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Random Friday Thoughts: 8/29/08

Written on August 29, 2008 at 9:11 am, by Eric Cressey

1. As you probably know, I haven’t been updating here quite as frequently of late, but fortunately, it’s with good reason. The summer’s winding down, so we’ve been getting our fall schedule all squared away with the high school guys – plus some local college guys at programs that don’t have organized S&C programs. Additionally, all of our minor leaguers are in the final few days of their seasons right now, so coordinating with them and a few agents has been a priority right now. Fortunately, though, there are also some exciting things in store for this blog…

2. Basically, we’re going to be combining EricCressey.com with EricCressey.Blogspot.com. So, my blog will be available directly from EricCressey.com. In the process, we have to transfer a ton of content – but the good news is that the finished product will look a lot more professional and organized when all is said and done. In the meantime, thanks for your patience as we make this switch.

3. I was chatting yesterday with Doug Carroll, a great hitting coach with whom we work. Doug played professional baseball to a very high level in both the Mariners and Devil Rays organizations. We both agreed that one thing you’ll notice in the majority of high level athletes is that they really don’t give a crap what anyone outside their family thinks of them. I think that if more people approached their lifting with this mindset, we’ve have a lot more people who were really big and strong. Interestingly, this closely parallels my approach to internet forums – and, thus far, ignoring what the haters say has been a great decision.

4. Never forget that you don’t have to leave the gym exhausted for the session to be considered productive. Take a 300-pound lineman and have him run five miles; he’ll be completely exhausted by the end of the session. He’ll also be slower, more likely to get injured, and definitely more likely to want to kick your teeth in.

5. Something you might not know: there are estrogen receptors on the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) that – along with several other factors – make females more susceptible to ACL ruptures. The cyclical nature of estrogen and progesterone markedly influences ACL strength via fibroblast activity – so at certain times of the month, the ACL is more likely to tear. The ACL may also be predisposed to dramatic mood swings that make everything your fault, fellas.

6. I had a new article published yesterday, in case you missed it: 5 More Common Technique Mistakes.

7. I got two separate bills from Comcast in the past two days for a total of over $314. Do you think they read my blog, or is their billing system simply as hopelessly inadequate as their customer service?

8. Someone asked me yesterday, “Are single-leg leg press a good unilateral leg exercise? I hate lunges.” Sorry, dude; single-leg leg presses don’t count for anything.

9. I’m working on a detailed write-up on my views on running for pitchers right now. I think it’ll open a lot of eyes – if I ever get time to finish it! I also have a new e-book in the works that I think will open a lot of eyes.

10. Have a great holiday weekend, everyone.


5 Weightlifting Mistakes

Written on August 28, 2008 at 1:11 pm, by Eric Cressey

Chances are you’re lunging with a short stride or bad foot placement, squatting with only your knees instead of your knees and hips, and messing up a whole bunch of movements in general. Eric’s here to save the day.

Continue Reading…

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The Continued Wussification of American Children

Written on August 26, 2008 at 8:41 pm, by Eric Cressey

On the radio this morning, they were talking all about this 9-year-old in Connecticut who was banned from his little league for being too good. Yes, folks, you read that correctly; we’re discouraging achievement and instead rewarding and encouraging mediocrity.

To illustrate my point…

When I was in elementary school, I played the trumpet. I use the word “play” very loosely because I was absolutely terrible – the last trumpet in the band, in fact. I was so bad that I used to fake playing a good 75% of the time. When concert time came around, I’d pretend to huff and puff and blow into that sucker – and while I looked like I was making sweet music, the truth was that my cheeks were just getting redder and redder – and I wasn’t making a sound. This great “front” was even better because I was pudgy, and let’s be honest: there really isn’t anything funnier than a pudgy kid with red cheeks pretending to play the trumpet.

You know what, though? Nobody ever told the first trumpet guy to skip the concert. He deserved his success. For all I know, he might still be playing the trumpet today. Hell, I didn’t even practice; I was too busy focusing on what I enjoyed more (which coincided with what I was good at: sports).

What if this 9-year-old really does have what it takes to do something special in the world of baseball? Are we really going to risk his development – both physically and psychologically – so that we can make future lawyers, astronauts, and proctologists feel good about themselves? If that’s the case, we better start telling the smart kids in school to stop studying.

The truth is that just as success is great for teaching us what we enjoy and what our place in this world is, humility teaches us countless valuable lessons. Take it from the fat trumpet faker who wore sweatpants to school straight up through sixth grade. I turned out okay.


Quick Monday Mentions

Written on August 25, 2008 at 9:59 pm, by Eric Cressey

It was a hectic day, and I just (finally) got internet access at our new place, so I’m going to be brief and use today for a few quick notes:

1. Congratulations to Cressey Performance athletes Derek Lowe (Lincoln-Sudbury) and John McKenna (Algonquin). Derek verbally committed to the William & Mary baseball program, and John did the same for the University of Massachusetts. Congratulations, guys; we’re proud of you!

2. I just got an email from Patrick Gagnon about the second annual Vinkofest, which will take place in Montreal September 27-28. I spoke at the event last year, and Pat did a great job organizing it. While I won’t be in attendance this year, I’d definitely encourage any of you who can make it to get out and check this event out. They have some great speakers, including John Berardi, Christian Thibaudeau, and Dave Barr. For more information, check out MuscleDriveThru.com.


Random Friday Thoughts: 8/22/08

Written on August 22, 2008 at 5:33 pm, by Eric Cressey

1. There is still no internet at our apartment. Sadly, I’m really not joking. Thanks to everyone for the replies to yesterday’s blog; I wouldn’t wish my Comcast experience on anyone, but to a degree, it helps to know that they screw everyone over and aren’t just singling me out.

2. Stretch sternocleidomastoid like this; it’s super important.


Make sure you’re gentle, though. Broken necks are no fun.

3. I have pretty much come to the conclusion that the only time that leg presses don’t suck is if you are someone who is in rehab for a microfracture surgery. The loading isn’t really enough to cause back problems, and partial ROM and non-weight-bearing are desired.

4. One good thing that did come out of not having internet or cable for a week was that I caught up on some journal reading and got around to watching Part 2 of Nick Tumminello’s Warm-up Progressions DVD set. If you have our MM DVD, part 2 would be a nice complement to it; you can pick one up at PerformanceU.net.

5. Gray Cook made an awesome point at a recent seminar when he said, “We never learned to squat; we only learned to stand up.” So, the deadlift is definitely a more “functional” (God, I cringe at that word nowadays) movement if we’re taking a motor development perspective. He goes into some detail in Secrets of the Hip and Knee – a great resource, if you don’t have it.

6. Good luck to all the Cressey Performance athletes playing in the Lynn Invitational this weekend.

7. The entire CP staff is headed to the Patriots preseason game tonight. I usually just did the Boston Globe crossword puzzle during my Human Resources courses back in college, so as far as I’m concerned, this counts as team-building. Forget that “ring around the rosy, obstacle course, paper cup and string telephone” crap.


A Week of My Life I’ll Never Get Back

Written on August 21, 2008 at 1:40 pm, by Eric Cressey

I’m sure that most of you – particularly the regular readers – have noticed that we haven’t had a blog since Monday. This isn’t like me at all, so I felt the need to explain. In the process, I’ll have to deviate from the normal direction of this blog.

For one, I like to keep this blog positive, focusing on training, nutrition, and other themes that are at least loosely related to what I do and what you (hopefully) enjoy. Today, I’ll be a completely bitter propagandist. Rather than write a letter that would be lost in the shuffle with the Better Business Bureau, I figured I’d write directly to people who – for whatever reason – seem to actually take what I write to heart.

And two, I’m actually typing this blog into Microsoft Word – not Blogspot directly – for reasons I’ll get to in the paragraphs that follow. So, basically, you’ll probably be reading this after all the events of the past few days have transpired. With those days in mind, I think a quick chronological summary of the past week would be of assistance to you understanding my situation.

Third, this is going to be pretty long. Trust me; it’s worth sticking it out.

Wednesday, 8/14: My girlfriend and I moved to a new apartment closed to the city. Previously, I had arranged for Comcast to come and set up our internet and cable the following day between 11AM and 1PM.

Thursday, 8/15, 9:30AM: We leave for a weekend in Maine with my girlfriend’s family, knowing that everything is under control (riiiiight) with Comcast because my buddy (who lives in the building and is also the landlord’s son) is going to let the technician in and sign off on everything.

12:30PM: I get a call on my cell phone from the technician telling me that our building isn’t wired for Comcast. My first question was “Huh?” This was the only internet provider our landlord told us about for the building, as they have some sort of exclusive deal. My second question was “Why didn’t Comcast inform us of this before scheduling the appointment?” The third question was “What do we need to do to make this happen?” He told me to call RCN for service or get an electrician in to wire us for Comcast.

12:40PM: I call RCN, and they tell me that they have never been in our building.

12:42PM: I call my leasing company, and they affirm that it’s always been an exclusively-Comcast building. They take care of the electrician. A few days later, my buddy tells me that the tenants who lived here before us were here SIX years and never had internet or cable installed. I’m pretty sure that they were actually the two cavemen from the Geico commercial and that they passed their time juggling the severed heads that they stored in their freezer, but that’s a different story.

3PM: I get another call from the technician telling me that he left some of his stuff in our apartment – and he wants to know if he can get back in. My buddy isn’t around anymore, and I’m in central Maine already. Sorry, dude; I’m about as useful as you were this morning (note sarcasm).

I don’t know how many of you have seen “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” but toward the end, a delivery guy shows up on Christmas Eve to deliver what Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) thinks is his Christmas bonus. The guy looks completely confused, botched his job (lost the envelope and is delivering it late), and butchers Griswold’s last name when he answers the door. I’m pretty sure our first technician was this dude – minus the holiday wreath around his neck. I half expected him to offer me a “jelly of the month” membership as consolation for his epic inadequacy (which, you’ll find, was verified by at least four separate individuals – two from Comcast – by the end of the story).

Sunday, 2:30PM: After a nice weekend in Maine, I call Comcast on the ride back, and find out from a service associate (SA, from here on out, although I’m sure I could come up with some better terms for them) that they can actually get us in on Tuesday morning between 8AM and 12PM. I’m ecstatic, as they had originally told me that we’d need to wait over a week. I book it without hesitation, and they guys confirms everything for us. See you on Tuesday morning; I make sure Brian and Tony can cover at the gym for me.

Tuesday, 11:45-11:55AM: After just under four hours of waiting, I call Comcast to see what’s up. I get through to a SA, and she tells me that a “note was placed” on my account to be there between 8 and 12 on Tuesday, but it wasn’t actually put in the system. What that means, I don’t know. The SA starts throwing out times for next week that they can come out to install our service. Huh? You stand me up, waste four hours of my day, and I’m rewarded with another week of waiting? I think I need to speak to a supervisor. So, this precious little SA transfers my call – and I’m cut off while I’m on hold. I swear like a sailor, and continue to pace in my apartment as redial their number. You can’t trust chimps with anything.

11:56-11:59AM: I once again get cut off as I’m going through their obnoxious main menu (and no, for the 800th time, I don’t want to do this call in Spanish).

12:00-12:15PM: I get through and after informing the SA that I’ve been cut off twice, I am put through to a supervisor after another ten minutes on hold. Amazingly, the call transfer actually works this time. Apparently, I’m the only one who thinks it’s incredible that we can put a man on the Moon on our first try, but it takes 47 all-out efforts to transfer a call.

12:16-12:30PM: I make it through to SA #2’s supervisor, who speaks the most broken English I have ever heard. I don’t know his ethnicity, but when he talked, it kind of sounded like a billy goat making not-so-sweet love to a tuba. After some perseverance and a lot of “huhs,” I finally start to figure out what he’s saying after I’ve related my situation, consulted my “Gibberish for Dummies” guidebook, and cracked a can of Spike.

First off, he apologizes profusely and confirms that it was, in fact, a big mistake on their end. I make it clear that I took four hours off from work at the facility, require the internet to do much of my job, and that waiting a week is simply not an option. He gives me his word that someone will be here on Wednesday between 8AM and 12PM. Installation will be free, and he puts a credit on our account (I didn’t even ask what kind of credit; I just wanted to be done with it for the day). Things are a go; luckily, Wednesday isn’t quite as crazy a day at the facility for me, so I can work with it and Tony can cover the 12-1PM group, which is only three athletes. Perfect.

Interestingly, I sent a text to Mike Robertson as I was leaving the apartment to drive to work. He texts me back to tell me that Comcast’s “incompetence is legendary.” Apparently, they screwed up a bunch of stuff with him, too! I start to wonder if these guys didn’t like the Magnificent Mobility DVD or something.

I joke with one of our pro athletes about it as I walk in, and her smile immediately turns to a straight face as she replies, “I hate that s**t.” I guess that’s why her email ends in verizon.net.

3:15PM: I’ve been coaching for over two hours by now, and SA #3 leaves me a voicemail that I missed my appointment; apparently,
a Comcast technician was standing at the door to our building and we weren’t responding (probably because he was three hours late and never called me). We’ve got the appointment already scheduled for tomorrow, so I shrug it off.

Wednesday, 10:30-10:37AM: After waiting 2.5 hours, I call Comcast to check on the status of our technician. I seemingly nice old female SA is incredibly friendly and helpful (to the point that I didn’t even think she was confused like the rest of them) and she confirms that there is still, in fact, a technician on his way. Sweet; I’ve only wasted 6.5 hours right now, so there is still some hope of salvation. As it turns out, this SA was about as accurate as Helen Keller playing darts on a merry-go-round.

11:45AM-12:00PM: Still waiting, I call back to check on things. As I’m on the phone with SA #5 to check on the status of the technician we were promised, I happen to be looking out our fifth-story window – only to see a Comcast van drive by. He never even tapped his brakes; he’s not ours. Stupid tease.

Long story short, she informs me that we have nothing scheduled. Zero. Nada. Practically ready to flip out, I think back to what Dale Carnegie wrote: “The best way to win an argument is to avoid it altogether.” So, I stay calm and clearly illustrate how utterly unacceptable it is – and how it has actually escalated from unacceptable to flat-out disrespectful.

She starts trying to “accommodate” me with a 12-4 or 4-7 time slot on that same day – which would essentially mean that I’d work an 11-hour day for Comcast. Neither of these will work, as Tony needs to be out of the office from 2:30PM on, so it’s my show to cover. Plus, I’m meeting with two of my high school guys to talk about college stuff. I think for a second about how I could book the 4-7PM time slot and just assume that they’d show up at 9PM or not at all, but figured I wouldn’t risk it. She says she has nothing available Thursday morning, so I ask to be transferred to a supervisor – and she starts to make it happen.

Right before this confused SA transfers me, she informs me that she’s going to make sure that a $20 credit is put on my account. I actually started cracking up, at this point; it had been nine hours of waiting at this point, which would put the dollar value on my time at $2.22/hour. Factor in that I have to light and air condition my apartment while I’m waiting for them, and it’s probably not even break-even.

12:00-12:30PM – I get through to the supervisor, explain all that’s gone on, and see what we can do. He’s basically the Godsend I needed – or so I hope. He guarantees the 8AM-12PM time slot for today – and even calls back later on to confirm that he’s spoken to the regional director to make it a priority. He leaves me his direct contact info in case anything goes wrong. It seems to be a go.

1:50PM – The painful irony truly kicked in when I arrived at CP and found that there were two Comcast vans parked right outside our door. There is actually a Comcast location in our building, but they don’t cover the part of Boston in which I live. If any of them ever want to jump on the corporate fitness bandwagon in the building, they will be only be doing sled drags and barbell Bulgarian split squats…forever.

Thursday, 9:32AM (today): Here I sit, typing this blog, again waiting for Comcast to arrive. I actually just a got a call from the regional director saying that he is personally overseeing our situation, and he passes along his contact info in case a technician is not here by 11:30AM.

9:59AM-10:15AM: The electricians just came back. As it turns out, they wired the wrong apartment on Friday. Still, everything should be all set.

10:22AM: The Comcast technician (who speaks very little English) arrived, so the electricians stuck around to see what the heck they missed the other day, as things seemed to be all set. He’s got an Arizona Diamondbacks hat on, and my buddy works for the D-Backs and is a really bright dude, so I’m hoping that it’s a good omen.

10:30-10:33AM: Apparently, one of our splitters is, in fact, in the bottom of our bathroom closet. While there was a pseudo electrical orgy taking place in my living room, I decided to excuse myself to go to the restroom. The technician followed me in and closed the door, basically cornering me in my own bathroom as knelt down in the closet and blocked my exit. Awkward, to say the least.

I’ve never been trapped in any bathroom before, let alone with someone who doesn’t speak enough English to know to let me out when I ask for my freedom. Three minutes felt like an eternity; I’ve got even more reason to vote for McCain now. Being a prisoner of war (even if it is with Comcast, and takes place over the phone and in the bathroom) is a life-changing experience.

10:39AM: He’s drilling a hole in my wall (possibly looking for oil, or maybe just to pretend that he’s actually accomplishing something), and I need to get ready to head to CP, so I’m signing off with this one after a few notes:

1. I have, in fact, given Comcast approximately 12 hours of my life in the past week. At my $2.22/hour wage (which is actually on the high side now, considering that I’ve added three hours to the total) – and assuming a net income of 65% after taxes, I would need to work 639,000 hours to become a millionaire in Comcast’s eyes. Assuming a 40-hour work week and 52 weeks/year, I could do it by the time I turn 308 years old. If our government repeats the economic stimulus check of $300 each year, though, I can afford to take 208 hours off from work each year – more than a week’s vacation time – and still reach my goal in less than four centuries!

2. As a funny little side, this morning, my girlfriend went for a run and said that I should go with her. I told her I couldn’t make it, as I was working for Comcast – again – today. I might get a promotion if I log double-digit hours for them this week (late addition: I have, in fact, topped 13 hours at this point).

3. I had no hesitation in writing five pages in Word to create this blog. Ridiculous service mandates ridiculous sarcasm and detail.

4. All that said, if you have the option, go with RCN, Verizon, or even that illegal immigrant outside your apartment who doesn’t mind holding up an antenna for you 24/7. We are stuck in a mini-monopoly with our building, and right now, I’d rather get a colonscopy with a firehose than finance Comcast’s hopeless incompetence each month. I’m considering paying in pennies from now on.

5. It’s now 11:38AM, and our cable is running. However, the signal isn’t strong enough to split it for both cable and internet – or even to just go directly to the modem, which requires more sauce. So, the electrician is going to need to come back to rewire. Had the schmuck from last Thursday known this, we wouldn’t be here right now.

6. Huge kudos goes out to our landlord, though; he’s been awesome in making good things happen. I’m posting this at the facility at 1:45PM and they should be resolving it by the time I get home. We shall see…


Maximum Strength and HIIT Sessions

Written on August 18, 2008 at 11:45 am, by Eric Cressey

Q: My question concerns the combination of your Maximum Strength program and HIIT workouts. Comments I have read by you indicate that HIIT training is detrimental to progress in your program. Could you explain why? Thanks for all that you do.

A: Give this article a read; it should answer your questions:

Of course, some things change if you are a guy who is more focused on getting lean, maintaining/improving cardiovascular fitness, or conditioning for a particular sport that warrants a lot of interval training. It’s the give and take between maximal strength and performance in some other discipline.

There are a lot of elite strength and power athletes who couldn’t run a mile in under 12 minutes – or even finish a mile at all! These are the folks who either a) have to keep body fat levels in check with diet, lifting, and very low intensity supplemental activity or b) not worry about body fat levels much at all, as strength and power are the name of the game.

For more information, check out Maximum Strength.


Random Wednesday Thoughts: 8/13/08

Written on August 13, 2008 at 12:01 am, by Eric Cressey

1. Yes, you read that right; it’s Random Wednesday Thoughts. Today (it’s technically 12:01AM), my girlfriend and I are moving to a new apartment. And, tomorrow, we’re headed north to Maine for the weekend. Since the internet still hasn’t been introduced in Maine, I won’t be able to blog while I’m up there.

2. Michael Phelps is pretty dominant, huh? At some point, this is going to get old. Don’t be surprised if he asks them to replace the Star Spangled Banner with “Living in America” by James Brown just to keep things amusing.

3. Speaking of the Olympics, does anyone understand a word that Bella Karolyi is saying?

4. To the folks who were trying to argue against the 40-inch vertical jump I posted earlier this week by implementing complex mathematical equations, I’d strongly encourage you to go back to your Star Trek reruns and get your hand out of your pants. And, try to come up with an elaborate scheme to get your squat up to 135 and maybe, just maybe, actually kiss a girl someday. Female cousins don’t count, though, fellas.

5. I recently received an email question asking if I felt that bench pressing below the “90 degree” elbow mark is harmful for the shoulder, particularly the capsule. The capsular stress argument is really only an issue in those who go into anterior tilt as they approach the bottom position. If you force hyperextension on a scapula in anterior tilt, this will be an issue. Benching with good technique – elbows tucked, chest to the bar, shoulder blades back and down, air in the belly – avoids this problem. For more information, head over to T-Nation.com and read my “Shoulder Savers” series.

6. I’m pretty amazed at how many people have to ask if they need to warm up on their first resistance training exercise. They do the mobility warm-ups prior to lifting, but then wonder if it’s a problem to just throw 315 on the bar and start squatting. Duh! Gradually work your way up.

7. I’ve actually begun to think that all physical therapists should take some sort of class or certification on dealing with overhead throwing athletes. This summer alone, I’ve seen two athletes cleared for return to play with overwhelming glaring movement impairments that are sure-fire recipes for disaster. Long story short, both athletes had internal rotation deficits of greater than 27 degrees on their throwing shoulder. The research has shown that anything over 17.9 degrees markedly increases one’s risk of elbow pain and shoulder (SLAP lesion) problems. Just because an athlete is pain free does not mean he/she is physically ready to participate.

8. Can someone please tell me how synchronized diving was retained as an Olympic sport while baseball and softball are being kicked to the curb?

Wow, that was pretty cynical. Michelle must be rubbing off on me. She’ll be so proud!


Cressey Performance Athlete Commits to Stanford

Written on August 12, 2008 at 9:40 am, by Eric Cressey

Cressey Performance athlete and Weston High pitcher Sahil Bloom committed late last week to Stanford. Here’s a great article from the Boston Globe on his signing and training with us.

Weston High pitcher buffing up his body as well as his scores

Congratulations, Sahil!


40-inch Vertical Jump at Cressey Performance

Written on August 11, 2008 at 7:30 am, by Eric Cressey

Be sure to turn the volume up on this one; the soundtrack might be the best part.

Congratulations, Clark!


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