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Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 24

Written on November 13, 2012 at 7:37 am, by Eric Cressey

Compliments of Cressey Performance coach Greg Robins, here are this week’s strategies to help improve your nutrition and strength and conditioning programs.

1. Create better tension in the Turkish Get-up.

2. Add fat to your shakes and smoothies for easy calorie addition.

For those of you looking to gain weight, here is an easy way to add more calories into your daily routine. When preparing shakes and smoothies, consider adding sources of healthy fat. Many of these options are easy to include, add a considerable amount of calories, and do so without adding a lot of actual volume.

Some of my favorites additions include: olive oil, coconut, coconut oil/butter, chia seeds, cacao nibs, almonds, walnuts, and nut butters.

3. Watch the kettlebell as reference for swing technique.

It’s great when you have a coach or training partner available to help give you feedback on your exercise form. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. One thing I love about the kettlebell swing is this easy way to gauge whether or not your form is staying on point. Check out this table I made for your convenience.

If the bottom of the kettlebell is above the wrists at lockout, there are two probable causes.  First, one may be excessively extending the spine instead of fully using the hips; the solution to this would be bracing the core at lockout to keep the rib cage down, and think about squeezing the butt cheeks together.  Second, the wrists may be “breaking” – which equates to pulling your knuckles to your nose; the solution to this is to keep the wrists locked in place, but maintain a medium/low intensity grip on the kettlebell.

If the bottom of the kettlebell is in line with the wrists at lockout, you’re in a good position!

If the bottom of the kettlebell is below the wrists at lockout, there are two potential causes.  First, you may just be raising the kettlebell with your arms instead of using the hips; the solution is to think “swing out” and think of the arms as just “connectors” between the ‘bell and your body.  Second, this faulty position may come from a “death grip” on the kettlebell; you’ll want to relax your grip to the same medium/low intensity I discussed earlier.

4. Activate the glutes in all three planes of motion.

Glute activation is obviously an important element in many of our warm-ups, and programming strategies. However, we tend to focus primarily on glute function in the saggittal plane. Bridging variations dominate weight rooms and gyms across the country. It’s important to consider the function of the glutes (max, med / min) in all three planes of movement, and train them accordingly. Make sure you include exercises that attack this muscle group in the frontal and transverse plane, as well as drills to train their function in all three planes at once.

As an example:

Side Lying Clams – Transverse Plane – external/internal rotation.

Side Lying Straight Leg Raise Variations
– Frontal Plane – abduction/adduction.

Supine Bridge Variations – Saggittal Plane – flexion/extension.

Bowler Squat – Tri-Planar – flexion/abduction/external rotation.

5. Consider using balloons in breathing intensive drills and exercises.

This past weekend, I was fortunate to attend my first course with the Postural Restoration Institute. While the course was not on respiration, we were introduced to a few basic principles used within their approach to aid in respiratory facilitation.

One training aid I found particularly helpful, easy to implement, and under-utilized was – of all things – a balloon!
Using a balloon gives you feedback as to how fully you are exhaling, something many of us think we do, but tend to never fully complete. Additionally, the balloon acts as a source of resistance to help fire your abdominals. This activation is particularly important in heavily extended populations, such as athletes, and active individuals.

Give it a try by including it in drills such as the dead bug, or supine 90/90 belly breathing.

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  • Estelle

    Thank you. This is great!

  • Ryan

    What is the purpose of having his hand up and a foam roller in between his legs?

  • Eder

    Using the basics, simple and objective! Congratulations on the job!

  • http://www.mallorcakettlebells.com Luke

    Hey, great couple of tips there on kettlebell technique!

  • Rick Porter

    I’m not sure I agree with a lat activation in order to achieve shoulder stability, thoracic extension and shoulder girdle retraction (increasing the distance between shoulder and chest).

    Maybe i’m being too purist and looking for shoulder stability coming purely from shoulder alignment, leading to better cuff activation (especially in a weight bearing position). Or maybe it’s a certain over emphasis on lats being ‘bad’ due to a large percentage of shoulder problems coming from muscle imbalance, with tight and/or over active lats?? Just an opinion though……..

  • https://twitter.com/StrongByChoice SBC

    Great read, Eric. Regarding the oil, how much would one take for their bodyweight?

  • http://www.clined.tumblr.com Gorby

    Hi Eric, this was a great info! Especially the balloon technique. Ryan, I believe that the arm up position & foam roller squeeze are there to give much more challenges to the core. What do you think? (:

  • http://www.durbrowperformance.com Callie Durbrow

    Great TGU tips. We’ve started implementing these into our warm ups with great results.

  • http://michaelzweifel.blogspot.com Michael Zweifel

    Have you ever used a straw in using breathing techniques? I have found that plugging the nose and breathing through a straw is another great way to teach diaphramatic breathing.

  • http://ericcressey.com Eric Cressey

    Michael,

    We haven’t; I can’t see it giving the same level of feedback on the exhalation portion, as you can get air out as quickly.

  • http://michaelzweifel.blogspot.com Michael Zweifel

    Eric,

    Good point, that visual feedback from the balloon would be a great teaching point.
    Using a straw, as with using the balloon, really stresses your abs/diaphram to really force exhalation. The balloon through resistance and the straw through tightened space.
    Thanks for the response, always learn alot from you and your work!


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