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Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 13

Posted Aug 03 2012 2:55pm
Compliments of Cressey Performance coach Greg Robins , here is this week's list of quick and easy ways to feel and move better.

1. Get on the same page with other coaches in your facility.

In the past six years, I have split the vast majority of my coaching among three different facilities. Therefore, I can speak with certainty on the how important it is to have universal coaching cues. Every coach has a unique coaching style that gives clients and athletes a new perspective; this style should be nurtured and not destroyed. However, putting universal coaching cues in place doesn't have to come at the expense of their "style." If you are the owner of a facility, make sure to outline some general cues for the staff to use. It will also help to get coaches working together on "tougher" cases where the first set of cues may not elicit the desired response. This extra collaboration will help you teach more efficiently, and you'll have fewer confused athletes and clients: both good things!

2. Stop blaming the program.

I see it all the time, and apparently it's human nature? Instead of looking at the reasons one might be letting oneself down, it's easier to instantly look to find errors in their "program." The truth is that nobody has any business scrutinizing anything but themselves until they are doing these things CONSISTENTLY: showing up, sleeping enough, eating appropriately, and putting in sufficient effort. If you do all four of those day in and day out, then we're off to a good start. However, it's still not the program's fault. As examples, here are two other common reasons you aren't allowing your strength and conditioning program to work for you. One, you miss reps and get too impatient choosing weights. If you continue to miss lifts, you'll continue to make no progress. Two, you take too long to train. Don't blame the workouts for not helping you lose body fat. They hardly become workouts when you take two hours to mosey through them.

Make the little things a habit, check your ego, train with a purpose, and good things will happen. It's not the program's fault!

3. Consider skipping breakfast...seriously!

Breakfast has been revered for years as the most important meal of the day. After all, in order to get the day started off right, you need to get breakfast, right?  However, what if getting breakfast "right" meant not eating breakfast at all?

If we look to some of today's most popular nutrition schemes, we can find a few similarities. For example, intermittent fasting (IF) and carb back loading disciples both pass on the morning chow. Furthermore, the idea of consuming carbohydrates in the morning is slowly becoming a thing of the past. The research is pretty interesting, and so are the results and conclusions of these nutritional gurus.

The basic premise is that upon waking our hormone levels are raised in such a manner that we are in a near ideal state to use fat for energy. Consuming food, and especially the typical morning carbohydrate varieties, will actually alter the hormone levels and put us in a far less ideal scenario to promote fat loss, and muscle building throughout the day.

After reviewing the work of John Kiefer and the various sources on IF, I began waiting on breakfast until a few hours after waking. Even then, I limit my calories substantially until mid afternoon, with the bulk of them coming in the evening. It may seem backwards from the typical beliefs, but I have seen great improvements in energy, body composition, and strength gains. What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear them!

4. Match your set-up to your body for bigger lifts.

Here is one you can apply right away. In the past I would choose my stance and hand-widths based on what I saw other successful people doing. A lot of the big squatters were wide, so I would put my feet nice and wide.

Then, I started to video more of my training. I looked at how my body reacted to the loads, especially lifts up over 90%. What I realized was that certain reactions from my body weren't so much a result of the weight being too heavy, or a lack of cueing, but the way I set up.

I decided to work with how I was built. My back was wide, so I moved my hands out on the bench press, and my feet to match; the bench numbers took off. My hips are pretty narrow, so I moved my squat stance in; it helped me to stay in better control, and I began to handle heavier weights much more confidently. Luckily for me, my deadlift stance was already narrow, but that would explain why for years it was the only respectable lift I had.

When you set up, take how you're built into account, rather than relying on just what you have seen work for others. As a coach, do the same with your athletes and clients. Look at how they are put together and choose stances, and even exercise choices, that make sense for their body.  Several years ago, Eric and Mike Robertson had a multi-part series that touched on this: Overcoming Lousy Leverages Part 1  and  Part 2 .  I'd encourage you to check them out.

5. Stop using weighted bats and donuts to warm up.

To touch upon something more baseball specific, a recent study performed in Kanoya, Japan at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports, found that performing a warm up with a weighted bat had adverse effects acutely on timing for hitters. This is something that has shown to be true a few times, and it makes perfect sense.

In a similar fashion to other sport specific overloaded exercises, it can be detrimental to add weight to a movement too specific to the actual sport movement. For example, overloading sprint mechanics too heavily (via sleds, or resistance bands) has been shown to negatively affect the sprint mechanics of athletes.

Instead, consider using your time in the on deck circle more intelligently. Study the pitcher's mechanics to help time your approach. Additionally, try and locate his release point so that you can get eyes on the ball earlier come your at bat. For strength coaches, let this be another example of how overloading the mechanics of an actual sport skill can ruin the mechanics at game speed.

All this said, there may be merit to adjusting bat load in terms of chronic adaptations; just don't do it right before you step up to the plate.

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