Home Blog Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 15

Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 15

Written on August 20, 2012 at 5:14 am, by Eric Cressey

Here’s this week’s list of random tips to make you a little more awesome with your nutrition and strength and conditioning programs, with contributions from Greg Robins.

1. Outsource your cooking innovation.

One of the reasons folks “cheat” on their diets is that they don’t do a good job of incorporating variety in their healthy food choices.  Unless you are one of the 1% of the population who has outstanding willpower, eating the same thing over and over again is a recipe for feeling deprived – and that can only lead to some less-than-quality time with Ben and Jerry.

If you’re someone who isn’t all that creative in the kitchen, consider allocating some funds to a cookbook that features healthy recipes.  One of my favorites, Anabolic Cooking, is actually on sale for 52% off ($40 off) this week only. 

2. Make roasted chicken breast with spinach and walnut stuffing.

Speaking of the cookbook; here’s a great recipe from it.


– 4 large fresh chicken breasts, boneless and skinless (average 8oz per breast)
– 4 cups fresh spinach
– 2 tbsp of garlic
– 1/4 cup walnuts crushed
– Salt
– Fresh ground black pepper
– Olive oil (not extra virgin)


1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Butterfly chicken breasts (cut along side and lay out flat leaving attached at one end like a book) and lay out flat on cutting board. You can pound it slightly to flatten a bit if you want.
2. Rub both sides with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper.
3. Lightly wilt spinach in non-stick pan, or if using frozen just thaw.
4. Spread roasted garlic paste onto one half on inside of chicken breasts.
5. Sprinkle with crushed walnuts.
6. Place spinach on top of walnuts.
7. Fold top over and place on a rack fitted inside a sheet pan or roasting pan.
8. Place chicken in oven and bake for 20 minutes on 400. Then reduce heat to 325 and roast for an additional 30 minutes, or until inside stuffing reaches 145 degrees.
9. Let rest for 15 minutes before slicing.

Nutritional Information (four servings)

Calories: 407
Protein: 55g
Carbohydrates: 4g
Fat: 19g

*A special thanks goes out to Anabolic Cooking author Dave Ruel for allowing me to reprint this recipe.

3. Consider using concentric-only exercises for “off-day” training.

The most stressful, and therefore demanding part of an exercise is actually the eccentric, or lowering phase. This is where the majority of muscle damage occurs, and the part that will elicit the most muscular soreness. If you’re like me, you enjoy doing some kind of physical activity on a daily basis. Some people scoff at the idea of never taking a rest, but in reality, moving is good for you, and it can be done daily. If done incorrectly, it can interfere with recovery and lead to overtraining. If done correctly, it can keep you focused and actually speed up your recovery.

While there are multiple ways to go about off day exercise correctly, one option is to use mostly eccentric-free exercise choices. As examples, think of sled pushing, dragging, and towing. Additionally you can attach handles or a suspension trainer to your sled and do rows, presses, and pull-throughs. Another option is medicine ball exercises, which can be organized into complexes and circuits, or KB and sledgehammer swings, which all have minimal eccentric stress. These modalities will get blood flow to the appropriate areas and give you a training effect that won’t leave you sore, or stimulated to an extent that mandates serious recovery time.

4. Keep track of more than your one-rep max.

The ultimate rookie mistake in strength training is going for a one-rep max too often. You rarely need to train at the 100% intensity in order to get stronger. The issue is that most people only have that number as a benchmark in their minds. Therefore, the only way they know to measure progress is to constantly test that number over. This has two major flaws.

First, they train at that intensity too often, and all too often miss repetitions, essentially training above 100%. This teaches their body to miss reps, and leaves them neurally fried and unable to perform. Second, they get impatient with their training because they don’t realize new personal records throughout the training cycle. The consequence is that their impatience leads to unscheduled, and too frequent, attempts at new one-rep personal records, bringing us back to point number one. “What gets measured, gets managed,”so make a point of keeping track of repetition maxes. Testing your 3- and 5-rep maxes, for example, are also perfectly good ways to measure progress. Actually, they are better numbers to monitor as training those intensities is more repeatable.

5. Make your home a “safe house.”

No, I am not talking about replacing the batteries in your smoke detectors, although that is certainly important. What I am referring to has to do with nutrition. Your home should be a place where you are unable to make poor nutritional choices. Discipline is a function of decision making, or making choices. Many people relate great discipline to an ability to say “yes” or “no” in response to a question – even if it comes from one’s own mind (“Should I devour that box of donuts?”).

The truth is most of us might not be disciplined enough to make great choices at the drop of a hat, but you can be disciplined enough to prepare yourself for those moments that test you. Instead of keeping unhealthy foods in your house, have the discipline to throw away excess desserts after a party, and not keep certain foods in your fridge or cabinets. You can set yourself up for success, or you can tempt yourself by continually trying to prove you have the incredible discipline to only eat these foods in moderation. You will find that when you limit the consumption of more “relaxed” foods to “outside venues,” you will be eating them with other people, and therefore are more likely to eat less of them, enjoy them more, and have them less often; these are all good things! 

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20 Responses to “Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 15”

  1. Erik Blekeberg Says:

    With regards to #4. Doing 1 rep maxes for your training CAN be beneficial depending upon where you are in your training age. For beginners/intermediates it is very important not to miss attempts and test rep maxes. As one gets more advanced and specializes in say a strength sport, it becomes more beneficial to take train for the 1 rep max and include cycles that are focused on this type of training. That said, for many sports that are not strength sports, it almost never has any benefit to go to 1 rep max.

  2. Dale Says:

    I’m afraid I’m not clear on what constitutes an ‘unhealthy food.’ I know that Americans, and particular, are eating too much food overall. I would argue that the unhealthiest aspect of the American diet is the over-eating part.

  3. Jeff Says:

    Can someone confirm if farmer’s walks would fall into the less eccentric “off day” category? I really like doing these.

  4. Lee Says:

    As always Eric, great stuff. It’s a pleasure reading your constant updates. Always full of useful information.

  5. Ted Says:

    Down 5% body fat and 34 LBS so far using Cressey’s recommendations. Muscle mass has been constant; 1RM has been consistent/rising. Stimulate the nervous system, baby! Building that myelin. I figure I have 1 year left to stimulate it lol…

    The cookbook he mentions above rocks, but you still need to be careful about intake. As a former wrestler and aging ex-jock, I’m also a big fan of Gary Taubes’ recommendations for an intellectual discussion of what happens inside the body and why we get fat as we age (you can youtube his presentations and get a good idea – he’s a scientific writer and paleo guy, not a nutritionist).

    Cressey ROCKS.

    Ted Browne
    Chief StoryTeller
    Beyond Athletic Life Lessons, Inc.

  6. Eric Cressey Says:

    Great progress, Ted! Thanks for your contribution and congratulations on some outstanding success.

  7. Eric Cressey Says:

    Thanks, Lee!

  8. Eric Cressey Says:


    They’re more isometric than anything. Can definitely still elicit some soreness. If you’re going to do them, keep it light.

  9. Greg R Says:

    @ Erik

    I might be misunderstanding you, but I would argue as a lifter becomes able to produce higher outputs he or she should actually train at 95%+ less often. A newbie, on the other hand, because their outputs are lower, can actually touch higher percentages more often, and still make progress.

    In regards to strength sports, personal records should be set on the platform, not in training. This is of course dependent on how far away from competition someone is, but I would advocate to never touch 100% and go for it on the day of the meet.

    Both of these points are of course debatable, but I see more success with sub maximal training.

  10. Personal Trainer Says:

    When you live in a shared house implementing the safe house concept is difficult, any advice?

  11. Eric Cressey Says:

    Tell everyone in your house what your goals are and ask for their help. If they know you’re working to accomplish a goal, they won’t go out of their way to sabotage you – unless they’re a**holes. 🙂

  12. Braden Says:

    Great post Eric. 1 rep max would probably be better for a sport that doesn’t need as much endurance correct? The less oxidative the activity the more a 1 rep workout would help?

  13. Brian Says:

    The nutrition aspect cannot be overstated with regard to having less healthy foods in the house. As a trainer myself, I always recommend occasional cheat days but it’s best to avoid having these foods available in the house otherwise. When Ben and Jerry’s is not around, there’s no temptation to splurge.

  14. J Says:

    Personal Trainer – if you have your own cupboard / storage area, make that your safe “house”.

    Also, if you have pitched in on food with others traditionally, you aren’t obligated to keep doing so.

  15. Beth Says:

    For Personal Trainer –
    Having your own food cabinet/drawer in the kitchen can help, too, when having a safe house isn’t everyone else’s goal. That’s your go-to space. It’s doable if those around you think it’s your “personal responsibility” and won’t be supportive. Hopefully you’ll get some to join you.

  16. Oakville personal trainer Says:

    Completely agree with you for #3. Part of doing it, is not doing it. You’re body needs rest, you dont need to be sore every day of the week to make the gains you desire. So if you partake in some active rest or even focusing on just the concentric phase, your body will thank you in the long run. That being said, try a week of negatives (only eccentric movements) and you’ll feel the pain you desire. Thanks and great blog.

  17. David Says:

    Eric, this isn’t directly related, but I’m desperately looking for resources on dealing with shoulder impingement non-surgically, and as you are aware most of what’s out there is trash. Can you point me in the right direction?

  18. Eric Cressey Says:


    Have you read these?


  19. Mike T Nelson Says:

    Good stuff in this series once again!

    I’ve found a great “light” day is also concentric work too.

    A good one as of late is

    Sledge hammer strikes

    rev sled drags

    hand over hand sled pulls

    I find that my HRV (heart rate variability) score gets a nice bump up too (better) and I feel more recovered too.

    Great advice about tracking 3 and 5 RMs.
    I find that while it is a bit more work, tracking overload via 1) volume 2) intensity (% of 1 RM) and 3)density (volume/time) works really well. Most can almost always progress in one of those almost every training session.

    Rock on
    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)

  20. Shane Says:

    I bought the anabolic cookbook that you recommended and it seems a little nutritionally outdated? Big emphasis on the GI and other things I’ve seen addressed even on this blog:

    “If you want to be successful, you must learn to eat 6 meals per day without fail in order to keep your metabolism stoked”

    I’m hesitant to trust his other advice in other areas where I know I’m less informed—namely everything to do with cooking 😉

    Otherwise, your photo looks great and I’m sure many of the recipes are good! It’s too bad the recipe book itself has no photographs in it.

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