Home Posts tagged "Personal Trainers" (Page 3)

An Audio Interview with EC

Kaiser Serajuddin interviewed me on a variety of fitness industry business topics - from licensure possibilities, to semi-private training, to word-of-mouth growth.  Check it out at the following link: Clearing the Air with Eric Cressey
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Random Friday Thoughts: 4/3/09

Okay, while this is normally RANDOM Friday Thoughts, I think it's important that we get one thing clear up-front... While I may be covering several topics today, in reality, the only thing that warrants any discussion is the Final Four - because UCONN is going to go out and dominate this weekend (and Monday).  This includes the men's and women's basketball teams, cheerleaders, mascots, fans, and hot-dog vendors.


More of these on the way!

Anyway, let's get to this week's randomness (as if yesterday's wasn't awesome enough)

1. On Tuesday, there was a great guest post from Dan Lorenz on Mike Reinold's blog; it is definitely worth checking out: Low Back Pain and Hip Motion Correlation.  We've really worked in hip internal rotation aggressively over the past year or so, and it's been a huge help for our athletes.  I love this stretch, in particular:


Of course, hip internal rotation is just one component of a good hip mobility program.  Check out the Magnificent Mobility DVD for more details.


2.  I've been outspoken in the past about how I think that higher certification requirements - and possibly even mandated licensing - ought to be imposed in the personal training industry.  This article is a great example of why. 3. Can somebody tell me a) why in the world Michael Vick wants to give up a potential return to the NFL to become a construction worker, b) why any construction company would actually hire Michael Vick, and c) why this is even qualifies as news?  It seems like a lose-lose-lose situation, so I'll just drop it. 4. Here is a nice article about Cressey Performance athletes Matt Miller and Jason Roth, both of whom are playing baseball at Northeastern right now. 5. Apparently, age-related mental decline begins as early as age 27.  I turn 28 on May 20 - so I guess you could say that the good news is that this blog will get a lot more interesting once I'm senile (assuming I can even remember the log-in information). 6. I recently received this email before/after report from a happy Maximum Strength reader: "Eric, Thanks for the program.  When I first started lifting July '07, I had two long term goals - 400 lb deadlift by July '08 and 1,000 lb club (squat, deadlift, bench).  Well, here are my results from your program. Broad Jump: 87" to 94" Bench: 205 to 245 Squat: 215 to 265 Deadlift: 305 to 365 Chinups: None. Now 2. Just missed the 3rd. I am 6'4" and had never done one in my life. My weight went from 221 to 237.  I gained an inch in my arms, around the shoulders, and legs. In the end, I went from 725 lbs to 875 lbs; only 125 lbs to go. Thank you! Andy" Pick up your copy of Maximum Strength today! Have a great weekend!
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Know Your Anatomy

I'm in the process of reading Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.  It's a fantastic book - and one of the foremost messages Gladwell works to convey is that split-second decisions - those made seemingly subconsciously - are in many cases better than those that are thought-out with great time and effort.


As is always the case with a books I read that are seemingly unrelated to strength and conditioning, I got to thinking about how this applies to the industry in which I work - and I started to immediately see applications.  The best coaches are the ones who instinctively know exactly what to say to clean up a movement - and this requires not only quick recognition of what's wrong, but also the ability to know exactly what to say to fix the problem.  For instance, you can't see an athlete squatting who is breaking at the knees instead of the hips, and then go home and think about it for 24 hours before coming back to coach the movement correctly.

In one instance, Gladwell makes his point in the context of basketball:

Basketball is an intricate, high-speed game filled with split-second, spontaneous decisions.  But that spontaneity is possible only when everyone first engages in hours of highly repetitive and structured practice - perfecting their shooting, dribbling, and passing, and running plays over and over again - and agrees to play a carefully defined role on the court.

In other words, if you want to be successful in a challenge that depends on effective split-second decision-making, you need to have prepared yourself in terms of knowledge and practice.  Each week, I get close to a dozen emails from up-and-comers in the industry asking for my advice on how to advance their career, and I give them three pieces of advice that - if carried out - will immediately set them apart from the rest of their peers.

Step 1 is to master anatomy.  You can't be a mechanic if you don't know where the engine is, or what its constituent parts are.  Memorization is boring, but you have to do it; it is the basis for everything that you do.  If you are a fitness professional - or aspiring to be one - and you can't answer the following three questions, then you have room to improve:

a. What are three flexors of the hip? b. What are the points of attachment of the latissimus dorsi? c. What are three muscles that attach to the coracoid process of the scapula?

I am not trying to put myself on a high-horse, as I'm far from knowing every subtle intricacy of the human body.  I do, however, know enough to realize that I am going to keep learning and it's always going to keep benefiting my clients.

While any anatomy book will do, I'm partial to Kinetic Anatomy for those looking to get a good start.  And, if you have the opportunity to take a course in Gross Anatomy, definitely do so - or at the very least, check out the Bodies exhibit when it's at a museum near you.

Step 2 is to take that anatomy foundation and apply it in a function context.  In other words, what happens when one muscle doesn't do its job?  How can poor mobility in one area lead to instability elsewhere?  How can certain muscles be both synergists and antagonists, depending on the plane of motion in question?

Functional anatomy is largely the reason that Mike Robertson and I made the Building the Efficient Athlete DVD set; we felt strongly that there was a need to improve on the rudimentary anatomy teaching that most fitness professionals receive in certification and academic programs.


Step 3 is to acquire an internship where you can watch others apply their knowledge and get practice applying your own in a controlled environment.  With an internship, you learn about professionalism, coaching cues, and programming - and you learn how working with clients and athletes effectively blends your knowledge with your everyday demeanor.  As an extension of this step, I feel strongly that it's important to get out during your career and interact with as many colleagues as possible to see what bits of wisdom you can clean from their coaching styles.  And, of course, attend seminars, and read everything you can get your hands on.

Once you've gotten through step 3, it is time to get out there and practice in the "real world" by interacting with as many clients as you possibly can.  These individuals will all have something to teach, and it's a chance for you to apply everything you've learned.

One thing you will notice is completely absent from my recommendations is me encouraging people to go out and get more certifications.  Frankly, a certification is simply a foot in the door, and there aren't any out there - even the so-called "gold standards" - that impress me.  If you are going to spend hundreds of dollars with the intention of becoming a better professional, there are much better investments than just paying for a certification that merely amounts to a piece of paper you can frame.  I'd rather spend the money on books, seminars, or travel expenses to see people who actually coach.

Take care of those three steps, and in my eyes, you'll be well on your way to the "subconscious mastery" to which I alluded earlier.

A Quick Note on a Great Sale for a Great Cause

Speaking of Building the Efficient Athlete, as you may recall, I announced a sweet sale last week where a small charitable, tax-free donation can save you 20% on a boatload of our products.  This offer ends on Thursday at midnight, so don't delay.  You can find the details HERE.

New Blog Content

Random Monday Thoughts A Little Different Push-up Flavor Around Cressey Performance Being Up-Front on the Rear Healthy Knees, Steady Progress Random Friday Thoughts

All the Best,


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Shoulder Mobility for Squatting

Q:  Recently, I've noticed that I've lost a lot of mobility/flexibility that means I can't squat with my hands close in and with a high bar like I used to, I now have to go low bar and hands almost at the collars. What stretches/mobility work would you recommend to remedy this problem?  I don't think this situation's very good for my shoulder health. A: It's a common problem, and while the solution is pretty simple, it takes a dedicated effort to regular flexibility and soft tissue work.  And, you're right that it isn't very good for shoulder health; that low-bar position can really wreak havoc on the long head of the biceps.


For starters, it's important to address thoracic spine mobility.  If you're rounded over at the upper back, it'll be impossible to get the bar in the right "rack" position - regardless of what's going on with the shoulder itself.  The first thing I do with folks in these situations is check to make sure that they aren't doing any sit-ups or crunches, which shorten the rectus abdominus and depress the rib cage, causing a more "hunchback" posture. After you've eliminated these exercises from their programming, you can get to work on their thoracic spine mobility with drills from Optimal Shoulder Performance; one example would be thoracic extensions on the foam roller.

As you work to regain that mobility, it's valuable to build stability within that newly acquired range-of-motion (ROM) with loads of horizontal pulling (rows) and deadlift variations. With respect to the shoulder itself, it's important to regain lost external rotation ROM and scapular posterior tilt.  As I recently wrote in "The Right Way to Stretch the Pecs," I prefer the 1-arm doorway pec stretch and supine pec minor stretches.  You can find videos of both HERE - and you can expedite the process with regular foam rolling on the pecs. In the interim, substitute front squats, overhead squats, single-leg exercises, and deadlift variations to maintain a training effect.

As you progress back to squatting, you can ease the stress on your shoulders by going with a pinky-less grip in the short-term.


That said, for many individuals, the back squat set-up may not be appropriate.  These include overhead throwing athletes, those with flexion-based back pain (e.g., disc herniations), and individuals with posterior labral tears. I'd estimate that only about 25% of Cressey Performance clients do a true back squat, but that's influenced considerably by the fact that we deal with a ton of baseball players, and I get a lot of shoulder corrective exercise cases.  Instead, we do a lot of work with the giant cambered bar and safety squat bar, in addition to front squatting.

Hopefully, these recommendations get you headed in the right direction and back to squatting as soon as possible! What the experts are saying about The Truth About Unstable Surface Training... "Unstable surface training is many times misunderstood and misinterpeted in both the physical therapy and athletic performance fields. The Truth About Unstable Surface Training e-book greatly clarifies where unstable surface training strategically fits into an overall program of injury prevention, warm-up/activation, and increasing whole body strength. If you are a physical therapist, athletic trainer, or strength training professional, The Truth About Unstable Surface Training gives you a massive amount of evidence-based ammunition for your treatment stockpile." Shon Grosse PT, ATC, CSCS Comprehensive Physical Therapy Colmar, PA Click here for more information on The Truth About Unstable Surface Training.

New Blog Content Random Friday Thoughts Elbow Pain in Pitchers Stuff You Should Read The Most Important Thing for Rookie Trainers Enter your email below to subscribe to our FREE newsletter:
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Two New EC Contributions from Yesterday

Two pieces on which I contributed were published yesterday.  Check them out: The World's Best Trainers and Coaches Share Their Best Tips and Resources to Make You a Better Professional Mythbusters
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Random Friday Thoughts: 2/20/09

Let's get right to it... 1. Here's a link to a great news story about Cressey Performance athlete Olympic Bobsled hopeful Bree Schaaf: Bree Schaff hopes to be on US Olympic Bobsled Team 2. Here's this week's mind-numbing personal trainer moment... Our facility landlord spends much of his winter down in Florida, and as he told me yesterday, he went to a personal trainer down there to help him with some chronic shoulder pain he's had (this is funny, because I'm in his building and he never thought to ask me, but I won't digress).  I talked with him for a few minutes, and without even having to physically examine him, I could tell it was a classic ol' supraspinatus tendinosis (external impingement - but it's more complex than that, as I've written in Newslettter 130 and 131).  Taking him through some provocative tests just verified everything; he had extremely poor scapular stability (abducted and anteriorly tilted), markedly limited glenohumeral external rotation, and poor thoracic mobility.  This is a pretty easy one to fix, I think. Since he isn't going to be back up here full-time for a month or two, I asked him what he'd been doing with his personal trainer to address the shoulder issue.  So, he shows me this stretch that they've been doing three times a week:


For the record, he wasn't wearing the short shorts and funky tube socks, and didn't appear so "cartoonish," but you get the idea.  My bigger concern was that this dude was treating a) scapular instability and b) poor external rotation ROM with a stretch into internal rotation without the scapula stabilized.  This is analagous to taking someone with poor glute function and stretching the lumbar spine into flexion.  You're stretching the wrong structures at the wrong joint! And, to take it a step further, this movement actually closely resembles two provocative tests for symptomatic impingement:

[caption id="attachment_2963" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="The Hawkins Kennedy Test"]The Hawkins Kennedy Test[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2964" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Yocum's Test"]Yocum's Test[/caption]

So, I guess you could say that our landlord paying this personal trainer to tell him to do this stretch is roughly on par with paying someone to bang your head against a wall when you have a headache.

Once again, it all comes down to assessment.  If you can't assess, you can't effectively prescribe exercises to prevent or correct imbalances.  For more information, check out Building the Efficient Athlete.

3. I gave Moneyball (one of my favorite books) a mention and some love in a recent newsletter, and then Tony Gentilcore sent me a link about how the book may be turned into a movie starring Brad Pitt. It better be good, because if it isn't, I'll berate Pitt mercilessly for tarnishing the reputation of a great read.


That's all I've got for this week, folks.  The shoulder rant above sapped the life from me, so I'll recharge this weekend and bounce back with some good stuff for you on Monday.  Enjoy the weekend!

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The Most Important Thing for Rookie Trainers

Earlier this week, we had a gentleman stop by our facility to observe Tony, Brian, and I in action.  He is new to the industry - less than one year under his belt, in fact - but has a solid roster of clients of all ages and ability levels.  I give the guy a ton of credit for coming all the way to MA from across the country to get better at what he does; I wish more people were passionate enough about helping their clients to do so. Anyway, while he had quite a few questions, he asked me flat-out what I think the most important thing to do is for an up-and-coming personal trainer or strength and conditioning coach.  My answer was simple: learn functional anatomy.  Very simply, everything you do with a client or athlete comes down to understanding how their body is built.  And, if you know how the body is built (statically), you can start to understand how it functions (or malfunctions) dynamically.  This is a skip that, in my opinion, far too many trainers and coaches overlook.  It may be boring to memorize all this stuff, but it's incredibly important. I mean, honestly, have you ever met a mechanic who didn't know what a radiator did or where it was located?  A car's anatomy is probably just as expansive as the human body, but you don't see mechanics fixing car troubles before they learn where all the parts are - or what they're supposed to do.  Sadly, I think that if I asked every trainer on the planet what a coracobrachialis was, only half could even tell me where it's located, and even fewer would be able to relate its functions. At risk of sounding overconfident, this is one reason why I'm so proud of our Building the Efficient Athlete DVD Set.  In my experience, there isn't a single product out there that delves into functional anatomy in as detailed a fashion as Mike Robertson and I do, and there certainly isn't anything that relates that anatomy to what you see when your clients and athletes perform exercises, encounter injuries, or struggle to grasp some new technique.


Here's a little sample of what you can find on the first two (of eight) DVDs in the set: DVD #1: Introduction
  • Why learn functional anatomy?
  • What resources do the BEST use to improve their skills?
  • What resources will absolutely make you regress as a trainer, coach or athlete, and how do you avoid them?
  • How will improved posture not only keep you healthy, but also improve your performance?
  • How can you use the Law of Repetitive Motion to rapidly elicit changes in posture?
DVD #2: Lower Body, Core and Upper Body Functional Anatomy
  • Are the hip flexors tight? If so, which one(s)? We show you specific tests to figure out exactly which areas are short or stiff.
  • Why are well functioning glutes an absolute necessity if optimal performance is your goal? How can they help us to avoid hamstring pulls, groin strains, and lower back pain!
  • How is it that we've misunderstood the role of various core muscles for so long? And, how can we modify our training to "undo" the damage that's been done?
  • How can the pectoralis major and subscapularis be both antagonists and synergists, and what are the implications on health and performance?
  • Have we been missing the boat on how we view rhomboids?
  • Why doesn't anyone think about pectoralis minor?
Again, this is just the tip of the iceberg.  There is a whole lot more on the other six DVDs, including live static and dynamic assessments, programming strategies, and loads of troubleshooting for common resistance training exercises. For more information, check out Building the Efficient Athlete.
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Cyber Monday Sale!

Mike Robertson just brought to my attention that the Monday after Thanksgiving is known as Cyber Monday because it's the biggest day of the year for online sales.  So, particularly with the economy the way it is, we decided to put most of our products up for sale for today ONLY. For the fitness professionals in the crowd, keep in mind you can also purchase NSCA CEUs for the majority of these products, and those CEUs will come in handy at this time of year as you're up for renewal of your certification.  The products with the asterisk after their names below are eligible. Simply head on over to the Robertson Training Systems Products Page, add a product (or a bunch of products) to your shopping cart, and enter the coupon code CYBER at checkout to receive 15% off on your purchase.  Eligible products include the Building the Efficient Athlete DVD Set*, Magnificent Mobility DVD*, Inside-Out DVD*, 2008 Indianapolis Performance Enhancement Seminar DVD Set*, and Bulletproof Knees Manual*. Also, through my shopping cart, this same offer (same CYBER coupon code) is available for The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual and The Art of the Deload E-Book.  You can purchase those on my Products Page. Don't miss out on this great chance to purchase our stuff at an excellent discount just in time for the holidays!
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The Truth About Unstable Surface Training: An Athletic Trainer’s Perspective

“As someone who has both rehabbed injured athletes and trained healthy people for over 18 years, I can honestly say that Eric Cressey’s The Truth about Unstable Surface Training is a breath of fresh air. "Being a certified athletic trainer and a strength and conditioning coach has afforded me a unique perspective in the training world. I have watched personal trainers, strength coaches, athletic trainers and physical therapists use and abuse unstable surface training. "Eric has combined his in-the-trenches experience with research to uncover the truth behind unstable surface training. This book is a must-read for anyone that trains, rehabs, or coaches, people in anyway. Yes, that means Physical Therapists, Athletic Trainers, Personal Trainers, and Strength Coaches. "I hope that this book will help to “Stop the madness” of a training fad that has gotten out of control and help to support the proper uses of unstable surface training. "I know I will be referring this work to my network of athletic trainers, strength coaches, physical therapists and personal trainers.” Keith Scott, MS, CSCS, ATC Certified Athletic Trainer, and Strength and Conditioning Coach www.BackToFormFitness.com Click here to get your copy of The Truth About Unstable Surface Training.
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One More Reason I Love Writing My Newsletter…

I consider myself very fortunate to not only have a good-sized newsletter list, but also to have such a knowledgeable collection of readers who share some awesome feedback with me. After last week's newsletter on the current status of the fitness industry, I got this great email from Nick Beatty, and he agreed to let me reprint it here, as I think it's right on the money. "Eric, "Thanks for your sharing your insightful anecdote about your and Mike's experience at the shoulder presentation. I agree that personal trainers could and should attend these education events, but the lack of trainers in the room speaks to a bigger problem- the very definition of what a personal trainer is and how you become one. "Case in point, where would the sponsors/presenters of the event advertise in order to increase trainer attendance? Within university departments? On journal websites? At GNC and sports clubs? At your local bodybuilding competition? At yoga studios? At your local YMCA? At the tanning salon? "The bar is set low for trainers, so to assume the lowest common denominator and expect a high-school educated personal trainer to comprehend (and more importantly contribute to) a lecture by a professional group that requires an undergraduate degree, followed by a terminal degree in physical therapy, is unfair to the trainer. So who fills the post-rehab gap? Will it be the good trainers, or a special certification (i.e. one in particular rips you off in order to call yourself a post-rehab expert) that gets lots of trainers to that point, or will Dr. Mike Jones and his MES/AAHFRP expand? Who knows, but as long as the gum-chewing dude spotting lat raises is allowed to call himself a Personal Trainer- the industry is screwed. "I recently left my personal training job in NYC to hit the books again, and some of my thoughts from my exit interview echo your sentiments: What didn't you like about Company X? "Regarding my dislikes, it is difficult to to determine whether they are related to Company X or to the industry that Company X is in. Company X operates on a level that is better than most companies in the industry, so it is my guess that the things I dislike about Company X are either because of the industry, or because of the nature of the business. "I dislike personal training, and by that I mean I dislike the whole concept of a 'fitness professional' and what goes along with that. There is no licensure for 'fitness professionals,' only certifications. The high-school drop-out who eats steroids for breakfast and independently trains; the ex-athlete who trains from experience; the certified (insert cert here) trainer who trains at a gym; the highly qualified trainer; the physical therapist with a CSCS; the yoga instructor in a leotard and sneakers at the CEU event; the fitness enthusiast with a website, product, or podcast: ALL these folks are 'fitness professionals.' It is no wonder the public and the profession itself doesn't know what to make of personal training. There is a serious identity crisis in personal training, and until it's addressed, LMTs, PTs, and all other allied health professionals will be better respected- and paid! Best, Nick" Nick Beatty, MS, CSCS, ACSM HFS, is a personal trainer in Manhattan and medical student at the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine. Feel free to drop him a line at nick@hpdp.org.
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  • Avoid the most common deadlifting mistakes
  • 9 - minute instructional video
  • 3 part follow up series