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Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 48

Written on July 19, 2013 at 6:12 am, by Eric Cressey

Thanks to Cressey Performance Coach Greg Robins, here are five nutrition and strength and conditioning tips to kick off your weekend on the right foot.

1. Train upward rotation without true vertical pressing.

At Cressey Performance, the majority of our athletes are overhead throwers. Training overhead athletes means that you need to train upward rotation of the scapula. While pressing overhead could serve as one option, we find that it isn’t always the best option. Too often, people are unable to achieve an overhead position, while also keeping the rest of the body in correct alignment. Namely, most folks will have considerable amounts of rib flare and lumbar spine extension.

Instead, it would be advantageous to train upward rotation with exercises that allow for considerable shoulder flexion, but also promote better overall positioning. So how is that done? A few of our favorite exercises are as follows:

Yoga push ups: These offer a close chained pressing movement that allows a person to get shoulder flexion, and when cued correctly, a considerable amount of upward scapular rotation. Make sure when performing this variation that you press directly into the upwardly rotated position, while shrugging and protracting the shoulder blades. One nice cue is to “push the floor away completely.”

Landmine presses: These exercises are my favorite class of open chain pressing movement to stress upward rotation. Instead of completing the movement with the shoulder blade still packed back, shrug and protract the shoulder blade a bit. A perfect cue with this one is to “reach out” when pressing.

Obviously, if you're already someone who is shrugged up and protracted all day (desk jockey), it's not a good fit for you.  In a more athletic population, though, it's usually a very good fit.

2. Use the “stir the pot” exercise…safely.

Anterior core weakness is something we combat on a daily basis here at CP. With the plethora of overly extended athletes that come through our door, we are always looking for new ways to challenge their core stability. While the standard prone bridge is a staple, after some training, we need to progress individuals to something more challenging.

Stir the pot is a fantastic way to do just that. The added demands of both the stability ball, and the small amount of movement from the shoulders adds a difficult variation to the aforementioned prone bridge.

Please note that even with former Division 1, high caliber athletes, this exercise may be a little too advanced. We recommend that you wipe the sweat off your forearms before doing this drill, and be sure to dismount the ball safely – or just omit this exercise until you're prepared to do so. Watch the video below (all the way through) to see exactly what I mean:

3. Make your “fillers” more effective

The idea of “fillers” has become quite popular, and for good reason: everyone is busy, and utilizing them is a terrific way to maximize training efficiency. So, what’s a filler?

Most commonly, fillers are low-level activation, mobility, stability, and motor control drills. They should not be strenuous enough to take away from your program, but when used correctly, they can aid in improving movement quality, outputs, and results. In order to make them the most effective, fillers should be personalized to fit your body type.

Hypermobile (excessively “loose”) people should spend time getting stable, and hypomobile (“stiff”) people should spend time getting loose.

Loose people are already able to get to just about any range of motion they desire. In fact, they are generally able to get to some ranges that are not desirable. Therefore, they are better served doing low-level activation and stability based drills between sets. This will help them “own” positions better and promote better control within their ranges of motion.

Stiff people, on the other hand, need to fit in some extra mobility work as often whenever possible. Their time is best spent working on various mobility drills, as well as some low level activation drills. Doing so will help them to move better in general, and get into more advantageous positions when performing the exercises in their program.

The drills each population chooses can be individualized based on the needs of the person and / or the demands of the exercise with which they are paired.

Many hypermobile people need better core, hip, and shoulder stability. So, drills like dead bugs, bowler squats, wall slides, body weight Turkish get-ups, and rotator cuff activation drills work great.

Many stiff people could use more thoracic spine (upper back) mobility, hip mobility, and ankle mobility. Drills like ankle, hip, and thoracic spine mobilizations are solid options.

Regardless of your body type, choose variations that don’t compete too heavily with the exercises with which they are paired. Furthermore, choose variations that hit areas which need extra attention for YOU, or that will aid in YOUR ability to reach good positioning with the exercise in question.

4. Put your lacrosse ball in an old tube sock.

If you use lacrosse ball to roll out against the wall, chances are you have a heck of a time getting the thing not to slip, and fall to the ground. Next thing you know, it’s like the meatball from the old nursery rhyme, rolling across the floor and out the door – or however it goes.

One tip I picked up while reviewing the book The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook by Claire Davies was to place your ball in a long tube sock. By doing so you can keep your hand on the sock and make sure the ball stays up the entire time. Give it a try!

TriggerPointTherapyWorkbook

5. Try an Icee for a Refreshing Treat!

With a few days well over 90 degrees here in Massachusetts, I’ve been pulling out every trick I know to stay cool. It’s a well known fact that 80% of my shirts are black to conceal the mass amount of sweating I do on a regular basis. One of my favorite tricks also happens to be great way to curb hunger and keep my sweet tooth at bay. If you’re looking for an easy, low-calorie way to cool off and stay satiated try out this recipe:

Ingredients:

4-6 oz of water

5 or so large ice cubes

1 cup frozen strawberries

1 fresh squeezed lemon

(optional: add stevia for sweetness)

Directions: Place all these ingredients in a blender, blend, and enjoy.

This strawberry lemonade ice will hit the spot on a hot day, or any day, where you need to quiet the groan of your hungry belly!

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15 Responses to “Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 48”

  1. Shane Says:

    Love the landmine press. Use this exercise all the time. The ball and sock tip is a good one.

  2. Bryce Says:

    Ask Mike R., just add the Halo Trainer. No sweat, no problem. Try it out. Mike has one.

  3. Mark Shires, ATC Says:

    Great points! I think that one thing that a lot of us forget is postural awareness with exercise. The more and more I talk and work with athletes, the MORE I see spinal accommodations. We all cheat, because we have found an easier, less painful way to do things.
    Upward rotation is incorrectly facilitated by lumbar extension. I have started using it as a hallmark for upcoming shoulder issues.
    How many guys do you put on a table to do Blackburns and immediately they go into lordosis to achieve even just the 90 degree positions, we get a butterfly stroke position.
    Also a great point about increased mobility vs the need for stability. We need to educate our athletes on this. I see tons of guys that have 130+ hamstring flexibility and want more! but have not hip flexor mobility and don’t care.
    And on that soap box, WE NEED TO STOP STRETCHING OUR ATHLETES AND MAKE THEM DO IT THEMSELVES! We do not have to legitimize our jobs by DOING THE WORK for them! Teach a man to fish and all that…
    Lax ball in a sock or if you have the money these items are great. http://www.optp.com/Tola-Neuromuscular-Release-System-with-Tola-Strap#.UelWrtLvuSo

  4. Erika Says:

    I have had that trigger point therapy workbook since 2011! It’s so handy! Shouts!

  5. Marcus Says:

    Great videos, will definitely use some of this. Thanks and keep up the great work!

  6. Bob Taylor Says:

    I use two different variations of the stir the pot. I will use a BAPS board (without the ball on the bottom)on top of the swiss ball (slightly less challenging than just on the forearms) and a standing one where the swiss ball is against the wall and holding on to the BAPS board sides, moving it up,down, side to side and circles.

  7. john Says:

    The thoracic mobility drill on the bench. What is exactly is happening that allows for improved thoracic mobility? It seems as though it would allow for upward movement of the scapula.

  8. Steve Says:

    I still can’t pull the slide off the stability ball in stirring the pot! That was an epic fail. I hope you put together a collection of fails for us!! Thanks for all the great tips and advice!

  9. Eric Cressey Says:

    John,

    It’ll get a bit of thoracic spine extension, but you’re right: it’s a bit of a misnomer.  You’re really getting more shoulder and elbow flexion.

  10. Andy Woodward Says:

    Great post. I coach T&F to various age groups and one female in the group has come to the sport from dance where her hypermobility creates various movement issues. Map ready using the pepper pot exercise for some athletes with a fair degree of success.

  11. David Says:

    Thanks Eric for another great post. Love the sock in the ball tip. Will prevent a lot of dropped balls for sure. Keep up the great work. ~ David

  12. Brian Bochette, PT, CSCS Says:

    Thanks for posting that stir the pot video…gave me a good laugh. I love that you’re first reaction was “Did you get that?”

  13. Danny McLarty Says:

    Eric,

    Do you spend more time (more sets) strengthening the RC of the throwing arm? Or do put just as much time into the non-dominant arm for baseball players?

    Thanks!

  14. Eric Cressey Says:

    Danny,

    Definitely more on the dominant arm, although we still work on the non-dominant (particularly pitchers who also have to bat).

  15. Mark P Says:

    Hahahaha! Stir-the-pots ain’t too easy! ;-)

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