Home 2009 (Page 29)

The Medi-Mullet

I'm a big fan of MulletsGalore.com - and frankly, if you are any kind of God-fearing model American, you should be, too. At this landmark site, they categorize various mullets into any of a number of subcategories - from the Camaro-Mullet to the Mull-Hawk - in a classification scheme that is rivaled only by the Dewey Decimal System, the Dow-Jones Industrial Average, and the Dollar Menu at McDonald's.  Mulleteers are classified according to mulletude, aggressiveness, hobbies, sightings (where they can be found), favorite bands, and sidekicks.

So, you can imagine how thrilled I was when I caught this never-before-seen species of Mullet on The Biggest Loser the other night.  Yes, folks; it's the medi-mullet, a doctor setting a haircare trend:

medimullet It just screams, "Hippocratic Oath on the Top; Party in the Back!"  Rankings below are out of 10: Mulletude: 2 (have to be subtle to stay professional, even if you can't wait to get out of that suit and throw on some torn stonewashed jeans and blast some Def Leppard) Aggressiveness: 1 (bedside manner is still somewhat important, even if people will give you the benefit of the doubt because you have a mullet) Sightings: Book Signings, hanging out with aerobic-minded personal trainers who wear man capris

mancapris Favorite Musician: Michael Bolton, of course

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Congratulations to Bree Schaaf!

A big congratulations goes out to Cressey Performance athlete Bree Schaaf, who claimed the 2009 U.S. Bobsled National Championship today.  In doing so, Bree qualified for the World Championship team.  Awesome job, Bree; we're all proud of you!



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Random Friday Thoughts: 1/2/09

I'm back after the holiday hiatus from blogging.  Over the Christmas holiday, I actually slept in three states (MA, CT, and ME) in three days  and four different houses in five days in light of all sorts of gatherings in different places.  Needless to say, it was quite a bit of travel, but well worth it.  I'm back and feeling pretty refreshed as 2009 gets underway.  So, without further ado, it's back to the madness. 1. Today's music selection goes back quite a few years, but it's a classic that's gotten some play around the gym recently: Only by Anthrax.  Press play, if you want: I'm really not an angry person, I swear. 2. I got an I-Pod for Christmas and finally caught up with the 12-year-olds of the world.  If I can actually figure out how to use it, I suppose that I'll be considered an adult. 3. On Christmas Eve, my older brother commented on how I was getting "thin up top" - confirming a suspicion that I'm gradually losing my hair (my girlfriend thinks I'm nuts when I say it).  I mentioned it to Brian St. Pierre the other day, and he told me to bump up my flaxseed intake.  I guess it can't hurt.  Hmm... 4. Speaking of Brian, he was the inaugural Cressey Performance Fantasy Football League Champion.  Thanks for keeping the hardware in the family, dude, and congratulations. brian_fftrophy 5.  I was asked the other day what I thought of online master's programs, and here was my response: "My first recommendation, above all, is that if you want to do graduate school, you should absolutely, positively do it IN-PERSON, if possible.  There are a lot of online master's programs, but none of them hold a candle to the experience that is graduate school.  At UCONN, I had daily interactions varsity athletes, the best professors in the country, and experienced researchers in the human performance lab.  The coursework was valuable, but was secondary to the tremendous benefit I got from those opportunities.  You just can't get that online. "The online master's route may be appropriate for someone who is already working in a position - such as collegiate or professional sports - where those experiences are already taking place.  If you opt to go the online master's route, I'd also highly recommend you apply for an internship somewhere under someone who is doing what you'd like to do." 6. Here's an old article of mine that deserves a mention in light of all the New Year's Resolutions that are going around: Rotten Resolutions The goals might be outdated, but the message isn't. 7. My girlfriend and I asked for a food processor for Christmas, and my grandparents came through with a nice one.  Of course, I chose to christen it by gashing open my thumb as I took the blade out of the box.  Luckily for us, the Gourmet Nutrition Apple-Cinnamon Bars we made with the new toy (once I had clotted) turned out great. 8.  I coined a new term today: scromelette.  A scromelette is what results when you screw up while making an omelette, and after some cursing, wind up with scrambled eggs and vegetables. 9. Another great article (this one more recent) from Mike Robertson worth reading: Facts and Fallacies of Corrective Exercise. That's all for today.  Have a great weekend!
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Strength Training for Pitchers

Strength Training for Pitchers

by: Eric Cressey

Recently, I received an email inquiry about the value of strength training for pitchers. The individual emailing me had come across the following quote from a pitching "authority:"

"Training will not teach you how to apply more force...only mechanics can do that. And pitching is not about applying more effort into a pitch but is about producing more skilled movements from better timing of all the parts. That will help produce more force.

"No matter how hard you try, you will not get that from your strength training program...no matter who designed it, how much they have promised you it would or your hope that it will be the secret for you."

To say that this surprised me would be an understatement. I'll start with the positive: I agree with him that pitching is all about producing skilled movements secondary to appropriate timing of all the involved "parts." I've very lucky to work hand-in-hand with some skilled pitching coaches who really know their stuff - and trust in me to do my job to complement the coaching they provide.

With that said, however, I disagree that you can't gain (or lose) velocity based exclusively on your strength and conditioning program. On countless occasions, I've seen guys gain velocity without making any changes to their throwing programs or mechanics. I know what many of the devil's advocates in the crowd are thinking: "you're just making that up!" So, if my word isn't enough, how about we just go to the research?

From: Derenne C, Ho KW, Murphy JC. Effects of general, special, and specific resistance training on throwing velocity in baseball: a brief review. J Strength Cond Res. 2001 Feb;15(1):148-56.

[Note from EC: Yes, it's pathetic that this REVIEW has been out almost seven years and people who are supposedly "in the know" still haven't come across ANY of the studies to which it alludes.]

Practical Applications

Throwing velocity can be increased by resistance training. A rationale for general, special, and specific resistance training to increase throwing velocity has been presented. The following findings and recommendations relevant to strength and conditioning specialists and pitching coaches can be useful from the review of literature.

In the "further reading" section at the end of this article, I have listed ten different studies that each demonstrated a positive effect of weight training on throwing velocity. The authors in the review above also have a table that summarizes 26 studies that examined the effect of different strength protocols on throwing velocity, and 22 of the 26 showed increases over controls who just threw. In other words, throwing and strength training is better than throwing alone for improving velocity -

independent of optimization of mechanics from outside coaching.

The saddest part is that the training programs referenced in this review were nothing short of foo-foo garbage. We're talking 3x10-12 light dumbbell drills and mind-numbing, rubber tubing blasphemy. If archaic stuff works, just imagine what happens when pitchers actually train the right way - and have pitching coaches to help them out?

Oh yeah, 10 mph gains in six months happen - and D1 college coaches and pro scouts start salivating over kids who are barely old enough to drive.

With that rant aside, I'd like to embark on another one: what about the indirect gains associated with strength training? Namely, what about the fact that it keeps guys healthy?

We know that:

a) Pitchers (compared to position players) have less scapular upward rotation at 60 and 90 degrees of abduction -and upward rotation is extremely important for safe overhead activity.

b) 86% of major league pitchers have supraspinatus partial thickness tears.

c) All pitchers have some degree of labral fraying - and the labrum provides approximately 50% of the stability in the glenohumeral joint

d) There is considerable research to suggest that congenital shoulder instability is one of the traits that makes some pitchers better than others (allows for more external rotation during the cocking phase to generate velocity).

e) Most pitchers lack internal rotation range-of-motion due to posterior rotator cuff (and possibly capsular) tightness and morphological changes to bone (retroversion). Subscapularis strength is incredibly important to prevent anterior shoulder instability in this scenario.

We also know that resistance training is the basis for modern physical therapy - which I'm pretty sure is aimed at restoring inappropriate movement patterns which can cause these structural/functional defects/abnormalities from reaching threshold and becoming symptomatic. Do you think that a good resistance training program could strengthen lower traps and serratus anterior to help alleviate this upward rotation problem? Could a solid subscapularis strengthening protocol help with preventing anterior instability? Could a strong rotator cuff and scapular stabilizers allow an individual to work around a torn supraspinatus?

And, last time I checked, strength and conditioning was about more than just being the "weights coach." We do a lot of flexibility/mobility and soft tissue work - and it just so happens that such work does wonders on pec minor, levator scapulae, rhomboids, infraspinatus/teres minor, and a host of other muscles in pitchers.

I also like to tell jokes, do magic tricks, and make shadow puppets on the wall. Am I to assume that these don't play a remarkable role in my athletes' success? I beg to differ. Sure, banging out a set of 20 chin-ups because one of my athletes called me out might make me look like a stupid monkey when my elbows refuse to extend for the subsequent ten minutes, but I still think what we do plays a very important role in our athletes success; otherwise, they wouldn't keep coming back. And, for the record, my shadow puppets are great for building camaraderie and bolstering spirits among the Cressey Performance troops - even if I'm just a "weights coach" or whatever.

This only encompasses a few of the seemingly countless examples I can come up with at a moment's notice. Pitchers are an at-risk population; your number one job in working with a pitcher is to keep him healthy. And, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that a guy who is healthy and super-confident over his monster legs and butt is going to throw a lot harder than a guy who is in pain and as skinny as an Olsen twin because his stubborn pitching coach said strength training doesn't work. You've got to train ass to throw gas!

Last fall, I started working with a pro ball player whose velocity was down from 94 to 88 thanks to a long season - but also because he'd had lower back issues that have prevented him from training. In other words, he counts on strength training to keep his velocity up. And, sure enough, it was a big component of getting him healthy prior to this season.

Putting it into Practice

I suspect that some of the reluctance to recognize strength training as important to pitchers is the notion that it will make pitchers too bulky and ruin pitching-specific flexibility. Likewise, there are a lot of meatheads out there who think that baseball guys can train just like other athletes. While there are a lot of similarities, it's really important to make some specific upper body modifications for the overhead throwing athlete. Contraindicated exercises in our baseball programs include:

  • Overhead lifting (not chin-ups, though)
  • Straight-bar benching
  • Upright rows
  • Front/Side raises (especially empty can - why anyone would do a provocative test as a training measure is beyond me)
  • Olympic lifts aside from high pulls
  • Back squats

The next question, obviously, is "what do you do instead?" Here's a small list:

  • Push-up variations: chain, band-resisted, blast strap
  • Multi-purpose bar benching (neutral grip benching bar)
  • DB bench pressing variations
  • Every row and chin-up you can imagine (excluding upright rows)
  • Loads of thick handle/grip training
  • Medicine ball throws
  • Specialty squat bars: giant cambered bar, safety squat bar
  • Front Squats
  • Deadlift variations

The Take-Home Message

There is nothing fundamentally wrong with strength training program for pitchers. In reality, what is wrong is the assumption that all strength training programs are useless because some are poorly designed and not suited to athletes' needs and limitations. Be leery of people who say strength training isn't important. Everyone - from endurance athletes, to grandmothers, to pitchers - needs it!

Further Reading

1. Bagonzi, J.A. The effects of graded weighted baseballs, free weight training, and simulative isometric exercise on the velocity of a thrown baseball. Master's thesis, Indiana University. 1978.

2. Brose, D.E., and D.L. Hanson. Effects of overload training on velocity and accuracy of throwing. Res. Q. 38:528-533. 1967.

3. Jackson, J.B. The effects of weight training on the velocity of a thrown baseball. Master's thesis, Central Michigan University,. 1994.

4. Lachowetz, T., J. Evon, and J. Pastiglione. The effects of an upper-body strength program on intercollegiate baseball throwing velocity. J. Strength Cond. Res. 12:116-119. 1998.

5. Logan, G.A., W.C. McKinney, and W. Rowe. Effect of resistance through a throwing range of motion on the velocity of a baseball. Percept. Motor Skills. 25:55-58. 1966.

6. Newton, R.U., and K.P. McEvoy. Baseball throwing velocity: A comparison of medicine ball training and weight training. J. Strength Cond. Res. 8:198-203. 1994.

7. Potteiger, J.A., H.N. Williford, D.L. Blessing, and J. Smidt. Effect of two training methods on improving baseball performance variables. J. Appl. Sport Sci. Res. 6:2-6. 1992.

8. Sullivan, J.W. The effects of three experimental training factors upon baseball throwing velocity and selected strength measures. Doctoral dissertation, Indiana University,. 1970.

9. Swangard, T.M. The effect of isotonic weight training programs on the development of bat swinging, throwing, and running ability of college baseball players. Master's thesis, University of Oregon,. 1965.

10. Thompson, C.W., and E.T. Martin. Weight training and baseball throwing speed. J. Assoc. Phys. Mental Rehabil. 19:194-196. 1965.


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Understanding Insulin

Understanding Insulin

By: Eric Cressey

All too often, we overlook the important underlying anatomy and physiology upon which solid training and nutrition recommendations are based. In rushing to get to the "meat and potatoes" (the program or ultimate recommendations) of an article, we fail to truly question and understand the basis for why we do what we do. Take, for example, post-workout nutrition. Ever wonder why you can suck up ridiculous amounts of high-carb foods after you train? In the Rugged mission statement, we promised to make you think; the following article should do just that. And, if it doesn't, you can at least gain an appreciation for one facet of an Exercise Science graduate student's course of study. Without further ado, I present "the insulin response to exercise: carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism implications." Introduction Insulin is well recognized as a powerful hormone capable of diverse metabolic effects in a variety of scenarios. Perhaps the most noteworthy of these scenarios is exercise, the stress of which presents significant metabolic demands. The response of insulin to these demands has far-reaching implications in terms of carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism. Insulin: Broad Roles in Carbohydrate, Fat, and Protein Metabolism Insulin exerts its most pronounced effects on carbohydrate metabolism at the skeletal muscle and hepatic levels. The hormone facilitates uptake of glucose into skeletal muscle and the liver, thus promoting glycogenesis. Simultaneously, it inhibits hepatic glucose release (glycogenolysis) and production (gluconeogenesis) (1). Insulin appears to demonstrate its most immediate and powerful influence in suppressing glycogenolysis, as more insulin is required to inhibit gluconeogenesis than glycogenolysis in non-diabetic subjects (2). Insulin also plays crucial roles in fat metabolism, regulating both lipolysis and lipogenesis. Lipolysis, the hydrolysis of triglycerides, is a requisite step in fat oxidation, as it liberates fatty acids for transport to mitochondria for oxidation (3). Numerous studies have demonstrated that insulin markedly blunts lipolysis at rest (3-5). Likewise, via facilitation of glucose uptake in liver and adipose tissue, insulin stimulates lipogenesis as well. Glycolytic conversion of glucose to acetyl-CoA is the precursor to fatty acid synthesis (1,6). In terms of protein metabolism, insulin's foremost role is inhibition of protein breakdown. Although the hormone does play a role in promoting protein synthesis, this effect is largely dependent on amino acid availability (7-9). Some studies have noted that insulin elevations without concurrent increases in amino acid availability actually decrease protein synthesis as a result of low plasma amino acid concentrations (10,11). Conversely, dietary amino acids exert their most prominent effect on optimizing protein synthesis rather than reducing protein breakdown (7,8,12). Hormonal Regulation of Blood Glucose: Carbohydrate, Fat, and Protein Metabolism Maintenance of plasma glucose concentrations is of paramount importance to optimal functioning of muscles and the central nervous system. Blood glucose regulation involves interactions of carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism; these interactions are even more readily apparent during exercise. While insulin is certainly a powerful modulator of plasma glucose levels, one must also consider several other hormones that exert the opposite physiological effects as insulin. Knowledge of these hormones - glucagon, growth hormone, cortisol, and the catecholamines epinephrine and norepinephrine - is an important prerequisite to comprehending the insulin response to exercise. Glucagon responds to the same stimuli as insulin, but has the exact opposite effects on blood glucose concentrations. These effects are, on the whole, catabolic and anti-anabolic. They include stimulation of glycogenolysis, gluconeogenesis, and protein degradation with concurrent inhibition of protein synthesis (13,14). Some studies have noted that glucagon has a stimulatory effect on lipolysis in human adipose tissue in vitro, and pharmacological interventions to induce dramatic hyperglucagonemia have proven sufficient to stimulate lipolysis (15-17). However, there is insufficient evidence to suggest that normal human hyperglucagonemia can directly induce lipolysis in vivo (18,19). While hypoglycemia is the most potent stimuli for glucagon release from the pancreas, high concentrations of insulin during hypoglycemia can suppress the glucagon response (20). Growth hormone serves as a counter-regulatory hormone to insulin in carbohydrate and fat metabolism, but works synergistically with insulin in establishing an anabolic protein metabolism environment (21). Growth hormone's insulin-antagonistic effects include increased lipolysis, decreased tissue glucose uptake, and enhanced hepatic gluconeogenesis (22-24). Meanwhile, growth hormone has an anabolic effect via enhanced protein synthesis and retention (25-31). Cortisol opposes insulin action in several regards. This glucocorticoid is likely most well known for its catabolic properties, which include stimulation of lipolysis in adipose tissue, protein degradation (the hormone also inhibits protein synthesis), and hepatic gluconeogenesis (32-35). Additionally, in terms of insulin resistance, cortisol not only directly inhibits glucose entry to cells, but also delays insulin action via a post-insulin receptor block (33,36). The catecholamines epinephrine and norepinephrine work in opposition to insulin in the regulation of the plasma glucose concentration. Epinephrine provides a strong stimulus to hepatic glucose mobilization via glycogenolysis and gluconeogenesis (37), although there is a lower threshold for glycogenolysis to occur (38). The catecholamines also stimulate lipolysis in adipose tissue (33,39) and interfere with glucose clearance by insulin (40). While the catecholamines have a catabolic effect on both liver and skeletal muscle glycogen, there is considerable evidence that they have anti-catabolic effects on muscle protein (41-43). Thyroxine is a less recognized regulator of plasma glucose concentrations. While the hormone itself has no direct effect on substrate mobilization at rest or during exercise, it does serve a permissive role for the hormones that are directly involved in plasma glucose regulation. Thyroxine acts by either increasing receptor quantity at the target tissues or by increasing receptor affinity for the aforementioned hormones; during exercise, these effects are more pronounced, as there is an increase in free thyroxine concentrations (33). Hypothyroidism (and the related thyroxine deficiency) has been shown to interfere with fuel mobilization (33). Clearly, a discussion of insulin must include attention to several glucoregulatory hormones, each of which has significant implications in carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism. Figure 1 summarizes the roles of those hormones with a direct effect on fuel metabolism in the liver, skeletal muscle, and adipose tissue.


Glucoregulatory Hormone Response to Exercise Insulin is the only glucoregulatory hormone that decreases with exercise under normal physiologic conditions (33). Galbo et al. (1975) found that insulin decreased both during prolonged treadmill running at 76%VO2max and with incremental treadmill exercise at 47% and 77% VO2max (no significant difference was noted at 100% VO2max) (44). Numerous other studies have observed similar decreases (45-47); these decreases are more prominent in longer duration exercise at lower intensities than in short duration, high intensity exercise (47). As a hormone working in direct opposition to insulin, glucagon increases in response to exercise. This effect has been demonstrated in both incremental (44) and prolonged (44,45) endurance exercise. In the aforementioned study by Galbo et al. (1975), the investigators found that glucagon increased more in the longer duration scenario (threefold increase over the resting value) than in incremental exercise (an increase of 35% from rest to VO2max) (44). Others have also noted that glucagon's effects are clearly more prominent in longer duration scenarios (48). Describing plasma growth hormone changes during exercise proves to be a complex task, as numerous physical, psychological, chemical, and exercise modality (both aerobic and resistance training) factors. In a broad sense, plasma growth hormone concentrations increase as exercise intensity increases; plasma GH may increase 25-fold over resting concentrations at VO2max (49). In fact, recent research by Wideman et al. (2003) noted a linear relationship between GH secretion and exercise intensity (50). Bunt et al. (1986) found that plasma GH increased by 500-600% in both runners and non-runners (runners had a higher response) during one hour of treadmill running at 60% VO2max, implying a duration effect for GH secretion as well (33,51). The growth hormone response to resistance training is a product of the work-rest intervals, loads, and volume utilized, with one minute rest periods, 10-repetition maximums, and high volumes proving most beneficial in enhancing GH secretion (50,52). Cortisol increases in response to exercise are related to intensity and duration. A study by Davies and Few (1973) demonstrated the presence of an intensity threshold that must be reached for cortisol increases to occur. In separate exercise sessions, subjects were tested for 60 minutes at 40%, 60%, 80%, and 100% VO2max. Plasma cortisol actually decreased at 40% VO2max over the course of the test, whereas cortisol increased whenever the intensity exceeded 60% VO2max (33). Apparently, light exercise facilitates plasma cortisol removal to the point that it exceeds secretion by the adrenal cortex in response to exercise. At greater intensities, secretion predominated over removal, which had increased even more (33). There also appears to be a duration threshold; Bonen (1973) observed that urinary excretion of cortisol did not change with 10 minutes of exercise at 76% VO2max. However, when the duration increased to 30 minutes, this excretion value doubled (53), likely due to a lag time in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis between ACTH and cortisol secretion (54). Numerous studies have found that epinephrine and norepinephrine secretions increase as exercise intensity increases (55-58). However, Kraemer et al. (1985) found that graded exercise did not increase plasma epinephrine above baseline at 54% VO2 max, implying an intensity threshold for catecholamine secretion (59). Several investigators have observed increasing plasma catecholamine concentrations as exercise duration increased (60,61). Galbo et al. (1975) demonstrated that intensity is more influential than duration in the catecholamine response to exercise, as plasma epinephrine increased steadily with prolonged treadmill exercise to exhaustion at 76% VO2 max, but graded exercise in the same subjects at 44, 77, and 100% of VO2 max yielded greater increases (55). Glucose Uptake and Transport during Exercise During exercise, muscle glucose uptake may increase 30-50 fold over resting values (62). There is only a limited supply of muscle glycogen, and it can virtually be depleted with just one hour of exercise at 70-75% VO2max (63); therefore, it is of no surprise that muscle glucose uptake increases so dramatically. Given insulin's key role in promoting glucose uptake in skeletal muscle, it seems counterintuitive that the hormone would actually decrease with exercise. However, numerous physiological factors interact to ensure that plasma glucose is maintained while skeletal muscles receive adequate fuel for the continuation of exercise. First, and perhaps most logically, muscular contractions promote blood flow to skeletal muscles. With blood flow comes more glucose and insulin, so in spite of the fact that insulin is actually decreasing, there is still more opportunity for glucose uptake than at rest (33,64). Meanwhile, a gradient for more rapid glucose diffusion into the cell via increased membrane permeability is created because the muscles are utilizing glucose at a faster rate (64,65). Like insulin, exercise also leads to glucose transporter changes at the sarcolemmal level. In both scenarios, membrane transport capability increases due to translocation of insulin-stimulated GLUT4 transporters to the sarcolemma and transverse tubules from intracellular sites (65-69). Kennedy et al. (1999) demonstrated that 45-60 minutes of bicycling at 60-75% VO2max resulted in acute mean increases of 71-74% in sarcolemmal GLUT4 content in both normal and type 2 diabetic subjects (70). Others have verified this increase in plasma membrane GLUT4 content with exercise (71-73). The mechanism by which muscle contraction facilitates GLUT4 translocation to the plasma membrane is yet to be definitively elucidated; however, the most likely answer is high intramuscular calcium concentrations during exercise. More specifically, protein kinase C (PKC) is an intermediary that is dependent on calcium; PKC downregulation has been associated with reduced contraction-induced glucose transport (33,73). Potential autocrine and paracrine effects on contraction-stimulated glucose transport have also been suggested (73). You can find a scheme of the potential factors influencing GLUT4 translocation in skeletal muscle here (Hayashi et al, Am J Physiol 1997). For the sake of this discussion, it is important to note that insulin and muscular contraction facilitate glucose transport via different pathways, as Yeh et al. (1995) noted that it is possible to inhibit insulin action without inhibiting that of muscle contractions (74). Brozinick et al. (1992) validated this assertion with the observation that contraction-induced facilitated glucose transport is normal in insulin resistant muscle (75). GLUT4 and GLUT1 are two key glucose transporters found in skeletal muscle. Unlike GLUT4, which is responsive to insulin action, GLUT1 exerts its effects on glucose transport independent of insulin stimulation (69). Henriksen et al. (1990) observed that GLUT4 protein concentration is closely associated with maximal glucose transport capability; it logically follows that the overall quantity of glucose transporters (both GLUT4 and GLUT1) in the plasma membrane during exercise is proportional to muscle GLUT4 content (76). However, there is evidence to suggest that GLUT4 transporters are more associated with fast-twitch oxidative-glycolytic fibers, while GLUT1 transporters are associated with slow-twitch oxidative fibers. Additionally, there is evidence to suggest that GLUT1 transporter increases are achieved through several weeks of endurance training, whereas GLUT4 transporters are more responsive to individual exercise bouts (77). Therefore, variations in fiber-type may interfere with this assumption (78). Summarily, with more glucose transporters (both insulin-stimulated and non-insulin-stimulated) present due to both chronic and acute exercise adaptations, less insulin is necessary to have the same physiological effect. On a related note, Ivy (1997) asserted that increased concentrations of enzymes responsible for the phosphorylation, storage, and oxidation of glucose are also responsible for the improved insulin action (68). Conclusions: Bringing it all Together At first glance, it seems counterintuitive for insulin to decrease during exercise, a time when muscle glucose uptake increases rapidly. Upon further review, though, one can recognize that numerous hormonal and intracellular factors interact with this decrease to maintain plasma glucose concentrations, facilitate muscle glucose uptake, and effect appropriate changes in carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism. As exercise progresses, skeletal muscle glycogen depletion occurs and the muscles must look to plasma glucose as a fuel source. Assuming no provision of exogenous carbohydrate during exercise, plasma glucose must come from hepatic gluconeogenesis or glycogenolysis. These physiological occurrences are stimulated by the presence of the glucagon, epinephrine, and norepinephrine at the onset of exercise, and growth hormone and cortisol as exercise duration increases (33). As counterregulators to insulin, these five hormones can only be present in sufficient quantities to elicit the desirable effects on plasma glucose maintenance if the plasma insulin concentration is low. While the counterregulatory hormones take care of maintaining plasma glucose, there must be additional physiological adaptations to promote muscle glucose uptake in spite of the decrease in plasma insulin concentrations that occur with exercise. These exercise-induced physiological adaptations include increased skeletal muscle blood flow (and, in turn, glucose and insulin delivery), increased membrane permeability to glucose, translocation of GLUT4 proteins to the sarcolemma and transverse tubules, and increased cellular concentrations of key enzymes involved in glucose utilization. While both insulin and exercise favorably influence glucose uptake, they do so by different pathways. Nonetheless, the positive effects of acute and chronic exercise on insulin action and both insulin-dependent and non-insulin-dependent glucose transporters are undeniable. It is important to also note that glucagon, growth hormone, cortisol, and the catecholamines have effects that extend beyond plasma glucose regulation. All five hormones promote lipolysis, and thus serve as powerful regulators of fat metabolism (which is also dependent on insulin-related lipogenesis). This increased lipolysis favors the increased reliance on free fatty acids with longer durations, lower intensities, and situations of muscle glycogen depletion (79-82). Likewise, some of these hormones - glucagon, the catecholamines, and most notably, cortisol - continue to oppose insulin in protein metabolism by promoting proteolysis and inhibiting protein synthesis. Meanwhile, growth hormone works synergistically with insulin (and amino acids) to achieve an anabolic effect of elevated protein synthesis and decreased protein breakdown. References 1. Khan AH, Pessin JE. Insulin regulation of glucose uptake: a complex interplay of intracellular signalling pathways. Diabetologia. 2002 Nov;45(11):1475-83. Epub 2002 Oct 18. 2. Adkins A, Basu R, Persson M, Dicke B, Shah P, Vella A, Schwenk WF, Rizza R. Higher insulin concentrations are required to suppress gluconeogenesis than glycogenolysis in nondiabetic humans. Diabetes. 2003 Sep;52(9):2213-20. 3. Horowitz JF, Mora-Rodriguez R, Byerley LO, Coyle EF. Lipolytic suppression following carbohydrate ingestion limits fat oxidation during exercise. Am J Physiol. 1997 Oct;273(4 Pt 1):E768-75. 4. Bonadonna RC, Groop LC, Zych K, Shank M, DeFronzo RA. Dose-dependent effect of insulin on plasma free fatty acid turnover and oxidation in humans. Am J Physiol. 1990 Nov;259(5 Pt 1):E736-50. 5. Campbell PJ, Carlson MG, Hill JO, Nurjhan N. Regulation of free fatty acid metabolism by insulin in humans: role of lipolysis and reesterification. Am J Physiol. 1992 Dec;263(6 Pt 1):E1063-9. 6. Kersten S. Mechanisms of nutritional and hormonal regulation of lipogenesis. EMBO Rep. 2001 Apr;2(4):282-6. 7.Castellino P, Luzi L, Simonson DC, Haymond M, DeFronzo RA. Effect of insulin and plasma amino acid concentrations on leucine metabolism in man. Role of substrate availability on estimates of whole body protein synthesis. J Clin Invest. 1987 Dec;80(6):1784-93. 8.Tessari P, Inchiostro S, Biolo G, Trevisan R, Fantin G, Marescotti MC, Iori E, Tiengo A, Crepaldi G. Differential effects of hyperinsulinemia and hyperaminoacidemia on leucine-carbon metabolism in vivo. Evidence for distinct mechanisms in regulation of net amino acid deposition. J Clin Invest. 1987 Apr;79(4):1062-9. 9. Heslin MJ, Newman E, Wolf RF, Pisters PW, Brennan MF. Effect of hyperinsulinemia on whole body and skeletal muscle leucine carbon kinetics in humans. Am J Physiol. 1992 Jun;262(6 Pt 1):E911-8. 10. McNurlan MA, Garlick PJ. Influence of nutrient intake on protein turnover. Diabetes Metab Rev. 1989 Mar;5(2):165-89. 11. Frexes-Steed M, Lacy DB, Collins J, Abumrad NN. Role of leucine and other amino acids in regulating protein metabolism in vivo. Am J Physiol. 1992 Jun;262(6 Pt 1):E925-35. 12. Svanberg E, Moller-Loswick AC, Matthews DE, Korner U, Andersson M, Lundholm K. Effects of amino acids on synthesis and degradation of skeletal muscle proteins in humans. Am J Physiol. 1996 Oct;271(4 Pt 1):E718-24. 13. Gravholt CH, Moller N, Jensen MD, Christiansen JS, Schmitz O. Physiological levels of glucagon do not influence lipolysis in abdominal adipose tissue as assessed by microdialysis. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2001 May;86(5):2085-9. 14. Charlton MR, Adey DB, Nair KS. Evidence for a catabolic role of glucagon during an amino acid load. J Clin Invest. 1996 Jul 1;98(1):90-9. 15. Liljenquist JE, Bomboy JD, Lewis SB, et al. 1974 Effects of glucagon on lipolysis and ketogenesis in normal and diabetic men. J Clin Invest. 53:190?197. 16. Gerich JE, Lorenzi M, Bier DM, et al. 1976 Effects of physiologic levels of glucagon and growth hormone on human carbohydrate and lipid metabolism. Studies involving administration of exogenous hormone during suppression of endogenous hormone secretion with somatostatin. J Clin Invest. 57:875?884. 17. Schneider SH, Fineberg SE, Blackburn GL. 1981 The acute metabolic effects of glucagon and its interactions with insulin in forearm tissue. Diabetologia. 20:616?624. 18. Carlson MG, Snead WL, Campbell PJ. 1993 Regulation of free fatty acid metabolism by glucagon. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 77:11?15. 19. Jensen MD, Heiling VJ, Miles JM. 1991 Effects of glucagon on free fatty acid metabolism in humans. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 72:308?315. 20. Liu D, Moberg E, Kollind M, Lins PE, Adamson U. A high concentration of circulating insulin suppresses the glucagon response to hypoglycemia in normal man. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1991 Nov;73(5):1123-8. 21. Moller N, Jorgensen JO, Abildgard N, Orskov L, Schmitz O, Christiansen JS. Effects of growth hormone on glucose metabolism. Horm Res. 1991;36 Suppl 1:32-5. 22. Jorgensen JOL, Møller J, Alberti KG, et al. Marked effects of sustained low growth hormone (GH) levels on day-to-day fuel metabolism: studies in GH-deficient patients and healthy untreated subjects. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1993;77:1589?1596. 23. Moller N, Schmitz O, Pørksen N, Møller J, Jørgensen JOL. Dose-response studies on the metabolic effects of a growth hormone pulse in humans. Metabolism. 1992;41:172?175. 24. Fowelin J, Attvall S, von Schenck H, Smith U, Lager I. Characterization of the insulin-antagonistic effect of growth hormone in man. Diabetologia. 1991;34:500?506. 25. Moller N, Norrelund H. The role of growth hormone in the regulation of protein metabolism with particular reference to conditions of fasting. Horm Res. 2003;59 Suppl 1:62-8. 26. Clemmons DR, Snyder DK, Williams R, Underwood LE: Growth hormone administration conserves lean body mass during dietary restriction in obese subjects. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1987;64:878-883. 27. Gamrin L, Essen P, Hultman E, McNurlan MA, Garlick PJ, Wernerman J. Protein-sparing effect in skeletal muscle of growth hormone treatment in critically ill patients. Ann Surg. 2000 Apr;231(4):577-86. 28. Lundeberg S, Belfrage M, Wernerman J, von der Decken A, Thunell S, Vinnars E: Growth hormone improves muscle protein metabolism and whole body nitrogen economy in man during a hyponitrogenous diet. Metabolism 1991;40:315-322. 29. Carli F, Webster JD, Halliday D: Growth hormone modulates amino acid oxidation in the surgical patient: leucine kinetics during the fasted and fed state using moderate nitrogenous and caloric diet and recombinant human growth hormone. Metabolism 1997;46:23-28. 30. Copeland KC, Nair KS: Acute growth hormone effects on amino acid and lipid metabolism. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1994;78:1040-1047. 31. Fryburg DA, Barrett EJ: Growth hormone acutely stimulates skeletal muscle but not whole-body protein synthesis in humans. Metabolism 1993;42:1223-1227. 32. Divertie GD, Jensen MD, Miles JM. Stimulation of lipolysis in humans by physiological hypercortisolemia. Diabetes. 1991 Oct;40(10):1228-32. 33. Powers, SK, Howley, ET. Exercise physiology, 4th edition. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2001. 34. Brillon DJ, Zheng B, Campbell RG, Matthews DE. Effect of cortisol on energy expenditure and amino acid metabolism in humans. Am J Physiol. 1995 Mar;268(3 Pt 1):E501-13. 35. Simmons PS, Miles JM, Gerich JE, Haymond MW. Increased proteolysis. An effect of increases in plasma cortisol within the physiologic range. J Clin Invest. 1984 Feb;73(2):412-20. 36. Rizza RA, Mandarino LJ, Gerich JE. Cortisol-induced insulin resistance in man: impaired suppression of glucose production and stimulation of glucose utilization due to a postreceptor detect of insulin action. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1982 Jan;54(1):131-8. 37. Sherwin RS, Sacca L. Effect of epinephrine on glucose metabolism in humans: contribution of the liver. Am J Physiol. 1984 Aug;247(2 Pt 1):E157-65. 38. Sacca L, Vigorito C, Cicala M, Corso G, Sherwin RS. Role of gluconeogenesis in epinephrine-stimulated hepatic glucose production in humans. Am J Physiol. 1983 Sep;245(3):E294-302. 39. Cryer PE. Adrenaline: a physiological metabolic regulatory hormone in humans? Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1993 Dec;17 Suppl 3:S43-6; discussion S68. 40. Rizza R, Haymond M, Cryer P, Gerich J. Differential effects of epinephrine on glucose production and disposal in man. Am J Physiol. 1979 Oct;237(4):E356-62. 41. Fryburg DA, Gelfand RA, Jahn LA, Oliveras D, Sherwin RS, Sacca L, Barrett EJ. Effects of epinephrine on human muscle glucose and protein metabolism. Am J Physiol. 1995 Jan;268(1 Pt 1):E55-9. 42. Miles JM, Nissen SL, Gerich JE, Haymond MW. Effects of epinephrine infusion on leucine and alanine kinetics in humans. Am J Physiol. 1984 Aug;247(2 Pt 1):E166-72. 43. Kraenzlin ME, Keller U, Keller A, Thelin A, Arnaud MJ, Stauffacher W. Elevation of plasma epinephrine concentrations inhibits proteolysis and leucine oxidation in man via beta-adrenergic mechanisms. J Clin Invest. 1989 Aug;84(2):388-93 44. Galbo H, Holst JJ, Christensen NJ. Glucagon and plasma catecholamine responses to graded and prolonged exercise in man. J Appl Physiol. 1975 Jan;38(1):70-6. 45. Miller SL, Maresh CM, Armstrong LE, Ebbeling CB, Lennon S, Rodriguez NR. Metabolic response to provision of mixed protein-carbohydrate supplementation during endurance exercise. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2002 Dec;12(4):384-97. 46. Bonen A, Belcastro AN, MacIntyre K, Gardner J. Hormonal responses during intense exercise preceded by glucose ingestion. Can J Appl Sport Sci. 1980 Jun;5(2):85-90. 47. Tatar P, Kozlowski S, Vigas M, Nazar K, Kvetnansky R, Jezova D, Kaciuba-Uscilko H. Endocrine response to physical efforts with equivalent total work loads but different intensities in man. Endocrinol Exp. 1984 Dec;18(4):233-9. 48. Kjaer M. Hepatic glucose production during exercise. Adv Exp Med Biol. 1998;441:117-27. 49. Sutton J, Lazarus L. Growth hormone in exercise: comparison of physiological and pharmacological stimuli. J Appl Physiol. 1976 Oct;41(4):523-7. 50. Wideman L, Weltman JY, Hartman ML, Veldhuis JD, Weltman A. Growth hormone release during acute and chronic aerobic and resistance exercise: recent findings. Sports Med. 2002;32(15):987-1004. 51. Bunt JC, Boileau RA, Bahr JM, Nelson RA. Sex and training differences in human growth hormone levels during prolonged exercise. J Appl Physiol. 1986 Nov;61(5):1796-801. 52. Baechle, TR, Earle, RW. Essentials of Strength and Conditioning, 2nd edition. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2001. 53. Bonen A. Effects of exercise on excretion rates of urinary free cortisol. J Appl Physiol. 1976 Feb;40(2):155-8. 54. Rasmuson S, Olsson T, Hagg E. A low dose ACTH test to assess the function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 1996 Feb;44(2):151-6. 55. Galbo H, Holst JJ, Christensen NJ. Glucagon and plasma catecholamine responses to graded and prolonged exercise in man. J Appl Physiol. 1975 Jan;38(1):70-6. 56. de Diego Acosta AM, Garcia JC, Fernandez-Pastor VJ, Peran S, Ruiz M, Guirado F. Influence of fitness on the integrated neuroendocrine response to aerobic exercise until exhaustion. J Physiol Biochem. 2001 Dec;57(4):313-20. 57. Kraemer WJ, Dziados JE, Gordon SE, Marchitelli LJ, Fry AC, Reynolds KL. The effects of graded exercise on plasma proenkephalin peptide F and catecholamine responses at sea level. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1990;61(3-4):214-7. 58. McMurray RG, Forsythe WA, Mar MH, Hardy CJ. Exercise intensity-related responses of beta-endorphin and catecholamines. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1987 Dec;19(6):570-4. 59. Kraemer WJ, Noble B, Culver B, Lewis RV. Changes in plasma proenkephalin peptide F and catecholamine levels during graded exercise in men. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1985 Sep;82(18):6349-51. 60. Sothmann MS, Blaney J, Woulfe T, Donahue-Fuhrman S, Lefever K, Gustafson AB, Murthy VS. Plasma free and sulfoconjugated catecholamines during sustained exercise. J Appl Physiol. 1990 Feb;68(2):452-6. 61. Rostrup M, Westheim A, Refsum HE, Holme I, Eide I. Arterial and venous plasma catecholamines during submaximal steady-state exercise. Clin Physiol. 1998 Mar;18(2):109-15. 62. Sahlin K. Muscle glucose metabolism during exercise. Ann Med. 1990 Jun;22(3):85-9. 63. Coggan AR, Coyle EF. Carbohydrate ingestion during prolonged exercise: effects on metabolism and performance. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 1991;19:1-40. 64. Ivy JL. The insulin-like effect of muscle contraction. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 1987;15:29-51. 65. Wojtaszewski JF, Richter EA. Glucose utilization during exercise: influence of endurance training. Acta Physiol Scand. 1998 Mar;162(3):351-8. 66. Richter EA, Kristiansen S, Wojtaszewski J, Daugaard JR, Asp S, Hespel P, Kiens B. Training effects on muscle glucose transport during exercise. Adv Exp Med Biol. 1998;441:107-16. 67. Goodyear LJ, Kahn BB. Exercise, glucose transport, and insulin sensitivity. Annu Rev Med. 1998;49:235-61. 68. Ivy JL. Role of exercise training in the prevention and treatment of insulin resistance and non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Sports Med. 1997 Nov;24(5):321-36. 69. Ivy JL, Kuo CH. Regulation of GLUT4 protein and glycogen synthase during muscle glycogen synthesis after exercise. Acta Physiol Scand. 1998 Mar;162(3):295-304. 70. Kennedy JW, Hirshman MF, Gervino EV, Ocel JV, Forse RA, Hoenig SJ, Aronson D, Goodyear LJ, Horton ES. Acute exercise induces GLUT4 translocation in skeletal muscle of normal human subjects and subjects with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes. 1999 May;48(5):1192-7. 71. Douen AG, Ramlal T, Rastogi S, Bilan PJ, Cartee GD, Vranic M, Holloszy JO, Klip A. Exercise induces recruitment of the "insulin-responsive glucose transporter". Evidence for distinct intracellular insulin- and exercise-recruitable transporter pools in skeletal muscle. J Biol Chem. 1990 Aug 15;265(23):13427-30. 72. Fushiki T, Wells JA, Tapscott EB, Dohm GL. Changes in glucose transporters in muscle in response to exercise. Am J Physiol. 1989 May;256(5 Pt 1):E580-7. 73. Hayashi T, Wojtaszewski JF, Goodyear LJ. Exercise regulation of glucose transport in skeletal muscle. Am J Physiol. 1997 Dec;273(6 Pt 1):E1039-51. 74. Yeh JI, Gulve EA, Rameh L, Birnbaum MJ. The effects of wortmannin on rat skeletal muscle. Dissociation of signaling pathways for insulin- and contraction-activated hexose transport. J Biol Chem. 1995 Feb 3;270(5):2107-11. 75. Brozinick JT Jr, Etgen GJ Jr, Yaspelkis BB 3rd, Ivy JL. Contraction-activated glucose uptake is normal in insulin-resistant muscle of the obese Zucker rat. J Appl Physiol. 1992 Jul;73(1):382-7. 76. Henriksen EJ, Bourey RE, Rodnick KJ, Koranyi L, Permutt MA, Holloszy JO. Glucose transporter protein content and glucose transport capacity in rat skeletal muscles. Am J Physiol. 1990 Oct;259(4 Pt 1):E593-8. 77. Phillips, S., et al. Increments in skeletal muscle GLUT-1 and GLUT-4 after endurance training in humans. Am J Physiol. 1996 Mar;270(3 Pt 1):E456-62. 78. Johannsson, E., Effect of cross-reinnervation on the expression of GLUT-4 and GLUT-1 in slow and fast rat muscles. Am J Physiol. 1996 Jun;270(6 Pt 2):R1355-60. 79. Holloszy JO, Kohrt WM, Hansen PA. The regulation of carbohydrate and fat metabolism during and after exercise. Front Biosci. 1998 Sep 15;3:D1011-27. 80. Jensen MD. Fate of fatty acids at rest and during exercise: regulatory mechanisms. Acta Physiol Scand. 2003 Aug;178(4):385-90. 81. Spriet LL, Watt MJ. Regulatory mechanisms in the interaction between carbohydrate and lipid oxidation during exercise. Acta Physiol Scand. 2003 Aug;178(4):443-52. 82.Coggan AR. Plasma glucose metabolism during exercise in humans. Sports Med. 1991 Feb;11(2):102-24.
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An Interview with Jim “Smitty” Smith

An  Interview with Jim "Smitty" Smith

By: Eric Cressey

I've been following the Diesel Crew guys for a few years, but it wasn't until the past year or so that I had the opportunity to start interacting with Jim "Smitty" Smith regularly.  In the short time that I've known him, Smitty has really impressed me; he is without a doubt one of the most knowledgeable and innovative guys in the "biz."  The interview below is just a small sample of the tremendous amount Smitty has to offer; enjoy! EC: Okay, Smitty, I know quite a bit about you, but that's not to say that our readers can be sure that you're not a complete poser.  Tell is about yourself. JS:  I've been involved in strength training since 1995 and a strength coach since 2001.  I have gotten a few certifications over the years, but have most of my knowledge from years of self study, competing in sports and strongman competitions. I co-founded the Diesel Crew, along with Jedd Johnson, in late 2001 and have been developing the Diesel Method since then.  We've been utilizing powerlifting, odd objects, kettlebells, weightlifting, and Grip strength protocols to build athletes to their greatest potential. I believe we have a solid reputation for being innovators and hopefully provide strength coaches and fitness professionals with new ideas to improve their strength programs. EC: You're about as creative a person in this industry as I've met.  You're like MacGyver; you could train a blind man with no arms and legs with just a book of matches, some Blue Heat, and a burrito.  How did you get so creative?  Do you sniff glue or something? JS: What have you heard?  Let's not talk about college. Seriously, when people first see our products, I am sure they say to themselves, "Damn, I would have never thought of that exercise."  I take a lot of pride in that. When Jedd and I first started, we had no money and no equipment.  All we had was a great desire to succeed.  If we had an idea for an exercise, but we didn't have the equipment, we had to make it or improvise. For instance, in the EliteFTS Q&A Exercise Index, you'll see one unique way to train atlas stones right in a commercial gym without atlas stones and even a cool way to train farmer's walks without farmer's walk implements.  These are just two quick examples. But it is much more than being creative with equipment when you are poor. If athletes or coaches are participating in or training with powerlifting components, they typically only use powerlifting techniques.  If people are utilizing odd objects in their training, they also typically only use these techniques and exercises. But, we saw great potential benefit trying to combine techniques from each protocol into one system.  We called it the Diesel Method. One example would be to take typical keg lifting (odd object) and perform beyond the range (powerlifting) bear hug good mornings.  This BTR hip extension has huge carryover for gluteal firing and neutral lumbar stability endurance. EC: You and Jedd are the go-to guys when it comes to grip training.  What are the most common mistakes you're seeing people make with their grip training? JS: Grip training is not only about getting your hands stronger; it is also about preventing imbalances, training specificity (General, General Specific) for your sport and finally learning how to channel the power generated by your body through your hands.  The body works in integration and everything is connected.  Grip is typically the weakest link in this coordinated kinetic chain.  Strength programs focus on developing limit strength, rate of force development, power, speed, agility and so on - but we still must be able to express this strength through our hands to play any sport!  That is why Grip strength is so important. For example, if you're a boxer whose hands, wrists, and elbows are weak or beat up from tons of sparring, you are very quickly going to: -  become injured from impact - cannot provide adequate contraction of musculature -  become injured from too much tendon and soft tissue trauma - poor restoration -  become limited in your ability to generate a powerful punch - poor neural expression To determine how to implement Grip protocols into your training, check the Needs Analysis for the sport and go from there. EC: I know you're got a pretty good corrective training background; have you been able to apply some of this grip work in that capacity to prevent/rehabilitate injuries to the elbows, forearms, and wrists? JS:  Eric, you know we need to create balance in our movements.  If we have balance in movements, improved soft-tissue quality, neural grooving of firing - then we'll have proper functioning.  The same goes for Grip. You used the example in your Sturdy Shoulder seminar of people who sit in flexion, type in flexion, watch TV in flexion, play video games in flexion all day long.  These people MUST do extension, mobility, and soft tissue work. Similarly, a comprehensive grip protocol would include; flexion (fingers, wrists), extension (fingers, wrists), supination, pronation (radial/ulnar), ulnar / radial deviation (wrist), internal / external rotation (humerus), adduction / abduction (fingers) - everything from the fingertips to the shoulders.  Remember, everything is connected. Now, once these movements, imbalances, and injuries have been addressed, we move to Level II, where we start to learn how to express power through the hands.  That is where irradiation or co-contraction comes into play. The lower arm musculature is part of the whole kinetic chain.   You'll immediately see this when you move into finger into extension against a rubber band or sand (bucket), and the musculature that crosses your elbow contracts.  Why is that?  Because we know that if a muscle crosses a joint it affects that joint.  That is why when you clench your fist as hard as you can, your forearm, biceps, triceps, deltoid, and lat contract as well.  That is how the kinetic chain works, and we can utilize this to our benefit in our training. EC: Let's talk about the Jim Smith library.  What are your top five resources? JS: 1. All the standards: -Essentials of Strength and Conditioning, by Baechle and Earle -Supertraining, by Siff -Science and Practice of Strength Training: 2nd Ed., by Zatsiorsky and Kraemer -Designing Resistance Training Programs, by Kraemer and Fleck 2. The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual, by Cressey 3. Starting Strength, by Rippletoe and Kilgore 4. Afterburn I & II, by Cosgrove 5. James Smith's Manuals 6. The Coach's Strength Training Playbook, by Kenn 7. Chu's Plyometric books The list goes on and on.  Some I reread regularly, some I use as a reference. I would recommend that your subscribers also do the following: 1. Print out articles and categorize them by topic: nutrition, periodization, sport, protocol, etc.  Now, take these articles and get a bunch of 3-ring binders and create a binder for each category. 2. Make a goal for yourself that each day you will: read one article, read one blog post, add one article to your binder(s), email someone on a question you have, start or create an article yourself. 3. With the idea of always trying to improve yourself, attend every seminar, clinic, and/or conference you can.  I've spent thousands this year in the never-ending pursuit of knowledge. EC: You've got a new manual: "Building the Ultimate MMA Athlete."  Fill us in a bit on it. JS:  I've been a huge MMA for years and coming from a wrestling background, I have been formulating ideas for years to put in this manual, specifically training the functional movement patterns for combat athletics.  It started as a small project and ended up being an eight-month project ending with a 300-page manual. I have gotten an overwhelmingly great response to the book because it is not your standard deadlifts, pull-ups, and cleans type of manual.  Of course, those exercises form the foundation of the program and are in there, but I wanted to go above and beyond that standard school of thought.  I used every implement known to man and took the three functional positions; Standing/Clinch, the Guard, and the Mount, and built the programs and exercises around them. My next manual, Chaos Training, is also going to open a lot of eyes and minds on what "functional" training really is. EC: Cool stuff; thanks a ton for taking the time, Smitty.  How can our readers contact you? JS: The best bet is to go through our websites, www.DieselCrew.com . EC: A note to our readers: Smitty's new Combat Core e-book is an absolutely awesome read that I highly recommend to everyone interested in learning about true "core stability" and "functional training."  I reviewed it HERE.
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A New Model for Training Between Starts: Part 2

A New Model for Training Between Starts: Part 2

By: Eric Cressey

In Part 1 of this article series, I discussed everything that was wrong with distance running for pitchers.  In Part 2, I'll outline my thoughts on how to best integrate conditioning for pitchers between throwing sessions.  This article will focus on managing starters, but I suspect you'll find that managing relievers isn't entirely different aside from the fact that you'll need to "roll with the punches" a bit more. I think the best way to introduce this article is to describe a coincidence from the beginning of the year.    On January 5, I received an email from one of my pro pitchers asking me if I could outline some thoughts on my between-start strength and conditioning mentality, as his old college pitching coach had asked for his input from him, as he was a student of the game and had tried some non-traditional ideas. In response to that email, I replied with essentially everything I'll describe in this article - plus everything I outlined in Part 1 with respect to how bad a choice distance running is. The coincidence didn't become apparent until a week or two later when I got my hands on the January installment of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, which featured a study entitled "Noncompatibility of power and endurance training among college baseball players." These researchers divided a collegiate pitching staff into two groups of eight over the course of a season, and each group did everything identically - except the running portion of their training programs.  Three days per week, the "sprint" group did 10-30 sprints of 15-60m with 10-60s rest between bouts.  The endurance group performed moderate-to-high intensity jogging or cycling 3-4 days per week for anywhere from 20-60 minutes. Over the course of the season, the endurance group's peak power output dropped by an average of 39.5 watts while the sprinting group increased by an average of 210.6 watts (1).  So, basically what I'm saying is that I was right all along - and I'm totally going to brag about it.  Part 1 of this series simply justified all of my thoughts; now it's time to put them into a framework. Some Prerequisite Q&A As a response to Part 1, I got an email from a college pitching coach looking for some further details, and here were his questions (bold) and my answers: Q: Is running 1-2 miles once a week considered distance running? A: I'd call anything over 150m "distance running" in a pitching population, believe it or not.  I haven't had a baseball player run over 60 yards in two years - and even when they go 60, they're build-ups, so only about 50% of that distance is at or near top speed. Q: Is running 10 poles in 30s with one minute of rest considered distance? A: Let's say it takes 30s to run a pole, and then you rest a minute (1:2 work: rest ratio).  Then, you go out and pitch, where you exert effort for one second and rest 20s (1:20 work:rest ratio).  This is the equivalent of a 100m sprinter training like a 1500m runner. Q: Don't you need some endurance to pitch a complete 9-inning game? A: If all endurance was created equal, why didn't Lance Armstrong win the New York or Boston Marathon?  Endurance is very skill specific.  Additionally, there is a huge difference between exerting maximal power over 20-25 individual efforts with near complete rest (a sample inning) and exerting submaximal efforts repeatedly with no or minimal rest. Q: What about guys who are overweight?  What should they do? A: Fat guys should be paperweights, bouncers, sumo wrestlers, or eating contest champions.  If they want to be successful players at the D1 level or beyond, they'll sack up and stop eating crap.  Several years ago, I promised myself that I would never, ever try to use extra conditioning to make up for poor diet. Q: What are your thoughts on interval training? A: We know that interval training is superior to steady state cardio for fat loss, but the important consideration is that it must be specific to the sport in question. These responses should set the stage for the following points: 1. The secret is to keep any longer duration stuff low-intensity (under 70% HRR) and everything else at or above 90% of max effort (this includes starts, agilities, and sprints up to 60yds).  For more background on this, check out the McCarthy et al. study I outlined in Part 1. 2. Ideally, the low-intensity work would involve significant joint ranges-of-motion (more to come on this below). 3. Don't forget that pitchers rarely run more than 15 yards in a game situation. 4. Strength training and mobility training far outweigh running on the importance scale. 5.  If you need to develop pitching specific stamina, the best way to achieve that end is to simply pitch and build pitch counts progressively.  If that needs to be supplemented with something to expedite the process a bit, you can add in some medicine ball medleys - which can also be useful for ironing out side-to-side imbalances, if implemented appropriately.  However, a good off-season throwing program and appropriate management of a pitcher early in the season should develop all the pitching specific endurance that is required. The 5-Day Rotation In a case of a five-day rotation, here is how we typically structure things.  Keep in mind that dynamic flexibility and static stretching are performed every day. Day 0: pitch Day 1 (or right after pitching, if possible): challenging lower body lift, push-up variation (light), horizontal pulling (light), cuff work Day 2: movement training only, focused on 10-15yd starts, agility work, and some top speed work (50-60 yds) Day 3: bullpen (usually), single-leg work, challenging upper body lift (less vertical pulling in-season), cuff work Day 4: low-intensity dynamic flexibility circuits only Day 5: next pitching outing Notes: 1. When a guy happens to get five days between starts, we'll typically split the Day 3 lifting session into two sessions and do some movement training on Day 4 as well. 2. I know a lot of guys (myself included) are advocates of throwing more than once between starts.  For simplicity's sake, I haven't included those sessions. 3.  There are definitely exceptions to this rule.  For instance, if a guy is having a hard time recovering, we'll take Day 2 off altogether and just do our sprint work after the bullpen and before lifting on Day 3.  That adds a full day of rest to the rotation in addition to the really light Day 4. The 7-Day Rotation With a 7-day rotation, we've got a lot more wiggle room to get aggressive with things.  This is why in-season can still be a time of tremendous improvements in the college game, especially since you can work in a good 2-3 throwing sessions between starts.  Again, dynamic flexibility and static stretching are performed every day.  To keep this simple, I'm going to assume we've got a Saturday starter. Saturday: pitch Sunday: challenging lower body lift, light cuff work Monday: movement training only, focused on 10-15yd starts, agility work, and some top speed work (50-60 yds); upper body lift Tuesday: low-Intensity resistance training (<30% of 1RM) circuits, extended dynamic flexibility circuits Wednesday: full-body lift Thursday: movement training only, focused on 10-15yd starts, agility work, and some top speed work (50-60 yds); Friday: low-intensity dynamic flexibility circuits only Saturday: pitch again Of course, traveling logistics can throw a wrench in the plans on this front sometimes, but the good news is that collegiate pitchers have six days to roll with the punches to get back on schedule. Closing Thoughts As you can see, I am a big fan of quality over quantity. Our guys only sprint twice in most weeks - and certainly not more than three times.  This certainly isn't the only way to approach training between starts, but I've found it to be the most effective of what our guys have tried. References 1. Rhea MR, Oliverson JR, Marshall G, Peterson MD, Kenn JG, Ayllón FN. Noncompatibility of power and endurance training among college baseball players. J Strength Cond Res 2008 Jan;22(1):230-4. Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive a Copy of the Exact Stretches used by Cressey Performance Pitchers after they Throw!
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  • Avoid the most common deadlifting mistakes
  • 9 - minute instructional video
  • 3 part follow up series