Home Posts tagged "Stuart McGill"

Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 3/4/19

I'm working on getting back on an every Monday schedule with this recommended reading feature. Here goes!

8 Training Tips for the New Dad - My wife is scheduled for a C-section this Friday as we make the Cressey crew a party of five. It seemed like a good time to bring this article I wrote back in 2016 (two years after our twin daughters were born) to the forefront again.

Dr. Stu McGill on the Strongfirst Podcast - Interviews with Stu never disappoint, and this is a great example.

Assessments: Can Your Clients Actually Do What You Want Them To Do? - This was an excellent post from my long-time friend, Tony Gentilcore.

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*LANDMINE PRESS PROGRESSIONS* 👇 If you’ve followed my work for any length of time, you know all too well that I’m a huge fan of landmine press variations as shoulder friendly upper body pushing options. Here’s how we progress them (be sure to swipe left for a demonstration of each one): 💪 1️⃣Standing Landmine Press – I like this option first for most athletes because the standing position provides for a more horizontal line of pressing, which allows folks to get away with a bit less scapular upward rotation. It can also be helpful in untrained clients who don’t have the strength to press the bar “strictly” from the upper body yet. They can use a bit of lower body contribution (similar to a push press) to get the weight moving. 2️⃣Half-Kneeling Landmine Press – It’s a slightly narrower base of support than in the standing position, and requires more scapular upward rotation to get the job done. And, you can’t use any body English to get the bar moving; it has to be strict. 3️⃣Split-Stance Landmine Press – This builds on the standing landmine press, but with a narrower base of support. And, it’s more challenging stabilization-wise than the half-kneeling landmine press because there are fewer points of contact with the floor, and the center of mass is further up away from the base of support. 4️⃣Low to High Rotational Landmine Press – This is an opportunity to get more athletic with the motion and really focus on transferring force from the lower body to the upper body. 5️⃣Squat to Landmine Press – This one challenges whole-body mobility and an athlete’s ability to transfer force from the lower body to the upper body. 6️⃣Reverse Lunge to 1-arm Landmine Press – There are a few moving parts to this, but most athletes who have solid single-leg strength, good core control, and a grasp on the basic landmine press variations will do well on it. There are other options (e.g., tall kneeling, seated) on the landmine press that we’ll occasionally use, but these six constitute ~95% of all the landmine presses you’ll find in @cresseysportsperformance programs. What other variations do you like? Thanks to @nickcioffi_14 for great demos! #cspfamily

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The Study EVERY Trainer and Coach Should Read and Understand

There are very few absolutes in the world of health and human performance. The answer to just about every question that's asked is "maybe." Even in the debate between anecdotal observations and exclusively evidence-based practice, there are gray areas that can sometimes be heavily debated. 

There is one study, however, that I think every trainer, coach, rehabilitation specialist, and fitness enthusiast should read and understand. My long-time friend Dr. Stu McGill - arguably the world's premier spine authority - is one of the lead authors as well:

Frost DM, Beach TA, Callaghan JP, McGill SM. Exercise-Based Performance Enhancement and Injury Prevention for Firefighters: Contrasting the Fitness- and Movement-Related Adaptations to Two Training Methodologies. J Strength Cond Res. 2015 Sep;29(9):2441-59.

I know what you're thinking: "What can I learn from how firefighters train? My sport, life, and occupational demands are entirely different."

To understand why this study matters so much to you and how you train, we need to look at the methods of it.

Basically, the researchers took 52 firefighters and plugged them into one of three groups:

1. a movement-guided fitness (MOV) group that received both programming and coaching on how to move correctly

2. a conventional fitness (FIT) group that only received programming, but not coaching

3. a control (CON) group that didn't do any exercise intervention

Before and after the 12-week training (or no training, in the control group) intervention, all the firefighters went through a series of fitness test and laboratory screens. They looked at things like body composition, aerobic capacity, grip strength, muscular endurance (max push-ups, planks for time), lower body power (vertical jump), and flexibility (sit-and-reach test).

Of particular importance was the fact that the pre- and post-tests included "five whole-body tasks" that were NOT included in any part of the training intervention. These challenges were a box deadlift, squat (body weight), lunge, split-stance 1-arm cable press, and split-stance 1-arm cable row. The goal was to evaluate how well the training actually transferred to creating more efficient, high-quality movements in whatever chaos life (or, more specifically, firefighting) threw at them. On these tasks, researchers looked at spine and knee motion with reflective markers to scrutinize movement quality under various conditions of low and speed of movement. The researchers noted (bolded section is from me for emphasis):

FIT and MOV groups exhibited significant improvements in all aspects of fitness; however, only MOV exhibited improvements in spine and frontal plane knee motion control when performing each transfer task. FIT exhibited less controlled spine and frontal plane knee motions while squatting, lunging, pushing, and pulling. More MOV participants (43%) exhibited only positive posttraining changes (i.e., improved control), in comparison with FIT (30%) and CON (23%). Fewer negative posttraining changes were also noted (19, 25, and 36% for MOV, FIT, and CON).

So what the heck does this mean for you? Quality training matters.

Those in the high-quality coaching group moved significantly better on average and had substantially fewer negative outcomes. In the training without coaching group, the average "upside" was lower - and there were more incidences of negative adaptation.

This is a study that proves that coaching a quality single-leg RDL will carry over to our pitchers controlling themselves safely into landing.

It shows that the "true" hip extension we train in the gym will also be there when our athletes run and jump.

It shows that the lateral lunge we coach helps our athletes to change direction safely on the lacrosse field.

It demonstrates that deadlift hip hinge technique we coach so hard in the gym reduces my likelihood of hurting my back when I pick up a squirming toddler.

It means that the 90/90 rotator cuff strength and timing position we meticulous coach and train protects our guys when they lay the arm back during the external rotation phase of throwing.

It also shows that quality strength and conditioning outcomes are about so much more than just a program or even a good training environment; they're about hammering home loads of consistently high quality reps to markedly increase the likelihood of favorable movement quality adaptations - while protecting against the downside.

This study also demonstrates why ready-to-print rotator cuff programs often fail shoulder pain patients. That one-size-fits-all approach - combined with inattentive coaching - often keeps patients on a painful path, when a little bit of technique and programming adjustments could be a game changer. And, it shows why some otherwise healthy people can wind up injured when they do the exact same program as the friend who had no problems at all with it. We see it all the time in individuals who come our way for one-time consultations; just a little coaching or program tinkering makes a huge difference in keeping them asymptomatic and enjoying their training.

The pride you take in your coaching - and the pride individuals take in their training technique - matters. Don't ever forget it!

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Random Thoughts on Sports Performance – Installment 28

It's time for the April installment of Random Thoughts on Sports Performance Training. In light of this week's $30 off sale on The High Performance Handbook, I wanted to write a bit about the importance of versatility in any strength and conditioning program. I firmly believe that The High Performance Handbook is the most versatile program on the market; in other words, it's been used with great success by folks from all walks of life. This is because of the self-assessment component, various programming options, and exercise modifications it includes. You can learn more HERE

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With that in mind, here are some thoughts on versatility in programming.

1. Psychosocial stress impacts joint loading.

Back in February, I went to a great seminar with Dr. Stuart McGill, and he alluded to some excellent research from Dr. Bill Marrus at The Ohio State University. It's almost 20 years old, but still fascinating. You can read about it HERE, but here's an interesting excerpt:

"An experiment was performed that imposed psychosocial stress on people performing standard lifting tasks and compared this with situations where no psychosocial stress was present. Under the stress conditions, significant increases in spine compression and lateral shear were observed, but not for all subjects. Gender played a role in that females moved di􏰘fferently in response to stress, thereby causing an alteration in muscle coactivation patterns. More surprisingly, when the personalities of the subjects was considered, it was found that certain personality traits, such as introversion and intuition, dramatically increased spine loading compared with those with the opposite personality trait (e.g. extroversion and sensing). These di􏰘fferences in personality were closely associated with differing trunk muscle coactivation patterns and explained well the di􏰘erence in spine loading (and expected risk of LBD) between subjects. These increases in trunk muscle coactivation are believed to in ̄uence spine loading more at low levels of work intensity than at high levels where the biomechanical demands of the job probably overpower any additional loading that may be due to responses of the musculoskeletal system to psychosocial stress."

In other words, the more Type A your personality type, the higher your spine stress, and the different your muscular recruitment patterns. This shouldn't surprise anyone who has looked at injury rates in athletes during stressful academic periods, but it is interesting to see that there doesn't seem to be a "desensitization" occurring with those who are always more stressed. With that in mind, chance are that the training stress needs to be managed more conservatively in those who have very stressful personality types, not just lifestyles.

2. There are many different ways to fluctuate training stress.

Speaking of reducing training stress, there are many different ways to do so. We all know that you can reduce intensity (load), training frequency, and/or volume (sets x reps x load) to give people appropriate deloading periods. 

Sometimes, though, simply changing exercise type can reduce the training stress. As an example, changing to more concentric-dominant exercises (as I wrote HERE) is one way to reduce training stress. Most people won't feel really banged up from a session of deadlifts, step-ups, and sled pushes even if there is a fair amount of volume and intensity.  

3. Versatility implies the ability to quickly and easily progress and regress.

When I think of versatile programs, I immediately think of the ability to quickly change something on the fly - and that usually refers to exercise selection, usually because something is too advanced or basic for someone.

If you lack the hip extension needed to do a Bulgarian split squat, you're better off regressing to a regular split squat or a step-up.

bss-3

It's also important to understand how to move laterally. An example would be if a program called for a piece of equipment an individual doesn't have. For example, if you don't have a cable column, maybe you could use dumbbells, bands, or a TRX suspension training for your rowing variation.

4. There is a point of diminishing returns on variability.

Check out this image I created for a presentation I gave on long-term athletic development.

bellcurve

If young athletes have low variability in their lives, they make very little progress. Obviously, the risk of overuse injuries is higher, but just as importantly, without adequate movement variability, athletes don't have opportunities to build "predictive models" to which they can resort amidst the unpredictable challenges sporting environments throw at them. In other words, some exposure to controlled chaos prepares you for a lot of unpredictable chaos down the road.

To the far right of the column, though, we realize that too much variability can be problematic as well. There simply aren't enough high quality reps to build an firmly ingrained pattern. If an athlete throws a football in week 1, baseball in week 2, tennis ball in week 3, and shotput in week 4, he won't really have built one pattern any more than another. This is why athletes ultimately do benefit from an element of specialization; it brings them back to the center for more "focused progress."

These same ideas can be applied to the everyday gym-going lifter. Early on in a training career, we need to expose these individuals to just enough variability to prevent overuse injuries. In many cases, we can get this just by having comprehensive mobility warm-ups and assistance exercises - single-leg work, horizontal pulling, push-up challenges, carrying variations, etc. - that complement the big bang exercises like squats, deadlifts, and presses. If we just do a few big multi-joint exercises, though, injuries can often creep up, and we may encounter plateaus. However, there are also scenarios where specialization programs (less variability) may be needed to bring up specific lifts by pulling us back from the far right of the curve.

The take-home point is that the relationship between training progress and exercise variability is always in flux, and it's a good place to look if you're struggling to make progress, chronically injured, or just want to better understand why you're getting the results you're experiencing.

Looking to see how I create both versatility and variability in the programs I write? Check out The High Performance Handbook, which is on sale for $30 off this week.

highperformance-handbook-banner

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

I normally like to publish my recommended readings on Monday, but I got off schedule over the past few weeks. Posting this today will get me back on track:

CSP Business Building Mentorship - By popular demand, my business partner, Pete Dupuis, and I are hosting a business building mentorship.  We only have 20 spots in this one-day event, and nine are already taken from an "in-house" announcement to close industry colleagues.

Athletic Groin Pain - This was an excellent, comprehensive article from Chris Hart on everything from differential diagnosis to rehabilitation timelines and protocols.

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29 Years, 29 Lessons - Tony Bonvechio shares a collection of things he's learned in training, nutrition, and business.

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When people hear "in-season lifting," they seem to immediately think that the sole justifications for incorporating it is to maintain strength, power, and muscle mass. Surely, that's a huge part of the equation. However, I'm quick to point out to our athletes that in-season training includes a lot more. Each time an athlete trains at @cresseysportsperformance during the season, he's also going through his foam rolling work. And, he's working his way through a more individualized warm-up than he'd typically get at the field during practice or at games. Likewise, it's an exposure to an environment that "nurtures" good lifestyle behaviors. There are invariably discussions about optimizing sleep quality, and improving nutrition. These exchanges just don't happen as often at the field. #cspfamily #ArmCare #inseasontraining #pushup

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 4/13/17

I hope you're all having a great week. I'm a few days late with posting this because we were a bit more content heavy earlier in the week, but the good news is that it gave me a few more days to round up some excellent content for you.

Kabuki Strength Chat with Eric Cressey - I joined Chris Duffin and the rest of the Kabuki Strength crew for a podcast last week. We talked baseball strength and conditioning, business development, and fitness industry trends. Check it out!

STEM-Talk with Dr. Stuart McGill - Any podcast with Stu is a must-listen podcast! This one doesn't disappoint - and I particularly enjoyed his commentary on the flawed medical model as it relates to treating lower back pain. 

It Took Me 10 Years to Become an Overnight Success - This was an excellent post from my business partner, Pete Dupuis. He shares some awesome insights on little things that can lead to long-term success - if you're patient.

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#Repost @cresseysportsperformance with @repostapp ・・・ More wise words from @ericcressey. #cspfamily #ArmCare

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

Here are some good strength and conditioning reads for you to check out as you head into the weekend! 

The Sleep Sweet Spot for Avoiding Memory Problems - This is a quick read from Dr. Mike Roussell; he covers the ever important - but commonly overlooked - topic of sleep.

Random Thoughts on Speed, Strength, and Conditioning - Mike Robertson and I are a lot alike - especially when it comes to our love of "random thoughts" brain dumps. There are some gems in here from my brother from another mother.

Mike-Robertson-300x287

Why the Phrase, "I Need to Rest" is a Misleading Excuse - Frank Duffy outlines some important points about responsibly helping folks to avoid time off from training when they're injured.    

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 2/22/17

It's time for this week's list of recommended reading. Sorry it's a few days late, but hopefully it still helps to get you over hump day! As a friendly reminder, tomorrow is the last day to get 20% off on Jaeger Bands at this link using the coupon code CRESSEY.

A Shoe by the Athletes for the Athletes - This blog at Eastbay discusses the origins of the New Balance Minimus MX20v6 Cressey Trainer. Eastbay carried, but their inventory has pretty much been cleared out (only size 7 remains). New Balance does still have some odds and ends in terms of sizes remaining on their websites, and folks in Canada can get shoes at SportCheck.ca

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Back to McGill - I attended a great one-day course with Dr. Stuart McGill yesterday, and it reminded me to look back on an interview I did with him all the way back in 2006. Even as we look back 11 years, Stu is still tremendously ahead of his times as a research and clinician when it comes to preventing and correcting back pain. We're discussed doing another interview in the near future, and I'm super excited for it. In the meantime, check out this old gem; it's still "on point" and invaluable.

Grit - I'm about 3/4 of the way through this book from Angela Duckworth, and I've found it to be excellent. There are lessons that apply across all industries, but I see particular applications with respect to strength and conditioning, a field where hard work and determination really sets individuals apart on another level. Heck, we even put a reminder of this on the wall at both facilities!

Hard-Work-Beats-Talent-825x386-2

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 12/12/16

Good morning! I hope everyone had a great weekend. This week's "Stuff to Read" was a breeze to pull together, as there was some outstanding content on the 'Net since our last installment. Before we get to it, though, just a friendly reminder that my 30 Days of Arm Care feature is currently at Day 28. You can view all the videos on Twitter and Instagram using the #30DaysOfArmCare hashtag. Now, on to the good stuff!

Physical Preparation Podcast with Dr. Stuart McGill - Bold statement: this was probably the best podcast to which I've ever listened. Dr. McGill is so smart and cutting-edge that you can't drive while listening to his stuff or else you'll find yourself pulling over constantly to scribble notes.

stuartmcgill

Physical Preparation Podcast with Shane Rye - Yes, Mike Robertson's podcast actually scored a double dip in the recommended reading for the week. This chat with my business partner, Shane, 

The Best Calorie Control Guide - Precision Nutrition shares an insightful infographic just in time for the holidays.

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5 Spine-Sparing Strength and Conditioning Program Strategies

In his book, Back Mechanic, Dr. Stuart McGill frequently uses the term "spine hygiene" to describe how individuals position themselves during various everyday and athletic tasks to manage their back pain. Most of the strategies speak to the positional side of things, but I thought it might be worthwhile to take a look at some strength and conditioning program strategies you can employ to keep the spine healthy over the long haul. 

1. Don’t pick up heavy dumbbells.

The stronger you get, the bigger a pain it is to pick up and position dumbbells, whether it's for rows, presses, or single-leg work. Things are even harder when the heaviest dumbbells are positioned on the lowest tiers of the dumbbell rack. We've been brainwashed for years that dumbbells are more spine-friendly than barbells, but this simply isn't always true. Being able to unrack a weight from chest height and not having to swing it into position can be invaluable once you're developed an appreciable level of strength. I'm not saying not to use heavy dumbbells, but rather to be very careful with this approach if you're someone who has dealt with low back pain.

2. Cycle in heavy bilateral loading.

Make no mistake about it: a barbell will allow you to move the most weight in your program on the overwhelming majority of exercises. Unfortunately, this also means that the compressive and shear forces on your spine will generally be highest with barbell exercises. That doesn't mean that you need to eliminate them, but rather that you need to cycle them out periodically to give you a little break. At the peak of my powerlifting career, I'd always stay away from squats, deadlifts, and good mornings for the first 10-14 days after a meet. It was all lower intensity work, anyway, so plenty of single-leg work and glute-ham raises was a perfect fit.

600x2DL

3. If you are going to do both in the same session, squat before you deadlift.

There are many theories as to why deadlifting is so much more exhausting both systemically and locally, but regardless of the one to which you subscribe, you'll surely recognize that heavy pulling before squatting is a recipe for a cranky back. After all, there is a reason you always squat first and deadlift last in every powerlifting. A few of my favorite approaches in terms of sequencing are:

a. Squat heavy, deadlift for reps
b. Squat heavy, deadlift for speed
c. Squat for speed, deadlift heavy
d. Squat for speed, deadlift for reps

Occasionally, you can dabble in some speed deadlifts before you squat, but once you've reached a solid level of strength, I think you'll find that it still just doesn't work out all that well.

4. Don't train in a fatigued state if you don't move well.

Experienced lifters with great core control can usually get away with training through fatigue as long as the training loads aren't outrageous. Interestingly, though, if you look at the typical recreational runner with back pain, it usually starts after they've already been running for a while. Fatigue changes the game, as they start to substitute lumbar extension (low back movement) for hip extension.

This doesn't just underscore the importance of gradual return to running progressions; rather, it reminds us that those with a history of low back pain need to spend a lot of time training with perfect technique in non-fatigued states. As McGill has discussed, they're better off doing multiple sets of shorter prone and side bridges than they are trying to hold one set for 60 seconds.

Back-Mechanic

Over time, these good positions because second nature and accepted as the norm "subconscious awareness." Every second the individual spends in a bad position, though - either because of poor positional awareness or an inability to overcome fatigue - is a step in the wrong direction.

5. Go to split-stance.

Just as single-leg lower body work can be much more spine friendly than bilateral work, simply going to a split-stance on other exercises can be helpful for minimizing unwanted spine movement, too. As an example, we always teach our wall slide variations with a split-stance, and you'll also see this approach integrated with rowing and landmine press technique, too.

Cressey wall slide

Wrap-up

These are obviously only a few of seemingly countless ways to keep your lower back healthy in a strength and conditioning program, so I'd love to hear some of your suggestions in the comments section below!

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 9/19/16

Another week, another Patriots win and fantasy football victory for me! I'll keep talking about it in this weekly blog until the luck wears off! 

That said, let's look at some top picks from around the web from the past week:

They Myths of Mental Toughness Training: Part 1 and Part 2 - Doug Kechijian is a super bright physical therapist who also happens to have extensive military experience. So, you could say that this fantastic two-part article comes from excellent perspectives in multiple regards.

Physical Preparation Podcast with Boo Schexnayder - This podcast from Mike Robertson is several months old, but I actually went back and listened to it a second time. There are loads of pearls of wisdom in there for any coach from any discipline.

Podcast Q&A with Dr. Stuart McGill - There was some excellent information on the lower back front in this interview for Dean Somerset's site. The discussion of calcification in the spine of lifters of various proficiency is fascinating, and is around the 18-minute mark.

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