The answer is both!
The question? "What do you test?"
My rationale is this: if you have a skinny athlete who adds 15 pounds during a two-month period, but his vertical jump stays the same, a VJ-only assessment protocol won't tell you that he gained a ton of peak power.
As such, we use vertical jump in conjunction with body weight to calculate estimated peak power output using the Sayers equation. While recent research demonstrates that this equation typically underestimates peak power, the important thing for me is reproducibility (not complete accuracy).
As an example, last week, I posted a video of Tim Collins, a Cressey Performance athlete and Toronto Blue Jays prospect who vertical jumped 38.7 inches at his final test of the off-season.
More impressively, he went from 27.9" on October 3 to 38.7 on February 4 while adding six pounds to his frame. Without factoring in the six-pound weight gain, we are looking at a 34.8% improvement in peak power. When we factor it in, though, it becomes a 37.2% mprovement. That 2.4% might seem insignificant to some, but the truth is that it's an impressive result for an entire year's hard work for many elite athletes with less window of adaptation ahead of them.
Vertical jump is a measure of relative power. Peak power is a measure of absolute power. Both have implications in the world of baseball, as you have to decelerate your body weight on each pitch, and you have to sprint, which is a function of the force you put into the ground relative to your body weight. Conversely, the push-off during pitching and the hitting motion are all about absolute power.
So, all things considered, you've got to track body weight and vertical jump, then plug them into an equation.
While Friday the 13th is generally supposed to be an ominous day, I'm pretty psyched to have several buddies in town for the 3rd Annual Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning Winter Seminar this weekend. It's always good to catch up with friends like Mike Robertson, Randy Dillon, Brijesh Patel, Mike Boyle, John Pallof, Jonathan Fass, and loads of others who I'm probably overlooking. Former CP intern and current "Baddest Man in Syracuse" Chris Howard will even be making an appearance. I'll be speaking on assessment and off-season training for baseball, and if time permits, I'll be busting out some of the best shadow puppets you'll ever see.
That said, I've been absolutely swamped this week as I prepare for the seminar (actually headed to pick up Robertson at the airport in a few minutes here) and handle my regular duties at Cressey Performance. So, I looked to some "coming through in the clutch" performances to inspire me - and provide the content for this week's newsletter:
The Nutty Buddy (special thanks to Will Inman for introducing me to this former coach of his):
I think everyone ought to buy a Nutty Buddy just because this guy is awesome. Enough said.
The Spelling Bee Fainter
The "I Like Turtles" Kid
Oh, and speaking of clutch, don't forget to check out Alwyn Cosgrove and Mike Roussell's sweet Warpspeed Fat Loss offer before it expires on Monday. This is a great deal on a great product.
Just a quick heads-up for my readers on a great offer that's available for a short amount of time...
As you know, I'm a big fan of Alwyn Cosgrove and Mike Roussell's Warpspeed Fat Loss program. It's an extremely comprehensive and effective fat loss protocol I've seen work wonders with some of our clients, staff members (myself included), and even my girlfriend. I even wrote up two newsletters (here and here) about the amazing results one of our clients had with it.
Anyway, Alwyn and Mike are guaranteeing that their product will take ten pounds off you in 28 days or else they'll refund your money plus $20 for your time and effort. They're only making this available to the first 100 people, though. And, even if they don't sell 100, it'll be taken down on Monday - so don't wait!
Click here to check out this sweet offer.
Earlier this week, we had a gentleman stop by our facility to observe Tony, Brian, and I in action. He is new to the industry - less than one year under his belt, in fact - but has a solid roster of clients of all ages and ability levels. I give the guy a ton of credit for coming all the way to MA from across the country to get better at what he does; I wish more people were passionate enough about helping their clients to do so.
Anyway, while he had quite a few questions, he asked me flat-out what I think the most important thing to do is for an up-and-coming personal trainer or strength and conditioning coach. My answer was simple: learn functional anatomy. Very simply, everything you do with a client or athlete comes down to understanding how their body is built. And, if you know how the body is built (statically), you can start to understand how it functions (or malfunctions) dynamically. This is a skip that, in my opinion, far too many trainers and coaches overlook. It may be boring to memorize all this stuff, but it's incredibly important.
I mean, honestly, have you ever met a mechanic who didn't know what a radiator did or where it was located? A car's anatomy is probably just as expansive as the human body, but you don't see mechanics fixing car troubles before they learn where all the parts are - or what they're supposed to do. Sadly, I think that if I asked every trainer on the planet what a coracobrachialis was, only half could even tell me where it's located, and even fewer would be able to relate its functions.
At risk of sounding overconfident, this is one reason why I'm so proud of our Building the Efficient Athlete DVD Set. In my experience, there isn't a single product out there that delves into functional anatomy in as detailed a fashion as Mike Robertson and I do, and there certainly isn't anything that relates that anatomy to what you see when your clients and athletes perform exercises, encounter injuries, or struggle to grasp some new technique.
Here's a little sample of what you can find on the first two (of eight) DVDs in the set:
DVD #1: Introduction
Why learn functional anatomy?
What resources do the BEST use to improve their skills?
What resources will absolutely make you regress as a trainer, coach or athlete, and how do you avoid them?
How will improved posture not only keep you healthy, but also improve your performance?
How can you use the Law of Repetitive Motion to rapidly elicit changes in posture?
DVD #2: Lower Body, Core and Upper Body Functional Anatomy
Are the hip flexors tight? If so, which one(s)? We show you specific tests to figure out exactly which areas are short or stiff.
Why are well functioning glutes an absolute necessity if optimal performance is your goal? How can they help us to avoid hamstring pulls, groin strains, and lower back pain!
How is it that we've misunderstood the role of various core muscles for so long? And, how can we modify our training to "undo" the damage that's been done?
How can the pectoralis major and subscapularis be both antagonists and synergists, and what are the implications on health and performance?
Have we been missing the boat on how we view rhomboids?
Why doesn't anyone think about pectoralis minor?
Again, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There is a whole lot more on the other six DVDs, including live static and dynamic assessments, programming strategies, and loads of troubleshooting for common resistance training exercises.
For more information, check out Building the Efficient Athlete.
Here is this week's list of stuff worth checking out - both from me and others:
Just One Missing PieceActive vs. Passive Restraints38Pitches.com: Curt Schilling's Official Blog - I've been fortunate to work with Curt over the past month, and in the process, I've been privileged to get to know a genuinely good guy who is overwhelmingly passionate about everything in his life - from his family, to baseball, to politics, to his gaming company. As all my other pro guys will agree, he has loads to teach and a unique perspective on the world of baseball - particularly in light of the events of the past few weeks. This is always a great read that I check in on daily.
One of the most common causes of elbow pain in pitchers - and even some folks in the regular population - is a loss of elbow extension range-of-motion over time. With pitching, there is extremely high-velocity elbow extension that must be decelerated (eccentric action) by all the elbow flexors (biceps, brachialis, etc).
Because eccentrics are the most damaging types of muscle actions, the muscle can shorten over time, leaving the elbow in a flexed position. Research has shown that the muscles shorten acutely (after a pitching bout) - and it isn't a stretch to assume (particularly based on my anecdotal experience from the pitchers I've seen) that if these ROM deficits aren't addressed right away, they'll become chronic (over the course of a competitive season).
For this reason, we encourage all our pitchers to work hard at regaining elbow extension ROM immediately after a start with this stretch.
When we get a guy who comes to use with chronically restricted elbow extension ROM, soft tissue work - be it general massage, Graston techniques, and/or ART - are important immediate inclusions. As the picture below shows, they can leave some marks, at times, but in this guy's case, just five minutes of soft tissue work and the above stretch got him over 10 degrees of ROM back. He probably won't get all his ROM back, but he'll certainly get a lot closer to it.
1. First thing's first: in a newsletter last year, I told you all about Sarah Neukom, who works with the Jimmy Fund in organizing special events. Sarah raised over $8,000 for cancer research last year in running the Boston Marathon, and a lot of you generously donated to the cause through the mention in this newsletter. This year, Sarah's running again, and she'd love your support - this time to raise over $10,000 for a lot of people who could really use it. I encourage you to check out www.SarahSaidSheWould.com and make a tax-deductible donation to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
2. Tomorrow, I'm headed back to my old stomping grounds - Storrs, CT - to see my first UCONN men's basketball of the year. The seniors on this year's squad were freshman when I was last in campus, so I'm still bleeding some Husky Blue.
3. While we're on the topic of big verticals, a lot of our pro guys are wrapping up their off-season training at Cressey Performance before heading out to spring training, so we're doing some post-testing to gauge the progress they've made. Probably the most impressive of the bunch jumping-wise has been Blue Jays prospect Tim Collins, Baseball America's Low A Reliever of the Year in 2008. Tim added 10.8 inches to his vertical jump in just four months to get it up to 38.7 inches.
4. Someone asked me yesterday if I felt that it was necessary to be on a caloric surplus on the Maximum Strength program. My response was, "That'll work, but a big surplus isn't necessarily. You'll actually notice that the resounding them within the book with respect to my own progress over the years is that I've built relative strength, not just absolute strength. So, you could still see excellent results just eating at maintenance - particularly if the volume is lower than your recent programs."
5. If you are near the Philadelphia/ New Jersey area and interested in bodyweight training (and if you are a regular reader of this blog, chances are that you are), consider checking out a great one day seminar given by Beast Skills' Jim Bathurst. The date is March 1st, and the seminar is actually two parts (one basic and one advanced), so anyone can attend and participate fully. Jim knows his stuff (check out his impressive YouTube clips on the Beast Skills site) and the seminar will help anyone who wants to develop full body strength and stability. Check out Jim's site for details. The seminar is hosted by my good buddy, Shon Grosse, who is a great physical therapist in Colmar, PA.
6. Just a quick happy birthday shoutout to Padres prospect Will Inman. Will's up in Boston from Virginia to get down with us this off-season before heading out to Phoenix on Monday for spring training. Everyone give Will some love and check him out at WilliamInman.com.
This is a bold subject line, I know, but I really do feel that strongly about it. And, I'm honored to be one of the speakers featured on the "ticket" for this DVD set. In fact, I feel so strongly that I'm going to kick in a sweet bonus for anyone who purchases, so read on.
Multiple times each week, I have someone ask me why I haven't gotten my act together and put together a baseball product. My response is always the same: "There is a ton to cover, and just when I feel like I'm ready to put something in writing and on tape, I evolve a little bit more. Plus, I just don't have time right now because I'm so busy actually training players that I don't have the time to give such a project the attention it deserves."
Fortunately for me, though, Ron Wolforth brought together some of the best minds in the business at his Ultimate Pitching Coaches Bootcamp in December - and what resulted was a great product that should be a part of the libraries of EVERY baseball coach, baseball strength coach, and baseball parent. This DVD set really is that good simply because it's so versatile. Here is what you get:
Brent Strom- St. Louis Cardinals- The Histrionics of Pitching Mechanics- Separating Fact from Fiction: a Return to 'Classic Mechanics'. The Key Mechanical Efficiencies: Intent, Momentum, Rhythm and Tempo, Arm Action & Pelvic LoadingRon Wolforth-Pitching Central- Neuromuscular Blending- Getting your Drills to transfer over to the Game & Pitchers on the Ropes - Assisting your pitchers to be explosive, dynamic and durable using ropes and chainsEric Cressey- Cressey Performance- Building The Complete and Superior Pitching Athlete- The Common Myths and misconceptions regarding strength development and conditioning of the pitching athlete which actually inhibit or constrain their performance and development.Phil Donley- What is GIRD? Why is it a problem for pitchers? How to prevent it and treat it!-What is a Sick Scapula? Why is it a problem for pitchers? How to prevent it and treat it!-What are common Mobility and Asymmetry Issues for Pitchers? Why every pitching coach in America should pay attention to their pitcher's mobility and core asymmetries? How to identify issues, prevent them and correct them.Perry Husband- Understanding the Concept of Effective Velocity Joe Fletcher-The Recovery Process for Pitchers. How one can greatly enhance a pitcher's recovery via nutrition, the food/ fuel you consume, the type and duration of your workouts, your mechanical efficiencies and your mental/emotional statesTom Hanson-The Mental Side of Pitching
Andy Whitney- Using Kettlebells in Baseball
Essentially, you've got an exhaustive research for dealing with baseball players - and pitchers, in particular. The majority of us presenters were involved in hands-on sessions where we went over assessments and training strategies - and the panel Q&A sessions were great as well.
I can tell you that the stuff in my presentation is a lot of information that I hadn't put in writing or seminar format prior to this date, and it details a lot of what I do with my high school, college, and professional ballplayers.
And, if you are interested in preventing elbow and shoulder issues, you absolutely have to see Phil Donley speak. It should be "required viewing" for any coach, trainer, and physical therapist that deals with baseball players. A long-time rehabilitation consultant for the Phillies, Phil is absolutely brilliant and has rehabilitated loads of multi-million dollar arms.
Ron and Brent are the guys pushing the envelope for pitching coaches to think outside the box and do special things with athletes. Ron's Baseball Ranch down in Houston has produced LOADS of guys throwing 90+mph in recent years.
Perry Husband's presentation absolutely blew me away. This guy charted every pitch in Major League Baseball in 2004 and came up with some awesome conclusions that can really dictate pitch selection.
So, effectively, you've got a resource that will teach you performance enhancement, injury prevention, strategic planning, and regeneration. It's already an incredible value, but I'm going to sweeten the deal:
From now until midnight on Saturday February 14, if you purchase the Ultimate Pitching Coaches Bootcamp DVD set and forward your email confirmation receipt to email@example.com, I'll send you a free e-version of my Ultimate Off-Season Manual, which has never been available as an e-book - until now. This is a $99 value and the offer won't be around for long, so pick up a copy of the UPCBC DVD Set now!
Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive a Copy of the Exact Stretches
used by Cressey Performance Pitchers after they Throw!
Q: I am just finishing up Phase 1 of Maximum Strength, and I have a few questions about the loading. 1. When we have deload weeks, like in week 4, do we decrease the load or is the decreased volume you prescribed the actual deload? I find myself increasing the load on weeks 2 and 4 to compensate for the decreased volume, but I have a feeling I am defeating the whole purpose of the deload.2. When we are doing our sets, should we try to keep the same load for each set, or do we work up to a RM on our last set?
A: With respect to your first question, you are definitely doing the right thing. The best answer I can give is to get stronger! And, you will! So, if the reps go down, the weights should go up. And, if the reps stay the same, the weights should still (hopefully) go up.
There are exceptions to this rule, of course - particularly as you get more and more advanced or have a previous history of injury. It'd be worth picking up a copy of my Art of the Deload e-book for details for only $12.99:
As for your second question, I'd keep working up and only count the stuff that's at or above 90% of your best working weight for the day. So, let's say you're doing three sets of three reps on front squats, and your progression goes something like this:
45x5, 95x3, 135x3, 165x3, 185x3, 200x3 (heaviest you can go, you discover)
So, you work backward from that 200 pounds to find that 90% of it is 180 pounds. So, the only two sets that have "counted" thus far are 185 and 200 - so you need to do one more set between 180 and 200 pounds to finish up the 3x3.
Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a detailed deadlift technique tutorial!
Next time you set up to bench press, think about what you ask for:
a. a spot
b. a hand-off
I don't know about you, but I'm asking for the hand-off, because there's no way I'm thinking that I'll need a spot. How's that for a thought of the day?
Remember that this is half-full...