Home Blog Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 16

Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 16

Written on August 27, 2012 at 11:06 am, by Eric Cressey

Here are this week’s strength and conditioning and nutrition tips to make you just a little more awesome, compliments of CP coach Greg Robins.

1. Spread – don’t sit – when squatting.

2. Read the entire food label.

Reading food labels is an important step in selecting quality products to include in your diet. It may seem rudimentary, but I often find that people neglect to take into account the nutrition facts as a whole. Rather, they fall victim to the flashy marketing on the front cover, or go immediately to checking the macronutirent breakdown (protein, fat, carbohydrate). By doing so, they select foods that seem like better choices than they are, and discard many solid choices they believe to be “unhealthy.” So, how should we read the labels?

First, make sure you look to see how large a single serving is. Many foods will advertise an appealing amount of calories or other benefit per serving. However, a single serving will be much smaller than perceived by looking at the product as a whole. Interestingly enough, even products as small as a 16oz beverage or single nutrition bar will show a food label that is representative of a single serving, not the total amount within the package or bottle. Don’t skip the first line; make sure you know how big a serving is, and how many servings you are buying in all.

Next is the most popular part of the label: the middle portion. Here you will find information on calories, protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Additionally, you will see information on sodium content, as well as how many grams of fat come from different fatty acid profiles, and how many grams of carbohydrates come from sugar and fiber. These are obviously important considerations, but not to be viewed outside the context of the product as a whole. Remember to view these within the parameters of a single serving, and then within the parameters of the package as a whole. For example, many canned products will provide an entire day’s worth of sodium.

Moving down the label, vitamins and minerals are featured next. This is important for everyone, and a good gauge of how nutrient dense a product is. You should be trying to fill your diet with as nutrient dense foods as possible, and the bigger numbers you see here, the more sure you can be that what you are taking in is filling your requirements for a healthy diet.

Last, but surely not least, is the ingredients list. I, for one, move my eyes directly to this paragraph when investigating a new product. Often, a product will check out fairly well until you get to this section. I often joke that the more blurbs on the front telling me what’s not in a food, the skeptical I am of what actually is in the food! More times than not, there are loads of ingredients I can barely pronounce, and a paragraph long enough to warrant a comfortable chair and barista to make it feel like a more appropriate setting for the day’s reading. Limit ingredients to five or less, and take note of the order in which they are featured. When sugar is the second ingredient after water, you can be pretty sure that you’re about to consume just that.

3. Remember that booze continues to be a poor post-training nutrition strategy.

Many people sabotage their gym efforts by consuming far too much alcohol. In fact, it’s probably more prevalent than we think even in the most dedicated gym-goers. After all, many people who consider themselves avid exercise enthusiasts are also those who frequent bars and clubs to show off their hard work in the gym. Consider this study, published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, that found alcohol ingested post-training by rugby players had a detrimental effect on both peak power outputs and recovery. It’s not something you didn’t already assume, but nonetheless, it’s a reminder that alcohol and peak performance don’t mix. If you are an athlete over the age of 21, reflect on what is important to you. Be a professional, and do the things that separate the average from the elite. This includes taking into account your recovery, something alcohol certainly will not expedite. For the rest of us, if you are going to embody a healthy lifestyle, do it to the fullest and be aware of your alcohol consumption. For further reasoning, consider these additional ways alcohol negatively impacts your training and health: it contains empty calories, raises estrogen (beer, mostly), dehydrates you, taxes your liver, ruins your sleep, diminishes muscle recovery functions, I could go on. Bottom line, if your training is important to you, you will limit alcohol consumption.

4. Get into a routine for continued success.

Spontaneity is not a bad quality to possess. I once dated a girl who actually commented that she liked me because I was spontaneous. I laughed, because in reality, I’m a creature of habit. I am purposefully habitual because being so keeps me focused, consistent, and successful. You don’t need to organize your entire life into a routine; that would be boring, and girls/boys will never like you for your spontaneity. You should, however, form routines for activities that need to take place regularly and set you up for continued success in the long term. I have routine for cooking my meals, writing, continuing education, sleeping, hygiene, and training. I approach my food prep the same way every week by allotting certain days for grocery shopping, and certain times for cooking. I have a nice routine for clearing my head to write, and another for reading books and articles to keep me up to date on happenings in the industry. Likewise, I have a routine that helps me get to bed, as well as stay clean and groomed. Lastly, I approach my training in a very similar fashion every week so that I don’t overlook my pre-training nutrition and checklist of cues before each lift.

5. Consider training capabilities – not just specific movements – for increased performance.

Specificity in training for sports performance is a complicated subject. It’s complex in of itself, and also because there are so many schools of thought on how to maximize the requested outcome. It is important that we breakdown movements past what they look like in relation to the sport of question, and more to the desired improvement of certain capabilities (strength, energy system demands, etc.). A recent study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that counter movement jump ability (think: depth jumps, reactive heidens) had a positive correlation to the improvement of elite basketball player’s repeated sprint ability (RSA). While training explosive strength via jumping doesn’t seem to have any surface linkage to sprint ability, the concept makes perfect sense. In order to repeat high output sprint efforts during the game of basketball a player needs to have adequate strength and an ability to call upon that strength quickly. This in turn requires an efficient management of their energy in relation to the demand. While training these characteristics with actual sprint work will increase their RSA, so will using other means that elicit similar and nearly identical demands / outputs. These would include jump variations, resistance training, and various other special strength exercises. Don’t assume that in order to increase one skill you must train it specifically (at least not all the time). Additional training of other movements, that utilize similar properties, will also increase other like skills. A steady combination, and intelligent organization, of both the specific and the general will gamer the best result.

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11 Responses to “Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 16”

  1. plarah Says:

    Sad to read that article about rugby, the third half is usually the best part of a rugby match.

  2. Christian Says:

    Hey great post, esp like the squat opener. Was wondering if you guys could provide some info on the retroverted hip
    alignment in coming posts? Notice you’ve covered anteversion but not the opposite. Its not something that gets much coverage in the literature beyond diagnosis. Any insight into training considerations, mobility sugestions etc would be great

  3. Eric Cressey Says:

    Hey Christian,

    Sure, we can talk retroversion sometime soon. We see it quite a bit.

  4. Brandon Says:

    any thought on how much stretching is too much stretching? and if you’re a lax guy would doing some stability stuff everyday be a good or bad idea?

  5. Keenan Says:

    One of your best post! The section, with evidence based reference, of sport specificty training is so true. Training swimmers exclusively, I always get asked stroke specific lifts and Im not a proponent of it! This helps defend my arguement! Thanks

  6. Eric Cressey Says:

    Thanks, Keenan. All the credit goes to Greg, though!

  7. Eric Cressey Says:


    If you’re lax, you really won’t need any stretching. However, you’ll usually get some as part of a comprehensive mobility warm-up, so it’s covered in that. Just need to make sure you avoid end-range.

  8. Pete Says:

    In addition to the retroversion, could you touch on anteroversion as well?

  9. Daniella Dayoub Says:

    Love the post about the box squat. For the exact reasons you mention I often take it out of my programs completely, but this explanation is a perfect work around.

  10. Eric Cressey Says:


    Give this a read: http://ecressey.wpengine.com/hip-anteversion-assessment-strength-and-conditioning-programs

  11. Oakville personal trainer Says:

    Another great post as usual. What caught my eye was the part on routines. Think most people can work on this aspect of their life, its not just about being a robot, but really managing your time wisely, week after week, in a manner that allows you to keep bettering yourself in as many aspects as possible. Keep things in perspective and do what others are not. Thanks

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