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Random Friday Thoughts: 5/29/09

Written on May 29, 2009 at 5:42 am, by Eric Cressey

1. It’s a big weekend around here with lots going on.  First off, my lovely fiancee Anna is graduating from the New England College of Optometry this weekend.  That’s right, folks; in spite of eight years of schooling that culminates with her becoming “doctor,” she was still clueless enough to marry a bonehead like me.  I guess they can’t teach you everything in school.

Just kidding, honey; I know I’m awesome in every way.  And really proud of you.

2. Saturday, there are pre-graduation ceremonies.  Unfortunately, out of fear of “poking an eye out,” these ceremonies will be devoid of pin the tail on the donkey, darts, wiffleball, Hungry Hungry Hippos, and Twister.  Instead, the future eye docs will participate in staring contests and heated “Corneal Abrasion Bingo” contests.

3. Saturday also happens to be a big day for Massachusetts high school baseball playoff games.  We’ve got loads of guys participating, so I’ll just say good luck to everyone.

4. Tony Gentilcore is moving to a new apartment this weekend, too.  I just checked the Vegas odds, and after today’s 58 complaints about packing, the over-under on Tony’s instances of pissing and moaning about moving this weekend is 847.5.  I am feeling frisky, so I’m going with the over.

5. In my newsletter on Wednesday, I raved about Jim Smith’s new product, Accelerated Muscular Development.  I actually received three emails from folks thanking me for the recommendation; they all loved Jim’s new product.  This is quality stuff; I encourage you to check it out.

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6. A big thanks goes out to everyone who offered car-buying tips in last Friday’s blog.  I picked up a new car at the beginning of this week and definitely put some of the advice to use in saving me some cash, time, and hassle.


Building Vibrant Health: Part 2

Written on May 27, 2009 at 9:36 pm, by Eric Cressey

This post is a continuation of a guest submission from Eric Talmant.  In case you missed it, be sure to check out Part 1.

No two people are alike.  Enter Metabolic Typing®, or what I like to call common sense.  In the 1930s, Weston Price discovered, by visiting many parts of the world, that there was a link between modern eating habits and the degree of chronic degenerative illness.  He also concluded that there was no such thing as a uniform, “healthy” diet (1).  Due to a myriad of variables including climate, environmental conditions, common food supplies, etc., different cultural and ethnic groups have developed different kinds of dietary requirements.

Over the years, Price’s initial research began to demonstrate more and more clues as to the optimal way to eat for improved health and well-being.  In the late 70s and early 80s, William Wolcott made a revolutionary discovery by proving that the body’s Autonomic Nervous System and the oxidative system were connected.  This discovery allowed Wolcott to very accurately predict what kinds of foods each person needs to establish a balance between these two aforementioned systems.  Once given the proper nutrients, Wolcott was able to show the body’s true capacity to regulate and heal itself.

It is all about balancing body chemistry, which is unique for each one of us.  We all process foods and utilize nutrients differently. It is these differing genetic requirements that explain why broccoli may be fine for some of you, not affect some of you, and cause some of you to feel not so good (1).

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In the “average” person, every cell in the body is designed to be healthy and effectively carry out its specific job.  If our cells are not given the proper nutrients, they can lose the ability to do their specific job, which results in a low production of energy.  They also lose the ability to repair and rebuild tissue. Powerlifters and athletes would read this as the ability to recover from training.  Sickly ones replace healthy cells, which begins a cascading effect upon your entire body.  The worst case scenario is that the cells of an organ become so weak that the organ itself becomes inefficient.

A good example is the pancreas and its ability to produce insulin.  We learned that the more insulin resistant a person becomes, the more insulin the pancreas must produce in order to carry out its functions.  Eventually the pancreas will not produce enough insulin and the result is that some type 2 diabetics end up having to inject insulin.  Therefore, rather than focusing on debating macronutrient consumption (protein, carbs, and fats), we will first identify our unique body’s proper nutrients.

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In order to identify these nutrients that our bodies have a genetic need for, we need to first figure out what our needs are.  This is the main reason behind figuring out your Metabolic Type.

Remember in the last article when I mentioned the shortcomings of treating insulin, high blood pressure, and cholesterol?  We always want to treat the underlying causes, not the symptoms.  Stress, illness, lack of endurance in the gym, inability to put on muscle mass or get stronger, high body fat, etc. are all symptoms.  What we eat, however, is one of the causes.

Our dietary needs are very much determined by heredity.  As previously mentioned, various cultures have developed distinct nutritional needs as a result of elements such as climate, geographic location, and what types of edible plants and animals their environments had to offer.  For example, many of the indigenous people who live at or near the equator have a strong hereditary need for diets high in carbohydrates i.e. fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes.  In contrast, the ancestral diets of Eskimos consisted primarily of protein and fat in order to keep warm and allow them to survive.

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Enter the United States, where we are a melting pot of many different ethnic and cultural backgrounds.  Simply put, because of the endless combinations it is just not possible for most of us to accurately identify what our ancestral diet might be; not to mention that our nutritional requirements are also determined by our lifestyle, environment, activity level, body composition goals, etc.  Although important, there are many other factors that identify our nutritional needs.  Enter the science of Metabolic Typing®.

Remember the breakthrough that Wolcott discovered between the Autonomic Nervous System and the oxidative system that was mentioned in the opening paragraph?  The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) controls all involuntary activities of the body.  Immune activity, breathing, heart rate, digestion, body repair and rebuilding, etc. are just a few of the many functions.

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It is our auto-pilot system because it keeps us alive without our conscious efforts or participation.  As such, it is often referred to as the “master regulator of metabolism”. There are two opposing but complimentary branches that make up the ANS, the sympathetic branch and the parasympathetic branch; yin and yang if you will.  The sympathetic system controls those bodily functions that pertain to energy utilization such as the adrenals, thyroid, and pituitary.  Thus, it is known as the “fight or flight” branch.

For example, when Togo the Caveman is suddenly startled by a T-Rex (or a mugger, as the contemporary case may be), his sympathetic system immediately stops digestion, gets blood out to the muscles, and speeds up his heart rate.  The parasympathetic system controls those bodily activities that relate to energy conservation such as repairing and rebuilding, digestion, waste elimination, etc.  It is known as the “rest and digest” branch.

In most people, one branch has stronger neurological influences over the other, which results in a metabolic imbalance.  If the imbalance becomes too great, it has been discovered that diseases are more prone to develop.  Conversely, if the ANS is in balance (or close to) then health is more prone to be vibrant. Researchers Francis Pottenger and Royal Lee discovered that people have many different physical, psychological, and behavioral characteristics that match up with either sympathetic or parasympathetic dominance.  In addition, certain foods and nutrients have the ability to strengthen whichever side of the ANS is weaker (Wolcott’s aforementioned colossal discovery), but I am getting ahead of myself.  Therefore, with the help of all these factors, Metabolic Typing enables us to identify which system is more dominant and then recommend those foods that will be more likely to establish balance.  Since the ANS is the master regulator of metabolism, proper food recommendation is very important. This is pretty cool, huh (1)?

While the ANS is concerned with the upkeep and regulation of energy, the oxidative system addresses the rate at which food and nutrients are converted to energy within the body.  It involves three important processes: Glycolysis, Beta Oxidation, and Citric Acid Cycle/Krebs Cycle.

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Roughly one-fifth of the energy created from our food comes from the oxidation of carbohydrates in a process known as glycolysis.  Glycolysis is the metabolic breakdown of glucose and other sugars that release energy in the form of ATP (Adenosine triphosphate).  The other four-fifths come from the Citric Acid Cycle or Krebs Cycle.  Simply put, energy is produced in the Krebs Cycle from a combination of the right amount of oxaloacetate (from the oxidation of carbohydrates in glycolysis) and the right amount of acetyl coenzyme-A (from the metabolism of fats in a process known as Beta-Oxidation).  The glycolysis simply concerns the metabolism of carbohydrates.  Beta-oxidation is involved in fat metabolism.  These two components produce energy in the Krebs Cycle, and they are needed in the right amounts.  If there is too much oxaloacetate and not enough acetyl coenzyme-A, or vice versa, then energy production will be lacking.  This determination of how our bodies execute energy production is known as cellular oxidation. (1)

In 1981, George Watson published Nutrition and Your Mind. After extensive study, he came to the conclusion that biochemical imbalances were at the root of many psychological problems.  He accidentally discovered that certain foods and nutrients increased adverse emotional states in some people, while the same foods and nutrients could lessen emotional problems in others.  Again, different people required different foods to promote health and wellness.  Instead of using the ANS as the basis for classification, he used cellular oxidation.  (Now that we know what it is and how it works, we can follow Watson’s process.)  He conclusively discovered that there is a direct and profound correlation between a person’s emotional and psychological characteristics and the rate at which their cells convert food into energy. He observed that some people burned food too slowly, while others burned it too quickly.  More importantly, this rate of cellular oxidation, which is determined by heredity and environmental influences, can be significantly altered by diet.  Here was another piece of the puzzle in balancing body chemistry, which is conducive to optimum health and wellness.  Now we need to figure out whether you are a slow oxidizer, a fast oxidizer, or a mixed oxidizer by determining which characteristics (individual to you) apply to each. (1).

Fast oxidizers depend too much on the oxidation of carbohydrates in glycolysis for energy production.  They have a tendency to burn carbohydrates too quickly, which results in an excess production of oxaloacetate (explained above).  Obviously, a high carbohydrate diet will only make the problem worse.  However, since proteins and fats are dietary sources of Acetyl Co-A, which is lacking, they will help stimulate and sustain beta-oxidation, which is needed.  This will help balance the body chemistry and stabilize energy production. (1)

Similar to fast oxidizers, slow oxidizers have the same problems with energy production but for the opposite reasons.  They are poor at carbohydrate oxidation in glycolysis and thus are inclined to be lacking in the production of oxaloacetate.  In their case, a higher carbohydrate diet will benefit the slow oxidizers by giving them dietary sources for oxaloacetate.  Since they also require lower amounts of Acetyl Co-A to balance their body chemistry, as well as different nutrients to stimulate and sustain glycolysis, slow oxidizers benefit from a diet that involves less protein and fat than the fast oxidizer. (1)

Each oxidizer requires different types of foods and different mixes of those foods in order to optimally and efficiently convert nutrient into energy.  With sufficient available energy, your body’s cells can properly carry out their genetic roles of repairing and reproducing maximally.  For example, let’s say that you are a slow oxidizer but you are not eating sufficient amounts of carbohydrates.  Some of your food will not be converted to energy and will become prone to being stored as fat.  You will probably experience fatigue and hunger following meals, as well as indigestion and a lack of stamina.  Finally, your body’s immune system will become weakened and you will be susceptible to colds and infections.  Being sick is certainly not my cup of tea.

Mixed oxidizers are not that complicated.  Because of their “balanced” oxidative systems, proper energy production comes from relatively “equal” amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and fats.

Each oxidizer requires different types of foods and different mixes of those foods in order to optimally and efficiently convert nutrient into energy.  With sufficient available energy, your body’s cells can properly carry out their genetic roles of repairing and reproducing maximally.  For example, let’s say that you are a slow oxidizer but you are not eating sufficient amounts of carbohydrates.  Some of your food will not be converted to energy and will become prone to being stored as fat.  You will probably experience fatigue and hunger following meals, as well as indigestion and a lack of stamina.  Finally, your body’s immune system will become weakened and you will be susceptible to colds and infections.  Being sick is certainly not my cup of tea.

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Now we understand the Autonomic Nervous System and the oxidative system.  These are the key homeostatic systems that determine our metabolism or our Metabolic Type®. However, the fun is just beginning!  We have defined these two big powerhouses that influence our metabolism, but how are we to know which system is more prevalent?  We will discuss system dominance and the actual Metabolic Types in the next article.  We will be discussing macronutrient ratios for each type, as well as some fascinating stuff on exactly how a single food can alkalinize the chemistry of one person, while acidify the body chemistry of another.  Finally, we will discuss which specific foods are optimum for each type and why.  Sit tight, as the rubber is about to meet the road…

About the Author

Eric Talmant is a top lightweight powerlifter and has a “passion for all things nutrition.” A 1996 graduate of the University of Evansville, Eric is a certified Metabolic Typing® advisor http://www.mt-advisors.info/EditIndex.php and Functional Diagnostic nutritionist.  Talmant is certified to offer the Advanced Metabolic Typing® Test as well as order blood work (the Signet MRT Test,  U.S. BioTek ELISA IgG allergy test, the High Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein heart health test, and the BioHealth Diagnostics Adrenal and Hormone Profiles to name a few) and dispense hormones.

Eric has competed in the ADFPA, NASA, AAPF, APF, APA, the WPO, and the Raw Unity Meet.  He holds the APF Florida state men’s open equipped squat record of 678 pounds. He has been ranked in the top in the 75K class among all raw lifters in the United States for the past two years and he was a top equipped lifter in the two years before that.

His best equipped lifts are a 683 pound squat, 391 pound bench press, and a 650 pound deadlift in the 75K weight class. His best raw lifts to date are 485 pound squat without knee wraps, 290 pound bench press, and 635 pound deadlift.

He is also the founder and contest director of the Raw Unity Meet, which experienced great success in 2008 and 2009.  Talmant brings a unique skill set of 16 years of nutritional experience to his sponsors BMF Sports, Ultra Life, Inc., Critical Bench, and Titan Support Systems.  He lives in Spring Hill, FL and can be reached through EricTalmant.com.

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Rule #1 of Painting Your Car

Written on May 27, 2009 at 11:04 am, by Eric Cressey

Don’t spell “you’re” or “congratulations” incorrectly and undermine the value of a college education.

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Thanks to Chris Howard for his help in capturing this literary debacle on the ride out to CP on Saturday morning…


Accelerated Muscular Development Review: Innovative AND Effective

Written on May 27, 2009 at 8:23 am, by Eric Cressey

If you liked Maximum Strength…

Then you’ll love Jim Smith’s Accelerated Muscular Development.

I often get asked what would be a good program to use following the Maximum Strength program, and while my first answer is always a resounding Show and Go!  However, there is another excellent option out there for those who want to get outside the “Eric Cressey School of Thought.”   In creating Accelerated Muscular Development, Jim “Smitty” Smith did a fantastic job of introducing a thorough e-manual that includes strength training programming, flexibility training, nutrition, recovery protocols, and detailed explanations that put overly “sciency” concepts in an understandable and usable format.

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Personally, I’ve always loved Jim’s innovation and willingness to think outside the box. If you ask him about what makes this program so good, though, here’s what he’ll tell you are the top five components of a successful program:

1. Comprehensive – A good resistance training program teaches you what to do from the moment you walk into the gym, until the moment you leave. It does not just provide you with the primary strength exercises and a rep scheme. A progressive strategy must be incorporated so that by the time you are ready for your primary strength exercises, you are warmed up and ready to go.

2. Education – Do not just follow any resistance training program you get out of a magazine or on an internet forum blindly. You have to make specific and informed decisions based on your individual needs. A good program teaches you so that you can make these decisions.

3. Instruction of Proper Form and Full ROM - The strength exercises in a good resistance training program are demonstrated with proper form and instruction. It is not enough to teach the deadlift by saying “pick the weight off the floor.”

4. Easy to Understand - The science behind building muscle and getting stronger is sometimes explained in a very complicated manner. These concepts are much easier to understand with visual diagrams and real world application.

5. Systematic Approach - A comprehensive strength program provides you with a systematic approach where each essential component is represented and input at the right times. This allows the lifter to make sure each activity is not forgotten or missed, which means he can concentrate on training.

I’d highly encourage you to check out this product if you’re looking for something new – and particularly if you enjoyed Maximum Strength.  For more information, visit www.AcceleratedMuscularDevelopment.com.

In the Trenches with Eric Cressey

I figured we’d go with a little change of pace this week and switch from written content to audio content, as Mike Robertson interviewed me for one of his recent newsletters.  Mike and I talk about everything from shoulder assessment, to the possible future of shoulder surgeries, to strength development, to what’s new at Cressey Performance, plus a whole lot more. You can listen to the entire audio interview HERE.  Enjoy!

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Bogus Workouts and The Official Blog of

Written on May 26, 2009 at 6:52 am, by Eric Cressey

Today’s blog will serve as somewhat of a rant on how pro athletes and their training and nutrition are marketed to consumers.  I’ll talk about a few examples, but first I’ll pose a question: does NASCAR really need an official laundry detergent?  Anyway, I digress; let’s get to the meat and potatoes.

About once a week at Cressey Performance, we get a sales pitch – either via email, phone, or in-person – from a supplement salesman.  Generally, this person is not a regular exerciser, and almost all of the time, he/she shows very little knowledge of the product.  However, this individual always has plenty of confidence in its efficacy – which shouldn’t be surprising, as these folks are almost always involved in some kind of supplement pyramiding scheme.  Needless to say, I get pretty tired of it.

Usually, these salesmen drop the “It’s the official <insert product genre here> of <insert pro sports team here> and <insert popular athlete here> swears by it.”  An example might be “It’s the official calf raise apparatus of Cressey Performance, and Tony Gentilcore swears by it.”

Earlier this week, I heard that “XYZ is the official juice of ABC and JKL swears by it” – where ABC is a MLB team.  I couldn’t help but laugh, as 74% of my athletes are baseball players (many of them pros) – so you could say that I know nutrition at the pro level pretty well.  If there is going to be an official drink of Major League Baseball, it’s probably some kind of beer.  If you think they are pounding this magical Kool-Aid, you’ve got another thing coming.

Perhaps my favorite marketing scheme is when a magazine publishes a workout program from some pro athlete – and I know it’s just flat-out untrue.  How can I be so sure?  I know their strength coach!  We’ve known for quite some time that editors write the programs for pro bodybuilders in some of the older muscle magazines out there, but nobody seems to grasp that they often do the same for the athletes they profile.  About two years ago, I heard that a 6-10 NBA guy notorious for his long arms and defense and rebounding prowess could bench press 455 pounds.

First off, I knew his strength coach, who told me that he would be lucky to do half that amount.

Second, the risk-reward of that 455 bench press is completely out of whack, and I know there is no way a strength coach (at least one who would like to keep his job at the pro level) would even let an athlete with a huge contract attempt that weight.

Third, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen anyone bench that much raw.  In each case, they were shorter guys with short arms and big bellies to shorten the range-of-motion.  A 455-bench press is a HUGE raw bench, and the chances of an athlete in a sport with such a huge aerobic component hitting it are slim to none.

Just some food for thought: buyer beware when you hear claims like these.  Feel free to share some of your favorite examples below.


Random Friday Thoughts: 5/22/09

Written on May 22, 2009 at 8:07 am, by Eric Cressey

Let’s get right to it.

1. First up, a few quick congratulations are in order for some Cressey Performance ballplayers.  Justin Quinn (Lincoln-Sudbury) and Sahil Bloom (Weston) were named Dual County League Large and Small Players of the Year, respectively.  They are also two of the three finalists for the MA Gatorade Player of the Year award.  LS won the DCL Large, and Weston won the DCL – thanks in large part to the efforts of these two guys.  Both were selected as league all-stars, as were CP athletes Garrett Moore (LS), Ryan Wood (LS), Derek Lowe (LS), Chris Conlon (Weston), Reed Chapman (Weston), Alex Hill (Wayland), and Scott Lueders (Newton-South).  Congratulations, guys!

2. Padres prospect and CP athlete Will Inman jumped up to AAA from AA on Wednesday.  If you’re anywhere near Portland, OR, get out to watch him make his first start tonight (Friday) at 7PM.  Will is 4-1 with a 3.05 ERA in eight starts on the year, having given up only 33 hits and eight walks in 44.1 innings pitched. Congratulations to Will on taking the next step in his baseball journey.

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3. Check out this great video content today from Dr. John Berardi about The Key to Accidental Fitness.  I can tell you that this is 100% spot on from my own experiences – and the thousands of clients and athletes I’ve seen over the years.

4. I got a question the other day about who I thought were the most important individuals to add to one’s network in the field of strength and conditioning.  My first response was “anyone who is smart, openminded, and willing to share ideas.”

That said, I realize this individual was probably looking for a list of occupations in this regard, so here goes: doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors, massage therapists, athletic trainers, other strength coaches/trainers, radiologists, sports coaches, researchers, sports psychologists, equipment manufacturers/distributors, and loads others that I have probably forgotten.  Basically, you’re just trying to find people who have different areas of specialization to either add to, refute, or confirm your existing knowledge.

5. Had some car and computer issues earlier this week, so I got a bit sidetracked on the writing side of things this week.  I submitted the third installment of Lower Back Savers a bit late, so it didn’t run this week.  For those who missed Parts 1 and 2, you can check them out HERE and HERE.

6. Just finished up my powerpoint for the Distinguished Lecture Series in Sports Medicine at Northeastern on June 5-6.  This is an awesome event featuring guys like Dr. Stuart McGill, Mike Boyle, Dr. David Tiberio, and others (including some schmuck named Cressey).  It’s very affordable, and I can tell you that the last two years have been fantastic.  Check it out HERE for more details.

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7. Can we please get over this swine flu stuff, people? They are closing schools left and right in Boston – and as a result, ASYMPTOMATIC kids are having to FORFEIT games/matches – and now, potentially playoff games.

8. I’m most likely getting a new car tonight.  I’ve never been a “car guy,” so it’s more of a chore than anything.  Let’s hear some of your favorite strategies for bargaining with car dealers (particularly when you’ve got a trade-in)…


Birthday Blogging: 28 Years, 28 Favorites

Written on May 20, 2009 at 6:13 am, by Eric Cressey

I turn 28 today, so in hopes of distracting myself from the painful realization that I’m starting to go bald, I thought I’d focus on the positives of my existence in contexts that would appeal to you.  Below, you’ll find 28 of my favorite things – most of which are at least loosely related to fitness, nutrition, strength and conditioning, and sports.

1. Favorite Nickname: Power Alleys.  This seemed like a good starting point, as power alleys are bald spots.  Credit for this one goes to Mets pitching prospect Tim Stronach.

2. Favorite Thing About Cressey Performance: The camaraderie among the athletes/clients. I think the hard thing to appreciate about our facility without experiencing it first-hand and being there on a regular basis is that it’s as much about the environment and attitude as it is about the expertise and programming.  I’m psyched that we’ve not only created an environment where clients can improve physically, but one in which they can thrive socially, too.

3. Favorite Book I’ve Read Related to Fitness: Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement Impairment Syndromes, by Shirley Sahrmann.  This book got me thinking more about dysfunction and less about pathology.  Quality of movement is often far more important than anything a MRI or x-ray can ever tell you.

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4. Favorite Book I’ve Read Unrelated to Fitness: This is a top-up between The Tipping Point and A Prayer for Owen Meany.  They might be taken over, however, by one of the gifts I just got for my birthday from CP Client Steph Holland-Brodney.

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5. Favorite DVD I’ve Watched: The Indianapolis Performance Enhancement Seminar DVD Set.  Bill Hartman’s presentation on “Stiff vs. Short” alone makes this a fantastic resource, and the rest is just gravy.  I reviewed it HERE.

6. Favorite DVD I’ve Co-Created: The Building the Efficient Athlete DVD set.  I think I’m most proud of this resource because it’s something that provided something I so desperately wanted – but couldn’t get – during my college education.  Effectively, it’s a resource that blends book memorization with real-world practice with a focus on functional anatomy, assessments, and troubleshooting common exercises.

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7. Favorite Seminar I’ve Attended: The Perform Better 3-Day Functional Training Summit.  Each year, they get better and better.  Check out Chicago or Long Beach this year if you missed Providence.

8. Favorite Athlete of All Time: Barry Sanders.  I can’t imagine an guy with better kinesthetic awareness, body control, or ability to turn a complete disaster of a play into a 90-yard touchdown run – while carrying two defensive linemen on his back.

9. Favorite Athlete of All-Time that you’ve probably never heard of: Jerry Sichting.  He played for the Celtics from 1985 to 1988, and I’ll always remember the night Sichting – at a heigh of 6-1 – got in a fight with 7-4 Ralph Sampson during the 1986 NBA Finals.  At the time, I was a five-year old shadow boxing in my living room yelling at the top of my lungs.

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10. Favorite Place to Visit: Fenway Park

11. Second Favorite Place to Visit: Gampel Pavilion at the University of Connecticut.  It’s an incredible environment in which to watch college basketball, and it’s also where I spent just about all my time from 2003 to 2005.

12. Favorite Exercise: was this ever in question?

13. Favorite Sites I Visit Just About Every Day: T-Nation.com, MinorLeagueBaseball.com, ESPN.com, Sports.Yahoo.com, WilliamInman.com, 38Pitches.com, ShawnHaviland.Blogspot.com, MetrowestDailyNews.com, StrengthCoach.com, MikeReinold.com, RobertsonTrainingSystems.com, BillHartman.net, AlwynCosgrove.Blogspot.com, DieselCrew.com, PrecisionNutrition.com, BrianStPierreTraining.com, Tony Gentilcore’s Blog, Boston.com, BarstoolSports.com, Facebook.com, EricCressey.com.

14. Favorite Kind of Injury to See (weird category, I know): Labral Tears (SLAP lesions), or really any kind of shoulder or elbow pain in pitchers.  You’ve got so many potential causes that it’s kind of fun (for me, not the athlete) to go through a process of elimination to see what combination of factors caused it.  There are all the classic flexibility deficits in pitchers, plus scapular instability, poor thoracic spine mobility, plus faulty mechanics, plus inappropriate training volumes, plus weak lower bodies.  It’s kind of like peeling back the layers on an onion to see what shakes free.  It’s also a great scenario to illustrate what I talked about with respect to diagnostic imaging in #3 from above.  All of these guys will have labral fraying and rotator cuff partial thickness tears at the very least; it’s our job to fix them up and make them work efficiently in spite of these structural deficits in situations where surgery isn’t warranted.

15. Favorite Class I Took in School: Gross Anatomy.  Yes, I cherished the semester I spent with a bunch of cadavers.

16. Favorite Healthy Food: Apple-Cinnamon Protein Bars from John Berardi’s Gourmet Nutrition Cookbook. Admittedly, I often just eat the batter before it ever gets cooked.  Not good, I know.

17. Favorite Piece of Equipment We Have at CP: Giant Cambered Bar.  Along with the safety squat bar and front squat set-up, this bad boy has allowed me to keep squatting even though my right shoulder decided a long time ago that traditional back squats weren’t a good idea.  It’s also a great asset for working with overhead throwing athletes who should avoid the externally rotated, abducted position under load.

18. Favorite Thing About Having a Blog: I can write a lot more casually than in my newsletter, which tends to be more geeky.  And, I can post videos of this kid rocking out:

19. Favorite Mobility Drill: Walking Spiderman w/Overhead Reach.  I love this drill because you’re covering so many things at once.  You’ll get thoracic spine extension and rotation from the reach, and hip flexor and adductor length in the lower body from the lunge angle.  Keep an eye out for more new movements along these lines in the months to come as we film the sequel to the Magnificent Mobility DVD.

20. Favorite Pastime I Had to Give Up: Fantasy Baseball/Basketball.  During my sophomore year of undergrad, I finished fourth in the world in NBA.com’s Virtual GM contest.  Long story short, if you want to be really good at fantasy sports with that kind of set-up, you’ve got to put a lot of time into it – and realize that it won’t make girls like you.  You’ll also find yourself watching games in which you’d otherwise have absolutely no interest. I couldn’t do it half-ass (aside from the CP Fantasy Football League), so I gave it up.

21. Favorite Inedible Toy: Rubber Steak.

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Suffice it to say that Fire & Ice wouldn’t allow us to eat a birthday cake inside their restaurant on Saturday night in celebration of my awesomeness.  So, in celebration of their suckiness, none of us (16 in all) will ever eat again – and I was reduced to gnawing on dog toys.

22. Favorite Birthday Excitement: Apparently, it’s going to be taking my car in to get work done, buying a new laptop, and then coaching ‘em upat CP.  There will also be a dominant upper body lift at CP that will undoubtedly feature Kevin Larrabee missing 300…again…and again).

23. Favorite Bench Press Celebration Spectacle: Antwan Harris, post 340 bench press.

24. Favorite Strength and Conditioning Coach Who is Having Surgery on my Birthday: Josh Bonhotal, Chicago Bulls.  I talked with Josh yesterday and he informed me that he was finally having his ACL fixed today in celebration of my birthday.  Nothing says “Happy Birthday, Buddy” like taking a chunk out of your patellar tendon and turning it into an anterior cruciate ligament.  It’s kind of like planting a tree on Earth Day.  What a nice gesture.

25. Favorite Article Series I’ve Written: A New Model for Training Between Starts (Part 1 and Part 2).  These articles were actually picked up by Collegiate Baseball Magazine as front-page features, and I received a lot of great feedback about them.  If there is one thing I do before I retire, it’s convincing the world of the evils of distance running for pitchers.  I’d put the Shoulder Savers series in a close second

26. Favorite Supplement: Fish Oil.  It’s followed closely by Vitamin D.  You need both – and probably a lot more than you think. I’m a simple guy when it comes to this stuff.

27. Favorite Random Website a Buddy Texted to Me Last Week: www.EasyCurves.com.  This thing is hilarious. A special thanks goes out to Jesse Burdick for making me just a little bit dumber with that.

28. Favorite Sign of Athlete Dedication for the Month: We have two college pitchers up here from Pennsylvania for the month to work on getting bigger, stronger, faster, and more flexible in hopes of a nice velocity jump on the mound, and the obvious injury prevention benefits of such training.  That’s all well and good – until you hear that they got an unfurnished apartment in Hudson, MA.  These guys are sleeping on mattresses on the floor, and all they brought were a few lamps, a TV, some books, and a whole lot of enthusiasm and motivation.  That’s committment to training – and just the kind of guys we like to have around Cressey Performance.

cp

What kind of sacrifices are you making to get better and move closer to your goals?  I’m not sure that sleeping on a mattress on the floor is necessary, but it says a lot.

With that in mind, I’m not taking today off.  There is work to be done and I love to do it, birthday or not.


Pulled Quad – or is it?

Written on May 19, 2009 at 6:57 am, by Eric Cressey

Q: How should I warm up properly before sprinting sessions? Back in the day when I did sports my quads were always prone to injuries. Funny thing is I haven’t had any problems when doing squats of any kind. Recently I decided to involve some alactic work in my workout and immediately pulled a quad doing sprints. It’s obviously something wrong with my warm-up!

A: Saying “pulled quad” might be a little bit too general.  In reality, most of the time, you’re looking at a rectus femoris strain.  While it is one of the quadriceps, the rectus femoris is also active as a hip flexor.  So, as the picture below shows, it crosses two joints.

rectus-femoris

The rectus femoris is responsible for both hip flexion and knee extension.  So, as you can imagine, it is placed on a huge stretch when an athlete goes into a position of hip extension and knee flexion – kind of like this:

lewis

You’re asking the rectus femoris to go on a huge stretch there – and under very high velocities.  With a squat, you’re not putting it on full stretch, as the hip and knee are both flexed.  So, with that in mind, it’s not surprising at all that sprinting would bother your “quad” when squatting doesn’t – especially since we know the overwhelming majority of folks out there are tight in the rectus femoris.  Why?

Well, first, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that, as a society, we sit far too much.  Second, though, is the fact that most people never really get above 90 degrees of hip flexion in anything that they do.  Mike Boyle has done a great job of outlining how we can develop imbalanced hip flexion patterns; essentially, we never use our psoas, the only hip flexor active above 90 degrees of hip flexion. The picture below is kind of rudimentary (and somewhat awkward), but it shows what I’m getting at with respect to the advantageous attachment points for psoas with respect to hip flexion above 90 degrees:

psoas1

How many of the folks at your gym are getting 90+ degrees of hip flexion with their treadmill, stairclimber, and elliptical work?  None.  So, we underuse psoas, and overuse rectus – and it shortens up over time.  Take a short muscle through a maximal stretch at high-velocities, and it’s going to hate you.  So, what to do?

Well, first, I’d recommend running through some warm-ups from Assess and Correct, and that’ll cover a lot of the fundamentals (especially if you go through the assessments to figure out what else is going on).  One important thing that’ll cover is activation work for psoas; Kevin Neeld demonstrates one option here:

Second, just add in some targeted static stretching for the rectus femoris a few times a day using this stretch (don’t start using it until the “pulled quad” has settled down, though).

kneelingheeltobuttstretch

Third, and most importantly, ease your way into sprinting.  Not everyone is prepared to just jump right in full-throttle.  I discuss this in further detail in my contribution to the most recent Mythbusters article at T-Nation.  Basically, just get out there twice a week and do some 60-yd build-ups at 80% of your best on a grass field.

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Stuff You Should Read: 5/18/09

Written on May 18, 2009 at 5:28 am, by Eric Cressey

It’s been a while since I last published one of these guys, and here are a few recommendations:

The Don’t Squat Recommendation – We’ve all heard it, but only some of use have questioned it.

Inefficiency for Fat Loss – Sometimes, you’ve just got to get outside your comfort zone.

Outliers: The Story of Success – This book got about six recommendations when the panel of presenters at last week’s Perform Better Summit were asked what they were reading.  I was one of the six; I’m reading it now and it’s fantastic.  And, if you haven’t read any of Malcolm Gladwell’s other stuff, check out those, too.


Random Friday Thoughts: 5/15/09

Written on May 15, 2009 at 9:15 am, by Eric Cressey

1. It’s a fun time of year around Cressey Performance, as all the college guys are starting to roll back in, and the high school baseball playoffs are nearly at hand.  Brian St. Pierre was so excited about it that he tried to high five on of our power racks with his forehead.  He (and his three stitches) will be featured in the next episode of “When Power Racks Attack.”

brianeyebrow

2. After I mentioned last week that Mike Robertson, Bill Hartman, and I had something in the works, I got several emails (and a stand-up question at the end of my talk at Perform Better last weekend) from people wanting to know what we were scheming up.  Suffice it to say that it’s a sequel to Magnificent Mobility and Inside-Out, but on a whole new level.  If those DVDs were little league, this is going to be big league stuff,

We’ll have detailed assessments, progressions, and sport-specific protocols.  I guess you could say that it’s somewhat of a “choose your own adventure” book where you can take multiple paths; and, in the case of trainers/strength coaches, you can help your clients/athletes out individually.  And, there will be a nice tag-along manual. We are hoping to get this kid to sing on the soundtrack, but his agent won’t call me back.

Anyway, we’ve got over three years of accumulated “add-ons” from the initial MM DVD, and it’s also the first time the three of us have put all our heads together on a project.  Should be very cool – and we are hoping for a mid-summer release date.  If you aren’t already subscribed to my newsletter, definitely do so (with the feature over to the right of this page) and we’ll make sure you’re notified right away.  You can view a sample of this newsletter by checking out the one from earlier this week: Newsletter 154.

3. Mike Reinold has an awesome blog post series going about Anterior Knee Pain. Whether you’re a strength coach, personal trainer, physical therapist, garbageman, orthodontist, or lazy wanker who just lives in his parents’ basement, I’d highly recommend you check it out at MikeReinold.com.

4. One of the things I love the most about training pitchers is when they go out in the spring – after a winter of training to improve throwing velocity and prevent injury – and start hitting bombs at the plate.  Obviously, it’s awesome for their confidence, but just as importantly, it’s proof in the pudding that simply enhancing overall athleticism will carry over to just about anything.

If a kid only goes from 78 to 88mph on the mound, he tries to attribute it solely to a change in mechanics or lots of rubber tubing drills for his rotator cuff.  However, if he starts hitting 400-foot shots alongside that velocity increase, you know he’ll start to appreciate that the extra 20 pounds of meat on his butt, hamstrings, and upper back – and the big strength increases – are all playing a part in that improvement.

That’s all.  Have a great weekend!


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