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Written on November 30, 2010 at 6:36 am, by Eric Cressey
There’s been a lot of buzz about my new strength and conditioning program, Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better, lately.
While this digital resource has been used by folks of all walks of life for everything from fat loss to athletic performance training , in light of an email I received the other day from my buddy, Kevin Neeld, I thought I’d highlight the strength increases aspect of things. Kevin is director of athletic development at a strength and conditioning facility in Sewell, NJ – and I sent him an advanced copy of Show and Go. Here’s what he sent me the other day:
“Eric, I wanted to let you know that I put our whole staff on your Show and Go program and the result [after just a month] has been:
Matt Siniscalchi-405 x 5 (Personal Record)
David Lasnier-385×5 (Personal Record)
Kevin Neeld-425 x 5 (Personal Record)
“I also front squatted 285 for 3, which is pretty good for me. Turns out your programs work! I’ve been pumping Show and Go‘s tires a lot around here since you launched it. Hopefully the program is getting the attention it deserves.”
Then, a day later, a few days later, I got another email:
“We just did the front squat 1RM test; here were some results:
David Lasnier – Front Squat (295 – PR)
Kevin Neeld – Front Squat (315 – PR)
“You should also know that David and I both tied/set PRs during our 1-RM bench press test too…but we were both SO sore from the previous upper-body lift that we didn’t even bother shooting film. I think we’ll both beat our previous bests by 10-15lbs in a couple weeks when you have the next 1RM built in. Thanks!”
So, don’t miss out on the great opportunity to get strong with Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better.
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Written on November 29, 2010 at 1:00 am, by Eric Cressey
This week, I’ll feature several strategies for correcting bad posture; you should be able to insert these into your weight training programs quickly and easily for immediate results. Here we go…
1. Train more frequently.
Obviously, in many cases, those with bad posture often simply don’t exercise enough, so any motion is good motion. However, this also applies to regular exercisers who hit the gym 3-4 times per week as well. Why?
Well, I do a lot of my “corrective” work in my warm-up programming – and the more often you train, the more often you’ll have to do your foam rolling and mobility warm-ups. So, breaking your training program up into smaller components on more frequent days might be the best way to force yourself to do the things that you need the most to correct bad posture.
2. Use daily mobility circuits.
Along the same lines as the “increase training frequency” recommendation, it’ll never hurt to repeat your mobility warm-ups during your daily life. If you are someone who is really in need of drastic changes, do your warm-ups twice a day, seven days a week (on top of any static stretching you do).
3. Strengthen the deep neck flexors.
When you get stuck in a forward head posture, the deep neck flexors (muscles on the anterior portion of your neck) really shut down as the sternocleidomastoid, suboccipitals, levator scapulae, scalenes, and upper traps get dense, fibrotic, and nasty.
You can start off by simply doing chin tucks against the wall (put the back of your head up against a wall, then make a double chin without the back of your head losing contact with the wall). Then, you can progress to quadruped chin tucks, a drill I learned from Dr. William Brady. In this drill, you’ll work against gravity as you pull your head into a more neutral cervical spine posture. Most people will butcher this on their first try by going into hyperextension as they get to the “top” of the movement.
When you get the technique down, you’ll actually notice some crazy soreness along the anterior aspect of your neck in the days that following. We usually go with sets of 5-6 reps and a 2-3 second hold at the top of each rep.
4. Go with a 2:1 pulling-to-pushing ratio.
This is a recommendation you see quite a bit, but nobody really talks about how to “smoothly” apply it to a weight training program. Here are a few approaches I’ve used in the past:
a. Simply add an extra pulling exercise on the end of a day’s session.
b. Pair a bilateral pulling exercise with a unilateral pressing exercise – and do “halves” on each pressing set. In other words, if I was doing 6×6 chest-supported rows (CSR) with 3×6/side 1-arm incline DB presses (IDP), here’s how I’d set it up: CSR, IDP-right, CSR, IDP-left, CSR, IDP-right, CSR, IDP-left, CSR, IDP-right, CSR, IDP-left.
c. Make the pulling exercises in your program the A1, B1, and C1 options, with the pressing as the A2, B2, C2. And, simply have an extra set of each of the pulling exercises – meaning you just don’t return to the pressing exercise for a last set. This might work out as more of a 3:2 pulling-to-pushing ratio, but you can always tack an extra set or two on at the end to make it work.
I’ll be back soon with more strategies for correcting bad posture, but in the meantime, I’d encourage you to check out Optimal Shoulder Performance at www.ShoulderPerformance.com, as this resource features loads of postural correction strategies to complement the ones featured in this series.
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Written on November 26, 2010 at 8:39 am, by Eric Cressey
Today, we continue with ‘Stache Bash 2010 with another huge sale and another devastatingly good-looking mustache – and a very important message for those of you who (like me) own your own training facilities or hope to open one someday.
First off, the huge sale is pretty simple: everything on THIS PAGE (all collaborative products from Robertson, Hartman, and I) is on sale at 20% off. This includes Assess & Correct, Building the Efficient Athlete, the Single-Leg Solution, Bulletproof Knees, Magnificent Mobility, Inside-Out, and the Indianapolis Performance Enhancement Seminar DVD Set. You don’t even have to enter a coupon code; you can just go purchase them all in one place, and the discount is already applied.
As for the mustache and the important message, check out this video of yesterday’s 4th Annual Cressey Performance Thanksgiving Day Lift, where we had about 30 people in attendance. The horseshoe ‘stache (minus the soul patch) makes an appearance at the 26-second mark.
At risk of sounding overconfident, things have gone well for us at Cressey Performance since we opened our doors in 2007. We’ve had double digit percentage growth in each of the past three years and the job seems to get more and more fun each and every day. In the next two months, we’ll expand into an additional 1,000 square-feet. I talked a lot about how we’ve attacked things to get to where we are in a previous blog post, Three Years of Cressey Performance: The Right Reasons and the Right Way.
One thing I’m not sure I’ve highlighted in my writing enough, though, is how important the camaraderie we have among our clientele is. “Creating camaraderie” was never a bulletpointed objective in our business plan, but in hindsight, it was the single-most important factor in our gym not only “making it,” but thriving in an economy where loads of other gyms were closing their doors just about every day.
Each year, the Thanksgiving Day lift reminds me of that, as for me, Thanksgiving is all about family. In other words, if you’re going to spend a few hours with people on Thanksgiving morning (and get up ultra-early to do so on the morning after what is arguably the biggest partying night of the year), then you better enjoy the company of those people and see them as part of your extended family. We had high school athletes, college athletes, professional athletes, weekend warriors, Moms and Dads, and former interns in to get after it from 7:30AM to 9:30AM – and it really meant a lot to our staff. Sure, a lot of them were probably just there to see (and feel…and be photographed with) my mustache, but you get the point.
How do you create camaraderie among your clients?
The possibilities are endless in this regard, and the appropriate “strategies” (if you can even call “caring” a strategy) are going to be unique to each facility, but the end goal should always be the same: camaraderie. If you’re in the fitness industry and not working to create it both intentionally and unintentionally, you’re missing out on an important component of being successful.
Thanks for reading; I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. Don’t forget to check out the 20% off sale on all the aforementioned products HERE.
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Written on November 25, 2010 at 3:54 am, by Eric Cressey
I won’t be writing much today, as I’m headed out right now for the 4th Annual Cressey Performance Thanksgiving Day Lift (video to come tomorrow). However, I did want to take a quick second to say thank you very much for your continued support of EricCressey.com; it’s one of many things about which I can be very thankful this holiday season.
In continuing with our ‘Stache Bash 2010 week of sales, I’m putting the Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual on sale at 25% off through tomorrow (Friday) night. Just head HERE and enter the coupon code TURKEY at checkout and the discount will be applied.
Written on November 24, 2010 at 3:05 am, by Eric Cressey
As we continue ‘Stache Bash 2010, today’s featured/discounted product is The Art of the Deload. More importantly, though, I’ve moved to the horseshoe ‘stache with accompanying soul patch.
Control yourselves, ladies, and we’ll be able to move forward now.
As a brief background on The Art of the Deload, this 26-page e-book is a quick read that’ll give you practical strategies that you can quickly and easily put into practice. In it, I outline 10 different deloading strategies that can be implemented in any resistance training program – and discuss who is the best fit for each strategy.
Rather than reinvent the wheel, I thought I’d give you a little taste of one of the ten:
Method #9: Planning for the PR Deload Week
With this method, you work backward from the first day of the subsequent program with the goal of testing one lift when you’re at your freshest. Let’s say that you’re on a three days per week set-up, with the last (12th) session of the month taking place on a Friday. Your goal is to train normally over the course of the first four weeks (Month 1), with a small amount of technique work for the lift in question taking place during your deload week.
Let’s say that you’re looking to bring up your front squat. Accumulate the majority of your specialization training over the course of Weeks 1-3, and then in Week 4, just do some front squat technique work in the 60-70% of estimated 1-rep-max range on all three days (MWF). Obviously, do some assistance work, too, but don’t go crazy with volume or intensity.
Then, take the weekend off, and come back in to test the front squat on Monday. Effectively, you’ve imposed a ton of fatigue over the course of Weeks 1-3, rested during Week 4, and realized the fitness gains at the beginning of Week 5.
If you’re interested in checking out the other nine strategies I outline, you’re in luck, as I’m putting The Art of the Deload on sale for 25% off – which means that you can pick it up for under $10. Just enter the coupon code DELOAD at checkout and the discount will be applied.
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Written on November 23, 2010 at 7:20 am, by Eric Cressey
Retail stores have “Black Friday” and online retailers have “Cyber Monday” for their holiday sales at this time of the year – but I’ve never been one to go with tradition – or party for just a day when I can party for an entire week. So, I created my own week-long sales event that will help to wrap up “No Shave November.”
I’m calling it ‘Stache Bash 2010 – because I’ll soon be rocking a mustache to round out the week (and drive the ladies wild). As of right now, I’m just rocking the Circle Beard (moutee) – and while it’s not a hit with my wife, our puppy doesn’t seem to mind, as evidenced by his nap on the couch with me during football on Sunday afternoon!
Here’s how it’ll work…
So, without further ado, let’s kick this sucker off with a 30% off deal on The Truth About Unstable Surface Training. This e-book has helped to clarify the role of instability training for a lot of folks in our industry, but what many people don’t realize is that it goes into great depth with respect to strength exercise progressions for training enthusiasts who may be outside the fitness profession. You can click HERE to purchase directly or click HERE for more information. Just enter the coupon code STACHE to apply the discount at checkout.
“I used to advise trainers and other strength professionals that they must always continue to develop themselves and continue their education by reading every book and article and attending every seminar – but I was wrong. My advice now is to be very selective with the resources you seek out and the research and products you obtain. There is so much misinformation in the fitness industry and so much junk on the internet that it’s easy to be misguided.
“So what is the right information? Without hesitation, I can say anything from Eric Cressey. His e-book, The Truth About Unstable Surface Training, is no exception. Learn how unstable surface training originated in a rehabilitative setting and led to one of the biggest controversies in the fitness industry today. I was honored to get a first look at this resources. It was not just the literature review, studies, strength exercise demonstrations and progressions that were eye-opening; it was the practical applications. As always, Eric provides a thorough explanation of complex ideas.
“If you’ve ever found yourself – or come across someone – using the term “functional training,” you absolutely must buy The Truth About Unstable Surface Training right now!“
Jim Smith, CSCS
Again, that coupon code is STACHE and is good through tomorrow (Wednesday) at midnight.
Written on November 22, 2010 at 8:07 am, by Eric Cressey
Today’s guest blog comes from current CP Intern Conor Nordengren.
During one of my recent morning drives to Cressey Performance, I was listening to the radio when I heard one of my favorite songs from my youth: “Don’t Sweat the Technique” by Eric B. and Rakim.
As I was fist-pumping (a la Tony Gentilcore), I realized that I had never actually paid attention to the lyrics of the song. Mid fist-pump, I put my hand down so I could listen closely to the words. After hearing the chorus, I was shocked: “Don’t sweat the technique?” Really? In my sudden state of anger and disbelief, I came to another realization: this must be why Eric hates rap!
Ever since that morning commute, the word “technique” has been stuck in my mind. More specifically, how it pertains to strength and conditioning and just lifting weights in general.
One of the first things I learned when I began my internship at CP was the importance of proper technique. This often neglected aspect of training is constantly stressed here. Eric, Tony, and Chris are always out on the floor coaching, cueing, and correcting technique. When us interns aren’t scheduling Eric’s next seaweed body wrap at the spa or picking up Tony a tall, iced peppermint white chocolate mocha espresso (with extra sprinkles) from Starbucks, all of our time is spent out on the floor actively coaching as well.
The great thing about CP is that everyone who trains here is aware of the importance of proper technique, too. Many times, I’ll be out on the floor and a client will come up to me and ask me to watch their form on a certain strength exercise. I’ve had this happen with athletes who are in middle school, to pro baseball guys who are veterans of CP, and also with those so-called “weekend warriors.” I have to admit, I love it when this happens! This means that the client is not only cognizant of the importance of technique, but is looking to improve upon or maintain their technique; it also tells me that they truly care about their training and their goals.
The other week, a younger CP athlete was doing a set of pull-throughs with less than stellar technique. As Chris quickly came to the rescue, I listened in to what he was saying and I came away with one of those “Ah-ha!” moments along with a great quote to remember. Chris said, “Right now, we really need to focus on technique; we have plenty of time to get you strong.” A lot of young kids or beginners who are fairly new to lifting weights will sometimes have the tendency to want to use too much weight on their exercises. While they are still learning and improving upon their form, putting too much weight on the bar can prove to be injurious. This can be a problem for even the more experienced lifter if they are losing focus on their technique. Whether you are picking up a weight for the first time or you’ve been lifting for many years, you need to constantly be aware of your form. When you enter the weight room, leave your ego at the door because technique is far more important than the amount of weight you can lift. The cool thing is, as your form becomes very good, your chances of progressing faster and lifting more weight become greater. And don’t worry, no informed lifter is going to think you’re a “girly man” if you take some weight off the bar to work on your technique.
Competitive powerlifter Chad Aichs wrote an article last month about constantly “hammering” technique. Now, Chad has been lifting for a long time and is one of the strongest guys in the world (2733 total in the squat, bench, and deadlift). Suffice it to say, when Chad’s talking, I’m listening. According to him, technique must be the foundation of everyone’s training program. When you begin your workout, from your warm-up to post-workout stretching, you should strive to perform every movement with picture-perfect form. During our staff lifts at CP, we’re always watching each other’s lifts and giving each other feedback when necessary. While this usually consists of Eric yelling at Pete from across the gym telling him that his form is about as good as a brain-dead, overweight, arthritic donkey, that’s beside the point.
The lesson here is that I’m lifting with some of the most knowledgeable, experienced coaches out there and they’re still critiquing each other’s form. In other words, you are never too experienced to not monitor and improve your technique. Holding yourself to high standards when it comes to technique keeps it in check and allows you to put your body in its strongest, safest position to lift the most weight and stay injury-free. If you train alone and don’t have an experienced eye to watch your form, try to video yourself performing a certain lift. This way, you can self-correct your technique and/or post it online to have others chime in on what you may need to improve upon. I know that may sound a little extreme to some of you, but if you’re serious about your training, it may be necessary for you to get better and make progress toward your goals.
While striving for perfect form is great and very important, I agree with Bret Contreras’ application of the 80/20 Principle when it comes to technique. Basically, your form should never break down more than 20%. This 20% serves as a bit of a leeway that is necessary for lifters to make progress and get stronger. On a scale of 0 to 10, 0 being horrendous and 10 being perfect, at the very least you want to score an 8. However, an 8 should only be allowed on heavier sets that are more challenging. All other sets, including warm-ups and the initial working sets, should be 10’s. I’ve seen Bret’s theory in play in my own training. During a recent trap bar deadlift session, I set out to perform 5 sets of 5. I was feeling good that day, so I decided to increase the weight for my last working set. My first 3 reps were 10’s, but during my last 2 reps, I lost a bit of the tightness in my back, and would’ve characterized them as an 8 or a 9. Even though my form was not completely perfect, it was not a significant break down that would put me at a great risk of injury. Always be aware of your technique, but don’t obsess about it to the point where you’re limiting your progress. On the other hand, don’t be too careless where you’re putting yourself at a heightened risk for injury; a.k.a. don’t be this guy (and I’m not just talking about his hair):
Improving your form and keeping certain cues in mind is not an easy thing. There are several things to remember regarding technique while executing a given lift, and at times, it can seem overwhelming, especially if you lift alone. If this is how you feel, try this little trick that Tony uses with his clients. Say you’re performing a deadlift, whether you’re somebody who’s just learning this movement or a veteran lifter who’s doing a heavy set. Instead of just motoring through each rep of your set, treat each rep as its own set. You can think of it as sort of “resetting” yourself after each repetition. Before your first rep, get yourself into position and go through a mental checklist of key cues. Perform the rep, set the weight down (or just a pause for other movements), and quickly go through that mental checklist again to make sure you’re ready to perform the next rep with proper technique. This is a simple yet effective tool for keeping form tight that can be applied to almost any exercise.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is that Eric B. and Rakim are full of crap; you better “SWEAT the technique!” Proper resistance training technique will allow you to progress faster, get stronger, stay injury-free, and ultimately help you to reach your goals. As Chad Aichs has said, “Technique is everything.”
Conor Nordengren can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Written on November 19, 2010 at 5:03 am, by Eric Cressey
This weekend is going to be one of very mixed emotions for our entire family, as we’ll lay my grandfather to rest Saturday morning; he passed last Thursday morning. Gramp had been the center of our family for my entire life, and he was a huge part of making me the man that I am. Were it not for Gramp, I never would have developed the passion for baseball that eventually led to me finding a career that focuses on the game. On one hand, it’s going to be hard to say goodbye to him, but on the other hand, we’re happy to celebrate his life and take solace that he’s finally at peace after a long illness.
That said, in his final weeks, Gramp requested a Saturday funeral because – as a former high school principal – he didn’t want any teachers to have to miss school to attend. To that end, he’d want the show to go on at this blog, too – so that’s what we’ll do with some random thoughts today.
1. I got a mention in the USA Today on Wednesday in a very interesting article on the biceps tenodesis surgery, as this procedure could become the “next big thing” in SLAP repairs. I was mentioned alongside the likes of Curt Schilling, James Andrews, Brett Favre, Jake Peavy, and Bud Selig…pretty good company! Check out the article: For Pitchers, Shoulder Surgery Cuts Both Ways.
2. Speaking of pitchers, here’s yet ANOTHER study showing that resistance training (with throwing) improves throwing velocity significantly more than throwing alone. Meanwhile, we still have some old-school coaches saying that kids shouldn’t lift. Ugh.
3. How’s this for some solid feedback on just the first two months of Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better?
“Hey Eric, Just wanted to keep you updated with the results I’ve had from Show and Go, as well as ask a quick question regarding this. I started the program at 10% body fat (measured with AccuMeasure callipers) and am now down to about just over 7% body fat! This is the lowest I’ve ever gone.”
For more information, check out www.ShowandGoTraining.com.
4. Here’s some interesting research that shows that vitamin D deficiency doubles stroke risk in Caucasians. Deficiency incidence is lower (6.6%) in whites than African-Americans (32.3%), though. Beyond just cardiovascular health, though, vitamin D is one of the first things we look at in those with chronic soft tissue problems, especially in Northern climates where folks don’t get enough sunshine during the winter months.
5. Today is the last day to get Joel Marion’s Cheat Your Way Thin Holiday Edition at the introductory discount; check it out HERE, if you’re interested.
6. Here’s a great video from Mike Robertson on “Conquering the Chin-up:”
7. And your weekly dose of puppy…
Have a great weekend!
Written on November 18, 2010 at 7:49 am, by Eric Cressey
Some recommended reading for the day:
The Dynamic Method vs. the Repetition Method – A common question among resistance training beginners who’ve begun to “think outside the box” is whether they should bother using the dynamic method with their strength exercises if they aren’t all that strong (yet). I answer this common inquiry in this blog post.
6 Mistakes: Fitting Round Pegs into Square Holes – This T-Nation article from a while back highlights some situations where it’s important to not force something that just isn’t there.
“My Coach Says I Shouldn’t Lift” – This was one of those pieces that was just fun to write because it’s such a ridiculous recommendation from a coach – but the sad truth is that it’s happening all the time across the country. So, spread the word and help some kids out!
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Written on November 17, 2010 at 4:06 am, by Eric Cressey
If you search through the archives here at T-Nation, you’ll find hundreds of programs you can try. In fact, there are probably enough for you to rotate through for the rest of your training career without ever having to complete the same one twice.
However, I’d venture to guess that most of you aren’t here just because you want to be told exactly what to do. Rather, in the process, you want to learn why you’re doing something, and how to eventually be able to do a better job of programming for yourself.
It’s no different than being a guy who’s given a sample diet plan — but wants to know what to order off the menu when eating out; a little education on thinking on the fly goes a long way.
So, to that end, I want to use this article as a means of educating you on how to take that next step. The 11 tips that follow should help you progress the strength exercises in your program from one month to the next to make them more challenging.