Home Posts tagged "Strength and Conditioning"

The Dose-Response Relationship and Strength and Conditioning Progress

Like most competitive powerlifters, when I want to lift some really heavy weight, I bench press with a good sized arch in my lower back.  It shortens the range of motion, allowing me to press more weight. This positioning actually makes my shoulders feel better, but it's surely not "healthy" to take my spine into these more extreme ranges of motion while lifting a bunch of weight.

You know what else? I probably spend a grand total of 30-45 seconds per week in this potentially injurious position. The dose is incredibly low, so the response just has never been there (and I'm going on 14 years of doing it). I'm sure my likelihood of staying healthy is a bit higher because:

a) the rest of my training features a ton of variety
b) I don't arch to this extreme on every bench press rep
c) I’m able to reverse that lordotic curve just fine (I'm not locked in that position)

If a kid has a bowl of ice cream as a treat once a week, it’s no big deal. If he has it for every meal, that’s a problem. But what if he has only one bite of ice cream at each meal? Over the long haul, it probably isn't a huge deal. And what if the ice cream is watered down? Or plain vanilla instead of cookie dough? "Dose" is a function of a number of factors - and while you can "give" on one or two, it's hard to "give" on all of them and not wind up with an overweight kid.

There are countless parallels to this in strength and conditioning. Some exercises may be a bit more dangerous than others.

On the exercise selection front, back squatting and conventional deadlifts probably should be used sparingly (if at all) if you've got chronic low back pain.

In terms of training technique, everyone should try to avoid deadlifting with a rounded lower back, but many lifters "get away with it" because they exposure to this dangerous pattern is so limited.

A high-volume training program can be an amazing stimulus to kickstart new gains, but used to excess, it can be a problem.

Frequency wise, if you go high volume seven days per week, you'll break down, too.

From an intensity standpoint, testing your one-rep-max in every training session would be a great way to destroy your joints and make sure that you actually get weaker.

The point is that many different factors influence the "dose" of training you impose on your system, and that dose yields a very specific response. Understanding this complex relationship of programming variables and training techniques is paramount for yielding successful training outcomes.

However, this discussion should also bring you to an important realization: you usually can't comment on someone else's training program or technique unless you have knowledge of all these variables and their training history. Each situation is completely unique, so we should all resist the urge to be Monday Morning Quarterbacks. Seek to understand the processes at work instead of just judging the outcomes.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 4/27/17

It's been a rainy few days in Massachusetts, but that won't put a damper on a productive week. I've been staying plenty busy with this week's $30 off sale on The High Performance Handbook.

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Here are a few good reads/listens for the week:

The Power of Sleep (Infographic) - Brian St. Pierre (author of The High Performance Handbook Nutrition Guide) created this quick and easy-to-understand reference for Precision Nutrition. It's a great one to share with clients.  

The Truth About Your Future - This book was written by a financial advisor and can seem "pitchy" at times, but it did include a lot of fascinating research on technological advancements and how they'll impact everything from life expectancy, to college planning, to occupational outlook.

EC on Raful Matuszewski's Podcast - I was a guest on Rafal's show a few weeks ago, and we talked about everything from parenting to athlete motivation.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 3/31/17

It's almost MLB Opening Day, which is just about my favorite "holiday" of the year. With that in mind, Mike Reinold and I decided to put our Functional Stability Training products on sale for 20% off. Using the coupon code MLBFST, you can pick up the individual components or get an even bigger discount on the entire bundle.

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This sale runs through Monday at midnight; head to www.FunctionalStability.com to take advantage of it.

Good vs. Bad Stiffness - With FST on sale, I thought it would be a good time to "reincarnate" this webinar except from my presentation in the Optimizing Movement component. Relative stiffness is an important concept for all fitness and rehabilitation professionals to understand.

Cryotherapy Doesn't Work - This was an excellent post from Dean Somerset on the topic of icing. It's a great follow-up to the two-part series Tavis Bruce authored up for us last year, too, so be sure to check those out: Cryotherapy and Exercise Recovery: Part 1 and Part 2.

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Work, Sleep, Family, Fitness, or Friends: Pick 3 - This was an interesting article at Inc.com on the topic of balancing life's demands. It resonated with me because it was another good reminder that it's our job as fitness professionals to make people realize they CAN still be fit even if they don't have a ton of time. And, fitness might be a great avenue through which to spend time with family and friends, so it can "check a few boxes" in folks' busy lives.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 3/23/17

Here's some recommended reading from around the strength and conditioning and nutrition worlds from the past week:

What to Do When You Don't Like Vegetables - I liked this article from Precision Nutrition because it touched on good long-term strategies more than just creative ways to "hide" veggies in what you normally eat. The infographic at the end is clutch.

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You Don't Need More Self Discipline. You Need Nuclear Mode - Have a bad habit you're trying to kick? Nate Green discusses nuclear mode, a strategy you might want to employ.

The 10 Dumbest Motivational Sayings - I contributed to this T-Nation roundtable discussion on hackneyed sayings that really need to go away.

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I think the popularity of this Tweet has more to do with the thought of steak than the actual message. #cspfamily

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Making Sense of Exercise Contraindications

I've got a wonky shoulder. Actually, the term "wonky" probably doesn't do it justice. As of a MRI in 2014, here's what I've got:

"There is a high-grade partial thickness articular surface tear of the posterior fibers of the supraspinatus that measures 15 mm AP x 15 mm RL. The undersurface tendon fibers are delaminated and retracted 15
mm.

"There is a high-grade partial-thickness cartilage defect over the posterior medial aspect of the humeral head
(near the posterior-superior labrum) with cartilage flap formation that measures 8 mm SI x 5 mm AP."

That was about three years ago, and it may be worse now. The truth is that it started with internal impingement during my high school tennis career, and gradually progressed over the years. In comparing the 2014 MRI to one I'd had in 2003, you see that the damage has progressed (as expected), but the symptoms have actually gotten substantially better.

My (occasional) pain is your gain, though. You see, the symptoms (or lack thereof) can actually teach us a lot about how we view contraindicating exercises.

I can bench press as heavy as I want with zero issues. Pull-ups, rows, pullovers, overhead carries, landmine presses, Turkish get-ups are all completely asymptomatic. They're in my safe exercise repertoire.

And, as long as I don't go crazy with volume or intensity, I can throw a baseball just fine. I long-tossed out well over 200 feet with my pro guys consistently this offseason and it wasn't a problem.

Overhead pressing is weird for me, though. If I tried to push press 135 pounds, my shoulder would hate me for the next 6-8 weeks. Interestingly, though, if I keep the weight lighter, stick to dumbbells in the scapular plane, control the tempo, focus on perfect technique, and don't go crazy with volume, overhead pressing actually makes my shoulder feel better. I'll work it in as an assistance exercise every other month.

 

 

Thanks to a chronic partial thickness rotator cuff tear, overhead pressing is weird for me. If I tried to push press 135 pounds, my shoulder would hate me for the next 6-8 weeks. Interestingly, though, if I keep the weight lighter, stick to dumbbells in the scapular plane, control the tempo, focus on perfect technique, and don't go crazy with volume, overhead pressing actually makes my shoulder feel better. I'll work it in as an assistance exercise every other month. This reminds us that we shouldn't just contraindicate exercises, but rather specific SCENARIOS. You won't change a person's anatomy, but you can certainly change the training stimulus to accommodate that anatomy. Check out today's post at www.EricCressey.com/blog for more info. #cspfamily #rotatorcuff #overheadpress #shoulderpain #shoulderworkout

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Interestingly, though, back squatting is what destroys my shoulder the most. This is consistent with an internal impingement diagnosis, but doesn't make a whole lot of sense when you consider that I can throw pain-free. Even if I just try to put a 45-pound barbell on my shoulders, it lights my shoulder up in a very bad way.

This weird collection of symptoms can actually teach us three really big lessons, though.

1. Everyone's symptoms and provocative patterns are completely different.  Two people might have a very similar medical diagnosis, but dramatically different safe exercise repertoires.

2. Too often, we contraindicate simply contraindicate exercises. In reality, we should be looking much broader, considering factors such as absolute loading, tempo, volume, and exercise technique.

[bctt tweet="We should contraindicate people from exercises, not exercises for people."]

3. An individual's "safe" exercise repertoire may evolve over time due to changes in movement quality, tissue quality, recovery capacity, and structural integrity. Our programming needs to evolve to accommodate those changes, too.

Certainly, some exercises are inherently bad and not worth the risk, but it's important to evaluate each individual and situation individually to make the determinations on all those "middle of the road" exercises that deliver great training effects and make strength and conditioning fun.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 1/31/17

I'm flying up to Massachusetts tonight for a quick visit, so I don't have time to write up anything new. Luckily, I have some great stuff from around the 'Net to share with you. 

The Hierarchy of Fitness Industry Success - Here's a great post for the fitness industry up-and-comers, courtesy of CSP-MA co-founder, Tony Gentilcore.

Lessons New Coaches Can Take from the Belichick Blueprint - I'm a big Patriots fan not only because I was born in New England, but also because they always seem to find value where others miss it. Some of the personnel decisions during Bill Belichick's tenure have come under scrutiny, but they always seem to work out. This article shares some invaluable lessons that carry over across industries.

Some Reasons Why You Should Stop Stretching Your Hip Flexors - Dean Somerset presents some excellent thoughts on better ways to attack the problem of "tight hip flexors."

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Great point from @bonvecstrength in today's guest post at http://www.ericcressey.com/blog. #cspfamily #benchpress

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4 Glute-Ham Raise Technique Tips

Glute-ham raise technique can give lifters a lot of trouble. To that end, I thought I'd film a video to demonstrate some of the common mistakes folks make with this drill.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 1/18/17

It's a big Wednesday. The Baseball Hall of Fame class of 2017 is announced, and our family is actually closing on our new house here in Florida. And, it's a beautiful sunny day outside - and I'm headed to the fields for throwing, hitting, and sprint work with our pro baseball crew. Who says hump day has to suck?

Here are some recommended reads for the week:

4 Warm-up Mistakes You're Probably Making - Cressey Sports Performance coach Tony Bonvechio makes some great points on how to optimize your preparation for a training session.

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What Kind of Substitute Teachers is Your Fitness "Classroom" Prepared to Employ? - This article from my business partner, Pete Dupuis, is targeted toward gym owners, but a lot of the lessons can be applied to personal trainers managing their own clientele. Who do you trust to pick up the slack if you're sick for a day?

To Hell and Back: The Untold Story of Male Eating Disorders - This article by Mike Zimmerman for Adam Bornstein's site hits close to home for me in light of some troubles I went through roughly 15 years ago. 

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The Best of 2016: Strength and Conditioning Features

I really enjoying creating features with multiple installments because it really allows me to dig deep into a topic that interests both me and my readers. It’s like writing a short book, with each post being a different chapter. That said, here were a few of my favorite features from 2016 at EricCressey.com: 

1. Random Thoughts on Sports Performance Training

I really enjoyed writing this series, as I can always build on current events. This year, I drew inspiration from everything from off-season baseball preparations, to the Olympics, to new books and DVDs I'd covered. There's an article for every month:    

Installment 15
Installment 16
Installment 17
Installment 18
Installment 19
Installment 20
Installment 21
Installment 22
Installment 23
Installment 24
Installment 25

2. Coaching Cues to Make Your Strength and Conditioning Programs More Effective

This coaching series has appeal for fitness professionals, rehabilitation specialists, and exercise enthusiasts alike.

Installment 14
Bench Press Technique Edition

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3. Random Thoughts on Long-Term Fitness Industry Success 

While most of my writing folks on the training side of things, I do like to delve into the business side of fitness, too. These posts include various pieces of wisdom for those who make their living in the fitness industry.

Installment 1
Installment 2
Installment 3
Installment 4

The Best of 2016 series is almost complete, but stayed tuned for a few more highlights!

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The Best of 2016: Strength and Conditioning Articles

With 2016 winding down, I'm using this last week of the year to direct you to some of the most popular content of the past 12 months at EricCressey.com, as this "series" has been quite popular over the past few years. Today, we start with the most popular articles of the year; these are the pieces that received the most traffic, according to my hosting statistics.

1. 5 "Combo" Core Stability Exercises - Great strength and conditioning programs are all about delivering results as efficiently as possible. Here are some exercises that'll help you do so by making your core stability training more efficient.

2. 10 Ways to Remain Athletic as You Age - The popularity of this article makes me realize that I need to devote more of my writing to the more mature athlete who still likes to get after it in the gym! 

3. How Lower Body Exercises Can Impact Upper Body Function - This article debuted around the time we released Functional Stability Training: Optimizing Movement. Squats, deadlifts, and other lower body drills can have a dramatic impact on the upper body in ways you might not realize.

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4. 5 Strength and Conditioning Exercises That Overdeliver - Similar to #1 from above, these are some of my favorite "big bang for your buck" exercises.

5. 6 Saturday Shoulder Strategies - You would think people would be sick of reading articles on the shoulder from me by now. Apparently not.

I'll be back soon with another "Best of 2016" feature. Up next, the top videos of the year! 

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