Home 2012 May (Page 2)

Training the Rotator Cuff and Scapular Stabilizers Simultaneously

I'm always surprised when I see "arm care" portions of baseball strength and conditioning programs that attempt to break rotator cuff exercises and scapular stability exercises into different categories.  In my eyes, while you can certainly prioritize one over the other, treating them as mutually exclusive means that you're missing out on a great opportunity to educate an athlete on "positional stability."  Here are a few examples to demonstrate my point:

In Band Distractions w/Rhythmic Stabilizations, you'll see that Orioles prospect (and Twitter phenom) Oliver Drake, actively counteracts the distraction force created by the band by pulling the scapula back onto the rib cage.  Then, we challenge the rotator cuff with rhythmic stabilizations.

Likewise, in this Half-Kneeling 1-arm Manual Resistance External Rotation, Sam needs to make sure to position the scapula appropriately on the rib cage to make sure that he's in the best position to create eccentric strength for the cuff.  This is of particular importance in guys with low shoulders who may be very lat-dominant; gravity will have an additional downward pull on the scapula, so many guys need to intentionally activate upper trapezius prior to starting the set.

Or, consider a Prone External Rotation (one of our old Strength Exercises of the Week). This is definitely viewed as a rotator cuff exercise, as the goal is to learn to externally the humeral head in the socket without the "ball" migrating forward (preventing anterior instability). However, you also have to appreciate that gravity is forcing the scapula forward into anterior tilt, so the lower trapezius must be turned on to counteract it.

Likewise, just about every time you do any exercise that involves holding weights in your hands, your rotator cuff is firing reflexively.  

With all these examples - and surely many more - in mind, we realize that "categorizing" arm care exercises can be pretty difficult, as we're always looking to find a balance between doing enough and doing too much.

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115 Ways to Improve Pitching Velocity

Everyone wants to improve pitching velocity, but unfortunately, the answer to the question of "how" is different for everyone.  To that end, I pulled together a quick list of 101 strategies you can use to improve pitching velocity.  They aren't the same for everyone, but chances are that at least a few of these will help you.  I'd encourage you to print this off and highlight the areas in which you think you can improve.

1. Optimize mechanics (this could be 100 more ways in itself; I will leave it alone for now).

2. Gain weight (if skinny).

3. Lose weight (if fat).

4. Get taller (shorter throwers can’t create as much separation, and are further away from homeplate)

5. Get shorter (taller throwers have more energy leaks).

6. Long toss.

7. Throw weighted baseballs.

8. Throw underweighted balls.

9. Improve thoracic spine mobility.

10. Improve scapular stability.

11. Improve glenohumeral joint stability (rotator cuff strength and timing).

12. Improve glenohumeral joint range of motion.

13. Regain lost elbow extension.

14. Improve hip abduction mobility.

15. Improve hip rotation mobility.

16. Improve hip extension mobility.

17. Improve ankle mobility.

18. Activate the deep neck flexors.

19. Extend your pre-game warm-up.

20. Shorten your pre-game warm-up.

21. Increase lower body strength.

22. Increase lower body power.

23. Train power outside the sagittal plane (more medicine ball throws and plyos in the frontal/transverse plane).

24. Speed up your tempo.

25. Slow down your tempo.

26. Get angrier.

27. Get calmer.

28. Get more aggressive with your leg kick.

29. Get less aggressive with your leg kick.

29. Don’t grip the ball as firm.

30. Throw a 4-seam instead of a 2-seam.

31. Get through the ball instead of around it.

32. Improve balancing proficiency.

33. Throw out all your participation trophies.

34. Do more unilateral upper body training.


35. Recover better (shout-out to my buddy Lee Fiocchi’s Accelerated Arm Recovery DVD set on this front; it’s good stuff).

36. Throw in warmer weather.

37. Wear warmer clothing under your jersey.

38. Change footwear (guys usually throw harder in cleats).

39. Throw less.

40. Throw more.

41. Pitch less.

42. Pitch more.

43. Politely ask your mom to stop yelling, “Super job, kiddo!” after every pitch you throw.

44. Do strength exercises outside the sagittal plane.

45. Take all the money you were going to blow on fall/winter showcases and instead devote it to books, DVDs, training, food, and charitable donations.  If there is anything left over, blow it on lottery tickets and sketchy real estate ventures, both of which have a higher return-on-investment than showcases in the fall and winter.

46. Switch from a turf mound indoors to a dirt/clay mound outdoors.

47. Get a batter in the box.

48. Get more sleep.

49. Sleep more hours before midnight.

50. Stop distance running.

51. Improve glute activation so that you can fully extend your hip in your delivery.

52. Stop thinking that the exact workout a big league pitcher uses is exactly what you need to do.

53. Subcategory of #52: Remove the phrase "But Tim Lincecum does it" from your vocabulary. You aren't Tim Lincecum, and you probably never will be.  Heck, Tim Lincecum isn't Tim Lincecum anymore, either. You can learn from his delivery, but 99.9999% of people who try to copy his delivery fail miserably.

54. Read more.  This applies to personal development in a general sense, and baseball is certainly no exception.  The guys who have the longest, most successful careers are usually the ones who dedicate themselves to learning about their craft.

55. Stay away from alcohol.  It kills tissue quality, negatively affects protein synthesis, messes with sleep quality, and screws with hormonal status.

56. Incorporate more single-leg landings with your plyos; you land on one leg when you throw, don't you?

57. Be a good teammate.  If you aren't a tool, they'll be more likely to help you when you get into a funk with your mechanics or need someone to light a fire under your butt.

58. Respect the game.  Pitchers who don't respect the game invariably end up getting plunked the first time they wind up going up to bat.  Getting hit by a lot of pitches isn't going to help your velocity.

59. Train the glutes in all three planes (read more HERE).

60. Remember your roots and always be loyal.  You never know when you'll need to go back to ask your little league, middle school, high school, or AAU coach for advice to help you right the ship.

61. Get focal manual therapy like Active Release.

62. Get diffuse manual therapy like instrument-assisted modalities or general massage.

63. Make sweet love to a foam roller.

64. Throw a jacket on between innings to keep your body temperature up.

65. Pitch from the wind-up.

66. Drink magical velocity-increasing snake oil (just making sure you were still reading and paying attention).

67. Pick a better walkout song.

68. Get on a steeper mound (expect this to also increase arm stress).

69. Train hip mobility and core stability simultaneously.

70. Get around successful people in the pitching world and learn from them.  Find a way to chat with someone who has accomplished something you want to accomplish.  If you hang around schleps who complain about their genes and have never thrown above 75mph, though, expect to be a schlep who throws 75mph, too.

71. Pick the right parents (sorry, genes do play a role).

72. Recognize and get rid of pain.

73. Throw strikes (more balls = higher pitch count = lower average velocity)

74. Get 8-12 weeks off completely from throwing per year.  Read more about why HERE and HERE.

75. Be candid with yourself about how hard you’re really working (most guys talk about working hard when they should actually be working hard).

76. Take the stupid sticker off your hat.

77. Stop thinking so much.

78. Think more.

79. Stop stretching your throwing shoulder into external rotation (read more on that HERE).

80. Get in a better training environment.

81. Surround yourself with unconditionally positive and supportive people.

82. Talk to a different pitching coach to get a new perspective.

83. Stop talking to so many pitching coaches because too many cooks are spoiling the broth.

84. Lengthen your stride (learn more HERE, HERE, and HERE).

85. Shorten your stride.

86. Get your ego crushed when you realize that no matter how strong you think you are, there is a girl somewhere warming up with your max. And, my wife might even be able to do more pull-ups than you!

87. Stop trying to learn a cutter, knuckle-curve, slider, and “invisiball” when you can’t even throw a four-seam where you want it to go.

88. Play multiple sports (excluding cross-country).

89. Stay healthy when other pitchers are getting hurt.

90. Stop pitching for five different teams in the same season.

91. Pre-game routine: dynamic warm-up, sprinting progressions, long toss, pull-down throws, flat-ground, bullpen. Post-game routine: make out with prom queen after complete game shutout.

92. Do rhythmic stabilizations before you throw (if you’re a congenitally lax/”loose” guy) to "wake up" the rotator cuff.

93. Hydrate sufficiently.

94. Quit worrying about the damn radar guns.

95. Wear a posture jacket/shirt.

96. Drink coffee or green tea (you get antioxidants and a decent caffeine content without all the garbage in energy drinks).

97. Get in front of a big crowd.

98. Find a better catcher.

99. Throw more to and get comfortable with the same catcher.

100. Tinker with your pre-throwing nutrition to ensure consistent energy levels.

101. Tinker with your during game nutrition to sustain your energy better.

102. Tinker with your post-game nutrition to recover better.

103. Improve core stability (more specifically, anti-extension and anti-rotation core stability).

104. Breath better (less shoulder shrug and more diaphragm).

105. Train the rotator cuff less.

106. Change the day on which you throw your bullpen.

107. For relievers, stay loose and warm throughout the game (read more about that HERE). Staying entertained is also important, as CP athlete Joe Van Meter demonstrates.

108. Here and there, between starts, skip your bullpen and throw a flat-ground instead to give your arm a chance to bounce back.

109. Consider creatine (the most researched strength and power supplement in history, yet surprisingly few people in baseball use it)

110. Work faster (the fielders behind you will love you).

111. Work slower (recover better between pitches and self-correct).

112. Stop ignoring your low right shoulder and adducted right hip.

113. Pick a college program where you’ll have an opportunity to play right away and get innings.

114. Move from a 5-day rotation to a 7-day rotation.

115. Decide to wake up in the morning and piss excellence!

These are really just the tip of the iceberg, so by all means, feel free to share your own strategies and ask questions in the comments section below.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 5/9/12

Here's this week's list of recommended strength and conditioning reading:

Elite Training Mentorship - I just had some new content loaded here for one of our twice-a-month updates.  My two in-services, Progression and Regression and Understanding and Managing Acromioclavicular Joint Issues will be of particular interest.

Trunk Stability for Young Athletes - Mike Robertson did a great job with this post on preparing today's young athletes without skipping steps.

Understanding USA Hockey's American Development Model (ADM) - This is an excellent post from my friend (and former CP intern) Kevin Neeld.  I love how Kevin has sought out to be "the guy" when it comes to hockey much like we have done so in our work with baseball players.  I also really enjoyed this post, because I think we can learn a lot on long-term development models by looking to the successes and failures encountered in other sports.  In particularly, I loved his quote, "We're winning the race to the wrong finish line."

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5 Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 2

I'm excited to announce that new Cressey Performance employee Greg Robins is going to be helping me out with this series moving forward.  Greg brings a unique skill set to to the table, and I think that the two of us together will kick out some great content in this weekly post moving forward.  With that said, here are five quick and easy ways to feel and move better to get you week off on the right foot:

1. Focus on less.

Too often I see people make the mistake of doing too much in the gym. Additionally, many folks jump from strength and conditioning program to program, or change strength exercises too often. Make it a point to do two things.  

First, pick a few big movements that you can execute correctly, and continually work to become great at them. Second, settle on a specific outcome for your training. Are you trying to lose fat, gain muscle, or get strong? While your approach may have elements that address all of these, prioritize one or the other for an extended period of time. Allowing yourself time to get better with movement, and eliminating competing demands from your program, are both great ways to maximize your efforts. 

2. Declutter your life.

"Spring cleaning" is a hackneyed expression, but that doesn't mean it isn't an incredibly worthwhile project to undertake!  Let's just say that I filled a trunk with trash from my home office last week.

Considering that my home office is only 13'x13', I expect my productivity to increase quite a bit.  Think about ways you can "declutter" your life; it should help you focus on the task at hand.

3. Carry heavy stuff with friends.

Dan John has put out some great content with respect to how valuable carrying variations can be.  They are easily learned, don't make you ridiculously sore, and provide a great whole-body training effect.  One thing we like to do as a staff is set up our farmer's walks in a group format.  Our turf is 40 yards long, and each set is either one or two trips.  One person goes, then the next person goes, and so on until everyone has finished all their sets.  It keeps you accountable to strict rest periods, builds in the motivation of competition (who wants to be the one guy who can't finish his trip?), and distributes the loading/unloading responsibilities among several people!  Here's an old video of us on this front:

4. Get every rep.

Nobody makes progress by missing lifts. Check your ego at the door, and take a more patient approach to your training. The most beautiful lesson in training is one of delayed gratification. To succeed in the gym, you need to do what is necessary in the training session in order to make the subsequent training sessions beneficial. Nobody can set personal records for themselves every day, so focus on executing each and every rep smoothly. Over time, add to the bar, add a rep, or do a little more work in the same time period. It will all add up, and a year from now you will marvel at what you accomplished. However, if you choose to blow it out every session, in a year, you will be lucky to have made minimal progress.

5. Spend less time down at the bar.

It drives me bonkers when lifters spend too much time down in the bottom position of a deadlift.  I always encourage people to get their minds right while they're standing around, and then get right to it when they get up to the bar.  Spending too much time in the bottom position of your deadlift technique means that you'll lose any benefit of the stretch-shortening cycle, and run the risk of becoming an overly pensive, weak schmuck.


Co-Author Greg Robins is strength and conditioning coach at Cressey Performance in Hudson, MA. Check out his website, www.GregTrainer.com, for more great content.

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Rocket Science Alert: Strength Training for Pitchers STILL Improves Throwing Velocity

With an old post, Strength Training for Pitchers, I *thought* I had put to rest the silly idea that strength training doesn't help with improving throwing velocity.  Unfortunately, some pitching gurus are still insisting that weight training is the devil when it comes to pitching velocity.

To that end, I thought I'd use today's brief post to highlight some newly published research from (among others) the bright folks at the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI).  This research showed that strength training doesn't just improve throwing velocity, but also that ANY type of strength training does!

Researchers looked at the effects of three different six-week strength training programs on velocity in 14-17 year-old baseball players, and found that all three programs led to significant improvements (1.2-2.0%) in throwing velocity over controls.  

And, as is usually the case in the research, the programs were less than comprehensive.  Just imagine if you borrowed the best bits and pieces from several programs and put them together in a comprehensive program that lasted an entire career, rather than just six weeks! 

So, the next time you hear a pitching coach say that strength training for pitchers doesn't work, please rock a "face palm" and then inform him that even crappy strength training works in most scenarios (especially high school athletes). 

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The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual

Take a Comprehensive Look at High-Level,
       Year-Round Athletic Development!

Fellow Athletes and Coaches,

I simply can’t stand it anymore. I’ve watched it with my own eyes, and heard about it with my own ears – thousands of times. MILLIONS of hard-working, dedicated athletes are spinning their wheels with ineffective off-season programming. These are athletes just like YOU and those that YOU coach. They’re experiencing mediocre gains or no gains when they should be improving dramatically. They’re settling for acceptable when they could be getting optimal. They’re sitting on the bench when they should be starting and winning MVP awards and championship trophies.

The time has come for an off-season training resource that will revolutionize the way that athletes and coaches approach this crucial time of the training year. The time has come to get to the truth. The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual is that truth and much, much more!


Unlike other resources out there that just provide cookie cutter programs, this breakthrough manual won’t just teach you the “what;” it’ll teach you the “who, what, when, where, how and why!” It’s not a “do this” or a “the textbook says this” guide; it’s a how-to manual that will show you step-by-step what it takes to become a superior athlete faster than you ever thought possible!


Here’s a sample of what this cutting-edge manual covers:

· The difference between what an athlete or coach wants to hear and what that individual needs to hear when it comes to performance enhancement training.

· Why a counterintuitive approach to off-season programming is the key to success.

· The introduction of the “Black Hole of Athleticism,” the area in which the majority of athletes and go astray in programming.

· A discussion of the wide range of factors that can limit athletic performance, how they interact with each other, and how to enhance them so that YOU can reach all-new levels of performance!

· How effective off-season programming can dramatically reduce the risk of injury.

· The differences among overload, over-reaching, and overtraining – and how to evaluate an athlete if you suspect true overtraining.

· Sample yearly planning models for a wide variety of sports – and a tutorial on how to divide your own off-season into the early off-season, general off-season, and late off-season for optimal results.

· How to construct an ideal early off-season template to set the stage for an insanely productive off-season.

· The best performance tests to not only evaluate an athlete’s physical state, but also gather information upon which to base programming for YOU.

· A discussion of the Static-Spring Continuum and how to determine where an athlete exists on this continuum (this alone is worth the price of the manual and a whole lot more).

· Recommendations on how static-proficient and spring-proficient athletes should train differently than each other

· How to integrate active recovery into an off-season training template so that you feel motivated to train.

· How I added four inches to my vertical jump in a matter of months – accidentally!

· Why the general off-season is the “meat and potatoes” of the training year, and how to make the most of it.

· How to individualize the start-up point for the late off-season.

· How to use the late off-season to prepare for preseason without sacrificing the incredible gains YOU make in the general off-season

· What diminished rest interval training is, and what it means to YOU.

· How to consolidate your most taxing training within the training week to allow for optimal performance with sufficient rest.

· The difference between open-loop and closed-loop training – and when to use each during the training year.

· How to effectively integrate Strongman training into your training year.

· 30 Weeks of Sample Programming – including Mobility, Strength, Reactive, and Movement Training!


Wait...there’s more!

In addition to teaching you how to plan so that you and your athletes perform at all new levels, this manual will make you an instant expert in the field! You’ll know:

· What’s right and what’s wrong with the current state of performance enhancement training in young athletes.

· How to spot a phony performance enhancement coach or facility.

· Why quarterbacks are vertical jumping over 40 inches all the time, while only a few prospects at the NBA combine are even topping 35 inches!

· How to determine if a young athlete is ready for specialization.

· Why a “Go Faster” athlete will always triumph over a “Go Longer” athlete with proper training.

· Why the weight lifted on a one-repetition maximum attempt only tells you half the story; you’re missing some important information if bar weight is the only thing you’re considering!


The fantastic information contained in this manual isn’t just particular to a certain class of athletes, either. It has tremendous value to athletes in a variety of sports:

· Football
· Basketball
· Soccer
· Baseball/Softball
· Hockey
· Field Hockey
· Mixed Martial Arts
· Lacrosse
· Track & Field
· Rugby
· Skiing
· Volleyball
· Swimming
· Crew
· Cycling
· Distance Running
· And many more!

Click Here to Order The Ultimate Off-Season Training E-Book for just $49.99 using our 100% Secure Server!




Note: The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual is an e-book. No physical products will be shipped. 

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How to Measure Volume in Strength and Conditioning Programs

During my first ever live Facebook Fan Page Q&A last night, I received the following question, and wanted to use today's post to expand on it:

Q: How do you go about measuring volume in strength and conditioning programs? I feel like it's glossed over in a lot of textbooks and courses when it comes to programming.

A: This is an incredibly tough question to answer - and trust me, it's a question I've given a lot of thought!

Early in my career, I tried to come up with elaborate equations to calculate volume, but it was tough for a number of reasons (many of which I discuss in my e-book, The Art of the Deload).

First, not all exercises are created equal. A curl can't be weighted the same as a deadlift variation, for instance.  The more joints an exercise involves and the greater the distance the bar travels, the more stressful it is.  

Many people will make the argument that because one can use more weight on the deadlifts than the curl, the total volume (total reps x load) takes care of itself.  The problem is that it doesn't take into account the distance the bar travels or the amount of muscle mass involved.  Let's say a lifter can deadlift 500 pounds, quarter-squat 500 pounds, and barbell supine bridge 500 pounds.  I can guarantee you that the 500 pound deadlift takes of a toll on the body than the other two because there is greater amplitude required and muscle mass recruited.  The "total tonnage" argument is a sound one, but not a perfect one.

Second, all volume isn't created equal.  Imagine having three crazy stressful training sessions back-to-back-to-back on Mo-Tu-We, then four days off.  Then, take the exact same training loads, but space them out Mo-We-Fr.  I guarantee you that the body's perception of the stress of the third session will be far greater in the first scenario - which to me is the important reason we consider volume in the first place.  Timing and overlap matter.

Third, let's say that you go in to the gym fresh and squat on the first day of the training week.  We'll say that you do four sets of five reps at 315 pounds for a total tonnage of 6,300 pounds.  Then, exactly one week later, you go in and do 15 sets of lower-body training, and then go and squat at the end with the goal of getting that 6,300 pounds of "volume" again.  Since you're exhausted, you need to do ten sets of two reps instead. Wouldn't that volume of squatting hit you like a ton of bricks?  The duration of the session and your accumulated transient fatigue changed the game.  

Fourth, not all lifters are created equal.  At a body weight of 185 or so, I hit a 660 deadlift, and after I this lift, my entire body hated me for about a week.  

My wife (an optometrist) freaked out when she saw that I'd bursted some small blood vessels in my eyes and face (it actually looked like I had freckles for about four days).  As I recall, I did about two sets of lunges after this pull before realizing that I should shut it down for the day.  I wasn't hurt; I was just exhausted.

Conversely, for a 1000-pound deadlifter who outweighs me by 150 pounds, this is speed weight.

And, to really exaggerate my point, imagine a brand new female lifter who is learning to deadlift with the training plates (10 pounds/side = 65 pound deadlift).  If she does a whopping 11 reps (65lbs x 11 = 715 lbs), she'll have accumulated more volume than I did on this day.

In short, "appropriate" volume is 100% specific to the lifter's experience, age, gender, training goals, fatigue status, injury history, competing demands, and a host of other factors that I didn't even cover!

That said, when it really comes down to it, it's just something you learn in time by observing, writing, and trying out hundreds/thousands of programs. It's like a sixth sense for me by now.

I will, however, make one observation that never seeks to amaze me:

I'm always surprised at how much volume it takes to attain a level of fitness, but how little volume it takes to maintain that level of fitness.

To that end, most strength and conditioning coaches devote their entire career to finding a good mix of a number of factors to offer clients and athletes a great training effect, but we'll never know what an "ideal" mix of these factors is simply because factors like volume can be so cumbersome to interpret.  For that reason, writing strength and conditioning programs will always be as much art as it is science.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 5/3/12

Here's this week's list of recommended strength and conditioning reading:

How to Be More Consistent with Your Strength and Conditioning Programs - This is a blog I wrote over at MensHealth.com. If you're looking for strategies to keep you from slacking off with your exercise program, look no further.

20 Delicious Protein Powder Recipes (That Aren't Shakes) - A big congratulations goes out to former Cressey Performance intern and current superstar Roger Lawson on his first article for LiveStrong.com.  Whole foods are "where it's at," but this article will show you ways to sneak protein into diets of those clients who just don't get quite enough in their normal diets. Plus, the desserts and pancakes look really good!

Are Assessments Overrated for the General Population? - This is a thought-provoking post from John Izzo. I often think that some trainers go too far to show folks everything that is wrong with them on the first day, rather than using it as an opportunity to build confidence and get progress started. Assessments are incredibly valuable, but they need to be tailored to the individual. If you know someone is completely deconditioned can't do a lunge, for instance, it shouldn't be part of your assessment; you can just assume it.

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5 Great In-Season Lower-Body Strength Exercises that Won’t Make You Sore

One of the biggest concerns players have when it comes to in-season strength and conditioning programs is whether or not a particular exercise will make them sore.  It's a valid point, when you consider the profound effect soreness can have on a baseball athlete's performance - both physically and mentally.  As such, it's important to select exercises that provide a great training effect, but won't necessarily create a lot of soreness for a player.

The first important point to recognize is that strength exercise familiarity will minimize soreness.  In other words, if an athlete has already done an exercise in the previous 7-10 days, it shouldn't make him very sore (if at all).  This is one reason why I like to introduce new exercises in the week prior to the start of the season; we can "ride out" those exercises through the first 4-6 weeks of the season without worrying about soreness.

Of course, once you get past that initial stage, it's a good idea to change things up so that athletes will continue to progress and not get bored with the strength training program.  One way to introduce new strength exercises without creating soreness is to minimize eccentric stress; so, essentially, you're selecting exercises that don't have a big deceleration component.  This is tricky, as most athletic injuries occur from poor eccentric control (both acutely and chronically).  So, we can't remove them completely, but we can shoot for a 50/50 split.  To that end, we'll typically introduce our more intensive lower-body eccentric strength exercises (e.g., Bulgarian Split Squats) on a day when an athlete can afford to be sore (e.g., the day after a pitcher starts) for a few days.  If that isn't a luxury, we'll simply go much lighter in that first week.

To that end, here are five "general" strength exercises I like to use in-season with many of our athletes.

1. Step-up Variations - I'm normally not a big fan of step-ups for off-season programs because they don't offer a significant deceleration component, but they can be useful in-season when you're trying to keep soreness out of the equation.  Anterior-Loaded Barbell Step-ups are a favorite because they still afford you the benefits of axial loading without squatting an athlete.

2. Deadlift Variations - It goes without saying that I'm a huge fan of the deadlift (check out this tutorial if you need suggestions on How to Deadlift), as deadlift variations afford a host of benefits from strength, power, and postural perspectives.  They're also great because there isn't much of an eccentric component unless you're doing stiff-leg deadlift variations.  With that in mind, we utilize predominantly trap bar and sumo deadlift variations in-season.

3. Sled Pushing/Dragging - A lot of people view sled training as purely for metabolically conditioning guys, but the truth is that it actually makes for a great concentric-only strength exercise while helping to enhance mobility (assuming you cue an athlete through full hip extension on forward pushing/dragging variations).

Just make sure to keep the load heavy and distance short.

4. 1-leg Hip Thrusts off Bench - This is a great "halfway" exercise with respect to eccentric stress.  For some reason, even if you lower under a ton of control and with additional load (we drape chains over the hips), this exercise still won't make your posterior chain sore. A big shout-out goes out to Bret Contreras for bringing it to the forefront!

5. 1-arm DB Bulgarian Split Squats from Deficit - The asymmetrical load to this already asymmetrical (unilateral) exercise allows you to get a training effect without a ton of resistance (especially with the increased range of motion provided by the deficit).  It'll still create some soreness, but it's another one of those "halfway" exercises where the soreness isn't as bad as you'd expect, especially if you phase it in a bit lighter in week 1 of the new strength training program.

These are just five of my favorites, but a good start, for sure.  Of course, we still need to do a better job of educating "the masses" about how important it is to even do an in-season strength training program!

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  • Avoid the most common deadlifting mistakes
  • 9 - minute instructional video
  • 3 part follow up series