Hurricane Sandy is upon us, and it’s only a matter of time before her wrath obliterates us all and is the leading cause to the zombie apocalypse (can you think of a better reason for it). But on a serious note I hope everyone in the northeast remains safe, so stock up a little, stay inside, and make sure your dogs are securely attached to the pole (Doggie kite flying anyone?)
Congrats to the San Francisco Giants on winning their second World Series in 3 years. They did an amazing job of making the Tigers look like the Yankees did this postseason.
And props to the other (better) Giants, the New York Football Giants for earning a 4-0 record at the new Cowboys stadium, having a 6-2 record and sitting 2.5 games up in the NFC East. It was a brutal game which I believe neither team should have won, but thankfully the Giants came out on top. As Herm Edwards famously said “You play to win the game”, the Giants did just that.
Yesterday I attended Cressey Performance’s 1st Annual Fall Seminer all the way up in Hudson Ma.
There were 7 Presenters total. 4 of which were current Cressey Performance (CP) coaches, and the others worked at/with CP in one form or another at one time. I won’t go into detail about all of the presentations, but I want to touch on a few of the topics that I feel you should know about.
The First Presenter was Eric Cressey (Owner of CP), his topic was “Understanding and Managing Congenital Laxity”. (what a mouthful)
To sum it up the best I can, it was about your body’s mobility with regards to stretching. Million dollar question: What does Static Stretching actually do for you? Short Answer: Absolutely Nothing (99.9% of the time). It is usually believed that stretching will help to lengthen the muscles, but in actuality it takes the muscles a minimum of 30 minutes of constant stretching (yes you read that correctly) for the muscle to even begin to lengthen. And even with that all a stretch does is it temporarily changes your body’s tolerance to the stretch (hence why it feels good afterwards).
Don’t get me wrong, some individuals do have a true muscle shortness and stretching will benefit them, but this population is so small and insignificant, that it doesn’t matter.
So how do we get rid of muscle tightness? Short Answer: Mobility work. Think about it, most of your muscles connect at the joints, so fixing the joints will pretty much cause the muscle tightness to fix itself.
Mobility is defined as One’s ability to reach the goal movement or posture/position. The problem is that the same mobility work will not work for everyone. What works for a 12 year old won’t work for a 15 year old, which won’t work for an 18 year old, which won’t work for a 45 year old man who sits at a desk all day, and rightfully so. Your body is constantly changing as you age and you need to adjust your work accordingly.
I can go on forever about mobility related stuff, but there is more to talk about so I will post more about it in the future.
The next presenter I want to talk about was CP Strength Coach Christopher Howard. His presentation was entitled “Program Design Considerations for the Young Athlete”. All I can say is Wow, he really hit the nail on the head with his presentation. Chris mostly trains young athletes in the age range of 10-14. This is the ideal age to start weight lifting.
“Generally Speaking, if children are ready for participation in organized sports or activities – such as Little League Baseball, Soccer, or Gymnastics – then they are ready for some type of Strength Training” – ACSM Current Comment on Youth Strength Training
Strength Training (not Weightlifting or Powerlifting) is defined as: A systematic program of exercises designed to increase the individuals ability to exert or resist force.
So when training your young athletes your primary goal will be to get them to resist external force, and to move an external force. Most of the time the external load will be their body weight. Most youth athletes will struggle to do a pushup, because they lack the strength and the stability. So to first build the stability the starting exercise for the kid will be a plank. Medicine Balls are also a great tool for kids because its lightweight, gives amazing benefits, and it’s also fun for them.
Free Weights is the last step for young athletes and should only be used if they prove to the coach that they have the strength and stability to be able to handle them. Most of the young athletes at CP use the Trap Bar for deadlifts, if the weight is too much they will do a similar exercise with the kettlebell.
Training frequency is also important, at least twice a week is preferred but no more than 4 days per week (depending on the athletes sports schedule). Once per week is not enough because the athletes will simply not remember the tricks and cues the coach gives them on correct form, and this will hinder their performance and progress in the coming weeks.
The last presentation I want to discuss is from Tony Gentilecore (who I had the opportunity to chat with for a bit at the seminar). His presentation was entitled “Deep Squats: Are they worth it?”. I will again come up with the simplest answer possible: It Depends! I am not the first to say this but I truly believe it that “Squats aren’t for everyone”. However like with the stretching there is a small population that shouldn’t be squatting. For example: an individual with 2 blown out knees and 3 herniated disks in their lumbar spine. Yeah he probably shouldn’t squat. Most of you in one way or another can squat, as long as it’s done properly.
There is a rumor going around that squatting is bad for your knees, well I am here to prove that that statement is false. A study done in 2001 by Salem and Powers: “Patellofemoral (knee) joint Kinetics during the Squat on Collegiate Female Athletes” found that NO discernible differences at 70,90 and 110 degress of knee flexion with regards to patellofemoral joint reaction forces and joint stress.
So in English that reads, squatting with a knee flexion at those degrees puts no additional stress on the knees compared to standing. There I just proved that Squatting is not bad for your knees! BOOM!!!!
The knee is set up perfectly to do what it needs to do, the ACL/PCL/LCL/MCL all keep the knee joint in place and prevent unnecessary movements. The knee can protect itself!
The next topic covered was the spine. You MUST keep a neutral spine when squatting. You can cue an individual as many times/ways as you want, but until you show them and describe to them how to “arch” your back, most people will never learn it. Think “Chest Up and Out” when teaching neutral spine.
A Few important modifications. If there is pain, don’t do it. Always work a pain free Range of Motion (ROM). Favor Single leg work because it works pelvic stability and forces you to use less of an external load versus Bilateral Movements. Address tissue quality, so Foam Rolling before you squat should be a requirement.
Also working the glutes and hamstrings will drastically help the squat. So deadlifts, pull-throughs, bridges etc. will all benefit your squats.
Okay so there is my (short) summary of the seminar. It was very informative and I will be attending more. Thanks to everyone who made the seminar happen.
If anyone has any questions or comments on the topics I covered, please don’t hesitate to ask! Stay Safe these next few days!