Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 50
Written on August 28, 2013 at 11:57 am, by Eric Cressey
Today marks the 50th installment of this series; not too shabby! We want to quickly say thank you to everyone who has been following along. We have received plenty of messages, and many an in-person “thank yous” for the information passed along; we really appreciate your support. With that in mind, we (Greg and Eric) have decided to collaborate on this “momentous” 50th installment to make it extra memorable. Enjoy!
1. Consider doing more “core” work at the beginning of your training sessions.
Usually, we save direct, or less-indirect, core stability exercises for the latter portions of a strength training program. There is nothing wrong with this approach, and if you look at many of our programs at Cressey Performance, that’s still largely how we operate.
More recently, however, we are also including more of these core stability exercises early on. Here are a few scenarios where it makes sense:
The warm-up: Low-level core stability exercises should definitely be included in your warm-ups. They fit nicely into the theme of working from proximal to distal. In other words, you work at the trunk, thoracic spine, and pelvis before moving out to the extremities. Furthermore, hitting them early on will get athletes and clients “using” their core more appropriately before their training session.
With more hypermobile populations: These folks need to train for stability all the time. That training should be centered on the trunk first. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to include core stability exercises throughout their program, and expose them to those demands more times than just at the bottom end. To determine how hypermobile a client is, run them through the Beighton Hypermobility Test, which Eric discussed recently here.
With people who lack anterior core strength: We see a lot of grossly extended individuals walk through our doors. These clients need more exposure to core stability type drills, as well as more repetition in feeling what correct positions are. With that in mind, they are another population that can benefit from core-based drills littered between their more typical upfront exercise selections. Here are a few examples:
Additionally, keep in mind that just because an exercise doesn’t seem to be core-intensive at first doesn’t mean that you can’t make it that way. As an example, this drill is largely geared toward improving length in the lats and long head of the triceps while improving thoracic spine extension, but the anterior core should be braced to maintain the lumbar spine in neutral. At the bottom position, we cue the athlete to exhale fully to get some extra anterior core recruitment.
(For more details on anterior core training progressions, check out Eric’s presentation on the topic HERE)
2. Prevent compensation patterns when you clean up a movement.
Building on our discussion of anterior core control from point #1, athletes in extension will always find ways to shift their weight anteriorly, whether it’s via a heavily lordotic lumbar spine, anterior pelvic tilt, scapular depression, humeral anterior glide (elbows will often be behind the body at rest), forward head posture, or plantarflexion.
If you correct one, they’ll often try to go to one of the others to make up the difference. A good example would be the forward head posture that might kick in when you correct an anterior pelvic tilt and excessive lordosis on the previously featured back-to-wall shoulder flexion. As has often been said, the best athletes are the best compensators, so you need to make sure you don't let them just shift their postural dysfunction up or down a joint or two.
3. Use chia seeds in your shakes.
Chia seeds, in the opinion of many, are one of those super foods that are nearly impossible toeat. These little guys pack a ton of healthy fats, including a great amount of alpha linolenic acid (ALA), but they don’t taste so great out in the raw. However, they will make a welcomed addition to your smoothies. Along with boasting a very positive nutrient profile, chia seeds also become gelatinous when wet. That gelatinous consistency does wonders for your stomach, as well as for thickening up the consistency of your smoothie! Give them a try next time you're blending it up!
4. Improve your diet by planning ahead.
We have been big supporters of Precision Nutrition for many years now. Since the start, they have always placed a huge focus on meal planning. This habit is crucial to anyone’s success in developing better nutrition. The key word here is MEAL. Nobody likes to shop for macronutrients, or raw food items. However, that’s how many so called “healthy” people shop. A much better approach is to plan the week’s food intake based around a few recipes. From there, you can shop for the meals, not just for food.
Doing so will hold you accountable to actually cooking, and cooking tasty meals at that. This will help you develop a much better relationship with food. Additionally, as you continue to learn recipes and cook meals, you will have an arsenal of healthy eats in your pocket.
A little extra work up front will have a payoff down the road. As an action item, explore some recipes yourself, jot down a grocery list based off the ingredients and head to the grocery store this week with a plan! If you are looking for some good recipes, check out Metabolic Cooking, a great online cookbook full of delicious healthy food options.
5. Have you kids take an active role in your nutritional approach.
To piggyback off my last point, I (Greg) recently learned a lesson from one of my online nutrition clients. One of our goals over the past few weeks was the inclusion of meal planning out of a cookbook. Each week, he has been using the recipes to make at least three meals per week. Slowly, he is amassing the experience to cook and shop for healthy meals with ease.
He described to me that his go-to process in selecting the meals is laying the cookbook out, and having his daughter select two recipes. When I heard this I was blown away! What an easy way to get kids involved with the process.
His daughter was excited to eat the meals she selected – and these were often meals that she normally wouldn’t touch if her parents made them without her help. I have interacted with many parents who struggle with eating healthy and feeding their kids. They lean on their kids’ distaste for the new healthier foods as an excuse to be lax in their own efforts. If you are one of these people, or just want a great way to get your kids involved in better nutrition, give this a try right away!
If you enjoyed the first 50 installments of this series, we'd love your feedback in the comments section below. Are there particular areas you'd like to see us touch upon with our weekly tips? If so, please let us know! Thanks for your continued support.
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