Home Blog Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 4

Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 4

Written on May 27, 2012 at 2:54 pm, by Eric Cressey

Here are some random tips to help you lose fat, get strong, gain muscle, feel better, and take over the world – compliments of Cressey Performance coach Greg Robins.

1. Swing it!

As a strength coach, you will be confronted by two big issues. One, you will most likely have a budget. Secondly, you will struggle to keep all your athletes consistently in the gym, or on track while in season. A recent study published in the NSCA’s Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research provides us with a solution: kettlebell swings. “The results of this study clearly demonstrate that six weeks of bi-weekly kettlebell swings provides a stimulus that is sufficient to increase both maximum and explosive strength offering a useful alternative to strength and conditioning professionals seeking variety for their athletes.”

Purchasing kettlebells for your program, or advocating the purchase of kettlebells by your athletes for at home use, is a low cost option to deliver a great training effect. The swing is a relatively easy movement to teach and safely prescribe to your athletes to keep up with, and improve their strength. The kettlebell swing has largely been touted as an incredibly efficient movement, most recently by the king of efficiency himself, Tim Ferriss, in his book, The 4-Hour Body. In this article he talks about his own incredible results, as well as links to a profile of another swinger, who garnered impressive results with as little as 10 – 20min of swinging a week. Not bad!

2. Make food taste better by adding…more food.

Chicken, turkey, and pork all taste great when you eat them right out of the oven or off the grill. However, everyone knows that “so dry that I’m coughing up dust” taste that you can get when you eat them as leftovers. To that end, try chopping the meat up and adding it to an omelet; it tastes great.

This is just one example of how you can “disguise” something that might not taste good. Don’t like spinach? Blend it into your shakes. Don’t like tomatoes? Grind them up and add some spices and fruit to make a salsa. Your imagination is the only limit.

3. Some small stuff is worth sweating.

More times than not, I am telling people not to sweat the small stuff. However, I would advocate locating small things, that are easily done, that can have a large effect on the bigger picture. When it comes to the gym I can think of a few examples:

  • Learn to, and teach your athletes / clients, to set up, un-rack, and re-rack weights properly. I like to see things done right, from the moment someone gets under the bar, to the moment they put it back. This isn’t just the purist in me, these so called “little” things will have a big effect on the quality of the set, and the safety as well. Make sure that you, and those you teach, learn to do it right from the start. I don’t usually make videos, but when I do, they are awesome:

  • Ask for spotters and hand-offs. It’s always best to perform a lift safely and with a clear mind. If you have someone available to spot you, why wouldn’t you ask? Furthermore, if you set up correctly in a bench press (uncomfortably tight, shoulder blades retracted, etc.) You will benefit greatly from receiving a good hand off that keeps you in position. Lastly, if you happen to train around people who know what they are doing, asking for an appropriate spot, or hand-off when they are not busy is a good way to grab a little sage wisdom

4. Always take the bar.

In sticking with the theme of the little things that make a big difference, here’s a lesson I learned early in my training history: “Always take the bar.” It means exactly what it says. Whether you are squatting, benching, lunging, or pressing always do a set with the empty bar. You don’t pick up a baseball and throw it 200ft before you have thrown it 50ft do you? It is always best to ramp up to your working sets and get a gauge on how you feel. Furthermore, repetition is the principal of learning. Even as someone whose working sets are a good distance from 45lbs, I will take anywhere from 5 – 8 sets to get where I am going for that day’s big exercise. In this time, don’t just go through the motions, it is the perfect time to smooth out any form issues and build a habitual approach to each set.

5. Avoid paralysis by analysis.

There is a time for thinking, and a time for doing. Be careful not to let your thoughts interfere with your ability to execute. Additionally, remember that in many cases, “perfect” will be the enemy of “good.” In order to achieve more from your training and sport practice, follow these two guidelines:

  • Separate planning and doing. I recently read a fantastic article from Dan John that speaks about managing options in your training. The article closes with a saying: “Plan the hunt, hunt the hunt, discuss the hunt.” In other words take the time to formulate an intelligent plan, execute that plan with a full effort, and then review and revise based on the outcome. There are many different ways to achieve the same outcome, the difference maker will often be the effort put forward into whatever that approach may be. With that in mind, do not limit yourself by over thinking what you are doing while you are doing it. Just do it!
  • In the moment, redirect your thought process. In a recent discussion with one of our athletes at CP, I was reminded of something somebody had shared with me a while back. If you are in the “hunt,” it is not a time to dwell on mechanical reasons for something not working right. Instead, technical changes and observations should be made during practice, or after the fact during review. While in the moment simplify your adjustment process. If you are throwing up, aim down. If you are coming forward in a squat, stay back. Easy enough, right?

Co-Author Greg Robins is strength and conditioning coach at Cressey Performance in Hudson, MA. Check out his website, www.GregTrainer.com, for more great content.

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  • #6 When starting to swing with Kettlebells, make sure you learn proper form and don’t hurt yourself.

    You should spend a lot of time perfecting the deadlift before you even consider moving on to the two handed swing.

  • Griffin, maybe not the dead-lift per se but any hip hinge movement. People need to use there glutes. I have been guilty of number 5 a few times. good point.


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