20 Thought Provoking Gray Cook Quotes

Recently I was skimming through Movement by Gray Cook as I typically do every once in a while with some of the better material out there. The first thing I noticed – Gray has a ton of good quotes that really make you think. And since I’m all about things that make you think a little and grow as a strength coach, I thought I would share some of the quotes that I found to be the most thought provoking. It should be noted that I also went back through a lot of my notes I have taken on podcasts that Gray has been a part of.

Enjoy!

1. Unless you find the driver of bad movement and find the thing that changes it, you’re just guessing.
2. The essence of power is efficiency.
3. Poor movement can exist anywhere in the body but poor movement patterns can only exist in the brain.
4. Strength coaches should like qualities more then they do quantities.
5. Pain is not the problem it’s the signal.
6. Load a bad pattern and your just hitting save on a shitty document.
7. Are you moving poorly because you are in pain? Or are you in pain because you are moving poorly?
8. You can often prove stupidity, but you can rarely fix it.
9. Your brain is too smart to allow you to have full horsepower in a bad body position – it’s called muscle inhibition.
10. When someone leaves the weight room they should have a stamp of durability.
11. The point of lifting weights is to force stress into movement patterns.
12. The lift is over when your prime movers are smoked – lifting is not self limiting.
13. When someone hits the end on a carry, the carry is over because the prime movers can’t take over.
14. It’s not your lifting strength that matters, its how long you can maintain integrity under load.
15. Not everyone deserves the same program.
16. Many athletes are injured, they just don’t know it yet.
17. Our number one job is to improve efficiency of movement.
18. Don’t look at my workouts, look at my outcomes.
19. Stabilizers don’t do their job by being strong, they do their job by being fast.
20. Maintain the squat, train the deadlift.

Random Thoughts: April Edition

It’s a new month, so here are 10 quick and random thoughts that have been floating around my brain recently. If nothing else I hope it makes you think a little. Enjoy!

1. Most elite/above average athletes have more reactability then they do stability. For example, if you have them perform a 1-Leg Linear Hurdle Hop most elite athletes will do a better job performing a continuous hop then they will sticking each landing. They react to the ground well but can’t stabilize nearly as well. We also know the lack of stability is one of the major reasons athletes get hurt. Don’t get fooled by an athletes ability to react to the ground and spend ample time learning how to stabilize.

2. The more complex the movement, the easier it is going to be for an athlete to find a way to compensate. Keep things simple. Hammer the fundamentals. Be brilliant at the basic, big bang for your buck exercises.

3. As a coach, a little humility can go a long way.

4. The field of strength and conditioning isn’t about science, it’s about people. The best coaches are the ones that can interact with their athletes the best.

5. People should spend less time on their computers, phones and watching television and spend more time reading. Reading and getting better at your job is ridiculously easy, yet so many people don’t do it.

6. I think there is a place for more explosive lower body work year round for athletes. By that I don’t necessarily mean Olympic lifts, I mean more plyo’s to help maintain and improve explosiveness as the season goes on.

7. Diaphragmatic breathing is a game changer. It does wonders for core stability. It can go a long way in improving mobility. Tie it into anything and everything you can. Stretch for breathes and not for time or reps. Work it into the activation work.

8. The psoas may be the most overlooked muscle by our field. You would be shocked by how weak people are especially when their hips are above 90 degrees. Furthermore, simple band hip flexor work above 90 degrees is important for all athletes but it is a must for soccer and hockey athletes that spend very little time getting their hips into full flexion.

9. To keep field sport athletes healthy, hammer their posterior chain. Both bilateral and uni-lateral hip hinging along with bridging variations are going to go a lot further in keeping people healthy then anything else.

10. A lot of jumping athletes (basketball/volleyball) have patella issues. I think many of these issues goes back to a lack of ankle mobility. The ankle/foot is the first thing to hit the ground and absorb the force of landing and if it doesn’t have the mobility to do its job properly the issue will just travel up the chain to the knee. Improving ankle mobility might be an easy fix to patella issues.

Random Thoughts: March Edition

It’s a new month, so here are 10 quick and random thoughts that have been floating around my brain recently. If nothing else I hope it makes you think a little. Enjoy!

1. The trunk stability push up (TSPU) or anti-extension strength/stability is huge in female populations. There is actually some research showing that a poor TSPU has the strongest correlation to ACL tears then any other screen in the FMS. The TSPU can help tell you if an athlete is able to control spinal stability under load. If it can’t bad things are potentially going happen.
2. Corrective exercise should change movement immediately. If it doesn’t it probably isn’t ever going to.

3. Strength training is all about balance. Do you have balance between hip dominant and knee dominant exercises? Do you have balance between your upper body pushing and pulling? Do you have balance within these categories? For example, if you are training an athlete three days a week, I think its important for shoulder health to press vertically (OH Press variation), horizontally (bench press/push up, etc.), and somewhere between the two (incline press, landmine press, etc.). Focusing on one more then the others will probably lead to issues in the long run.

4. A good strength coach should be able to modify any movement/exercise in the weight room and make it non-painful.

5. Athletes need to move in three planes more often as we speed way to much time training in the sagittal plane. It’s not only great for hip mobility and injury prevention, but moving in all three planes is great for neuromuscular input – it’s like candy for the brain.

6. If you can’t do something well in the weight room but yet continue to do it anyway, you are eventually going to get hurt. It’s really that black and white. Regress and/or lateralize.

7. In strength and conditioning, if you wait for the research to prove to you that something is right, you’ll be way behind. Follow smart people, find the commonalities in what they are doing, and steal it.

8. When you keep things simple in the weight room I think you can actually get more done and get more quality work done.

9. To use the previous thought as a jumping off point, I’m not sure many athletes really need much more then basic movements. If you simply change the intensity and volume over the course of time I think you’ll find that most athletes are going to progress at a very good pace over their athletic career.

10. Very few people really actually want to get better and are open minded…they just want information that confirms what they are already doing is correct. These same people pretend they want to get better, but they don’t really want to hear the truth. These same people claim they are open minded until they find out everything they are doing is wrong.

1-Leg Hang Clean?

“The most dangerous phrase in the language is “we’ve always done it this way.” – Grace Hopper

Hockey, more specifically the skating stride, is essentially a single leg sport/movement. As a result, we tend to think 1-leg plyo’s are important/beneficial. We tend to think 1-leg strength exercises are important/beneficial. So why wouldn’t we think that 1-leg Olympic lifts are important/beneficial?

Yes, we do appear to not get as much triple extension when compared to traditional 2-leg hang cleans, but is the point of Olympic lifting to create full hip extension or to create the power to move a load at a high rate of speed? Though both are important, I’d argue it’s more important to create the power to move a load at a high rate of speed.

Additionally, I’d argue that there are also many added benefits to the 1-leg clean that you don’t get with a traditional 2-leg clean, like;

✅ Uni-lateral power production
✅ Uni-lateral lower body force absorption when landing in one leg
✅ Uni-lateral core force absorption when landing on one leg
✅ Potential increase in the rate of force production

Don’t be afraid to think differently. Following the herd often just leads to the slaughter house.

Random Thoughts: January Edition

1. Corrective exercise is the icing on the cake, not the actual cake. Various mobility and stability drills are great and they are needed in a lot of cases, but they aren’t as important as the big/core fundamental movements. Getting strong is still the best corrective out there. If the big/core fundamental movements you are using are the right movements, a lot of the corrective stuff will take care of itself. Focus on the big stuff.

 
2. Crawling, more specifically bear crawls, are underrated yet huge when it comes to shoulder health. Do more of them.

3. If you want to be the best and continually raise the bar you are going to ruffle some feathers along the way. Do it anyway. Maintaining the status quo simply breeds mediocrity.

4. Our number one goal as strength coaches is to keep our athletes healthy. Athletes can’t perform when they are injured. Athletes can’t make progress when they are injured.

5. To piggyback off the previous thought, the goal of strength and conditioning is not to bench and squat a ton of weight. The goal of strength and conditioning is to develop athletes that are durable and can handle the rigors of their sport while improving sport performance. If a teams best players are playing all year there is a good chance the team is going to be successful.

6. Dr. Andreo Spina’s 90/90 Hip External Rotation/Internal Rotation stretch is awesome if you are someone that works with larger group. We know a lack of hip internal rotation is a major cause in low back pain. We know a lack of hip internal rotation is common with most people. There are also very few hip internal rotation stretches that can be done in a group setting. The stretch makes the cut almost every single session with my groups.

7. Culture is everything and should be the biggest thing you are trying to develop as a leader of a strength program.

8. Strength coaches get so caught up on numbers and how “strong” an athlete is. I am a firm believer that athletes need to be strong/powerful relative to their own body weight – and I think chin ups and vertical jump might be the best indicators of relative strength/power.

9. Not everyone should be performing every single lift the same exact way. Biomechanics matter.

10. After spending close to a year working with volleyball and trying to learn as much as I can about the shoulder, I have reached the conclusion that the shoulder much more complex then people realize. The more I learn about the shoulder the more questions I have – it’s actually kind of exciting.

Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read and Listen To

I hope everyone had a great week – here are a handful of articles and podcasts you can dive into!

Articles

Is The Deadlift the Real King of all Exercises?

3 Things Every Coach Should Learn From Crossfit by Joel Jamieson

5 Ways to Improve Skating Speed by Michael Boyle

15 Static Stretching Mistakes by Eric Cressey

Podcasts

Strength Coach Podcast #194

Gym Laird with Eric Cressey

Google Talks with Gray Cook

Strength Matters with Charlie Weingroff

Enjoy!

Is the Deadlift the real King of all Exercises?

“The risk reward is just in favor of the deadlift over the squat for most people.” – Gray Cook

Sport = hip hinging. Generally speaking, if you ask someone to show you their best vertical or broad jump but have them stop in the bottom position right before they were to jump, they’ll be in a great looking hip hinge – a vertical shin with the hips going backwards and the feet positioned under their hips. Why? Because this is the position where we can generate the most power. That position is a deadlift, and what you see in the deadlift is the universal athletic position.

The deadlift sets the foundation for so many athletic movements and is huge for athletic development. In the deadlift the hips travel backwards (like jumping) whereas when we squat the hips travel straight down.

Two Pre-requisites before allowing someone to deadlifting;

1. Symmetrical 2’s on the ASLR. The ASLR simple shows that our hips can move freely in their path backward amongst other things.
2. A passing toe touch that shows no points of restriction of the posterior chain as well smooth weight shift backward and a graceful bend forward.

Furthermore, we bring the weight up to a level where the athlete has the mobility to control the weight but also allows us to keep the weight heavy and get a large training effect. Don’t try to jam a square peg into a round hole by making everyone pull from the floor.

30 Gray Cook Quotes

Anyone that knows me knows that I am a huge fan of Gray Cook – I think the guy is brilliant. Gray is the creator of the FMS, has written a book called Movement, and is generally regarded as one of the leaders in the physical therapy and strength & conditioning professions.

Over the years I have read most of his work and listened to him speak at various conferences and on various podcasts. As a result, I thought it would be good to put together a handful of some good tidbits that have come out of his mouth. Enjoy!

1. First move well, then move often.
2. Exercise is nothing more then stress on an organ.
3. Don’t add strength to dysfunction.
4. Moving isn’t important, until you can’t.
5. Maintain the squat, train the dead lift.
6. Don’t look at my workouts, look at my outcomes.
7. Stabilizers don’t do their job by being strong, they do their job by being fast.
8. If mobility is stiff in one position or pattern but wasn’t in a different position or pattern its not a mobility issue
9. A good leg lower is a precursor to a good dead lift. A good dead lift is a precursor to a good swing.
10. Do what people need, not what they want.
11. The missing link in most strength & conditioning programs are carries.
12. Your brain is too smart to allow you to have full horsepower in a bad body position, it’s called muscle inhibition
13. If you have an issue with your active straight leg raise or shoulder mobility, you don’t have the right to go anywhere else in a corrective strategy. Don’t worry about your squat, clean up the active straight leg raise and shoulder mobility FIRST!
14. When someone leaves your weight room they should have a stamp of durability
15. Don’t rehab the injury, rehab the person.
16. When someone hits the end on a carry, the carry is over because the prime movers can’t take over
17. The best athletes are the ones that can use their resources the most resourcefully
18. Why do you need to screen? Because you need to be in-tune with the group that you are training. Not everyone deserves the same program.
19. 1 in 5 individuals have pain in a movement on the screen – that’s a health problem, not a fitness problem
20. If you can’t do a bodyweight squat or push up you shouldn’t load a squat or a bench press
21. The movement screen won’t change injury rates, it changes the way you train
22. FMS isn’t about decreasing injuries…everything we do should be about decreasing injuries
23. Pain screws everything up.
24. The more complex the movement, the easier it is to find a way to compensate
25. Elevating your heels isn’t just about giving you more ankle mobility, it gives you an anterior weight shift that makes it easier to sit back when you squat.
26. Making people use their stability muscles to keep them stable instead of their global muscles will make a huge difference when it comes to injury prevention
27. Before you worry about adding correctives, stop and figure out why/what you are doing is causing these issues
28. Loaded carries show you the limiting factors with your stabilizers instead of your prime movers – how long can you maintain postural integrity under load.
29. The KB Bottoms Up Press will be huge for shoulder health, integrity and proprioception because it is a self-limiting exercise – if you don’t control the small things you can’t perform the press.
30. The number one risk factor for musculoskeletal injury is a previous injury, implying that our rehabilitation process is missing something.

Weekly Articles & Podcasts

Another week, another handful of both articles and podcasts from the last week in the world of strength and conditioning.

Articles

Anti-Extension Core Progression

Professional Development: Process vs. Outcome by Eric Cressey

A Letter to My Younger Self by Michael Boyle

Colts Trade Bench Presses for Turkish Get Ups

5 Updates to My In-Season Training by Mike Robertson

The Lats are the Glutes of the Upper Body by Dean Somerset

Podcasts

The Impact Show with Eric Cressey

The Impact Show with Jon Goodman

Physical Preparation Show with Josh BohnotalPhysical Preparation Show with Josh Bohnotal

Strength Coach Podcast #190

Iron Game Chalk Talk with Nick Grantham

Enjoy!

Articles and Podcasts from the Past Week

Articles

The 20-60-20 Principle

3 Quick Training Thoughts

A Letter to My Younger Self by Michael Boyle

Why Movement Screening and Exercise Play by Different Rules by Brett Jones

Which Way Should S&C Go? by Todd Hamer

Top 3 Offseason Activities Every Athlete Should Prioritize for an Extraordinary Season by Tim DiFransesco

Podcasts

Hockey Strength Podcast with Anthony Morando

Historic Performance Podcast with Brandon Marcello

Strength Coach Podcast #188

Protecting the Throwing Athlete by Zach Dechant

All Things Strength and Wellness with Denis Logan