Master the King of All Exercises

Deadlifting Secrets 101

Everything you need to know about this complex exercise.

Free Video Training

Name:
Email:* 
The High Performance Handbook

The High Performance Handbook Is Like Nothing You've Ever Seen Before...


Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 28

Written on January 11, 2013 at 8:01 am, by Eric Cressey

Here’s this week’s list of tips to get your nutrition and strength and conditioning programs on track.  Greg Robins took a break this week, so I’m stepping up my game and covering this installment.

1. If you always squat, try a month without squatting.

There’s an old saying in the strength and conditioning field that “the best program is the one you’re not on.” In other words, everything works, but nothing works forever.  Squats have come under a fair amount of scrutiny over the past few years as diagnoses of femoracetabular impingement have gone sky-high and we’ve encountered more and more people in the general population who simply don’t move well enough to squat in good form.  So, it makes sense to not shove a round peg in a square hole; at the very least, try to remove them from your strength training programs for a month here and there.

In these instances, I like to start the training session with an axially-loaded single leg exercise for 3-6 reps/side.  If you’re not good in single-leg stance, start on the higher side with a lighter weight. If you’re a long-time single-leg believer, though, you can really load these up:

After that, you can move on to deadlifts, barbell supine bridges/hip thrusts, or any of a number of other exercises.  The point to take away from this is that eliminated loaded squatting variations for a month here and there won’t set you back.

2. Work on the squat pattern, not just the squat.

A lot of folks struggle to squat deep because they lack the ability to posteriorly shift their center of mass sufficiently.  This is particularly common in athletes with big anterior pelvic tilts and an exaggerated lordotic curve.

If you give these athletes a counterbalance out in front of their body, though, their squat patterns “clean up” very quickly.  As such, in combination with other mobility/stability drills, I like to include drills to work on the actual squat technique both during their warm-ups and as one of the last exercises in a day’s strength training program.  Goblet squats and TRX overhead squats are two of my favorites:

3. Make muffins healthier.

My favorite meal is breakfast, and I know I’m not alone on this!  Unfortunately, once you get outside some of the traditional eggs and fruit choices, things can get unhealthy very quickly.  That’s one reason why I’m a fan of Dave Ruel’s recipe for the much healthier high protein banana and peanut butter muffins from Anabolic Cooking.  Dave has kindly agreed to let me share the recipe with you here:

Ingredients (for three muffins)
• ¾ cup oatmeal
• ¼ cup oat bran
• 1 tbsp whole wheat flour
• 6 egg whites
• ½ scoop vanilla protein powder
• ¼ tsp baking soda
• ½ tsp stevia
• 1 tbsp natural peanut butter
• 1 big banana
• ½ tsp vanilla extract
• ½ tsp banana extract

Directions
1. In a blender, mix all the ingredients (except for the banana). Blend until the mix gets thick.
2. Cut the banana in thin slices or cubes. Add the banana to the mix and stir (with a spoon or a spatula)
3. Pour the mix in a muffin cooking pan, and cook at 350°F. Until cooked (about 30 minutes).

Nutrition Facts (per muffin)
Calories: 190
Protein: 17g
Carbs: 18g
Fat: 4.5g

Quick tip: you can cook a big batch and freeze the muffins, then just microwave them when needed down the road.

Anabolic Cooking is on sale for $40 off until tonight (Friday) at midnight, so I’d encourage you to check it out and enjoy the other 200+ healthy recipes Dave includes.  My wife and I cook from this e-book all the time.

4. Dominate the back-to-wall shoulder flexion drill before you overhead press.

Whether your shoulders are perfectly structurally sound or not, overhead pressing can be a stressful activity for the shoulder girdle.  To that end, you want to make sure that you’re moving well before you move overhead under load.  I like to use the back-to-wall shoulder flexion “test” as a means of determining whether someone is ready to overhead press or snatch (vertical pulling is a bit different).  Set up with your back against the wall, and your heels four inches away from the wall.  Make sure your lower back is flat against the wall, and make a double chin while keeping the back of your head against the wall.  Then, go through shoulder flexion.

If you can’t get your hands to touch the wall overhead without bending the elbows, going into forward head posture, arching the back, or moving the feet away from the wall, you fail.  Also, pain during the test is a “fail,” too.  Folks will fail for all different reasons – but a big chunk of the population does fail.  Fortunately, a bit of cueing and some corrective drills – and just practicing the test – will go a long way in improving this movement quality.  Hold off on the snatches and military presses in the meantime, though.

5. Drink with a straw to get better about water intake.

I always give my wife, Anna, a hard time about how little water she drinks.  She’ll get busy at work and will simply forget to have a sip of water for 5-6 hours.  Other times, though, she just doesn’t want to drink cold water – because it’s winter in New England and she is always trying to get warm!  One quick and easy solution to the later problem is to simply drink with a straw, as water won’t contact your teeth, which are obviously very cold-sensitive.  My mother gave Anna a water bottle with a straw for Christmas, and she’s been much better about water consumption ever since.  Try it for yourself.

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email

28 Responses to “Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 28”

  1. Bob Austin Says:

    Eric,

    What are some of the corrective exercises to do if I do fail the shoulder flexion test?

    Bob Austin

  2. Stephen Says:

    Hi Eric

    Thanks for the info. I have been diagnosed with femoracetabular impingement recently. As an aside for others, this problem manifested itself as knee pain and issues for the last 20 years with no one bothering to do a hip xray until recently. So people with chronic knee problems may want to get their hips xrayed to check for this condition.

    Anyway, if I have this problem, I was wondering if you feel squats are safe to do, as well as other typical leg work, or should I replace them with other exercises. how can I work my legs but spare my hip joints.

    thanks
    Steve

  3. Stephanie Hanson Says:

    Great article, one question for you. Can you break down for me the benefit of the OH TRX squat? Why hold the arms out overhead like that? Thanks!

  4. Scott Hanson Says:

    Eric,

    In the shoulder flexion drill, are you saying that the lumbar should be flat against the wall? It seems that normal lumbar extension would leave a small distance between back and wall. Thanks.

  5. Johnny Says:

    Hi Eric,

    In regards to the overhead pressing: if someone “fails” this test, are they advised to eliminate ALL overhead pressing (including lighter dumbbell). I’m assuming yes until it is considered a “pass”.

    For more of a general population (who often bend elbows and arch back) are there examples of correctives that tend to help better (i.e. than simply practicing the test)?

    Thank you.

  6. rutherford pascal Says:

    Can you give me exercises to improve my posture. Stuff that i can do daily?

  7. Laine Says:

    Eric, are your knees locked when you do the shoulder flexion test as prescribed? I’m fairly lordotic and I can’t actually make my lower back touch the wall without introducing maybe 20 degrees of angle into my knees.

    Then I can do the full range, I think, but I get a strong knot of tension-toward-pain in my middle-to-upper back.

    Thanks.

  8. Mike Hopper, ATC Says:

    I found a year or two ago how much my squat could go up without doing back squat. I didn’t do back squat for about 3 months but focused on single leg movements, kettlebell swings, and goblet squats. And my squat numbers shot up. I went from a 225# squat (I know, low) to a 330# squat.

    Now I don’t ever squat heavy, but I’m starting to get back into more Olympic lifts and my weights are climbing after having spent significant time with the kettlebell, TRX, and single-leg movements… Big believer here!

  9. Phil Says:

    Eric can you please explain how the TRX overhead squats are of benefit and does this assist in a progression to overhead squats with barbell?

  10. Eric Cressey Says:

    Phil,

    The counterbalance afforded by the TRX enables the athlete to posteriorly shift the center of gravity to get into a deep squat in a neutral spine. Over time, the goal is to work with less and less counterbalance (less pull on the TRX).

  11. Eric Cressey Says:

    Laine,

    The knees should be slightly bent early on, but as you progress and move closer to the wall, they can be straight.

  12. Eric Cressey Says:

    Rutherford,

    Check these articles out:

    http://www.ericcressey.com/strategies-for-correcting-bad-posture
    http://www.ericcressey.com/strategies-for-correcting-bad-posture-part-2
    http://www.ericcressey.com/strategies-for-correcting-bad-posture-part-3
    http://www.ericcressey.com/strategies-for-correcting-bad-posture-part-4

  13. Eric Cressey Says:

    Hi Johnny,

    Yes, I’d hold off until someone passes the test – regardless of the weight in question.

    RE: general population, you should first see what the limiting factor is. Is it thoracic spine mobility? Lat length? Poor scapular upward rotation? A lack of anterior core stability? Everyone needs strengthening somewhere, but not everyone needs lengthening first!

  14. Eric Cressey Says:

    Scott,

    I agree, but we’re actually overcorrecting to account for the fact that the feet are a few inches forward of their normal position.

  15. Eric Cressey Says:

    Hi Stephanie,

    See my response to Phil about the TRX overhead squat. Thanks!

  16. Eric Cressey Says:

    Hi Bob,

    See my response to Johnny. It depends on the person, but here are a few good starts:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLWiFbPN-2U
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8xds0f922I
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEBqufick-s&feature=plcp
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4h4DuUxaQs
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QVMrFDQ0FI

  17. Eric Cressey Says:

    Steve,

    I wouldn’t be squatting with FAI. Many folks are fine with deadlifting, single-leg, pull-through, hip thrust, and sled push/pull variations. Check with your doctor to see if these options would be acceptable for you, as it depends on how your labrum is.

  18. dan Says:

    Hi Eric, What do you think about using a weight machine for military press?

    Dan

  19. vikas Says:

    superb !

  20. Jack Says:

    I hate to have to break the news to you, but your goblet squats look nothing like Jillian Michaels’ goblet squats. :-)

  21. Eric Cressey Says:

    Jack,

    Ha! Duly noted!

  22. Eric Cressey Says:

    Dan,

    I don’t think it’s a natural line of motion for the shoulder. Much better options available, in my opinion.

  23. Oakville personal trainer Says:

    Really good info on combating anterior pelvic tilts and poor shoulder flexibility. Very frustrating things to overcome but doable if you keep chipping away at them. Thanks Eric.

  24. Andrew Says:

    Important info for trainers who can understanding when sport exercises technologies in XXI age is moch more others when early

  25. Mark Says:

    Hi Eric, I struggle like hell with overhead squats (holding a bar) due to balance – any chance you could post specifically about how execute the trx overhead squat please? Nb, maybe it’s an illusion but the clip here seems to show you rounding your low back at the bottom of the squat, which I thought was to be avoided?

    Thanks

  26. Eric Cressey Says:

    My guess is that you’re a heavy extension pattern, Mark. Lots of stuff to work on. Start applying a lot of the stuff here:

    http://www.ericcressey.com/strength-training-programs-pull-ups-essential

  27. robert Says:

    Eric I flunked the back to the wall shoulder flexion test. what other exercises do you recommend I do before I start overhead presses?

  28. Eric Cressey Says:

    Robert,

    Bench t-spine mobilizations, wall slides w/overhead shrug, and deep squat belly breathing with lat stretch would be good starts.  You can find all on my YouTube page: http://www.youtube.com/ecressey

Leave a Reply


New Balance

Featured Product
Assess and Correct

YouTube Twitter Facebook