Home Posts tagged "Workout Routine"

Workout Routines: 6 Tips for Adjusting to Exercise in the Morning

We are creatures of habit - not only psychologically and socially, but physiologically as well.  If you need proof, all you have to do is read up on shift work disorder, which shows that simply changing one's sleep and work schedule can have some profound consequences for our health.

With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that changing the time of day when one's workout routine takes place is a huge deal for everything from mood to performance.  Perhaps the most common adjustment that takes place is when someone decides to exercise in the morning.  It may be because a long day at work is too exhausting to be 100% when you hit the gym after it's over, or you may just not want to wait for equipment access in a crowded gym at 6PM.  Or, it could be because a parent is super busy with kids' after-school activities, so first thing in the morning before they wake up is the best bet for getting in a strength and conditioning program.

Whatever the reason, the adjustment to exercise in the morning is without a doubt the toughest "time change" one could make.  With that in mind, here are five keys to making it a smooth transition:

1. Get to bed earlier.

This seems like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised at how many people complain that they can't get results from exercise in the morning without realizing that they're still going to be far too late at night.

If you're someone who is accustomed to sleeping 12AM-8AM, then racing to be to work at 9AM, it's going to be an adjustment if you want to start training at 6AM before you head to work.  You're only making it tougher if you decide that you're simply going to sleep 12AM-5AM. It's also going to crush your productivity for the rest of the day, as you'll be sleep walking rather than enjoying the post-exercise energy boost most people experience.  If you want to be up at 5AM or 6AM to train, you've got to be in bed by 10PM.  In fact, I always tell my athletes that an hour of sleep before midnight is worth two hours after midnight.

2. Stand up for a bit.

Dr. Stuart McGill has made some fantastic observations on spine stiffness first thing in the morning. In a nutshell, when we lay down to sleep at night, our spine is decompressed, so the intervertebral discs actually collect water.  This increased hydration status builds annular tension within the discs, and makes the spine stiffer overall.  This isn't a good kind of stiffness, though; more stress is placed on the ligaments and discs than the soft tissue structures that typically protect them.

Simply standing upright and moving around decreases the hydration status of the discs - and, in the process, actually makes us shorter as the day goes on! While I don't know of many people that want to get shorter, the good news is that this height reduction reduces the spine stiffness and allows us to move the spine more safely and effectively.  While disc hydration diminishes over the course of the entire day, the majority of it occurs in the first hour that we're awake.

With this in mind, you're someone with a history of back pain, you're probably best off not incorporating exercise in the morning, especially if your workout routine includes a lot of bending and rotating.  If you're going for a walk or light jog, though, it's probably not a big deal.

Conversely, if you're someone who plans to use some of these more challenging compound movements and have to exercise in the morning, I'd encourage you to get up 30 minutes early and just focus on standing up, whether it's to read the paper, pack your lunch, or take the dog for a walk.

3. Take a hot shower before exercise in the morning.

One of the biggest struggles a lot of folks encounter is getting warmed up in the morning.  Folks usually turn the heat down at night while they're asleep, and it's obviously colder outside at nighttime.  You might think I'm nuts, but hopping out of bed and into a hot shower is a great "body temperature transition" strategy that bridges the gap between bed and exercise.  And, since you'll be standing in the shower, it also helps to accomplish tip #2 from above!

It only has to be 25-30 seconds to get your body temperature up a bit, and then you can take your "real" shower after you sweat up a storm.  As an alternative to shower #1, you can always splash some hot water on your face and drink a cup of coffee.  There's no way you're getting out of shower #2, though, Smelly.

4. Extend the warm-up.

In line with points #2 and #3, it's a good idea to add a few more dynamic warm-up drills to your pre-exercise routine.  Typically, our athletes do between eight and ten drills, but those who exercise in the morning are better off with as many as 15.  It might add five minutes to your dynamic warm-up, but that's far better than spending far more than five minutes in physical therapy for an injury you got from insufficiently warming up!

In line with tip #2 from above, you likely want to focus on more standing variations in your mobility exercise selections.

For some additional options on mobility drills, check out Assess and Correct: Breaking Barriers to Unlock Performance.

5. Tinker with various nutrition approaches.

I've heard thousands of different nutritional strategies outlined for those who want to exercise in the morning, but the truth is, everyone is different.  I have known folks who will throw up anything solid that they consume prior to exercise, and others (myself included) who could eat a giant breakfast and keep it down just fine.  For most, I think sipping on a shake as you start the training session is a good place to start.  If you handle that fine, you can consider having some solid food before the training session, if you find that you're hungry in the middle of the training session.

6. Recruit a training partner.

A training partner is almost always a good idea, but this is especially true when you're up at the buttcrack of dawn and not necessarily in the mindset to really push yourself.  Plus, when you're awake for exercise before the sun rises, you're far more likely to hit the snooze button if someone isn't waiting for you at the gym.

While training first thing in the morning isn't exactly ideal, it may be your only option for staying consistent with your workout routine - and consistency is the name of the game.  Implement these strategies to get the most out of your early morning training sessions.

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Why Your Workout Routine Shouldn’t Be “Routine”

Last Saturday night, the power went out at our house thanks to a rare October snowstorm in New England. Expecting it to come back on pretty quickly, I went to bed Saturday night assuming I’d wake up to a normal Sunday morning. Instead, I woke up and it was 49 degrees in my house. And, that wound up being par for the course through Tuesday at about 4pm. No hot showers, no refrigeration, no coffee in the morning: it makes you realize how much you take some things for granted.

It’s not all that different than what you’ll hear from injured and sick athletes. We always just believe that we’re going to be healthy – and it’s that assumption that leads us to put too much weight on the bar and lift with poor technique, have the extra beer, go to bed an hour later, or make any of a number of other small, but crucial decisions that interfere with our short- and long-term health, and the continuity in our workout "routines." I wish I’d foam rolled even when I wasn’t in pain. I wish I’d done that dynamic flexibility warm-up even when I just wanted to get in and lift. I wish I’d eaten my vegetables even though I was just trying to shovel in as much calories as I could in my quest to get strong and gain muscle. These are all things I've heard from injured people. Hindsight is always 20/20. Some of these decisions are made out of negligence, but often, they’re made simply because folks don’t know about the right choices. I mean, do you think this guy would really continue doing this if he thought it was good for his body?

Nobody is immune to ignorance; we’ve all “been there, done that.” Almost a decade ago, I had no idea how much soft tissue work, high volumes of horizontal pulling, and thoracic spine mobility drills could do to help my shoulder. It’s why I stumbled through fails attempts at physical therapy with that shoulder back in 2000-2003, only to accidentally discover how to fix it with my own training in time to cancel my shoulder surgery. Back in that same time period, nobody ever told me how eating more vegetables would help take down the acidity of my diet, or that Vitamin D status impacted tissue quality and a host of other biological functions. I never knew most fish oil products you could buy are woefully underdosed and of poor quality. Now, I crush Vitamin D, Biotest Flameout, and Athletic Greens on top of a healthy diet that’s as much about nutrient quality as it is about caloric content and timing.

In short, I didn’t know everything then, and while I know a lot more now, I still don’t claim to have all the answers. Nobody has all of them. So what do you do to avoid taking important things for granted? Get around people who have “been there, done that.” Ask questions. Follow workout routines they’ve followed, and consult resources they’ve consulted. I touched on this in my webinars last week.

I also discussed this topic in a blog about strength and conditioning program design a while back. The best way to avoid making mistakes and taking things for granted is to be open-minded and learn from other people. With that in mind, let’s use this post as a starting point. What mistakes have you made when it comes to taking things for granted? And, what lessons have you learned? Post your comments below. Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!
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7 Weeks to 7 Pounds of Lean Mass and 7 Miles Per Hour

I've received a lot of inquiries on whether or not Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better is an appropriate strength and conditioning program for baseball players.  In fact, I even devoted an entire blog post to it a while back: Show and Go for Baseball Strength and Conditioning.

That said, if you were on the fence, check out this feedback I received from the father of a college pitcher who took a shot on Show and Go this past summer: "Eric, "Just wanted to shoot you a breakdown on how my college son took to your Show and Go program with some modifications for baseball specificity. He followed your strength and conditioning program to the “T” and this is where he is after the first seven weeks: May 16 – Start Bodyweight: 163lbs Body fat: 10.0% Lean mass: 146.68 lbs July 7 (52 days later) Bodyweight: 169lbs Body fat: 9.25% Lean mass: 153.3 lbs -Front squat for reps went from 155 lbs to 235 lbs for reps -Deadlift went from about 205 for reps to 335 for a single -Dumbbell bench presses for reps went from 55lb dumbbells to 80lb dumbbells "To me, an untrained eye, it looks like this is great progress and he measurably benefited from it! He looks pretty damn good, too. "He is about to return for his senior year as a starting left-handed pitcher and plans to continue this workout routine for the entirety of the 16 weeks. We used the Alan Jaeger long toss throwing program and mechanical training from Paul Reddick and Brent Strom and his velocity improved from 78mph to 84-85mph and his breaking stuff are now plus pitches. In my opinion, none of this would have happened your strength training program and mobility drills that allowed him to physically carry his momentum down the bump longer. All-in-all, it was a very productive summer; thanks!" -Darrell Drake Don't miss out on this chance to take your game to the next level. Click here to pick up a copy of Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better!

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Strength and Conditioning Programs: The Most Important Benefit

This past weekend, my wife and I headed down to Pennsylvania for some friends’ wedding.  On Saturday morning, I awoke at 7AM to her standing next to my bed absolutely covered in sweat and wearing her workout clothes.  As it turns out, knowing that the weekend would be full of not-so-healthy food and limited opportunities to exercise, Anna had taken the bull by the horns and hit up the hotel gym at 6AM to kick her day off right.  It's no surprise, as she spends quite a bit of time at Cressey Performance.

That, in itself, isn’t a particularly riveting story to kick off today’s blog – until I discovered that the only thing this hotel gym had was an elliptical, recumbent bike, and treadmill.  And, to take it a step further, Anna discovered that there was no power for any of them, meaning that they were essentially just places to rest her water bottle.  What to do? She could have said screw it and gone back to bed. She could have woken me up and asked me to write her a body weight program. She could have tried to run on the side of a busy road, or find a place to sprint in a town that wasn’t familiar to her. Instead, though, she used the knowledge and experience she had to construct her own body weight training program.  Anna’s an optometrist, not a trainer – but her skill set from asking questions, being in the right environment, and performing dozens of programs put her in a position to handle the curveballs life threw at her.

Coincidentally, a strength coach from the Cape Cod Summer League came up to observe at CP last week, and we got to talking about how you never quite have the continuity you want with training athletes because they go in-season for a big chunk of the year, and because you’re always working around competition and travel schedules.  To that end, he asked me what the single biggest thing is that we focus on when we may only have someone for a short period of time.  My answer? “It’s the same thing we focus on when we have someone for a longer period of time: education.  It’s our job to make athletes informed consumers who know how to listen to their body, adapt to their surroundings, eat the right foods, get the right amount of sleep, and do the correct programs regardless of what’s going on around them.” You might think that your #1 job as a trainer is to strip 15 pounds of body fat off someone in two months.  Or, maybe it’s to put four inches on a guy’s vertical jump prior to a scouting combine. In reality, though, your #1 priority is to educate them so that they’re prepared for the days that they’re on their own. Education needs to be different for everyone, though.  A true beginner needs to be educated on everything from what to eat during/post-training to how to perform the actual exercises.  If you teach a female client to have a protein and carb shake around a session in a weight training program, then chances are that she would eventually know to grab some Greek yogurt and a piece of fruit if a shake isn’t handy when she’s on the road.  Or, if you teach a young baseball player how to do a dumbbell reverse lunge and a front squat, then he’ll be able to perform a barbell reverse lunge with a front squat grip someday when he needs a good single-leg exercise, but only has barbells at the exclusion of dumbbells.

A more advanced individual might want to know more about his/her unique muscle imbalances and what corrective mobility and stability drills to stay on top of to prevent problems from arising.  Or, these folks might just want to make use of your network to find great gyms and manual therapists in other parts of the country so that they can stay on top of their workout routines while on the road.

Results are fantastic and obviously an absolutely essential part of a successful strength and conditioning program.  However, if you aren’t educating folks along the way, then you’re not cultivating the long-term fitness success they really need, even if they don’t think to consider anything beyond short-term results. What do you think are the most important things we absolutely have to teach our clients and athletes to ensure long-term success?  And, what are the most overlooked things they need to learn to be successful over the long haul?  Post your comments below! Related Posts What a Stressed Out Bride Can Teach You About Strength Training Program Success Strength and Conditioning Program Success: The Little Things Matter Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a deadlift technique tutorial!
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Strength and Conditioning Programs: Open vs. Closed Loop Exercises

A few months ago, I decided that 2011 was going to be the year for me to learn to play golf.  Considering that my grandmother actually beat me on nine holes last year, and that I have a world record in the deadlift, yet didn't really use my hips when I golfed, I had a big window of adaptation ahead of me. To that end, I've been taking golf lessons with a great pro around here every Wednesday morning for the past six weeks.  I'm a very type A personality and ultra-competitive, so you can bet that I've been practicing a ton and thinking about it a lot. This past weekend, I had my re-match with Gram in our first golf outing of the year.  While I narrowly edged her this time around, I shot a 59 over 9 holes - including a 10 on the 4th and a 12 on the 8th - so I didn't exactly end up with bragging rights. In fact, if a trophy had been awarded, I would have still received this one:

The funny thing is that my swing is dramatically improved and I can easily identify what I've done incorrectly when it doesn't come off the club the way that it should.  About 80% of the time, I'm putting them straight-ahead.  The only problem with that 80% statistic is that it's based on nice, flat, turf tees at driving ranges, and not what really happens in golf when you're on the side of a hill with leaves, divots, and a tree directly between you and the hole. In other words, all my golf practice thus far has been closed loop, while the nature of golf is much more open loop in nature.  What do I mean with these terms?  Rather than reinvent the wheel, he's an excerpt from my e-book, The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual, that describes open and closed-loop drills: The overwhelming majority of agility drills fall into the category of closed-loop drills; very simply, they’re predictable tasks.  Closed-loop drills are extremely valuable for teaching proper technique in sprinting, changes of direction, and other sport mechanics, and should therefore comprise the overwhelming majority of the drills utilized in the general off-season period. These “conscious” efforts in the general off-season give rise to integration of appropriate mechanics subconsciously in the late off-season and in-season phases.  By these phases, the athlete has become conditioned to act efficiently without thinking about how to react to a given stimulus.  Ideally, this occurs completely prior to the integration of open-loop drills that challenge the athlete’s ability to accommodate unpredictable external stimuli.

Eventually, both open- and closed-loop drills can be integrated into metabolic conditioning schemes to enhance sport-specific conditioning.  We encounter both planned and unplanned movement challenges in athletics, so it is logical to prepare for both.  Examples of open-loop movement training are mirror drills, 5-10-5 drills where the athlete moves in the direction that the coach points, and tennis ball drills (where the athlete races to retrieve a tennis ball a coach has thrown in an unannounced direction). Resistance training has traditionally been comprised of closed-loop challenges; this underscores the need for significant variety in exercise selection when programming for athletes.  For this reason – especially in the general off-season – coaches should use different bars, dumbbells, kettlebells, cables, medicine balls, body weight exercises, grip widths, ranges of motion, points of stability (e.g., lunges vs. squats), and other varying stimuli to expand athletes’ overall motor pools through rich sensory environments.

Such variety is especially important when it comes to dealing with young athletes.  The richer their proprioceptive environments, the better their overall development, and the easier they’ll pick up complex challenges down the road. Coaches should allow for enough repetition and frequency of a given drill to allow for adaptation, but at the same time look to insert variety to programming as often as possible.  Beyond simply improving overall afferent (sensory) function, variety in exercise selection will also markedly reduce the risk of injury due to pattern overload, muscular imbalance, and movement dysfunction. What’s the take-home message from this length quote?  Never expect true carryover from your strength and conditioning programs to the “randomness” of your daily life unless you implement more unpredictable challenges in those strength and conditioning programs.  Conservatively, that might mean doing more strongman style training and utilizing more asymmetrical loading.

More assertively, it might mean getting out to play in a soccer, softball, or ultimate frisbee game to make sure you aren’t getting stagnant because of the predictability of your “workout routine.” In other words, I'll be getting out to simply golf more, as it'll teach me how to swing under predictable conditions and make good decisions in those scenarios.  Likewise, in my practice sessions, I'll be getting off the mats a bit more to golf on less-than-optimal terrain. Maybe it'll get me to a 58 next time. To learn more about how open- and closed-loop drills are integrated in a comprehensive program, check out The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual. Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a deadlift technique tutorial!
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Workout Routines: Exercising on Vacation – Part 2

In my last blog post, Workout Routines: Exercising on Vacation - Part 1, I outlined why I think it's a good idea for most people to have at least a little structured exercise over the course of a vacation that spans a week or more.  Today, I wanted to use my own vacation workout schedule as an example of how you can stay active without filling up your schedule too much. First, though, I think it's important to make two points: 1. There's a difference between "physical activity" and "exercise" - and it's fine for a vacation to include a lot more of the former than the latter.  You'll see below that I didn't "exercise" every day, but I was very physically active the entire time.  We walked on the beach almost every morning, and during our trip, we did ziplined, swam, rode horses, snorkeled, and hiked.

2. What you do before you leave for vacation is likely as important as what you do during vacation.  I prefer to intentionally "overreach" right before I leave for any extended period of time, as it allows me to essentially "write off" the first few days of travel as recovery (everybody likes to sleep on airplanes and crush awful airport food, right?). To that end, we flew out on a Saturday morning very early in the morning, so I chalked Saturday up as a travel day.  That meant that Mo-Fr in the week before were training days (MoTh - upper body, TuFr - lower body, We - energy systems work).  Since I knew I wouldn't really have access to any heavy weights to use for lower body training, I made sure that it was the last thing I did before I left.  Here's how the rest of the vacation looked (keep in mind that my wife joined me for all these sessions; it wasn't like I was ditching her on our honeymoon): Sa: Travel Day (just a walk on the beach that night) Su: Upper body TRX work consisting of inverted rows, pushups, Ys, Fallouts, External Rotations/Ws, and some curls for the girls (hey, I was pretty much on the beach; don't judge!)

Mo: Sprinting on the beach (eight sprints of about 80yds).  When the view is this good, you really can't complain about being out of breath.

Tu: Lower Body TRX work consisting of pistol squats, stir the pot (video below, thanks to Dewey Nielsen), Bulgarian split squats, calf raises, and side bridges

We: Upper body TRX work consisting of (more) inverted rows, flutters, 1-arm row w/reach, and fallout extensions

Th: 2 hours of snorkeling was plenty of physical activity for me Fr: Another light TRX session, which was just kind of a filler of inverted rows (figured I'd use this week to be proactive with my bum shoulder) and additional core work.  To be very honest, I was pretty sunburned by this point, which is why I kept it short.  Did do some prone reaches (props to Dewey below once again), which is a good exercise to try, if you haven't seen them before:

Sa: 3 hours hiking in Manuel Antonio National Park.  Not a bad view from the top, huh?

Su: More sprinting on the beach, this time for 12 sprints of about 60yds. Mo: Travel Day, so not much moving around besides the 2-3 mile walk on the beach that morning We arrived home at midnight, and I was back to my normal lifting schedule on Tuesday. As you can see, this wasn't a ton of training time.  In fact,  I don't think a single one of these sessions lasted more than 20 minutes, and all of them were done outside in the fresh air and sunshine.  I'm not saying that you have to include this much exercise in your vacations, but I am trying to show that if you are interested in maintaining an active lifestyle even when you travel, that it can be done quite easily and without a ton of time invested. Plus, most of these were body weight training exercises, so you don't need a lot of equipment to get them done. Have some vacation exercise strategies of your own?  Please share them in the comment section below. Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a deadlift technique tutorial!
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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!

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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.

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Stuff You Should Read: 10/26/10

Here are some recommended reads from the archives for today: An Easy Way to Rotate Strength Exercises - One of the biggest frustrations of training in a commercial or home gym is that there just aren't enough opportunities to create variety and fluctuations to the resistance training stimulus.  This post highlights one simple way to double your exercise index. A Carrot, an Egg, and a Bag of Ground Coffee - This one is more of a "meeting life's challenges" post as it applies to the fitness industry. Five Resistance Training Myths in the Running World - If this doesn't interest you, I'm sure it'll at least interest a dozen of your friends who are running addicts!  Please spread the good word - whether it's via Facebook, Twitter, or carrier pigeon. Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter:
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Strength Training Programs: When Did “Just Rest” Become a Viable Recommendation?

I suppose this blog title is more of a rhetorical statement than an actual question, but I'm going to write it anyway.

Just about every week, I get someone who comes to Cressey Performance - either as a new client, or as a one-time consultation from out of town - and they have some issue that is bugging them to the point that they opted to see a doctor about it.  This doctor may have been a general practitioner or an actual sports orthopedist.  In many cases, the response from this medical professional is the same "Just rest."

"It hurts when you lift? Then stop lifting."

Huh?  When did COMPLETE rest because a viable recommendation?

In case folks haven't noticed, 64% of Americans are overweight or obese.  Even if rest was the absolute key to getting healthy, telling them to not move is like not seeing the forest through the trees.  Your bum knee will feel better, but you'll have a heart attack at age 43 because you're 379 pounds.

obese-boy

Oh, and nevermind the fact that exercise generally improves sleep quality, mooed, and immune, endocrine, and digestive function.  I'm not going to lie: I would rather have an achy lower back than be fat, chronically ill, sleep-deprived, impotent, angry, and constipated.

But you know what?  The good news is that you can still exercise and avoid all these issues - regardless of symptoms.  I can honestly say that in my entire career, I've never come across a single case who couldn't find some way to stay active.

I've trained clients in back braces.

I've trained clients on crutches.

ginn-crutches

I've trained clients with poison ivy.

I've trained clients less than a week post-surgery.

I've trained a client with a punctured lung.

And, when I  did an internship in clinical exercise physiology, we trained pulmonary rehab patients in spite of the fact that they often had interruptions during their sessions to cough up phlegm for 2-3 minutes at a time.

All over the world, people are using exercise to rehabilitate themselves from strokes, heart attacks, spinal cord injuries - you name it.

However, Joe Average who sleeps on his shoulder funny and wakes up with a little niggle needs complete rest and enough NSAIDs to make John Daly's liver cringe.

Sorry, but you're going to need to be on crutches, in a back brace, with poison ivy and a punctured lung to get my sympathy.  And, you're sure as heck not going to get it if you're just "really sore" from your workout routine.  Seriously, dude?

I don't care what your issue is: "just rest" is almost never the answer (a concussion would be an exception, FYI).  When a health care practitioner says it, it's because he/she either a) doesn't have the time, intelligence, or network to be able to set you up for a situation where you can benefit from exercise or b) doesn't think you have enough self control to approach exercise in a fashion that doesn't make it more harm than good.

There is almost always something you can do to get better and maintain a training effect.  While adequate rest for injured tissues is certainly part of the equation, it is just one piece in a more complex puzzle that almost always still affords people the benefits of exercise.

A great resource along these lines with respect to shoulders is our Optimal Shoulder Performance DVD set.  If you haven't checked it out already, I'd highly recommend it, as I go into great detail in my presentations on how to work around various shoulder issues.

shoulder-performance-dvdcover


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