This past weekend I had the opportunity to spend the day at the University of Southern Maine for the NSCA Maine State Clinic. This is the first time that I have attended a NSCA seminar/clinic and the first seminar/clinic that I have had the time to attend so far in 2014. The clinic was very well organized and had a handful of great presenters.
Here are a few thoughts and highlights from a few of the presentations.
Cracking the Crossfit Code by Eric Cressey
I was definitely looking forward to this one because Crossfit is such a polarizing topic in the world of strength and conditioning. Crossfit gets people emotional. They love it or they hate it. People that aren’t Crossfitters don’t get it, Crossfitters think everything is Crossfit.
As Eric said, Crossfit looks like it’s hear to stay, whether you like it or not. As a result, it’s time to start identifying the good that Crossfit brings. Crossfit has insane camaraderie, it’s a social experience, they have created great brand recognition, and they prefer compound movements and high intensity interval training over aerobic based conditioning work. All good things that everyone can learn from and/or would agree with when it comes to programming.
On the other hand, there is the bad of Crossfit. For starters, there is an extremely low barrier to entry. Anyone can open a Crossfit gym and start training people the next day. To be a Crossfit coach you need to pass a weekend certification course that basically anyone could and do get through. Literally anyone can start or affiliate gym or become a coach with very little schooling or education. In addition to this, there is no assessment for the clients that are coming into the Crossfit facility. As any reputable strength coach knows, certain people need to be regressed from time to time based off of injury concerns or lack of movement efficiency. Crossfit uses one-size-fits-all programs that is a disaster waiting to happen. And finally, Crossfit uses technically advanced exercises performed under conditions of fatigue, without adequate coaching, without a solid movement foundation, all in a group training environment – a recipe for injury.
All in all, Crossfit has something to offer. If we can learn to actually learn from what they do well, we can build better facilities of our own and build a better business. We don’t have to agree with everything they do, as some of it is absurd, but we also have to understand that it is here to stay. Take and learn from the good, and let them stick to the bad.
Training MMA Fighters by Mike Perry
Since MMA is becoming more and more popular you are now starting to see strength coaches that specialize in MMA training just like you would see strength coaches that specialize in football, ice hockey, or soccer. In the last couple years, Mike Perry from Skills of Strength in Chelmsford, MA has become one of those people developed a niche in training MMA.
After listening to Mike’s presentation, I had two major takeaways. One, like with most other sports, there are way more similarities between training MMA athletes and other sport athletes than there are differences. MMA athletes need to squat, hip hinge, press, and pull just like all other athletes. MMA athletes need
The second big takeaway is the need to understand conditioning and understanding why you are performing the conditioning that you are performing. Like strength training, you need to understand the demands of the sport and condition appropriately. Work to rest ratios are critical in conditioning and too many strength coaches arbitrarily choose work:rest ratios based on typical/old school methods. Are you training alactic power? Lactic power? Lactic capacity? Aerobic? Whatever it is, the rest:work ration changes and you need to change the variables to cater to the athletes needs. Mike probably made energy systems as easy to understand as I have heard anyone explain it before.
Scapular Control: Implications for Health & High Performance by Eric Cressey
Anyone that knows Eric and follows his work knows that talking about the shoulder, shoulder function/dysfunction, and the scapular is right in his wheelhouse to say the least. After listening to Eric talk about the shoulder I realized two things; one, I need to get my knowledge of the shoulder up a little, and two, Eric has forgotten more about the shoulder than I know. It was an impressive presentation to say the least.
The first takeaway was that the traditional YTW’s for rotator cuff and shoulder health isn’t as useful as we once thought. In order to keep athletes shoulders healthy, especially overhead athletes like baseball, volleyball and swimmers, we need to ditch YTW’s for some useful, dare I say functional, movements and exercises. Eric emphasizes exercises like various different wall slides, 1-arm bottoms up kettlebell carries, along with bear crawls and inchworms.
Additionally, Eric contends that we need more “free scapula” pressing. Exercises like push ups fit this bill, along with landmine presses and cable chest presses. Eric rarely programs DB bench presses for his overhead/baseball athletes, and never programs bench press with these athletes.
Finally, Eric touched on some of the rowing exercises that he likes to program for his baseball athletes. Standing 1-arm cable rows along with split squat low cable rows are staples, as they create more asymmetrical rowing from one side to the other. This allows for greater functional carryover because of an increased challenge to rotary stability.
Needless to say, some interesting stuff from Cressey, who clearly could talk about the shoulder all day.