Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 29
Written on January 17, 2013 at 8:06 pm, by Eric Cressey
CP Coach Greg Robins and I just pulled together the following tips to improve your nutrition and strength and conditioning programs. Enjoy!
1. Improve the learning curve on core stability exercises with this tip:
2. Improve your grip with some easy changes.
Grip strength is an important quality to train in your program. It is beneficial if you plan on moving some heavy loads, or excelling at sports that rely heavily on the lower arm. I am by no means an expert in advanced grip work; however, I can offer some quick ways to start including it in your strength training program by making a few easy changes.
a. Start using a double overhand grip as long as possible with your deadlift technique. Too often, I see people instantly utilize a mixed grip when pulling. Even some more advanced lifters I have trained with do not try to improve their double overhand grip. Generally, they just have a number in mind where they switch from overhand to mixed, and it’s been the same even as their lift has improved hundreds of pounds over the past few years.
b. Make at least 1/3 of the exercise variations that rely heavily on elbow flexion (i.e. curls, rows, chin-ups) more grip intensive. Do so by using towels around the handle or something like Fat Gripz. Additionally, use different implements – such as softball grip and ropes – for rows and chin-ups.
c. Lastly, pick up a new “grip specific” exercise to work on, and change it every four weeks. These can include, grip crushers, plate pinches. Guys like John Brookfield and Jedd Johnson put out tons of innovative exercises to make your handshake something people fear.
3. Soup up your bench seat with just a few bands.
This is a nice little trick for those of you who might find the bench at your gym a little “slick.” My good friend and former CP intern Angel Jimenez, showed this to me originally. I believe the credit goes back to bench guru Dave Tate, though. While I can’t take the credit, I will share the info!
4. Pause more, lift more.
How often do you miss reps near the top? I am willing to bet that it’s not often. Furthermore, I bet 90% of the people reading this who say they do, really just have no pop out of the bottom of a lift and it catches up to them at lockout. You don’t need to work on strength at lockout as much as you do as strength at the bottom. That being said, when I look at most people’s strength training programs, the assistance work involves board presses, rack pulls, and high box squats. I was guilty of it too. The fact is, you like those variations because they are easier and allow you to lift more weight. The truth is you need to take the load down and start working the bottom portion of the range of motion more.
Enter the pause. Start working in paused squats in the hole, start pausing bench presses on the chest, and finally start making sure rep work on the deadlift is done to a complete stop (and, in my opinion, a complete reset, too).
5. Add some Olympic lifts to your training without missing out on your meat and potatoes.
The Olympic lifts can be a great addition to a comprehensive strength training program for those who can perform them safely. However, it goes without saying that there can be a very steep learning curve for picking up the exercises. For that very reason, earlier this week, I published a guest blog from Wil Fleming on clean and jerk technique fixes – a great compliment to his new DVD, Complete Olympic Lifting (on sale at a ridiculously low price until Friday at midnight, by the way).
One of the biggest concerns many folks have is that the learning curve will be so steep that they may miss out on a lot of actual training as they work their way through the fundamentals of Olympic lifting with light weights. This is a very real concern, too, as even working at a lighter weight for a lot of practice reps can take a lot out of you. In fact, I’ve had a lot of inquiries from folks who wanted to include Olympic lifting in Show and Go, but weren’t sure how to do so. My suggestions to them are very simple:
a. Pick one lift or the other (clean or snatch) to practice in each of your lower body sessions each week. If you want to work on jerks, you can plug it in at the start of an upper body day.
b. Do it at the start of your training session (right after your warm-up), and promise yourself that you won’t go for more than thirty minutes.
c. Drop one set from each of the rest of the lower body exercises in the session to make up for the volume you’ve added.
You won’t become wildly proficient in a matter of a few days with this approach, but slow and steady can win the race – even when it comes to lifts with high power output. An hour of practice per week will effectively allow you to ride a few horses (learning while maintaining a training effect) with one saddle (your limited time, energy, and recovery capacity).
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