Home Posts tagged "Overtraining"

Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 11/4/13

Here's is some strength and conditioning reading (and viewing) to kick off your week:

5 Tips to Keep Your Shoulders Healthy for the Long Haul - This is a guest post I wrote up for Greatist.com.

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Dreaming of a Title - In light of the World Series run by the Red Sox, CP's Elite Baseball Development Program was featured, with interviews with several of our pro guys.  Check out this video.

Boosting Recovery: Solutions to the Most Common Recovery Problems - This was an outstanding guest post by Examine.com's Kurtis Frank at Precision Nutrition.

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Exercise and Stress: 6 Strength Training Tips for When You’re Already Overworked

As a business owner, I can say without wavering that there are a lot of times when I admittedly get stressed out and wish there were more hours in the day to get everything I have on my plate done - and still have time left over to spend with my wife and family.

And, while I haven't managed to figure out how to add more than 24 hours to the day, I have started to find a few ways to better manage my time - and, more specifically, my strength training program.

You see, many people use exercise as a means of relieving stress - and I think that's absolutely awesome.  Unfortunately, when you already work 10 hours a day on your feet in a gym, it's hard to see things that way even when all the equipment is right at your fingertips.  To that end, the stressed-out strength training tips I note below will be applicable to folks in any occupation, not just the fitness industry.

Tip #1: Increase training frequency, but reduce training duration.

I find that when I'm busy, I can find 30 minutes here and there, but getting 60-75 minutes free at a convenient time is tougher.  One thing I'll do is simply up my training frequency to 5-6 times per week instead of just four sessions.  Rather than having sessions that include four pairings (7-8 strength exercises), I'll just have two pairings (3-4 exercises).

If you've read anything from Chad Waterbury or Joel Marion, you'll find that both of these guys are fans of strength training as frequently as possible, provided that you can recover from those sessions.  Somewhat coincidentally, sometimes the best way to utilize this frequent strength training approach is when you're already stressed and recovery is compromised!  I still get in all my "work" over the course of the week, but it's spread out a bit more so that it's convenient and less taxing.

Tip #2: Leave the gym feeling refreshed.

Also on the "less taxing" front, I think it's important to leave the gym feeling "refreshed," not exhausted.  While it might feel good when your legs are trashed at the end of a training session, you really don't know how well you're going to recover from that challenge until the days that follow.  Doing 15 sets of 9 reps might have sounded like a good stress buster at the time, but when you can't walk up the steps to work the following day and are falling asleep at your desk at 11am because you couldn't sleep with your legs cramping all night, hindsight definitely becomes 20/20.

Don't get me wrong; there's a time and a place for doing crazy stuff.  Your most stressful days aren't that time, though.

Tip #3: Train early.

This is something that I've grown to love with the baseball off-season in full swing and my day starting earlier.  Normally, I'd train alongside the rest of our staff at 10:30AM, but at that time of year, I may have athletes at 9:30AM MoTuThFr.  So, I get in at 8:15AM to get my lifting session in.  Why?

First, lifting early requires planning.  You need to go to bed early and prepare your stuff for the next day.  So, in the process, you make time instead of finding time.  That's huge at a stressful time when you're inclined to miss a session altogether.

Second, most people I know (at least the adults out there) have better energy in the morning than after a long day of work.  That said, many people take a few weeks to warm up to the idea (and feeling) of training early.  If you're going to make the switch, give it a few weeks and be consistent with it; you'll find that you get more and more comfortable with morning training with each new session.

Third, I'm a firm believer in the adage that one hour of sleep before midnight is worth two hours of sleep after midnight.   When you train in the morning, you've got to get to bed earlier or else it simply isn't going to happen.

Get better sleep quality and just about everything else in your life will improve.

Tip #4: Outsource things to keep training fun.

I'll admit that many times, after a long day in a strength and conditioning facility, the last thing I want to do is follow my own weight training program.  I spend all day getting other people organized on that front, so a bit of chaos in my own strength training is sometimes welcomed relief.

About two months ago, believe it or not, I asked one of my pro baseball players (who was hanging out in the office at 7pm one night) to put a lower body program up on the dry erase board for me.  It turned out to be one of the better training sessions I'd had in weeks.  The same goes for any conditioning I may do; often, I'll just pull Robert Dos Remedios' book, Cardio Strength Training, off the shelf and give something a shot.

Variety may be the spice of life, but when it comes to training, that variety usually needs to come from someone else.  It might be why so many fitness professionals have really enjoyed my Show and Go program; it not only demonstrates some of my programming approaches, but also gives them a change of pace in their own training, as a recent blog post showed.

Tip #5: Use less variety.

Normally, I am all about strength exercise variety within a training session.  However, when you're pinched for time, sometimes you can just throw that out the window and it's the best decision.

Think about it: for every additional exercise in a day's session, I add a warm-up set as well as the need for equipment set-up.  If I keep my training day to 2-3 strength exercises and just increase the volume on each, I can usually do just as much (if not more) work in less time.  You get variety over the course of a training phase and career; you get a training effect within a single session.

In other words, don't be shy about doing 5 sets of 3 on deadlifts, then 4 sets of 8 on dumbbell reverse lunges from a deficit - and then calling it a day for your lower body training - especially if you're trying out the frequency recommendations I noted earlier.

Tip #6: Use deloading periods.

At the end of the day, when it really comes down to it, stress is stress.  Sometimes, when life is beating you down, adding training stress to that personal/professional stress is the worst that you can do.  As a general rule of thumb, the more training experience you have, the more likely you are to need some down time from the gym when the rest of your life gets super hectic.  If you're new to the iron game, though, chances are that some exercise will help you manage the stress much more effectively.

For more information on how to attack deloading periods, check out my e-book, The Art of the Deload.

These six strength training tips are obviously just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to exercise and stress, but hopefully they'll be enough to get you headed in the right direction.  Additionally, what strategies have those of you out there implemented for training during stressful times?

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Strength and Conditioning Programs: Deloading to Plan for Personal Records

As we continue 'Stache Bash 2010, today's featured/discounted product is The Art of the Deload.  More importantly, though, I've moved to the horseshoe 'stache with accompanying soul patch.

Control yourselves, ladies, and we'll be able to move forward now. As a brief background on The Art of the Deload, this 26-page e-book is a quick read that'll give you practical strategies that you can quickly and easily put into practice.  In it, I outline 10 different deloading strategies that can be implemented in any resistance training program - and discuss who is the best fit for each strategy.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, I thought I'd give you a little taste of one of the ten: Method #9: Planning for the PR Deload Week With this method, you work backward from the first day of the subsequent program with the goal of testing one lift when you’re at your freshest.  Let’s say that you’re on a three days per week set-up, with the last (12th) session of the month taking place on a Friday.  Your goal is to train normally over the course of the first four weeks (Month 1), with a small amount of technique work for the lift in question taking place during your deload week. Let’s say that you’re looking to bring up your front squat.  Accumulate the majority of your specialization training over the course of Weeks 1-3, and then in Week 4, just do some front squat technique work in the 60-70% of estimated 1-rep-max range on all three days (MWF).  Obviously, do some assistance work, too, but don’t go crazy with volume or intensity. Then, take the weekend off, and come back in to test the front squat on Monday.  Effectively, you’ve imposed a ton of fatigue over the course of Weeks 1-3, rested during Week 4, and realized the fitness gains at the beginning of Week 5. If you're interested in checking out the other nine strategies I outline, you're in luck, as I'm putting The Art of the Deload on sale for 25% off - which means that you can pick it up for under $10.  Just enter the coupon code DELOAD at checkout and the discount will be applied. Click here to order now, or click here for more information. Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a deadlift technique tutorial!
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Stuff You Should Read: 8/24/10

Here's a look back to some featured posts that might interest you: Deloading in Maximum Strength - While The Art of the Deload goes into a ton of detail on a variety of deloading strategies, several folks have asked me how it specifically applies to the Maximum Strength program.  This clears things up. Lower Back Savers Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 - This three-part series at T-Nation are among my most popular articles there. Unstable Ground or Destabilizing Torques - This blog will make you think about what you see when you watch sports on TV - and, more specifically, how athletes prepare themselves for those demands.
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Stuff You Should Read: 7/6/10

In continuing with last week's trend of "reincarnating" good stuff from the EricCressey.com archives, here is some old, but once-again-new flavor for you. Who Needs Percentages? - This blog discusses why I don't think that using a ton of percentages in your training is a good idea - even if it does have its place here and there. The Art of the Deload - In the percentages blog, I referenced my e-book, The Art of the Deload.  As I think about it, this resource really flew under the radar.  Not to toot my own horn, but I think that at just $12.99, it's a tremendous value that just about everyone would be wise to read.  Effectively, it gives you the information you need to modify programs to fit your needs based on a number of factors (age, training history, etc.).

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The Great Eight Reasons for Basketball Mobility Training - Here's a little background on the difference between mobility and stability, plus a rationale for the inclusion of both in this remarkably underserved (and sometimes uninterested!) population.
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Deloading on Single-Leg Movements

Q: Due to the multitude of injuries that I have, I very rarely squat, deadlift, or bench (with a straight bar.) However, I still find myself plateauing and feeling burned out.  I was wondering whether the prescriptions in your Art of the Deload e-book would still apply to me. For example, on my heaviest weeks, I'll do 5RM Split Squats/Bulgarians, etc. That is to say, do you still cycle intensity similarly for your injured and rehabbing clients who use "deloading exercises" on a more long-term basis? A: Absolutely.  Training stress is training stress, no matter how you slice it.  In fact, a lot of single-leg exercises - particularly when loaded heavily, as you noted - can beat you up just as much as heavy bilateral movements. Normally, in this case, we'd just deload on volume. So, if you were doing five sets of five lunges on each leg in your highest volume week, we'd go 3x5 in the deload week.  Whether or not we'd drop intensity would depend on your training experience.  If you're using 115-pound dumbbells, yes, we'd drop it.  If you're using 35-pounders, then probably not.

Click here to purchase Art of the Deload.

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Repetition and The Art of the Deload

Last week, my girlfriend had a big decision to make.  As she finishes med school (optometry) this year, she had two offers on her plate: one for a job in a private practice, and one for a one-year residency.  If she took the job, it meant we'd move out of the city.  Instead, she took the residency - which means that we can stay in our current apartment for another year once our current lease is up on August 15. Now, this might seem mundane to a lot of you, but not for me.  I'm a guy who has moved eight times in the past ten years - including three separate states.  I was 100% supportive of any avenue that she opted to choose, but I had made it clear that if we went anywhere, we were getting a moving company to do it.  After ten years of moving, I was sick of putting my life on hold for 3-4 days at a time to relocate.  It made me think of a quote I read over at T-Nation a few years back: "Stagnancy is often confused with stability." In the strength and conditioning world, status quo is largely understood to be unacceptable.  We always have to be looking to get better.  Maybe a basketball player is looking to push work capacity by perpetually increasing training volume on the court.  Powerlifters rotate max effort exercises each week.  And, bodybuilders may constantly changing programs in hopes of keeping muscles "confused" and growing. However, in the world of "Eric Cressey hates moving more than he hates drunk Yankees fans in center field at Fenway Park," stagnancy is a beautiful thing. This stagnancy in living arrangements gives me stability with my schedule and productivity - so I guess the quote from above isn't always accurate.  And, it makes me think about a few examples from the world of exercise where stagnancy can be a good thing: 1. Activation Drills: I often get asked how to make a scap push-up, scapular wall slide, or other mobility/activation drill harder.  The truth is that you really shouldn't be trying to make them much harder; they're just low-intensity drills designed to be done with perfect technique to get certain muscles "turned on" before you get to the more complex stuff.  So, if you want to make these movements harder, do a bench press or loaded push-up after the scap push-up, or a chin-up after the scapular wall slide (just a few examples). 2. Learning New Movement Patterns: It actually takes a lot more repetitions to ingrain something in your "movement memory" than you might think.  In fact, research has shown that elite athletes have practiced their specific skills over 100,000 times to make them "subconsciously" learned. Let's be clear: I'm not saying that you have to do 100,000 body weight lunges before you can start to load the movement and derive benefit from that training in other tasks.  However, for untrained folks and those returning from injuries, motor (re-)education takes repetition and time.  You can't expect a 16-year old girl to have an ACL reconstruction, then do a session of body weight lunges and be ready to go out and play soccer or basketball safely the next day.  In fact, in this example, "stagnancy" - or consistency in training and gradual progressions - truly does enhance stability in more ways than one. 3. The Biggest Loser - When this TV show is on, it is best for you to leave your remote stagnant on the coffee table and your TV turned off.  This will ensure that ratings go down for NBC and this mind-numbing crap will eventually get yanked off the air. 4. In-Season Athletes - As I wrote in Four Ways to Stay on Track, you have to be very careful with modifying things too aggressively with athletes who are in the middle of their competitive season.  New exercises can bring about delayed onset muscle soreness, which may interfere with performance.  And, increasing training volume and/or loads in-season can inhibit recovery between practice sessions and competition, or lead to overuse injury. 5. Deload Phases - I devoted an entire e-book, The Art of the Deload, to this topic, in fact.  Make no mistake about it: the overwhelming majority of your time in the gym should be focused on getting better.  However, there should always be deloading periods in your training where it's okay to intentionally be "stagnant," as these periods give rise to adaptation that make you better in the long-term.

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These five examples are really just the tip of the iceberg.  Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section below to add to the discussion for everyone's benefit. New Articles The Seven Habits of Highly Defective Benchers was published at T-Nation last week. A Day in the Life of Eric Cressey was published at Precision Nutrition two weeks ago. Blog Updates Random Friday Thoughts Peak Power or Vertical Jump? The Most Detailed Maximum Strength Feedback To-Date Stuff You Should Read Have a great week! EC
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Training Four Days in a Row?

I know, it's heresy! You can't lift weights on four consecutive days unless you're a juiced up professional bodybuilder - or just some teenager who doesn't know a thing about weight-training. I beg to differ. You can also do it (not necessarily by choice) if you're Eric Cressey and are flying to Houston Thursday night and not getting back until Sunday afternoon - and you know you're not going to have a chance to train while there. Knowing that this was the case, I took this past Sunday off altogether, and planned to train MoTuWeTh. Here's how I set it up: Monday was a speed bench day with some chain push-ups and loads of horizontal pulling and shoulder health stuff (especially considering I made over 500 throws that day while I helped eight separate pitchers through their throwing programs). Tuesday (last night) was some easy sprint work, and then front squats vs. two chains per side. I kept it light (205) and fast for the first six sets. For my last two sets, I changed the bar weight to 265 (325 at the top) for two reps. I added in some mat flips (like a tire flip), forward sled pushing, and then some Pallof Press isometric holds. As you can tell, there wasn't much eccentric stress (aside from the front squats), so I intentionally avoided soreness (feel fine Wednesday morning as I type this). Wednesday (tonight), I'll bench (floor press, actually) heavier, use dumbbells for my pressing assistance work, do more vertical pulling, and incorporate plenty of scapular stability and direct rotator cuff work. This session should be me up quite a bit more than Monday's. Thursday (tomorrow) morning, I'll deadlift heavier, do weighted glute-hams, hit some heavier single-leg work, and drag the sled at the end. I should be pretty dead by the end of the session and potentially sore for a few days - until I get back to train again on Sunday night. Basically, the point of this post is to show you that if you manipulate training stress within the sessions, you can have a lot of flexibility in your training schedule. All our pro baseball guys train Mo-Sa, for example, because we can incorporate mini-deloads within the week.

This is especially important when you've got lifting, medicine ball, movement training, mobility, flexibility, and throwing programs all competing for an athlete's time and energy. I actually wrote about this in a fair amount of detail in 4 Ways to Stay on Track.
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Solutions to Lifting Problems

It's happened to all of us at one point or another. You show up to the gym, anticipating a great training session, or even just another solid day of lifting. However, once you start adding plates to the bar, it just isn't there. The weights feel heavy. And, you just can't find your groove. Stubborn ass that you are, you keep adding plates, looking for a PR. And, of course, you get buried under your first heavy attempt — or just fall short on the target number of reps. It might be that you didn't get enough sleep last night, or that your girlfriend broke your heart. Hell, maybe there was just a little too much gravity for you in the gym that day. Regardless, your training partners are calling for the staple removers (because you got stapled), shovels (because you got buried), and spatulas (to get your pancaked ass off the floor). Do you hammer through it and try again? Or, do you just call it a day and get out of there? Continue Reading...
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Frequency Deloading

Q: I recently purchased your e-book, The Art of the Deload, and really enjoyed it. You did a great job of outlining several different methods that I plan on using in the months to come. I did have one follow-up question on the "Exercise Reduction Week" deloading approach. You talked about making some modifications to go from four days per week to three days per week during the deloading period. Are there certain people for whom this work would better than others? A: Great question - and the answer is ABSOLUTELY! I like the frequency reduction deloading strategy for athletes in particular. Many of them already have a lot of training going on with lifting, conditioning, movement training, tactical work, and sport practice. Simply dropping volume of these sessions doesn't really "deload" their hectic schedules. Many of them would rather go to 2-3 full sessions per week than they would keep the four and do less volume in each appearance. However, for the ordinary weekend warrior for whom lifting is the only form of exercise he gets, I think the frequency is valuable. It favorably affects the endocrine, cardiovascular, and immune systems. Additionally, each time that lifter goes to the gym, it's a chance to do some mobility, activation, and foam roller work that can help to keep him healthy long-term. So, to recap, if you're a busy athlete, you can reduce your frequency. If you're lifting as your only form of exercise, keep the frequency up. Learn more about The Art of the Deload.
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