Home Blog Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 14

Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 14

Written on August 11, 2012 at 12:06 pm, by Eric Cressey

Here’s this week’s list of quick tips you can put into action to improve your strength and conditioning and nutrition programs, courtesy of CP coach Greg Robins.  This week, Greg focuses on improving your warm-ups.

1. Integrate new movements into your warm-up first.

A solid warm-up should do a few things for you; in a nutshell, it needs to prepare the body for the task at hand. At Cressey Performance, we do this via soft tissue work, mobility drills, and various low level activation exercises. Essentially, we are working on our weak points (from a movement standpoint), so that we can solidify these new ranges with our strength training. Therefore, the warm up itself is a great spot to work on any new movements we want to externally load down the road. As a believer in training efficiency, I would rather see more time spent loading what can be safely loaded, and not spending as much time in the “meat” of the training session working new movements. If you have movement patterns that need practice, do a few sets in the warm up. As an example, CP coach Chris Howard is currently working the steps of the Turkish get-up as part of his warm-up routine before he loads it up. Other options include: frontal plane exercises such as lateral lunge variations, squat variations, and lunge or split squat variations.

2. Put a time limit on you warm-up.

A thorough warm-up includes a lot, and each piece is important. That being said, it doesn’t (nor should it need to) take more than 15 minutes. As I said before, the warm-up needs to prepare you for the task at hand, and that task includes crushing your training session. In order to make that happen, you want to leave the warm up area sweating, fired up, and ready to train. Too often, I see people allow the warm-up process to morph into a 30-minute affair. Not surprisingly, these are the same people who comment on the tediousness of the process, and the fact that their training sessions seem like two-hour affairs. Focus on what needs to get done, and get it done. Scrap the small talk, and get to work! I can properly do all my self massage and 10-12 warm up exercises in 15 minutes, and so can you. When I finish my shirt is damp, my adrenaline is pumping, and I am ready to do work. You need to do the same. Next time you get into the gym, set a timer and condense your 30-minute marathon of a warm-up into 15 minutes. The difference in training quality will be immediately noticeable, and your distaste for warming up will be a thing of the past.

3. “Floss” your joints during self-massage.

I picked this tip up awhile back from strength coach and physical therapist Kelly Starrett. It has made a huge difference in how my elbows, knees, and shoulders feel after warming up. When rolling out you will often find “knots” or areas that are noticeably more tender than others. Stop on these regions, keep constant pressure on the area, and take the nearest joint through some active ranges of motion while the implement used for massage is still applying pressure. I have found this to be especially helpful with a lacrosse ball placed just above the knee, just above the elbow, and under the shoulder. Other options include simply flexing and extending the knees, elbows, and shoulders while rolling across the IT bands / quadriceps (knee), upper and mid back (shoulders), and upper arms (elbows). Here are a few examples:

4. Mimic the day’s big exercise with a lower load variation first.

As a powerlifter, my training sessions always begin with one of the tested lifts: squat, bench, or deadlift. While this may not be the case for the general population or athletes, more times than not they are still beginning with a big compound movement. Instead of diving right in to the lift at hand, consider doing a few light sets of a similar movement that will help ingrain proper technique and give you additional time to orient the body to the day’s main movement pattern. I have found the goblet squat to be a great way to set up for successful squatting. Band resisted good mornings or KB swings are good for the deadlift. Finally, something as easy as a few sets of pushups can help with the bench press.

Each of these options will help raise your core temperature, fire up the CNS, and give you some sensory feed back on how the lift should feel (or will feel) on the given day.

5. Consider using MCTs for pre workout nutrition.

I’ll finish this warm-up edition with a suggestion on how to warm up your body from the inside out. Many people tend to fuel their body pre-workout with various supplements (mostly full of garbage), or with carbohydrate-rich concotions. Instead, consider using a healthy source of fat: Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs). The benefits are numerous, and especially advantageous for those looking to increase fat oxidation during the workout. This study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that consumption of MCTs as part of a weight loss plan improved overall weight loss. After ingestion of MCTs, the free fatty acid levels are raised, and more available to be used as energy. Supplementing with MCTs pre workout is therefore a terrific option for those on low carbohydrate diets looking for pre-workout energy and increased fat loss. You can get your MCTs in via coconut oil, MCT oil supplements, or even quality coconut milk products. Add in a small amount of BCAAs or whey protein, and caffeine for a boost that will keep you fueled up while aiding you in staying lean.

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17 Responses to “Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 14”

  1. Luke Says:

    Thanks again Eric! Another quality article!

  2. Koosh Says:

    Great tips, esp for us older guys. Love the MCT tip- I usually lift in the AM, and preworkout is coffee with grass fed butter an MCT oil

  3. Bobby Fisk Says:

    Really liked the post. You mentioned activation exercises. What types of things does that entail? Also, what is the sequence you use for the warm-up? For example, I generally go smr, mobility, activation, preparatory movements and low level jumps prior to lifting anything which is usually about 15 minutes. Thanks for any insight!

  4. Greg Robins Says:

    @ Bobby, Thanks for reading.

    Order is SMR, Mobility / Activation (intermixed, and many drills will accomplish both), more dynamic movements (walking lunges, spider mans, and this is where I would insert new movement patterns). I will do any jumping, sprinting, or throwing following that, and then move into strength work.

    The easiest example of activation drills would be a supine bridge, and it’s variations. Others include forearm wall slides w/ lift off, prone 1-arm trap raises, dead bugs and bird dogs, or a reach – roll – and lift.

  5. Grant Says:

    Hi Eric, nice points there. Am interested to know if you use Active isolated stretching in your warm up/pre warm up or only use self massage (foam Rollers or triggerpoint therapy)??

  6. gregory Says:

    Is an old school wooden rolling pin in the hands of another just as effective. Is this about fascial release?

  7. Rob Says:

    Once again, thanks, Eric. Great tips for using the roller. You are fantastic.

  8. Dag-Are Halland Says:

    “I can properly do all my self massage and 10-12 warm up exercises in 15 minutes, and so can you.”

    Now that I wanna see! I can’t imagine a full warm-up being done in only 15 minutes. Please put up a full video of one of your warm-up sessions Eric.

  9. George Super Boot Camps Says:

    Hey Koosh,

    That coffee sounds weird, how does it taste?


  10. George Super Boot Camps Says:

    Oh, and I second that notion for a video of your warmup being done. That would be very useful…


  11. Chris Says:

    Greg, you noted that much of the concoctions people drink as pre-workout supplements are garbage. What would you recommend using other than MCTs?

  12. Koosh Says:

    Hey Greg – just saw this, or I would have told you in person (I was the old guy from TPS that you helped with the TB DEads). You have to use grass fed UNSALTED butter, which is basically cream from the cow- its great! Better if you can froth it

  13. Peggy Says:

    Love your work! One quick suggestion is that foam rolling on the pecs for we gals doesn’t work so well. 🙂 What I have my clients use for the pecs is a softball or lacrosse ball (depending on body type) on the end/edge of the wall at an angle. Thanks for all of the great information.

  14. Greg Robins Says:

    @ Chris

    Black coffee with a little BCAA’s of quality whey (isolate, hydrosilate) is my go to.

    I also like Spike, the ingredients are minimal. Although it has sucralose.

  15. Chris Says:

    Thanks Greg! I’ve always used the concoctions you probably noted as crap (pro/carb/creatine/caffeine/NO/BCAA mix). Since reading Eric’s last blog about IF I thinking of giving the BCAA only gig a shot. Thanks for the reply

  16. Oakville personal trainer Says:

    Awesome article! One thing i think most people overlook is the warm-up, and how vital it is in injury prevention, and even muscle recovery. With all this new info and tools it still amazes me to see people just doing static stretching for their warm-up then getting right into it. Typical warm-up for me would be a quick foam roll, 5 mins on treadmill/bike, then another 5 mins doing dynamic movements, then finally going through a couple sets of lower load variations. Thanks for the post.

  17. Robert Says:

    Great article.

    The motivation I needed for myself and clients right now


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