Home Blog Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 53

Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 53

Written on February 3, 2014 at 10:05 am, by Eric Cressey

It's time for this week's quick strength and conditioning tips!

1. Elevate the feet to make stir the pot a more challenging core stability exercise.

Stir the pot is a great anterior core stability exercise, but a lot of folks claim that it gets too easy.  One quick solution to this is to just elevate the feet on a 12" box, as it effectively works very similarly to a push-up progression.  As an added bonus, you'll get a little bit more serratus anterior recruitment in this position, so you could actually consider it a shoulder health drill, too.

2. Work with gravity before you work against it.

I talk a lot to our staff about the importance of sequencing warm-ups correctly.  As examples, we always do our positional breathing drills before our mobility work, which would progress from ground-based to standing.  One more thing I like to emphasize is the importance of working with gravity before you work against it. 

I've talked about how the bench t-spine mobilization and back-to-wall shoulder flexion are two of my favorite drills for helping to get people out of extension – and we make sure to do them in this order.  With the bench t-spine mobilization, we're using gravity to help us get a good stretch on the lats and long head of the triceps, on top of taking the thoracic spine into some extension.  We just brace the core and resist extension at the lower back.

Conversely, with the back-to-wall shoulder flexion, we have to work against gravity to get the arms overhead the correct way.

This might seem like minutia, but the stiffness reduction we get by working with gravity makes it much easier to work against gravity, as there is less bad stiffness we need to overcome to get to good movement.

3. Hold light weights in your hands to increase the challenge on dead bugs.

Just as we saw with stir the pot, dead bugs can quickly become far too easy.  We'll always add a big exhale at the bottom position of each rep, but even still, this becomes too easy for most lifters.  And, while not every exercise is supposed to be made harder, we do have some wiggle room in this regard with dead bugs.  You can hold some 5-10 pound plates in each hand:

4. Buy a spice rack – or at least a bunch of spices that would theoretically go in a spice rack if you owned one.

Want to add some variety to your bland diet? Having an extensive collection of spices at your fingertips can go a long way in making the same food taste entirely different from one day to the next.  Try turmeric on eggs, or mix up some homemade Mexican seasoning for your chicken by combining chili powder, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, sea salt, and anything else you want to add to the mix! 

One of the biggest advantages of buying the rack as a whole is that it gives you a chance to sample a lot of different options. Once you’ve discovered the spices you like, you can always look to buy them in bulk later on.


5. Think "chest before chin" on push-up variations.

One of the most common push-up technique mistakes I encounter is athletes who substitute forward head posture in place of scapular retraction.  When this happens, you'll see the nose get close to the floor while the lower back is heavily arched, the upper back is rounded over, and the elbows are flared out.  I encourage athletes to get the chest to the floor before the chin get there, as it encourages them to be patient and allow the torso to descend.  Of course, you have to be careful to not allow the athlete to crank into a big arch to puff the chest out – but it's still a super-effective cue, particularly with those with less training experience.

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5 Responses to “Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 53”

  1. Guillermo Muñoz Says:

    Nice article Eric. I’ll try the plates on the deadbug to see how it feels. Another way to make them harder is to wrap a miniband around the feet and extend the hip against it. It makes it a good challenge.

  2. Brent Says:

    Dear Eric,

    Great information as usual but I have a quick question about dead bugs. I first learned the exercise in PTA school but it seems every time I’ve used them personally or with athletes/patients I notice a “popping” or “clicking” sound at the hip. Have you found the same thing with your athletes or are they’re ways around it by chance? Most people usually say its not painful but simply uncomfortable. Any suggestions?

  3. jim nonnemacher Says:

    The one pushup error I see lots & lots of people make is what I would call the head nod.

    As they descend, they nod their head, like they want to get lower into the pushup and nodding their head makes them think they are. And oddly enough it is rather difficult to get them to stop.

  4. Eric Cressey Says:


    Try playing around with hip rotation a bit; you’ll find some people for whom this makes a big difference. 

  5. Kara Says:


    Like Eric suggested, what I have found is most of the people who get that clicking…their alignment isn’t great as they lower the leg into into hip extension..and they are not keeping their lower back in contact with the floor…simply playing with the hip rotation and forcing proper breathing etc…wham.. fixes it:-)

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