Home Posts tagged "Weight Lifting Routine"

Strength and Conditioning Programs: Understanding and Managing Fatigue

Understanding and Managing Fatigue

Perhaps it’s coincidence, or perhaps the scientific community is finally catching on, but recently, there have been several studies looking at the role of short- and long-term recovery in preventing and rehabilitating injuries.

Here’s a research study that demonstrates relationships among a variety of scheduling and recovery factors and injury rates. The part I found most interesting was that researchers observed that sleeping fewer than six hours the night prior to a competition led to a significant increase in fatigue related injuries.

Additionally, researchers at Stanford recently demonstrated the profoundly positive effect that “sleep extension” has on a variety of performance variables in high-level basketball athletes.

These results, in themselves, aren’t particularly surprising: fatigue impacts performance – whether that’s on the field, or in the rehabilitation realm. Anyone who has ever trained an athlete on a Saturday morning after he’s had a late Friday night, or rehabbed a roofer after he’s completed a 10-hour-workday, will tell you that there are certainly less-than-optimal times to get the work in.

What research like this doesn’t tell us, though, is that not all fatigue is created equal – and I suspect that this is one area where strength and conditioning specialists can “return the favor” to rehabilitation specialists for all that we’ve learned from them over the years. Very simply, the very best strength and conditioning coaches I know are the ones who are masters of managing competing demands, including strength training, mobility drills, soft tissue work, movement training, metabolic conditioning, and sport-specific training. In order to effectively manage all these factors, it’s imperative to understand the different stages of fatigue. On the rehabilitation side of things, every injured athlete likely has some element of fatigue that not only impacted his/her injury mechanism, but will impact the response to a given rehabilitation program.

Over-what? Over-everything!

In their classic review, The Unknown Mechanism of the Overtraining Syndrome, Armstrong and VanHeest discussed the importance of differentiating among overload, over-reaching, overtraining, and the overtraining syndrome (OTS). They defined the terms as follows:

  • Overload – “a planned, systematic, progressive increase in training stimuli that is required for improvements in strength, power, and endurance”
  • Over-reaching – “training that involves a brief period of overload, with inadequate recovery, that exceeds the athlete’s adaptive capacity. This process involves a temporary performance decrement lasting from several days to several weeks.”
  • Overtraining – training that “exceeds over-reaching and results in frank physiological maladaptation(s) and chronically reduced exercise performance. It proceeds from imbalances between training and recovery, exercise and exercise capacity, stress and stress tolerance; training exceeds recovery, exercise exceeds one’s capacity, and stressors exceed one’s stress tolerance.”
  • Overtraining Syndrome (OTS) – “a set of persistent physical and psychological symptoms that occur subsequent to prolonged application of heavy training loads. The critical diagnostic factor is a chronic decrease in performance, not simply the existence of SAS [signs and symptoms].”

Overload is inherent to a successful training process, and over-reaching is actually quite valuable when used appropriately. For instance, in our training programs at Cressey Performance, we generally fluctuate training stress in four-week programs as high (1), medium (2), very high (3), low (4), where the deloading in week 4 allows for adaptation from the fatigue imposed during week 3.

However, over-reaching is far from overtraining – a term that is thrown around far too often among even the most qualified individuals in the world of health and human performance. Over-reaching may be attained in as little as 7-10 days, and remedied in a matter of days or weeks with adequate deloading. Conversely, the process of overtraining must take place for months for the outcome, OTS, to be apparent. Recovery from OTS requires at least several weeks – and more often several months; in other words, you really have to go out of your way to get to overtraining syndrome.

Since high level performance – and even just normal physical health – is a priority, it is imperative that coaches, parents, and athletes recognize the signs and symptoms of over-reaching and overtraining syndrome – and the differences between the two. According to Armstrong and VanHeest, the signs and symptoms of OTS may include:

  • Decreased physical performance
  • General fatigue, malaise, loss of vigor
  • Insomnia
  • Change in appetite
  • Irritability, restlessness, excitability, anxiety
  • Loss of body weight
  • Loss of motivation
  • Lack of mental concentration
  • Feelings of depression

What All These “Overs” Mean to You

Many of these signs and symptoms are shared between over-reaching and OTS, so how do we know the difference? How do we know when to hold back for a day or two (for overload recovery), 7-21 days (over-reaching), or even months (overtraining syndrome)?

Unfortunately, as much as I would like to be able to offer you the magic answer, I can’t do so. The scientific community has yet to agree on a single, highly sensitive diagnostic test to differentiate among the three. In fact, the only diagnostic tests that are universally accurate are those of physical performance; if performance drops off, there must be some degree of accumulated fatigue.

Other measures – such as heart rate, bloodwork, metabolic rate, substrate metabolism, and a host more – are subject to so many factors that they are hardly reliable tests of one’s training status.

As an example, research from Fry et al. had subjects perform ten sets of one repetition on machine squats at 100% of their one-rep maximum for 14 days straight. That’s an absurd volume of high-intensity resistance training, especially in a trained population. You know what, though? The only thing that dropped off was performance; hormone status (as measured by bloodwork) really didn’t change much at all.

Conversely, crush an endurance athlete with volume, and this same bloodwork will look terrible. The take-home point is that it’s a lot harder to “overtrain” on intensity than volume. And that’s where the problem exists when you’re dealing with athletes: just about every sport out there is a blend of volume and intensity. We don’t just train or rehabilitate shotputters or Ironman competitors; we get athletes from soccer, basketball, baseball, hockey, tennis, and a host of other sports.

So, what is a coach or rehabilitation specialist to do when trying to determine just how much fatigue is present, and what the best course of action is to guarantee an optimal return-to-play as quickly as possible?

In two words: ask questions.

In my opinion, the absolute most important step is to establish communication with athletes and – in this case – patients. Ask about training practices before an injury, sleep patterns, dietary factors, family life, concurrent illness/injury, changes in body weight, and appetite.

These may seem like obvious questions to ask, but we live in a one-size-fits-all world of pre-made templates and rigid systems – and people can fall through the cracks all the time. My experience has been that those most commonly “thrown under the bus” in this regard are the most dedicated athletes forced to train or rehabilitate in a “general health” world. As an example, we had an adult athlete client request a Vitamin D test from a primary care physician last year, and he was turned down because he wasn’t “a post-menopausal female.” As it turned out, he was severely clinically deficient, and normalizing his Vitamin D was a big game-changer for him.

Simply asking the right questions will always help the cause when it comes to determining just how “systemic” what you’re dealing with really is. And, in the process, it gives you an opportunity to show a client or patient how much you care before they even care how much you know.

- Eric Cressey
Read more

Lose Fat, Gain Muscle, Get Strong: Eric Cressey’s Best Articles of 2010

Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better - This was obviously my biggest project of 2010.  I actually began writing the strength and conditioning programs and filming the exercise demonstration videos in 2009, and put all the "guinea pigs" through the four-month program beginning in February.  When they completed it as the start of the summer rolled around, I made some modifications based on their feedback and then got cracking on writing up all the tag along resources.  Finally, in September, Show and Go was ready to roll.  So, in effect, it took 10-11 months to take this product from start to finish - a lot of hard work, to say the least.  My reward has been well worth it, though, as the feedback has been awesome.  Thanks so much to everyone who has picked up a copy.

Optimal Shoulder Performance - This was a seminar that Mike Reinold and I filmed in November of 2009, and our goal was to create a resource that brought together concepts from both the shoulder rehabilitation and shoulder performance training fields to effectively bridge the gap for those looking to prevent and/or treat shoulder pain.  In the process, I learned a lot from Mike, and I think that together, we brought rehabilitation specialists and fitness professionals closer to being on the same page.

Why President Obama Throws Like a Girl - A lot of people took this as a political commentary, but to be honest, it was really just me talking about the concept of retroversion as it applies to a throwing shoulder - with a little humor thrown in, of course!

Overbearing Dads and Kids Who Throw Cheddar - This one was remarkably easy to write because I've received a lot of emails from overbearing Dads asking about increasing throwing velocity in their kids.

What I Learned in 2009 - I wrote this article for T-Nation back at the beginning of the year, and always enjoy these yearly pieces.  In fact, I'm working on my 2010 one for them now!

What a Stressed Out Bride Can Teach You About Training Success - I wrote this less than a month out from my wedding, so you could say that I had a good frame of reference.

Baseball Showcases: A Great Way to Waste Money and Get Injured - In case the title didn't tip you off, I'm not much of a fan of baseball showcases.

Cueing: Just One Piece of Semi-Private Training Success - Part 1 and Part 2 - These articles were featured at fitbusinessinsider.com.  I enjoy writing about not only the training side of things, but some of the things we've done well to build up our business.

Three Years of Cressey Performance: The Right Reasons and the Right Way - This might have been the top post of the year, in my eyes. My job is very cool.

How to Attack Continuing Education in the Fitness Industry - Here's another fitness business post.

Want to Be a Personal Trainer or Strength Coach?  Start Here. - And another!

The Skinny on Strasburg's Injury - I hate to make blog content out of someone else's misfortune, but it was a good opportunity to make some points that I think are very valid to the discussion of not only Stephen Strasburg's elbow injury, but a lot of the pitching injuries we see in youth baseball.

Surely, there are many more to list, but I don't want this to run too long!  Have a safe and happy new year, and keep an eye out for the first content of 2011, which is coming very soon!

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter:
Read more

Weight Training Programs: Product Reviews

As you probably know, when I come across high-quality products that I really enjoy that I think will be a good fit for my audience, I am thrilled to be able to write up thorough reviews for you.  This way, it not only gives some love to these products’ deserving creators (and learn myself!), but also gives you more background to make sure that it’s a good fit for you if you opt to purchase it. To that end, I wanted to use today's post to highlight the top seven products I reviewed in 2010.  Considering that I receive literally dozens of products in the mail each year to review (I still have a stack left to cover), these represent not just the cream of the crop, but the ones where I actually had the time and inclination to write something up.  Check them out by category: For the Fitness Professionals: Muscle Imbalances Revealed - This set of six webinars can be viewed conveniently from the comforts of your own home.  No travel or shipping charges to ruin your day!  Check out my review Product Review: Muscle Imbalances Revealed.

The Single-Leg Solution - Mike Robertson is a great friend of mine - but that's not the only reason I liked this product.  It was very thorough, well-researched and written, and offered some excellent coaching cues that any fitness professional would be wise to study up on.  My review is The Single-leg Solution: Detailed Product Review.

Rehab=Training, Training=Rehab - This long-awaited debut product from Charlie Weingroff was just released in the last few weeks, and it certainly didn't disappoint.  Even if you don't pick up a copy, you'll learn quite a bit from my two-part review: Rehab=Training, Training=Rehab: Top 10 Takeaways - Part 1 and Rehab=Training, Training=Rehab, Top 10 Takeaways - Part 2.

Movement - I just realized that I never got around to writing up a review of this great book from Gray Cook, but that doesn't mean that it wasn't an excellent read.  I HIGHLY recommend it.

For the Fat Loss Enthusiasts (then again, can you really be enthusiastic about having to lose fat?): Body of Fire - This fat loss resource from Chad Waterbury was great for the masses - especially if you only have minimal equipment at your fingertips.  I loved the focus on movement rather than just crazy high volume training.  Check out my interview with him: Waterbury on Why Most Fat Loss Plans Fail Miserably - and a Better Approach.

Final Phase Fat Loss - John Romaniello's first product is a great fit for those trying to lose those stubborn last few pounds of body fat, especially if they are masochists who enjoy a very challenging program!  For more information, check out Final Phase Fat Loss: An Interview with John Romaniello.

For the Athletes: The Truth About Quickness - I'm a big fan of Kelly Baggett, and he collaborated with Alex Maroko to create an excellent resource for up-and-coming athletes.  I gave Kelly the spotlight with three pieces: How to Get Quick...Quickly: An Interview with Kelly Baggett, and The 5 Most Common Speed, Quickness, and Explosiveness Problems in Athletes Part 1 and Part 2.

That wraps it up for the best of 2010 product reviews; hopefully you can reward yourself with some late holiday shopping by picking up one or more of these items; you won't regret it.  I'll be back tomorrow with the best videos of 2010.

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter:
Read more

Stuff You Should Read: 8/31/10

Here are a few article "reincarnations" that I think you'll enjoy: Bogus Workouts and the Official Blog Of... - This is more of a rant than anything educational, but it's an entertaining look at the obnoxious solicitations I get on a daily basis. Frozen Ankles, Ugly Squatting - Here's a piece about people who have ankles that are (structurally) like crowbars - and how they should modify their training. Strength Training Four Days in a Row - Every have to do it?  Here's how to optimize it. Please enter your email below to sign up for our FREE newsletter.
Read more

Flat Feet and Hypermobile: Okay for Barefoot Training?

Q: I read with great interest your recent review of Muscle Imbalances Revealed, and in particular, your comments on Mike Robertson's presentation that touched on factors related to excessive pronation.  I have this excessive foot pronation, plus a spondylolisthesis, a history of ankle sprains, double-jointed elbows and knees, and hips that move around like John Travolta's in Saturday Night Fever. Basically I should have given up my career and gone into the Cirque de Soleil.

What I want to know is that specifically with my feet if wearing a supportive shoe with orthotics is such a bad thing. Everyone is on this barefoot kick, but it just doesn't work for me. If I go barefoot my hips move out of correct position and my ankles and calves ache. In fact, when I was a child, my dad had to massage my calves and arches at night because I'd be in tears from the pain of being flat-footed. Once I got my first orthotics at age 7, I was so much more comfortable. I feel that orthotics and a nice flat shoe for me helps me use my feet correctly and allows me to stay away from internal rotation of the tibia and femur, and reduces pelvic tilt, etc.

Or, I could be mistaken? What do you think, and have you heard anyone else talk about this? Other hypermobile people and I have talked about this and we all seem to feel the same: barefoot is not the way to go for us.

A: Extensive barefoot stuff is definitely not for everyone, and if you were having issues that significant at such a young age, you're probably just someone with a structurally different foot type.  There are definitely scenarios where orthotics are indicated, and the fact that you've gotten so much symptomatic relief from them tells me that they're a good thing in your case.

That said, you might still benefit from just a bit of barefoot training - like deadlifting barefoot and doing some bowler squats and the like.  Basically, just use it for situations where foot positioning doesn't change.  Then, you don't have to mess around with how it affects the gait cycle.  I think you'll get some of the benefits of strengthening the small muscles of the feet and improving proprioception (in light of your history of ankle sprains) without all the unfavorable compensations further up.  And in folks who don't have your hypermobility, improving dorsiflexion ROM would be an added benefit.

Layout 1

I wouldn't say that it's specific to hypermobile individuals, though.  A lot of them probably have issues with barefoot training because they lack the strength and underlying stability required at the lower leg and hip to take the ground reaction force stress off the feet.  Remember that mobility and stability are always working at odds with one another; if you've got too much of one, you have to train the other one to pick up the slack.  My hunch is that most of these people don't have structural pronation; they have excessive functional pronation because the anti-pronators - specifically the hip external rotators - aren't strong enough to decelerate that pronation.  Check out the valgus (poor) positioning on the left here:


Of course, in the general population, we see it for this reason, as well as the fact that most people walk around in terrible cinder blocks footwear that completely "tunes out" the joints and muscles of the feet.

A lot of the folks that try barefoot training and wind up in pain get that way because they're idiots and jump right in full-tilt.  You can't go from wearing cross-trainers to wearing thin pieces of cloth/rubber overnight.  And, as Nick Tumminello wisely pointed out recently, while our ancestors were barefoot all the time, they weren't barefoot on CONCRETE for loads of mileage.  And, they weren't as overweight as today's society is, with such low relative strength. As always, people get hurt because they are stupid and not because a specific training modality is bad.

Typically, in a broad sense, I recommend that people do their 1-leg (pistol) squats, all deadlifting variations, and box squats without sneakers.

As long as they aren't really overweight - or presenting with a history of foot problems - we'll also have them do their warm-ups without sneakers.

Everything else (including more quad dominant squatting variations) are done with footwear. I'm a big fan of the New Balance Minimus; you can read my full review at the following link: The New Balance Minimus: The Best Minimalist Training Shoe on the Market.

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

Read more

Cressey Performance Interns Eat Nails and Crap Lightning

Today, I've got some video flavor of our interns getting down.

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter:

Read more

Stuff You Should Read: 8/16/10

Some blasts from the past for you: The Most Important Thing for Rookie Trainers - I thought this would be a good follow-up to my post two weeks ago about how to enter the fitness industry the "right way." Eccentric Exercise and Mobility - Ever been told you shouldn't stretch post-training?  I know I've heard that recommendation before.  Read this old post to find out the real scoop on it. Add 300 Pounds tn Your Deadlift - This lengthy piece was a response to a question of how I went from pulling low-to-mid 300s up to my 600+ pound deadlifts. Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter:
Read more

Quick Fixes to Common Training Injuries

Call it a law of weightlifting: no matter how careful you are, at some point you're gonna get hurt. Now you probably won't decapitate yourself with a barbell or tear a pec or even rupture your spleen—the weightlifter's injuries are rarely that cool or sudden. Nope, you'll probably just end up with a bum shoulder, a pinched elbow, a bad back, or creaky knees, all the result of years of faulty movement patterns, poor training habits, or just general wear and tear. And while these injuries are always frustrating, they're often manageable. Because it's hard to build a good-looking body when you're hurt, I talked with Eric Cressey and Mike Robertson about how these body parts probably got jacked up in the first place, and asked them for simple strategies to get you healthy. Continued Reading...
Read more

What Key Assets is Your Strength Training Program Missing?

My fiancée Anna and I just got back last night from a wedding weekend (not ours) in Halifax.  We had a great time drinking Molson celebrating our friends' big day. Anna was a bridesmaid, so I was largely left to be an American tourist flying solo, which left a bit of time for people watching.  There weren't any Canadian celebrities - Nelly Furtado, Gordy Howe, Michael J. Fox, or even Keanu Reeves (who was stripped of his "celebrity" status thanks to years of anti-Reeve propaganda at tonygentilcore.com) - on hand, so my attention focused on a remarkably obese woman in the hotel lobby who had a couple of yappy little dogs with her.


While I'm a big-time dog lover, frankly, at that moment, I wanted to punt these little balls of worthlessness into the nearby harbor just to quiet them down.  However, rather than doing so and getting myself deported back to the U.S., I turned my attention to these pups' "Big Mama." This woman had two dogs that were obviously frantic to go outside, enjoy the sunshine, and essentially give her the perfect reason to exercise (take them for a walk).  It wasn't happening, though. It was like giving a young hockey player a stick and some skates - but having him refuse to use them while playing.  Or, like offering employees a corporate fitness deal, only to have them ignore it. Undiagnosed ADD guy that I am, this really got me to thinking about how so many people out there don't even realize that they have key resources right at-hand who could really help out on their fitness journeys. Maybe it's a spouse who would love to exercise with you or help you to clean up your diet? Perhaps your gym has new equipment that you haven't touched yet when what you really need is some variety? Could there be a training partner at your gym right now on the same schedule at you who would be willing to give you hands-off/spots so that you can push yourself that little bit more in your weight training program to get strong? Or, do you think it could be that you just need a new strength training program to get you out of a funk so that you're accountable to something?

You never know unless you stop to consider this, and evaluate what's going on around you.  Chances are that there are people, places, and things out there that'll help get you closer to where you want to be. Now, shouldn't you be finding a dog to walk? Enter your email below to sign up for our FREE newsletter and you'll receive a free deadlift technique video!
Read more

The Cat’s Out of the Bag: New Product on the Way!

Today's post won't be too lengthy, but I'm still pretty psyched to make it. You see, I've got a new product on the way, and I'm really excited about it. I can't get into too much detail on it (especially since there are still some loose ends to tie up), but I will say this: if you liked Maximum Strength, then you're going to LOVE this. My goal was for this program to become the most versatile strength and conditioning resource available - meaning that with a few adjustments (which I lay out), it could work for a wide variety of people, with different genders, goals, training schedules, training experience, and equipment access. Based on the initial feedback from the guinea pigs" I put through the program, it's done more than just work; they've thrived. There will certainly be more details to come as we approach the product's release on September 20.  In the meantime, I'll just encourage you to subscribe to my FREE newsletter (below), if you haven't already.  My subscribers will be the first to hear about the product when it goes "live."
Have a great weekend!
Read more
Page 1 2 3 74
  • Avoid the most common deadlifting mistakes
  • 9 - minute instructional video
  • 3 part follow up series