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Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 55

Written on February 21, 2014 at 10:13 am, by Eric Cressey

Thanks to Cressey Performance Coach Greg Robins, here are some strength and conditioning tips to kick off the weekend:

1. Try this convenient way to massage your upper traps.

In my never-ending quest to make my neck disappear, my upper traps take quite a beating. I’m not alone; many lifters place a high demand on this area via heavy deadlifts, back squats, and high amounts of upper back volume. It comes with the territory, but I couldn’t help but think there must be a better way to attack soft tissue work below what’s left of my neck. Luckily, CP coach and massage therapist, Chris Howard, had a great tip for me.  Here it is:

2. Consider giving more positive feedback.

As part of our internship process at CP, we hold mid-term and final evaluations to let our interns know how they’re doing. It just so happens that this past week was the halfway point for our spring class. I’m fortunate that I get to watch our new interns operate under two very different environments, both the day-to-day semi-private strength training, and the faster-paced morning bootcamp classes.

As the mid-term evaluations came to a close, I realized that even our smartest, most prepared interns, received similar feedback from me:

“If someone is doing something right,
you can still reinforce the positive.”

During the day, when things move at the pace of the athlete, a coach can have the tendency to switch into “observation” mode. Especially as the baseball off-season draws to a close, many of our athletes are very self-sufficient. From a technique perspective, they are relatively flawless.

In the morning, we have many clients who have executed some of the day’s exercises hundreds of times. In the fast paced bootcamp environment, a coach may have the tendency to look feverishly for faults, and find none.

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That’s not a negative, but as a coach our job is not merely to offer up negative or constructive feedback. In fact, offering positive feedback can make the training even more effective. Here a few quick reasons why:

  • Often times, people do things correctly and are not even aware of it. Positive feedback can help them hone in on something they are doing well, how they’re making it happen, and how it feels. You will notice that these actions/feelings will translate well to the actions and feelings they need to create on an exercise where they aren’t as comfortable or proficient.
  • Receiving positive reinforcement will help them push harder, and bring more energy to the session.
  • It’s a great opportunity to break the ice, and build a rapport with a client who may be more introverted.
  • As a coach, it keeps you alert and in a more “active” mode.

3. Make a more nutritious sandwich.

Speaking of our interns, I recently got a fantastic idea from Brooks Braga, one of the current ones. Brooks turns to a sandwich for a quick meal on a daily basis, and I couldn’t help but notice his bread slices looked a lot like a pancake. As it turns out, they were – and some pretty nutritious and delicious ones at that! In fact, they are made primarily from almond and coconut flour. I asked if I could share the "Brooks Bread" recipe and he obliged; thanks, Brooks!

Ingredients:

½ cup almond flour
½ cup coconut flour
1-2 scoops vanilla protein powder
1 tsp baking powder
2-3 eggs
~½ cup unsweetened coconut milk

Directions:

a. Mix the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl
b. Mix the eggs and coconut milk in a separate bowl
c. Combine the wet and dry ingredients
d. Scoop a heaping tablespoon-sized amount of batter and spread into your shape of choice on a griddle/frying pan.  If it’s as runny as normal pancake batter the pancakes will not stick together, so it should be thick!
e.  Cook on low-medium heat for a minute or so per side

Modifications:

a. 1 tbsp arrowroot powder can be added for thickening/binding
b. 1 tsp vanilla and/or cinnamon makes them a little more delectable
c. 1 tbsp coconut oil/grass-fed butter makes them richer
d. Several spoonfuls of coconut cream will help to increase the caloric density
e. 1-2 tbsp cacao powder can be used to make chocolate pancakes…why not?
f. Stevia can be used for sweetening

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Notes from Brooks:

a. The batter should be thick enough to the point where you have to spread it out on the griddle/frying pan.  If it is too runny the pancakes will not hold together very well.
b. You might have to play around with the coconut milk amount depending on your other ingredients.  I would suggest starting with ¼ cup coconut milk and adding more until you get a consistency that is thicker than normal pancake batter but still spreadable.

There you have it: a tasty substitute for your lackluster whole grain bread slices. Give it a try!

4. Try this simple programming tip to add more volume to your assistance exercises.

The following is a great way to ensure that you do more work in an exercise over a four-week period. I use it all the time for a sets and reps scheme on the smaller exercises in a program. Let’s use a DB Reverse Lunge as the example:

Wk 1: 3×8
Wk 2: 4×8
Wk 3: 3×10
Wk 4: 4×10

The key is to set your best set of 8 in week 1 and then use that same weight all the way into week 4. By increasing volume through the addition of sets first, and then through the addition of reps and sets, we are able to do more total work both overall and in a single set. That’s a good recipe for increased muscle growth, and strength gains as well.

The bigger the movement, and the stronger you are on it, the more difficult it will be to make this a reality. With that in mind, stick to this scheme for your assistance work.

5. Ditch the handle to increase grip demands on a farmer carry.

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4 Responses to “Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 55”

  1. Adam Says:

    That first tip is incredible, I needed that so badly, thanks!!

  2. Nancy Says:

    Ask Brook if the pancake bread would turn out of I omit the protein powder. Or is there something I can substitute?

  3. Brooks Says:

    Nancy-

    The protein powder helps bind the pancakes together, and trust me, they need it! If you would prefer not to use the protein powder, I had success with using 1-2 tbs arrowroot powder (a tropical starch) to help the pancakes stick together. You might have to adjust the amount of coconut milk accordingly. Also, storing the extras in the fridge helps to keep them together as well. Hope this helps!

    Brooks

  4. Tim Says:

    Love the first tip to massage the upper traps. That’s one of the tightest areas of my body. I’ve also started getting deep tissue massages for the first time in my life and they have been helping greatly!

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