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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 9/7/14

Written on September 8, 2014 at 4:06 am, by Eric Cressey

My wife and I are busy getting settled in our new house in Florida, but luckily, I've got some good recommended strength and conditioning content to kick off the week while I'm tied up:

Elite Training Mentorship - In this month's update, I have a new article, two new exercise tutorials, and a webinar, "11 Tips for Building and Managing a Pro Athlete Clientele."

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Your Career in Fitness: A Success Guide for Personal Trainers and Coaches - Nate Green did a tremendous job on this comprehensive post for Precision Nutrition. If you aspire to enter the fitness industry, this is a solid "road map" from which to work.

Simple Self-Assessments: Toe Touch - Miguel Aragoncillo is the newest member of the Cressey Sports Performance team, and in this post, he demonstrates some of the expertise that made him our top candidate for the position that recently opened up. He'll be a great addition to the CSP team.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 8/25/14

Written on August 25, 2014 at 4:24 am, by Eric Cressey

It's time for this week's list of recommended strength and conditioning reading. Check these out:

Elite Training Mentorship - In this month's update, I talk about important prerequisites to performing Turkish Get-ups, and also introduce a few new exercises we like to utilize on the TRX. There is also plenty of great content from the other contributors that I think you'll enjoy, too. Each month, you get more than you'd receive at a full day seminar - but for less than half the price, and with no travel needed.

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Cold Temps for a Hot Body - This was a very well written (and researched) article by Ben Greenfield, who highlights the value of exposure to colder temperatures with respect to body composition improvements. It was especially appealing to me, as my wife and I are always disagreeing over the the thermostat at our house! Hopefully this article will help me get the air conditioning turned up...

Start With Why - I always recommend that coaches be able to clearly relate the "why" behind everything in their programs. This book from Simon Sinek goes a bit further, illustrating how successful companies prioritize the "why" and then emphasize the "how" and "what" (in that order). As we work toward opening the second Cressey Sports Performance facility and effectively shift from "just" building a business to actually building a brand, it's been a good resource for me to consider how we relate the "CSP Experience" to folks.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 7/6/14

Written on July 6, 2014 at 5:52 am, by Eric Cressey

I hope everyone had a great 4th of July. After a quick blog hiatus, we're back to it today with some recommended strength and conditioning reading:

Elite Training Mentorship - In this month's update, I have a webinar - "Do You Really Need More Thoracic Extension?" - as well as two exercise demonstration videos and an article. Tyler English has some excellent content in this update, too.

Connecting with Cressey - Ashley Crosby, director of social media for the Cape Cod Baseball League, came up to hang out at Cressey Performance, and wrote up her experience. Also, here is a follow-up piece on the CCBL website that goes into even more detail.

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The Not-So-Ugly Truth About Gluten - TC Luoma did a great job with this piece for T-Nation.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 6/8/14

Written on June 8, 2014 at 11:55 pm, by Eric Cressey

Here's this week's list of recommended strength and conditioning reading/viewing/listening:

An Interview with Matt Blake - This was a good podcast with CP Pitching Coordinator, Matt Blake. They discuss long-term pitching development and the interaction between our strength and conditioning work with his mechanical coaching.

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Elite Training Mentorship - For this month's update, I did a business webinar - The Top 10 Financial Mistakes Trainers Make - as well as two exercise demonstrations and an article. You'll also find content from Vaughn Bethel and Tyler English.

Assisted Jump Variations - Ben Bruno introduces some good ideas on regressing power training exercises for general fitness populations who may not be ready for more complex, high-impact options.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 5/12/14

Written on May 12, 2014 at 2:37 am, by Eric Cressey

It's time for this week's list of recommended strength and conditioning reading:

Elite Training Mentorship - In this month's update, I publish a webinar - 5 Important Lower Body Functional Anatomy Considerations - as well as two exercise demonstration videos and an article. The rest of the ETM crew kicks in some awesome content as well. If you haven't checked out Elite Training Mentorship, you're missing out on a super affordable way to stay on top of continuing education in the fitness industry - and so so very affordably.

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Is Bulletproof Coffee all it's cracked up to be? - As usual, the good folks at Precision Nutrition take a solid, unbiased look at a popular nutrition approach.  Before you try Bulletproof Coffee, be sure to give this a read.

Can Cell Phones Harm Your Health? - This post from Adam Bornstein definitely resonated with me, as I definitely spend too much time worrying about text messages.  As I've been traveling Europe for the past 12 days, it's been incredibly nice to just have the phone turned off completely!

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 3/10/14

Written on March 10, 2014 at 8:01 am, by Eric Cressey

I hope you all had a great weekend.  Before the Monday Blues can set in, here are some recommended strength and conditioning reads to get the week started off on the right foot.

Is Nutrient Timing Dead? – Not a week goes by the Dr. John Berardi and his team at Precision Nutrition don't kick out some awesome nutrition-related content. Former CP employee and current PN team member Brian St. Pierre (who authored The High Performance Handbook Nutrition Guide) took the lead on this great article.

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Reality: You Can't Run a Sub 5.0 Forty – This article is absolutely awesome because it highlights just how inflated most high school 40 times are. 

Elite Training Mentorship – In this month's ETM, I've got two new exercise demonstration videos, an article, and a webinar called "5 Important Upper Body Functional Anatomy Considerations." There's also some great content from Tyler English and Vaughn Bethell this month.

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Strength and Conditioning: What I Learned in 2013

Written on February 5, 2014 at 7:22 am, by Eric Cressey

This is the eighth time I’ve recapped some of the bigger discoveries of the previous year in an article.   As I look back on the previous seven years of content, I notice a number of key observations that have immeasurably improved the way that I coach and program for athletes.  To that end, I hope that the 2013 recap offers some solid pearls of wisdom you can apply right away.

1. Frequent soft tissue work throughout the day works best.

We might not know exactly why soft tissue approaches – everything from foam rolling, to massage, to instrument-assisted modalities – work, but we do know that they help people feel and move better.  With that in mind, we’re always searching for ways to help people get faster results with less discomfort.

Earlier this year, Chris Howard, the massage therapist at Cressey Performance, was flipping back through an old massage therapy textbook and found a little pearl: a suggestion that shorter, frequent exposures to soft tissue work throughout the day is likely more effective than one longer session.  And, it certainly makes sense; our bodies “learn” and adapt better with frequent exposures. 

Candidly, it always drives me bonkers when I see someone foam roll for 30 minutes at the start of the session.  You aren’t going to magically fix everything in one session; you have to be patient and persistent.  In fact, Thomas Myers (an authority on fascia and bodywork), has commented that prominent changes may take 18-24 months to set in. 

Nowadays, when we have an athlete who is particularly balled up in one area, we heavily emphasize repeated exposures.  We recommend that they split massage therapy sessions up into shorter appointments throughout the week.  And, we’ll have them hop on the foam roller 5-6 times per day for 30-60s, as opposed to just grinding away at the same spot in one lengthy session.  It’s not convenient, but the results are definitely noticeably better.

2. Understanding an individual’s movement learning style can improve your coaching effectiveness instantly.

I’ve always divided folks I coach into three categories, according to their dominant learning styles: visual, kinesthetic, and auditory.

Visual learners can watch an exercise be performed, and then go right to it.

Auditory learners can simply hear a cue, and then go to town.

Kinesthetic learners need to actually be put in a position to appreciate what it feels like, and then they can rock and roll.

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While most individuals are a combination of all three categories, one invariably predominates in every single case I’ve ever encountered.  With this in mind, determining an individual’s learning style during my assessment is something I started to do in 2013.  If you can streamline the cues you give, athletes will pick movements up faster, and you’ll be able to get in more quality work from the session.

I should also note that no one of these three categories is “superior;” they’re just different.  I’ve had professional athletes from all three categories.

3. External focus cues rock.

Building on the coaching cues theme, the best presentation I saw this year was Nick Winkelman’s Perform Better talk on external focus cues.

As a brief background, an internal focus cue would be one that made you think about how your body is moving.  Examples would be “extend your hips” or “tuck your elbows.”

Conversely, an external focus cue would have you focus on something in your surrounding environment. Examples would be “rip the bar apart” or “drive your heels through the floor.”  The bar and the floor are points of external focus.

Most coaches use a combination of the two – but with a greater emphasis on internal focus cues.  As Nick demonstrated with an extensive review of the literature, we out to reverse this trend, as external focus cues almost universally lead to improved performance and technique when compared to internal focus cues.

With this research in mind, evaluate the cues you give yourself before each lift.  When you deadlift, are you telling yourself to “keep the chest up” or are you reminding yourself to “show the logo on your shirt to the guy in front of you?”  Sometimes, relating things just a little bit differently can yield dramatic changes.

4. You should learn as much about recovery as you do about training at an early age.

Every decade in life seems to come with new “scare tactics” to make you think that your body is going to fall apart when you hit 30, 40, 50, 60, etc.  I turned 32 in 2013, so I’ve now had almost three years to stew over this.  Recovery just isn’t the same as you age, not matter how great you are with diet, sleep, and monitoring training volume, as degenerative changes kick in faster.  I can tell you this and I’m only at the start of the gradual downslope!

I’ve heard that, on average, strength peaks at age 29.  Obviously, this can change dramatically based on training experience.  However, in my line of work – professional baseball – the “prime” for players is widely regarded as ages 26-31.  Effectively, this constitutes just before the peak, the peak itself, and then just after the peak.  The higher the peak, the longer a playing career a player has.  This is one reason it’s so important to establish a strong physical foundation with athletes early in their career; it’s what will likely sustain their skillsets for longer.

It is equally important, however, to learn about what recovery strategies work well for you at an early age.  In fact, I’d say that not paying more attention to recovery in my younger years was one of the biggest mistakes I made.  It would have not only made my progress faster, but just as importantly, it would have prevented accumulated wear and tear for down the road (i.e., now).

Everyone responds differently to various recovery protocols.  I have guys who love ice baths, and others who absolutely hate icing.  I’ve seen players thrive with compression approaches, and others who saw no change. 

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Some high-level athletes can do great with seven hours of sleep, and others need 9-10 each night. Recovery is a 100% individual thing – and it’s constantly changing as you age and encounter new training challenges.

For that reason, don’t just get excited about the latest, greatest training program on the market.  Rather, try to get just as excited about finding a way that you can bounce back effectively between sessions.  It might be nutrition, supplementation, manual therapy, movement schemes, or initiatives like ice or compression.  The sooner you learn it, the better off you’ll be when you start hearing more and more of the “scare tactics” about age.

Conclusion

These four items were just the tip of the iceberg, as the strength and conditioning field is incredibly dynamic and new information emerges on a daily basis. Luckily, it's easy to stay up to speed on the latest cutting-edge information.  If you're looking for an affordable online resource to help you in this regard, check out Elite Training Mentorship.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 1/6/14

Written on January 6, 2014 at 8:04 am, by Eric Cressey

It's time for the first 2014 installment of this weekly series.  Check out these recommended strength and conditioning reads:

Elite Training Mentorship – This month's update from me includes a presentation on the difference between anterior shoulder instability and laxity, and I talk about our approaches with athletes who may encounter these issues. There are also some great additions from Vaughn Bethell and Tyler English this month.

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How to Hip Hinge Like a Boss – My buddy (and Cressey Performance co-founder) Tony Gentilcore did a great job with this piece.  If you struggle with hip hinging, this is a good place to start.

Perception, Threat, Pain, and Purple – Bill Hartman makes an awesome point about dealing with people with pain.  Hint: it's about much more than just having a good series of assessments and corrective drills!

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 10/4/13

Written on October 4, 2013 at 6:49 am, by Eric Cressey

Here's this week's list of recommended strength and conditioning reading:

Elite Training Mentorship – In this month's update, I go into a ton of detail with a video on scapular assessment and its implications for program design and coaching. I've also got two exercise demonstrations and an article to accompany what the rest of the ETM crew has provided for great content this go-round.

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The Low-Down on Levers – This is an excellent post by Dean Somerset – as we've come to expect from Dean, by this point!

Why You Should Fill Your Company With Athletes – I found this article at Forbes.com really interesting.  We always hear people talk about how athletics prepare kids for real life, but nobody ever discusses exactly how they do so.  This article was the first thing I've read that went down that road.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 8/14/13

Written on August 14, 2013 at 8:18 am, by Eric Cressey

Here's this week's list of recommended strength and conditioning reading:

Elite Training Mentorship – In our August update, I have an in-service called "7 Ways to Progress a Push-up," as well as two new exercise demonstrations and an article.  Add in great content from Mike Robertson, Vaughn Bethell, Tyler English, Dave Schmitz, and the Smarter Group Training guys, and you've got loads of new valuable training information waiting for you.

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Lessons in Coaching – This article from Mike Robertson should be "must-read" material for all new strength and conditioning coaches and personal trainers.

7 Squat Dilemmas Solved – This squat article from Bret Contreras is a great complement to the excellent piece Dean Somerset wrote for T-Nation a few weeks ago.

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