I will speak provided it doesn’t interfere with training and my meet schedule; I like these chances to give back the industry.  When the information is solidified, I will email you and you can include it in your newsletter.  In the meantime, readers can contact me at phoenixelitecoaching@hotmail.com.

Newsletter #19 is in the books; see you next week!  Until then, don't forget that the early registration deadline on the LA Strength and Performance Nutrition Seminar is fast approaching; sign up today!

All the Best,


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Exclusive Interview: Julia Ladewski

Now that we’ve settled in a bit here in Boston, it’s time to get back to business with this newsletter!  So, without further ado, let’s get to the good stuff. New Article If you’ve ever had a question about how to use bands in your training, the article I just had published at Wannabebig.com is for you.  Check out Big Bad Bands. High Praise for The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual Ryan Lee sees a ton of information products – probably more than anyone else in the industry.  As such, this review is all the more flattering! “The Best Off-Season Training Manual Ever? “I have to admit I receive lots of free training books, DVDs and products from my fellow trainers. And while many are good - very few truly blow me away. And Eric Cressey just send me his new Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual – and it truly is one of the best training resources I've ever seen in my life. It's so incredibly detailed and no stone is left unturned. “I can tell you from personal experience: if you’re serious about strength and conditioning, then you MUST add this manual to your toolbox.” Ryan Lee www.SportSpecific.com www.RyanLee.com You can find out more about the manual at www.UltimateOffSeason.com.

Exclusive Interview: Julia Ladewski

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.  Also, I'll be speaking with you and the rest of the crew at the LA Strength and Performance Nutrition Seminar in September.  You can email me directly at julia@ladewskistrength.com.   Thanks, Eric!  We’ll have to do this again sometime! That's all for this week, folks.  Remember, the clock is ticking on the early registration deadline for the LA Strength and Performance Nutrition Seminar.  This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, as it took us MONTHS of planning to bring this speaking lineup together and coordinate their schedules.  This is the kind of event that could literally change your training career; don't miss out: www.LAStrengthSeminar.com. See you next week! EC
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Isometric Elevated Push-up

It’s been a crazy few days, as I made the move to Boston from Southern Connecticut yesterday – into this morning. The last box was taken off the truck at 12:30AM, and we’re now sorting through the madness around the new apartment. Fortunately, however, our Internet was rigged up this morning, so as a true workaholic, I’m sending this email out at 11:50PM on Tuesday night. I promise a Tuesday newsletter, and I’m a man of my word! Congratulations are in order!In the collegiate strength and conditioning realm, a lot of interns come and go. At risk of sounding judgmental, few really do much to distinguish themselves. Maybe they’re just there for college credit, or they just don’t have the passion for taking an athlete’s success to heart. Every so often, though, you get an intern who is a diamond in the rough – and Mike Irr is one diamond with whom I was fortunate to work while at the University of Connecticut. To be blunt, at only 22 years of age, Mike has already shown that he is one of the few people in the industry who really “gets it.” He’s a tremendously hard-working and passionate coach, and just as importantly, he’s open-minded and unconditionally positive. Last week, all those excellent qualities and diligence paid off for Mike. I received a phone call from Mike telling me that his internship with the Chicago Bulls this summer had gone so well that he was offered a position as the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the team. Keep an eye out for the Bulls in the months and years to come; they just added one hell of a coach to their staff. Congratulations, Mike!

Syracuse Strength Spectacular RecapFor those of you who missed this fantastic event back in June, Ryan Smith’s review of the seminar is now available; you can check it out here.

A Strength and Performance Nutrition Symposium Update

This September’s Los Angeles seminar is looking great. In addition to an awesome speaking lineup, there will be dozens of industry “notables” in attendance, and there will be some awesome goodies bags available for those in attendance. If that wasn’t enough, there will be free ART® all weekend, so you could learn something and get your injuries fixed in one weekend! Remember, the early-registration deadline is August 30, so sign up today!


Q: Had a couple questions on the isometric elevated push-up holds in your new article. How do you structure this exercise into your training programs? Is this something you will do in the warm-up or after other movements?What have you found to be the most effective scheme as far as the hold is concerned? Meaning, do you have your athletes go for time/until fatigue/reps/multiple sets, etc. Have you utilized unstable surfaces with this exercise as well? I would be using the holds mostly with my softball players as they prepare this upcoming fall and am always looking for various shoulder exercises to reduce the risk of injury. Thanks so much for any help you can give. A: With beginners, it may be the first movement. Generally, though, I'll include it later in the training session. It's also great for back-off weeks; I actually include it as part of regeneration phases if an athlete is worn out post-season (maintain muscular activation with lower joint torques). I go into more detail on this in The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual. We always do at least two sets, and sometimes as many as four. I generally won't go longer than a minute; many athletes won't be able to go much longer than 15-20s (especially female athletes). As far as unstable surfaces are concerned, there's not much reason to use them for this; you can train proprioception pretty easily at normal speeds. One of the inherent benefits to using upper body unstable surface training is the maintained muscular activation with lower resultant joint torques (prime movers become joint stabilizers - see JSCR research from David Behm and Ken Anderson). You can get this same benefit from isometric holds, so doing them on unstable surfaces would be overkill, IMO – especially in a female athlete population who is likely too weak in the upper body in the first place. Q: Eric, I have a question about your new off-season training manual. Knowing who wrote this manual, I know that it's going to be a great product! I realize that this would be geared more towards the high performance athlete, but could the "Weekend Warrior" realistically utilize this manual? A: Good question - and I've actually received the same inquiry from a few people now. Here's my (admittedly-biased) take on things: If you've read stuff from Mike Robertson, Alwyn Cosgrove, Kelly Baggett, and me (among a few others), I hope one message you've taken away from the articles is that the ordinary weekend warrior would be a lot better off if 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. This manual shows you how all those pieces fit together at different times of year, and it also provides a lot of "stuff you just ought to know" if you train. Another cool thing is that you'll actually start to watch sports on TV in a different light; you'll begin to pick up on the little things that make each athlete unique. And, if all that isn't enough, you've got 30 weeks of sample programming to keep things interesting! Again, great question! Q: I was reading your Shoulder Savers: Part I article and noticed your table on balance in training. My main question is concerned with overhead presses. These lifts are categorized as internal rotation of the humeral joint. When we do overhead pressing, the humerus is fixed in an externally rotated position, correct? Why then is this internal rotation? A: Good question. It's more out of necessity with the population in question than it is true functional anatomy. You're never really "fixed" in any sort of rotation; your humeral head is always going to be rotating in order to accommodate the degree of flexion/abduction. More external rotation = more subacromial space. This is also going to be affected by the position of the bar (front vs. back vs. dumbbells) and the chosen grip (neutral corresponds to more external rotation). But anyway... Long story short, if you look at all the other exercises in the "right" categories, they're the ones that - when used in excess - typically contribute to impingement. Overhead pressing is only going to make impingement worse, and a large percentage of the population really can't do it safely. As such, it needed a place to go beyond just scapular elevation. Additionally, while I can't remember where I saw the data, there was a study that looked at relative EMG of the three heads of the deltoid and found that anterior deltoid (internal rotator) EMG activity was always higher than that of the posterior deltoid (external rotator).  Consider that the posterior deltoid also leads to superior migration of the humeral head, and the external rotation contribution that you get with the movement is still going to have a sublte effect on increasing the risk of impingement. All that said, debating the minutia isn't what is important; what IS important is that lifters, trainers, and coaches start to appreciate who is and isn't suited for overhead pressing.  The more people I encounter, the more I realize that the "isn't" crowd is a lot bigger than we previously thought.  For those interested in some background in this regard, here are a few shoulder articles I've written over the years: Cracking the Rotator Cuff Conundrum Shoulder Savers: Part I Shoulder Savers: Part II Shoulder Savers: Part III Debunking Exercise Myths: Part II Bogus Biomechanics, Asinine Anatomy: Part II (Myth #9) That does it for Newsletter #17; have a great week, everyone! All the Best, EC
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  • Avoid the most common deadlifting mistakes
  • 9 - minute instructional video
  • 3 part follow up series