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Creating an Effective, but Imbalanced Strength and Conditioning Program

Written on October 30, 2011 at 6:01 pm, by Eric Cressey

It might sound counterintuitive, but the best strength and conditioning programs are actually imbalanced…by design.  Check out this free webinar for details.

Click here for more information on Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better!

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Show and Go: Helping Lifters and Puppies Get Strong

Written on October 28, 2011 at 9:05 am, by Eric Cressey

If you liked yesterday’s Show and Go success stories, you’ll love today’s.  Be sure to listen to what these guys have to say.  And, in the case of our third “success story,” the pictures tell the story.

Show and Go was released last September – just prior to us getting a new puppy, Tank, who is now the official facility mascot of Cressey Performance (he even has a Twitter account).

He weighed in at a scrawny 5.6 pounds when we got him, but we put him to work right away using the principles of Show and Go.  Here he is learning how to foam roll with one of our pro guys in his first week at Cressey Performance.

He was great about getting proper rest between workouts:

And making sure that he was fully hydrated:

The end result?  He’s tipping the scales at a lean, mean 31 pounds now – with some outstanding mobility.

Anyone else find it very interesting that Tank’s weight has increased six-fold in the time that he’s been around the Show and Go program – even without doing it?  This program works even by simple association!

Get it now!

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Happy Show and Go Customers Taking Over the World

Written on October 27, 2011 at 10:35 am, by Eric Cressey

I love receiving feedback from those who have purchased and used our products.  Today, I’ve got a few for you from some happy customers of Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better.

First, we’ll hear from John Madrigal:

“This journey started back in Feb of 2010, when I was chosen to be a part of the guinea pig program, which eventually became Show and Go.  I started out weighing in at 264 and I was pretty strong, too. After the four months of doing the Show and Go program I was weighing 228 and still had about the same strength. But that wasn’t enough for me. I wanted more, so I decided to just keep doing the program and see where it would take me. When I first started I picked the 4 day-a-week one. After the program ended I took a week off and then began the 3 day-a-week one.  A year and a half later, here I am.

“I am still finding time to do the program even though I’m busy coaching high school football and being a PE teacher. I now weigh 185 lbs. My strength levels are still pretty good and I feel better than I have ever before. I have done many programs and I have done two of Eric’s. He knows what he is talking about and I’m sold on whatever he recommends. Thank you, Eric, for all your hard work in the lifting industry, which is in need of more people like you.”

-John Madrigal

And, here’s some feedback from Erin Weinbrenner, a personal trainer in Kansas who took his performance to the next level with Show and Go:

“Eric, I just wanted to take a moment and say ‘thanks.’ After finishing up your Show and Go program earlier this year, I hit one of my lifelong goals of benching three wheels – and even went on to another all-time personal record of 325lbs on my bench. Oh, and I only weighed about 165 pounds at the time!  Here’s a video of the 325 from a few months ago.” – Eric Weinbrenner


Show and Go was a game-changer for Paul Brazelton, too; check out his feedback from back in May:

“Hi Eric, I just wanted to say thanks for writing Show and Go.  I’m wrapping up Phase IV (3-day) next week, and this morning I had the eight, one rep deadlifts.  I had never done deadlifts in my life, and when I started this program, I lifted 135 lbs and thought I wasn’t going to be able to walk again.  I actually bought a starter weight set (7’ bar + 265lbs of plates) from Craigslist for this program, and had no idea what I was going to do with all of that iron.  Well, this morning I had every plate I bought on the bar, and I lifted it eight times off of the ground.

“I know that’s not a lot to you, but for me it’s a huge step.  I’ve lifted here and there in my life and while I’ve always had gains, I’ve never become so much stronger so fast.  I’m a little guy, only 5’7”, and have been starting to feel my age in the last few years.  I do a lot of biking, but whenever I stop because of weather or injury, I gain weight like mad.  I did some reading, and it looks like a big reason is that I had so little muscle to keep my metabolic rate up; as I age, I lose even more of the muscle I had.  I’d thought about lifting, but I’d always get injured within a few months so have stayed away from it.  Then I saw your program.  Now, I’m probably stronger than I’ve been in 15 years, have no signs of injury (in fact, old injuries are fading), and am looking forward to an awesome summer of biking AND having an upper body that doesn’t look like it was borrowed from a T-Rex.

“I think what excites me the most is that I’m just getting started.  Who knows where I’ll be in a year?  A year ago, if I had asked myself that question, I would have answered, ‘Older, more tired, more sore.’  Now, everything has changed.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

-Paul Brazelton

Click here to purchase Show and Go!

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7 Weeks to 7 Pounds of Lean Mass and 7 Miles Per Hour

Written on October 27, 2011 at 7:43 am, by Eric Cressey

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

That said, if you were on the fence, check out this feedback I received from the father of a college pitcher who took a shot on Show and Go this past summer:

“Eric,

“Just wanted to shoot you a breakdown on how my college son took to your Show and Go program with some modifications for baseball specificity. He followed your strength and conditioning program to the “T” and this is where he is after the first seven weeks:

May 16 – Start
Bodyweight: 163lbs
Body fat: 10.0%
Lean mass: 146.68 lbs

July 7 (52 days later)
Bodyweight: 169lbs
Body fat: 9.25%
Lean mass: 153.3 lbs

-Front squat for reps went from 155 lbs to 235 lbs for reps
-Deadlift went from about 205 for reps to 335 for a single
-Dumbbell bench presses for reps went from 55lb dumbbells to 80lb dumbbells

“To me, an untrained eye, it looks like this is great progress and he measurably benefited from it! He looks pretty damn good, too.

“He is about to return for his senior year as a starting left-handed pitcher and plans to continue this workout routine for the entirety of the 16 weeks. We used the Alan Jaeger long toss throwing program and mechanical training from Paul Reddick and Brent Strom and his velocity improved from 78mph to 84-85mph and his breaking stuff are now plus pitches. In my opinion, none of this would have happened your strength training program and mobility drills that allowed him to physically carry his momentum down the bump longer. All-in-all, it was a very productive summer; thanks!”

-Darrell Drake

Don’t miss out on this chance to take your game to the next level. Click here to pick up a copy of Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better!

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Weight Training Programs: 7 Ways to Get Strong(er) Now

Written on October 26, 2011 at 7:42 am, by Eric Cressey

When it comes to intermediate to advanced lifters and their weight training programs, they don't just want to get strong; they want to get strong fast.

With that in mind, I'm devoting today's post to some of my favorite strategies to increase strength quickly.  I talk a lot about longer-term strength and conditioning strategies, but figured it'd be a good idea to highlight some "quick fixes" today.

1. Warm-up – This seems like a no-brainer, but you'd be amazed at how many people jump right into their weight training program of the day without even getting their body temperature up. It's well documented that performance improves as core body temperature rises.  However, as this study demonstrated, even a lowered skin temperature can decrease force output – independent of core body temperature.  So, it may be advantageous to start your day's strength training program in long sleeves and remove layers as you go.  I prefer to see folks sweating by the time the warm-up ends; set aside at least ten minutes for it so that you can get some foam rolling and mobility drills in.

This is why every training session in Show and Go begins with foam rolling and a dynamic warm-up.

2. Hydrate – You'd be amazed at how many people – both athletes and non-athletes – are chronically dehydrated.  Research at my alma mater, The University of Connecticut, demonstrated that dehydration negatively impacted performance – especially on subsequent sets.  In other words, dehydrated lifters don't bounce back as quickly between sets.  As an interesting aside, everyone on this study was either a classmate or professor of mine; cool (no pun intended) stuff!

Regardless, drink as much as you think you need to drink – and then drink some more.

3. Have Some Caffeine – I don't love the idea of guys crushing energy drinks like the world is about to end and they don't need their adrenal glands anymore, but a little boost here and there can do the trick for a lot of lifters.  On the whole, research supports the idea that caffeine improves performance in most scenarios with minimal risk, provided the dose isn't excessive and the individual isn't prone to certain issues (migraines being the one that comes to mind the quickest).

Think of it as a "here and there" boost, but don't assume that you need to crush it to be successful.  Many people get enough of it in from drinking coffee in the morning that they're desensitized, anyway.  I'd prefer folks drink coffee, anyway, as it's loaded with antioxidants and actually confers more health benefits than folks realize.

4. Firm up your Grip – It drives me bonkers when I see a lifter get all fired up to take a big lift, and then grab the bar with a limp hand. There are times to be gentle – handling puppies, performing surgery, and knitting scarves, for instance – but lifting heavy stuff is not one of those times. A firm grip do so much more than connect you to the bar; it turns on more proximal muscles and gets the nervous system going, as we have loads of mechanoceptors in our hands (disproportionately more than other areas on the body). As an example, physical therapist Gray Cook often cites a phenomenon called "irradiation," where the brain signals the rotator cuff to fire as protection to the shoulder when it's faced with a significant load in the hand, as with a deadlift. Just grabbing onto something get more muscles involved in the process.

5. Tinker with Technique -  It goes without saying that just a few subtle strength exercise technique adjustments can make a big difference quickly.  Using the deadlift as an example, the few I know that can make a dramatic difference quickly are:

a) bringing the hands in closer (shortens the distance the bar must travel)
b) taking off the shoes, or getting into a pair of minimalist training shoes (also shortens the distance the bar must travel, and puts the weight on the heels, where you want it)
c) spending less time in the bottom position before one pulls (notice in the video below that I get my thoughts together, then dip, grip, and rip; it allows me to get a bit more out of the stretch-shortening cycle at the bottom):

These are just a few coaching cues for a single strength exercise, but there are countless more unique to each individual to help people increase strength quickly.

6. Change the Music – I don't need to cite a study to prove to you that lifting with good music will help your cause, but I will anyway: Music (or the expectation of music) makes cyclist work harder.  Cycling isn't lifting heavy stuff, but it goes without saying that my experience has been that folks get strong faster when they've got music playing and lots of energy in the gym.

7. Utilize Post-Activation Potentiation – This is a fancy way of saying that if you lift (or even just hold) a heavier weight, when you subsequently (shortly thereafter) perform a comparable exercise with a lighter weight, it will feel easier.  In the research, it works in some scenarios, but not in others (seems to be more effective in the lower body than the upper body).  Chad Waterbury covered this concept in some detail HERE, if you're interested in reading more.

These are just seven strategies you can employ in your weight training programs to increase strength transiently, and there are surely many more.  By all means, share your top short-term "get strong fast" strategies in the comments section.

Looking for a weight training program where you can best put these strategies in action?  Check out The High Performance Handbook.

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Get Show and Go for 50% Off!

Written on October 24, 2011 at 9:11 pm, by Eric Cressey

I hope you enjoyed the free videos I introduced last week. I got a ton of great feedback from them and I truly appreciate everyone who emailed in and commented on the videos. If you missed them, you can still grab them HERE.

That said, I’m psyched to announce today that until midnight on Friday, October 28, you can get my best-selling product, Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better at HALF OFF the normal price.
You can grab your copy for 50% off HERE.
I’m holding this special sale for two reasons. First, it’s my way of saying THANK YOU to all the people who took the time to watch my videos and offer their feedback. I know we all have busy schedules with lots of competing demands for our attention, and I appreciate that you take the time to check out my information.

Second, it’s World Series time. As you probably know, I am not only a huge baseball fan, but also train over 70 professional baseball players. I like to celebrate the World Series because I love watching it, but also because I know any free time I have now is about to run out, with more and more of our pro guys returning with each passing day. From here on out, it’s going to be non-stop training getting these guys ready for the upcoming season.

So, I want you to enjoy what’s left of my “down-time” now and save 50% off of a product that truly allows you to step inside the world of Cressey Performance.

As another way of saying thank you, I want to up the ante a little more. Because I know how valuable it is to have your questions answered when you don’t understand something or want to make sure you are using a program correctly to get the most out of it, I am going to throw in a free LIVE Question and Answer session for anyone who buys my Show and Go program in the next 24 hours. If you grab a copy before Tuesday at midnight, you (and everyone that does the same) will have access to me, and I’ll answer your questions.  Off-season training is in full-swing, so I don’t have much time and I don’t offer this anywhere else, but I always like to reward the people who take action.

If you grab a copy today, you won’t just get a huge 50% off discount (my lowest discount ever); you’ll also get a Live Q&A session with me. All this is on top of our 60-day money back guarantee, if you aren’t satisfied with the purchase (trust me; based on the feedback we’ve received on this program from people all over the world, you won’t be disappointed).  Sounds fair, right?

Go right here and claim your copy now: Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better.

This special 50% off sale on Show and Go ends Friday, October 28 at midnight, but if you want the Live Question and Answer bonus session, you’ll need to claim your copy by the end of the day on Tuesday, October 25.


Weight Training Programs: Don’t Major in the Minutia

Written on October 23, 2011 at 6:09 pm, by Eric Cressey

Last night, I was on my laptop searching for an old weight training program I’d written up a while back, and I accidentally stumbled upon some written goals of mine from back in 2003.  Based on the “Created on” date in Microsoft Excel, I had written them up in the spring of my senior year of college.

On one hand, I was proud of myself for – at age 22 – knowing enough to write down the goals that I wanted to achieve.  On the other hand, I have to laugh about just how out-of-whack my priorities were.

You see, I’d listed loads of strength, body weight, and body fat percentage goals first and foremost.  In fact, there were 41 rows worth of performance and physique goals; hard to believe that ladies weren’t lining up to date this Type A stallion, huh?  Can you say neurotic?  I was like this guy, but with better eyesight and a decent deadlift.

That’s just self-deprecating humor, though.  What was actually really sad was how distorted my perception of reality really was, as rows 42-46 consisted of the following:

42. Resolve shoulder pain.
43. Get rid of lower back tightness.
44. Get accepted to graduate school.
45. Get a graduate assistantship in research or coaching.
46. Have 3-4 articles published.

At the time, I was coming off a lower back “tweak” while deadlifting, but more problematic was my right shoulder, which hurt so much that it kept me up at night and negatively affected not only my training, but my everyday life.  It was an old tennis injury from high school that just kept getting worse and worse.

Likewise, I hadn’t gotten word on whether or not I’d been accepted to graduate school, so I was up in the air on whether I needed to start looking for jobs for after graduation, or whether I’d end up moving south to enroll at the University of Connecticut.

Finally, I’d just had my first article published, and there was some momentum in place on which I could build a successful writing career.

In other words, I was in pain, unsure about where I’d be living in two months, potentially without a job, and all but ignoring a potentially career-changing opportunity – yet I managed to list 41 performance and physique goals more important than any of these concerns.  Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs was clearly buried under all the bullshit I had convinced myself was important.  They made signs like this for guys like me.

Maybe it was the acceptance phone call from my future advisor at the UCONN; the experience of moving to a new area and being out on my own; interaction with a lot of highly-motivated, career-oriented people and successful athletes; the natural maturation process; or a combination of all these factors, but I got my act together that fall and figured out my priorities.  That fall, I read everything I could get my hands on to get rid of the pain in my shoulder (canceled an impending surgery) and lower back.  I put in 70 hour weeks among classes, volunteering in the varsity weight rooms and human performance lab, and personal training and bartending on the side.  I published my first article at T-Nation and in Men’s Fitness.  In short, I grew the hell up and stopped losing sleep over whether I’d remembered to take my forearm circumference measurements on the third Tuesday of the month.

Some folks might think that this shift in my priorities interfered with my training progress, but in reality, the opposite was true.  In that first year of graduate school, I put over 100 pounds on both my squat and deadlift and 40 pounds on my bench press – and did so pain-free, which made training even more enjoyable.  I learned a ton about the importance of training environment as I lifted around athletes and other coaches in the varsity weight rooms, and even caught the powerlifting bug, competing for the first time in June of 2004.  I even won a few trophies absurdly large trophies that wildly overstated my accomplishments.

In short, when I stopped majoring in the minutia and clearly defined the priorities that were important to me – being pain-free, enjoying training, and seeing it as a means of becoming better in a profession that I loved – a world of opportunities opened up for me.  And, surprisingly, some of the “old” priority goals were easier to attain because I didn’t force them or put as much pressure on myself.

That was almost a decade years ago, and I’ve had to make similar reevaluations of my priorities since that time, from opening a business, to proposing to my wife, to buying a house, to getting a puppy, to hiring employees, to working with charities.  There are some priorities that will always remain for me, though; strength and conditioning has to be fun, and it has to improve my quality of life, not take away from it. These are values that are reflected in the weight training programs that I write, too.

To that end, how have your priorities changed over your training career?  And, how have these changes impacted your progress in the gym?

Related Posts
Weight Training Programs: You Can’t Just Keep Adding
Lifting Weights vs. Corrective Exercise in Strength Training Programs

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My Top 10 Strength and Conditioning Mistakes (Free Webinar)

Written on October 20, 2011 at 5:49 am, by Eric Cressey

As promised, today, we’ve got our third installment in this week’s free webinar series:

My Top 10 Strength and Conditioning Mistakes

In my years as a coach and a lifter, I’ve made plenty of mistakes and learned a lot of lessons as a result.  Hopefully, this look at my past shortcomings will help you avoid those same mistakes in your training journey.  Click here to access the webinar 100% free of charge!

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Experience Doesn’t Come Easily When It Comes to Strength and Conditioning Programs

Written on October 19, 2011 at 8:00 am, by Eric Cressey

As I sat down to write this blog, I recalled a quote I heard some time ago, but only with a quick Google search did I discover that it came from Pete Seeger:

“Do you know the difference between education and experience? Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don’t.”

Seeger might be in his 90s and done singing, this quote definitely still resounds – and will continue to do so – in the field of strength and conditioning, even if that wasn’t his intention.

I think one of the reasons it gets us thinking so much is that there really isn’t a lot of fine print to read; the strength and conditioning field is still in its infancy, especially since there was very little research in this area before the 1980s.  And, just when we think we learn something and publish it in the textbook, we discover that it’s completely false (the lactic acid debacle was a great example).   Moreover, we’re dealing with constantly changing demographics; as examples, obesity is rising dramatically, and early youth sports specialization is destroying kids’ bodies and fundamentally changing the way that they develop (examples here and here).

So, it’s hard to learn how to do things the right way (or at least head in that direction) when the information wasn’t available – and the population to which it applies is constantly changing.  It’s like trying to change the tire on a moving car – and doing so without having instructions on how to use the jack in the first place.

Moreover, even when the information is out there, we appreciate that no two people respond to the same stimulus in the same way – and my experiences with baseball players with elbow pain serves as a great example.  I’ve seen dozens of post Tommy John surgery athletes in my career.  Some start throwing before the three-month mark, and others aren’t throwing until six months post-op.  Everyone heals differently – and even once they get back to throwing, every guy is unique.  Some have more shoulder stiffness than elbow stiffness after the long layoff, where it might be vice versa for other guys.  Additionally, many post ulnar nerve transposition pitchers have a lot of elbow stiffness when they return to throwing at 6-12 weeks post-op, while others have absolutely zero complications with their return-to-throwing progression.

If the game is changing, and we never really knew what the game was in the first place – and each person is unique, what do we do?

The only thing we can do is draw on personal experience and the lessons that it’s provided to us.

To that end, if you’re an up-and-comer in the field, you have to look at continuing education as a multi-pronged approach.  You’ve got to read the textbooks and stay on top of the most up-to-date research, but you also have to be “in the trenches” to test-drive concepts and see how they work.

If you’re not in the industry – but want to make sure that you’re getting the best possible strength and conditioning programs – you need to seek out expert advice from someone who has “been there, done that.”  Honestly would you want to be on the table for a surgeon’s first surgery? I know I wouldn’t.

A final option, at the very least, is to educate yourself fully on how to write your own workout routines. That’s one reason why I created two free webinars for you: The #1 Reason You Are Not Making Progress and How to Create a Real Strength and Conditioning Program.

You can check them both out HERE at absolutely no charge.  I’d just ask that you help spread the word with a Facebook “like” or comment or “Tweet” if you enjoyed what you saw.

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Why You’re Not Making Progress in Your Strength and Conditioning Program – and What to Do About It (Free Webinars from EC)

Written on October 17, 2011 at 9:03 pm, by Eric Cressey

I’m proud to announce that I’m officially part of the 21st century, as I figured out how to make webinars!  To celebrate this momentous achievement (for me, at least), I’ve got two free ones for you today:

1. The #1 Reason You’re Not Getting Better

2. How to Create a Real Strength and Conditioning Program

Click HERE to access these webinars – and if you like what you see, I’d really appreciate it if you could spread the word with “Likes” on Facebook and “Tweets” on Twitter.  I’d love for this educational approach to become a mainstay for EricCressey.com moving forward, so it’d be great to hear your thoughts on it and receive some support of it if you think it’s something we should do more of moving forward!

Again, here’s the link to get you started with the first webinar: The #1 Reason You’re Not Getting Better.

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