One of the things that I have learned over the course of my career is that any type of training you do (or lack thereof) creates imbalances throughout your body. For the most part, my clients work desk jobs and for lack of a better term are pretty f#$%ed up in the muscle balance and posture department. They mainly have a weak posterior chain and hips and shoulders that are tighter than a ducks ass.
Sorry for the mental image but I hope you get the picture. So with that being said, one of the biggest parts of training is focusing on what you have to get done to both fix your posture as well as your weaknesses which coincidentally includes working on your biceps .00001% of the time. So for all you brahs out there, there is hope. Just get the important stuff done first.
Being a strength coach and personal training, I understand the value of the service I provide in giving my clients insight into their strength and conditioning as well as postural needs in and out of the gym. I have read numerous books, articles, and studies from the best of the best as well as attended yearly summits and seminars to improve my knowledge and understanding of my profession. Training and coaching is more than a career to me, it is my life.
I think one of the biggest mistakes anyone, including coaches, can make is believing that they know it all when it comes to training. Sadly, it is a mistake that I witness almost every time I set foot in a commercial gym. This includes but is not limited to:
- (quarter) squatting on a BOSU
- training in flexion
- torching their rotator cuff with too much volume/weight
- lack of program/goals
- not doing and mobility and/or stability work
- using machines (it is really hard to watch trainers do this without judging)
The first step towards getting better at something is admitting that you don’t know something. This goes for training, life, and your relationships. Something that I have to work on since I am a man and I am always right…just ask Lindsay. So my first step towards growth in that department was setting up a session with the one and only Eric Cressey of Cressey Performance.
Now, I’m not going to lie, the visit was provoked by a pain that I have been getting in my neck periodically over the last year since I began getting more into powerlifting. The first time it happened I checked my form. The second time it happened I re-checked my form and program. The third time it happened I realized that there was some sort of dysfunction in my trap/shoulder/scapula that had to be fixed if I planned on continuing to train heavy and regularly.
I could have continued to read books and try to figure it out myself but like I tell many of my clients “the hardest person to train is yourself.”
My Visit to Cressey Performance
It speaks volumes when another coach or trainer comes to me to ask for advice. I feel humbled knowing that other’s respect and value my advice even more-so than my clients. There are many coaches and trainers in the field that have guided my own career, Eric being one of them.
“If I have seen farther, it is because I stand on the shoulders of giants.” – one of my favorite quotes
Let me tell you, I have been to CP before and although I was more excited than Lindsay Lohan at an open bar, my stomach was in knots during the ride up there. Was this a simple issue I could have fixed on my own simply by training smarter? Was I wasting his time? Did I really NEED an assessment? I mean, this is my career, I should be able to figure this out.
I had Linds come with me so she could check out CP as well. Although she is a preschool teacher, she knows more than many trainers from reading Eric and Tony Gentilcore’s blogs when I leave them up. I thought it would be cool experience for her as well since she is competing in her first powerlifting meet in March. Eric’s deadlift has surpassed 650, nuff said. Just the atmosphere is motivating as it is filled to the brim with athletes crushing weights and perfecting their movement, a symphony of deadlifts if you will.
Anyways, we got there and got right to business. I’ve said it before but Eric is one of the most welcoming individuals I have ever met, in this field or any. This is the true mark of a professional. That and being a complete wizard when it comes to problem solving and having a mind like an encyclopedia.
The assessment went as expected and we were able to talk back and forth as professionals. I could tell by the look in Lindsay’s eyes that she didn’t have the slightest clue what we were talking about. The issue in my shoulder didn’t emerge as a mobility problem, actually we talked about how lax and mobile I was. The issue lied in my scapular stability and scapulohumeral rhythem (jibberish right?). Whereas most people don’t use their lower traps and have a tight anterior capsule, I rely TOO much on my lower traps and basically neglect my upper traps.
Next stop: warmup drills. I know these!! I coach my clients through them every day to fix their crappy posture! But right off the bat, I realized that I have crappy posture. Like I said before, the hardest person to coach is yourself. Not only did I learn some valuable insight into how I move, I learned how to coach the same movements with my clients (videos soon to come). This alone was worth the trip.
Another thing I noticed was how I stand. Again, I thought that my posture was picturesque until being pointed out that I lean on one leg with the other turned out….like 12 times…in a row. Damn hard to break old habits but now I have that voice in my head saying you should start by not standing like that. I have caught myself at least 20 times since then, fek is that annoying but I will fix it. #leadbyexample
The big beast of the day was relearn how to get scapular stabilization and retraction during seemingly common movements and involving my upper traps which I usually neglect by “tucking my scapula into my back pocket.” Movements that I thought were easy had become a slight challenge. Especially a set of low cable rows that showed me how little I use my scapula during rowing movements. Didn’t see that one coming but I definitely have some work to do.
All in all, my expectations were far exceeded and the whole experience was a huge milestone for not only my own training but my career as well. I learned more than I expected in the short amount of time that I was there and again realize that I have a LOT of learning to go.
Closing Thoughts: Everyone needs a coach, even a coach. Not just because you don’t know something but so you can do what you already “know” better. This is the first step towards getting better at something.