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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)
Nutrition Facts (per muffin)
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.
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