Home Posts tagged "Newsletters" (Page 5)

9 Tips from Cassandra Forsythe

Sentimental Mumbo-Jumbo…

Last night, my girlfriend and I had our Christmas, and tomorrow, I’ll be doing an early Christmas with my brother’s family and my grandparents. Then, it’s up to Maine (or, what we call “God’s Country”) for a few days to see my folks and the girlfriend’s family. December 24-27 will be the first consecutive four-day period I’ve had off since 2003.

With all these events in the planner and a facility to run, time is at a premium – but I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to wish all my newsletter subscribers Happy Holidays. Also, thank you very much for all your support in 2008.

Seminar Updates

Spaces are filling up fast for the January 5th Fort Lauderdale seminar, so don’t delay on signing u; email jonboyle@mac.com for details. Additionally, I’ve confirmed multiple dates for 2008; you can find information on those events on my SCHEDULE page.

Nine Tips from Cassandra Forsythe

It seems only fitting that I feature Cassandra Forsythe’s expertise in the holiday installment of my newsletter, as Cass has been like a sister to me for many years – even spending one Christmas with my family in Maine. Cass is absolutely brilliant – and I’m thrilled that this holiday season, she’ll stop flying below the radar in the lay population and get to display her knowledge with the introduction of two books in two days.

On December 26th, Cass’ solo project, the Women’s Health Perfect Body Diet, will be released.

Then, on December 27th, will be the release of The New Rules of Lifting for Women: Lift like a Man, Look like a Goddess, a collaboration with Lou Schuler and Alwyn Cosgrove. I was fortunate to get advanced copies of both, and they’re absolutely fantastic – both as gifts to the women in your life and to those who train female clients and athletes. Both are affordably-priced (you can get both for $33.60 with free shipping) and well worth the investment. You can pre-order them now.

Without further ado, here is a little sample of what Cass has to offer.

1. Women always underestimate their strength. I've never once walked into a gym or weight room and seen a woman lifting to her full potential. If I do, however, her body composition reflects the hard work: she's lean, attractively muscular, and still very feminine.

2. Most women avoid lifting weights because they don't know how. You don't need anyone to show you how to use a cross-trainer or a treadmill, but it's a good idea to learn how to properly lift. Men usually learn from their buddies or their favorite magazine, but a woman has to learn either by following her boyfriend around the gym or reading a non-female magazine (because most female magazines are worthless). The better way is to seek a good personal trainer: one who won't just promote bicep curls and only lifting weights less than 10 lbs dumbbells. Women have to stop using the excuse that they don't know how to weight train because weight training is the best way to achieve the body that they've always desired.

3. Women do not need to train differently than men. Period.

4. Protein is still the most misrepresented macronutrient in the diets of most women. Women still think that low-fat, low-protein diets will make them lose more weight, when in fact, an equal balance of high-quality protein, fat and plant-source carbohydrates is the best way to positively influence body composition. Have fish, poultry, eggs, beef, pork, cottage cheese, ricotta, or whey protein every time you eat a meal.

5. Arachidonic acid, the n-6 polyunsaturated fat, in plasma membranes is good. Free arachidonic acid in the circulation is bad. There's a difference. True, arachidonic acid may lead to pro-inflammatory eicosanoids if released from the membrane, but if you eat a diet that reduces oxidative stress (i.e. with antioxidant foods, no trans fats, low sugar) arachidonic acid will stay in the membrane and serve its positive role as a polyunsaturated fat.

6. It's harder for women to lose weight than men with exercise and diet. Mostly this occurs because women gain muscle and lose fat simultaneously while training which causes their body weight to stay the same. Also, psychologically, women tend to believe that they need to severely under-eat in order to lose weight. This often leads to failure with any diet plan because it's not providing enough calories to allow her to workout or to function normally throughout the day. Therefore, women first need to not judge themselves by a number on the scale to determine if they're body composition is changing and secondly, they need eat enough food to give them energy to exercise effectively and to not force them to abandon the food protocol to which they've committed.

7. If you hold your body fat in your abdominal region then you should reduce the amount of carbohydrates in your diet and increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids (from fish, walnuts, and flax). A large waist circumference is positively correlated with insulin resistance, which means your ability to process carbohydrates is limited. Several lines of recent research have showed that low carbohydrate diets containing less than 30% calories as carbohydrate are most effective for battling belly fat. They also increase insulin sensitivity. Omega-3 fatty acids (especially the fats in fish oil) are also well-researched for their ability to promote increased fat burning and improve carbohydrate processing.

8. If a woman loses her menstrual period and is actually eating enough calories to sustain her metabolic demands, then it's likely an overactive stress response that is inhibiting her reproductive hormones. In this situation, she should evaluate her stressors and look for ways to promote relaxation. Sometimes this may mean time off from working out, time away from work on the weekends, and spending more time with people who make you happy. Losing your period not only has negative consequences for long-term bone health, but also depresses the immune system and makes it harder to reach a desired body fat level.

9. Women use fat for fuel better than men and need more protein to promote muscle protein synthesis. This means that fat and protein are definitely macronutrients that should not be limited in any woman's diet.

About Cassandra

Cassandra Forsythe is a PhD candidate at the University of Connecticut studying exercise science and nutrition. She received her MS in Human Nutrition and Metabolism and her BSc in Nutrition and Food Science from the University of Alberta. At UCONN, Cassandra’s research is focused on the effects of low carbohydrate ketogenic diets and resistance exercise on risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and weight loss. She's responsible for leading the ketogenic research projects, analyzing data and interpreting the results. Cassandra also works as a nutritional educator and weight loss coach and assists with exercise training and testing. She can be reached through her website, www.CassandraForsythe.com.

That wraps it up.  We'll be back next week with our last newsletter of 2007.  Until then, hafe a safe and happy holiday season. All the Best, EC
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The End of MLB Season

Last Chance to Save

Our holiday sale ends at the end of the day on Wednesday, December 12. As a reminder, here’s what you:

By entering the coupon code HOLIDAY2007 at checkout, you’ll get 15% off on each of the following products:

Building the Efficient Athlete

Magnificent Mobility Inside-Out

Bulletproof Knees

You can also get 30% off on The Ultimate Off-Season Manual (discount automatically applied).

Florida Seminar Update

Just a reminder: the early registration deadline for my Fort Lauderdale seminar on January 5th is December 15th, so don’t delay in getting your registration forms in. For more information, contact Jon Boyle at jonboyle@mac.com.

Q&A…or just an excuse for me to rant about baseball now that the MLB season is over...

Q: I recently read on an online forum that a long-time pitching authority was quoted as saying:

"Training will not teach you how to apply more force...only mechanics can do that. And pitching is not about applying more effort into a pitch but is about producing more skilled movements from better timing of all the parts. That will help produce more force. "No matter how hard you try, you will not get that from your strength training program...no matter who designed it, how much they have promised you it would or your hope that it will be the secret for you.”

I know you work with a lot pitchers and are a big believer in strength and conditioning for them, so what’s your take on this?

A: I’ll start with the positive: I agree with him that pitching is all about producing skilled movements secondary to appropriate timing of all the involved “parts.” I’ve very lucky to work hand-in-hand with some skilled pitching coaches who really know their stuff – and trust in me to do my job to complement the coaching they provide.

With that said, however, I disagree that you can’t gain (or lose) velocity based exclusively on your strength and conditioning program. On countless occasions, I’ve seen guys gain velocity without making any changes to their throwing programs or mechanics. A perfect example came this past weekend, when one of our high school juniors, Sahil Bloom, had a fantastic showing at a big-time scouting event in Florida – where scouts clocked him as high as 92 mph on the radar gun.

I started working with Sahil in late July – at which time he had never been above 82 mph. None of the pitching coaches with whom he’s worked have made dramatic changes to his mechanics; he’s just added more horsepower to the engine instead of screwing around with the fuzzy dice in the mirror and chrome hubcaps. His strength is up significantly and he’s added 18 pounds to his frame while getting leaner. In the first two months alone, his vertical jump and broad jump went up by 4 and 17 inches, respectively. And, three full months still remain in his off-season.

I know what many of the devil’s advocates in the crowd are thinking: “that’s just one isolated incident!” Actually, the truth is that we’ve got dozens of these guys kicking around our facility right now – and should have 5-10 high school guys throwing over 90 mph this spring.

And, if that’s not enough, how about we just go to the research?


Derenne C, Ho KW, Murphy JC. Effects of general, special, and specific resistance training on throwing velocity in baseball: a brief review. J Strength Cond Res. 2001 Feb;15(1):148-56.

[Note from EC: Yes, it’s pathetic that this REVIEW has been out almost seven years and people who are supposedly “in the know” still haven’t come across ANY of the studies to which it alludes.]

Practical Applications

Throwing velocity can be increased by resistance training. A rationale for general, special, and specific resistance training to increase throwing velocity has been presented. The following findings and recommendations relevant to strength and conditioning specialists and pitching coaches can be useful from the review of literature.

Specific studies they referenced:

Bagonzi, J.A. The effects of graded weighted baseballs, free weight training, and simulative isometric exercise on the velocity of a thrown baseball. Master's thesis, Indiana University. 1978. Brose, D.E., and D.L. Hanson. Effects of overload training on velocity and accuracy of throwing. Res. Q. 38:528–533. 1967. Jackson, J.B. The effects of weight training on the velocity of a thrown baseball. Master's thesis, Central Michigan University,. 1994. Lachowetz, T., J. Evon, and J. Pastiglione. The effects of an upper-body strength program on intercollegiate baseball throwing velocity. J. Strength Cond. Res. 12:116–119. 1998. Logan, G.A., W.C. McKinney, and W. Rowe. Effect of resistance through a throwing range of motion on the velocity of a baseball. Percept. Motor Skills. 25:55–58. 1966. Newton, R.U., and K.P. McEvoy. Baseball throwing velocity: A comparison of medicine ball training and weight training. J. Strength Cond. Res. 8:198–203. 1994. Potteiger, J.A., H.N. Williford, D.L. Blessing, and J. Smidt. Effect of two training methods on improving baseball performance variables. J. Appl. Sport Sci. Res. 6:2–6. 1992. Sullivan, J.W. The effects of three experimental training factors upon baseball throwing velocity and selected strength measures. Doctoral dissertation, Indiana University,. 1970. Swangard, T.M. The effect of isotonic weight training programs on the development of bat swinging, throwing, and running ability of college baseball players. Master's thesis, University of Oregon,. 1965. Thompson, C.W., and E.T. Martin. Weight training and baseball throwing speed. J. Assoc. Phys. Mental Rehabil. 19:194–196. 1965. They also have a table that summarizes 26 studies that examined the effect of different strength protocols on throwing velocity, and 22 of the 26 showed increases over controls who just threw. In other words, throwing and strength training is better than throwing alone for improving velocity – independent of optimization of mechanics from outside coaching.

The saddest part is that the training programs referenced in this review were nothing short of foo-foo garbage. We’re talking 3x10-12 light dumbbell drills and mind-numbing, rubber tubing blasphemy. If archaic stuff works, just imagine what happens when pitchers actually train the right way – and have pitching coaches to help them out?

Oh yeah, 10 mph gains in 4.5 months happen – and D1 college coaches and pro scouts start salivating over kids who are barely old enough to drive.

With that rant aside, I’d like to embark on another one: what about the indirect gains associated with strength training? Namely, what about the fact that it keeps guys healthy?

We know that pitchers (compared to position players) have less scapular upward rotation at 60 and 90 degrees of abduction:

Laudner KG, Stanek JM, Meister K. Differences in Scapular Upward Rotation Between Baseball Pitchers and Position Players. Am J Sports Med. 2007 Aug 8. BACKGROUND: Baseball pitchers have been reported to have an increased prevalence of shoulder injury compared with position players such as infielders and outfielders. Furthermore, insufficient scapular upward rotation has been empirically linked with several of these shoulder disorders. However, the difference in scapular upward rotation between pitchers and position players is not known. HYPOTHESIS: Pitchers will have decreased scapular upward rotation of their dominant shoulders compared with position players. STUDY DESIGN: Descriptive laboratory study. METHODS: Dominant shoulder scapular upward rotation was measured with the arm at rest and at 60 degrees , 90 degrees , and 120 degrees of humeral elevation among 15 professional baseball pitchers and 15 position players with no recent history of upper extremity injury. RESULTS: Independent t tests showed pitchers have significantly less scapular upward rotation at 60 degrees (3.9 degrees , P = .011) and 90 degrees (4.4 degrees , P = .009) of humeral elevation compared with position players. CONCLUSION: Baseball pitchers have less scapular upward rotation than do position players, specifically at humeral elevation angles of 60 degrees and 90 degrees . 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. [check the date: cutting-edge stuff...Cosgrove would be so proud]

You know what’s pretty interesting? Resistance training is the basis for modern physical therapy – which I’m pretty sure is aimed at restoring inappropriate movement patterns like this. Do you think that a good resistance training program could strengthen lower traps and serratus anterior to help alleviate this upward rotation problem?

And, last time I checked, strength and conditioning was about more than just being the “weights coach.” We do a lot of flexibility/mobility and soft tissue work – and it just so happens that such work does wonders on pec minor, levator scapulae, rhomboids, infraspinatus/teres minor, and a host of other muscles in pitchers.

I also like to tell jokes, do magic tricks, and make shadow puppets on the wall. Am I to assume that these don’t play a remarkable role in my athletes’ success? I beg to differ. Sure, banging out a set of 20 chin-ups because one of my athletes called me out might make me look like a stupid monkey when my elbows refuse to extend for the subsequent ten minutes, but I still think what we do plays a very important role in our athletes success; otherwise, they wouldn’t keep coming back. And, for the record, my shadow puppets are damn good for building camaraderie and bolstering spirits among the Cressey Performance troops – even if I’m just a “weights coach” or whatever.

This only encompasses a few of the seemingly countless examples I can come up with at a moment’s notice. Pitchers are an at-risk population; your number one job in working with a pitcher is to keep him healthy. And, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that a guy who is healthy and super-confident over his monster legs and butt is going to throw a lot harder than a guy who is in pain and as skinny as an Olsen twin because his stubborn pitching coach said strength training doesn’t work. You’ve got to train ass to throw gas!

Just two weeks ago, I began working with a pro ball player whose velocity is down from 94 to 88 – not just because he recently wrapped up a long season (and Arizona Fall League), but also because he’s had lower back issues that have prevented him from training. In other words, he counts on strength training to keep his velocity up – and he’s going to use it to get healthy, too.

So, to answer your original question, I guess this an exception to the rule that most coaches agree on the 90% and disagree on the 10%. In this case, it’s the other way around.

Until next time, train hard and have fun – and be leery of people who say strength training isn’t important. Everyone – from endurance athletes to grandmothers – needs it!


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Prehabilitation and Deloading

New Article

I had a new article published on Tuesday at T-Nation; be sure to check out The Prehab Deload.

You can never get enough Hartman…

Earlier this week, Bill Hartman provided us with seven great tips; here are eight more than certainly won’t disappoint!

8. Unilateral lower body training is well accepted, but unilateral upper body training is no less valuable and gets ignored by most trainers and coaches. It’s not uncommon for strength and conditioning coaches to recommend unilateral lower body exercises in an effort to maintain functional relationships in the trunk and hips. There are equally if not more important relationships between the upper extremity, the trunk, and the hips. Consider working toward developing the ability to perform a single-arm push-up as much as you develop your single-leg strength. It will go a long way toward maintaining your shoulder health and improve your performance.

9. It is a rare occasion that athletes needs complex training programs. Most athletes, regardless of level, are not well-trained strength athletes. Just as many HATE supplementary strength/performance training and don’t understand the value that it provides by allowing them to perform at their highest levels of performance. They would rather just play their sport. The exceptions are those athletes who have spent 3 to 4 years in a progressive, controlled, and properly designed strength program. Being advanced in a particular sport does not mean they are advanced in regard to supplementary training. When in doubt simplify.

10. If you choose to emphasize bench pressing in your training program, you need to spend more time strengthening your lower trapezius and rotator cuff.

The lower trapezius tends to be the weak point in your ability to stabilize the scapula and the rotator cuff is the big stabilizer for the glenohumeral joint. It is the ability to stabilize these areas that allows the larger prime movers to lift big weights. If these muscles don’t keep pace, your bench press will stall and you will most likely get injured.

11. Stand more and sit less. If you’re sitting on your ass, you’re not using it. If you’re not using it, you’ll forget how to use it when you train or play a sport. This can result in lower back pain, hip pain, or pain anywhere down the kinetic chain. You’ll also go a long way to prevent the loss of hip motion that will increase joint wear and tear and rob you of your athleticism at a premature age.

12. I recommend four recovery/restoration tools for everyone: sleep, food, soft-tissue work, and ice because they work for everyone.

I know a lot of things that have been used as recovery tools with world-class athletes. Most people are not world-class athletes and I question the value of many restorative tools. I’ve never been able to identify a measurable effect from something like a contrast shower other than shrinkage (you know what I mean). However, the four tools I recommend will apply to everyone.

Sleep is essential. The nervous system needs sleep to function at top efficiency. Food provides energy, reparative materials, and nutrient-based recovery. Soft-tissue work, whether it be massage, foam rolling, ART, or whatever, will maintain a more optimal condition of the soft-tissues. Trigger point, adhesions, and scar tissue affects mobility, tissue extensibility, and the ability to produce strength. An ounce of prevention goes a long way to assure optimal functional relationship between and within muscles and groups of muscles. Ice is under utilized by just about everyone. It is inexpensive and will go a long way to preserve your joint surface. Fifteen minutes of ice to heavily trained joints has been shown to have a preservation effect on joint cartilage.

13. Make your icing more effective by periodically moving the joint or muscle to which you’re applying ice. It promotes a more uniform application of the cold to the affected area. After you remove the ice, limit the motion of the affected area to preserve the cooling effect, as movement will increase rewarming.

14. Hip mobility affects more than you think. A lack of hip mobility will promote overuse of the lumbar spine to compensate for the lack of mobility. In patients with unilateral shoulder instability, almost half of those patients also showed poor hip mobility on the opposite side.

15. There are “money muscles” in almost every type of injury that when treated or activated immediately improve function. For shoulders, it’s the subscapularis. The subscapularis prevents the humeral head from moving forward and upward into the acromion in cases of impingement. Many times it’s overused due to repetitive movement, heavy loading, or both. Get it functioning again (ART does wonders) immediately restores shoulder function in a majority of cases.

For lower back pain, it’s the psoas. If someone has trouble forward flexing AND extending the spine (you can also see that they limit hip extension when they walk) check the psoas for spasm or adhesions. Restoring normal psoas function immediately restores spinal range of motion.

For lower back pain, it’s the psoas. If someone has trouble forward flexing AND extending the spine (you can also see that they limit hip extension when they walk) check the psoas for spasm or adhesions. Restoring normal psoas function immediately restores spinal range of motion.

For the knee, it’s the popliteus. Many times when rehabbing an athlete or patient with a knee injury, there’s sense of residual instability. Rather than going for the wobble board, consider checking the function of the popliteus. The popliteus assists in rotatory control of the knee. Restoring the popliteus function with soft-tissue work and a little strengthening often restores stability in no time.

About Bill Bill Hartman is a physical therapist and strength and conditioning coach in the Indianapolis area.  Bill is the co-creator of Inside-Out: The Ultimate Upper-Body Warm-up and a contributing author to Men's Health Magazine.  He is also the creator of Your Golf Fitness Coach's Video Library, available at www.yourgolffitnesscoach.com.  You can contact Bill directly via www.billhartman.net.

I’m off to Maine to lift some heavy stuff and see the family. Have a great weekend, everyone!

All the Best,


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Tips from Bill Hartman

On top of dropping a 45-pound plate on my (now broken) toe on Thursday night and having a pro baseball player staying at my condo, it was the busiest week ever at Cressey Performance. There is, however, a silver lining to this cloud. I don't need healthy toes to deadlift at my meet next weekend, and you're going to get an even better holiday sale as a result of my high tolerance for pain and propensity for clumsy self-destruction. To atone, I’m going to offer a big discount – to the tune of 30% off – on my Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual. Just click HERE and the discount will automatically be applied at checkout. This discount will be in place through December 12, too.

Talking Shop with Bill Hartman

Bill Hartman is a smart dude. Really smart. A lot of you think I’m a bright guy when it comes to kinesiology, biomechanics, and corrective exercise. Let’s put it this way: Bill is the guy I email or call when I’m stumped. Were it not for his sense of humor, I might actually believe that he’s a robot designed to know everything about the human body. He co-created Inside-Out, a great DVD and manual set that I feel is the best shoulder-health-specific product on the market. This week, however, Bill is extra special because he provided some kick-butt content for my newsletter when life was crazy. In a sense, he’s like the cheerleader who does your homework, but he’s much smarter, more masculine, and doesn’t wear a skirt (at least not in public). Here are tips 1-7 from Bill: 1. Making true postural corrections and improvement in mobility is a 24-7 endeavor. Your daily postures and repetitive activities have a far greater effect on your mobility and posture. The body will adapt to what you do most often. If you spend all day in a chair, your body will adapt to that posture. If you perform activities for extended periods of time in a limited range of joint motion, you body will adapt to that limited range of motion. You can use the same premise to make a correction. For instance, if you’re trying to improve your shoulder girdle posture, practice holding it in better alignment for extended periods of time (up to 20 minutes) to promote actual changes in the length and stiffness of tissues. 2. Static stretching as it is typically performed (1-3 reps of 20-30 seconds or whatever) has a very limited benefit. This type of stretching functions more on the basis of increasing your tolerance to the stretch, therefore range of motion will improve temporarily. I tend to use it for its acute benefits. For instance, if you’re trying to improve glute max activation, stretch the hip flexors first. Range of motion into hip extension will improve and allow greater glute max activation. As far as long-term, relatively permanent changes in range of motion, tissues need to adapt (see number 1) and the nervous system needs to be involved in the changes. This makes strength training a great way to improve range of motion. Emphasize getting strong at the end range of motion with a muscle in the stretched position. Examples would be performing ISO holds at the bottom of a Bulgarian split squat, push-up, RDL, or pullover at the end of your workouts. 3. Exercise tempo matters Bar speed will affect what type of training effect will result from training. A very fast tempo will increase contribution of the spring-like effect from a tendon much like plyometrics. Slower training tempos will reduce this effect and promote more muscular adaptations. Determining where you lack function, either in the elastic component of the tendon or more of the muscular contributions, will allow you to target training to significant improvements in performance in a very short time. 4. When in doubt, simplify your programming Most trainees who are training diligently, attending to nutritional issues adequately, but lack progress are typically training at least one level of complexity (or more) above where they should. Reduce either the frequency, the training volume, or the complexity of the periodization scheme or all of the above. Look back in your training journal (you DO have one right?) to where you made your best progress. Start there for clues on how you should progress. Then read #5. 5. Your body can’t differentiate between stressors Most periodization programs work for a very limited group of people. Any programming recommendations based on professional or Olympic athletes rarely works for the real-world population. Those athletes lived in controlled environments where outside stressors were limited or didn’t exist. We live in a world where we are frequently sleep deprived, have money issues, family and relationship issues. All these stressors are cumulative in respect to how your body reacts to them. Training is also a stressor and is most often the only one we can control. When you feel good, go for the extra weight or reps. When you’re not feeling your best, back it off. 6. Warm-up first before you decide you’re going to have a bad workout The daily grind can wear on you and many times you don’t feel like training. Your attitude will affect the outcome of you workout. Many times the simple activation of your nervous system with a dynamic warm-up and few warm-up sets will reset your attitude. Warm-up before you allow your brain to get in the way of what may be the best workout of your life. 7. Develop a group of “Go-to” people It was a bitter pill to swallow, but I’ve learned that I can’t learn everything. There are always others who specialize in certain area of life or training or whatever who have a deeper understanding of certain things. Make friends with them. Take advantage of their specialized knowledge. Share what you know and learn what they know. About Bill Bill Hartman is a physical therapist and strength and conditioning coach in the Indianapolis area. Bill is the co-creator of Inside-Out: The Ultimate Upper-Body Warm-up and a contributing author to Men's Health Magazine. He is also the creator of Your Golf Fitness Coach's Video Library, available at www.yourgolffitnesscoach.com. You can contact Bill directly via www.billhartman.net. We’ll be back with tips 8-15 from Bill later this week. All the Best, EC
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Gourmet Nutrition: Three Years Later

The Important Stuff First...

Given that Thanksgiving is upon us, I'd like to take a moment to thank all of you for your support in reading this newsletter and my articles, books, and blogs; attending seminars at which I present; and investing in my products. To be honest, not a day goes by that I'm not awestruck and completely humbled that people actually care what I have to say.  I'm still a small town Maine guy at heart, so I'm not sure that I'll ever get used to it.  Everyday, though, I do, however, relish the fact that I get to do what I love and help people in the process - and I thank you for making that possible with your support. Best wishes to you and your families this holiday season.

Gourmet Nutrition: Three Years Later

Tonight, I mixed up some peanut butter fudge protein bars from Gourmet Nutrition- and came to a somewhat surprising realization in the process.  John Berardi sent me the following note Thanksgiving morning in 2004: "Hey Cressey, "I just finished a new ebook called Gourmet Nutrition and I wanted you to have one of the first copies.  Let me know what  you think. "Enjoy!" In the two hours that followed, I browsed through the e-book; it was really good. And here I am, still making the recipes almost three years to the day later.  I'd say that's a good useful life for a product - and I don't plan to stop using it anytime soon! What's even better is that John is now including this great e-book in the Precision Nutrition package.  For more information, check them out at PrecisionNutrition.com.

New Article and Blogs

I had a new article published at EliteFTS last Friday; be sure to check out Healing the Hips. Thanks to some laptop problems, several writing projects, ordinary training schedules, and the holiday, we'll wrap this one up - but will be back next week with plenty of content. Happy Thanksgiving, EC
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Newsletter #82

All my writing of late has been devoted to a new e-book, so I needed a break from the normal newsletter goings-on.  With that in mind,  It seems only fitting that for every 81 newsletters I write that are packed with content, I am allowed to have one rant. Here it is.

1. How is it that people find it so difficult to eat enough fiber? The average American consumes only 12-15 grams per day, roughly half of the minimum recommended dose per day. Even if you’re eating pure garbage, you’re going to accidentally get some fiber here and there; simply adding in an apple or two will get you to where you want to be.

Or, you can be like Tony Gentilcore and get it all at once. He busted out this concoction a month or so ago and I had to take a picture.

It’s a can of pumpkin, ½ cup (raw measure) oats, ½ cup blueberries, 1 scoop low-carb Metabolic Drive, and 1 cup steamed broccoli (yes, that last ingredient came out of left field) – for a grand total of right about 35g in one sitting.

Granted, Tony spent two days in the bathroom and has been too timid to speak ever since, but we’re confident that with another few years of therapy, he’ll come around.

Kidding aside, a little innovation can go a long way. It’s one reason why I like Mike Roussell’s Naked Nutrition Manual; there are a lot of great ideas like this, even if they aren’t quite as extreme!

2. I can't stand it when I hear coaches talking about “producing” athletes. Athletes produce themselves and coaches guide them. And, the likelihood of a single coach completely producing an athlete is incredibly rare; you have managers, agents, tactical coaches, strength and conditioning coaches, massage therapists, physical therapists, athletic trainers – and of course, parents, friends, and teammates – that contribute to an athlete’s success. My goal as a coach is to do my part and work in collaboration with those other parties.

When a coach says that he “produced” an athlete, it does a disservice to all those other individuals and the athlete himself – and should make you wonder if that coach is more about himself or his athletes. More often than not, it’s about the coach – and he butts heads with the other parties. This illustrates just one more reason why being an effective communicator is important for being a good coach.

3. I have a hard time understanding how people can still write programs without single-leg work. Unilateral training for the lower body can go a long way in preventing lower back, hip, and knee issues, and has a fantastic functional carryover to the real world. Dropping a set of squat or deadlifts in favor of some unilateral work isn’t going to kill you; just do it.  Better yet, do the squats and deadlifts AND the unilateral work.

4. If you don’t train yourself, don’t try to train others. I don’t care if you run marathons, lift heavy stuff, or are a competitive eater. Get in the gym and work hard; it’ll give you a better perspective to work with the individuals you’re trying to help.

5. Fake research seems to be more and more prevalent with the growth of training discussion on the internet, and this really drives me nuts. I take issue with coaches blatantly lying about methods. Good research isn’t about sample sizes of one and making preposterous claims about how Supplement X will lower cortisol by 47% (they always use odd numbers), but only if you’re a Capricorn and it’s consumed prior to 4PM in the month of March.

Real research takes time and solid sample sizes. My master’s thesis “calendar” included study design, IRB approval, pre-testing, a ten-wek training intervention, post-testing, data analysis, loads of writing and revisions, and a defense in front of s panel of really smart PhDs before it was submitted for publication. From start to finish, the project took three years – about two years, 364 days, 23 hours, 59 minutes, and 55 seconds longer than it takes to make something up.

The take-home lesson? Be a skeptic – especially when it comes to claims that can potentially lead to that individual separating you from your money.

Cynically Yours (at least for this week), EC
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Off-Season Training Q&A

With the baseball playoffs (and associated late nights) wrapped up and my seminar schedule for 2007 winding down, it's time to put my nose to the grindstone and get a bit more writing done.  On that note, you can expect to see a new e-book from me in a few weeks (details to come soon) as well as the official release of my co-authored book with Matt Fitzgerald on May 5, 2008.  You can also check out some of the updated seminar dates for 2008 on my schedule page. With that said, let's get to the content; this weeks we're getting right to the content with a Q&A.

Q: I’ve seen both you and Kelly Baggett write a bit in the past about the static-spring continuum with respect to your work with basketball players; is this information also applicable to other athletes?  For instance, I know you work with a ton of baseball guys, and given that the Sox just won the World Series, it seems like a good time to ask how it would apply to such a population.

A: Sure; it’s definitely applicable to baseball – and pretty much every sport, in fact.  Believe it or not, I actually used baseball as the example in my Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual.  Rather than reinvent the wheel, here it is (with some add-ons at the end):

The modern era of baseball is a great example, as we’ve had several homerun hitters who have all been successful – albeit via different means.

At the “spring” end of the continuum, we have hitters like Gary Sheffield and Vladimir Guerrero demonstrating incredible bat speed.  The ball absolutely rockets off their bats; they aren’t “muscling” their homeruns at all.  Doing a lot of extra training for bat speed (beyond hitting practice) would be overkill for these guys; they’ll improve their power numbers by increasing maximal strength alone.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have “static” homerun hitters like Mark McGwire and Jeff Bagwell, both of whom were well known for taking weight training very seriously.  These guys are the ones “muscling” baseballs out of the ballpark; the ball almost seems to sit on the barrel of the bat for a split-second before they “flip it” 500 feet.  Getting stronger might help these guys a bit, but getting more spring by focusing on bat speed with upper body reactive training (e.g., medicine ball throws, ballistic push-ups, etc.) would be a more sure-fire means to improvement.  With them, it’s all about using their force quicker – and doing so with more reflexive contributions (i.e., stretch-shortening cycle).

Then, we have the “middle-of-the-road” guys like Barry Bonds and Manny Ramirez.  They possess an excellent blend of static and spring, so they need to train some of both to continue improving physically.

Bonds is actually a good example of how an athlete’s position on the static-spring continuum can change over the course of a career.  When he started out, he was definitely a “spring” guy, hitting most of his homeruns with pure bat speed.  As Bonds’ career progressed, his maximal strength improved due to neural adaptations and increased cross sectional area (more muscle mass).

In light of the media attention surrounding the use of performance-enhancing substances in baseball, I should mention how he increased his muscle mass isn’t the issue in question in the discussion at hand.  The point is that he did increase muscle mass, which increased maximal strength, which favorably affected performance.  The performance-enhancing substances question really isn’t of concern to this discussion.

Now, with all that said, you can take it a step further and present this to a sprinting discussion.

Strong guys are going to tend to try to muscle things when they sprint.  You’ll see longer ground contact times.  I’ve dealt with this myself as I attempt to transfer my powerlifting background to more sprinting.  I have to make a conscious effort to stay on the balls of my feet and think about how much force I put into the ground instead of just using my glutes and hamstrings to pull me forward.

Conversely, reactive guys have no problem minimizing ground contact time; they just don’t have the force to put into the ground in the first place.

If, however, you’re too weak on the whole to withstand the ground reaction forces that take place with sprinting (go to this recent newsletter for a little background on that), the static-spring discussion doesn’t really apply to you.  Get stronger, work on landing mechanics and technique, and you can think about it when the time is right.

Of course, the strength and reactive components of sprinting are just two pieces of the puzzle; you also need to consider dynamic flexibility, muscular balance, footwear, sprinting mechanics, body composition, and a host of other factors.

Just one last reminder that this week's sale ends at the end of the day today.  It includes:

Building the Efficient Athlete: Normally $199.99 Magnificent Mobility: Normally $49.99 The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual: Normally $99.99 Rugged T-Shirt of your choice: Normally $14.99 Total Value: $364.96 + shipping from multiple locations (roughly $25-$45, depending on your location) Through Wednesday at midnight, however, this World Series Package will only be $249.99 + shipping and handling. All you need to do is go to the following link and place your order: http://www.1shoppingcart.com/app/netcart.asp?MerchantID=84520&ProductID=3848347 Be sure to tell us in the comments box whether you'd like the black or white shirt and what size you'd like (black is available in M, L, and XL, and white is available in L and XL).  You can check out the shirts at: http://ecressey.wpengine.com/products.html 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!
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Five Tips from Brijesh Patel

Vinkofest Wrap-up I just wanted to say a quick thank you to the attendees and organizers of this past weekend’s Vinkofest seminar. I know I can speak on behalf of all of the speakers when I say that we really appreciate you making the trip out; it was great to meet all of you. Thanks for a fantastic weekend; I’m looking forward to the 2008 event already.

StrengthCoach.com: Very Cool Stuff

Some of you may have been familiar with SportSpecific.com, and others might have frequented the forums at MichaelBoyle.biz over the years. In case you haven’t heard, the two have merged so that the great content on Mike’s forum can be blended with a more solid infrastructure at SS to form StrengthCoach.com.

This is one of the very few forums I frequent and post on – and it’s because the information is very high-quality. Just as importantly, there are “beginners” and “advanced topic” forums, so it’s not as cumbersome to navigate if you’re looking for quality information - regardless of your experience level.

Obviously, Coach Boyle himself is very active on the forum (as am I), and he’s also got some other great expert contributors, including:

John Pallof: the best physical therapist with whom I’ve ever worked personally

Dana Cavalea: New York Yankees Strength and Conditioning Coach

Sean Hayes: Buffalo Bills Strength and Conditioning Coach Mike Potenza: San Jose Sharks Strength and Conditioning Coach Sean Skahan: Anaheim Ducks Strength and Conditioning Coach Craig Friedman: Strength and Conditioning Coach at Athlete’s Performance Robert Dos Remedios: NSCA Strength Coach of the Year, and Strength and Conditioning Coach at College of the Canyons

Brijesh Patel: Strength and Conditioning Coach at the College of the Holy Cross (and our featured contributor for this week)

Brian Grasso: President of the International Youth Conditioning Association

These are just a few of the great minds putting excellent material out there on the forums and contributing articles to the site’s content library.

For a limited time, they’re allowing you to “test-drive” the site; this special offer enables you two weeks of full access to the articles and forum for only $1. It’s a no-brainer to give it a shot. Have a look for yourself:


Five Tips from Brijesh Patel

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Brijesh Patel, let’s just say that he was the first guy I ever interviewed for my newsletter; check it out HERE. There’s a reason for it; he knows his stuff and has been a tremendous influence on me for years. Without further ado, here are five tips from Brijesh.

1. Include Push-ups at least once a week

The classic push-up seems to be have lost and forgotten with the number of new cable machines and lack of loading that is associated with the exercise. There’s no external loading involved so surely it’s too easy, right? Wrong, we should always be able to handle our own bodyweight before jumping to external loading with bars, dumbbells, and using cable machines. The push-up is a fantastic closed-chain total body exercise that works shoulder stability along with trunk stability and can be done in a variety of ways. Play around with different hand positions, tempos and surfaces to change it up.

2. Integration work

Everybody seems to be discussing more and more the importance of activation exercises for dormant/inhibited muscles, particularly the glute max, medius, and hip external rotators. But I think the missing step between performing activation exercises lying down on the floor (i.e. glute bridge) and performing dynamic loaded exercises (i.e. squat) is to get the muscles functioning the way they need to when you are standing up. When your foot is in contact with the ground everything changes. The primary job of your glutes is to not only function concentrically, but also eccentrically and isometrically. Activation exercises target the muscles with concentric movements, and do very little for the eccentric and isometric function that these muscles do.

A simple integration exercise is to do single leg reaches forward, rotating away from and rotating into your stance leg. Make sure you stand all the way up in between to emphasize posture and glute contraction.

3. Get Warm before you Get Loose

Next time you go to warm-up before your next workout, try actually warming your body up instead of going straight into your mobility/dynamic flexibility exercises. Going into full ROM’s without a high enough body temperature may cause more muscle damage. Placing joints into deep ranges of motion cold with high levels of force (internal bodyweight) can create unnecessary strains that can cause small tears. After months or even years of warming up this way, imagine the build up of scar tissue and adhesions. Try this way out instead:

a. Foam Roll

b. Core/Activation Work c. Warm-up (general calisthenics, basic movement patterns) d. Loosen-up (mobility/dynamic flexibility)

This way you can ensure that your body temperature is high enough before engaging in your mobility exercises.

4. Make the most of your time

We all complain that we don’t have enough time to get everything we want into our training, but find ourselves have an extra minute or two between sets. Instead of just standing there, work on your weaknesses. In my case, what I do with my athletes is to work on mobility or some corrective exercise in between sets of acceleration, and plyometrics. I have very limited time, and need to make the most out of it. If I have them stand around, they’re end up talking to their teammates about something irrelevant. I need them to stay focused and I would rather have them continue to do something that’s not going to fatigue them and is beneficial for them.

5. Teach your athletes how to land effectively

How you land will dictate how you start. Movement is as simple as that statement. We need to teach our athletes how to land properly and in the right position to ultimately produce force so they can move efficiently.

Next time you go to an athletic event, really watch the athletes’ feet. The ones that move the best are the ones who are the most efficient at being in the correct position to apply force. They have a minimal coupling time between force absorption and production.

The best way to teach to your athletes to land from a two-legged jump is to have their feet hip-width apart, toes straight ahead, weight on the ball of their feet, butt back, knees slightly bent and chest up with a neutral spine. If they land heel first are on the outside part of their feet, they won’t be in an efficient position to jump or move again.

The best way to teach your athletes to land from a single-leg jump is similar to the two-legged jump, except you are on one leg. The foot should be under their hip, toe straight ahead, butt back, knee slightly bent, and chest up with a neutral spine.

Getting your athletes to land effectively is vital to improving movement efficiency.

About Brijesh

Brijesh Patel, MA, a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (NSCA) and USA Weightlifting Club Coach (USAW), has been a Strength & Conditioning Coach at the collegiate level since 2000. Brijesh is currently the Associate Director of Strength and Conditioning at the College of the Holy Cross, and has also worked with Mike Boyle at his professional facility in Massachusetts, the University of Connecticut, and with the Worcester Ice Cats of the AHL (American Hockey League). Patel has trained a variety of athletes ranging from middle school to the professional and Olympic levels. Brijesh has been published in magazines and has presented on the regional level. Check out his website at www.sbcoachescollege.com.

As always, Go Sox!

All the Best, EC
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2007 Ford Ironman Results

2007 Ford Ironman Results

A huge congratulations goes out to Dede Griesbauer, who had her first ever podium finish (7th place) in this past weekend’s Ironman in Kona, Hawaii.  Dede was the top American female finisher with a time of 9:33:34.

To make the feat even more impressive, after a mishap just before she left for Hawaii, she did so with a fractured ulna that just so happened to press right on the aero bars of her bike for all 5:13:05 of her bike.  Who would have thought that there would actually be a way to make 5+ hours on a bicycle seat more uncomfortable?  Leave it to Dede to find it!

Kidding aside, Dede worked harder in the weight room over the past nine months than any endurance athlete I’ve ever trained.  And, that was on top of the 15 swim/bike/run sessions she did outside the gym with her great endurance coach, Karen Smyers.  Congratulations, Dede!

A Podcast Interview with EC

A few weeks ago, I was interviewed by Chris Peacock for his blog; we covered mobility questions and a few other odds and ends.  Just a heads-up: it’s an audio file, and Chris has a thick Scottish accent (or I just have a thick American accent, depending on who you ask).  I’ve seen Braveheart several times and talk to Alwyn Cosgrove frequently, so I think I understood him pretty well.  Or, I could have been answering all the wrong questions.  I guess the only way to find out is to listen!

An Interview with Eric Cressey

For more information, check out www.MagnificentMobility.com.

Along those same lines…

As a follow-up to my interview on baseball training at T-Nation, I received an inquiry about what mobilizations besides the sleeper stretch that we use to improve internal rotation range-of-motion in the throwing shoulder of baseball players.

Given that I’m much bigger on mobility than static stretching, and the fact that a recent study demonstrated that a cross-body stretch was superior to the sleeper stretch in improving internal rotation ROM, we’ve made some modifications.  One drill we’ve used for nearly a year now is the cross-body lat mobilization; with the new research, we’ve just increased the frequency of it relative to a few of the others.   I like this drill because it not only mobilizes the posterior shoulder girdle and does so in a dynamic fashion, but also because it involves some overhead motion and therefore requires a bit of scapular rotation to accomplish.  The more we can train ideal upward rotation patterns in overhead throwing patterns, the better.  This is especially true in pitchers, as another recent study demonstrated that pitchers have less scapular upward rotation than do position players.

You can check out a video of the mobilization HERE.

Anytime you can perform an upper-body mobilization and link it with the lower-body without compromising the effectiveness of the movement, definitely do so.  There is a huge link between shoulder dysfunction and dysfunction in the opposite hip and ankle.  For instance, Bill Hartman pointed me in the direction of this study that showed that there is a hip ROM deficit or abduction weakness in approximately half of all individuals with diagnosed posterior-superior labral tear.

Contrary to what many people seem to think, getting healthy shoulders isn’t just about silly rubber tubing exercises.  For more information on some excellent alternatives, check out the Inside-Out DVD.

Enjoy the rest of your week, and keep your fingers crossed for the Red Sox!

All the Best,



Click here to purchase the most comprehensive shoulder resource available today: Optimal Shoulder Performance - From Rehabilitation to High Performance.
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Newsletter #78

New Article Posted

For those that missed it, I had a new article posted yesterday at T-Nation.com.  In this interview, Nate Green picks my brains on how we train our baseball guys - and there's definitely a lot of information that deviates from the norm.  Even if you aren't a baseball fan, it's worth a read. The Round-Up Interviews: Eric Cressey

Great Reader Responses

Two days ago, I sent out a newsletter that generated quite possibly the biggest response of any I've written to-date.  If you missed it, check it out HERE. Two of the most insightful responses I received were from Physical Therapist/Strength Coach Shon Grosse and Coach and Conditioning Specialist Rick Karboviak.  I asked their permission to reprint them; enjoy!


Great newsletter. A few observations… I have used the C2 rower and Versaclimber exclusively for anaerobic conditioning; with slight posture modifications (plus a pedal adaptor that lets me clip in with a cycling shoe), I can activate glute medius  (climber > rower) and maximus (rower> climber).  Form rarely breaks on intervals, and we rarely go over five minutes on any interval (most are 15-50 seconds).  My clients' glute awareness is at an all time high with this training addition.  This is not "the answer", but another piece. An alternative to Nike Frees are any racing flat from any reputable manufacurer. I do bettter with Adidas or Asics due to width issues.  I believe (but cannot prove) that the lighter weight the shoe, the better "free" (for lack of a better word at this time) foot response you get; I think the magic number is below 9 ounces/shoe. Finally, this training approach for runners mirrors the Westside powerlifting mindset (but you already knew this).  Bring up weak points (mobility, strength), sparingly train the actual event (over distance), and change "special exercises" frequently while keeping relative intensity high throughout (100, 200,300 meter intervals, etc., plus cross-train "endurance" modalities).  I have had heated debates with oft injured and severely addicted runners on changing a weekly "long run" to 10-21 days between "long runs," cycling them over a macrocycle.  No one can give me a logical reason why this can't be done. Shon Grosse


Nice write-up in your newsletter on endurance athletes and the need for speed & strength for them.  I don't know how many times as a coach for XC & track that I've been told that today's kids need to run for 7-10 miles a day for practices, yet I don't see the need or logic for it fully explained.  I've been seeing improvements with less mileage and more speed work done with them.  The only thing I've seen out of programs that run 7-10 miles a day are:  overuse injuries, such as bum hips, sore knees, shin splints, and ankle issues. Maybe there are 1-2 'wonderkids' who benefit, but the rest of the team struggles to fight through all that stuff.  When I went to less overall mileage and more quality work in speed sessions with my athletes, these issues didn't pop up, and performance improved.  The only kids that things popped up in, were the athletes who were also playing club-team soccer during cross-country.  They'd run 1-2 meets a week, and have 1-2 soccer games a week, and when you add all that up, it’s more overuse and less recovery.

I also like your comments on the Frees.  I am in need of a new pair, after running in them last year for track & cross-country season, especially for speed days and runs of 4 miles or less.  I noticed if I went past 4, I had a lot of foot soreness come up.  Don't know why, just did. I am also shocked out how in-functional today's basketball shoes are.  It is becoming more of a fashion show out there and 'how cool' they look than how the shoe can help you play more.  In my mind, it’s the shoe that's to blame primarily for the cause of ACL tears in kids, as I see it in both females and males.  These shoes don't allow the foot to bend.  I used to train kids on a high-speed treadmill about 1.5 years ago, and the kids who'd run in basketball shoes on there had such stiffness, you could watch the foot land, and all you'd hear is 'thunk, thunk, thunk'.  No softness whatsoever in the landing.  I literally had a kid take his shoe off, and I tried to BEND the shoe, and I couldn't flex the shoe past 20-25 degrees at the toe.  Now, if you can't bend the shoe, imagine how the athlete is pushing off with such a stiff shoe, and the forces that don't get transferred correctly through the foot/ankle.  I was at a 4 day workshop once for Frappier Acceleration, and John Frappier talked about how the old Chuck Taylor Converse shoes allowed the athlete to be more mobile.  He said he remembered seeing a picture of Jerry West's ankle bone, damn near poking through the canvas, but his sole of the shoe was completely in contact.  At least there was some 'give' in those shoes, and Frappier stated something to the effect that with our shoes today, you don't see that much 'give' being allowed. When you see how many powerlifters and 'kettlebeller's' adamantly wear the Chuck T, you see how its flexible nature allows those guys to transfer all the forces they can, in a more correct form & manner, during their lifts.

Just thought I'd add in those observances for you.

Take care, Rick Karboviak Don't forget: the ALCS starts tonight; go Sox! All the Best, EC
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  • Avoid the most common deadlifting mistakes
  • 9 - minute instructional video
  • 3 part follow up series