Home Blog Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 12

Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 12

Written on July 23, 2012 at 7:25 am, by Eric Cressey

Here are some random tips from CP coach Greg Robins to help you improve health, get strong, lose fat, gain muscle, and move better.

1. Consider mixing protein powder with something other than water or milk.

I hardly ever recommend protein powder as the best choice for a quality protein source. However, a quality product (with minimal garbage thrown in the mix) is an easy way to get more protein into someone’s diet. For some, a scoop with water or milk is fine; they even enjoy the taste. For others, myself included, the novelty of protein shakes has diminished greatly. Enter other viable options to mix in a scoop or two of your favorite protein supplement.

Option 1: Ice Coffee

This is a game changer. Adding a scoop of vanilla or chocolate protein powder to black coffee is a delicious alternative to milk, cream, and sugar. It not only tastes great, but also fuels your body and gives you a little boost. Furthermore, I find it to be a fantastic option for people looking to shed some weight. The protein powder will satiate you, while the caffeine can work to curb your appetite and stimulate your metabolism.

WARNING: don’t try this with hot coffee. The protein powder will not mix well and tends to curdle at the top.

Option 2: Oatmeal

After you cook up a cup or two of raw oats, throw in a scoop or two of your favorite flavor. Make sure the protein goes in after the oatmeal is cooked, and before it cools down and solidifies.

Option 3: Plain Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is delicious on its own, but sometimes it needs some variety. I would much rather get some flavor from a scoop of protein than the sugar filled “fruit” you find at the bottom of most other varieties. One of my favorite concoctions looks like this: 1 cup of plain greek yogurt, 1 scoop of chocolate whey, 4tbsp of oat bran, 4tbsp of shredded coconut flakes. Mix it all together, place it in the fridge over night, and you’ve got a delicious breakfast or snack for the next day.

2. Keep things fresh to keep people motivated.

Last week, I touched upon the importance of sticking to exercise selections long enough for them to have value/transfer in a strength training program. That said, I have spent some quality time inside the walls of commercial gyms, and run a number of different boot camps. You have to keep it fresh, I GET IT! So, how does a coach or trainer get the best of both worlds? First and foremost, educate your clients. You don’t need a fancy explanation; just give them a little insight. Show them the “why” that backs up the “how” that gets them the “what.”

Look to your assistance exercises as the first place to add variety. Monitoring the progress in (most) assistance work is not as important as just doing it. With that in mind, this is the first place where exercises can be altered more often. There is no point in choosing variations without a purpose. Luckily there are a lot of different exercises that accomplish similar, or the same thing. Resources, such as this blog, are full of different ideas.

Likewise, coaches such as Ben Bruno and Nick Tumminello have made it a point to offer up tons of innovative exercise variations, so check them out!

Lastly, “finishers” (circuit/medley training) at the end of a strength session is a logical place to add in something creative and fun. Keep the intensity high, the duration short, and mix it up. I know many people utilize these, so if you have a “go-to” option, please drop a comment below.

3. If you can’t do full push-ups, stop doing them on your knees.

The push up is a fantastic exercise. It will forever remain a staple for building the pecs, shoulders and triceps. However, let’s not forget to appreciate its most redeeming quality: The push up is an ultimate test in torso stability, and the ability to coordinate movement around a stable midsection. While this function of the push up makes it such a great choice for gym goers, it also provides us the reason that push-ups from a kneeling stance will have little transfer to performing them on your feet. Instead, elevate the hands as necessary, and train the push up in the position you ultimately desire to do them from in the future. Doing so will not only help you to train the muscles responsible for pushing, but also those responsible for keeping the spine in a neutral position.

4. Get outside!

5. Remind parents and team coaches that gaining good weight is still a good thing!

Without fail, I will hear at least one young athlete each week ask one of our CP coaches if putting on weight will make them slower. We all know “speed” is what separates the good from the great, as the faster we can move, react, throw, etc., the better we’ll perform. We need to appreciate that speed is dependent on force, and stronger people have more force potential.

In a recent study, published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, investigators looked at the off-ice fitness profiles of elite female ice hockey players relative to team success. The study found that, “Athletes from countries with the best international records weighed more, yet had less body fat, had greater lower body muscular power and upper body strength, and higher aerobic capacity compared to their less successful counterparts.”

To those of us in the field, this is obvious. As with many topics, we as strength coaches or trainers tend to forget the popular opinions of those less involved with what we do. Many parents and coaches still argue that “lighter” means faster, and muscle is “bulky”. Gaining 25lbs of muscle over the course of year will make a 16 year-old athlete who weighs 165lb. into a 190-lb., faster, bigger, stronger athlete. Moreover, 25lbs dispersed evenly over the frame of a 6′ athlete will not transform him into the next Lou Ferrigno. Be mindful of this, and again, educate your clients, athletes, and parents!

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48 Responses to “Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 12”

  1. R. Smith Says:

    Well. Said. Sir.


  2. Mario Says:

    Really lovin this series!

    Always an awful long wait till the next part…


  3. John Phung Says:

    Actually you can mix whey protein into hot coffee.

    The trick is to cool down the coffee a bit before mixing in the powder: http://www.johnphung.com/blog/1422/how-to-add-whey-protein-to-coffee/

  4. Ben Bruno Says:

    Good post, and thanks for the mention!

  5. Eric Cressey Says:

    Thanks, Mario!

  6. Francois Says:

    Your pushup girl was having trouble keeping her elbows in cause the bar was at the middle/top of her chest rather than the bottom. Just an observation. Haha. Otherwise, good idea to keep them off their knees. Makes sense. Cool series. Keep it up.

  7. Ellen Stein Says:

    Can you recommend a good protein powder please? There is so much crap out there….

  8. Sam Rosen Says:

    Dude, the protein is going in the oatmeal and iced coffee tomorrow. That is an awesome suggestion (along with all of the others).

  9. Sheldon Ginn Says:

    My 14 yr old son has tried my whey powder drinks and likes them. He is trying to gain strength and put some weight on. Is it too soon for him to be drinking it?
    Thank you

  10. Nick Says:

    Guilt free frozen peanut butter cups.

    6 egg whites (Make sure they are 100% egg whites in the carton because these are already pasteurized and you don’t have to cook them to eat them. Usually it will say “pasteurized” )
    1 TBS Natural Peanut Butter
    1 scoop of chocolate protein powder
    1 TBS unsweetened cocoa powder

    Mix all the ingredients in a blender.
    Divide in 12 cupcake/muffin baking paper cups.
    In the freezer for at least an hour.

    The whole recipe made 12 cups. A good serving size would be 4 cups.

    Serving Size: 4 peanut butter cups
    Calories: 127
    Fat: 3.5g
    Protein 19.8g
    Carbs: 2.5

  11. Mike Lee Says:

    I’ve been taking coffee this way for some time now. There is no need to wait for the coffee to cool, especially when in a rush, i just mix the cold liquids with protein powder first then combine the hot coffee and take it lukewarm. Depending on how you like the temperature of your drink, you can vary the ratios of the hot and cold liquids or add ice.

  12. Derek Says:

    I’m loving the tips in this series Eric.

    The tip to practice easier pushup variations with feet extended makes a lot of since. I was never sure if or when pushups from the knees would ever be recommended relative to doing them from a higher surface.

  13. Darron Says:

    Great small piece! Will try the protein coffee…a “proffee!!”

  14. Eric Cressey Says:

    Thanks, Darron! I have it every morning; it’s a game changer! 🙂

  15. Eric Cressey Says:

    Agree, Mike. I usually put the protein powder in the mug and then just pour the coffee over it. Works fine.

  16. Eric Cressey Says:

    Thanks, Derek; I’m glad you’re enjoying them.

  17. Eric Cressey Says:


    There’s a reason for that; she has breasts. They get in the way sometimes. 😉

  18. Eric Cressey Says:


    I still use Biotest Low Carb Grow. I guess I’m just a traditionalist? 🙂

  19. Eric Cressey Says:

    Thanks, Sam!

  20. Trish Says:

    I have been adding protein powder to my oatmeal for quite some time….as in years …. But I add it before I cook the oatmeal. I just throw a sccop in the oatmeal, add cinnamon and ginger, and pop it in the microwave. What is the significance of adding it after the oatmeal is cooked?

  21. Chip Says:

    Or mix a scoop of dry protein powder with a bowl of high fiber dry cereal then just add milk.

  22. Mike G Says:

    I have been combining show and go workouts with the finishers from Mike Whitfield. I don’t like the hamster wheel cardio on equipment so have had some great success with finishers.

  23. Eric Cressey Says:

    Nice, Mike! Glad you’re enjoying them.

  24. Eric Cressey Says:

    Definitely, Chip; that’s another great option.

  25. vincent Says:

    Great info. Done my fair share of finishers. Like reading your posts. Do you mind if I post these to my fb page?

  26. Amy Says:

    I used to keep iced coffee in my fridge to use with my protein. Got to be a hassle so I now use cold water with instant coffee grounds. Works great.

  27. Trish Says:

    I would like to say that I don’t know where the middle if my comment came from, as I did not write it. How strange….. Anyways, just wanted to know if there is a reason to add protein powder after the oatmeal is cooked, as I add it before I cook it.

  28. Lisa Says:

    Hey Eric;

    I am really enjoying this series and hope they continue.

  29. Arthur Lynch Says:

    The only problem with the push ups is that many clients I encounter are too damn weak to do hands elevated push ups. One man I recently did a program for can only do 3 push ups on his knees with his hands on a bench.

  30. Josh Says:


    Big consensus in most circles is that Optimum Nutrition 100% Whet is legit. Go with that one. Very low cal, high protein, no crap.


  31. Conor Says:

    Great post! I’ve been putting the protein in my oatmeal for a while now. Seems to add a little more flavour, along with some cinnamon. Never tried the coffee idea though. I might just give that a try. Keep it up!

  32. Eric Cressey Says:

    That’s weird, Trish; I have no idea what happened! I’ll edit it.

  33. Eric Cressey Says:


    Keep elevating them! They’ll get it eventually. 🙂

  34. Eric Cressey Says:


    Feel free to post the link. I’d just ask that you not reprint the article itself.



  35. LV Says:

    Eric, My 17 yr old is a SS & wants to build his upper body to get more strength and power behind his bat. Any suggestions on how to put on some weight? He’s about 5’8″ 150lbs. Protein powder okay for him to start taking this young?

  36. Johnny Alexander Says:

    Great stuff! What’s the name of the Killswitch Engage song during the farmers walk relay?

  37. Sean Nalewanyj Says:

    Awesome stuff – I was actually just looking for something to mix in with my coffee and came across your post. I’ll try this out tomorrow. Thanks.

  38. Eric Cressey Says:

    Thanks, Sean! Glad you enjoyed it.

  39. Eric Cressey Says:


    Protein powder shouldn’t be a problem, but you have to remember that it is just another way to get total calories. I’d rather see him eating more whole food.

    I’d have him do a 3-day diet record where he keeps track of everything he eats. If you look it over, I think you’ll find that he isn’t eating nearly as much as he says he is. Every teenager claims that they eat all the time, but I’ve never seen one who actually lives up to their own hype!

    Obviously, pair that up with some resistance training and it’ll come around quickly.

  40. Eric Cressey Says:


    At 14, I’d prefer to see him eating more whole foods, but a little protein powder here and there for convenience and added calories won’t hurt.

    Please see my advice to Loret on this thread, too.

  41. Matt Jennings Says:

    I dig this post, Eric! The only contention I see is the ingestion of protein powder with coffee (caffeine). There has been evidence that shows caffeine ingested post training can interfere with protein synthesis facilitated mechanism mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin). And that a whey protein concentrate post training is in part ingested to stimulate that specific mechanism. Beyond that… I recognize your most recent posts to have evolved in that they address multi topics using multi mediums to effectively translate your message. Your stuff rocks, brother! Thanks & Peace-Matt

  42. Eric Cressey Says:

    Matt – I don’t think there was any mention of doing that post-training…more just at breakfast. Agree with your point, though.

  43. Jose Says:

    I skipped reading this for a bit, and it turns out I can, or am not the only one doing, mix protein whey and coffee.

    My world is complete!

    PS It’s sad that I know, but I have to note this does not carry over well to a white russian, not even with skim milk. Seriously, don’t try this.

  44. Joaquin Says:

    I strongly agree with number three simply that it clarified why the push up while on the knees is highly ineffective. this has been an issue for many years and has been taught and told to many people. Most saw this from a younger age where the less athletic where told to do they pushups and or even the girls. I guess it was a quick way to put those less qualified in an active motion which i guess is better than nothing.

    The most important and profound remark is that it is a test of core strength most importantly. This is the best part of a pushup and even holding a pushup will give more of a workout than pushups from the knees. The ability to stabilize and control the mid section will allow for better utilization and concentration on those other targeted muscles like the pecs and traps.

    Push ups from an inclined position with feet possibly closer in is very productive. Its very productive in proving training to the mid section where most power is derived from. It gives so much more ability to regulate the amount of control needed the higher or lower you do your pushups. This is great for obese people, older people, less mobile people, men, women and children which in actually is everyone.

  45. Eric Cressey Says:

    Great contribution; thanks Joaquin!

  46. Jay Floyd Says:

    Every morning for the past two years…
    2.5 cups of coffee
    2 Scoops of chocolate protein powder
    1 scoop of natural peanut butter.

    Replaced the empty calories I had been doing so long with creamer!

  47. Bort Says:

    I use the Quaker “quick 1 minute” oats. They mix better in my protein shake than the regular version.

  48. Caber1 Says:

    Your exercises are great, but your nutritional advice is out to lunch. Nobody that I know does additional protein anymore. Science has shown with out a doubt that protein powders do zip and in fact do more harm than good. It’s a suckers game.
    Protein is in every food you eat from head lettuce to
    oats and everything in between.

    It’s the 21 century gents.

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