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Written on November 30, 2012 at 7:27 pm, by Eric Cressey
Compliments of Cressey Performance coach Greg Robins, here are this week’s tips to improve your nutrition and strength and conditioning programs.
1. Improve your anti-extension core stability exercises with these tips:
2. Improve your sitting posture with one easy step.
This past week we were fortunate enough to have Michael Mullin from Orthopedic Associates in Portland, ME give a guest in-service on how he uses concepts from the Postural Restoration Institute in his practice. I picked up a lot of great tips from Mike, but one in particular I found particularly easy to implement. When asked what people can do when sitting (especially at a desk) to improve posture, Mike suggested simply sitting on the edge of their seat, a concept he referred to as “functional sitting.” By doing so they are in a more “active” position where the body has to stabilize itself more. I’ve spent the last few days putting it to the test and I think it’s a great piece of advice. Give it a try!
3. Appreciate the importance of breathing (namely exhaling) in “core stability.”
Another interesting point that was hammered home by Mike was that the body can draw stability from three major sources: Muscular, Positional (think joint placement), and Gaseous (breathing). As an example, try this:
Make a fist and tense up your whole arm, that arm is under a lot of muscular tension and is stable.
Now relax and completely slouch over in front of your computer, you body is probably hanging out on bony structures now, and drawing stability primarily from the position in which gravity has put it.
Finally, take a deep breath and hold it. The expansion of your diaphragm and lungs has filled you out and is giving you stability.
We need to draw stability from all three sources appropriately; in fact, all three depend on each other. If we breathe correctly, we will be a in a better position. If we are in a good position, we will use muscles appropriately to create stability.
With that in mind here is a quick way to add some focused breathing into a common stability drill. When doing your dead bugs, practice fully exhaling in the bottom position before returning to the top. As you exhale try to depress the rib cage and lower it towards the hips. This will cause the low back to sit heavy into the ground. We have incorporated this at CP, and it has a made a great difference in showing athletes how exhaling activates the abdominals and causes true “core stability” to be trained.
4. Consider your somatotypes when making fitness-based decisions (Part 1).
A person’s body type (also known as their somatotype) is a general classification of their physical composition, as well as certain physiological characteristics. Taking into account your body type is an easy way to individualize your approach for added success in the gym and the kitchen. If this is a new concept to you, first you need to figure out what body type you are most similar to. Then, consider these general guidelines for training and nutrition to optimize your results. For more information, I encourage you to poke around the Precision Nutrition website. Many of these suggestions come from their certification manual. Their web site, nutrition programs and certification program provide an unparalleled source for nutritional information.
Ectomorphic: You tend to be “skinny” through both your limbs and torso. Your metabolism is fast, and in some cases hyperactive. Your tolerance to carbohydrates is great. You tend to be someone who always wants to gain “size”, especially in the limbs (arms and legs). If this sounds like you, use what works for you to your advantage. Go heavy on the carbohydrates; at least 50 – 60% of your intake can come from them. Furthermore, if you are looking to get bigger, limit extra physical activity and focus your efforts on strength gains, and in time, the addition of higher training volumes.
Stay tuned next week and I’ll hit upon another body type!
5. Read into skinfold measurements a bit deeper.
Calipers are often used to measure a person’s body fat percentage. It is a relatively inexpensive way to get an accurate idea of this number, and track progress. One really interesting topic I read about when prepping for my Precision Nutrition exam was the relationship between skin fold measurements and hormone levels. Basically people with similar hormone profiles also tend to carry body fat in the same place. By considering this information you can take a better approach to eliminating body fat as a whole. For example, if you have a high abdominal skinfold you are likely to have elevated levels of cortisol and stress in general. Therefore a better approach to your body fat reduction should include strategies to reduce stress, improve sleep, increase protein intake, and suppress cortisol.
Here are a few more tips for you to consider in relation to where you store body fat:
High suprailiac: Reduce your carb intake, and/or use nutrient timing strategies.
High subscapular: Improve your insulin sensitivity. Consider adding in fish oil supplementation.
High chest: Boost your testosterone by making sure your calories are high enough and you are receiving enough dietary fat.
High triceps or thigh: Reduce your estrogen levels, exercise more, and eat plenty of green leafy vegetables.
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