Home Posts tagged "Newsletters" (Page 3)

How I Measure Peak Power

Q: In your newsletter about Pete’s results on the Maximum Strength program a few weeks ago, I noticed that you mentioned peak power as one variable that you tested. How and why do you do that? A: To calculate peak power, you’ll need a vertical jump height and the athlete’s body weight. We always calculate peak power with our athletes simply because we know that their body weights won’t remain perfectly constant – and it provides a way to measure absolute power output. If an athlete gains 15 pounds, but his vertical jump stays the same, then he’s still gained power – just not in a relative sense. The vertical jump provides your relative power measure, and your peak power output is your absolute measure; both relative and absolute power are important in most sports. We utilize the Sayers equation to calculate peak power. Traditionally, the Lewis equation has been used for this purpose, but research from Sayers et al. found that the Lewis equation really just predicted average power. As such, they came up with a new equation that more accurately reflects peak power. I’ve uploaded a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet with the Sayers equation calculation; you can download it HERE. With this spreadsheet, you just have to change the body weight (pounds) and vertical jump (inches) in yellow, and the peak power will be displayed in green.  Normally, the Sayers equation takes kilograms and centimeters, but I just incorporated some calculations to make it more friendly for those of us who aren’t too good with the metric system.

What they’re saying on the internet forums about Maximum Strength…

“Preordered this as soon as I heard about it and I have to say that it is EXCELLENT.

”Long story short, it's a 4 month program with each month as a phase. Each week is alternating volume/intensity with built in deloading and mini-strength tests. ”I really like the program, not only as a strength routine but because it's corrective- it's got Anderson Front Squats right next to prehab exercises like Face Pulls and Lower Trap Raises that are important but that no one does. Add in there a great section on dynamic warmups and foam rolling and chances are that someone running this is going to come out a hell of a lot stronger and healthier than they were before.” To pick up a copy for yourself, click HERE.

Blog Updates

Question for the Day EC on Rest Periods Have a great weekend! EC
Read more

Overhead Training and Throwing Athletes

Q: I had a quick question for you from the Perform Better Summit this past weekend.  I enjoyed your presentation, but was wondering why you do not do any overhead training with your throwing athletes.  Isn't it important to maintain balance in the shoulder musculature and by eliminating that plane of movement are we not putting our athletes at a greater risk for injury?

A: First off, to be clear, I am not opposed to overhead training; that would imply that I don’t like chin-ups, face pulls, long-tossing, or throwing bullpen sessions! I'm actually really surprised at how many people think that I really exclude such training altogether from my programs for non-overhead-throwing athletes. In my presentation, I specifically noted that I was opposed to overhead pressing and the majority of the Olympic lifts in baseball players.

In a nutshell, it has a lot to do with the fact that overhead throwing athletes (and pitchers in particular) demonstrate significantly less scapular upward rotation at 60+ degrees of abduction. Here’s a reference:

Laudner KG, Stanek JM, Meister K. Differences in Scapular Upward Rotation Between Baseball Pitchers and Position Players. Am J Sports Med. 2007 Dec;35(12):2091-5.

From that study: “CLINICAL RELEVANCE: This decrease in scapular upward rotation may compromise the integrity of the glenohumeral joint and place pitchers at an increased risk of developing shoulder injuries compared with position players. As such, pitchers may benefit from periscapular stretching and strengthening exercises to assist with increasing scapular upward rotation.”

Additionally, comparing most overhead weight training movements (lower velocity, higher load) to throwing a baseball is like comparing apples and oranges.  Throwing a baseball is a significant traction (humerus pulled away from the glenoid fossa), whereas overhead pressing is approximation (humerus pushed into the glenoid fossa).  The former is markedly less stressful on the shoulder - and why chin-ups are easier on the joint than shoulder pressing.

With respect to the Olympic lifts, I'm not comfortable with the amount of forces the snatch puts on the ulnar collateral ligament, which takes a ton of stress during the valgus-extension overload cycle that dramatically changes the physical shape of most pitchers' elbow joints. The catch on the clean isn’t something to which I’m going to subject to valuable wrists and hands that go through some serious abuse with every throw and are often injured in diving catches and sliding. I see no problem with high pull variations, though.

To take it a step further, all the research suggests that virtually all baseball players have some degree of labral fraying. The labrum deepens the shoulder “socket” to mechanically provide stability in a joint that is designed for mobility. Without optimal labral function, going to the extreme demands of stability – overhead movements – is not ideal, especially under load.

Lastly, here is a frame of reference to deter you from the "Since they encounter is in sports, we need to train it in the weight-room" mindset.  Boxers get hit in the head all the time in matches; why don't we punch them in the head in the weight room?

The risk outweighs the benefit. Food for thought.

Results Typical

A few weeks ago, I outlined the results my business partner Pete experienced on the four-month Maximum Strength program. One of our clients, Gregg, also completed the entire program; can you start to see a trend?

-Body weight increased by one pound with significant decrease in body fat %

-Broad jump increased by 8 inches

-Vertical jump increased by 2.6 inches

-Box squat increased by 35 pounds

-Deadlift increased by 40 pounds

-Bench press increased by 20 pounds

-Chin-up increased by 25 pounds

For more information, check out Maximum Strength.

Blog Updates Quad Pulls in Baseball Labral Tears and Pitchers All the Best, EC

Read more

Baseball Pitchers: “Laying Back”

Q: I am a 18-year-old Division 1 college baseball pitcher, and I have a baseball mechanic/ biomechanical question for you. I've been trying to get my arm to "lay back" like in this picture of Billy Wagner.
When I pitch, my arm is not parallel to the ground like most major league pitchers. I am trying to throw with a more relaxed arm which helps it "lay back" more efficiently to help me throw harder, but I am struggling to get it to resemble the picture of Billy. Basically, I am just looking for suggestions on how to help my arm lay back from a biomechanical standpoint. Am I "too tight?" What are the possible reasons for it? Scar tissue? Flexibility? What are some solutions? A: Okay, I have a bunch of thoughts on this – and hopefully I can relate them pretty clearly and concisely. Want to know the biggest difference between you and Billy Wagner? 19 years of pitching! Seriously, there are just disgusting forces put on the shoulder and elbow joints over time in throwing a baseball. And, as a result, you can actually get changes in the structure of the bone. For instance, the research has shown that pro pitchers have on average 13.3° less total arc of elbow flexion-extension. To recreate the forces on Wagner's elbow in that picture, you'd have to take a plumb line and hang it down from his throwing hand with a 40-pound weight attached. Crazy, eh? The shoulder isn't much different; most of the pros have thickened posterior glenohumeral (shoulder) joint capsules. This can be advantageous for getting more external rotation to generate added velocity, but disadvantageous in terms of injury prevention, as the glenohumeral internal rotation deficit (GIRD) that results causing posterior, superior translation of the humeral head during the late cocking phase of throwing. Ever heard of a SLAP lesion? It’s superior-labrum-anterior-posterior. It’s no wonder that the guys with symptomatic labrum problems are the ones who have the least amount of internal rotation ROM. Younger guys are different. Little leaguers have little to no shoulder stiffness, and present with lateral elbow issues (compression type issues from the stress in the cocking to acceleration transition). As guys get to 14/15+, you start seeing more muscular stiffness in the posterior shoulder girdle, and the elbow problems are more medial and related to valgus-extension overload (the acceleration to deceleration transition). Take a look at what valgus-extension overload can do to a 16-year-old’s elbow when he throws a lot while developing:
Can you tell that he’s right-handed? And, more specifically, can you see how the alterations to bony structure can make it easier to “lay back?” Just imagine his right arm in the cocking position; he’s got an extra 10° of ROM over the rest of us. This doesn't speak to the flexibility limitation you refer to directly, but what it does show is that one of the best ways to develop pitching-specific flexibility is to throw as you develop - and at age 18/19, you're still headed in that direction. Now, with that said, you're probably wondering why some kids can pop 90+ mph while still in high school, but you can't. First, there is a big genetic component to flexibility; some guys just have crazy laxity. I've found that long spines can be extremely advantageous in pitchers, as they allow guys to go into lumbar flexion in the follow-through without hitting end range (where disc issues present). As long as an athlete like this doesn’t get lazy and leave out his lumbar stabilization exercises, he’ll thrive with such a build. As for stuff you can fix, you could be looking at: 1. Soft tissues and flexibility restrictions in pectoralis major, latissimus dorsi, or subscapularis – all of which would limit shoulder external rotation range of motion. I don’t normally like to stretch pecs in baseball pitchers simply because it’s a bit too much stress on the anterior capsule (alongside the crazy stress they get from throwing all the time), but it does have merit in some guys, particularly those who care too much about their bench press… 2. Restrictions in levator scapulae, pec minor, and rhomboids alongside weakness of lower trap and serratus anterior. These issues would interfere with effective upward rotation and posterior tilting of the scapula on the throwing side. 3. Poor thoracic spine extension and rotation. This is one more reason that doing thousands of crunches is a stupid idea; you’re chronically shortening your rectus abdominus and pulling your rib cage into depression, making it hard to extend your thoracic spine to lay back. Watch how much thoracic extension and rotation Nolan Ryan gets HERE. 4. Poor mobility of the opposite hip and ankle. If you take a look at the pitcher of Wagner above, you’ll see that the lead leg hip is flexed almost completely as the shoulder is in maximal external rotation. If you’re trying to lengthen on the front side, you’ll lose it on the back side. Kibler et al. found that in 49% of arthroscopically repaired SLAP lesions, there was a weakness or range of motion deficit in the opposite hip. 5. Poor core stability. This sounds like a buzz word, but there is actually merit to it. I got to thinking about it when I watched two athletes do overhead med ball stomps to the floor alongside one another. The first – one of our most experienced high school athletes – maintained a neutral lumbar spine and only a small amount of thoracic flexion as he stomped; the position of the rib cage was pretty constant. The second guy, who was in his first week, really “caved over;” the rib cage dropped as he stomped. Sure, this relates considerably to #3, but it also speaks to the weakness of the lumbar and thoracic erectors to resist the flexion momentum. These same erectors are going to be the ones that allow a pitcher to post-up, stand-tall, and throw gas downward. They don’t recruit predominantly tall guys for nothing, you know… Obviously, this just speaks to the direct flexibility issues affecting velocity. There are a ton of strength and power measure you have to take as well. We tell our guys that you have to “train ass to throw gas.” In other words, posterior chain strength is huge for the push off on the back leg and for the deceleration on the front leg. It takes a ton of glute and hamstrings strength to decelerate a 95mph fastball that ends like this: And, to take it a step further, if you’re a guy who throws more across your body (more rotation), you better have some excellent rotary stability at the lumbar spine to resist that destabilizing torque at follow-through – and the hip rotation range of motion to ensure that you’re rotating at the right places. Otherwise, your back will get chewed up pretty quickly. A lot of the movements in Jim Smith's Combat Core Manual are great for preventing this problem. So, all that said, to the naked eye, they’d say you just need to stretch your pecs to more effectively “lay back.” There’s actually a lot more to it – and the pec stretching could even give you problems if done too aggressively or if that isn’t your particular need. For more information, I strongly encourage you to check out the 2008 Ultimate Pitching Coaches Boot Camp DVD set. Blog Updates Confessions of an Ex-Ironman A Great Read on Being Barefoot Just Another Afternoon at Cressey Performance (my personal favorite for the week) Maximum Strength Update To those who have purchased Maximum Strength, all pre-orders have now shipped out. To those who haven’t, what are you waiting for? Check it out here: Maximum Strength. “The Maximum Strength program took me to the next level of performance with my lifting. After using a variety of programs focusing on fat-loss and hypertrophy and having limited results from them it was great to see such solid increases in strength and physique changes from the program. In addition, the program focus on dynamic flexibility and foam rolling has resulted in an injury free training cycle and major flexibility and posture improvements. I would highly recommend this program and book to anyone wanting to make real progress with strength, performance and body composition.” Dan Hibbert – Calgary, Alberta Increased body weight by 14 pounds, broad jump by seven inches, box squat by 80 pounds, bench press by 30 pounds, deadlift by 70 pounds, and 3-rep max chin-up by 27.5 pounds. All the Best, EC Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive a Copy of the Exact Stretches used by Cressey Performance Pitchers after they Throw!
Read more

Motivating Your Athletes with Success

In about eight hours, I'll hop on a plane to head to Chicago for a Perform Better Summit.  There are some great presenters on this year's agenda, including Mike Boyle, Gray Cook, Mark Verstegen, Martin Rooney, Alwyn Cosgrove, Brian Grasso, Robb Rogers, and even some schmuck named "Cressey" who probably ought to just be the guy carrying all their luggage. Kidding aside, at this point, I've now lectured in fourteen states and four countries.  In the process, I've talked about everything from corrective exercise and to performance enhancement.  This weekend, over 500 people will come from all over the country to hear all these presenters talk about those two topics and many others.  However, two stones have largely been left unturned both in writing and presenting: MOTIVATION and ATTITUDE. I feel strongly that the assessments, programming, and coaching at Cressey Performance is top-notch and unique within this industry.  However, I feel even more strongly that we can attribute our success as much to our environment as we can to our knowledge.  When you create a training system, it isn't just what's on paper; it is how that programmig is carried out.  It's been said that a bad program done with a ton of effort will always outperform a good program done without much effort; I couldn't agree more. It was a good week at the office for our baseball guys.  On Monday, Lincoln Sudbury senior Sam "The Landlord" Finn tossed a 13-strikeout no-hitter to go to 2-0 on the season.  Not to be outdone, Algonquin junior John "J-Mac" McKenna threw an 11-strikeout perfect game on Wednesday.  Meanwhile, Weston junior Sahil Bloom popped 91mph on the scouts' guns as he struck out 12 batters in six innings of work; he's now leading the league with 24Ks in 13 innings of work on the season. I bring these results up not to brag (okay, maybe a little; I'm really proud of these guys), but to show you what a good training environment can do for athletes.  Here are three guys who compete against each other during the season (Sam and John actually were on opposing sides in the state title game last year), yet they've all trained alongside each other and pushed dozens of other CP athletes to higher levels.  Put athletes in an unconditionally positive environment with quantifiable goals, turn the music up (and make sure it's not Justin Timberlake), and coach your butt off, and just watch what happens.  Young athletes do not need personal trainers; they need people to write solid programming and put them in an environment in which they can succeed. Speaking of success, I think it is quite possibly the best motivator there is.  Within 60 minutes of each of these pitching performances, all three guys had called or text messaged me to confirm the time for their lifting session the subsequent day.  I can't help but laugh when I hear coaches complain about how getting athletes to lift in-season is "impossible" or a "chore."  If that's the case, these coaches haven't shown them enough improvements to win them over - or just haven't created a motivating environment in which they can have fun. Now, I want to make it perfectly clear: having attitude in a facility does NOT mean allowing guys to get away with crap form on any exercise.  We lift weights to get better at sports, not put ourselves at risk of weight room injuries.  It never ceases to amaze me how some coaches will let athletes get away with murder on form - and it amuses me even more when these coaches will throw up videos of that form on YouTube as promotional material. If they were in collegiate or professional sports strength and conditioning, they'd be out of a job quickly, as the stakes are a lot higher with multi-million dollar contracts and athletes who aren't as resilient as 16-year-olds. So how do you avoid becoming one of those guys who looks like this? 1. Do a thorough assessment with every athlete - and program accordingly. 2. Coach all the basics hard early-on.  Variations are easy to teach once you have the basics down cold. 3. Don't add more external resistance until the movement is perfect without it. 4. THEN, add in the environment - music, enthusiastic training partners, different training stimuli, and regular quantifiable progress checks (built-in tests). Now, with all that said, back to my original point as I wrap up: I don't care how good your program is if you don't have attitude and constant motivation to keep pushing the bar higher.  It's why I love watching my buddy Todd Hamer of Robert Morris University coach.  Todd is a bright guy, but acts like he really couldn't care less what the books say; hell, he'd probably rather use the books for two-board presses.  However, he is the single-most energetic coach I know, always has the music playing, and is constantly throwing new things at his athletes to keep them interested and motivated. To take it a step further, among the "Guinea Pigs" for the 16-week program in my new book, the two guys who trained at Cressey Performance while following the program were the ones who made the best progress.  The other guys all improved tremendously, but the CP guys really stood out the most. So, with all that said, here are my challenges to you for the next week: 1. Stop thinking about programming for the short-term. 2. Take out a piece of paper, and in the left-hand column, write down everything that distracts you when you are about to train.  It could be traffic, cell phone calls, what's going on at work - you name it. 3. In the right-hand column, write down what you can do to fix that problem to get yourself in the right mindset. 4. Rank your current gym environment on a scale of 0-10, with 10 being the absolute best environment you could possibly imagine in light of your goals. 5. if you wrote "5" or less for #4, start looking for a new gym. New Blog Content Preventing Plantar Fasciitis Feedback on Maximum Strength

“Maximum Strength is a guide for those who truly want to make meaningful changes to their bodies. Eric Cressey has created a program that will challenge any individual to push themselves to levels they have never been before. In the years that I have known Eric, his goal to help people achieve maximum performance and get the most out of their bodies has never wavered.”

Michael Irr - Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach, Chicago Bulls

For more information, click HERE.

I'm off to Chicago.  Have a great weekend! EC
Read more

Baseball: Pro-Testing Numbers

Of our pro baseball guys from this past off-season, two really surprised me with their pre-testing numbers.  Both broad jumped (standing long jump) less than 80 inches.  These results would put them in the 80th percentile of CP athletes - in the eighth grade!  As a little frame of reference, a 101-inch broad jump puts you on our high school record board (top 13).

Meanwhile, one of these guys was topping out at 94 mph, and the other was around 91-92 mph.  If you appreciate how big a challenge it is for the body to decelerate a fastball with that kind of velocity, then you'll realize that it's not a surprise that both of them had shoulder and elbow problems in their past.  At the other end of the spectrum, we had one pitcher who tested second out of 80 pitchers in his MLB organization, putting a 119-inch broad jump on the board.  Another pitcher finished 5th of of 165 players (pitchers and position guys) in his organization, including a 35-inch vertical.  However, as much as I'd like to talk about valgus-extension overload and why I think distance running for pitchers is moronic, that's not the direction I'm going to take.

Rather, I'm going to talk about how many high school and junior high school kids (and their parents) think that they need to emulate the programs these guys are on.  Frankly, while the program the former two pitchers are on might be appropriate for some of these guys (or undertrain a large percentage of our high school athletes), the programs I put some of the more advanced athletes on would totally throw a 15-year-old under the bus.

To take it a step further, back in February, a Cressey Performance client was front squatting against chains - and when he finished, he set up the trap bar for some slighly higher rep work.  We had an intern in town for the week, and he quickly turned to me and said, "Squat and deadlift in the same day?  Won't that be too much on his central nervous system?"  Yes, CNS fatigue is a huge issue for a 43-year-old father of two who has just over one year of training experience under his belt (I added a mildly sarcastic wink here).

With that in mind, I denounced "canned," or "cookie-cutter" programs because I felt that they'd do more harm than good.  Eventually, though, I changed my mind - to a degree.

The cookie-cutter programs are still atrocious (some things never change), but the scary part is that most people do even worse when they put their own programs together!  We've got a) guys who are virtually untrained, b) guys who are highly trained, and c) guys who are completely overthinking things because they think they're more advanced than they are.  And, they're all on the same canned programs!

The solution to all these problems, I've found, is to qualify your recommendations if you're going to create a pre-made program.  Take my new book, for instance.

My experience has been that the overwhelming majority of those who read internet articles at the sites for which I write are in the intermediate category.  They've got an idea of some of the basics of exercise technique, but definitely want to get bigger and stronger.  However, they don't have a road map of how to get to where they want to be - especially in light of some mobility deficits, nutritional shortcomings, and a lot of conflicting information from various sources.

So, I make it clear that this book isn't for the complete beginner - and it probably won't be right for a world-record holder.  However, if you're somewhere in the middle, have about $20 tol spare, and would like a good read - pick up a copy.

“Eric Cressey continues to excel as an author and a coach.  Maximum Strength is an outstanding resource for anyone looking to enhance strength and mobility.”

Sean Skahan, M.Ed., C.S.C.S. - Strength and Conditioning Coach, Anaheim Ducks

New T-Nation Article

5 Programming Strategies for Quick Results


The site for our facility is now live; you can check it out at www.CresseyPerformance.com.

Blog Updates

My Take on Reverse Hypers

Plenty of Space: Am I Ready to Press?

Listen Up, Hillary

All the Best,


Read more

Advanced Torso Training: A Combat Core Review

This morning, my girlfriend turned on Regis and Kelly. Now, before you start giving me a hard time, I’ll make it known that a) it was her choice and b) I was checking my emails, and my computer happens to be in the neighborhood of my television.

My attention shifted from emails to the TV when I saw that they were featuring a transformation contest where a bunch of ordinary weekend warriors went to different personal trainers to get “toned” (I knew I was in for it when I heard that word).

In the minutes that followed, I heard the word “core” mentioned approximately 487 times as trainers put clients through all sorts of stuff:

1. interval jogging on a treadmill (nearly made me vomit in my mouth)

2. playing basketball (You can charge for that? I would have gone with dodgeball so that I could throw stuff at my trainer for ripping me off.)

3. Curls while standing on a BOSU ball in a pair of Nike Shox (yes, you can actually find a way to make unstable surface training MORE injurious by exaggerating pronation even more)

Incidentally, this third trainer was featured with some hardcore Kelly Clarkson blaring in the background. I not only got dumber (and angry) by watching this segment; I also realized that if I ever go nuts and decide to write my suicide note, you’ll hear “SINCE YOU’VE BEEN GONE!!!!” blaring in the background as I sob over my pen and paper.

Normally, my reaction wouldn’t have been so pronounced, but after this weekend, I was all about REAL “core stability.” You see, I got to catch up with my buddy, Jim Smith (of Diesel Crew fame), while in Pittsburgh to give a seminar. “Smitty” and Jedd Johnson gave an awesome presentation outlining their innovative and effective methods on everything from sled dragging to grip work – and most specific to the discussion at hand, they both raved about how much they love Kelly Clarkson! Plus, they’re HUGE Regis and Kelly fans.

Okay, so that last little bit wasn’t entirely accurate; I’m pretty sure that these guys would have Hatebreed or some other angry, belligerent, “my-mother-didn’t love me” music blaring in the background when they finally get their moment in the spotlight on Regis and Kelly. Anyway, they DO know a ton about non-traditional means of training “core stability.”

In addition to watching a great presentation, on the plane ride home, I finally got a chance to read through Smitty’s new e-book, Combat Core: Advanced Torso Training for Explosive Strength and Power. To say that I was impressed would be the understatement of the year.

You see, I spend a ton of money each year on seminars, books, DVDs, etc. – and if I can take away even one little thing from each of them, I’m thrilled. In many cases, it’s “same-old, same-old.” Smitty has quickly built a reputation for overdelivering, and this resource was no exception. In the 133 pages of photos and descriptions of loads of exercises you’ve surely never seen, I found:

-13 sweet modifications to exercises I’m already doing

-16 completely new exercises I can’t wait to incorporate to my own training and that of my athletes

-seemingly countless “why didn’t I think of that?” moments.

So, to put it bluntly, I think it’s an awesome read – and well worth every penny, especially when you factor in all the bonuses he’s incorporated (including lifetime updates to keep you up to speed on his latest bits of insanity). If you’re interested in some effective, fun, innovative ways to enhance TRUE core stability, definitely check it out:

Combat Core: Advanced Torso Training for Explosive Strength and Power

Blog Updates

EC’s Best Work?

Seminar Updates

More information on my New Hampshire seminar with Brijesh Patel is now available on my schedule page.

In wrapping up, I just want to send out a special thanks to everyone who came out to the seminar in Pittsburgh this past weekend; it was great to meet all of you.

All the Best,


Read more

80/20 of Lifting

You often hear about the 80/20 rule applied to business; 20% of your efforts account for 80% of your income.

Or, it’s training; 20% of your exercise selection – squats, deadlifts, Olympic lifts, chin-ups, presses, rows, etc. – account for 80% of your progress in the gym.

After my trip to Ireland last week, I got to thinking about how this rule is applicable to coaching. You see, much of my week was spent with a great strength coach, Will Heffernan. Will’s prices are probably higher than anyone in Dublin (or all of Ireland, for that matter) – yet he’s still working with and writing programs for over 300 athletes.

Will is a really bright guy with a ton of experience:

-He’s worked with athletes who have competed at each of the last three Olympics in his capacity as a strength and conditioning coach and massage therapist. This total includes including two that are bound for the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

-Dessie Farrell, one of the best Gaelic Footballs of all time, publicly thanks Will in his book, Dessie: Tangled Up in Blue. Farrell was told he’d never play again due to knee injuries – yet after working with Will – he’s back out there.

-He’s working with some of the best rugby players in Ireland – and seeing hundreds of other athletes simultaneously either as individuals or in team settings.

Now, as you can imagine, Will and I had some good chats about science-this and science-that. He was an awesome contributor in the audience at my seminar, too. As I discovered later, though, we were talking about the 80% of knowledge we probably don’t get to use with any of our athletes very often.

You see, the other 20% of our training knowledge is all we really use with athletes because:

a) most athletes aren’t as advanced as you think

b) they aren’t as motivated as you think.

Most critically, this knowledge includes the ability to speak to athletes on their level in their language.

I’ve seen some pretty well-read coaches who scare athletes off – or don’t get anything out of them – because they expect too much early-on. It’s why guys who expect high school kids to train 6x/week to start wind up tanking pretty quickly (and winding up with athletes who hate them and their sports). It’s also why many professional sports strength coaches struggle to get off the ground with a new team; they expect to overhaul things completely right off the bat. The better move is to play the “one of mine, one of yours” game for a while to work your way in.

I'm more laid back and work my way in with athletes - and pretty soon, 2x/week becomes 5x/week.Goofballs become all-stars and all-scholastics and get Division 1 scholarships. Those skeptical of our programming in general start appreciating how much of a difference it can make. And, I get 80 high school athletes sending me 800 text messages a month because I wind up being a big brother as much as a coach!

Clearly, Will is in the same boat. I lifted alongside Will at one of his rugby clubs, and it was very clear that all his athletes completely buy in to what he’s doing. There were no egos; guys just came in and busting their butts with simple, yet effective programming. It was the 20% executed to perfection.

Getting through to an athlete gives you the ability to take that 20% figure and move it to 25%, 30%, and higher. If you scare them off by expecting too much to start, you’ll won’t get anywhere.

Cressey Performance’s #1 Client

Normally, I don’t like to play favorites. Then again, not every one of my clients bakes us ridiculously tasty (and healthy) stuff for every session.

Nancy doesn’t deadlift 500, push a bobsled, or throw a 90-mph two-seam fastball. Heck, her change-up isn’t even good. She does, however, wield a copy of John Berardi’s Gourmet Nutrition cookbook with the best of them, though.

This past weekend, it was a combination of the banana nut squares with peanut butter crunch bars on top.We contemplated shutting the facility down completely for ten minutes while we savored their taste. It was a

You might not have a Nancy of your own, but you can definitely have the next best thing: a copy of JB’s new cookbook, complete with 120 new recipes with full nutritional information on each of them. Check it out for yourself:

Gourmet Nutrition Version 2.0

Blog Updates

Training in Extreme Positions

Who Needs Percentages?

I’m off to Pittsburgh this weekend to do a seminar (more info on the schedule page). Also, Brijesh Patel and I just confirmed that we’ll be speaking at a seminar on April 12 in New Hampshire. Drop me an email at ec@ericcressey.com if you’re interested and I’ll pass along the information.

All the Best,


Read more

What I Know About Women

I'm opening a big can of worms with this subject line... The truth is that I really don't know anything about women; I just know how to train them and am relatively observant. I actually got the idea for this newsletter when my girlfriend and I returned from our trip to Ireland on Tuesday. On the plane ride back, we were reviewing the photos in our cameras. She had taken hundreds of pictures of everything from sheep, to waterfalls, to rugby matches, to the training we did, to my seminar - and even four photos of our plane ride to Ireland last week. When we had tapped out her camera's memory card, we turned on mine. I had one picture. It was taken at the Guinness Brewery on the sidewalk - and likely only because we were waiting for the tour bus to pick us up. I guess pictures just aren't my thing. Anyway, it got me thinking about the differences between men and women in the gym - so I thought I'd throw some out there. Enjoy.

Women generally don't do well with spring clamps for barbells because many of them can't put them on with a single hand because their hands aren't big enough (and they're actually more awkward to put on with two hands). Muscle clamps are a better bet. Men, on the other hand, forget to use clamps altogether. Women will not add a 2.5-pound plate to the bar until you tell them to do so. With men, you’re constantly telling them to check their egos and take weight off the bar in order to perfect their form. Women respond differently to diets than men in a few ways. I’m just hitting the tip of the iceberg here, but first off, they tend to be smaller absolutely, so fat loss comes slower. Second, my experience has been that while they do quite well with lowered carb intakes, these reductions don’t work quite as well as with men in all cases. Cassandra Forsythe does an awesome job of outlining different nutrition strategies for women in The Women’s Health Perfect Body Diet. Women do not handle comparisons to others well at all, whereas men almost always respond well to comparisons. Alwyn Cosgrove discussed this phenomenon in a previous interview for my newsletter; check out Part 1 and Part 2.

At Cressey Performance, we have a high school male record board – but not a female one – for this very reason. Women will attempt to complete hour-long training sessions in 30-35 minutes, whereas men will drag their heels and attempt to slow things down as much as possible. With women, we often program in more “filler” movements (low-level flexibility/activation/soft tissue drills) between sets to slow them down. With men, we usually just yell at them. Women will wear high heels even if they know they are absolutely horrible for lower extremity health – and even in spite of your desperate pleas for them to lose the heels. If a male athlete wants to wear high heels, though, chances are that he has more pressing concerns than ankle mobility – and this one might be outside your scope of practice. Women typically need more soft tissue and activation work, but not necessarily as much mobility work (ankles being the exception).

Men, on the other hand, are tighter than a camel’s a** in a sandstorm, and need soft tissue work, activation, and loads of mobility drills. Women will generally require a bit more cybernetic periodization – “rolling with the punches” programming-wise – than men at the advanced level. You’d be surprised at how much the menstrual cycle can affect things. Speaking of the menstrual cycle, women need to be cognizant of getting enough iron in their diets, whereas men need to be cognizant of giving blood every so often to control their iron levels. Women are at risk of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears for a variety of reasons, including an increased Q-angle, quad dominance/hamstrings weakness, differential gastrocnemius recruitment strategies, and a host of other factors. Would you believe that women are also at more risk at certain times of the month because there are estrogen receptors on the ACL? This newsletter was inspired in part by Steph Holland-Brodney, a CP client who is running her second marathon and raising money for Boston Medical Center in the process. If you have a few dollars to spare and want to do something nice this Easter weekend, you can show BMC and Steph some love HERE.

New Article at T-Nation

5 Common Technique Mistakes

Blog Updates

Enhancing Your Pressing Days

Lifting at a Young Age

Rugby Recovery

That’ll do it for this week. As a little aside, yes, I know this is my 100th newsletter. Unfortunately, given that I just got back from an overseas trip and the baseball off-season just wrapped up on Sunday, I wasn’t in much of a position to throw an extravaganza with clowns, balloon animals, shadow puppets, magic tricks, or even a corny joke or two. I would, however, like to extend my thanks to all of you for your continued support; I’m looking forward to the next 100 installments and beyond.

All the Best,


Read more

Exclusive Interview with Dr. Jason Hodges

EricCressey.com Exclusive Interview with Dr. Jason Hodges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EC: Shoulders?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two Quick Reminders

Upon my return, I’ll be headed to Pittsburgh for a seminar on March 29th. You can find details for the event on my Schedule page.

Also, I’ll be interviewed live for Vince DelMonte’s FREE Ultimate Muscle Advantage Teleseminar series on April 7th. You can sign up by heading HERE. All the best, EC.
Read more

Five Tips from Mike Stare

Five More Tips from Mike Stare (SpectrumFit.net) 6. Perform thoracic mobilization before exercise, not after. There always seems to be controversy regarding when stretching should be performed to maximize function. Fortunately, the answer is clear regarding joint mobilization: perform exercise aimed solely at enhancing normal joint arthrokinematics prior to exercise. Studies have demonstrated that mobilization of the thoracic spine enhances voluntary force capacity of the lower trapezius, which is a muscle group that plays a pivotal role in ensuring optimal scapulohumeral mechanics. The foam roll has been used very successfully as a self-mobilization device for the thoracic spine, and will be a key exercise in the beginning of your routine.

7. Look to your daily life as the root of joint injuries. The more we learn about joint injuries, the more we learn that damage is more likely the consequence of repeated micro trauma, versus a one-time, acute macro-trauma. Joints respond very well to frequent, intermittent, and gradual loading, as opposed to infrequent, sustained, or sudden loading. Joints receive their nutrition from the passive diffusion of nutrients in the synovial fluid, facilitated by movement and intermittent loading. Prolonged sitting and standing can often rob the joints of the stimulus required for optimal health. When our minds are occupied, it is amazing how we can find ourselves enduring prolonged and awkward postures. Even worse, we may not feel the adverse affects of this in the short term, thus we don’t have an impetus to modify them. This is usually because many structures, such as disc, meniscus, and joints are aneural is areas, and often do dot relay noxious stimuli until a higher degree of damage occurs. Clinical experience and research shows that countless joint conditions, including osteoarthritis, shoulder impingement, low back, and neck pain are all correlated with prolonged sitting or repeated bending and twisting. It’s obvious to focus on technique, program design, corrective exercise, and nutrition for optimal performance. However, neglecting to address movement patterns and postures with daily tasks can subvert much of your hard work and often contribute to injury.

8. Use deloading to stimulate recovery. When we fracture a foot, it is well known that taking load of the bone for a limited time will facilitate healing. We should use the same logic regarding injuries to our weight bearing joints to various degrees. Vertical deloading through band or bar hangs are an example of removing loading upon the spine. This is often a welcomed break from the excessive loading we impose upon our spine through maximal strength workouts. The degree to which we perform our deloading should be proportionate to the degree to which we load our spine, be it chronic loading (sitting at our desk) or acute loading (heavy deadlifts), and proportionate to the severity of the symptoms (e.g. manual traction for acute back pain). Deloading can also be done with lower body exercises such as lunging when bodyweight is enough to irritate a flared up knee. Try taking a strong band suspend it from a rack, and loop it under your arms. The stronger the band, the greater the deload. This will allow you the benefits of facilitating the desired motor pattern and full joint excursion without reproducing the painful irritation of the joint.

9. Try the modified 1-leg squat to assess leg strength discrepancies. Strength discrepancies amongst the legs is very common, and often the cause of injury and decreased performance. A very simple technique to identify a unilateral strength deficit is as follows: perform a one leg squat or modified Bulgarian squat (non-stance leg moving backward). At the bottom of the movement, when the stance leg is at least 90 degrees and toes of the trail leg are in contact with the ground, lift the toes of the trail leg off the ground before ascending exclusively on the stance leg. Any strength discrepancy will be obvious based on the perceived difficulty from one leg to the other or the presence of compensation patterns.

10. Address your lumbar stability and position sense before overloading. Far too common is the failure to adequately master position sense and stability prior to overloading a joint. Doing so will lead to injury through structural damage and decreased performance through muscle inhibition. You cannot build the second floor before solidifying the foundation of a building. You cannot throw a punch with a limp wrist. Accordingly, you should not lift heavy before you can demonstrate proper joint position and stability.

New Blog Content

Correlating Pec Tears and Benching

Preventing Striking Injuries

Changing Parameters: Volume and Intensity

We'll be back next week with some all-new content. All the Best, EC
Read more
Page 1 2 3 4 5 13
  • Avoid the most common deadlifting mistakes
  • 9 - minute instructional video
  • 3 part follow up series