Home Posts tagged "Strength and Conditioning"

Random Thoughts on Sports Performance Training: Installment 40

I'm long overdue for a new installment of this long-term series, so hopefully I've got a bit of something for everyone in this.

1. Strength and conditioning is a supportive discipline.

Skill almost always trumps fitness, but fitness is what allows you to optimize skill. You can't get in high quality reps if you're broken, and we have evidence to suggest that regular exercise optimizes cognition and motor learning. I think this is actually one more avenue via which early sports specialization eventually falls short after the initial gains of specificity wears off: you need more general fitness capacity to get in higher quality specific work.

The absolute best strength and conditioning coaches I know are awesome at understanding their role is to set skill coaches up for success with athletes. However, at the same time, they know how to recognize when fitness is the limiting factor and speak up to advocate for the appropriate physiological adaptation to take an athlete to the next level.

2. Maybe your sleep habits aren't so terrible - or maybe everyone's actually are that terrible?

This Brazilian systemic review of 11 studies looking at the sleep quality of Olympic athletes was pretty eye-opening (bad pun, huh?). The takeaways begin with this: "over half of the athletes have poor sleep quality and complaints." More specifically:

  • Total sleep time averaged 6 hours, 10 minutes per night
  • Sleep efficiency averaged 84%
  • Sleep onset latency averaged 28 minutes
  • Awakenings after sleep onset averaged 49 minutes

After I got over my initial shock that so many Olympic athletes are this bad with their sleep, I had to admit that this made me feel a bit better about myself as a 43-year-old father of three who's trying to fight off the dad bod in spite of my lack of sleeping prowess. However, it didn't make me feel great about today's athletes' (not just Olympians) prioritization of sleep. Travel for Olympic athletes isn't nearly as extensive as it is for in-season professional athletes, so it's fascinating to me that this class of athletes could struggle so much while typically being in one place to train. That said, I'm sure there are other factors - most notably the economic hardship of being an amateur - that could impact this dynamic, but that's a discussion for another day.

With respect to sleep, there's some very low hanging fruit for athletes who want to pick it and get a massive competitive advantage over their competition:

  • Make your room cold and dark.
  • Limit heavy meals in the hours right before bed.
  • Stop staring at phones, tablets, computers, and TVs in the hour before bed.
  • Wind down in the hours before bed: meditate, read, etc.
  • Limit caffeine intake after noon.

If you're looking for a detailed podcast on this topic, here's a great listen:

 

3. Strength and conditioning "spacing" is a lot like soccer.

A lot of young coaches struggle to make the adjustment from one-on-one coaching to scenarios in which they need to handle more than one athlete at a time, especially in large facilities/spaces. If you're not careful, you can get locked in to one conversation with an athlete while there's chaos - poor weight selection, bad technique, insufficient effort, etc. - all around you. A cue I'll often give to younger coaches is one that was always shouted in my youth soccer days: find space.

In other words, go to where other players aren't, and you'll be able to see the field better and provide an open passing option for your teammates. When everyone bunches up, you miss the big picture and limit your options to contribute.

4. Adductors have far reaching implications.

I wish more people had a true appreciation for what massive implications adductor (groin) length and strength has on overall lower extremity and lumbopelvic health. Adductor longus, adductor brevis, adductor magnus, pectineus, and gracilis make up a huge portion of the cross-sectional area of the thigh, but they also have direct attachments on the pelvis, entire length of the femur, and lower leg (gracilis insertion on pes anserine as a conjoined tendon with sartorius and semitendinosis):

We've got research that shows that folks can get hurt when adductors are weak (hockey players) and if they're too strong (relative to weaker abductors in knee patients). There are implications in terms of sports hernia challenges in light of the adductor longus insertion on the pubis, and adductor density/length restrictions are clearly part of the bigger challenge that is anterior pelvic tilt/limited hip internal rotation/femoroacetabular impingement. The solution for most people is relatively simple, though: spend more time in the frontal plane.

Roll them out (or get some decent manual therapy in there).

Add some mobility drills.

Build some strength through a sizable range-of-motion.

Note: I talk about this a lot in Functional Stability Training of the Lower Body.

Once you've done all that, mix in some "movement fun:" side shuffles, carioca, lateral runs, and sprinting and change-of-direction to preserve your frontal plane athleticism. Classic strength and conditioning programs spend far too much time in the sagittal plane, so the more you can mix it up with frontal and transverse plane work, the better your long-term health and performance outcomes will be.

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Luka Hocevar on Strength and Conditioning Non-Negotiables

We welcome strength and conditioning coach Luka Hocevar to the podcast for a thorough discussion on a variety of physical preparation topics, ranging from coach development, to program design, to athlete assessment. Luka also spoke to some key factors that contribute to so much athletic success in his native country of Slovenia as well. If you're an up-and-coming coach, you'll find this to be an extremely beneficial episode. And, if you're a player, Luka's story will yield a lot of perspective on how hard you have to chase your dreams.

A special thanks to this show's sponsor, AG1. Head to https://www.DrinkAG1.com/cressey and you'll receive a free 10-pack of AG1 travel packets with your first order.

 

You can find Luka on Instagram at @LukaHocevar and YouTube HERE.

Sponsor Reminder

This episode is brought to you by AG1. AG1 (formerly Athletic Greens) is your daily foundational nutrition; it has 75 whole-food sourced ingredients designed to support your body’s foundational nutrition needs across five critical areas of health: 1) energy, 2) immunity, 3) gut health, 4) hormonal support, and 5) healthy aging. It is the new and future way of getting a multivitamin, and a whole lot more. Head to www.DrinkAG1.com/cressey and claim my special offer today – 10 FREE travel packs – with your first purchase. I use AG1 daily myself and highly recommend it to our athletes as well. I’d encourage you to give it a shot, too – especially with this great offer.

Podcast Feedback

If you like what you hear, we'd be thrilled if you'd consider subscribing to the podcast and leaving us an iTunes review. You can do so HERE.

And, we welcome your suggestions for future guests and questions. Just email elitebaseballpodcast@gmail.com.

Thank you for your continued support!

Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive Instant Access to a 47-minute Presentation from Eric Cressey on Individualizing the Management of Overhead Athletes!

Name
Email
Read more

CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Mike Boyle on Long-Term Athletic Development, Inseason Training, and Training Your Own Kids

We welcome accomplished strength and conditioning coach, author, and presenter Michael Boyle to the podcast for an expansive discussion on strength and conditioning both specific to baseball, and universal across all sports. Mike has a wealth of experience across many sports, and also in private, college, and pro settings. He shares great insights on how his thought processes have evolved, and also some lessons learned from training his own kids.

A special thanks to this show's sponsor, AG1. Head to https://www.DrinkAG1.com/cressey and you'll receive a free 10-pack of Athletic Greens travel packets with your first order.

 

Sponsor Reminder

This episode is brought to you by AG1. AG1 is your daily foundational nutrition; it has 75 whole-food sourced ingredients designed to support your body’s foundational nutrition needs across five critical areas of health: 1) energy, 2) immunity, 3) gut health, 4) hormonal support, and 5) healthy aging. It is the new and future way of getting a multivitamin, and a whole lot more. Head to www.DrinkAG1.com/cressey and claim my special offer today – 10 FREE travel packs – with your first purchase. I use AG1 daily myself and highly recommend it to our athletes as well. I’d encourage you to give it a shot, too – especially with this great offer.

Podcast Feedback

If you like what you hear, we'd be thrilled if you'd consider subscribing to the podcast and leaving us an iTunes review. You can do so HERE.

And, we welcome your suggestions for future guests and questions. Just email elitebaseballpodcast@gmail.com.

Thank you for your continued support!

Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive Instant Access to a 47-minute Presentation from Eric Cressey on Individualizing the Management of Overhead Athletes!

Name
Email
Read more

CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Training for Sport Specificity and Individual Specificity with Mike Irr

We’re excited to welcome Atlanta Hawks head strength and conditioning coach Mike Irr to the latest podcast to discuss some lessons he's learned in the NBA realm that have tons of applicability to baseball populations. Mike speaks to the complexities of the load management discussion, the challenges of onboarding new athletes, and key considerations for writing programs for athletes with respect to both sport and individual specificity.

A special thanks to this show’s sponsor, AG1 by Athletic Greens. Head to http://www.athleticgreens.com/cressey and you’ll receive a free 10-pack of AG1 travel packets with your first order.

 

Sponsor Reminder

This episode is brought to you by AG1 by Athletic Greens. AG1 is your daily foundational nutrition; it has 75 whole-food sourced ingredients designed to support your body’s foundational nutrition needs across five critical areas of health: 1) energy, 2) immunity, 3) gut health, 4) hormonal support, and 5) healthy aging. It is the new and future way of getting a multivitamin, and a whole lot more. Head to www.AthleticGreens.com/cressey and claim my special offer today – 10 FREE travel packs – with your first purchase. I use AG1 daily myself and highly recommend it to our athletes as well. I’d encourage you to give it a shot, too – especially with this great offer.

Podcast Feedback

If you like what you hear, we'd be thrilled if you'd consider subscribing to the podcast and leaving us an iTunes review. You can do so HERE.

And, we welcome your suggestions for future guests and questions. Just email elitebaseballpodcast@gmail.com.

Thank you for your continued support!

Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive Instant Access to a 47-minute Presentation from Eric Cressey on Individualizing the Management of Overhead Athletes!

Name
Email
Read more

CSP Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Key Considerations Across All Sports with Mike Robertson

We welcome strength and conditioning coach, author, and speaker Mike Robertson to this week’s podcast. Mike's a long-time friend from whom I've learned a ton, and in this chat, we discuss commonalities across all sports in terms of assessment, programming, and coaching. We talk about training young athletes, developing coaches, and the never-ending pursuit of "better" in a dynamic industry.

A special thanks to this show's sponsor, Athletic Greens. Head to http://www.athleticgreens.com/cressey and you'll receive a free 10-pack of Athletic Greens travel packets with your first order.

You can follow Mike on Twitter at @RobTrainSystems and on Instagram at @RobTrainSystems. Or, visit his website, www.RobertsonTrainingSystems.com.

Sponsor Reminder

This episode is brought to you by Athletic Greens. It’s a NSF-certified all-in-one superfood supplement with 75 whole-food sourced ingredients designed to support your body’s nutrition needs across 5 critical areas of health: 1) energy, 2) immunity, 3) gut health, 4) hormonal support, and 5) healthy aging. Head to www.AthleticGreens.com/cressey and claim my special offer today - 10 FREE travel packs - with your first purchase. I use this product daily myself and highly recommend it to our athletes as well. I'd encourage you to give it a shot, too - especially with this great offer.

Podcast Feedback

If you like what you hear, we'd be thrilled if you'd consider subscribing to the podcast and leaving us an iTunes review. You can do so HERE.

And, we welcome your suggestions for future guests and questions. Just email elitebaseballpodcast@gmail.com.

Thank you for your continued support!

Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive Instant Access to a 47-minute Presentation from Eric Cressey on Individualizing the Management of Overhead Athletes!

Name
Email
Read more

The Best of 2021: Strength and Conditioning Videos

With my last post, I kicked off the "Best of 2021" series with my top articles of the year. Today, we'll highlight the top five videos of the year.

1. Cross-Behind 1-arm Cable Row with Alternate Arm Reach - Courtesy of the imagination of Cressey Sports Performance – Florida co-founder Shane Rye, the cross-behind 1-arm cable row is a new horizontal pulling variation we’ve been using quite a bit in 2021. I elaborated on why that's the case here.

2. Band-Assisted Vertical Jump - Drew Cobin authored a great guest post on where this can fit into a power training program; check it out here.

3. 1-arm, 1-leg Kettlebell Swing with Rack Assistance - Published just lack week with an assist from CSP coach Josh Kuester, this one became an instant hit. Learn more about it here.

4. Prone External Rotation End-Range Lift-off to Internal Rotation - Many rotator cuff exercises focus on building strength/motor control/timing in positions that aren’t specific to the throwing motion, but this one forces overhead athletes to be proficient in positions that really matter.

5. Understanding and Measuring Passive Range of Motion - Measuring passive range of motion is a crucial step in any thorough movement assessment. However, it’s often – both intentionally and unintentionally – measured inappropriately.

I'll be back soon with the top podcasts of 2021!

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

Thinking Beyond Diagnostic Imaging

About ten years ago, I was in the operating room to observe my first Tommy John surgery. Much like my time in gross anatomy class during my undergraduate studies, it was an invaluable experience that helped me to appreciate human structure (and, in turn, movement) in a way that anatomy textbooks couldn't offer.

Textbooks typically present a very "neat" anatomy where muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, and nerves are predictably positioned. You can imagine my surprise, then, when the surgeon made the initial incision along the medial elbow and it yielded a bunch of "stuff" in the way. The fascia, the intermuscular septum, the ulnar nerve, and a host of other unrecognizable structures make you realize that a) every anatomy course or textbook you've ever undertaken hasn't done justice to what's really going on at the elbow (or anywhere else in the body, for that matter), b) it takes a lot of practice to become a great surgeon, and c) you shouldn't let just anyone cut you open for surgery.

Now, let's fast-forward to the post-operative timeline. After the repair is complete and the patient is stitched up, the elbow is splinted at 90 degrees of flexion for a week. Following that week, the arm is put in a hinged brace that gradually allows more motion over the course of weeks 2-6. After six weeks, the brace goes away. In short, it's quite a bit of time with the elbow in a limited range-of-motion situation as a means of protecting the repair.

Not surprisingly, some patients have a lot of trouble getting back their motion - both from the graft gradually stretching out and the musculotendinous structures regaining their length. We'd be crazy to think that the aforementioned fascia structures aren't implicated in the challenges of regaining ROM, though. And, if they've got a role in limiting ROM, they've certainly got a role in the associated stiffness (and, sometimes, pain) that post-operative patients feel. Here's where a variety of manual therapy interventions - ranging from dry needling to instrument-assisted work - have yielded outstanding results. While some folks like to scream and shout in opposition to this fact, it's hard to refute that manual therapy has endured the test of time to the tune of thousands of years.

Only recently have there been technology advancements that allow us to better understand the role of the fascia system with respect to pain and performance (Bill Parisi spoke to this on our podcast a while back; listen here). In a seminar not too long ago, my friend Sue Falsone highlighted some great evidence on the "decompression" that takes place in this regard with a cupping intervention.

Now, let's take a step back and think about the big picture of diagnostic imaging. When we have chronic pain that alters movement patterns, we have adaptive changes of the fascial system. While the diagnostic imaging - MRI, CT scans, x-rays - might pick up on the structural defect, it might overlook the compensatory changes to the fascial system (much of which overlays the actual injury) that can't be appreciated by these types of scans. 

When we look at chronic shoulder pain, is the problem only the rotator cuff tear? Or is that problem magnified by the fascia limitations that arise from years of avoiding various ranges of motion (including at adjacent joints) that would normally be accessible?

I've written extensively about having both a Medical and Movement Diagnosis. The truth is that the discussion of the fascia system is probably a happy medium between the two. We may think too much about the injury the diagnostic imaging identifies and too little about the overlying and surrounding tissues. At the other end of the spectrum, we may be too quick to define a movement limitation as joint, musculotendinous, ligamentous, or motor control without first considering the role the fascial system is playing.

What's the most important lesson here? Professionals from all walks of sports medicine need to work together to thoroughly evaluate injuries and movement competencies in order to design the best performance and rehabilitation programs. And, we need to remain openminded to new technology that may make it easier for us to take an even more accurate and individualized approach to each case.

In this vein, I'd highly recommend checking out my Thoracic Outlet Syndrome course, as this challenging diagnosis is a great example of how a condition often can slip past common diagnostic imaging.

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

Programming Principles: Installment 5

In light of some recent questions about my popular resource, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions, it seemed like a good time to update this series on program design strategies. Many fitness professionals and strength and conditioning enthusiasts have looked to this resource as a model upon which to base some of their program design efforts, so I thought I'd dig in a bit deeper on a few useful principles you'll find in it that should be consistent across all programs.

1. Use your "pre-work" to address the most pressing issues.

In Cressey Sports Performance programs, you'll see five distinct "components" to each day in most programs:

a. Warm-ups
b. Pre-Work
c. Strength Training
d. Metabolic Conditioning
e. Cooldown

Of course, there's always some variation included. For instance, not every day will feature metabolic conditioning, and there may be training sessions that don't include strength training. All that said, when folks come to observe at CSP and take a glance at a program, they're often most intrigued about our "pre-work."

This section of the training session comes at the end of the warm-up and before the strength training for the day. Typically, it's power training that'll include some medicine ball work and sprint/agility/plyometric work. However, we'll often take it a step further and include some single-leg balance work, or even mix in some technique practice on something like a Turkish get-up. Basically, it's a bridge from the warm-up to the heavier lifting; we want this period to be all about athletes actually being athletic: moving fast, and being challenged in a rich proprioceptive environment. 

Typically, in this time period, there are some rest periods that athletes have a tendency to rush through. Since they don't feel very fatigued from a set of 6/side rotational medicine ball shotputs, they tend to rush from one set to the next. To get the most of these drills, though, we need to slow them down - and if we're going to have them rest, we might as well make it productive rest. To that end, we use the pre-work period as a great time to mix in some fillers. Here's an example we might use for an athletes with a flat thoracic spine and poor end-range external rotation control:

A1) Step-Behind Rotational Med Ball Scoop Toss: 3x4/side, 6lb
A2) Alternating TRX Serratus Slides: 3x6/side
B1) Side-to-Side Overhead Med Ball Stomps: 3x4/side, 10lb
B2) Prone External Rotation End-Range Lift-off: 3x(3x5s)

The secret is to pick the 2-3 highest priority movement struggles for each athlete and attack those in the 2-3 fillers you have each day in the pre-work. Over the course of a week, this could be an additional 15-20 sets to help get things moving in the right direction.

2. Proximal-to-distal almost always works great...almost.

Anyone who's followed my work knows that working proximal-to-distal is a strategy I like to employ when addressing movement challenges. The principle is simple: work on something toward the center of the body (e.g., neck positioning) and it'll often yield downstream benefits (e.g., shoulder range-of-motion) as we work our way to the extremities. One time you might backtrack this strategy, however, is when there is a known pathology more distally. I'll use myself as an example. I had a left knee meniscus repair (the first orthopedic surgery of my life) just over six weeks ago, and it has actually been a great learning experience for me.

As part of the surgery, my medical-collateral ligament had to be loosened (the equivalent of a Grade 2 sprain). There are some very specific post-op contraindications: I can't flex the knee beyond 90 degrees in weight-bearing right now, and any of the classic drills that take my hip into external rotation (like a cradle walk) and abduction (split-stance adductor mobs, or lateral lunge) can easily irritate the medial (inside) aspect of my knee. Additionally, when you're a bit limited in how much you can flex the knee during the gait cycle while in the brace, you tend to "cut off" hip extension on each stride. What does all this mean? The hip on my surgery side feels tighter than normal.

Sure, I can get creative with my hip mobility drills and even do some soft tissue work to settle down some muscles that can't be lengthened, but the best solution is actually a distal to proximal one: get my knee right! Sure enough, getting the swelling out of the joint early on and hitting all my ROM targets immediately improved the hip symptoms because my weight-bearing strategies improved.

The take-home message here is that before you look to integrate a proximal-to-distal approach, be sure your assessment picks up on any unusually "sticky" joints. And, where appropriate, refer those cases out to someone who can get them "unstuck."

3. Make your warm-ups more efficient so that you don't have to "sell" them as much.

Let's face it: people don't typically enjoy the warm-up period. It's without a doubt the "most likely to be skipped" part of any training session. We probably aren't going to change people's perspectives on this, but we can change the situation in which they operate. In other words, we can adjust our programming to make it logistically easier to complete for our clients/athletes. One way to accomplish this is to just structure the program in a more convenient context. To that end, here's how I like to structure a warm-up:

a. Ground-based (e.g., positional breathing drills, supine/quadruped mobility drills)
b. Standing, stationary (e.g., wall slides, bowler squats)
c. Standing, moving (e.g., classic dynamic warm-up drills like lateral lunges, spidermans etc.)

This approach saves the time of having athletes get up and get down over and over again; it's a more efficient flow.

Once you've incorporated this strategy, you can make them even more efficient by considering the location of any equipment - bands, benches, TRX straps, etc. - that they may need to complete the drills. In an individualized warm-up, putting these implements in convenient spots helps athletes keep their body temperature up while they're moving from one spot to the next.

Finally, you can always use "combination" exercises to attack multiple qualities in the same drill. As an example, an adductor stretch with extension-rotation gets you both hip and thoracic mobility.

I'll be back soon with another "Programming Principles" installment, but in the meantime, be sure to check out my popular resource, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions if you're interested in digging in deeper on upper extremity assessment, programming, and coaching.

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

The Best of 2020: Strength and Conditioning Articles

With 2020 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. What Do You Think of XYZ Method? - Often, I’ll get inquiries where folks ask what I think of a specific method. It might be yoga, Crossfit, Pilates, or a number of different disciplines. These are always challenging questions to answer because there are actually a number of variables you have to consider - and that's what I cover in this article.

2. Accidental Strength and Conditioning Success - I often joke that some of the biggest training successes of my career came about when I was trying to develop one athletic quality, but actually wound up accidentally developing something else that yielded a great return on investment. Medicine ball training might be the absolute best example of this.

3. Random Thoughts on Sports Performance Training - Installment 36 - This series is among my most popular, and I was long overdue for an update.

4. Efficient Programming, Better Warm-ups, and Combination Exercises - This feature outlined some programming principles you can employ when designing strength and conditioning plans.

5. Variation Without Change - For long-term training success, there are certain exercise categories that have to be mainstays. However, underneath those broad categorization schemes, there are a lot of opportunities (and a great need) for variation.

I'll be back soon with another "Best of 2020" feature. Up next, the top videos of the year!

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 10/9/20

Here's some recommended content to get October rolling:

Darcy Norman on the Value of Working with Interesting People - I really enjoyed this multi-faceted podcast by Mike Robertson with Darcy Norman, who has a lot of experience in the elite soccer world.

Digital Minimalism - I've enjoyed each of Cal Newport's books, and while this one wasn't as big of a hit for me, it does provide some important discussion points about how technology excessively shapes our existence - and what to do about it.

Play, Practice, or Train? - This was an awesome article from Gray Cook that provides some insights on how to improve organization of our training among these three key classifications. They all have their place, but we have to know how to best fit each one into our planning.

Top Tweet of the Week

Top Instagram Post of the Week

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more
Page 1 2 3 39
LEARN HOW TO DEADLIFT
  • Avoid the most common deadlifting mistakes
  • 9 - minute instructional video
  • 3 part follow up series