Category Archives: Eric Cressey
1. Barbell Reverse Lunge – Front Squat Grip
2. Barbell Forward Lunges
3. DB Reverse Lunge to 1-Leg RDL
4. 1-Arm DB Bulgarian Split Squats from Deficit
5. Sled Pushing (or pulling, or dragging, or side-stepping, or whatever)
I first learned about Eric Cressey back in 2004 when he wrote a cool article on rotator cuff training for T-nation. Since that time Eric has quickly climbed to the top in the fitness industry. His knowledge of strength training and performance development is awesome (Cressey has a monstrous deadlift). But his techniques for corrective exercise – especially the shoulder – is what really sets him apart. In fact, when my brother recently injured his rotator cuff, Eric Cressey is the first person that came to mind to help him. Cressey Performance in Massachusetts has become one of the most sought-after training facilities in the country for everyone from professional athletes to weekend warriors.
When Cressey talks, I listen, because over the last 7 years he’s spent more time in the trenches than just about anyone I know. And that’s why I’m happy to have him as a guest this week.
So let’s get to it!
CW: First off, thanks for taking time out of your schedule to chat. Here’s my first question: Since you work with a lot of high-performance athletes, what are three principles that apply equally to athletes as well as non-athletes?
EC: I think people would be surprised to realize just how similar the Average Joe or Jane is to a professional athlete – both socially and physically.
The lay population often sits in front of a computer for 8-10 hours a day, but many pro athletes have 4-8 hour flights or 10+ hour bus rides where they’re sitting – and because they’re taller, sitting is even more uncomfortable and problematic. Like everyone else, they spend time surfing the internet, Skyping, playing video games, and goofing around on Facebook/Twitter. The advances in technology have hurt everyone from a physical fitness standpoint – but brought the “Pros and the Joes” closer together, believe it or not.
They’re also very similar in that they want the most bang for their buck. Most pro athletes are no different than anyone else in that they want to get in their training, and then go to visit their families, relax, play golf, or whatever else. They really don’t have interest in putting in six hours per day in training outside of the times when they have to do so (especially during the in-season).
With that in mind, three principles that are crucial to the success of both populations are:
1. Realize that consistency is everything. I always tell our clients from all walks of life that the best strength and conditioning programs are ones that are sustainable. It’s not about working hard for three months and making great progress – only to fall off the bandwagon for a month. This is absolutely huge for professional athletes who need to maximize progress in the off-season; they just can’t afford to have unplanned breaks in training if they want to improve from year to year.
If a program isn’t conducive to your goals and lifestyle, then it isn’t a good program. That’s why, when I created Show and Go I went out of my way to create 2x/week, 3x/week, and 4x/week strength training options – plus five supplemental conditioning options and a host of exercise modifications. I wanted it to be a very versatile resource.
Likewise, I wanted it to be safe; a program isn’t good if it injures you and prevents you from exercising. Solid programs include targeted efforts to reduce the likelihood of injury via means like mobility warm-ups, supplemental stretching recommendations, specific progressions, fluctuations in training stress, and alternative exercises (“plan B”) in case you aren’t quite ready to execute “Plan A.”
2. You must balance competing demands, and prioritize the ones that are the most pressing at a given time. Using our professional baseball pitchers as an example, their training consists of strength training, mobility work, medicine ball throws, movement training, and the throwing program (which is near daily in nature). In the Cressey Performance system, when the throwing program ramps up, the medicine ball work must come down substantially, and the strength training tapers off just a bit. You simply can’t keep adding without subtracting something else and making a tradeoff, as athletes only have a certain amount of recovery capacity, and it’s hard to fine-tune an exact movement like throwing a baseball if you’re fatigued from everything else.
Managing competing demands is arguably more challenging in the general population, as their jobs outside the gym are usually more stressful than those that face many professional athletes – meaning that the Joes and the Janes have less recovery capacity with which to work. It seems logical that when you add something to a program, you have to subtract something else – but I’m constantly amazed at how many people decide to just tack on more volume when they can’t lose fat or gain muscle mass fast enough. Sometimes, you just need to change the composition of the program, not add more and more, thereby creating three-hour marathon training sessions. This leads to my next point…
3. The success comes from the overall program, not just the individual parts. In other words, synergy is everything.
The aforementioned pitchers can’t just go out and start a throwing program after doing nothing for three months. Rather, they need to work to enhance their mobility and get stronger, more reactive, and more powerful first. If they skip these important steps, they increase their likelihood of injury, make it harder to re-acquire a skilled movement, and reduce the likelihood of improvement.
In the general population, a good strength and conditioning program consists of tremendous interdependencies. How well you deadlift depends on the training you’ve done in the previous month, week, and day – and how thorough and targeted your mobility warm-up (or lack thereof, in many unfortunate cases) was prior to that day’s training session. Those trainees who have the best results are the ones that line everything up – from nutrition, to strength training, to mobility work, to movement training, to metabolic conditioning, to recovery protocols.
CW: I agree. It’s common for people to think they’re advanced when they’re really not. Can you mention a few things a pro athlete typically does that a weekend warrior shouldn’t do?
EC: I would strongly discourage non-professional athletes from holding shirtless press conferences in their driveways while exercising during contract holdouts.
Then again, I wouldn’t really recommend that to Terrell Owens or any professional athlete, for that matter, but I digress…
To be honest, in the context of resistance training, a lot of professional athletes aren’t really as advanced as you might think, especially after a long season that’s taken its toll on them. Many of them have a ton of similarities with our general fitness clients – but just have different exercise contraindications and energy systems needs.
Eric Cressey is one of the few people I keep in my circle of advisors. He’s been training, studying, lifting and writing with passion and enthusiasm that’s rare in this field. Cressey Performance is definitely a place to check out if you’re in the Massachusetts area. So if you missed part I of my interview with him, be sure to check it out here.
Now we’ll pick up the rest of his interview where Eric discusses his awesome new training manual, Show and Go, for a bigger, stronger, healthier body.
CW: I got a good laugh reading your statement in the introduction of Show and Go. You said, “This book is for people who give a sh*t.” Care to elaborate?
EC: I was actually pretty excited to be able to swear whenever I wanted; I guess that’s the beauty of self-publishing! Rather than reinvent the wheel, I’ll share a little excerpt from the text that I think will answer the question:
““…you’ll find that the tone of this manual is much less conversational and entertaining, and much more “troubleshooting” and “do this and get diesel.” Fortunately, just as you’re more tolerant to cursing, you’re also more tolerant to training programs that will challenge, educate, and motivate you to all news levels of strength, performance, and health. My feeling is that you didn’t purchase this e-book to be entertained; you purchased it to get direction and results.
“In the program that follows, I can do a lot more in terms of exercise variety, at least within the confines of what “typical” gyms’ equipment selections allow. I can build more “on the fly” strength tests into the programs on top of the already-challenging loading protocols. I can include both 3- and 4-day-a-week training programs to accommodate your unique schedule. I can provide exercise alternatives if you lift somewhere that doesn’t have all the equipment you’d need to perform the program as-written. And, I can create an online video library to make it easier for you to see the exercises and learn some of the exact coaching cues we use with our athletes at Cressey Performance.
“Additionally, self-publishing affords me several luxuries; most notably, I have no restrictions on the length of the text. I can write as much or as little as I want – and basically do whatever is required to make the program exactly what I want it to be. Exercise descriptions aren’t limited to a certain number of sentences, and if I want to include seven exercises in a specific day’s session instead of six, for instance, it’s okay. I can also include ready-to-use templates that you can print out and take with you to the gym to record weights used, whereas traditional books are never conducive to this. Rather than do just one chapter on nutrition, I (thanks to the help of Brian St. Pierre) can have an entire supplemental product that could be an exhaustive resource in itself.
“And, on perhaps the most badass note, instead of just exercise photos for demonstrations, you’ll find an entire video library where you can view the proper technique for every single exercise in the Show and Go program. That’s about 175 exercises – which constitutes just enough on-camera time to qualify me for an Oscar in the “Best Performance by a Balding Meathead Strength Coach” category. Assuming an average of 12-15 seconds per video, you’ve essentially gotten yourself the equivalent of a 35-45 minute DVD on top of all this programming and my charming wit and personality.”
CW: Ha! Well said. So what kind of results can guys expect on this program? Is Show and Go for females, too?
EC: We put a big group of “guinea pigs” through the program with some outstanding results. It wasn’t uncommon to see increases of 80 pounds and more on the squat and deadlift, with improvements about half those amounts on bench pressing and chin-up totals (understandably smaller, given the smaller window of adaptation for upper body strength). We had people drop more than 25 pounds and 5% body fat while on the program, and we had scrawny guys who gained as much as 24 pounds in the four months. It came down to what their starting goals were, and how they attacked things nutritionally on the side. We even had many athletes who used this program in conjunction with their sports training – from endurance competitors to rugby players – with excellent improvements.
The cool thing is that literally every single one of these “guinea pigs” made a point of noting how much better they felt; they improved mobility and moved more fluently by the end of the program. This is a stark contrast to the aches and pains you normally see with programs geared toward performance improvements; the program not only improved performance and made people bigger, stronger, and leaner; it also helped set the stage for healthy future training.
It’s definitely a good fit for females looking to take things to the next level. We had several females go through the program with outstanding results – and in particular, we saw a lot of girls banging out a lot of chin-ups! Here’s a testimonial.
“My fiance, Mathew, and I completed Eric’s 16-week Show and Go program in June. We were both extremely pleased with our results. I increased my squat by 55lb, my deadlift by 33lb, my 3-rep maximum chin-up by 12lb, my bench press by 8lb and my standing jump by 7.5”- great results in just 16 weeks.
This is the first intensive strength program I have undertaken. The program will produce amazing results if you are completely committed, determined and motivated for the 16 weeks. I even managed to complete my training with international travel and demanding work pressures. Mathew was an ongoing source of support and this program highlighted the importance and value of a committed and motivated training partner.
As a female who up to three years ago focused their entire fitness regime on cardio, I highly recommend Eric’s program and his strength and conditioning expertise for maximizing strength gains and sculpting a lean physique.”
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
CW: Thanks for the interview!
I give Show and Go my highest rating. It’s one of the most complete programs I’ve seen in years. If you’re ready to take your body to the next level, and fix a nagging joint or two, be sure to check out his program at $50 off HERE.
1. The Regular Ol’ Push-Pull Superset
2. The “True Mark of Your Common Sense” Superset
3. The Stiff Ankle Superset
4. The Front Squat/Vertical Pull Superset
5. The Unilateral Superset
6. The “Miserable Lower Body Experience” Superset
7. The “Tony Gentilcore is a Royal A**hole” Superset
Supersetting My Closing Thoughts
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