Home Baseball Content Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 8

Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 8

Written on June 23, 2012 at 7:33 am, by Eric Cressey

In collaboration with Cressey Performance coach Greg Robins, here are some tips to get just a little more awesome this weekend.

1. Hard start, easy finish.

This phrase applies to almost everything in training and in life. In short, putting in the work up front is going to benefit you ten-fold throughout the rest of your…

Exercise Set: Put the time in to set up a lift correctly (bar placement, spotters, foot position, etc) and you will make the entire set go off smoothly.

Training Session: Don’t skimp on your warm-ups. Make sure you spend the 15 minutes to hit self massage, mobility, and activation work.

Training Block: Make the time to make a plan. If you do not have the time (really?!), or the knowledge (fair enough), then seek out someone to make a plan for you.

Training Career: If you’re new to the game, take the proper amount of time to learn correct movement patterns, build general work capacity, and understand technique. If you’re not, and these sound like foreign concepts, have you considered pressing rewind?

2. Meet the bar.

3. Address lagging body parts with frequency.

If you have a body part that isn’t making the grade, the answer could very well be to adjust the frequency in which you train it. Training variables such as volume and intensity are household names, even if their application is often butchered. Frequency is a less-considered variable in your training program. The frequency at which you train a muscle group can have a profound effect on its growth. Additionally, high frequency protocols can produce major surges in strength when programmed correctly. Using high frequencies to make gains in strength is definitely more complex. The more demanding the exercise selections (think deadlifts, squats, cleans, etc), the more tinkering you’ll need to do in the overall management of volume and intensities. Luckily for you, using higher frequencies to illicit gains in “size” isn’t as involved.

Here is a good place to start: choose an area (i.e. arms) and add a specialization day to your strength training program. Make this days short, but challenging. This is a good time to utilize drop sets, forced reps, pre-exhaustion etc. Stick with the same area for three weeks, back off a week, and either choose a new area for three weeks or continue with the previous selection. Maybe you’ll do calves like Tony does?

4. Appreciate that various characteristics relate to throwing velocity.

A study conducted in 2009 by The Open Sports Medicine Journal looked at the relationship between six anthropometric (body height, body mass, body mass index (BMI), arm span, hand spread and length) and four physical fitness (aerobic capacity, explosive power of the lower limbs, flexibility and running speed) characteristics and their relationship to throwing velocity in female handball players. The study found that “throwing performance is significantly correlated with all variables calculated in this study except of the body mass index. This suggests that high performance requires advanced motor abilities and anthropometric features.”

This isn’t revolutionary, and the study does not go into details (that have been found important to velocity) such as joint mobility, stiffness and laxity. However, it is interesting to note that the researchers ranked each characteristic in order of importance in terms of the effect on velocity:

1. Hand Spread
2. Playing Experience
3. Arm Span
4. Body Height
5. Standing Long Jump
6. 30m Sprint
7. Sit and Reach
8. Body Mass.
9. VO2max
10. Body Mass Index

As you’ll see, the recipe for success will always be a combination of genetic pre determents, mechanical skill (sport practice), and physical performance traits (explosiveness, strength, etc). Two out of three of those you have control over, and if you are willing to put the work in, you can make up for quite a bit that Mommy and Daddy didn’t pass on to you.

EC’s notes: three interesting asides to this…

First, it’s interesting that body mass index wasn’t more highly ranked, as body weight has been shown to have a significantly positive association with throwing velocity in baseball pitchers. The primary difference between these two populations, of course, is that the handball players aren’t throwing downhill on a mound, so perhaps having a greater body mass benefits pitchers because they’re more “gravity-aided?”

Second, this is friendly reminder that your silly long distance running won’t do anything for throwing velocity.

Third, the researchers only tested straight-ahead (sagittal) plane measures of power development. If they’d tested power development in the frontal and transverse planes, I’d expect to see a greater value for these measures.

5. Don’t limit yourself.

Have you heard this before?

If I do everything you say, and work as hard as possible, do I have a shot at: making it, losing 10lbs, benching 315?

The answer is always YES; why would it be NO? We are all capable of impressing – and even surprising – ourselves with what we are capable of doing. Not everyone (even with an insane work ethic) is going to look like Captain American or play on ESPN. It doesn’t matter.

What matters is that you never shot for something less than that. You gave everything you had, and you ran that course until it was over. Wherever that point may be, you arrived there knowing that you didn’t leave anything in the tank. This is the absolute most you could do, given the tools you had, and you can be happy and fulfilled knowing that. If you attack everything with that mentality, you will be successful and happy with the result, even if that result isn’t exactly what you thought it was when you got started.

This is an important lesson to remind young athletes and adult clients alike. Teach them to respect the process, and find value in the journey. Remind them that many variables are not within their control, but their effort is.

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  • Son of a bitch, Greg.

    You’ll PAY for that. You’ll paaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!!!!!!

  • Daniel

    I find that each one of your blog-posts goes straight to my bookmarks everytime I’m done reading them.

    I like number 5, sometimes it isn’t always about the end result, but the journy you had, and the mental toughness/satisfaction/so on you got from doing absloutly your best the whole time.

    Good stuf Eric!

  • Adele noll

    Why do you encourage excessive upper t/sp extension with the bench? Does this not put the abdominals at a mechanical disadvantage to brace? Also is this posturing also for dumb bells? What about pressing 35–50 lbs in each hand?
    Thank you

  • Tony, late edition by a certain other contributor 😉

  • I have no idea what Greg is talking about. 🙂

  • bill inman

    My question is this. How can a pitcher improve his endurance for throwing 7 to 9 innings if he does not have the base to work from? Doesn’t it make sense to have a base of 2 to 3 miles and then run intervals? How can you expect someone to run 10 200’s if he is pooped after 2? My suggestion is to build a base from short milage–2 to 3 miles, and then run sprints on the off days.
    Every pitch is an explosive movement; in my opinion, as a track and baseball coach, one cannot build a sufficient base by simply running sprints unless one has a large base from which to draw from. Just thoughts. Would like your thoughts.

  • bill inman

    I’m an old fart, but as far as I know, you throw with your legs. You can have someone train with a couple of hundreds, but how long will he last? You can make that person run 10 hundreds, but unless he has a good base, those hundreds are going to drop significantly. If, however, that individual has a good base from running distance, he should have hundreds which are very similar instead of the first being at 11 seconds and the last at 15 seconds. My philosophy is that if the second half of the 100’s drop significantly, his throwing velocity will drop also.

  • nick gregovich

    These tidbits should be incorporated into the militarys fitness programs…. im tired of 12 mile runs with crappy warmups, lmao.

  • Bob Powell

    Re #2, I thought his feet were supposed to be flat on the floor?

  • Tom

    Why use a pvc pipe drill to practice what can easily be done, specifically, using an empty or partially loaded bar on the actual bench?

  • Concerning the PVC pipe drill–I could see what Tom is saying

    And–I’m a big fan of developing pulling power for supporting good pushing power. The pull pattern in this demo also looks like it supports the neuro pattern of getting the feel of creating the big chest/back extension to meet the bar.

  • Feet do not need to be flat on the ground. Many people successfully bench without the heels lifted. The important part is that leg drive sends the upper back hard into the bench.

    The PVC drill is something I picked up from a few great benchers I had the opportunity to work with. I like it because it teaches you to actively pull the bar. It can be done on a cable stack, or seated row as well. I just tend to use this so we can move right from it to the actual bench more quickly.

  • Ryan

    Brief stats lesson regarding point #4. The authors of the study ranked each characteristic based on 10 separate bivariate correlations. Because the variances across variables are not on the same scale they cannot be ranked this way and the results are potentially misleading. Briefly, a correct ranking could only be made by including all variables in a multi-variable regression-type analysis. This is the only way to parse out the “unique” contribution of each variable after controlling for all others. The variables could then be ranked based on their unique contribution. My guess is the order changes, especially since it is well known that some of the variables have high correlations with each other (i.e., high correlation among variables = less unique contribution).

  • Great Post-

    You mention a lot about frequency and muscle growth.

    What I have found most effective to constantly build lean muscle mass is to constantly change your rest period between sets as well as the amount of repetitions per set. It is good to break out of the 8-12 reps per set funk once in a while and promote some “muscle confusion”


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