Home Blog Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 5

Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 5

Written on June 1, 2012 at 6:56 am, by Eric Cressey

Here are this week’s list of tips to help you lose fat, gain muscle, get strong, and be just a little more awesome, compliments of Cressey Performance coach, Greg Robins.

1. Cook with coconut oil.

Many people know that cooking with oils such as extra virgin olive oil is an easy way to add healthy fats into their diet. However, coconut oil is a less utilized source of good fatty acids.

Coconut oil is a great source of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs are named as such due the medium chain length of their molecular structure. What does this mean for your health? First, MCTs are more easily utilized by the muscles in your body, which means they are transported quickly to your mitochondria for energy, and therefore less likely to be stored as adipose tissue. MCTs also have a thermogenic effect that is nearly double that of other dietary fat.

Secondly, MCTs’ shorter chain length makes them easily digestible, which is a plus for populations with nutrient absorption issues.

Third, MCTs are ketogenic, producing two ketone bodies when metabolized. Ketones are used by the body as a source of energy, and in a lower carbohydrate diets can be beneficial as a source of energy.

2. Use the GHR.

The Glute Ham Raise (GHR) is a fantastic posterior chain builder. The GHR offers a closed kinetic chain option that trains the hamstrings in knee flexion, and thus provides incredible transfer to other hip dominant strength exercises like the squat and deadlift. Seek out a gym that has this piece of equipment, or pony up and add it to the equipment in your gym. Below is a video on how to set up the GHR properly and perform the exercise:


3. Figure out exactly how much caffeine you really need pre-training.

In a recent study featured in The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, researchers concluded that 3mg of caffeine per kg of body weight was needed to significantly increase squat and bench press maximal power. To put things in perspective, that is roughly 273mg of caffeine for a 200lb person. Upon a short google search of popular energy drinks, the average caffeine content looks to be about 150mg / 16oz can. An 8oz cup of brewed coffee yields roughly 90-100mg of caffeine. It is also worth noting that “Booty Sweat” energy drink does not deliver enough caffeine to be effective over a bodyweight of 190lbs, giving us yet another reason not to drink it.

The take home message? Caffeine has been utilized as a performance aid for many years. It is safe for most populations, and the amount does not need to be anything crazy to receive the benefits. With all the junk found in most energy supplements, consider black coffee as your new “go-to” when you need a pick-me-up before hitting the gym.

Note: to learn more about coffee, check out our previous feature here at EricCressey.com: Coffee Consumption and Health: Part 1 and Part 2.

4. Get a grip.

A strong grip is synonymous with strong person. It makes perfect sense: you can’t lift what you aren’t able to hold.

Furthermore, almost every lift involves your hands on the weight, whether or not they seem to have direct transfer into that exercise’s success. Why is that important? When your hands are strong, that means your forearms are strong, and if you make the effort to squeeze the bar, DB, or other implement during every lift you will apply tension that transfers from your lower arm, through the elbow, and into the shoulder girdle. This is called “radiant tension.”

Paying attention to training your grip will also help with lower arm pain, and keep your elbows and wrists healthy. Make sure to include a well rounded approach, with exercises that take the wrists through various ranges of motion. As well as exercises for the hands to include pinching and squeezing. Some easy options are: Farmer’s Carries, Plate Pinches, Towel Rows and Pull Ups, thick handles, and wrist curl variations.

5. Surround yourself with different people.

In order to be successful, you must constantly challenge yourself to get outside your comfort zone. If you become complacent, you will eventually be passed by. With that in mind, make sure that you are constantly surrounding yourself with different people. In doing so, you will expose yourself to varying beliefs and ideas. Everyone has taken a slightly,or dramatically different path to get to where they are; even if they operate in the same sphere as you. There is something to be learned from just about anyone, if you are open to it.

Surround yourself with people who are as committed to being great as you are, but not people who are the same as you. In doing so you will find that your strengths have once again become a weakness, and your weakness may actually be a strength. The reality is that your constant exposure to varying ideologies is making you better.

With that said, here’s an action item to kick off your weekend. Schedule a time right now to go observe another coach, train with a different training partner, or just hit up a training session at a different gym than you normally attend so that you can experience new equipment and observe what other exercisers and trainers are doing.

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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13 Responses to “Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 5”

  1. John Says:

    Awesome coaching tips for the GHR Greg!

  2. Mark Cibrario Says:

    What is the brand of GHR that is used at Cressey Performance

  3. James Vee Says:

    LOL is Booty Sweat real?!

    Re number 5, very true in all areas of life. Get yourself out of your training comfort zone and you will see great results.

    Your success is made up of your life’s experiences. If you play it “safe” all the time you will look back on your life with regret.

  4. Gaurav Kapil Says:

    I Wish I could hear something in GHR video. Otherwise good tips.

  5. james nonnemacher Says:

    As for caffeine, there was an article some years ago in the Journal of Strength & conditioning Research (I can get the citation if anyone wants) in which they studied the effect of caffeine on endurance runners. They used a quantity of caffeine, that for me would have meant 600mg. I didn’t feel safe taking that much unsupervised but I did take 2 No-Doz Extras. Had a good workout but paid for it the next day…sore body.

    On the grip strength note, at a past NSCA conference one of the speakers related that grip strength is highly correlated to survival rate in 24hr care facilities after serious injury; i.e., such as hip fracture, another indicator that grip strength is an excellent indicator of whole body health/conditioning.

  6. Conor Says:

    Great post Greg! Pretty interesting stuff about the caffeine.

  7. Shane Says:

    Mate, you worked up a sweat before the glute-ham raise video. What were you doing beforehand? Like suggestion 5. Need to do that more.

  8. Brian Says:

    been to roughly 35 different gyms across different parts of the southern U.S., Texas and the western U.S,, including large commercial gyms by Gold’s, 24 Hour Fitness, Anytime Fitness, and Bally’s along with a few local mom n’ pop gyms, but I’ve NEVER come across a gym that has either a Glute-Ham-Gastric machine or a Reverse Hyperextension machine. I’ve only been to a few gyms that had any sort of publicly available (read: not chained up) Kettlebells (and they were light).

    The whole “buy it yourself” suggestion is out of the scope of most people’s budget; that’s why people typically opt for the $30-45/mth gym membership rather than a space that costs hundreds per month filled with equipment costing thousands to tens of thousands.

    So, why doesn’t someone working as an affiliate in the biz set up a referencable network directory of performance/athletics/function-minded gyms that actually DO HAVE the specialty gym equipment that a lot of the authors talk about over and over again as an important tool in one’s arsenal??? The individual gyms would get more business, as a result of more interested individuals being made aware, and other gyms would likely finally see the demand for these machines and purchase them for their own gyms. The affiliate can make a cut, the gyms can increase memberships, and the equipment manufacturers and distributors can increase sales ultimately benefitting the performance-minded consumer.

  9. Eric Cressey Says:

    Mark – we use an EliteFTS GHR.

  10. James Cipriani Says:

    I always seem to find something new within your posts.

    This one? Booty Sweat. Never heard of it. Never seen it. Now I know I don’t want it.

  11. Nicholas St John Rheault Says:

    Greg, way to jump in and give great tips and also on the hand positioning for the back squat……

  12. Carolyn Swaney Says:

    Hi Eric,
    I don’t have access to the proper equipment at any of the gyms that I work out at, so I usually kneel backwards on the seated calf raise or the free motion lat pull down. Obviously range of motion isn’t as intense on those two set ups, but is there anything inherently WRONG with the exercise if hams and glutes are firing?

  13. Eric Cressey Says:

    All good, Carolyn!

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