6 Things Cressey and I agree on…

For those of you that don’t know Eric Cressey, he is an experienced athlete and powerlifter and has quickly established himself as one of the most brilliant strength coaches in the country.  After spending a week at his facility, I realized that he and I share strong opinions on a few issues that may be of interest to you.

1.  The most effective way to warm-up is to do some foam roll work, mobility work, and a few dynamic movements.  If you aren’t familiar with foam rolling techniques, learn.  Essentially you spend 5 minutes before your training session working through all the knots in your body and basically improving the pliability and health of your muscles and the fascia that encloses them.  You can and should mobilize your ankles (http://www.prodigyperformancetraining.com/wallanklemobility.html ), hips (http://www.prodigyperformancetraining.com/wallhipmobility.html), thoracic spine (http://www.prodigyperformancetraining.com/FRThoracicExtension.html )and glenohumeral (shoulder) joints (http://www.prodigyperformancetraining.com/HockeyStickDislocation.html ) prior to training.  You should do activation and stabilization work for the muscles around your knees (http://www.prodigyperformancetraining.com/SplitSquat.html ), core/lumbar spine area (http://www.prodigyperformancetraining.com/BirdDog.html and http://www.prodigyperformancetraining.com/FrontPlankMarch.html ), and scapula (http://www.prodigyperformancetraining.com/ScapPushUpElbows.html).  Ten minutes of work to improve the quality of your muscles, improve range-of-motion around the joints that need it, and activate the right muscles.  It seems like a no-brainer to me.

2.  If you want to get strong, you need to lift heavy weights!  90% of the people that I consult with that have plateaued in their training have never purposely done work in the 2-4 rep range.  Just to clear up any misconceptions, lifting very heavy weights 2-4 times is NOT dangerous and will NOT necessarily make you bigger (females, I’m talking to you here).  Cressey is a big proponent of low-rep lifting, as am I.  Both of us have gotten a lot stronger, quickly, working in this rep range, without putting on significant amounts of weight.

3.  We do not know the long-term effects of ketchup use.  Completely irrelevant?  One of the younger clients at Cressey’s facility wanted to discuss the safety and efficacy of creatine use because his doctor said it was unsafe for the liver and kidneys and that we did not know the long-term effects of creatine use.  For the record, research has shown, almost excessively at this point, that creatine supplementation is both safe and effective in improving lean muscle mass and muscular strength.  In fact, it is SO safe and effective, that current research is now being performed on various elderly and diseased populations in an effort to try to counteract some of the muscle wasting associated with these states.  I’m an optimist.  I’ll just assume that the doctor is blind and that the 10+ years of creatine research haven’t yet been transcribed in braille.  After Eric went on a 15-minute angry rant about the medical system’s expertise in the area of exercise and nutrition, he advised the young lifter to ask his doctor about the long-term effects of ketchup use, or salt use.  Ridiculous, yes.  But his point is obvious.  Just because we don’t know the long-term effects of creatine use, doesn’t mean it’s bad for you.  He’s been taking 5g/day for over 5 years.  I’ve been taking creatine off and on for about the same time.  We’re both alive!  Creatine is safe.  Creatine works.

4.  Building off of the last point, everyone should be much more proactive with their doctors.  Do the research yourself before you go to a doctor.  Eric cancelled a shoulder surgery years ago after rehabbing himself for a few months.  I was told by my hernia surgery doctor and a sports med doctor (following a brutal shoulder mangling) that I would never lift heavy again.  They were both wrong.  How many people are being told to take anti-inflammatory drugs when fish oil supplementation would be a healthier, more beneficial alternative?  Please do not just assume that your doctor always knows what is best for you.  It is your right as a consumer to question their advice.  To paraphrase a quote from Jerry Seinfeld, “somebody’s doctor is finishing last in their class at medical school!”

5.  Loud music makes you stronger.  Listening to Justin Timberlake has shown to decrease strength and testosterone levels by 10%.  Listening to Metallica improves these same measures by 20%.  You make the call.

6.  Pre- and post-training nutrition is essential.  I don’t care if you’re a man, woman, teenager, baby, whatever.  You’ll almost definitely get better results from your training if you consume a simple carbohydrate and whey protein supplement before/during your training and a whey/casein mix protein supplement IMMEDIATELY after your training.  Immediately doesn’t mean after you drive home, shower, change, etc.  It means as soon as you finish your last set you pull your pre-made shake from your bag and slug it down.

If you’re in the New England area, consider training at Cressey Performance.  In one week I saw some of the most unique, effective, and fun training programs I’ve ever encountered.  I saw a 165-pound kid that didn’t look like he lifted at all squat over 2x his body weight and bang out a set of 3 chin-ups with an 85 lb. dumbbell hanging from his waist.  I saw a 65 year old man do 8 chin-ups.  It’s a great place to get strong.  It’s a great place to get healthy.

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