Home Blog 5 Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 1

5 Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 1

Written on March 1, 2012 at 7:28 pm, by Eric Cressey

My “random thoughts” pieces are some of my favorite writings that I’ve ever published, and today seemed like a good day to throw out some quick and easy ideas on how you can feel better, move better, lose fat, gain muscle, get strong, and – if you’re super-motivated – take over the world.  Here goes…

1. Get a good training partner.

There are random dudes you meet at the gym who provide a mediocre lift-off on the bench press here and there, and then there are dedicated training partners.  There is a big difference.  A good training partner will tell you to get your act together and train hard when you’re slacking off, or even hold you back when your body is banged up, but you’re stupidly trying to push through it.  It’s guaranteed accountability, motivation, expertise, safety, competition, and all-around awesomeness.  To be honest, I often wonder if most people get the best results working with a trainer/strength coach for these factors more than the actual expertise the fitness professional provides!

2. Make your bedroom a cave.

One of the best investments my wife and I made when we bought our new house were reinforced window shades for our bedroom so that very little light could get through when they were down.  They make a dramatic difference in terms of how dark you can make your room at night (especially if you have street lights near your residence) and were 100% worth the extra cost, as compared to regular shades.

Even if you don’t want to spend the extra few bucks on souped-up shades, though, you can still get some of the benefits of “cave sleeping” by blocking out light from cell phones, alarm clocks, and – if you’re a frat boy – bright green neon signs of your favorite beer in your dorm room.  Also, do your best to shut the TV and computer off at least thirty minutes before you hit the sack as well, as it’ll give your brain time to wind down and transition to some deep, restful sleep.

3. Take Athletic Greens.

I’ve always been a non-responder to supplements.  As an example, I never gained an ounce when I started taking creatine in 2001, and never noticed a huge difference in sleep quality when I started taking ZMA. Still, I pretty much trust in research and go with these supplements, plus mainstays like fish oil and Vitamin D and assume that they’re doing their job.  It’s interesting how some of the most essential supplements we take are the ones where we might notice the most subtle difference, isn’t it?

Anyway, in 2011, I added Athletic Greens to this mix.  I look at it as whole food based “nutritional insurance” use it in place of my multivitamin.  I think it’s solid not only as a greens supplement (which, incidentally, doesn’t taste like dog crap), but also because it directly improves gut health to improve absorption of micronutrients.  With loads of superfoods, herbal extracts, trace elements, antioxidants, and pre- and probiotics, I could tell that it would be something that would decrease inflammation and improve immunity (something I’ve viewed as increasingly important with each passing year as life has gotten more stressful with the growth of Cressey Performance).

Interestingly, one of our long-time athletes who is now playing baseball at a highly ranked D1 university, started taking Athletic Greens after we chatted about it this summer, and he sent me this note:

Hey Eric, thanks for the recommendation on Athletic Greens. I love the product! I have not gotten sick once since I started taking it 4 months ago, and my body feels better than ever. This is the first semester I haven’t gotten sick. Hope all is well! 

I guess I’m not the only one who likes it!  Check it out for yourself here.

As an aside, they do a pretty cool combination where you can get greens, fish oil, and vitamin D all at once at a great price, and the fish oil is excellent quality. We have several athletes who get everything in this one place for convenience.

4. Go split-stance.

Last week, in my popular post, Are Pull-ups THAT Essential?, I included the following video of forearm wall slides at 135 degrees, a great drill we like to use to train upward rotation, as the arms are directly in the line of pull in the lower traps.  With this exercise, we always cue folks “glutes tight, core braced” so that they don’t just substitute lumbar extension in place of the scapulae moving into retraction/depression on the rib cage.

Unfortunately, these cues don’t work for everyone – particularly those who are super lordotic (huge arch in their lower back).  A great “substitute cue” for these folks is to simply go into a split stance, putting one foot out in front of the other (even if it’s just slightly).  As you have probably observed in performing single-leg exercises like lunges and split-squats, it is much harder to substitute lumbar extension for hip extension than it is with bilateral exercises like squats and deadlifts.  Fortunately, the same is true of substituting lumbar extension for scapular movement on the rib cage.  So, if you’re struggling with the exercise above, simply move one foot out in front of the other and you should be golden.

5. Get some assessments done.

Imagine you were about to embark on a cross country trip with a great vacation in mind in, say, San Diego.  However, I didn’t tell you where you were starting the journey.  While you might get to where you want to be (or at least close to it), it’d make the trip a lot more difficult. You’d probably blow a bunch of money on gas, sleep in some nasty motels in the middle of nowhere, pick up an awkward hitchhiked who smells like cabbage, and maybe even spend a night in a Tijuana jail along the way.  Not exactly optimal planning.

A strength and conditioning program isn’t much different than this cross-country trip.  If you don’t know how your body works – both internally and externally – you need to learn before you subject it to serious stress.  Get some bloodwork done to see if you have any deficiencies (e.g., Vitamin D, iron, essential fatty acids) that could interfere with your energy levels, ability to recover, or endocrine response to exercise.  Likewise, consult someone who understands movement to determine whether you have faulty movement patterns that could predispose you to injury.  I think this is one reason why Assess and Correct has been our most popular product ever; it gives folks some guidance on where to start and where to go.  Otherwise, the strength and conditioning program in front of you is really just a roadmap, and you don’t know where the starting point is.

These are just a few quick thoughts that came to mind today, but I’ll surely have many more in the follow-ups to this first installment.  Feel free to post some of your own ideas in the comments section below, too!

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22 Responses to “5 Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 1”

  1. Chris Pine Says:

    My favorite tip is about making your bedroom a cave.

    Making sure I get my sleeping quarters as dark as possible has definitely improved the quality of my sleep.

    Most people just don’t realize how much all of the ambient light, especially from our electronics can interfere with getting a good night’s sleep.

  2. Mitch Says:

    Great tips Eric!

    I am very happy I came to visit you in October- my body has reacted extremely well to the program you created for me.

    It was really cool to see the CP facility in action too.

    All the best,

  3. Juliet Says:

    Thanks for the athletic greens link! I’ve never used a greens supplement before but I started taking greens plus on a recommendation.

    I can only describe it as what I imagine a vegetarian’s butthole tastes like.

    I’ll give this one a try on my next go-around.

  4. Lisa Says:

    Hey Eric. I loved the tip about using a split stance on the wall slides to correct lordotic posture. Thanks for the great post.

  5. Andy Says:

    Nice article. Where can we find someone to perform this assessment? Would it be best to go see a physical therapist? A specialized trainer? This seems like a small field, where is a good place to find someone who knows what they are doing?

  6. Eric Cressey Says:

    Hi Andy,

    A good trainer or physical therapist would definitely suffice. If you don’t have someone near you, you can go with http://www.AssessandCorrect.com for some self assessments.

  7. Eric Cressey Says:

    Juliet – Comparing Athletic Greens to Greens Plus in terms of taste is like comparing Captain Crunch to Special K (sugar components aside, obviously).

  8. Eric Cressey Says:

    Thanks, Mitch! Glad you’re doing well!

  9. Louie Says:

    It regards to quality of sleep, check out the app “sleep cycle!” It’s an alarm app that monitors your sleep and gives you a chart of your sleeping pattern through the night.

  10. Kyle Says:

    Just wondering if you know if Athletic Greens are NSF Certified products? If not are there any similar supplements that you know are NSF Certified?

  11. Jim Says:

    Thanks for the info! I have been thinking about taking a greens supplement but wasn’t sure it would make much of a difference compared to a multi.

  12. Eric Cressey Says:

    Jim – huge difference. Check it out; you won’t regret it.

  13. Eric Cressey Says:

    Kyle – I just reached out to Chris at Athletic Greens to answer your question, as it’s a bit more of a loaded response than I can provide. 😉

  14. Chris Says:

    Hey Kyle,

    Eric just pinged me to answer this.

    A good question. A couple of different angles to look at this.

    NSF provides a certification method to ascertain quality control for sports supplements, mainly with a view to banned substances, but also general quality control. Here is a quick list of their testing standards, taken from their website.

    “5 Steps to NSF Certified for Sport® Certification

    Ingredient suppliers information
    Manufacturing facilities information
    Toxicology Review
    Label and formulation review and comparison
    Ingredient review
    Determine product testing
    Facility Inspection
    Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) audits of production facilities and review
    that no banned substances are stored or manufactured at the facility
    Observations of in-house laboratories
    Sourcing and traceability procedures
    Schedule of ingredient supplier audits based on number of suppliers
    Annual Laboratory Testing/Analysis
    Heavy metals
    Label content verification
    ****Banned substances testing based on number of lots****
    Product Certification/Listing
    Monitor control formulation/ingredient supplier changes
    Marketplace sampling”

    I put an asterix on the banned substances part.

    Athletic Greens is NOT NSF certified. We don’t need to be. The USA uses a format for all manufacturers of supplements, the prior requirement of simply being FDA registered and complying with outdated FDA manufacturing guidelines has moved dramatically to cGMP standards that are approaching those of the pharmaceutical industry (c meaning “current” but is in fact used to differentiate between the old shitting GMP way and the “new” more exacting format). This is a good thing, and way overdue. I don’t think that the supplement industry should be regulated like big pharma, but stringent quality control and testing are a great idea – there are a lot of cowboys in the USA putting things in bottles that are ultimately destined to be ingested by people. I would like to see those guys locked up when they lie or put crap in that shouldn’t be there, but I digress.

    So, should you flip out and not try Athletic Greens because we are not NSF registered?

    Hardly, Athletic Greens is manufactured in New Zealand in a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) registered facility that has standards WAY in excess of the cGMP guidelines (or the NSF guidelines above). TGA requirements and testing are regarded as the highest level of quality control for natural health products anywhere in the world. This is because big pharma stepped in and made it happen. Annoying for small companies since minimum outlays are very large and therefor barriers to entry are high, but excellent for total quality control.

    What this means for you is that what is on the label, is in the bottle, and nothing else. Contaminant (chemical and microbial) tolerance ranges are extremely low, so low that we have yet to find a USA manufacturer that can match the QC standards for Athletic Greens. They can do it for our fish oil and vitamin d (we had to use a fully fledged pharmceutical company mind you, but they can do it) but the AG with all its organic ingredients is too much for them.

    As standard practice, audits occur at the TGA facilities ALL the time, and ALL those QC markers above (including contamination by “alien” chemicals, allergens etc) are screened to a more exacting standard than NSF or USA cGMP requirements, not just on the finished product, but before that on each batch of each incipient ingredient.

    NSF testing for QC would be a waste of time for us. I know that means that the NFL and other major institutions cannot public say “ok” for their athletes to use our product, but we could afford to pay them for that “ok” in the first place. Instead, though I cannot not name names, I can tell you that we already have 4 S and C NFL coaches, 3 major league baseball S and C coaches, and 2 NBA s and C coaches quietly buying directly from us for their athletes. I may have to delete this paragraph later Eric!

    The only element missing for us from the NSF list is the specific testing for banned substances.

    Some supplements offering performance advantages sneak in some illegal substances and have sketchy manufacturers put them together in the USA. OR manufacturers run products on production lines that are NOT cleaned properly (to a high enough testing standard) and therefore you run the risk of cross-contamination.

    Could not happen to us. The testing standards are too high, they are designed that way exactly to stop the kind of bullshit mentioned above. Which then just means you need to look at our label, confident that what is on the label is in the bottle, and determine if any of our ingredients that are designed to be in the formula are on the banned list.

    Current banned list is here …. http://www.nsfsport.com/Annex_A.pdf

    You have higher risk of a banned substance positive or false positive happening after buying and eating some organic blueberries from the supermarket than you do on our products.

    Dive on in, and buy with confidence

    Sorry for the long winded answer, just had the most excellent Eric Cressey designed workout and my nervous system is on fire!


  15. Mark Austin Says:

    LOVE the 1 RM cable horizontal abduction !
    more like training entourage

  16. Anthony J. Yeung Says:

    Great tips, Eric! I worked on making my room a cave and I’ve never had more restful sleep in my life. Is there any way to progress the 135-Degree Wall Slides? More reps? Longer holds at the top?

    And wow, was that a PR on the cable horizontal abduction? 😉

  17. Eric Cressey Says:


    It works best when combined with good soft tissue work and mobility drills for lats, pec minor, long head of triceps, and posterior cuff. Incorporate plenty of anterior core work and glute activation to help changes “stick” better, too.

  18. Eric Cressey Says:

    Diesel response, Chris!

  19. John Says:

    What are the typical items you would ask the dr to look for when ordering tests?

  20. Amanda Russell Says:

    Finding the right training partner is like trying to find a boyfriend/girlfriend lol

    Amanda Russell

  21. Josh Says:

    Hey Eric,

    do u think 15, 16 yr olds baseball players should take athletic greens..

  22. Eric Cressey Says:


    Yes, it should be totally fine. We have plenty of athletes who do.

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