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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 1/28/13

Written on January 28, 2013 at 9:28 am, by Eric Cressey

Here’s a list of recommended strength and conditioning reads to kick off your week on the right foot:

Omega-6 vs. Omega-3: Who Cares? – The Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio is a topic that’s been scrutinized heavily in analyzing the typical American diet, but if you’re someone who is already good about picking healthy food options, you may be making things far too complex.  Dr. Mike Roussell clarifies in this article.

Is Metabolic Resistance Training Right for Everyone? – This was a guest post I published from Joe Dowdell back in 2011, and a conversation I had about progressions in beginners made me think of it.  This is a “must-read” for up-and-coming trainers who deal with deconditioned folks in the general population.

Will Your College Go Out of Business Before You Graduate? – I thought this was a tremendously interesting post from Mark Cuban.  While it might not seem related to the fitness industry at first glance, I suspect that our field could be among the first ones affected if a scenario like this emerged.  With such a low barrier to entry in this industry, it’s not unreasonable to think that folks will shun the $250,000 (or more) exercise science degree and just go right to the trenches. I touched on this a little bit a while back in my blog posts, Is An Exercise Science Degree Really Worth it? – Part 1 and Part 2.

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Is Metabolic Resistance Training Right for Everyone?

Written on November 17, 2011 at 8:07 pm, by Eric Cressey

Today’s guest blog on Metabolic Resistance Training comes from Joe Dowdell, co-creator of the Peak Diet and Training Summit DVD set.

Metabolic Resistance Training has received a lot of attention over the last few years, especially for fat loss.  However, the reality is that many strength coaches have been using this technique with their clients and athletes for a very long time.

Before we go any further, and so we are all on the same page, my view or definition of metabolic resistance training is any strength training session that employs a series of 4-8 exercises (which are predominantly multi-joint in nature), while utilizing little (i.e., under 30 seconds) to no rest between sets.  In other words, these metabolic resistance training sessions incorporate things like the Olympic lifts, squats, chin-ups, push-ups, kettlebell Swings, medicine ball throws, etc. in order to call upon as many muscle groups as possible in a single training session.  In addition to the shorter rest periods, one may see “timed sets” as another variable, where the client performs as many reps as possible in a given time frame.

The overall training effect of metabolic resistance training is a greater metabolic disturbance in the body’s physiology, which in turn can elevate your caloric expenditure for a greater period of time following your workout.  Compared to a traditional strength training session, this style of training can be very effective for body composition changes as well as an increase in one’s work capacity.

All of this sounds pretty great, especially if a client’s goal is fat loss, right?  Well, yes and no.  You see, the problem is that some people just aren’t ready for metabolic resistance training, especially when they first come to see you (or at least not to this degree).  Many people, especially sedentary individuals, have underlying muscle imbalances that can lead to faulty movement patterns.

And, I’ve also found that some people are too weak to even get a proper metabolic training effect.  So, in both of these cases, wouldn’t these people be better served by doing some structural balance work and maybe just some overall strength training?  And, if we wanted to get some conditioning in with client, perhaps it might be better to use a Airdyne, VersaClimber, or Prowler after the strength training program wraps up for the day.  This way, we can still get them a bit of a sweat, but the learning curve is pretty low.  Just a thought.

So, you may be asking yourself, what should you do instead?  Well, you can actually still set up a strength and conditioning program that will improve someone’s body composition without using metabolic resistance training.  In fact, I often use more of a German Body Comp style of training for client’s in the early stages of training, especially for beginners or sedentary individuals.  In other words, I may pair up a lower body exercise (like a split squat) with an upper body exercise (like a flat, neutral grip DB bench press) and allow the client 60 seconds of rest between each set of the two exercises.  Or, I may use agonist-antagonist sequence, like a TRX high row followed by a push-up while employing the same protocol for the rest period.  This type of training program will allow me to get quite a bit of work done while also giving me the flexibility to target a client’s weaknesses, develop better overall strength and stability while also giving me the opportunity to teach them how to move more effectively.

On the other hand, if I just fast tracked them into a more metabolic style of training like I see many trainers doing with their clients, I’m not allowing that client the opportunity to develop the kind of solid fundamental movement patterns that I want them to have.  And, I may be just building strength on top of a dysfunctional foundation, which could lead to a setback further down the road.  So, next time, you sit down to design a new client’s fat loss program, ask yourself the following question:

Is this client ready for Metabolic Resistance Training or do I need to first progress them to that point?

Joe covers more on this, as well as proper periodization models, energy systems training, how to structure and sequence a training session, and a lot more in our new Peak Diet & Training Design Home Study Course. Grab a copy before Friday at midnight and you’ll save $100, get a handful of other goodies and bonuses, and earn 2.0 NSCA CEU credits.

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Peak Diet and Training Summit DVDs

Written on November 15, 2011 at 6:42 am, by Eric Cressey

I just wanted to give you a quick heads-up that Joe Dowdell and Dr. Mike Roussell just released their Peak Diet and Training Summit Package, a super comprehensive resource geared toward fitness professionals.

I’ve known and respected Joe for quite some time, and it’s awesome to see him finally put a product out there, as he has tremendous skills and has worked with loads of celebrities and athletes.  I’ve always been a fan of Roussell’s, too, as he does an outstanding job of making complex nutrition practices easy to understand and implement.  These two are a great team – and I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen thus far as I’ve worked my way through the product.  It’s an awesome resource, whether you’re someone who wants to learn how to write strength and conditioning programs, or grasp how nutrition fits into the equation.

This sucker is an 11-DVD set and 500+ pages of tag-along manuals; it’s huge!  The product also provides 2.0 CEUs, which is pretty clutch for many personal trainers this time of year with recertification deadlines approaching.

The resource is on sale for $100 off this week only, and they’ve sweetened the deal with some cool bonuses for those who purchase sooner than later.  For more information, check out the Peak Diet and Training Summit Package.  I support this thing 100%!

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Is an Exercise Science Degree Really Worth It? – Part 1

Written on November 6, 2011 at 8:47 pm, by Eric Cressey

Today’s post is going to rub some folks in academia the wrong way.  Therefore, I want to preface the piece that follows by saying:

a) I am a huge advocate of a multi-faceted education, encompassing “traditional” directed study (e.g., classroom education), self-study, internships, and experimentation.

b) I loved my college experience – both undergraduate and graduate.  I benefited tremendously and made a lot of valuable connections.

However, it didn’t come easily; I got out of it what I put into it.  To be candid, there are a lot of my peers who took the exact same courses and got the exact same degrees who didn’t walk away having gotten their money’s worth.

But, then again, does anyone really get their money’s worth?

College isn’t cheap nowadays. Check out the following statistics from CollegeBoard.com (as of 2011; this is sure to increase in the years to come):

  • Public four-year colleges charge, on average, $7,605 per year in tuition and fees for in-state students. The average surcharge for full-time out-of-state students at these institutions is $11,990. 
  • Private nonprofit four-year colleges charge, on average, $27,293 per year in tuition and fees.
  • Public two-year colleges charge, on average, $2,713 per year in tuition and fees.

Of course, this doesn’t take into account the cost of books, travel, food, accommodations, and the $5,000 in on-campus parking tickets you’ll end up paying.  Educations can run upwards of $220,000 - and that's before you consider student loan interest and the opportunity cost of investing that money.

Assume 24-30 credits per year (12-15 per semester), you’re looking at a per credit hour cost of $399.66-$499.58 for public, out-of-state.  It’d be $253.50-$316.88 for public, in-state.  Public two-year colleges would be $90.43-$113.04. Finally, private would be $909.77-$1137.21. Sorry, Mom and Dad; I’ve never in all my years heard a kid say that an hour with one of his professors – even in a one-on-one context – was worth over a grand.

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They also charge you to do internships elsewhere.  In other words, you have to pay to get credits accepted – which means that the cost per hour you actually spend with college faculty is, in fact, even higher.

Many folks go to college to figure out what they want to do.  Others go because it is a social experience that is both fun – and helpful in maturing them as individuals.  That’s fine.

However, it is becoming tougher and tougher to consider it an investment, especially since the “success gap” between college graduates and those who don’t attend college is getting smaller and smaller.  Along these lines, if you haven’t read it already, I’d strongly encourage you to read Michael Ellsberg’s New York Times piece, Will Dropouts Save America?

The exercise science field is one in which this success gap is arguably smaller than in any other.  The barrier to entry to the personal training field is incredibly low; independent of schooling and previous experience, one can become certified in a matter of a few hours via an online test, and many gyms will hire people who aren’t even certified or insured.  In fact, as I wrote a few years ago, Josef Brandenburg, a great trainer based in Washington, D.C., actually got his pet pug certified.  The sad truth is that he could probably do a better job than most of the trainers out there who are pulling $100/hour.

Of course, I’m preaching to the choir here.  Most of the folks reading this blog are educated and highly motivated to be the best that they can be.  You seek out the best reading materials, DVDs, seminars, and colleagues from which you can learn.  Personal training means a lot to people who grew up and went to college wanting to eventually help people get healthy, improve quality of life, optimize sports performance, or simply be more confident.

However, that doesn’t change the fact that our profession as a whole has become a “fall-back” career.  It can be what college kids decide to do over summer vacation to make a few bucks, or what extremely well-paid lawyers or accountants take up when they get sick of long hours at desk jobs.

That doesn’t make them bad people; it just means that the minimal regulation in our industry has rendered a college education in this field a trivial competitive advantage in the workplace.

Additionally, this doesn't mean that college professors aren't qualified or doing their jobs sufficiently. It just means that the curricula that typifies an exercise science degree simply isn't sufficient to provide a competitive advantage over non-college-educated candidates in the workforce. There are exceptions, no doubt,in the form of outstanding professors who go above and beyond the call of duty to help student, but I can't honestly say that I've ever heard of a college kid coming out of any undergraduate exercise science program boasting of a competitive advantage that was uniquely afforded to him/her because of the education just completed. The closest thing might be a program with a strong alumni network that provides easier access to job opportunities.

Of course, the cream will rise to the top in any field – and that’s certainly true of exercise science as well.  The industry leaders are, for the most part, people with college educations in exercise science (or closely related fields) – but the question one must ask is, “would these people have been successful in our field even without the courses they took in their undergraduate studies?”

Don’t you think Mike Robertson’s drive for self study would have sustained him in a successful career in this field even without a degree?

Don’t you think Todd Durkin’s energy, charisma, and passion for helping people would have shone through even if he hadn’t gotten a degree?

Moreover, I can list dozens of bright minds making outstanding headway in this field with “non-exercise-science” college degrees.  John Romaniello (Psychobiology/ English), Joe Dowdell (Sociology/Economics), and Ben Bruno (Sociology) are all successful, forward-thinking trainers who come to mind instantly, and they’re just the tip of the iceberg.

Some of my best interns have come from undergraduate majors like English Literature, Acting, and Biology.  We’ve had others who didn’t even have college degrees and absolutely dominated in their roles at Cressey Performance.

Guys like Nate Green, Adam Bornstein, Sean Hyson, Lou Schuler, and Adam Campbell don’t have college degrees in exercise science (although Campbell did get a graduate degree in Exercise Physiology following his undergraduate in English).  However, from their prolific writing careers and by surrounding themselves with the best trainers on the planet, they’ve become incredibly qualified trainers themselves – even if they don’t have to train anybody as part of their jobs.

With all these considerations in mind, the way I see it, you’ve got three options to distinguish yourself in the field of exercise science – and I'll share them in part 2 of this article.  If you’re a high school or college student contemplating a career in exercise science, this will be must-read material.

In the meantime, you may be interested in checking out Elite Training Mentorship, our affordable online education program for fitness professionals.

 

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Random Friday Thoughts: 3/19/10

Written on March 19, 2010 at 11:08 am, by Eric Cressey

1. I thought I’d kick this post off with a little technique troubleshooting.  Yesterday, one of the “guinea pigs” for my new project emailed this video to me and asked for some suggestions on bench press technique:

BP from Caleb Chiu on Vimeo.

My suggestions to him were as follows:

a. Your feet are antsy and jumping all over the place.  Get them pulled up a bit more under you so that they can’t move around.  Then, focus on pushing them into the floor the entire set.

b. Get more air in your belly.  Notice how the stomach sinks in?  That’s because you don’t have any air in it!

c. Get a handoff.  The #1 reason guys flair the elbows out is that they lose scapular stability – and you lose that the second you hand off to yourself.

2. I’m headed to a Postural Restoration Institute Myokinematic Restoration Seminar this weekend up in Portland, ME – while my fiancee and my mother work on stuff for the wedding.  It is amazing what lengths guys will go to in order to escape wedding planning, huh?

Just kidding; I’m actually really excited about it.  Neil Rampe of the Arizona Diamondbacks turned me on to the PRI stuff and it’s really intrigued me from the get-go.

3. It’s been a fun week around here with the start of the high school baseball season.  I got over to help out with some warm-ups and movement training with the Lincoln-Sudbury guys during tryouts on Mon-Tue.  In all, we saw 33 Lincoln-Sudbury high school baseball players – from freshman to seniors – this off-season, so it was pretty easy to pick up where we left off with them in the weight room.  There was great energy, and lots of excitement about the new season.

4. Here’s a great feature on Blue Jays prospect Tim Collins and his training at Cressey Performance.

5. I was interviewed last week for an article about pitch counts.  It’s now featured HERE.

6. Some feedback on Assess & Correct:

“I was pretty excited when I received an e-mail from Eric and Mike saying that I was getting an advanced copy of their new Assess and Correct product.  Mike and Eric have had a history of putting out top notch information and products and when I saw that Bill Hartman was also involved in this new product I knew that this was going to be even more special.

“Since I own a fitness facility, I’m always looking for cutting edge information that I can recommend to my trainers.  After viewing the DVDs and reading through the manuals, my first thought was, ‘Wow, a home run!’

“Finally, a product that I could wholeheartedly recommend to all of my trainers as an excellent go-to reference tool to enhance their abilities in assessing their clients needs; pinpointing their weakness &/or imbalances and then effectively addressing these findings to make sure their clients can achieve their goals safely.”

Joe Dowdell, CSCS – Founder & Co-owner of Peak Performance, NYC
www.peakperformancenyc.com

Click here to pick up a copy of Assess and Correct.

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7. Last, but certainly not least, CP athlete Danny O’Connor aims to run his professional boxing record to 11-o tonight with a bout at Twin River Casino in Rhode Island. Good luck, Danny!

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